Category Archives: Crossfit

Couch to 5K: Week 5 Update

Guys! Girls! Everyone in between!

I forgot to mention that I have begun Week 5 of Couch to 5K.

So far, so very-very-very good!

The first two workouts were sincerely a breeze — so much so that I think when I do my second round of W5 (since I usually do 5/6 running workouts a week depending in how hard they are), I might try to up SOME of the running to 6.0 again instead of 5.0.

Recently, I saw someone in Facebook making disparaging comments about people who “run” (they put the word in quotes) ten or twelve minute miles. How rude, right? If it’s hard for that person (and it’s certainly hard for this person!) then it’s just hard. It just is. And who is anybody to take that away from someone else who is trying their best?

Readers, I don’t care what speed you set your treadmill at or how often you need to stop for water or walk a few steps. You are always, every single time, lapping the version of you who never got off the couch.

One of the best things I ever learned from Crossfit (which I miss but which has been hard to fit in, because of the recently lengthened drive) is that when it comes to wellness and fitness, competition is fun and all but what really matters is meeting yourself where you are at, focusing on your own goals and improvements, and celebrating yourself — YOUR. SELF. Not you relative to someone else. Not you as you might be next week. Just you. Now.

That’s worth feeling good about. It really is.

Tomorrow, I take on the oft-fabled 20-minutes-of-running-with-no-breaks part of Couch to 5K, AKA Week 5, Day 3. I’m almost looking forward to it — it’ll be a big accomplishment if I middle through without needing to stop. I don’t think I ever really ran at a 5.0 for 20 minutes without walking.

So rather than dreading the workout, let’s try to reframe, shall we?

I don’t dread the workout.

Instead, I am looking forward to achieving a new little bastion of fitness that I’ve never reached before.

Ok, yeah. Still nervous.

But attitude is everything, eh?

Haters can hate. To me, “running” is anything that isn’t walking and tomorrow I will “run” for 20 minutes.

And then I’ll be back to tell you all about it!


A Little Bit of Providence

SO, a small miracle happened.

After Crossfit last night, we went to check out treadmills at Dick’s. We were not at all hopeful. We got there and began perusing and met up with a nice sales dude who talked to us for awhile, and showed us a current amazing deal —

Long story short, they’re switching to the newest model of this one type of treadmill. This treadmill’s original MSRP was over $2,000. They’ve only got their floor model left. They’re selling it for $599.

And they are selling it to US.

It’s only even been a display model since Christmas. It can do all kinds of fun things (not necessary but a nice bonus). It has a mega-wonderful motor.

And it’s like, 75% off.

It’s on hold right now, so we can see how much of it they can dissemble. The only way we’re not getting it and will select another model is if they can’t take it apart well enough.

I told Chelsea as we were driving home that it feels like Providence, you know? I’m working really hard, here, on eating well and working out and making the big changes I need to make to really turn my lifestyle around. It’s not that I was ever heinously far off track but I’m working on making lasting improvements. And just a few days ago I had believed that a decent treadmill was going to be WAY out of our price range. Most decent models are over $1,000. We could never, ever do that.

But $599?

That, we can do.

I kind of feel, for the first time in awhile, like the stars have aligned a bit for me. I know that probably sounds dramatic — but if you think that, you’ve probably never desperately worked hard to lose weight, found your grad student income preventing you from getting purchases that would really improve your quality of life, or wanted so badly for a good thing to happen.

But yes, friends, a good thing happened.

Hopefully, they can get it dismantled enough that we can carry it ourselves (we can lift about 250 by ourselves, with this treadmill weighing about 350.

If not, we’ll pick another model, I suppose.

But this one feels right.

And I am really, really happy about it.

To Tread Where We Have Not Trod Before

Chelsea and I want a treadmill.

This is surprising news, because I don’t like to run and because we like doing Crossfit. However, some truth bombs with your morning coffee: We both (but I, especially, while losing weight) need to do more cardio. It is way, way too cold here in the winter to safely/comfortably run outside. And my schedule is so wild and ridiculous that anything I might be able to squeeze in at home trumps a gym membership or trying to go somewhere else to get it done.

