Strength Monday – 04/23/12 (w/ Bonus Superhero Habits)

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In my quest for lean superhero-ness, I’m following the Wendler 5/3/1 strength training program. Twice a week, Dave and I are hitting the craptastic gym in our Converse to lift heavy and crank through a mini-metcon.

Back from the beach — back under the barbell.

A few things I should mention now that I’m back at the gym and my desk:

1. I drank some serious pina coladas on my half-vacation.
I also ate potato chips (!!!) and corn tortilla chips; did some damage to a platter of fried flour tortillas with guacamole; inhaled a piece of French bread; licked up homemade spicy cream sauce made by Carlina for a dinner party on our patio; and doused everything with more than my fair share of Salsa Lizano which definitely contains some sneaky-deaky, non-paleo ingredients. I relaxed my eating rules for the week and found a pretty good balance between enjoying myself and taking care of myself. Breakfast was eggs or leftover meat with plaintains and sautéed cabbage — I took my Hot Plates on vacation with me — but I definitely indulged in some afternoon cocktails and, oh, yeah! I forgot about the almond cake Dave and I ate at Cantarana Restaurant.

2. Working out on vacation totally rocks.
Dave and I have enjoyed some of our best runs while on vacations all over the place. It’s a far cry from the “old me” who packed workout gear and shoes countless times, only to let them languish in a suitcase, carted back and forth on planes without ever being used. It was running and CrossFit that finally broke the exercise-on-vacation curse. Running is one of the most fun ways to explore a new place, and a 10-minute CrossFit workout, like our Tropical Tabata, allows me to work up a sweat that makes me feel like I deserve my vacation. A good workout on vaca also reminds me of who I am in “real life” so I don’t lose myself in vacationland.

3. I am as pale right now as when I left home.
And I’m so glad! I enjoyed 15-20 minutes every day in direct sunlight to charge up my Vitamin D machine, and the rest of the time, I was smart about seeking out the shade as much as possible, without putting the damper on my fun or coating myself in sunscreen. It was liberating to not be so worried all the time about if it was time to re-apply. (See the Paleo Parents for  a post from Paleo Mama on “How To Avoid Sunburn Naturally.”)

4. I’m on 35 days of wicked clean habits.
On May 26, Dave and I are off to Maya Tulum for a yoga retreat in Mexico. I know! It all seems very indulgent, doesn’t it? We’d already booked our trip to Mexico when we got the invite to Costa Rica, and as I explained in this post, I thought it was really important for my personal growth to accept the Costa Rica challenge. Now that I’m back from my debauchery on the beach, I definitely need to give my new supplement routine from Dr. Sebring an opportunity to work, and that means minimizing the number of variables we’re juggling in this Mel Experiment™. So I need to kick in all my superhero training habits: strict diet, 8 hours of sleep every night, smart training, meditation and yoga — everything I can do to support the supplements while they work to balance out my whackadoodle hormones. I’m pretty excited about these next few weeks, actually. I’m rejuvenated and invigorated. Plus, I have a new notebook to take notes every day for the next 35 days, and I love an excuse for a new notebook! But it’s gotta be the Mead college-ruled composition book, like this: (I should also confess that I like really sh*tty black Bic ballpoint pens, too.)

This morning, it felt great to hit the craptastic to move some iron. It’s the beginning of our fourth month with the Wendler 5/3/1 program, and I’m excited to see the progress we’ve been making.

5:00 treadmill run
10 slow PVC back squats + 10 rotations
10 slow PVC OH squats + 10 rotations
10 goblet squats w/ 16kg kettlebell
10 behind-the neck press + 10 good mornings
PVC shoulder mobility


5 @ 65% of max = 110#
5 @ 75% of max = 135#
max reps @ 85% of max = 145# – I did 9.

Overhead Press:
5 @ 65% of max = 55#
5 @ 75% of max = 65#
max reps @ 85% of max = 70# – I did 7.


No sweatcon today! I was a guest speaker in a class called “Sociology of Sports” at Huston-Tillotson University today. I got to talk about my Roller Derby days.

Did you workout today? Tell us about it!

