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Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Archive for May, 2011

A Crossfit Wedding

Back in the day, say 2007 or so, the “comments” section of Crossfit.com was a very different place than what it has become today. This is neither good nor bad, mind you, it’s simply how the flagship web site of the Crossfit phenomenon has evolved as the company and the movement have grown. While today the majority of  people who  Crossfit do so at a Crossfit Affiliate gym, or Box, it wasn’t always so. Back in the day there just weren’t that many gyms at all, so those of us who craved the camaraderie brought on by shared suffering congregated on the “comments” section of what Crossfitters call the “Main Page” and what I dubbed the “Cyber-gym.” Indeed, it became very much like a family, thus the metaphor the “Crossfit Dinner Table”.

It’s also where my alter-ego, “bingo” was born.

As Crossfit grew the number of posts on the “comments” grew in tandem. Many’s the day when there would be 7, 8, 9 hundred posts, and any time “Fran” came up the count would crest 1000. In general there were three types of posts. People posted their times and results, using the “comments” as a running log of their Crossfit experience, and other folks offered commentary (usually compliments). As there were few “bricks and mortar” teaching resources the “comments” section was also where questions about the Workout Of the Day (WOD) were asked and answered. This, however, was not always so friendly, especially in the earliest days of Crossfit.com as Crossfit OG’s chafed at reading (let alone answering) the same newcomer questions again and again. Kinda like your kitchen table with the extended family: most responses were kind and understanding, with an occasional flaming.

And then there were those third type of comments, those essentially worthless expositions on stuff that might not even have had anything to do with Crossfit at all, for which that bingo guy is probably to blame. Oh sure, they started innocently enough with a little tip here and a little request for kindness on behalf of a fellow Crossfitter there. But then they morphed into something altogether different with the arrival of “Sunday musings”, a sorta weekly offering of observations and commentary graciously tolerated by the founders and owners of Crossfit. These, in turn, begat other equally long and often equally unrelated to Crossfit posts which the mighty Jakers dubbed FRAT: F__K Reading All That. As if that wasn’t enough, tiny groups of Crossfit friends started to commune right there in the middle of the cyber-gym, using the “comments” as a tiny corner-of-the-gym chat room.

It was really kinda fun.

Which brings us to the story of a Crossfit Wedding. There’ve been lots of Crossfit weddings in the time I’ve been hanging around, some of which involved some very famous and very special Crossfit “personalities”. Tony and Jamie Budding. The Amundsons’s. Big time names from the earliest days of the original Crossfit HQ, the mystical Crossfit Santa Cruz. They were kinda normal, though, at least as normal as anything that involves Crossfit and Crossfitters can be. People met at a Crossfit Box, fell in love, and got married. A funny thing happened in the cyber-gym with all that FRAT stuff going on…people met, fell in love, and got married! Like my FRAT friends “Herm” and “Cookie”.

 

“Once upon a time there was a woman looking for fun ways to pass the time and get in shape while her children were away. Crossfit?? But I’m no athlete! Looks fun though so why not. With her head firmly in the koolaid punch bowl she began reading the message boards and posts on the mainsite. Standing out from the crowd was one contributor – Herm. Now that sounded like a kind person, someone who would answer her many questions and not hit on her or bother her with the nonsense she had been tired of. For months they had emails- rarely anything personal, always about CF. She enjoyed the emails and wondered what his life was like. Ask they said. Oh no! That’s just not what our friendship is about! Send a picture they said. Oh no! I can’t risk him being uncomfortable. But with the coaxing of her Cf mentor Stef the picture was SENT  and within 5 minutes a response from Herm came back something like this “are you single? Are you dating anyone”? But alas he lived 8 hours away. A month later on Dec 7 they met in Santa Monica, talked for hours and he taught her the sp, pp, pj progression at Golds in Venice Beach. Their next date came a few weeks later and lasted 5 days including a trip to San Felipe. But alas….. He * still* lived 8 hours away. But after a month of debating they decided to try this thing out and traveled from the ends of California to see each other for a year until he decided home was where she is in San Diego and moved here in Dec 2009. They worked very hard to build their family with little means, a tiny rented house and 3 energetic young ladies to tend to. They came to a point where they all found their place in the family…. And but for the ring, they were a family. So today comes the next chapter in the story – where we officially become a family and get to live happily ever after. I love this man beyond words and I am the luckiest girl alive!”