After talking to Ben the other day, I began to reconsider the idea of running and of a treadmill. In the summer, sure, I can run outside. But for now? Hmm.

Running is a terrific form of cardio, is portable, requires only shoes (and for me, a veeery good sports bra) and effort. This appeals to me. Plus, lots of people run. Chelsea and I can do it alone, or together, or with friends, or run a race, etc. etc.

But then we discovered that all treadmills are about a million dollars.

We’re still thinking of throwing down for one.

Because I NEED more cardio. I know this. And we can only get down to Crossfit 2 or 3 week and those workouts are not always including a lot of cardio. Which is fine for toning purposes but which is less fine when one is trying to get less fat. If I went like 5x a week to Crossfit, that’d be a different story.

So we want a treadmill.

And lots of money, to buy the treadmill.

I’ll keep you posted re: what we decide.


And so begins my first “real” day of the semester.

Important things I learned about my students:
1. They also love Beyonce, almost as much as I do.
2. They are pretty much all from Long Island.
3. When I emphatically and dramatically yelled things like “LISTEN, and if need be, TATTOO THIS ON YOUR SOULS” about the course’s attendance policies, they all actually leaned in, focused on me, and wrote each word down. 

In short, I am much relieved that they seem to be a chill bunch and this semester will be a fun one.

Now, the question you’re all itching to have answered: What did you eat for breakfast? WHAT did you EVER eat for lunch? What will the plan BE? I know you MENTIONED it, Karen, but I simply NEED a refresher.



I had my usual smoothie this morning. I informed my students of what was in it, because “I want to pre-empt the months of whispers about what the nasty, chunky thing I’m drinking might be. Unicorn parts? The hearts of children? Worse, dear children: KALE.”

They were, thankfully, amused.

I had a little time to duck down to my office and eat my usual yogurt and apple now, which is good. After my pedagogy group meeting, I’ll fly home and try to get a little something else — cauliflower, etc. — before tutoring and Crossfit.

It’s a good day so far. 

A thing I’m wondering: How am I supposed to work in more low-point, high protein foods on Crossfit days? I don’t want to blow up my points, and I NEVER use my activity points so I don’t want to dip into them. Meanwhile, I need a way to feel strong, full and energetic when the timer goes off at the box. Last week, I was lightheaded. I’m struggling with what else I should do! Does anyone have suggestions? 


Polar Vortex Wednesday

The title has absolutely nothing to do with the post. I couldn’t think of a title.

Moving on.

So, next Monday begins the second semester. I’ll be working all day M/F, teaching and going to my own classes and working a little more all day T/R, and Friday will be my working from home day. I’ll also be attending Crossfit 2 or 3 times a week.

Things are about to get a lot busier and all this healthy upkeep I’ve been doing will become more difficult.

Perhaps you’re on the edge of your seat, white knuckled, wondering, “Karen, WHAT IS THE PLAN?”

Don’t worry. I have one.

– Puts on sunglasses.  –

Plan of Attack: BREAKFAST

I have never much liked me any breffust. As a kid, eating in the morning gave me a tummy ache and as an adult, ain’t nobody got time for that — I could SLEEP an extra twenty minutes, or sit at my table and gum down some food. I know what I consistently pick. I do, however, circumvent the disaster of heading into the day on an empty stomach/unstoked metabolism. My plan? Protein smoothies. Are they the most delicious concoction ever? No. But let’s face it, babehz: eating and drinking delicious concoctions are how I got INTO this mess to begin with. The shakes are truly not bad.

My morning recipe:

1 cup of diet juice (Ocean Spray makes some that are 0PP for 1 cup)
1 scoop of protein powder (The brand they sell at SAM’s Club; it’s 3PP a scoop)
2 handfuls of kale stems (saved from all those kale chips!)
1 generous handful of baby spinach
1 tablespoon of ground flax seed
1 banana
0.5 cups of water

Then, I blend it in our little Oster travel-cup blender. Off I go, with a large bottle full of nutrients (greens!), potassium (banana!) protein (powder!), omega-3s (flax!) and hydration. It never fails to keep me full until lunch. I can drink it while I teach. I can drink it while I work. I can drink it while I’m in class myself. I can drink it while I drive. It suits my lifestyle. PP Value: 4

Plan of Attack: LUNCH

1 greek yogurt cup, brand doesn’t matter — just pick one with no fat (3PP)
1 Fuji Apple

And, if I’m on my game the night before —

1.5 cups of roasted cauliflower.

