A Little Change Will Do Me Good

You know that awesome relentlessness and commitment (a.k.a., stubbornness) that keeps me moving through workouts and helps me say ‘no’ to Tiff’s Treats in the corporate overlords’ office?

It also has a dark side.

It can make me resistant to and fearful of change, even if I don’t particularly like the situation I’m in. Sometimes, familiarity trumps my true desire.

When life imploded about 10 weeks ago, my therapist’s advice was to not make any changes for a while – to find comfort in and hold onto my identity via my routine. That was excellent advice and, it helped me tremendously. It was like pushing through a Life WOD: workout, eat, sleep, work. Keep moving, keep breathing, take advantage of the energy of the people at my side.

Throughout that experience, I’ve had the opportunity (Look at me, clinging to that silver lining!) to examine my habits and decide which ones are still working for me and which ones are not. I’m still not 100% on solid ground yet, but the spontaneous bursts of sobs and panicky feelings have subsided – and I’ve been feeling that some changes are in order.

Here are a few things I learned that were the catalyst for a pretty big change in my life:

1. I don’t like going to bed at 9:00 p.m. to wake up at 5:00 a.m. anymore.
Now that my thyroid hormones are working, and I have what I consider normal amounts of energy, I’m just not tired at 9:00 p.m. I’m still alert, thinking, moving, reading, playing the piano, folding laundry etc. when I’m supposed to be hitting the pillow. At this time of year, it’s not even dark yet at 9:00 p.m. I’m over it.

2. I don’t like getting up at 5:00 a.m. anymore.
There was a time when I adored the disciplined feeling of waking up at 4:55 a.m. in the dark to go do my super hard workout. I WANTED to be hard on myself. Right or wrong, forcing myself to do something that felt so difficult and unnatural was really good for my self-image. THEN. Now, I want to be more restful, a little gentler… a superhero that proudly wears a giant M on her chest but doesn’t have anything to prove. O:dark:30 has very little appeal unless there are extraordinary circumstances. As a lifestyle, I’m over it.

3. I’ve never eaten a clean dino-chow diet, done CrossFit 4X per week, and had a WORKING thyroid.
For the first time in my life – think about that: First. Time. In. My. Life. – I feel like I get to decide how much I want to train. Previously, I was haunted by fear: fear of being/getting fat… fear of not measuring up… fear of being perceived by others as weak or lazy… fear that I’d think I was weak and lazy. Now I’m excited about the possibilities of training hard but not being dogged by fear… of eating clean but not worrying about gaining weight… it’s a whole new world, people

Part of this ‘whole new world’ is trying a new CrossFit gym. I know! It’s surprising, right?

I’ve been with CrossFit Central since my very first bootcamp on October 1, 2007. The process of deciding to try a new box was a long, thoughtful one. Crystal McReynolds has been my trusted coach, mentor, cheerleader, and friend, so leaving her class was not taken lightly.

Today was my first official class at CrossFit Austin. I’m trying it on for size… testing out a new class time, new programming, new coaches, and new classmates. The gym is only 10 minutes from my house (instead of 20-25) and because class is at 6:30 instead of 5:45, I can sleep an entire hour more every night – which means bedtime is now a more reasonable 10:00 p.m. It’s even dark then!

I’m also going back to a M-W-F rotation for classes, then Saturday is play outside day, and Tuesday is running. I have a lot of work to do on my running. Frexciting!

My coach this morning was Tristy Stephens, and I can tell already that she’s going to be a powerful source of motivation and knowledge. My class is co-ed (new experience!) and had six people, including me… all boys, all in their 20s. They FLEW through the workout, but at about round 3, I realized I was doing the same workout as boys that were almost half my age. I might have strutted a little.

Our workout
5 rounds, for time:
10 unbroken burpees
15 unbroken box jumps, 20″ tire
60 jump ropes – if you mess up, start over at 1
2:00 rest

Tristy asked that we do the burpees unbroken for at least the first three rounds – I did all the rounds of burpees and box jumps without taking breaks mid-stream. I thought my lungs were going to burst out of my chest.

On the fourth round, I was on jump rope #58 when I tripped on the rope. MOTHERF-ER!!!

My time: 18:something

I was immensely pleased to have finished in under 20 minutes – and delighted to be filthy, very sweaty, and smiling. The guys were cool, and I got a high five.

Our cashout was deadhang pullups: hold one second at the top, then lower from the bar for a count of five. I eked out 12 by doing them three at a time, jumping from a box. It feels oddly good to see all the areas where I need improvement and to be excited about tackling them – instead of feeling like a failure for not conquering them yet (new experience!).

