Fail Harder

We are programmed to think that there is no room for failure. Failing is bad.. don’t do it; but how does success happen without failure? One doesn’t just don a pair of skates and become an instant olympic figure skater. A friend of mine, Kate Sonnick, posted this video on another friend’s facebook page this week. The video was named, “Fail Harder”. Students at an advertising school came up with the brilliant concept.

Forget “Just Do It”, this was what I was looking for… “Just Do It” insists that you take a risk, the risk of failing… Failing is scary, especially when ego is involved. What will other people think if I fail? Will my failure affect their perception of my abilities as a coach, psychologist, mentor, friend, etc. Perhaps, but what I should be asking myself is, “Will my failures inspire those same people to try… because without failure we do not have success.” This is the incremental way that we as humans can change our thinking to increase positivity and to encourage and motivate others. I’m not saying to go out there and TRY to fail… I’m saying take risks towards bettering yourself, listen to your intuition, and embrace failure as much as you would celebrate the success… Set goals, make the commitment, and stop using the excuse “But I’m afraid I might fail”, because if you never fail, you can never truly succeed.

Lemons are for throwing

Life is full of lessons. Lessons that sometimes repeat themselves, leaving you questioning the fruits of the lesson that you thought you learned before. Sitting there scratching your head wondering, “but, I thought I got it the last time….”

I can’t believe it can change in an instant. This life of ours. I have several friends who are going through some serious life changes, divorce, death, cheating, loss of jobs, and offers of new jobs across the country…Life as we know it can change in an INSTANT.

My life recently changed in an instant, for the better I’m sure, though it’s sometimes difficult to see it while you’re trying to adjust to this new life you’ve been forced to fit into. It’s like having to wear a shoe that’s just not quite the right size: uncomfortable, sometimes even painful, and really difficult to adjust.

So here I am once more.. in a totally different life. I couldn’t really put my finger on it before. I know it’s good, I know it’s going to take time to adjust, but why is it so darn hard to get out of the funk? Then it happened today. By the “it”, I mean that I realized that I am mourning the loss of an old life. I’ve shed that skin and feel naked. Today I saw my old life. It was weird, like looking in at my life from the outside, only I’m missing and no longer live that life. I have a new life…

It leaves me asking tough questions, “Who am I? Why am I here? Do I live my life with integrity? What am I going to do? Why do I do?” These are all good questions, but they’ve all led me to the most important question of all.. “How can I make the most of this life, this life as I know it right now, because it can change… in an instant.”

Special thanks to all of my friends and family who’ve been there to help me adjust to my new life. You know who you are. I am so very grateful for your presence in this present life.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain..” -Vivian Greene.

My Friend Anusara

As many of you know, my shoulder injury has limited my ability to do a lot of what i truly love…. Lifting heavy things, putting heavy things overhead, and pulling my heavy body up to a bar, are just a few of the “things” I can’t do. It has been six months since I initially felt the onset of injury, while not as painful, I’m still having symptoms. I am determined to get back into my CrossFit routine, but really need to do something that’s not going to irritate and exacerbate the swelling and pain.

My chiropractor, Don Dudley, owner of Health Source Chiropractic in Rochester, kept suggesting, “yoga, yoga, yoga..”

“Ugh”, I finally responded, “I SUCK at yoga”.

Putting his hand on my shoulder, he gently said, “I know, which is the very reason why you need it!”

You see, my body, as strong as it may seem to those of you on the outside, is actually very weak. I use the BIG muscle groups in order to lift things up and put them down. So why would I do yoga??? Yoga is just stretching right? Well… when done correctly, yoga poses strengthen while lengthening muscles creating a more muscularly efficient balanced body.

Here’s the thing… while some of you get intimidated by my talk of barbells, cleans, and jerks, beating the clock… I shudder at the thought of having to go into a class full of people, who are mostly all more flexible than I.. Yes, yes, I realize this is all ego speak here… but dang it’s intimidating to look over at a woman, or better yet a guy in your class who is balancing on one leg while the other appears to effortlessly float above, looking like a perfect T, while I have my hands on my blocks, attempting to straighten my grounded leg, at the same time trying to balance and lift the dangling leg higher than my knees. Truly the ultimate ego crusher.