Because I’m taking in nutrient dense foods in the morning, I’m not starving to death by lunch. This is a good thing. I eat the stuff I’ve got packed and NOTHING else, NOTHING more. Not if someone brings in cookies. Not if there’s extra banana bread from so and so’s mom on the table. NOTHING. Stick to the plan, dammit. Lunch is the meal where I am often made or broken — a mid afternoon snack can ruin the entire day, WW-wise. So no snacking except on the cauliflower. PP Value: 3 

Plan of attack: DINNER

My dinner plans change, depending on the time of year. This winter, we are in a freakish soup mode. I know that it might bore most people — but it doesn’t bore Chelsea, and the ease of it enthralls me. What we’ve been doing all winter: I scour my WW cookbooks, Taste of Home soup cookbooks, etc. for high-protein, high-fiber, low-point soups. Early in the week, when I have time (sometimes on a Sunday) I make a very big batch of whatever one I’ve selected. We eat it for two or three nights out of the week. The fourth night is date night (or third or second, doesn’t matter when, just, the soup lasts three days and another day is date night), and depending on where we’re at and if the soup was made Sunday or Monday, I make another batch of a different soup midweek and repeat the process.

This might sound really boring. I don’t really care if you think it’s boring — and why? LIFE LESSON TIME: It works for me. I come home and have papers to grade, my OWN papers to WRITE, work to think about, a fiancee to talk to, cats to raise (I imagine our house to be like Georgia Rule and Taggy is my Linsday Lohan problem child. I must keep him away from boats.), you name it. There isn’t time to spend cooking a big dinner each night. So by making that food and getting most of the week’s cooking done, I come home every night to an easy-to-heat-up dinner that’s nutritious, delicious and filling. I have no excuses for why we should get takeout. I have no reasons why we should swing by a restaurant. I have a good meal ready for me at home and I can count every last PP in that mutha effa. (No, yes, I really did just type that. No matter how many times you re-read it, the MF-ahhh part won’t go away.)

This won’t work for everyone, but it works for me. And if you’re the type who has no time to cook or who always finds reasons to get takeout, I recommend trying it. Learn to make some recipes that are so delicious, you don’t even mind eating them for three days.

Lately, along with dinner, I’ve been making a batch of kale chips every evening. Chelsea is just rabid for them, and so am I, and they’re 0PP or, if I use “hippie dust” (another friend called it “nooch,” and I’ve not decided which term I’ll stick with yet), they are 1 or 2 PP depending on the batch and the amount of the HD/N I use. And that’s for the whole damn batch. So really, 1 PP tops per person.

The soups I make range from 5 PP for a big bowl to 11 PP for the ones I keep in my arsenal. The kale chips are often 0. And so for dinner… PP Value: 5-13.

Plan of Attack: DESSERT

Guys, I am my mother’s daughter. I would ALWAYS rather eat my points than drink them, and I CANNOT stay away from a tasty dessert. My brain always wants the reward of a nice thing to eat once the unwinding part of the day commences. So how do I get a treat of some kind in, while not ruining my diet? I learned the hard way that extra fruit isn’t always the best option — when I over-eat fruit (and keep in mind, I have at LEAST a banana and an apple during the day; occasionally an orange works its way in there too — so that’s three pieces right there) I don’t lost weight. I have struggled with this for AGES, and then, when Kim came to visit me, the answer appeared: FREEZE THE TASTIER FLAVORS OF GREEK YOGURT. It’s so genius. I can’t even. Why did it take me so long? And so, I freeze the Cafe, Key Lime, Lemon, Orange Creamcicle and Coconut flavors of the Oikos Greek. They’ve got a little fat in them, but that’s ok, since they’re still a PP value of 4.