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  • Andrea says:

    45 minute brisk walk in the early morning Colorado sunshine with my faithful 4 legged best friend! It was an awesome way to start my day.

  • Erika says:

    Woman! I, too, have been devoted to those very same composition books– since high school! And they have to be college ruled. I also love the crappy bic black ballpoint, but it has to be a fine point, and those are hard to find. As are college rulings. When I find them both, I snap them up. They are the black Chuck Taylors of stationery supplies.

    Hey, I’m going to start running again, all because of you and the zombies. Thanks for the tip.

  • aseafish says:

    I love this. I only fantasize about such things as flour tortillas. I will live vicariously now and then. If only I could get myself to follow your lead in the area of exercise.

  • Melephant says:

    Hi Mel! Your vacation sounds kick-ass. It makes me super-excited to run on the beach (and maybe improvise a few Great Lakes Tabata workouts)when I head up to Lake Michigan with my fam at the end of July.
    Today I took a breezy 10 mile bike ride and hit up the gym for some squats, deadlifts and box jumps. Then I ran up and down the stairs leading up to the gym for five minutes and biked home.

  • Danielle says:

    Yes, I did workout today! Set my alarm for 5:30 and was at the gym by 6:00. Felt like I had already accomplished so much by the time I got home just around 7:00 and loaded with energy too. Even now, as I write this (almost 10pm), I’m not exhausted like I usually am. Since I felt so good today, I’m planning on doing it again tomorrow.

    Very jealous of your trip to CR – was there about 10 years ago on my honeymoon and would go back in a heartbeat. We were in a few different areas, but the most memorable was an eco-lodge called Lapa Rios in the very southernmost peninsula. Slept (barely) three nights there with an uninvited guest in our hut – a “baby” boa constrictor. But the ocean, the rainforest hikes, the surfing, the fishing, the people and the food definitely outweighed the boa. And yes, we came back with several bottles of Lizano salsa in our bags (that was waaaaaaaay before Paleo was in my lexicon). Glad you had such a great trip. There’s so much to see and it’s all so varied so if you ever get a chance to go again, jump on it!

    • Mel says:

      Good on you for jump starting your day!

      Um… I was SO worried about critters in CR. Turns out, they were all friendly. I owe y’all a post about the adorbs crabs that swarmed everywhere for two days. I’m glad I didn’t see a boa.

  • Melissa G. says:

    OMG I am planning a yoga trip to Maya Tulum, too! I cannot believe y’all are headed there! I have been combing through all the yoga retreats listed on Maya Tulum’s website trying to decide which one I should do, or if I should just go for the standard regular yoga package offered by the hotel. Which are you doing, and how did you decide???

    • Mel says:

      We’re going on a trip put together by our yoga studio Yoga Yoga here in Austin. Our instructors are going down there to teach, and I think we’re taking over the whole place. Sorry I can’t be of any help in deciding!

  • Jessica Newman says:

    Hi —
    Your vacation looked wonderful! I was just curious about the running. Do you run a limited amount? I’ve been reading other blogs and it seems that some other Crossfit coaches don’t recommend running very often (especially for women). It seems like it is more long distance/marathon running that they are against. Before I started Paleo I ran and enjoyed it. I never did more than 6 miles, and probably now only run a couple of miles. Just curious what your take was on it.
    Thanks for sharing your Paleo journey! I have your cookbook and have really enjoyed your blog 🙂

    • Mel says:

      I run twice a week, about 30-40 minutes per session, and I take walk breaks, so it’s more like intervals than steady-state cardio. I *used* to run long (half marathon, triathlon), and that did me no favors. Emotionally I liked the challenge, but it didn’t change my body comp in a favorable way, so I stopped doing that.

      Thanks for buying Well Fed!

      • Cortney says:

        I’ve always been curious about what seems like the opposition between Crossfit/Paleo folks avoiding long distance/endurance running and the recent evidence that endurance running is exactly how early humans were able to eat meat prior to weapons- by running it to death.

        How is it that our ability to run an animal to death (which likely required some serious endurance) is bad for us? Even the reasoning of “well, we probably only did that a few times a week at most” doesn’t make sense to me, because if that’s true, why do Paleo diets feature meat at every meal?