So, I begrudgingly contacted Heidi Kaufman, owner of Blue Lotus Yoga Studio and Peaceful Kids Yoga, for her advice. She urged me to come to a few classes at her studio after hearing of my stinky shoulder situation. She said, “you need alignment and opening”.

I take yoga up to three times/week now. Vishali Varga and Sherry Hecker are two teachers whose classes I attend diligently. Their classes are based on anusara yoga, a type of yoga that is founded on alignment and opening your heart center. In practice, this type of yoga teaches the student how to use all of the muscles in the body to lengthen by strengthening. It allows for the use of blocks, straps, wedges, and bolsters in order for the participant to be able to have the correct alignment before engaging in the pose, which is ultimately better for the body and more effective in strengthening and stretching than just moving from pose to pose with incorrect posture or form. Hmmm this is beginning to sound just like my philosophy of coaching CrossFit classes, only it seems I haven’t been abiding by my own philosophy when it comes to my own practice.

Ultimately, this is good for my ego and good for my body. I fall over, laugh, get laughed “with” (not at), and feel very humbled, while at the same time proud of myself for trying. I know that each time I practice, I’m bettering myself and my body. My yoga practice has even translated into my CrossFit work outs. I’m trying not to be so focused on “beating” times or rounds, but on holding myself to a high standard and being happy that I worked with intensity and diligence throughout the class. I’ve even found myself, secretly bowing my head in reverence to my body and soul for completing such a difficult task.

Anusara is not without a spiritual component, but attaches itself to no particular religion. Anusara focuses on utilizing the Universal spirit within all of us to develop and refine all parts of ourselves: body; mind, including our reasoning and intuitive capacities; and our emotions, including the deepest virtues of our heart. Anusara yoga will never push you past your limits, in fact pushing too hard is discouraged as it is believed that stretching to the point of shaking or pain creates push back and tightening by your muscles in turn creating the opposite effect intended.

Each class starts out with a short meditation and a theme. Usually it is how different aspects of life can be compared to our yoga practice. Sometimes it’s on the different principals of Anusara. Some teachers chant “ohm” three times, some don’t. I felt really uncomfortable and silly chanting in the beginning, but now it feels grounding and cleansing. I almost look forward to it. If chanting makes you feel uncomfortable, just sit silently, no one else is going to know-they all have their eyes closed.

Anusara yoga can be as intense as you want it to be. You get precise coaching as to how to lengthen your body parts just a little more by engaging those antagonist muscles (muscles that work the opposite action of another muscle group, i.e. bicep/tricep) to help stretch the intended muscle group. Prompting is usually, “squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, or firm, firm, or while lengthening outward, drag inward to engage the muscle”. I’ve come out of classes with a healthy glowing feeling, while others I leave feeling like my muscular strength was supremely challenged. I’ve noticed a change in my posture AND my flexibility is increasing. I can ACTUALLY touch my toes now! I can also set goals in yoga… like… my long term goal is to get a split, short term goal is to be able to touch both hands to the floor in “uttanasana” (standing forward bend).

My favorite part of class is Shavasana. Shavasana is “corpse pose”, and is performed, or NOT performed, at the conclusion of every class. In Shavasana, you lie on the floor, arms at a 4 degree angle, legs straight, eyes closed. You breathe in and out of your nose and scan your body for any tension. Focus on relaxing the tense areas, while trying to quiet the mind and just be. Lying on my mat, in that moment, I feel so connected to the universe and usually all of life’s troubles seem to drift away. I’ll take five minutes of nothingness to being in a constant state of analysis and cognitive processing.

To learn more about Anusara yoga click here. Below is a video about the first principal of Anusara Yoga, “Opening to Grace”. One of the best explanations I’ve seen.

Pukey Poultry

I was determined to make some tropical fare to take our minds off of the dreary weather. How better to accomplish this than to add some pineapple and cilantro to a plain and mediocre turkey patty. SO, I did it. I had these beautiful patties combined with pineapple, garlic, cilantro and jalapeno. My mouth just watered thinking about it…. notice how I used the past tense, waterED. My mouth stopped watering when I threw these tropical turkey pies on the skillet and they began to melt like a super soaked wicked witch of the west. NO JOKE… MELT. By the time I was done, my perfect little patties looked like something my neighbor’s dog would regurgitate. UGH. Adam remarked that he would eat it as long as it was edible. EDIBLE???? I don’t even think a rat would eat this poultry gone puke.

