Motivation

Some days, I feel super motivated to keep going in my journey towards being healthy. I’ve managed to keep on track with the Whole30 for the past week (my second round at it) and having 8 days off from work means I can get my workouts in easily. Not having to deal with sciatic pain is a lovely added bonus and still a welcome novelty to me.

Some days weeks, however, it is harder to find the motivation. I get stuck in a funk at times and I wonder why I put myself through all of this. What is the benefit of all this torture fitness known as Crossfit. Why did I keep waking up at 0500 for 2 whole years, paying good, hard-earned money to subject myself to workouts that are so demanding, I sometimes end up crying on the mat at the end. Nowadays, the 0500 wake-up call have been replaced by rushing through the morning routine for school for the girls, WOD at 0930, then rushing to get ready to pick up Béa from preschool, or groceries or cooking. Some days, I sit down for the first time at 5pm and I’m exhausted. Why do I suck up all of the precious energy I have and go “waste” it all on a workout? Why, you say? I’ll tell you why.

I’m tired. ALL.THE.TIME. It doesn’t matter that I get to sleep in one day a month or not. I’m the wife of a husband who travels a lot for work which means I’m “single-married” (married, but alone at home with the kids for extended periods of time) a lot.

I’m a NICU nurse and I work shift-work and have been doing so for the past 10 years. 10 years of switching between nights and days on a dime. It takes its toll on a body. More recently, I have gone into a Charge Nurse position. I love the challenges it has brought upon me, but it can be added stress at times. That also doesn’t help making me feel less tired.

I’m a mom to 2 lovely, cuddly, active little girls. They like to be on the go and we try to accommodate that as much as possible. Some days, I crave 5 mins to myself. Even if we don’t do something big, they constantly want us to be involved in their little play, which means I can’t focus on anything I’d like to be doing for myself. That’s ok though, if I have a little bit of energy left in the evening after they’ve gone to bed is when I usually try to focus on myself. If the energy is AWOL, I usually just sit and watch TV and find some other time to do MY things.

When you put all those realities of my life together, it’s only normal that I need an outlet to REALLY focus on myself: my physical, emotional and mental well-being. THAT’S why I do Crossfit. When I am there, it’s usually 1hr of my life where I only need to make minimal decisions: Will I use 55lbs or 65lbs for the WOD? Do I need my wrist wraps or not?, etc. Nobody’s life hangs in my hands and I can let out of all the emotions that have been bottled up inside my short little body. Am I exhausted at the end of a WOD? For sure! Then again, I’m always exhausted and at least, I’ve done something for myself to get in better health!

Lately, I have struggled to find the motivation to get going. Whether it’s because the PRs don’t come as easily as they used to or because I have struggled with my sciatica, I’m not sure. I was talking to Kathleen about that a few weeks ago and I was debating taking a break. It is a scary thought. I feel like I would probably get lost if I didn’t do Crossfit. Either that, or I’m afraid I would never go back and all the hard work (and money) invested in myself for the past 2 years would be a total waste. Because of those fears, I have kept going, pushed through the struggles and injury and keep telling myself things will look brighter again soon (hopefully). When I really struggle with my motivation, I like to “check-in” with myself. I did one of those “check-in” 2 days ago and it has lit up a small fire of determination to keep going:

Top is on my 1st day of Crossfit, bottom is a few days ago. 28 months in between pictures

Top is on my 1st day of Crossfit, bottom is a few days ago. 28 months in between pictures

Sure the progress could be a lot better, but like I said, I’m a wife, a mom and a nurse. My diet isn’t always the best and I workout 1-3x/week at best. Progress is progress and seeing it helps re-focus my drive.

This morning was my first day back at the Box for Oly lifting in over a month. I was debating going at all as I feel like I have to re-learn everything about my snatch and C&J as well. I decided to go in anyway with the philosophy that everyone has to start somewhere. I don’t want to make the coaches feel like they are wasting their time with me, but I also would like to move past my injury and finally get proficient at those Olympic lifts. Coach Caleb wasn’t there this morning and we had the lovely Coach Val to guide us through our session. Karen and I struggle with dropping into the squat in the snatch and Coach Val has given us some pointers to fire up our hips and drop quickly.