I should also mention that we did a quad stretch during the warmup that felt like a fillet knife under the muscle, rolled out our shoulders with a lacrosse ball during post-workout stretches that felt like I was being drawn and quartered (but made my arms feel nice and long), and did a thing called the prisoner walk that required us to squat low then walk in the squat position with our hands held out in front of us. I never want to do it again (but definitely will if Tristy says so).

First day at CrossFit Austin: A+.

Now, on a completely unrelated note, a poem by D.H. Lawrence, courtesy of CrossFit NYC. I responded to the poem ’cause sometimes I overindulge in feeling just a little bit sorry for myself. I’m gonna stop that.

Self Pity
I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

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  • Bill says:

    Awesome everywhere.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Thanks, Bill! It was a pretty great workout experience this morning. Humbling and energizing at the same time — best kind of WOD.

  • Anniebug, bugger or BUG. says:

    Congrats on stepping out of The Comfort Zone and trying out a new box! That is huge and I'm excited for you!

    On a un-related note, my friend is actually holding a couple seminars that I think might interest you. There is one tomorrow to get together and work on a Vision Board (this one is free!) and another starting July 5th called "Art of Feminine Presence".

    Vision Board: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/725084748

    Art of Feminine Presence: http://www.advocateforselfishness.com/2008/01/art-of-feminine-presence-class.html

    Here is her site: http://www.advocateforselfishness.com/

  • girlblake says:

    That's so exciting to try a new gym! I completely agree with the need to adjust your schedule to one that is conducive to healing and a happy life. And maybe we can play outside on one of your "off" mornings. It's fun to learn new things and meet new people, even when we're more comfortable with the tried and true. I always have to remind myself of that.

  • meghan says:

    I guess I'll be the first one to say it publicly but in the manner of human nature, I'm curious as to what is going on in your life that inspired (wrong word?) such upheaval. Not that I expect you to answer the question, but just sayin, yes. I'm nosy. A little too because I had my own life crumpling around me period last summer and wanted to reassure you that it all does come back together in the best and most unexpected of ways, eventually. usually requires massive relinquishing of control, as I learned.

  • Fontaine says:

    I have to say I always enjoy your writing. Your hopefulness and optimism are touching. In fact they are just what I needed today. Thanks.

  • barbara says:

    I agree with Bill. Awesome has exploded all over your blog…

    Empowered you are..

  • Lydia says:

    Speak to me more of this quad stretch, pretty please? My quads are super flexy and I have a bear of a time finding stretches that are worth my while.

    Hurray for good change!

  • Wes Kimball says:

    Mel, we're stoked to have you as a part of the Circle of Awesomeness! Strong work today, and I know my sisters going to be jazzed to have another lady in the 6:30 class with her when she gets back from Vacay! Oh and Tristy is legit!

  • jenna says:

    Big changes. Rock on.

    I did both my "free intro class" as well as my on-ramping in rooms full of boys half my age. I cannot even tell you how awesome it felt to keep up with them and, more than once, beat them. I don't tell the story often because people who aren't in that situation (the 'weaker' sex in a room full of boy bait) have NO CONCEPTION how that particular double-whammy feels. It brings up all kinda stuff I'd rather not come up, ever.

    So I just push it down with rage and really big barbells 🙂

    Anyway. Good luck at the new box.

  • Danni says:

    As a stranger looking in from the outside, I sincerely doubt a single person would percieve you as weak, lazy or at all fat. You seem pretty badass and should embrace your badassedness and get up and go to bed when you want. Whatever this horrific-ness is in your life, kick its butt and don't let it defeat you. If you're not feeling badass, just channel your inner Chuck Norris 🙂

  • Ehsa says:

    I absolutely LOVE that you've recognized what wasn't working and done a detour on your routine! Woof! Like many of your readers, I'm wondering what awful thing has invaded your life (and am so sorry for it), admire you for blogging through it, and am just astonished at how you continue to make my life better in your postings. Thanks so much: The new Wake-Up time is very cool, Tristy is The Bomb, and it sounds like you're headed in the right direction.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Man! A girl steps away from her blog to do the corporate overlords' bidding and finds tons of comment-love on her return. FANTASTIC!

    Anniebug –> It *was* huge to make this change, but now that I've done it, I'm, like, "Duh!" Seriously. I can't believe it took me this long to realize I had the power to change the things that weren't working. Forest, trees, etc. I love Lauren's site and approach. Thanks for sharing that here.

    Blake –> You inspired me! I was sad when you switched classes, but it also showed me that I could do it, too! Remember when I complained to you about being in "good health jail"? This change has been brewing since then, and I'm grateful to you for helping me evolve. YES! Let's play together on an 'off' day — especially if it includes coffee/breakfast and girl talk after.

