Tuesday, February 25, 2014

CFM Diet Challenge Re-Test - Day 1

WOD Tue Feb 2 @ CrossFit Markham

6 weeks ago

This morning at the 6 a.m. class ... PRs (Personal Records)!

Max push-ups (1 min): 36 (old: 30)
Back squat: 305 lb (old: 265 lb)
Push press: 175 lb (old: 155 lb)


(unplanned) cash-out of wall ball shots


These have improved, but still need work. I just need to be consistent and persistent in my practice. Push-ups are definitely a "goat".

Back squat

I finally broke 300 lb! Around a year ago, I hit 295 lb (low bar). In my excitement, I went for 315 lb. And failed. Thrice. A month later, I stopped going to CrossFit Markham as work was getting busy and money was a bit tight.

I've been doing a bit of strength work on my own, but I never went heavy nor was I consistent. I switched over to high bar squatting after reading an article from Outlaw North. While both have their merits, high bar was harder for me and it was something I wanted to develop.

The lack of consistency was discouraging at times. At one point in the summer, even 185 lb was too heavy. At the beginning of this 6 week challenge, I was back at 265 lb. I started back at CrossFit Markham with Carmelina around Christmas last year and have been trying to incorporate the Starting Strength routine in my regimen. While I was on/off, I did a lot of squatting over the past 6 weeks.

This morning, I was a bit nervous. My ideal goal this morning was to break 300 lb, but my back already felt a bit tweaky at 135 lb. And even worse at 225 lb. Maybe I squatted too much the past few days. Maybe my body is broken today. I decided to let go of the PR, save my back + think long term, and just give the best I had today.

I added 30 lb. 255 lb was less than 6 weeks ago. But that's okay. Long term health. It was still a struggle, but my back ... felt better??

20 more pounds. Skip the PR! I mean, all or nothing right? Down and up it went!

20 more? This is my PR from 1 year ago. And I actually hit 295 lb last month with a weightbelt and a spot. Yup! I was a little slow at the bottom, but pain free!

Okay, 3 plates (i.e. 315 lb)? "No, not this time. Think long term, Josh." I don't want to make the same mistake as I did a year ago. So I added 10 more pounds. 305 lb. This would break the 300 pound mark, a huge milestone for me (and a warm-up set for Jireh).

I was getting ready to go for it. The music pumped me up. I got under the bar. Two stomps (copied from Jireh). Stayed tight. Remembering the cues of the Level 1 Seminar Staff, still fresh in my mind. And watched by two great coaches (Ben and Gord).

Big breath ... and down I went. And up I went. Halfway.... I was stuck. My mind started to think. I told it to shut up and just move! It felt like a solid 10 seconds. The yelling around me got louder. My body kept fighting. Then breakthrough! I was up! I finally broke 300 lb!

The journey has just begun. 300 lb isn't the magic number. It was just a number that evaded me for over a year. I'm going to keep getting stronger. Keep doing those 5x5's. Keep targeting my weaknesses. And having fun along the way :)

Push press

I have relatively little to say compared to my back squat. Still, a 20 lb PR is a 20 lb PR. I definitely believe that the coaching I got over this weekend helped dial my technique in. Staying tight throughout this movement was key. Abs tight. Butt tight. Ribs down.

Cash Out

So, I was on my way out when I saw Andrew by the wall with a 30 lb wall ball. Curious, I went over to see what he was up to. 100 wall ball shots to a 10 ft target at 30 lb.

"Wow, cool! Good for you!" I thought.

"Do it with me."

What?! I just PR'd and felt great. But hey, I want to get stronger and fitter right? In reality, I was a bit scared. Scared to "go there". To go to that threshold of fun and pain.

After thinking for all of 10 seconds, I walked over and picked up a 30 lb wall ball. "Hey, this feels pretty light." I thought. I didn't think about the rep scheme much. Who has time for that?

I started with the first 20 unbroken. Then 10's. After 60, I started to break it into 5's. It was really hurting. But Andrew reminded me that "the burn you get feels amazing, but you have to work for it!" I thought back to this weekend, to what Matthieu Dubreucq said, "To be excellent, you need to be willing to do the unsexy stuff, the things that few are willing to do." (paraphrased)

At 91 reps, I was toast. 9 more right? "Let's do 20 reps unbroken." Andrew said. He was pretty much doing an AMRAP of these while I tried to hit it.

At this point, I was doing sets of 3-5. It was not looking good. But I kept pushing and finally finished those 20 reps (111 total).

As Austin Malleolo mentioned, "Intensity is where the good stuff's at." For a long time, I have been unwilling to really go there. I would focus on technique alone. There's a balance though. Finding that threshold is key.