I was trying with an empty 35#-bar this morning and Coach Val suggested I get a training bar (10#) and put some plates on it so that I would get the proper feel of the bar. That meant I started my snatch work at a very low weight, but I was at peace with that. I got my Dynamax ball for my butt depth into the squat and got working on things.

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Snatch 6×2 E2M: Here were my reps for this one:

30#-35#-40#-45#-50#-50#

I stayed at 50# for my last 2 rounds and had to drop the bar in-between all my reps in order to reset my form, but I managed to get it done and somewhat drop into the squat. I was happy with that. Not quite at the 90% target of my 1RM (50# was 77% of my “fake 1RM of 65# and 83% of my real 1RM of 60#), but not too bad considering I’m re-learning to move safely for my sciatic. I was glad I managed to get up that high as I was expecting to stay at 45# and just work on form.

Death by Power Cleans: It was my 1st time doing this one and since I don’t even have a 1RM at 92.5# for my C&J, I was definitely going to scale down for this one. After discussing with Coach Val, I decided on 65# and warmed up to that. Coach Val told us to aim for 10 rounds and I felt like I would probably bail out before then, but I went it anyway. I managed to go unbroken for rounds 1-7 and then things started to slow down a little after that. I had to drop the bar a few times during my round of 8, then started introducing singles into the round of 9. I was pretty pumped to complete the round of 10 and still have 15s to catch my breath before diving into the round of 11! 😉  I had to do them all as singles and there were a few reps that I caught really high in my neck, but I pushed through and squeezed in my last rep with 1s left in the round. Technically, I could have started right away on the round of 12, but I had nothing left in the tank. My for was getting wonky, my neck was catching the bar more and more and my left wrist was getting slow in the catch so I chose to stop there.

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What do you get at a 5am lifting class? Bruised neck and dark circles, that’s what you get!

I came back home and jumped right back into the realities of motherhood. Béa had tried to go pee by herself. She managed to get her pants off, hoist herself onto the toilet and couldn’t figure out the toilet paper, so she called out for help. I’m just thankful she didn’t put that pile of paper in the bowl as that would have been a nice plug! 😉

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See? Finding balance and purpose is what keeps me motivated! 😉

Swole And Flexy

I have recently discovered ROMWOD, through a friend on Facebook and it has been one of those very nice little discoveries. Pat (my FB friend: we have never met. We both have a friend in common and we all do Crossfit. We became friends on FB during the Open and have been cheering each other on ever since! Crossfit is such a great community, even with strangers who become friends!) had posted about it on IG and I was curious so I asked him about it. After looking into it more myself, I registered and am I ever glad I did! Below is my review of the site:

ROMWOD stands for Range Of Motion Workout Of the Day. Long name for something that could be called yoga for Crossfitters or any other athlete, really. When you register, you need to give them your credit card number, but they give you access to the site for 7 days for free before they start charging you $13.95/month. What it gives you is the following: access to a daily online yoga session ranging from 10-45 mins in length, targeted at increasing your flexibility and range of motion, which then, helps out in your mobility and lifts when you do Crossfit or weightlifting. They have “warrior” sessions on Thursdays that are  longer (45mins) and I have enjoyed all the sessions tremendously.

Each video session is lead in a different Crossfit affiliate and while some are lend by very bendy people, some are also led by your average flexible Joe and makes it easy to see what modifications you could do for each poses. They also have a detailed instruction for each pose on the website as well as how to modify each poses according to flexibility.

Here’s what I have enjoyed so far since I started, a week ago:

  • The narrator isn’t annoying at all and doesn’t talk through the entire session
  • You mostly stay in the poses for longer periods of time (2-4 mins/pose) and deepen your stretching over this length of time, with deep breathing. I really enjoy this because while you’re not imposing the stretch on your body, you can work into it.
  • The sessions are short enough that I can do them everyday, even after a long day at work.
  • Some of the poses are easier for me. I was a dancer in my younger days, so I’m fairly flexible, but I’ve lost a lot of my flexibility over the last 10-15 years because I haven’t worked on it very much. I see fast progress on the seated folds and I think I could probably get back into a straddle split and maybe even a front split before the end of the year if I keep at it. The butterfly is also easy and I believe I will be able to complete i with a full fold soon too.
Front Split. Still need to go much lower with my upper body, but it's a good start!