    Meghan –> I'm nosy, too! I've been wondering if and when someone would ask about the specifics of my — for lack of a better word — crisis. It feels not-quite-right to talk about the details, but I will say it was painful, surprising, and very personal. Thank you for the reassurance. I really do know that everything will work out just as it's meant to… just need to breathe through it all now.

    Fontaine –> Thank you for the compliment on my writing; you're very kind. I'm glad you got a dose of what you needed today! And your comment gave me a little boost, too… so thank you!

    Barbara –> I'm so fortunate to have friends like you to let me vent and help me sweat it out on Saturday mornings. Thanks a ton for helping me weather that workout.

    Lydia –> Here's a link that shows the advanced version of the stretch — http://www.fitsugar.com/Stretch-Kneeling-Quad-Stretch-Against-Wall-1626823 I couldn't get into that chest-up position… mine was more like a hurdler stretch with my back leg against the wall and my chest more forward against my knee. Apparently I'm not very flexible. This should come as a surprise to exactly no one.

    Wes –> As you can see, I am TOTALLY stoked to join y'all. I love your programming and can't wait to meet your sister.

    Jenna –> I look forward to the day I can keep up with the dudes. They pretty much smoked me today, but couldn't have been more supportive or cool about it. I actually really liked the energy — it was a fun change from my all women's class, and I definitely had some ego happening which kept me moving through the reps. I didn't want to be the old lady that couldn't do 10 unbroken burpees. I gotta represent!

    Danni –> You're so sweet and lovely with the compliments. Thank you. If I may say, somewhat immodestly, I do think I'm pretty badass NOW, but I wasn't always this dino-chow-fueled, CrossFit-inspired version of me. And for a long time, I was worried the old me would come back. I know now that's very unlikely. (You can read about the "old" me here — http://theclothesmakethegirl.blogspot.com/2009/01/glancing-back-looking-ahead.html — and here — http://theclothesmakethegirl.blogspot.com/2009/12/one-year-at-goal-weight.html)
    My pledge to you is that I will channel my inner Chuck Norris every day.

    Ehsa –> Blogging about this crazy period in my life is helping me immensely. When everything kind of imploded, my initial reaction was to stop blogging until I felt better. RIDICULOUS! One day I decided instead that I didn't need to talk about the personal details to share what I'm learning — and that maybe I could help somebody else if they hit a rough patch. Maybe some day when it's all "a thing that happened once," I'll be able to tell y'all the gory details. And yes, sleeping later = da bomb, Tristy = THE BOMB. Thanks so much for posting!

  • Kim Dowse says:

    great post today! also, say "hello" to schuylkill county for me. safe travels home!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Kim! My fellow Schuyk! I would say I'd bring you Tastykakes, but that seems wrong. Instead I'll just wave to them across the grocery store and say, "Kim says she likes pullups more than you, stupid poison snack cakes." 😉

  • Amanda says:

    I so admire this! I am in the middle of a big emotional upheaval as well and I'm beginning to question those exact same things. Who am I if I'm not the girl that gets up at 4:50 every morning and heads to the gym? Who am I if I'm not the girl that eats perfectly all the time? I love reading your blog and I will continue to come here for support, encouragement and inspiration!

  • meghan says:

    Ahh and just read you're coming back to PA? We really must schedule a coffee/workout. You can come to my CF box!

  • Lydia says:

    That quad stretch looks outrageous! I can't wait to try it. I'm so gonna do that after dance class tonight.


  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Amanda –> Thanks for writing and letting me know I'm not alone in the "what kind of girl am I going to be?" question. Isn't it amazing to realize you don't NEED to set the alarm for some ungodly hour to like yourself?! WOOT!

    Meghan –> I really would love that. I've got come sometime for more than a long weekend so I can split my time with my family and working up a sweat with you!

    Lydia –> Let me know how it goes. I was in AGONY in the most modified position… groaning and sweating. Ridiculous!

  • Tristy says:

    Wow I sign on to read your blog and I see my name. Thanks so much for all the sweet comments! I am so excited that you have joined our little Crossfit family! You are a fantastic addition and I am very very much looking forward to working with you and getting to know you better! I'll do my best to motivate you and inspire you daily:). The good times are yet to come! Whatever is going on in your personal life, I'm sure you are already on your way to making it better. You are so strong and smart! I'm always here if you need a friendly ear to chat.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Tristy! I'm really happy to be part of CrossFit Austin, too! Thanks so much for the incredibly warm welcome — and for all the excellent cuing and motivation. I just know you're going to help me conquer that damn pullup bar and handstand fear!