        It’s something that I’m curious about, and I don’t know if you can answer it…

        • Mel says:

          Hey, Cortney. I don’t have a good answer for you — I’m SO not an expert on anything except how my body feels when I try different stuff. I’ve read the (conflicting) advice out there and since I’m having some issues with adrenal glands/thyroid, decided to keep my running to under an hour — mostly because it feels good that way and I don’t want to stress my overly-stressed system.

          You might hit up for answers — I know he advocates not doing a lot of long distance stuff.

          • Cortney says:

            Ah, that definitely makes sense with the adrenal gland issues. It’s been awhile since I’ve checked out Mark’s site, I’ll go over there and root around. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Windy says:

    Welcome back!
    2 CF workouts today.

  • Michelle says:

    CrossFit workout! 4 min. AMRAP 10 dead lifts and 25 double unders, followed by 30-20-10 box jumps and toes to bar. It was crazy awesome! Are you doing CrossFit as well as the strength work?

    • Mel says:

      That 30-20-10 sounds fun… and by fun I mean “torturous” but awesome.

      I do mini-metcons sometimes after my strength workouts — and I run 2X a week, and yoga 3X a week.

  • Rose says:

    Hi Melissa,
    Crossfit workout today:
    50 double unders (sub- SSD-25)
    40 squats
    30 KBS (35#)
    20 jumping pull ups
    10 Thrusters (53#)
    400M run
    10 Thrusters (53#)
    20 jumping pull ups
    30 KBS (35#)
    40 squats
    50 double unders (sub- SSD-25)
    Time: 16:08
    Amazing !!!

    Welcome back.

  • Lydia says:

    I passed my CrossFit elements test last night!


    I’m still having issues with squats, though, due to some under- and over-development issues in my adductors, quads, and glutes (I’m guessing 22 years of bellydance with no cross-training is the culprit). So I’ve been advised to continue attending the elements classes and doing one-on-one “squat therapy” with the coaches until they’re no longer worried about my knees caving in (even on air squats).

    But YAY I passed the movements test and did my first Fran!

    *iz excited*

    • Mel says:

      LYDIA! Congratulations! That is totally awesome. YAY!

      As for squats: Dave had to so some remedial squat work when he first started CF, too — but now, he’s a squatting pro. Glad you’re working on it with your coaches; you’ll nail it no time.

      OMG. Fran. Congratulations and I’m sorry.

      • Lydia says:

        I’m just excited that I’ll be able to do Real Squats at all, after two physical therapists told me I’d never be able to do them. Even if it takes me a year to get there, that’s cool. I’m not in a race or anything.

        And HA! For me, Fran really wasn’t so bad, although the pull-ups about killed me (even with a big old band). I think I don’t share your hate of Thrusters.

  • Jen says:

    4 rounds:
    400m run
    25 russian twists w/14# med ball
    15 jump squats
    10 burpees

    Fun stuff!

  • Kevin says:

    I also have an unnatural love for crappy Bic pens, (the ones you find at hotels, with the white body and black cap) sadly they seem to have vanished from stores, at least where I am.

  • Mike says:

    Let’s hear it for crappy Bic pens. Woo Hoo!

    My favorite is the clear-barrel, blue ink version. I have a little rubber ‘grippy thing’ on mine (as an aftermarket accessory). 🙂

    And let me tell you, when I misplace it…all hell breaks loose until it’s found.

    I love my Bic pen.

    P.S. Are we crazy, or what? LOL!

  • Leslie says:

    I have been following you blog for awhile now, and am gaining inspiration to begin my crossfit journey…
    As a mother of 2 (4 yrs and 1 yr) plus working full time I am struggling to find time to take care of myself. I have decided that this summer will be my time! I am nervous and intimidated by crossfit but know it will be the kick in the pants I need to get me to where I want to be.
    Thanks for the great blog!

    • Mel says:

      Leslie, I’m so excited for you! Congratulations on making this summer your time for CrossFit. That’s awesome!

      In 2008, I declared a “Summer of Awesomeness” and did the same thing: worked hard at CrossFit, ate great, ran around the lake. It was the best summer of my life.

      Have so much fun. Keep us posted on how you’re doing!