Front Split. Still need to go much lower with my upper body, but it’s a good start!

 

Butterfly pose. Look at how low my knees are already!

Butterfly pose. Look at how low my knees are already!

  • While some of the poses are easy, others are quite challenging and I have to use the modifications for them: the Saddle, particularly is challenging for me. I really feel it in the knees and the Standing Straddle is usually challenging for me to hold for long periods of time. But I’m making progress in them and that’s all that matters to me!
  • Although I wouldn’t recommend doing these everyday with the kiddos, it is doable! I have done one with the girls before their bed time. It was a little challenging and I couldn’t really relax as well into the poses, but I still managed to get my stretch in and the girls had fun getting on the floor with me!
Family Standing Straddle!

Family Standing Straddle!

  • You can do these in the comfort of your living room (in your pjs even, in my case) without requiring massive props. I sometimes wish I had a yoga block (Béatrice chewed it all up when she was younger and teething), but that’s easy enough to get and for now, I deal with couch pillows!

As for the benefits, I really felt I was able to get deeper into my squat on my C&J this morning. Also, I’m not sure if it has anything to do with helping with my shoulder mobility (thanks to the Puppy Dog), but I’ve been able to successfully do 2 TTB earlier this week (which I have never been able to do before). I’ve also only had one very short episode of sciatic pinch since I’ve started the program, even though I have been lifting heavy at Crossfit. Usually, running, squatting and deadlifts do my sciatic a world of pain and I haven’t felt it as much this week. If anything, it allows me to wind down and de-stress after a long day at work and, to me, that’s very beneficial.

Alright! Enough about my ROMWOD and here’s what we did in our Oly class this morning. Last week was Snatch testing and I missed it because of work. 😦 Although I’m not a fan of snatching (sorry Coach Caleb), I was really curious to see if I could hit my “fake PR” of 65#. Next time! Here’s what we did this morning:

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2.5# PR on my C&J!

I PR’d my C&J by 2.5#! It’s not a huge increase, but I was happy with that! I tried at 95# and although I had a good high pull on both attempts, I just didn’t have anything left in me to drop into the squat and catch it there. The jerk was also a challenge at 92.5# and I knew I was pushing it by trying at 95#, but I just had to give it a shot! 😉

Good lifting session in the books for today!

 

“If It’s Hard, You’re Doing It Right!”

I was happy Ben and I came to a pact that I could still go to the 0600 Oly class on Thursdays if I wasn’t working. The evening classes were just impossible for me to attend having to deal with the girls and Ben has agreed to be on “school duty” an extra morning so that I could go lift some weights! He is pretty amazing! Over the weekend, he told me he loved my determination at getting fit and doing Crossfit. If that’s not a supportive husband, I don’t know what is! #hesakeeper

 

I got up before sunrise (hello autumn) and made my way to the Box for this:

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The snatch balance from the warm-up somehow were hurting my neck, but I was fine afterwards.

Snatch 10×2 OTM

I am still using my “fake 1RM” of 65#, therefore I went with 52# for these. I failed 2 reps total (I repeated one and half made up for the other one) during the 10 rounds and the hardest was catching my breath during the rest. That little sequence got my heart pumping and I got sweaty fast doing these. Still pretty happy with having managed to do all 10 rounds, even though it was hard. Coach Caleb said: “If it’s hard, you’re doing it right!” 😉

Hang Snatch 6×3 E2M

Since I had managed 90#x2 a few weeks ago (90# is also my C&J 1RM), I used that to calculate my weight and did 76.5# for all 6 rounds. The last rep was hard and I was having a hard time hanging onto the bar (we weren’t allowed to drop the bar between reps) and I could definitely feel it, but I managed all reps successfully. Getting up from the squat was much harder on some reps, but I managed to get up for all!

I rushed home so I could walk Rina to the bus stop and then, Ben dropped Béatrice at preschool. I had time to take a bath and cook some food for my night shifts uninterrupted. It was nice, but weird to have the house empty of kids. Something I will have to get used to for sure… For now, I get to enjoy some alone-time with Béatrice and it’s quite nice to focus on be able to spend some one-on-one time with her. She’s such a cuddle-bug!

