Monday Miles : April 22 – 28, 2019 (34 Weeks Pregnant)

crossfit, lifting, monday miles, training

Finally — this week I actually managed do something, even if small, every single day. I’ve been pretty ok with going to CrossFit consistently, but I have lacked discipline and motivation to do anything on my own. For the last several weeks, I don’t think I’ve moved at all on the weekends, even if only to do some mobility work. I’m hoping to be able to keep this up — even with heading to Ohio this weekend. I want to keep reminding myself to just keep doing the best I can, knowing that what I can do is just going to keep declining in the weeks to come. I just need to work on trying to be ok with that.

4 – 22 : Row – 10k : 54 minutes 29 seconds. I’ve been keeping up with my one day a week of rowing. I thought I would try to see how a 10k felt. It was…boring. Also, it is really disheartening to google “what is considered a good beginner time for row 10k?” Even with pregnancy, I am slow, slow, slow. I like the rower though. I’d like to be able to continue with longer rows post-pregnancy too and add that to the routine.

4 – 23 : CrossFit – Find the 2 rep max on a hang power-clean. I did 80 lbs. The work out called for power-cleans, but I can hardly bend over to get things from the floor anymore. Still — 80 lbs. is a hang power-clean PR for me. Followed by – find max reps for strict ring dips. Of course, I cannot do one strict ring dip, so I used a green band and managed to do sixteen before calling it good enough. We finished with a 500m row, going as fast as we could. I managed 2:02. This is around my PR (I think is 2:01?) and I hope once this baby is out, I can finally get under 2 minutes for a 500m row.

4 – 24 : CrossFit – Filthy 50. I actually had heard of this work-out prior to ever starting CrossFit, but during the last (almost!) year of doing CrossFit still had not done it. For obvious reasons, I did not do it RX’d and completely skipped the 50 knees-to-blow for obvious reasons, but holy hell, this may be one of the hardest work-outs I’ve done. What really hurt me were the arches of my feet. All the jumping with the pull-ups, push-presses, and single-unders killed them. 50 box step-ups 20 inches, 50 jumping pull-ups, 50 kettle-bell swings – 20 lbs., 50 walking lunges, 50 push-press at 35 lbs., 50 back extensions at 35 lbs., 50 wall-balls at 10 lbs., 50 squats and wall push-ups, 50 single-unders. 29 minutes 50 seconds.

4 – 25 : Yoga with Adriene – Yoga for Tired Legs. I needed some serious recovery time after the previous day’s work-out, but still managed to do active recovery instead of sit around recovery.

4 – 26 : CrossFit – Find one rep max for strict press. 75 lbs. This is a PR. Some days these feel super hard for me and I feel like I struggle just lifting the barbell. Other days they seem fine — hard, but doable. I’m happy with this win! Followed by 3 rounds for quality – 10 jumping pull-ups, 20 knee push-ups, 30 squats, finished with a half mile bike sprint. This was Murph prep and though I probably will not be doing it this year, it was nice to see where I am. I mean last year I was doing ring-rows, so jumping pull-ups is a big improvement.

4 – 27 : Yoga with Adriene – Yoga for Beginners. Such a good recovery video, even though I keep having to adjust things for how big the baby has become.

4 – 28 : And finally, after weeks of saying I was going to, I finally took a walk. Bruno and I took a 30 minute walk in the afternoon. It was slow. My stomach felt cramped the entire time, but I walked about 1.3 miles. It was so nice to just be outside and enjoy the sunshine though. I still miss running, but it was nice to just do something outdoors.

Total : CrossFit – 3 hours. Row – 54 minutes. Yoga – 1 hour and 15 minutes. Walk – 30 minutes. Around 5 hours and 30 minutes. It was a good week.

Onward!

 

 

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Favorite Things : April 20 – 26, 2019

favorite things

Helloooo weekend. It is bright and sunny today, but is supposed to snow tomorrow (ok, Michigan, you win). I PR’d my strict press at noon CrossFit today and despite general pregnancy discomfort life is good. I don’t have too much planned for this weekend. I’m only a chapter away from finishing my Goblet of Fire re-read. I mainly just feel like I am waiting and counting down the days until Baby C makes his or her arrival.