On days when I’m exhausted and tired, I admit that I desperately crave a treat — so the semester’s busy workload puts me in a place where danger abounds: we live a few blocks from the Vestal Bakery and Lickety Split Ice Cream. I need to know I have something at home that I’ll enjoy so that when I drive past those places, I ain’t even mad.

Depending on the day, if I have not screwed up at all, I have extra points. On WW, you’re supposed to eat the entirety of your points. And so, on those blessed days, I have one or two of the 2PP brownie bites made by WW. I don’t usually eat anything processed or prepackaged but these little guys taste like little angels made of decadent fudge and now, to my NEVER ENDING WONDER DELIGHT EXCITEMENT AND ALL THE ADJECTIVES, my hometowwwwwn, SAM’S CLUB sells them in a box of 20! The price kicks the pants off the price anywhere else.

So dessert — PP Value: 4-8. 

If I can stick with this plan…

Then I should keep losing weight. Maybe not 4.7 lbs a week (no, seriously, what WAS that?), but something. And if I can keep up the plan of making sure we don’t eat out more than we need to (AKA, we get one date night a week) and monitoring myself on weekends, I can still work in some extra weekend treats (I still have 49 flex points AND whatever activity points I accrue, so I don’t stress as much about weekends — usually, bad choices look like very obviously bad choices regardless of the day of the week, and so I just try not to MAKE those bad choices) and have some less healthy stuff I really enjoy while still sticking with my goals.

So bring it on, semester. This is the last several months of school I have to endure before my WEDDING. (WEDDING WEDDING WEDDING WEDDING WEDDING WEDDING AAAAH WEDDING) And if I can stay on track now and into the summer, I will be a much healthier, more confident bride. And even more than I want that for me, I want it for Chelsea: she’s told me so many times that she would do anything to help me like myself more, that it makes her sad that I carry around such resentment over (what I perceive to be) extra weight. She thinks I’m perfect. I want to feel perfect.

If I can get through this semester without the disaster of last semester striking again (I GAINED BACK SO MANY OF TEHH POUNDSSS), then I’ll be in a really good place. Even if I only lose 0.7 lbs a week, by the time September 26 rolls around that’s 22.4 lbs. If I lose 1 lb a week, it’ll be 32. If I lose 1.5, it’ll be 48, which just doesn’t even sound real.

And if I lose 4.7 every week, well, call Pope Francis ’cause there done be a miracle up in here.

From Crossfit to Cocoa — My Thursday Thought Round-Up.

Today’s thoughts are a little scattered, but, hey — this isn’t a planned, premeditated blog. We’re blundering along together. YA’LL KNOW WHAT YOU SIGNED UP FOR. (If you’re wondering, the grammar-police in me know that I should have phrased  the above, “You know that to which you consented!” but it lacks the same punchy quality. Ah, wordzzz.)


1. Sometimes, things I feel silly for being proud about, I’m proud about. The most current example: last night after Crossfit, Chelsea and I were ravenous. We drove in separate cars because we were coming from work; we talked on the phone (hands-free devices employed, promise). Every restaurant we drove by, we wailed “THAT SOUNDS SO GOOD RIGHT NOW.” And yet, we did not stop at a single one. We returned home, and ate dinner there, and I used exactly the PP I had planned to use for the evening. This may not sound impressive to some of you — but for those of you who struggle to ignore the siren song of the local dining scene, you’ll know it’s easier said than done. Especially, ESPECIALLY when hungry. Especially when tired. Especially when it’s late. Especially when there’s only two of you, and no kids or anything, and no reason why you COULDN’T just take a jaunt to a restaurant.

It’s those little concessions to which I’ve been giving in far too many times this fall. Well, no more. At least, not last night. And maybe it’s silly to be proud of that. But I’m proud.


2. FAT FREE COOL WHIP IS 3 TBSP FOR 1PP! Last evening, I topped a Keurig Cafe Dark Hot Chocolate with some, and some cinnamon, and it was delicious. Only 2 or 3 PP, which was great for such a treat!