Like my back squat PR, hitting this level of intensity was new and exciting for me. But it's just the beginning. I have to keep hitting it hard day in and day out. It's not always fun and happy, but the "good stuff" comes from doing the "unsexy" stuff (not cool, don't feel like it, not heavy, boring ...).

Whether it's my lifting, met cons, running, stretching/mobility, or even rest days, I need to move/rest with purpose.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Point of Dating

Here's a good video that reminded me of the purpose of dating.

Friday, February 21, 2014

WOD Thu Feb 20 @ CrossFit Markham

Last night, I had the chance to hang out with some men from my small group. We went to CrossFit Markham for a fun workout then had some wings down the street. Here's what we did last night:

Row 1200 m

Skill work
Chest-to-bar pull-ups

3 rounds of
3 min AMRAP: 6 alt jumping lunges, 9 deadlifts (185#), 6 pull-ups
2 min rest
(Score: 8 rounds + 4 reps)

Here's a good article by James Clear about the lessons you can learn from a stained glass artist. He talks about making incremental changes. I love his closing paragraphs:
Of course, change isn’t easy — no matter how you do it. Slow gains are boring. They’re unsexy. Nobody writes news stories about them. But moving forward in a slow and methodical manner doesn’t mean you lack ambition, drive, or vision. The stained glass artist has a very clear vision. He knows exactly what he is working toward.
You and I can do the same. If we keep making small improvements, then pretty soon we will end up with a beautiful masterpiece on our hands instead of a bunch of fragments.
This morning, I came across a cool article on our identity and career. Two key points for me are:
  • We're not defined by our jobs. We're defined by our love.
  • We should let our identity define how we work, play, etc. We should not let our career define our identity.
I'll close with a passage I read this morning: Psalm 46. This is a powerful passage filled with assurance when times get tough or life just gets overwhelming. May it encourage you as it has encouraged me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

WOD Tue Feb 18 @ CrossFit Ark

Jireh, Carmelina and I went to CrossFit Ark Tuesday night for a fun workout. This was one of those rare days where I beat my brother (Jireh) in a workout. He still remains dominant in virtually every other workout, including repping out front squats at 305# for 4 and blasting through those prowler pushes.

Today is definitely a rest day. I've been squatting and prowler pushing for the past 4 days. As much as I want to go into the gym again, my body needs to reset and recover. Rest is a beautiful thing :)

I've also started drinking my own version of Bulletproof Coffee (link). If you're a coffee lover and haven't tried it out yet, I highly recommend it! I used some organic coffee, goat butter (recipe calls for grassfed unsalted butter) and coconut oil (recipe calls for MCT oil). Here's a picture of my first attempt!

Anyways, here's what we did at the Ark yesterday:


3 min row @ 75%
1 min single skips
1 min Samson stretch
1 min squats (2 s hold at bottom)
1 min double unders


Front squat
5x135#, 5x185#, 5x205#, 5x225#, 2x2x225#


3 rounds for time:
75 double unders
50 squats
25 calorie row
(Time: 12:09)

Post-WOD conditioning:

Prowler push (160#), x3
6 tire flips in between each push

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

WOD Mon Feb 17 @ Caveman Strong

I had the chance to visit Cornwall on Family Day and had to stop in on my favorite gym! My siblings joined me for the workout. Here's what I ended up doing:


Straight-leg bear crawl (x2)
Duck walk (x2)
Table top overs
2 rounds:
10 PVC pipe (+5 lb) pass throughs
10 gymnastics stretch
10 kozak


Back squat
5x135#, 5x185#, 3x5x235#

10 ring rows in between each set of back squats


Prowler pushes (270#), x3

Sunday, February 16, 2014

WOD Sun Feb 16

Sun Feb 17:

Playing around @ Markville Fitness
- incl squats, pull-ups etc
- then fun workout with brothers :)

12 min AMRAP
5 burpees pull-ups
10 burped sprawls
3 bear complexes (95#)

Prowler push  (250#): 10 lengths each, team of 3

Sat Feb 15:

Back squat
2x5x135#, 5x185#, 5x5x245#
Shoulder press
Power clean

Prowler push (225#): 5 laps, 1:00 rest

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

WOD Tue Feb 11


Shoulder press
5x95#, 3x5x105#

Push press
3x115#, 3x135#, 3x155#

Push jerk
2x1x135#, 1x155#


12 min AMRAP
9 deadlifts (155#)
12 push-ups
15 box jumps (24")
(6 rounds + 8 DL)

Noisli - productivity simplified

Have you ever wanted to get work done, but had a hard time focusing?

It's hard for me to stay focused, whether it is at work, at home reading/studying, or even during a workout!

I have been trying several things to stay focused, including
  • listening to music
  • taking regular breaks
  • writing goals and setting priorities
  • changing environments
The last one is one of my favorites! I'm often quite productive in my favorite coffee shop(s), in libraries, .... and on the beach!