Here are this week’s favorite things:

This chickpea salad looks like the perfect summer lunch.

Something my dad used to always tell me: walk it off.

I always see running and writing go together, but this is the first time I’ve seen the same with weight lifting and writing.

One of our boy names is one of 2019’s most popular baby names.

Some wisdom from medieval monks for digital distraction.

Saved for post-pregnancy running plans.

I liked this article on scaling in CrossFit and scaling in your budget and financial goals.

I’ve given the new Taylor Swift song a few listens and I have to say, I won’t go as far as this article, but I don’t love it.

And last, but not least, I love cows.

What are you plans for this weekend? Reading anything good? Thoughts on the new T-Swift song?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Review of River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey

books, reading

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’ll admit I feel a little scatterbrained at the moment. This is why they say you should not check your email until after noon! I received some good news – an academic journal accepted one of my dissertation chapters for publication. As this will be my first ever peer review publication (after only two rejections and one revise and resubmit), I am very, very happy – and distracted – but mostly happy. I worked on my revise and resubmit edits after completing my dissertation and I was burnt out on Rousseau while working on them. I actually have not returned to a single word of Rousseau since I resubmitted. I think the break has been good and I’m going to continue on with it, even if I do miss my citizen of Geneva a bit.

Anyway – I recently finished reading The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard.  I may be taking a break from Rousseau, but I always seem to end up back in the state of nature. As might be suggested from the title, this book on TR reflects not on his presidential or political career, but on his journey on the Rio da Duvida —  the River of Doubt – which later became known as the Rio Roosevelt. She suggests that this is a response to his defeat as the Progressive Party candidate in 1912 as leader of the Bull Moose Party, but moreover a continuation of the “strenuous life” he had been living ever since he decided as a youth to “make his body” in response to his asthma.

What I know of TR has more to do with his political thought and less to do with his biographic life, but he has been a president who has always intrigued me. Frankly, it is hard to imagine a modern president today (whether a Clinton, Bush, Obama, or Trump) taking a life-threatening journey in uncharted Amazon territory to travel down a seemingly unknowable river. Politics aside, I cannot help but be impressed by TR’s rejection of the comfortable life post-presidency. Millard portrays this side of Roosevelt well. She describes him as not a man without fear, but as a man fear cannot control.

But it is not just TR that Millard portrays with interest. Each of the men portrayed are different characters – from TR’s son Kermit to the Brazilian native protector Rondon. But what is really interesting is the role of the Amazon itself. I don’t love it when nature is personified, but in this case (having spent so much time with Rousseau) it was a nice contrast to the idea of beneficent nature. TR describes this idea as: “The very pathetic myth of ‘beneficent nature,’ could not deceive even the least wise being if he once saw for himself the iron cruelty of life in the tropics.” If the book is a battle for preservation, from the explorers, the natives, the rainforest itself has its own stake in the prize – and it provides many obstacles from candiru, snakes, malaria, insects, piranha to the dearth of anything to eat. In the Amazon, nature is the opposite of generous.

One of the things I also appreciated about the book is that Millard seems set on presenting the story as it happened. Though she does psychologize TR a bit, she does not really create historical villains out of anybody. Rondon – the Brazilian explorer —  is clearly the most humane, insofar as he has his policy of peace never shooting at native Amazons, even out of self-preservation, and later, his creation of the Indian Protection Bureau in Brazil. But in this way, he is the most tragic. His work to create telegraph lines through the Amazon rainforest resulted in the continued destruction of Amazon natives. But Millard never takes the time to attack any of these men for their “backwards” ideas and I appreciated that. I just wanted to know the story, not a confession of their historical sins.

Overall, the book is a quick and easy read. It does not have a lot about TR’s political leanings (although you should know South America and TR are not best buds), but I think it does give several interesting glimpses into his character. I’m not a Progressive, but as I said above, I can’t help but admire TR. He is so different than what we have today. It is hard to imagine us having a president today with such a wide breadth of knowledge, interests, and daring. If ever there was a man willing to be in the arena, he was it, even when that arena was the Amazon rain forest and not in civilization.