 

That, my friends, is Patty’s (Cookie) post yesterday, May 28, 2011. The day she married Herm. Attended by “Strong L’il Pony” (Aileen) who is betrothed to “Goat” (Jack), two other Crossfitters who met in the cyber-gym and traded FRAT posts with all the rest of us.

Crossfit is so much more than just a fitness program. It’s hard to put into words just why this is…but it is. Perhaps it’s the shared suffering. Maybe the sense of discovery, a kind of finders’ pride for those of us who’ve been around for a bit. I don’t know. Much of this has shifted to the individual Crossfit gyms, real live bricks and mortar places of which there are now 3000+  world-wide. Some of what existed in the cyber-gym of Crossfit.com is now found, albeit heavily diluted, on Facebook or on the local blogs of the Affiliate gyms. (I should note that the Brand X forums continue to have an international following and a bit of the old Main Page flavor).

Things change, and that’s OK. Heck, if not for the “comments” as they were once upon a time there would never have been a “bingo”, the alter ego in whom resides all (any?) of my best qualities. It was a magical time, man, and it was a magical place that cyber-gym. The Crossfit table was full and rowdy and loud and open and just plain fun. Friendships were made as we passed the kettlebells like so many serving dishes at a family dinner. People met there, fell in love, and got married, all because of a fitness program and a web site called Crossfit that had been given to them for free by a couple of fitness trainers from Santa Cruz. It was a very special time and a very special place.

I send all of my love and the best wishes of Clan bingo. From Mrs. bingo, The Heir, Lovely Daughter, Lil’bingo and me, bingo, big hugs and bad English to Herm and Patty, and for that matter to all of my FRATties and each and every Crossfitter who’s every stopped by the Crossfit table.

The Most Dangerous Man In American Healthcare

The most dangerous man in American health care is Greg Glassman. That’s right, the man who will make the biggest difference in making our country healthier, and thereby reducing the cost of providing health care, is a fitness trainer from Santa Cruz California. And you have no idea who he is.

That’s okay, though; you’re in good company. There are lots of really important, really influential people in American healthcare who have never heard of Greg Glassman. Donald Berwick, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services? Not a clue. Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the vaunted Cleveland clinic foundation? Nope, never heard of him. So it goes, as well, for the presidents and executive vice presidents of all the various and sundry medical “letter” organizations like the AMA, the American Association of ophthalmology, and the like. The man who might hold the key to economic healthcare salvation is not even a blip on the margins of the healthcare establishment’s radar screens.

So what’s the big deal? Why is Greg Glassman the most dangerous man in American healthcare? There are two reasons, actually. First, he is right. Glassman has identified not only the most fundamental and foundational problem with the health of Americans, but he has also discovered, defined, and implemented the solution. Americans are not fit. There is an appalling lack of physical fitness in the populace. Fat and slow, or skinny–fat and weak, we are a nation of the unfit. What Science Daily calls “frailty” in an article linking a lack of fitness to poor health outcomes (ScienceDaily.com/releases/2011/04/110426122948.htm), Glassman calls decrepitude. Skinny or fat, how healthy can you be if you can’t get yourself out of a chair without assistance?

Somewhere around 2001 Greg Glassman co–founded a fitness system which he dubbed “Crossfit”(http://www.crossfit.com). He offered  the first actionable definition of fitness ever created: work capacity across broad time and modal domains. How much stuff can you move, how far, how quickly. It’s not enough to be strong, you must also be able to travel long distances. By the same token, it’s not enough to be able to travel long distances if you are not strong enough to lift your own body. This definition led to a measurement of fitness, power output or work.