Pushing The Envelope

Well, actually, I’ve been pushing weights, more than an envelope, but you get my gist, right?

After a restful night of sleep where NOBODY woke up in the middle of the night (Whoot! Whoot!), I woke up at 0500 again for the Oly class.

I wasn’t sure I was gonna make it there as my gas light turned on, on my way to the Box, but I managed to make it and there’s a gas station across the street so my plan was to fill up after class. Worst comes to worst, I knew I would be able to push my car to the station! 😉 BAM!

Today marked my 8th training session in 14 days. I’ve never trained this much in my life! It’s my last week before my month-long vacation comes to an end and my plan was to squeeze as many workouts as I can before I go back to my usual 2-3 sessions/week. I am definitely starting to feel it though and combined with it being my 1st week back on the Whole30 and all the cloudy/rainy weather we’ve had this week, all I want to do is sleep. Unfortunately, I have 2 cuties that have other plans for me:

Every time I tried to nap on the couch, they would come bother me!

Every time I tried to nap on the couch, they would come bother me!

Who needs sleep, right?

Anyway, back to Oly class, here’s what we did today:

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I wonder if those Forehead Jerks made me look as stupid as they made me feel??? Those were weird!

C&J EMOM X10 @85%

That meant 76.5# for me. Coach Caleb told me I had soft elbows on my jerk during my warm-up to that weight, but apparently, I corrected once I reached my target weight. Maybe I just needed more weight in order to really lock my elbows? I was trying not to pause between the clean and the jerk all while keeping the lift smooth and I was tired by rep 7. I started to take a few breaths in the transition and I was glad when we were done.

OHS 6×2 E3M

I teamed up with Linda who saved my hair crisis this morning. You know the drill: you go to put your hair up and your elastic just breaks in your hand and you realize you don’t have a spare one? Well, Linda gave me one of hers and my life was perfect again! So, we teamed up together and we started low (I’m not strong and Linda is recovering from a back injury.

I knew I could do 65# since I had done that weight for 15.2 during the Open. Looking back, I should have aimed for 70# or 75#, but I’m sore everywhere and my wrists have taken a huge hit with all the freakin’ cleaning I’ve been doing lately. Here were my reps:

40#-45#-50#-55#-60#-65#

My wrists were hurting on the last set, but I felt stable in my core and getting out of the bottom of the squat felt relatively easy. Oh well, my previous number for OHS was 6×3 @60# so I think that’s a new PR for me. I’m amazed I can still have PRs this week as I’m feeling so sore everywhere! I can’t wait for my massage Friday!

I came back home and did some laundry with the hubs (OK, he did most of the laundry while I cleaned and vacuumed the upstairs).

Look Mom! I'm hiding!

Look Mom! I’m hiding! (Typical Béa on laundry day)

I also did some food prep for the Whole30 since I had nothing but eggs and avocados left (I had thawed some chicken thighs and ground turkey) and I feel better now that I have healthy options in the house.

I managed to close my eyes for about 10 minutes after lunch and I tried to cuddle to the girls on the couch while they watched Frozen (I may have turned the TV on with hopes of napping next to them. Don’t judge!) but they kept poking me, pulling my hair and staring at me. Major fail, but we still watched the movie! 😉

I just have to make it through tomorrow’s class and possibly a last training session with Kathleen on Sunday and then I can go back to slacking off my regular training/work schedule.

 

Barbells and Princesses

I had such a full day yesterday!

Crossfit in the morning followed by more house cleaning (I’m almost done deep cleaning the kitchen), interrupted with a lovely at-home pedicure by a mobile pedicurist /fellow crossfitter, more cleaning and finally, falling asleep on the couch while “watching” TV.

After I made my way to my bed, I woke up at 0500 and got ready for Oly lifting class this morning, because it’s “just lifting”!

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The tall snatch was a struggle with just the empty bar and it’s still something I need to work on. Why is everything snatch-related such a struggle? I guess we all have our weaknesses and the snatch truly is one of mine.

Since I missed the last testing session, I’m still using 65# as my 1RM for the snatch and that meant I used 55# today for the Snatch EMOM x 10 @85%. I think it went well overall, but I was feeling fatigued on my last rep.