Life in Limbo

daily life, pregnancy

One of the frequent questions I keep getting asked now that I’m done is, “How is post-dissertation life?” What is life like now that I no longer have a dissertation hanging over my head? I think it took to April to even get used to the idea that I no longer have a big project to work on. I wish I could say I was working on multiple projects, getting things done, but aside for resubmitting a journal article, my academic self has been taking a much needed break.

But, as I’m sure I have mentioned, I am not good at taking breaks. I like to find projects for myself. I like having long-term, endurance-style things to work on like my dissertation or training for a race — neither of which I can do right now. I am less than six weeks away from the baby’s due date. We’re moving to Texas around six weeks after that. Two weeks after that we start our jobs. Basically, all I really think I am doing is waiting for whatever happens next.

And, as Tom Petty once wisely sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.” I’m a type-A planner, but how do you plan with the next big thing when you have no idea what the next big thing will actually look like? As much as I can “plan” for the baby and the massive life-changes created by being a parent and a full-time job, I really have no idea what it will be like, so I feel stuck in a kind of limbo.

March was kind of a “lost month,” but here is how I am trying to handle all the unknowns right now.

Administrative projects. So no big academic projects, but I am trying to do a lot of things for “future Ali.” Currently, I have been spending quality time with the scanner. I have around three boxes of class notes to go through. Because they are all in notebook paper, I can’t do it quickly, but have to do one side at a time. It is dull work, but I know that come mid-July I’ll be glad to have three less boxes to pack and having all my notes and papers digitized in my Dropbox and Evernote should surely be the gift that keeps on giving. I’m doing the same with downsizing my kitchen, clothes, and books. What will I be really happy that come July I  don’t have to do?

Taking advantage of not having a real schedule. I have not woke up to an alarm since February. I have been sleeping until 7-7:30am most mornings. For an early riser – sometimes between 4-5:00am – this has been some consistent sleeping in for me. Mornings are incredibly slow as I try to do some reading and actually take the time to clean the kitchen post-breakfast. I have had plenty of mornings recently where I have been in my pj’s sitting on the couch with a book until CrossFit at noon. I feel lazy, but I am trying to enjoy that I can do this while I can.

Move. I don’t mean preparing to move, but I mean not being sedentary. This one is not that hard, because I typically look forward to going to CrossFit. But as I get bigger and grow more uncomfortable, my enthusiasm levels tend to waver. For example — just today I had a very “what’s the point? I don’t have any big goals, so why even bother” moment. These last few weeks are a reminder that showing up is the goal, even if I cannot PR or go fast or feel like a walrus half the time. It may not seem to make a difference now, but after baby, after recovery, I’ll be glad I put in this time. Improvements are being made even if I cannot tell right now.

And that is basically it. Without a big project, I feel kind of aimless, but if I look at this as a time of preparation, it feels much better. It makes the waiting not only bearable, but enjoyable. I keep trying to remind myself that when I’m busy with baby and teaching, I’ll be really glad I was able to enjoy this mental break.

Have you ever had a “limbo” period in life? How did you handle it? Are you someone who prefers to have big projects and busy days?

 

 

 

 

Monday Miles : April 15 – 21, 2019 (33 Weeks Pregnant)

crossfit, lifting, monday miles, pregnancy, training

I cannot help but start each week with a countdown as baby’s due date gets closer and closer. This week I wrote down in my planner “42 days//6 weeks.” There are days where it feels like each week moves quickly and others where it drags. I am beginning to not enjoy the limbo position I am in – I am ready for so many things to start – the baby, moving to Austin, teaching. At the same time, I am trying to be patient and not wish the time away. It is a hard balance to keep.

I thought this week of work out’s went excellent. I wish I were better at doing things on the weekend, but maybe those breaks are good for me. I actually took part in the WOD four times this week instead of my usual two. That said, watching the Boston Marathon results come in last week Monday, I still miss running with all my heart. Every day I miss running.

