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Bodyweight Deadlift!

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Earlier this year, not at new years, but maybe February or March, I set myself two physical goals. February and March are dark and cold and windy and winter seems always to have gone on forever in New England. Even though I was off sailing in the Caribbean and trying to power through mentally, I couldn't shake the winter blues. Even my light therapy lamp wasn't helping.

I decided that I wanted two things before I left for Ireland. Before I officially turned 60. Before I switched my life up yet again.

1. Deadlift my bodyweight. 

2. One unassisted pull up.

So I started working with my coach at CrossFit Merrimack, once a week, in addition to my regular WODs, then only about 3 x per week. Each week he'd put me through strengthening or mobility or technique exercises and sometimes they were nearly impossible for me to do and left me gasping in a hot sweat, and sometimes they were terrifying (sits ups on a GHD) but most times they were exhilarating. 

I learned so many things but the big one was this: I won't break. As I've gotten older and then with two years off CF because of the pandemic, I had this irrational fear that if I lifted too much, I'd hurt myself. Maybe it was loss of confidence; maybe being away for too long; maybe not feeling like I had a CF home. Hard to know but it doesn't really matter. 

During this time of coached sessions, I upped my attendance from 3 x a week to 5 x a week plus the coached session, and usually yoga or active recovery on another day. One full day of rest. Over time I realized I didn't need as much recovery time as I thought. That I wasn't sore every day from hard workouts but my body was tired. That I could lift so much more than I thought I could. 

So today, my nearly 60 year old body, on a 6'2" frame, lifted 173 #, which is what I weighed when I stepped on the scale this morning.

I am a Glamazon. 

The pulls up are still a stretch, but I didn't think I'd get to my body weight inside of 8 weeks, so who knows? I know I often undersell myself, even to myself. 

As I sit down tonight to fill out an application for a writer's residency, I remind myself that maybe not today or even tomorrow, but maybe in six weeks or six months, I'll be lifting my pen in a room overlooking the Pacific Ocean, one of a select few accepted. I just have to do the daily lifting. 

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Resting and writing - a little

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Following the suggestion of one of my fellow students, I decided to take a break from disciplined writing for my classwork and do some other writing. I am aiming to get two rejections a month, either in the form of submitting written work to a journal, magazine or blog, or alternatively, applying to a residency or writing retreat. Today, instead of working on my next TMA, I worked on my application to the Headlands Center for the Arts residency program. Like everything else, I feel like it's a long shot, but I have nothing to lose except a few hours filling out the application and writing about writing. And thinking about why I am writing the work I am. Thinking about what it means to be a Writer, formally. That this is what writers do. They don't just sit around banging out articles and hoping for the best. Nor can I.  

So, today I am reading A Girl's Story, by Annie Ernaux, translated from the French by Alison L. Strayer. I didn't go to CrossFit because I was too tired this morning after a night of disturbed sleep so I walked around instead. Tomorrow, I have yoga at 9:00 AM, then a birthday dinner with a friend, and Monday, I'll start fresh with my structured writing, having taken a short break to clear my head. 

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Mental and physical fatigue

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Edited by Barbara Clough, Thursday, 5 May 2022, 01:13

Today was a light day at work - most days are with little to do and less to look forward to. I went early to the box to do my pre-WOD as I now refer to the extra workouts I'm squeezing in every chance I get. The WOD and the pre-WOD. I focused on upper body, which was dumb because the WOD itself was burpees, power snatches, and pull ups - all of which I suck at. 

But I added in bicep curls, single arm rows and ring rows. I feel certain muscles are getting stronger: my lats actually engage now, I know where my scaps are, I can feel my pecs pop into place when lifting. I upped my weight on the rows to 25 lb, while leaving my bicep curls at 20 lb. Usually biceps get strong fast, but mine are not and the ring rows are and I don't know why. 

In my writing, I see certain areas that are so much better than when I started this program. My use of sensory detail in setting the scene, the ability to carry a theme over thousands of words so that a piece knits together. So that it's whole, in the true sense of the word. I'm working all the little writing muscles around all the big writing muscles and eventually all the muscles will work together better. Some days the words flow, some days the bicep curls are easier and somedays the sun shines. 


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On CrossFit and writing

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Some days, the only time I leave my house is to go to CrossFit. Right now, my job is dull, and I'm killing time until June, when I can hand in my notice. So I do what I have to, but then, at 4:00 PM, I put on my workout clothes and run to my car and run into the box, and I'm excited to be there even when the workout is brutal and my body is tired and my brain is tired and I really want to stay home. 

The other element is that having done the WOD, I then, and only then, get to stop at Brew'd Awakening on my way home and get the caramel-pretzel-brownie. I'm allowed one sweet thing a day, and when the coffee shop has fresh ones made that day, I'm in heaven. 

Today, I was tired all day, tired going into the WOD, but 20 Wallballs, 10 burpee-box jumps, and 20 push press later, I'm tired in an accomplished, sweaty, glad-I-got out of the house. There was no caramel-pretzel-brownie but the fresh baklava was equally as good. 

Maybe writing is the same. Some days it's a struggle, but there's always that little reward at the end, the little sweetness that no matter how poorly or well I did something, a workout, a writing prompt, my paid job, the part I need to focus on is that I did it. Regardless of what I am doing, I'll get better over time. Consistency is key.

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Deadlifts and writing

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Today's WOD was 5-5-5-3-3-2-2 deadlifts at increasing weight, but starting heavy. My goal by the end of June is to deadlift my body weight - roughly 170lbs. It fluctuates daily, but not by much. The conundrum is that the more lean muscle I put on, the more my weight increases, even though my body stays the same. In some ways, I am chasing an ever increasing goal, thus the decision to just cap it at 170 lbs. 

Last week, during my coached session, I hit 163 lbs. That's the most I've lifted in probably 10 years, because of course, I am 10 years older. So again, chasing an ever increasing goal with a much older body. 

And yet, much like this MA degree I'm working on, I'll always be chasing in some sense an unattainable goal. As I learn to write better and to read more carefully, I realize how much more writing I need to do to get to where I want to be. And to write better, I have to read more and with greater discrimination so I know what is out there to be chased in a sense. As I read more widely, I find new genres, new forms, poetry, graphic novels, novels with visuals, nonfiction that reads like a prose poem. 

Maybe that's what this life is all about. Chasing the unattainable but in a good, positive, challenging, don't stop believing way. There's so much out there about which I am completely clueless! Why keep doing the same when I can always be switching it up?

I'll likely hit my deadlift goal next week, considering I did 25 heavy deads and still hit a PR. I won't hit my writing PR that soon, but today, after discouragement yesterday that left me lost, I feel like I can hit my writing goal, too.


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