For the hang clean, I really wanted to attempt 90# on my last set, just to prove to myself that I could do it without catching it on my sternum. Coach Caleb wanted us to focus on not dropping the bar in-between reps and get back into the hook grip.

My

My “wings” (as Ben calls my bruise) are healing nicely. And yes, I know, I look exhausted!

Everything went peachy until my 6th set. I managed all my reps without hesitation and after a pointer from Coach Caleb, I reminded myself to keep my chest and elbows up in the catch. When I got to 90#, I was in my head and really afraid of failing the lift.

1st attempt: failed.

I came back to the bar and approached it. Pick up the bar. Exhale. Inhale. Block breath, dip and lift.

2nd attempt: failed.

I walked away from the bar. Sat on the bench for about 30s, then approached the bar again. Pick up the bar. Exhale. Inhale. Block breath, dip and lift.

3rd attempt: failed.

This time, I sat down right away and had a chat with myself. I knew I could do it, I had managed 2 reps earlier this week. Yeah, I’m tired, but I can totally do this. Just get to the bar and DO IT! You just need to drop into the squat to catch it.

Approach the bar. Set my hands. Pick up the bar. Exhale. Inhale. Block breath, dip and lift.

4th attempt: 1st lift successful! I wanted to celebrate, but there was still another lift to do. I reset the bar on my hips and reset my hook grip. Dang! That bar is heavy. All you have to do is repeat what you just did! You got this. I can barely hold on to the bar! Just do it, don’t think about it. JUST DO IT!

Hook grip. Exhale. Inhale. Block breath, dip and lift.

2nd lift caught very deep at the bottom of the squat and I was afraid I would crumple into the bottom, but I managed to push out of it and managed my 2nd lift! I threw that bar on the floor and was beaming! I had just done 2 reps at my 1RM C&J!!! Whoot! Whoot! Also, that was a 15# PR from my previous attempt at this only 3 short months ago!

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I couldn’t stop smiling! Looks like even though I’m exhausted, I can still find it in me to push hard and improve!

I came back home for a shower and a hearty breakfast before taking the girls to Hatley Castle for their surprise Princess Day! No cleaning today, I’m taking a break from being a housekeeper and I’m taking time to rest and enjoy my last few days off before my vacation is over! We went to pick up Nanny as I had asked her if she wanted to come with us (not to work, but to enjoy the day and be tourist in her new town).

The day had started a bit cloudy and cooler, but the sun came out and the heat did too. I chose to only pay for the garden tour as I highly doubted the girls’ attention span would last enough for the indoor guided tour. I think it was the best decision, even though I will have to go back one day to visit the inside of the castle.

We toured the Italian garden, the Japanese garden, the Rose garden and the green houses. The photographer in me had a blast taking some shot and editing them. Below is just a small sample of the 140+ shots I took today! 😉

Sigh

It’s been a busy week and I’ll try to recap quickly.

Last Monday was a Civic Holiday here and we enjoyed the day at the beach with Ben’s mom who was visiting from Kingston. We hiked to Mystic Beach and had fun in the sun and sand before we headed out for the typical lunch at Mom’s Café.

Bra's natural summer highlights! I'd kill for these!

Béa’s natural summer highlights! I’d kill for these!

Rina, swinging from the rope swing on the beach

Rina, swinging from the rope swing on the beach

Cutie pie!

Cutie pie!

Rina, wave jumping

Rina, wave jumping

I had only 2 days at work before I was officially on vacation and although I was counting the hours on Wednesday. Let’s be real though, I kind of clocked out mentally around 1500, even though I was working until 1930. Nothing fazed me on that day and I was happy and lighthearted to make my way to my car at the end of the day! Off for a full month and I was more than ready for some time off. I already had 2 overtime calls to come in to work tonight so far… Not gonna happen!

I’ve spent yesterday and today getting some last minute shopping and making packing lists, getting everything organized and packed for our Cuban vacation! I can now say we are 98% ready to go, with little adjustments left to be done for our carry-on luggages.