4 – 15 : CrossFit. Every 1:30 minutes for 12 minutes – 3 position power snatch – 35 lbs. Followed by power snatches and burpees – 15 power snatches, 15 burpees, 12 power snatches, 12 burpees, etc. Power snatches and burpees are probably about the most awkward movements for a pregnant lady. Add my shoddy aerobic system and I was wheezing and huffing and puffing. The weight was fine — 35 lbs. — but I just could not catch my breath. We had a twelve minute time cap and I made it to the second-to-last amount 6 power snatches, 6 burpees. I tried not to be frustrated with myself. I mean come on, I’m 33 weeks pregnant, right? But I was still frustrated.

4 – 16 : CrossFit. Back squats are still my favorite. Also — after huffing and puffing through yesterday’s work-out, I like strength days because it seems to be the only area that hasn’t been declining due to pregnancy. In fact — even though I have not lifted heavier than what I could prior to being pregnant — all my lifts feel easier. Today — with 3 minute rests after each set — 10 back squats at 95 lbs.; 8 back squats at 100 lbs.; 6 back squats at 105 lbs. 4 back squats at 115 lbs.; and 2 back squats at 135 lbs. I should throw out there that 135 lbs. is my one rep max PR. Two at 135 felt hard, but I did not feel like I was struggling or straining or had to do anything wonky to get the bar up.

4 – 17 : CrossFit. 3 Rounds for Time – 100m walk with 14 lbs. medicine ball (everyone else ran 200m, but this was my accommodation), 20 hang power-cleans at 35 lbs., 100m walk with 14 lbs. medicine ball, 20 front squats at 35 lbs., 100m walk…, 20 push-press at 35 lbs. 25 minutes 12 seconds. I liked this work-out and thought it was a lot of fun. I always feel like I can get in the zone in these longer work-outs. My power-clean form is wonky, trying to avoid the belly, but for the most part I thought I probably actually could have added more weight instead of just using the barbell.

4 – 18 : CrossFit. I still managed to spend some quality time on the rower this week. This time for 3 x 1000m rows. I was super happy with how this went mainly because I was able to get faster with each round: 4:33, 4:29, 4:28. And it hurt. I tried to stay at 2:10/500m pace for that last one, but I could not hold on because it was so painful. I have never been able to do under 2 minutes for 500m, but I’m wondering if this is what I can do with a baby pushing under my lungs and a shoddy aerobic system, if I might be able to finally get under two minutes post-baby.

4 – 19 : Rest.

4 – 20 : Rest.

4 – 21 : Rest (unless eating counts as a work-out).

Totals : 4 hours CrossFit.

Onward!

 

Favorite Things : April 13 – 17, 2019

favorite things

This is short week for posts. As it is Holy Week, beginning tomorrow I want to keep my internet use to a minimum and take some time away from my computer. We have no plans for Easter this year, other than probably the never-ending process of getting the house move-ready and baby-ready at the same time — quite a feat, I tell you!

Here are this week’s favorite things:

How do you get your news? The quest for slower, better news.

From Carrots for Michaelmas, Goodnight, Notre Dame. Easter Morning is Still Coming.

Educating myself in preparation for the move: 17 Tex-Mex Dishes Every Self-Respecting Austinite Should Know.

Another great post from Sabrina Little — “Practicing Bravery in My Sneakers.”

That’s all for this week! Have a wonderful Easter weekend everyone!

 

Thoughts on the Burning of the Notre Dame

catholicism, daily life

Bruno and I spent five days in Paris during our honeymoon. Living that graduate student stipend life, we spent five nights in what was basically a tiny attic converted to an apartment four blocks away from the Notre Dame. We arrived in the evening and after dinner at a local cafe, we walked to the famed cathedral. It was our first and most frequented stop during the entire trip.

