In late January I mentioned that I was going through some mental gyrations as I wrestled with setting my fitness goals for 2014. I questioned whether it might be time for me to hit Reset.
A year and a half ago I stumbled into CrossFit and Paleo in my quest for health and fitness. My over-arching goal was to live well. To be healthy, strong and vibrant.
This combination worked well, perhaps too well, as I found myself approaching the end of 2013 hitting the gym 5-6 days a week and consuming in excess of 3000 calories, just to sustain myself. But I was not getting stronger, I was getting weaker. I was doing too much and not allowing adequate time for my body to heal. I wasn’t recovered before I stepped foot into the gym again.
My passion for the work, the environment, and my friends, had eclipsed my true purpose for being there – to improve my health.
In January I cut back the days in the gym, to three days a week, allowing a day off to recover. It was a simple theory. But it didn’t quite work out as planned.
The workouts that were scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday didn’t always jive with my goals to lift more weight and do fewer MetCons. So I found myself Cherry Picking which days I would go, or not. That’s fine, but that threw off my plan to go M,W,F, so rest days between workouts were now out of whack.
I also mentioned earlier this week that long MetCons are taking a toll on me, with long recovery, high blood pressure and an overall feeling of being trashed for two to three days. More reason for cherry picking WODs.
I have also been paying more attention to rest. Evenings were my time for writing, but I have increased my sleeping from 6.5 hours of rest to 8-9 hours. I go to bed about 8:00 and read until I dose off.
You may be asking yourself how this working out for me. Well I am really missing my 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. friends. This has been a social community for me, so to have my attendance so erratic is unsettling. But when I go into the gym to lift, I lift well. My squats are getting better and I’m feeling strong. But if I do a 20 minute MetCon, the wheels fall off,…for days!
“there’s a trend, especially among those new to CrossFit and inexperienced with programming, to ride that met-con train all the way to Cortisol Crazytown.” – Melissa Joulwan – Whole 9
I find I can handle Tabata MetCons. 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, for only four minutes. That gets my cardio-clock a’ tickin’. But it doesn’t trash me.
I did some online searching to support my disdain for MetCons. One of the things I discovered is that long, intense MetCons can reduce sex hormone production, through a phenomenon knows as Pregnenolone Steal. Simply stated, your body thinks it is it a struggle for survival, so it shifts all of it’s hormonal manufacturing capacity to cortisol, thereby robbing the body of it’s ability to produce sex hormones.
This makes perfectly good sense living in the wild. If I am being chased by an angry bear, my body is more concerned with immediate survival, than it is with procreation of the species. But we live in a modern world, where most of us live for generations without ever being in life-threatening danger. It is a sad commentary that our lives are so stressful that our physiological response is as if a true threat actually existed.
It addition to all the potential health implications of this syndrome, a reduced capacity to produce testosterone is contrary to what an old man needs when he is trying to build muscle.
Many of us in the CrossFit Community are quite familiar with Robb Wolf. He is an iconic personality in the ancestral health movement, and he doesn’t hold back. I found a guest post on Rob’s blog that addressed the very concerns that I have regarding long MetCons, articulated far better than I am able. Please give it a read.
For all my friends who are reading this, please note that I love CrossFit, but I do not love everything about CrossFit. I am going into this year with the mindset that I will take the best, and leave the rest. My primary focus has to be about being healthy, strong and vibrant. My desire is to remain challenged, but I reserve the right to say “No!” when things are outside of the scope of my long-term goals.
Be Defiant! Be Well!