3. Turns out, my new bffs KALE CHIPS don’t just need to be in savory flavors to taste good. Last night, I seasoned a batch with cinnamon, curry, nutmeg, Splenda and salt — and the results were impressive! I was nervous they’d be the most disgusting things I’d ever ingested (the curry was a risk, but I suspected curry and cinnamon of playing nicely together), but they were surprisingly excellent. Chelsea ate almost the whole plate! I feel accomplished when she likes my WW foods as much as I do.


4. I’ve been working on adding greens to my smoothie… and it has been a goshdamn JOURNEY, guys. Yesterday the kale & spinach weren’t chopped up finely enough and every sip of smoothie I took was like a mouthful of tasteless seaweed awash in protein powder. Unpleasant. Today they’re chopped better, but some stringy pieces remain. It’s not that I really mind — my smoothie is designed and modified to have huge nutritional punch so I can’t complain if there’s some salad to maw in occasional sips. I do however want to perfect the process so that I don’t have to endure the salad-chewing for long.


5. Pro-tip: If you freeze Oikos Greek Yogurts in the more dessert-y flavors like Key Lime, Cafe Latte or Coconut, they’re like little protein-packed, low-fat (though not NO fat — 4.5 grams a serving) ice cream bowls — and for only 4 PP! We’ve been freezing them all week (Thanks to Kim for the awesome suggestion!) and eating one after dinner to get in another serving of dairy and, of course, more protein.


6. I mentioned above that we drove home from Crossfit last night. Which means, of course, that we went to Crossfit. The WOD was long and horrible, with like 5 METCON sections. There were OHS, box jumps (which I hate), muscle-up progressions (which kind of felt like playing with the bands, which was fun), ROWING (which, for reasons unknown, I excel at — that, and the airdyne bike), burpees and ring dips. I’m probably forgetting some things, since it had so many sections and was so long — but Barry was our coach, and we love hanging out with Barry, and class was small so I didn’t feel self-conscious about how much I struggled with certain things.

I’ve discovered, too, that during our CF hiatus, the shoulder strength I’d so painstakingly gained has waned. I have two shoulders that sublux, with my right being far worse than my left. For my OHS (overhead squat) yesterday, the weight I was lifting was easy for my legs — and easy for my arms, to put up. But when I had the weight above my head, my shoulders were like wiggly-jell-o. Which is most certainly the result of lost shoulder-muscle. Which is disappointing but expected. I’ve always known I need to work extra hard to build up shoulder and back muscle because of my limitations — so its just a consequence of my own inaction, to have that hard work frittered away.

Well, back to the box and back to basics.

I’ll get there again.

And I think that’s it, for today!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend — I’ll see ya Monday!

Time Will Tell.

Ugh. Thursday. Always such a trial.

Thursday is almost Friday, but not quite. And in the words of Avenue Q, “There’s a fine, fine line / between what you wanted, and what you’ve got.” Thursday tows the fine, fine, line.

We’re still sore from CF the other night, but tonight, we are going again. I like the looks of today’s wod:

WU: 3 x 15 air squats & TTB
1A: Deadlift (5 sets of 3)
Metcon (Weight)
Strict weigted pullups, 5×3
2: Metcon (AMRAP – Rounds and Reps)
AMRAP 5 min.:
7 Deadlifts (135, 95#)
7 Lateral Barbell Burpees

I am really and truly pathetic at both pullups and lateral barbell burpees — but I love a good deadlift. And so I am focusing on the positive, amidst a sea of otherwise gray Thursdayness.
I am hoping to be down a pound by next Monday. On Friday, between now and then, is Chelsea’s birthday dinner. I’ll make responsible choices wherever we end up going, but am hoping that adhering to the plan otherwise will keep me on track.
My other minor concern: So now that we’re back at CF, will I be getting enough protein, etc. during the day? I’m hydrated enough for sure, but am concerned that my WW friendly lunch and breakfast might not be CF worthy.  Time will tell. If I don’t get enough liquid and protein I feel like a zombie during the higher-intensity WODs so this will be important to figure out.
Usual Breakfast:
— Protein Shake, with banana (3PP)
Midmorning Snack (If needed):
— Baby Carrots (0PP)

Usual Lunch:
— Greek Yogurt (3PP)
— Apple (0PP)
— Occasional Dill Pickle
Afternoon Snack:
— Pretzels (3PP)
— Beef Jerkey (2PP)
Usual Winter Dinner
— Soup (Ranges from 5-9PP)
— Veggies (0PP)
Assorted (4PP)
Now, added all together, that keeps me under my PP target of 29 per day. But you know what? I don’t really believe that fruit and vegetables are 0PP. For awhile, I counted them. I calculated them based off nutrition info I found online instead of just using the WW calculator… I think I’ll start doing that again, just to be safe.
Worst case, we swap out pretzels and jerky for a protein bar of some sort, or lunch meat.
Sorry for such a blahhhh entry today — I feel tired.