To achieve this level of fitness Crossett offers the equivalent of a prescription. Exercise should consist of “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements.” Intensity is the key. Fitness gains are not only magnified but are achieved in the most efficient manner when the exercise is performed at relatively high intensity. Functional movements include fitness standards like running, swimming and biking, but also weight training using major lifts like the deadlift, the clean, and the squat. Crossfit has returned those staples of gym classes in the 60′s, pull-ups, push-ups, and squats, to a prominence not seen since the days of Kennedy’s Presidential Council on Fitness.

Caloric intake matters; you can’t out train a bad diet or a bad lifestyle. Crossfit’s dietary prescription is quite simple: “eat meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but NOT BODY FAT.” Crossfit preaches the merits of both quantity and quality when if comes to food. Carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, protein containing all essential amino acids, AND FAT are all essential to producing physical fitness. Food should be seen as fuel and should be measured as such. Even the highest quality foods consumed in the most balanced proportions will produce increased body fat and decreased fitness if taken in too high volume

A funny thing happened on the way to revolutionizing the fitness industry. In addition to increased strength, increased endurance, and decreased body fat, which translated into a dramatically fewer inches and lower dress sizes, it seemed as if everyone who did Crossfit became healthier. Lower cholesterol. Lower resting heart rates. Decreased blood pressure. Elevated moods. It looked like a move away from decrepitude and frailty was actually a move TOWARD health. Toward WELLNESS.  A scientist at heart, Glassman digested this information and in 2008 made the following statement: fitness is a proxy for health. Indeed, Glassman declared that fitness EQUALS health. In this, Greg Glassman is right, or at least more right than not. At a minimum, fitness is the foundation upon which health is built. A healthy nation is one that need not expend countless $Billions on curing diseases that could be prevented by becoming fit. This is the first reason why he is the most dangerous man in American health care.

The second reason is that he doesn’t care.

Greg Glassman is like the little boy standing at the side of the road watching the naked emperor parade by who declares “the Emperor has no clothes!” He is standing there watching a parade of the fat and the weak and he is saying “hey look…they can’t get their butt off the throne!” It’s uncomfortable to hear someone say that, but he doesn’t care; it needs to be said. The standard dietary dogma of high carbohydrate, low-fat diets with little or no meat? A straight ticket to decrepitude! He doesn’t care that statements like that make all of the Oz’s and Pritiken’s sputter and squirm. When asked once upon a time how to gain weight for a movie role Glassman famously responded: “ easy…non–fat frozen yogurt.” It’s no different with exercise. Walking and other low-intensity exercises? Better than nothing, but only almost. Cue the howls of the Jillians and the Jakes, and every glossy, muscly, fitnessy magazine editor in the English speaking world. Glassman is right, and he doesn’t care.

Greg Glassman has looked at what is wrong with the health of Americans and he is willing to say what that is and say it out loud. He is willing to say that we as a people are unfit, and that this is the primary cause underlying our lack of health, and our accelerating need to spend money to cure disease. He is willing to say that the vast majority of the advice that we have received to fix this is flat out wrong, whether it comes from the government or the cover of Fitness Magazine. He is willing to say the the road to economic salvation in American Healthcare leads through the gym, the grocery store, and the kitchen, not to or through something as meaningless as an “Accountable Healthcare Organization” (whatever that may be). Although he is convinced that he is right he is presently spending gobs of his own money studying the effects of the Crossfit prescription on the health of regular people.

Yup, Greg Glassman is right, and he doesn’t care that all of the so–called experts in healthcare don’t know who he is yet, or that they wouldn’t agree with him if they did. Judging by what’s going on in the physical fitness world right now as Crossfit grows 30% PER MONTH, I’d say that makes Greg Glassman the most dangerous man in American healthcare.

Better learn how to spell his name.

A Quick Thought About Mothers

“In the beginning children love their parents. As they grow up they judge them. Sometimes they forgive them.” –Oscar Wilde.

Beth and I are now in the stage where the White progeny are judging us. Comparing us across all kinds of parental times and domains as it were. I think Beth is going to fare quite well in that process, with little for them to forgive, and anything that might require forgiveness done so without much fanfare. As parents we have searched our memories as children in order to bring forward those things we cherished in our own parents, and to banish (as much as possible) those things for which we found it necessary to forgive them.