I was puzzled and chalked it up to bad meat. I proceeded to defrost some chicken tenderloins, tossed em in a glass dish and mixed in my pineapple salsa for flavor. Boy, was it ever yummy! We packed the leftovers in a glass dish and snacked on it the next day, yum. The third day we decided to finish it up, but, to my dismay, the chicken had the consistency of wet and soggy corn bread. The chicken was mush, just like the tropical turkey burgers. These are the things that make me go, “hmmmm”.

So, what’s the deal???? Why did my poultry go to mush? According to Wikipedia Pineapple (Ananas comosus) is the common name for a tropical plant and its edible fruit, which is actually a multiple fruit consisting of coalesced berries.[1] It was given the name pineapple due to its resemblance to a pine cone.[2] The pineapple is by far the most economically important plant in the Bromeliaceae.[3] This bromeliaceae (family) contains a special enzyme called, “bromelain”

Although you may not actually hear the term "pineapple enzyme" thrown around a lot, you might recognize it by its other name: bromelain. Bromelain is a protease enzyme that is found in all parts of the pineapple, but the stem contains the largest concentration of the enzyme. So, what does "protease enzyme" really mean? This is simply a term applied to enzymes that have the specific trait of being able to break down, or "digest", proteins. To put it into a better perspective, we are going to look at the top uses that make this pineapple enzyme so coveted.
This first use may seem a little funny, but it’s one of the top uses for bromelain–and one that you are likely to try out yourself simply from pure curiosity. Bromelain can be purchased in a powdered form to be used as steak tenderizer. No joke! Living cells contain compounds known as amino acids. These amino acids work hard to join together creating what is essentially a peptide bond. These peptide bonds play a huge role in the structure of tissues. Because the pineapple enzyme bromelain breaks down these peptide bonds by separating and digesting the amino acids, the structural integrity of the tissues degrade. In simple terms: bromelain tenderizer + meat = tender, juicy meat! You have to be careful when using meat tenderizers as they can cause the meat to lose too much consistency and turn mushy if left too long. Just follow the directions on any bromelain-based meat tenderizer and you’ll be chowing down on a steak fit for a king–without having to bust out that medieval looking meat mallet!
This all according to types of enzymes (yeah, seriously, there’s a website all about the types of enzymes).

WELL… now at least I know my mushy chicken isn’t bad bird gone barf!!! Interesting huh??? BUT, that’s not all that bromelain can do… more from types of enzymes:
Another popular use for the pineapple enzyme is for digestive aid. Because bromelain is well known for its ability to break down proteins, studies are being conducted to determine whether this enzyme could be the answer for people with digestive issues. Although formal testing has not produced much hard evidence either proving or disproving this theory, several manufactures offer bromelain in a capsule form with claims that it can help treat bloating, gas, and even irritable bowel syndrome. The purchase trend for this form of bromelain has grown rapidly over recent years, so there may actually be some truth to the claim. I wouldn’t recommend jumping on the wagon straight away, though, as we still don’t know what the long-term effects are.
Yet another "up-in-the-air" claim is that bromelain can reduce the swelling, inflammation, and bruising that can result from injuries or surgery. Bromelain wouldn’t be applied directly to the injured area, but studies have suggested that the regular consumption of bromelain supplements can speed up the initial recovery process. It must seem pretty promising because this technique has been approved for use in Germany since 1993. Jess’ note: I guess I better start stocking up on pineapple! They even use this for a gouty toe!

There are some known risks about bromelain supplements that you should be aware of if you are thinking about taking them. Diarrhea, nausea, and upset stomach are fairly common if bromelain is taken on a regular basis. Other reports suggest that vomiting, drowsiness or sluggishness, and heavy bleeding during menstruation. Anyone with an allergy to pineapple should definitely stay away from products containing bromelain, as they are likely to experience an allergic reaction to the enzyme.
It is recommended that people with peptic ulcers or people who are taking any kind of prescription medication consult their doctor before taking bromelain supplements. Bromelain supplements have not been proven safe for consumption by pregnant or breastfeeding women, or for children. So, while this pineapple enzyme makes a killer steak tenderizer, its safety and usefulness towards health issues is simply unconfirmed and should be used with caution–preferably under the supervision of a doctor.