Our Semi-Triumphant Crossfit Return.

So here’s a real thing that happened in my often rickety-ratchety life:

I actually thought Chelsea and I could survive a full semester of 6 AM Crossfit.

Now, I know what you’re thinking — probably because I was thinking it too, at the time — 6 AM is not so early! That’s not bad! I get up at 6 all the time!

But you’re an idiot. And I was an idiot. Here’s why: getting up at 5 AM attempting a vicious CF wod (“workout of the day”) at 6 AM is the equivalent of beating one’s soul with a mallet.

We were losing sleep and losing energy instead of gaining it. We showed up to class looking like pixie-cut versions of the girl from The Ring. We crouched in corners and squinted, like tiny hairless feral beasts who had never seen light bulbs, weight racks, or people before. We would get home around 7:10 AM, confusing the crap out of the cats, who hadn’t really woken up the first time we left. They probably quickly hit up IMDB to see if they’d been Inceptioned. Good thing I taught Tag to read.

All this is to say: 6 AM CF was not really working out. I’m all about pushing one’s self to MAKE something work, but in this case the exhaustion was real. And the solution needed to be, too.

However, the way I’d arranged my schedule, there were no other options, time wise. It’s important to us that we eat dinner together at a decent-ish hour. It’s important to me to have enough time in the evening to 1) work on my own coursework, 2) lesson prep, 3) manage the house. As such, evening classes were out, too.

And so we began our long sabbatical in the fitness wilderness, absconding from our position as Southern Tier Crossfit regulars and going off the fitness grid for three months.

Last night, we made our semi-triumphant return.

We headed to downtown Binghamton, where Southern Tier Crossfit has recently moved, and braved the negative-a-million temperatures. We were delighted to find our good friend Yasha would be coaching, and got to meet some new folks who have joined in our absence.

The WOD, which I meant to write down for you guys but forgot, was not the most brutal I’ve ever endured, which was good since if there had been burpees or box jumps I might have mutinied and hurled myself into the icy waters of the river behind the box. I am not at all afraid of going all Jack-in-Titanic on myself to get away from burpees. Humans were not meant to do burpees. Souls were not meant to endure burpees. There were front squats, thrusters, lunges, a deadlift-hang clean-clean-jerk progression (I think I got that sequence right) and my arch nemesis, the pull-up.

I told Yasha that pull-ups are not at all on the list of life skills I ever hope to gain. He laughed. I was totally serious. Like, Justin-Bieber-Talking-About-His-Music serious. Serious with a hint of mania, and a sprig of mint.

I’m not sure who will be attending when, as spring begins and semesters change for some of the folks who are in grad school, myself included, but I really hope we get to train with Tracy and Frank. We miss them a lot — they’re our CF buddies! I’m usually supremely self-conscious at the gym, especially at CF where so many of the folks who are training are in glorious physical shape. When I train with Tracy and Frank, they make me laugh and we all feel like a team. It puts me at ease. I hope to see them soon.

Chelsea and I both went very light on the weights yesterday, since we’ve got some muscle-memory to relearn/spruce up. However, last night and today, we are feeling the burn. Steps are cruel today. Sitting down and standing up – also cruel. Arm movement: cruel. I know the first few weeks of CF training always hurt the most, though, and then it becomes normalized by the body. I also know I will not die before that day arrives.

In truth, pain aside, I couldn’t be happier to have returned to CF, and to have found times that work so Chels and I can go together. We love our friends at the Box, and are excited to be a part of STC!

Now, where’s my goddamn ibuprofen…