You see, the rules of parenthood are in may ways the same as the rules of childhood because the currency is the same for both. Whether Mom or child we have but two coins with which to carry on the commerce of our relationships: love and forgiveness. Mothers don’t always like their children, and children don’t always like their mothers, even on Mother’s Day! But almost without exception they love one another, even during times when they may not really like one another too very much at all.

It’s in the forgiveness, I think, that we recover from those periods where we don’t like our parents, and indeed where we don’t like our kids. This part of both motherhood and childhood lasts as long as one is privileged to be some Mother’s (or Father’s) child. As children we should strive to remember this, strive always to spend not only the love coin but also the forgiveness coin, today and for as long as we are privileged to have a Mom.

 

Habit Forming

I just finished a killer of a Crossfit workout I didn’t really want to do. Have you had those days when you trudge into the gym, the Box, with little to no desire to be there? Beaten down and on the verge of defeat, you simply show up, punch in, go through the motions, punch out. Had some of those? Yah…me, too. It happens elsewhere in your life, too, in other places and at other times when you don’t really ‘have to’ be there, doesn’t it?

Well then, why did you show up?

There’s a continuum, I think, along a line that includes discipline, motivation, and habit. It might be a circle or a feedback loop–I’m not sure yet. The end result is something like consistency. Was it some sort of discipline that prompted you to go to the gym and do that workout when you didn’t really have any too much desire to be there? Some sort of force of will, a conscious imposition of rational to overpower emotion? Or were you simply motivated by some end-goal long before chosen, a milepost toward which you travel no matter what because the destination is so compelling? Subtle, I know, and I confess that the subtle difference between discipline and motivation escapes my vocabulary at this stage.

What I DO understand, though, is the concept of habit, and habit formation, and the consistency that arises from positive habits. You know, just like the Crossfit prescription of Form before Consistency before Intensity. Whether it’s the PULL of motivation to arrive at some wonderful destination, or the PUSH of discipline driving you there, it is the creation of habit, of consistency, that ultimately gets the job done.

Success is about building those habits, the ones that produce good outcomes. You went to the gym that day because going to the Box at that time is the habit you’ve developed; punching that clock on that day provides the consistency that will bring a giant forward leap on the next day when you show up with a spring in your step and fire in your belly. Any kind of habit that consistently moves you forward along a road to success is a habit worth creating. For example, I’m in the habit of assuming that every day in the office is gonna be a good day, unless it’s a great day, and I’ve noticed that this kind of habit is contagious.

Whether pushed by discipline or pulled by motivation, give yourself permission to create habits that move you.

 

Sunday Musings on Mother’s Day

Sunday musings (on Mother’s Day, listening to the bingoettes Mom)…

1) Mom again. Raise a Mother’s Day toast to our Crossfit.com couple, H E R M and Patty(Cookie) who are both betrothed and with child. What a joy!

2) The gift. As per usual I have neglected to get a card for Mrs. bingo. I’m just not a card kinda guy, I’m afraid. She says she loves me anyway, mostly because I will get in the dirt with her and plant flowers later on today.

Oh yeah…I’m also up with the dogs this morning.

3) Little victories. I spent part of yesterday afternoon watching Mrs. bingo’s first ever equestrian competition. It was actually her first competition in anything, ever! One of her teammates, a women in her 30′s I believe, had a day that exceeded the expectations of everyone who knows her and her horse. The horse, you see, is a “project”, and that means exactly the same in the horse world as it does every where else in sports.

Despite universal praise from trainers, teammates, and spectators in the know, this young woman found none of the good in her performance because it didn’t measure up against the other, fancier horses or other, more experienced riders. She took a victory and turned it into defeat by forgetting what the competition was for her rides. Like any rookie it was you (and your rookie horse) vs. you, and darn it if she didn’t win! She just couldn’t get herself to accept the victory.

Beth, Mrs. bingo, spent a little time with her cataloging those triumphs. She pointed out the need to not only notice those little victories but to REVEL in them. And not only on a horse but in the daily rides that constitute regular life. In many ways our day-to-day lives are also you vs. you, and you can’t really win the bigger games if you can’t be happy about the tiny gold medals that come with the tiny victories when it’s you vs. you.