I knew I wanted to see it — I grew up watching the Hunchback of Notre Dame over and over (side note: how was this ever a children’s movie?). But I do not think I expected it to startle me in the way it did. I could not get over the church’s beauty and how overpowering the whole structure felt. I had goosebumps. I cried. It was like my eyes could not feast enough on the church. We walked around and I exclaimed over the flying buttresses and we sat at a cafe, close enough so I could keep looking, enjoying drinks before we walked back to our attic.

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Every day we stopped by the cathedral. On Sunday we went to mass and I was filled with wonder again. I could not — and still cannot — get over the fact that men, people living and breathing just like me, made this over two hundred years. It made me feel small, but also a part of something larger and greater. Here I am, a mere student, but also a Catholic, a true lover of Western Civilization and everything it stands for, appreciating one of its greatest accomplishments. I prayed to God and took holy communion in the same church many have done before me since the 13th century.

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I was checking the Boston Marathon results after CrossFit when I saw the Notre Dame was on fire. Marathon forgotten I checked to see if it were true. I cannot blame pregnancy hormones for how much I cried over that church yesterday. I love the Notre Dame and I love what it stands for. I hate throwing around words like “awe” and “sublime,” but there I felt those things. There I physically felt the sense of something greater. It devastated me to know that it will never be the same.

I’ll admit now I feel angry. As everyone mourns (and Macron claims it will be rebuilt), I want to point out this cathedral has been neglected for years. After visiting Paris and the experience I had at the Notre Dame, I learned how little money the church had to keep up with repairs. I learned that the Friends of Notre Dame frequently went to Americans for help with upkeep.

I can only suspect this comes from taking the cathedral for granted the way western civilization as a whole is taken for granted. I cannot help but feel frustrated with those who see the damage done to the Notre Dame as a great loss, but do not connect that to the loss and negligence of the culture that helped to create such a structure.

Monday Miles : April 8 – 14, 2019 (32 Weeks Pregnant)

crossfit, health, monday miles, pregnancy

Last week was kind of a wash. I did have one very good and very hard work-out (involving thrusters!), but for the most part being sick prevented me from doing much of anything. Every day I would put “Crossfit” or “Work-out” on my to-do list and each day it just did not happen. Thursday and Friday I hardly left the couch, watching more Netflix than I have seen in probably the last couple of months.

Thankfully, after some benadryl-induced sleep I am feeling much better although a cough and a stuffed nose still remain. This week should be better, but I still want to take it easy so that I don’t become miserably sick again.

4 – 8 : I was not feeling very well. Rest.

4 – 9 : Still not feeling well, but went to CrossFit to do the wod anyway (type A coming through). 80 calorie row, followed by 100 thrusters at 35 lbs. We had a fifteen minute time cap, but I asked if I could go over when fifteen minutes was up and I still had thirty thrusters to go. I wanted to finish so badly, so I did sets of ten, put the bar-bell down, persuaded myself to pick it back up and do another ten until the end. I’m sure I finished somewhere around 18 minutes (I’m slow and pregnant). It was one of those “I feel so strong” pregnancy moments.

4 – 10 : All movement feels awkward to me at the moment, so even the “easiest” yoga videos have been difficult for me. I really liked this Yoga with Adriene – Yoga for Beginners The Basics forty minute video.

4 – 11 : One of my favorite Yoga with Adriene videos — Yoga for Hamstrings.

4 – 12 : At this point, I was in a state of sheer misery. I’m proud of myself for even trying to move on this day. I did another Yoga with Adriene video – Yoga for when You Are Sick.

4 – 13 : Felt significantly better, but went down to Ohio to see family and for my baby shower on Sunday.

4 – 14 : Baby shower! And ate too much delicious cupcakes.

Onward!

Favorite Things : April 6 – 12, 2019

favorite things, pregnancy

I am a complete mucous mess this week. I had been coughing all last weekend, but nothing more. Then came the deluge. Usually colds take me out for a day. I get a good night’s sleep and wake up the next day not 100%, but significantly better. I had no idea what fresh hell a cold while pregnant could be. I am barely sleeping and barely functional. I called the ob-gyn’s office this morning asking, “Please, please is there anything I can take to sleep?” The woman on the phone was so kind. I included her in my thankful list today when she said the magic word I had been longing to hear: “Benadryl.”