I recently came across a cool website called Noisli. The website features different types of background sounds that can be combined to your heart's content! They have white noise, coffee shop, water, rain, storm, trees, winds ... you name it! They also have an in-built text editor and changing colours so you can soak up the benefits of chromotherapy.

Here's what I did at work today for a superproductive day:
  1. Open Noisli in a new window and stretch it across your screen(s). This will serve as a soothing background as you do your work.
  2. Select your favorite sounds (and wear earphones). Today I had the rain, thunder and trees. Play it for periods when you need to concentrate, focus or just get in that "zone". Switch it up throughout the day for some variety.
  3. Work happily away =)

Work happy =)

Eat, drink and be joyful!

And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun. --Ecclesiastes 8:15

Monday, February 10, 2014

WOD Mon Feb 10


Back squat
1x135#, 1x185#, 5x5@225#

5x5 @ 135 lb

5x @ 135 lb
5x @ 185 lb
5x @ 205 lb
5x @275 lb

Saturday, February 8, 2014

WOD Sat Feb 8

Today was the Day 2 of the Free Indeed conference and wow. So much to digest. I'm glad I made the trip to Oakville though.

There's so much to share but I have some reflecting to do. Here is the main verse from the conference:

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." -- John 8:36

After grabbing a quick bite, I went to Markville Fitness for a quick strength workout (Starting strength inspired). Here's what I did:

Back squats: 5x5 @ 225#
Shoulder press: 5x5 @ 95#
Power clean: 5x5 @ 135#

Friday, February 7, 2014

WOD Fri Feb 7

I haven't really worked out since Monday. I was really sore from the heavy squats and the wall ball shots. I managed to get in this morning with Carm for the 6 a.m. This is what we did:


Overhead squats
2x5x65#, 2x5x95#, 5x115#


For time:
10 overhead squats (OHS) @ 95#
20 pull-ups
30 OHS
40 pull-ups
30 OHS
20 pull-ups
10 OHS
(Time: 25:00)

I had to drop the weight to 85# after the first set of OHS since my joints were in pain. Pull-ups and overhead squats are definitely weaknesses of mine. Need to work on my grip and scapular strength (and just overall fitness ... gassing out too quick :p)

11:30 p.m. update:

I just got back from Day 1 of the Free Indeed conference (www.free indeed.ca) and was incredibly encouraged from my time there. When I got home, I felt an urge to just move, so I did. I rowed 2 km at a relaxed pace (~2:15/500 m) and did 3 sets of 10 push-ups and 10 squats.

I learned two things:

  • Moving is good. I need to move more often.
  • It's okay to break "rules", such as no late night workouts. I often get caught up in the rules and overanalyze, allowing these rules to become excuses. While I need to keep listening to my body, sometimes I need to just move.

Monday, February 3, 2014

WOD Mon Feb 3


Back squat with ~2 sec pause at the bottom
5x135#, 5x185#, 5x205#, 3x5x225#


150 wall ball shots (20#, 10' target)
Rest 5 min
100 push-ups

Total time: 26:22
"Karen" (150 wall balls): 11:29


There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. --Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 ESV

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. ... If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. ... For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them;  but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” -- Proverbs 1:7, 23, 32-33 ESV

Putting away: complacency, idle thought and actions, senseless anger

Starting: morning with God, trust and obey throughout my day

WOD Updates

Sun Feb 2

Partner WOD

5 Rounds for time:
Row 20 calories
AMRAP: 5 KB swings (75 lb), 5 goblet squats (75 lb), 10 DB snatches (30 lb)

While Partner 1 rows 20 calories, Partner 2 accumulates as many reps as possible. Then switch. This is done 5 times.

J: 120, P: 125

Fri Jan 31

2 Rounds For max reps:
2 Minutes of Rope Climbs (15')
Rest 60 seconds
2 Minutes of Alternating Pistols
Rest 60 seconds
2 Minutes of Double-Unders
(Rope climbs: 9, Pistols: 94, Double unders: ?)


For time:
135/95 pound Thruster, 15 reps
135/95 pound Sumo deadlift high-pull, 21 reps
135/95 pound Thruster, 12 reps
135/95 pound Sumo deadlift high-pull, 15 reps
135/95 pound Thruster, 9 reps
135/95 pound Sumo deadlift high-pull, 9 reps
(Used 95#)

- then -

5 min AMRAP
10 C2B pull-ups
10 alt pistols
- 2 min rest -
10 box jumps (24")
10 shoulder to overhead (95#, instead of Rx 135#)

Wed Jan 29

Partner WOD
5 min alternating C&J @ 135#
- then -
5 min alternating thrusters @ 135#