I went to the Oly class yesterday morning and I was stoked to see Ryan show up: I wasn’t absolutely certain if there actually was a class or not and I was starting to think I’d gotten up at 0500 for nothing! Here’s what we did:

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High hang, low hang, full squat snatch x6 E3M

Lots of rest for these and we were to work up to 75% of our 1RM. Mine was supposed to be 48.75#, but the closest I could get to was 48.5# (not enough small plates to make it a real 75%, but close enough). I was struggling on some reps and had to repeat a few, but as I warmed up, it felt smoother towards the end.

Squat Clean, Front Squat, Split jerk x6 E3M

Again, we were supposed to only go up to 75% of our 1RM so I used 67.5# for all my reps. The split jerk was unstable at times, but I managed all my reps. I was exhausted by the end! So much rest and yet, I was done for!

 

This morning, I woke up at 0500 again and I was still tired. I’ve been going to bed a little later than usual and I could definitely feel it this morning:

I had misread the WOD last night and thought it was only 1 round. Gulp! There was no way I could do this RX seeing as my 1RM DL is 160# and my 1RM clean is 90#. That would have been cutting it too close to exhaustion and Coach Caleb wanted us to do close to 30 reps/30 secs. Sometimes, the guy cracks me up! 😉 No way I was going to achieve that either, but I was happy that I managed some pretty stable rep scheme throughout all rounds. I did FG with the following reps:

DL @ 115#:8-8-9-8-8

Front squats @ 65#: 9-9-9-8-8

DUs:5-7-8-11-12

Sometimes, I look at my reps and feel a bit discouraged at how low they are. Then, I analyze them in a different way and I’m pretty happy with my work. For example, my reps are low on the DL, but if you tally it all, it comes up to 4715 lbs moved in 2:30. For the front squats, it comes up to 2797 lbs squatted in the same amount of time.  As for my DUs, I only managed to string 8 in a row (last round), but they felt smoother with each rounds. Funny how I can do those better when I’m more physically tired. Maybe it’s because I’m not as tensed up?

I’m ready to put a hot pack on my shoulders and real for the evening before yet another busy day tomorrow!

Change Of Plans

I had RSVP’d for the Olympic lifting class today with Rachel Siemens and I have to say, I was starting to regret it a little bit after breakfast. I really was in the mood to sit down and do nothing and my sciatic was acting up (the left one today, it changes frequently), so I was kind of feeling Meh! about lifting today. I still showed up though because once I commit to something, I usually see it through.

Here’s what we did, although we modified it for one of the exercise outlined:

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I warmed up beforehand and then tackled the front squats and the push press. I think I finished off at 65# on those.

Then, we had to work on our Jerks from a back rack position and I worked my way up to 67.5#. I love having the smaller plates as I can now hit my targets accurately. We were told to work up to 75% of our 1RM and that’s just what I did.

We then moved onto the box jumps (BJ) and the hang squat snatch. We were to start light and work to a heavy. I started with 35# and progressed with 45#-50#-55# and finally onto 60#. I was struggling with the dropping into the squat (as usual) with from 35#-50#, but then, Rachel cued me to move my feet wider at the top of the snatch and, whaddya know, I fared a little better. Good thing too because I was getting frustrated! I was very happy to successfully do 2 reps at 60#, seeing as it is my true 1RM. Coach Caleb has had me working with a “pretend 1RM” of 65# so that I would get stronger, and now, I’m curious to see if I could actually succeed to do a snatch at that weight!

Instead of the SN DL, we ended up doing Snatch balances. It turns out I’m not the only one struggling to commit into the squat, so we all had a good practice. I did 2×5@35#, 3@40#, 3@45# and that was that.

We finished with some squat cleans and we started light in order to finish around 85% of our 1RM. My 1RM is 90#, and I was planning to finish at 76.5#. Here were my reps for these:

55#-65#-70#-76.5#

Again, I was working on landing my feet wider into the squat and keeping my elbows forwards at the bottom. I think I did ok on these and was pretty happy overall with my little lifting sesh of the day. I then rushed over to the pool to meet up with Ben and the girls and I was very glad I had to spend some time in the hot tub and got a jet onto my left butt cheek and, although it didn’t help with the sciatic pain, I was able to work on some pretty bad knots. We came back home, made steaks on the BBQ and stuffed my face. I was FAMISHED! I’ve now packed my lunch for tomorrow, my clothes are laid out for work and I’m really looking forward to catch up on the Crossfit Games before I hit the sack for the night! 🙂