So this week is pretty low on the favorite things. Being sick, most of my favorite things have involved me curling up on the couch watching Netflix. We watched Solo (which I liked a lot more than expected). Afterwards, we finally got our Prime to work to watch the first episode of Catastrophe. It was a lazy day of epic proportions, which will probably be repeated again.

A week late, but a good compilation of what to read and watch commemorating Kurt Cobain’s death.

Stephanie Case on being a “loser, failure, and quitter” in the Barkley Marathons.

Sarah Sellers, who was second last year at the Boston Marathon, on combining a full-time job with elite training.

My post-dissertation life : busy doing nothing (actually this book sounds really interesting).

Have a great weekend!

A Review of The Art of Frugal Hedonism

books, reading

Contains Amazon affiliate links. 

Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam Grubb’s book The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A Guide to Spending Less While Enjoying Everything More is not so much a book of “why” frugal hedonism is best, but one that describes “how” to go about it. It is a quick-read with fifty-one short chapters providing tips for how to incorporate frugal hedonism in your own life. Some chapters are only about a page long. The book is meant to “be [a] primer for a life less dependent on the comforts of consumption, and more focused on extracting maximum pleasure from the most essential parts of being human.”

The Australian writers describe an early taste of simple things that prevented them from ever being too consumption-focused. Both describe early childhoods of that feature parents moving up in lives and how much they missed the original simplicity they were born into. I get it – this is all fine. But I think sometimes Raser-Rowland and Grubb miss the mark as to why someone may “want to move up” in the first place: i.e. security (at times they seem to take for granted that it is only a keeping of the Jones’ mentality – more, more, more). Granted, that is not the main point of their book, but there is a big difference in living the “simple life” because you have to (and what that might even look like) versus because you want to.

Most of their advice is fine but repetitive. They themselves even acknowledge that they tend to repeat the idea of eating a packed lunch instead of ordering take-out. Most of their suggestions are fairly common. For example – they recommend not buying drinks out at restaurants, take care of the things you already own, have an open relationship with recipes, and figure out what you really enjoy spending money on. Other habits such as “relish” were a little too twee for me. It kind of feels like it has been done before, though not with Raser-Rowland and Grubb’s hipster whimsy. Most of the chapters could have used more description, instead of just a quickly expressed idea.

That said, there were a few interesting ideas in the book. For example, suggestion no. 11 “beware fake frugal” is one to keep in mind. They describe fake frugal as “cheap to buy, but at the expense of someone or something else.” Examples they provide are kitchen products you constantly replace (like can openers) or buying white bread instead of the better, healthier wheat bread just because it is cheaper. This is something I always have to remind myself – one-time last year, Bruno and I decided we were spending too much money on groceries, so decided to change out some of our lunches for ramen. I still think ramen is delicious, but it really is not an actual lunch. Lesson learned.

One thing I did appreciate about the book is that Raser-Rowland and Grubb provide plenty of charts and numbers. I never thought I would be the type to appreciate charts and numbers, but it is interesting to see how consumptive habits have changed over the years. In the 1950s 75% of food was made in-home, now it is something like 50% (I was actually surprised that it was still half – I expected it to be lower). Their numbers relate specifically to Australia, but I can’t imagine that it is much different here in the states. When it comes to the history and data around buying habits and happiness, these two know their stuff.

I did really struggle with the style of writing. I suspect this has less to do with the book itself then who I think it might be written for. I made a comment that this is a book with all your usual tips, but with hipster whimsy and that just is not appealing to me. It is a personal preference, but I am not sure that advising me to “relish” or “not be a snooty bum-bum” are things that I find particularly helpful, or cute. I suspect it is a taste thing, but it is not helped by the fact that for the most part there is not much substance there.

I think this book is fine for neophytes on living frugally (that is this concept is completely new to them — although, I’m not sure how many people that would actually be), but for everyone else looking to enjoy life while save some money it will be nothing they’ve never read or heard before. And if you are really frugally-minded, there is nothing in here that you would not be able to find for free on the internet.