I can’t believe this guy’s face isn’t being dissolved by the pineapple enzyme bromalain!!!!

Two thongs don’t make a right…

I’ve been subscribing to the CrossFit PT guru, Kelly Starret’s, blog for the past few months. I have never been more disturbed by one of his posts, than what he video blogged the other day. A public service announcement.. to athletes…. (deep breath), I don’t even know if I can say it aloud… here goes… TRASH YOUR FLIP FLOPS!!!! No joke, the guru says ya gotta get rid of the flips for flops sake! Can you believe it??? Even brides sport these thingity thongs thinking they’ll be more comfortable throughout their one enchanted evening. I was definitely intrigued by his post and decided to do a little more flippin’ research to find out what all the flop was about… I wasn’t about to flee my flops before getting the four one one.

Sadly, it’s looking bad for the flop, feeding them to the dumpster might not be such a bad idea.

Researchers at Auburn University have found that wearing flip-flops alters the way one walks, changing the gait in subtle ways that can lead to serious sole, heel and ankle problems. They presented these findings earlier this month at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.
The Auburn team videotaped 39 flip-flop-wearing volunteers and noticed how they scrunched their toes to keep the flip-flip on the foot while the heel lifted in the air. This motion stretches the plantar fascia, the connective tissue that runs from heel to toe, causing inflammation, pain along the sole, heel spurs and tired feet in general.

These symptoms were actually what flip-flop wearers at Auburn University had reported upon returning to classes in the fall. An entire summer of flip-flop wearing had taken its toll.

The researchers also found that the volunteers altered their gait , taking shorter strides and turning their ankles inward, likely to keep the flip-flop from falling off. This, the researchers worry, can cause long-term ankle and hip problems.
Sandals with heel straps are the healthier choice because your foot doesn’t need to clench to keep the footwear secure. These kinds of shoes offer better arch and heel support, too.
Toes are another problem area. "When you wear flip-flops, you kind of scrunch your toes to keep the flip-flop on your foot," Shroyer says. That constant pressure often adds up to throbbing and tenderness in the toes. "The body is an amazing machine," Shroyer explains. "When you do one thing, other things turn off and on. By engaging the muscles that scrunch your toes, you are turning off the muscles that would bring your toes up." That also means that you can’t lift your foot up as much when you walk—hence the characteristic flip-flop shuffle.
Flip flops’ design offers no protection for your feet. The thin heel and tiny straps across the top of your foot leave your foot susceptible to various injuries. Stubbed toes, cuts and heel abrasions are typical injuries incurred from wearing flip flops.  Some flip flops can cause you to trip and fall. All in all, flip flops lack protection for your feet.
They lead to calluses and heel fissures. All that pounding on the back of your foot hardens the skin, and since your feet are exposed to air, the skin
Doctors recommend that flip flops should be saved for the beach and replaced with shoes with backs or proper straps to hold the foot in place. Figures show that 55,100 men and women went to hospital with flip flop-related complaints in 2002.

SO… there you have it. Flip Flops get a lot of flack, but they deserve it. I don’t think I can bring myself to actually ditch my digit denigrating sandals, but I will be more aware of the types of activities I engage in while sporting those “healthy leg” thwarting thongs. What’s a better alternative? I have to say, I love my five fingers and new balance minimus have a great ventilation system. There’s always Teva, Keene, and Birkenstocks…. but these guys won the American Podiatric Medical Association’s approval: Orthaheel, Chaco, Mozkito, and SOLE, but even with the added arch support, your toes still have to do a lot of work to keep the flip on your foot. Wearing a sandal with a heel strap is your best alternative, which is what Guru Starrett and endurance trainer B. Mack suggest. In fact, they both urge you, the athlete, to ditch any type of open backed shoe because it alters your gate and messes with your precious piggies. Oh…. if you’re thinking of actually trashing your flips, drive em on over to your closest Old Navy and they’ll recycle them for you (thanks Courtney).

Try this MWOD (mobility work out of the day) to assess the tenderness and flexibility of your plantar fascia

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