4) Mothers. “In the beginning children love their parents. As they grow up they judge them. Sometimes they forgive them.” –Oscar Wilde.

Mrs. bingo and I are now in the stage where the bingo progeny are judging us. Comparing us across all kinds of parental times and domains as it were. I think Mrs. bingo is going to fare quite well in that process, with little for them to forgive, and anything that might require forgiveness done so without much fanfare. As parents we have searched our memories as children in order to bring forward those things we cherished in our own parents, and to banish (as much as possible) those things for which we found it necessary to forgive them.

You see, the rules of parenthood are in may ways the same as the rules of childhood because the currency is the same for both. Whether Mom or child we have but two coins with which to carry on the commerce of our relationships: love and forgiveness. Mothers don’t always like their children, and children don’t always like their mothers, even on Mother’s Day! But almost without exception they love one another, even during times when they may not really like one another too very much at all.

It’s in the forgiveness, I think, that we recover from those periods where we don’t like our parents, and indeed where we don’t like our kids. This part of both motherhood and childhood lasts as long as one is privileged to be some Mother’s (or Father’s) child. As children today on Mother’s Day, we should strive to remember this, strive always to spend not only the love coin but also the forgiveness coin, today and for as long as we are privileged to have a Mom.

And tell her to keep the change!

Happy Mother’s Day to all. I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at May 8, 2011 5:19 AM

 

Sunday Musings 5/1/11

Sunday musings (in the rain)…

1) Rain. April showers may bring May flowers, but if my basement floods one more time this Spring…

2) Rain and the floods. “Pray to God, but keep rowing toward shore.”

3) Rain and friendship. Friendship is on my mind quite often. I ponder it as I think about friends old and new. My 25th graduate school reunion is in a month or so (note to self: make plane reservation), and I am pleasantly surprised at the number of old friends and friendly acquaintances who are emerging from the mists of my past. Misplaced, lost, or cast aside, the skeletons of friendships past walk with me, still.

We are blessed, fortunate beyond measure, if we can count among the masses a single friend. One to whom we can always turn, from whom we withhold nothing, who will give to us everything. To have more than one friend such as this is to have a kind of wealth that beggars description.

If we are lucky enough to have friends they are joined in the garden of our lives by that next best thing, friendly acquaintances, and these in turn are surrounded by acquaintances, the entire garden encircled by farmland that lies, for the moment at least, unexplored.

The garden analogy is an apt one for friendship. A garden requires tending and so, too, does a friendship. Left untended, left to chance, it is certainly possible for a garden to flourish, but all too often both gardens and friendships ignored too long have a beauty that is but a cherished memory, seen only with the mind’s eye.

Friendship, like a garden, grows best when exposed to both sun AND rain, albeit for different reasons. A friendship that has known only sunny days may weather that first storm; a friendship that has known both sun and rain is steeled against any and all weather, especially if we gardeners were active in the tending despite the elements.

Who is your friend? Who is there for you in both sunshine and rain? From whom do you wish only friendship, and who asks only the same from you? Have you done your part? Have you tended your garden in both sunshine AND rain?

4) Rain, tears. “I have given up all hope of a happier past.” A better, more poetic version of the lesson Simba “absorbed” from Rafiki about longing for the past or hoping that it will change if one wishes just a little harder. The ball STILL goes through Buckner’s legs each time I watch.

The moment is NOW. Now is what we have. We have learned from the past, and we plan to apply what we have learned to the future, but what we have is “now”. Now is all there is. Pay attention. Now is important. The people you are with, the task at hand, the place you occupy NOW are what you have. Pay attention; don’t miss the moments now.

In the end “[all] those moments will be lost in time. Like tears in rain.”

I’ll see you next week…

 

Sunday Musings 4/24/11

Sunday musings…

1) “Start Anywhere”. Zen.

2) Happy Easter. More on this to come.

3) Easter Bunny. Mrs. Bingo flew “The Heir” home for a surprise visit! What a great surprise; clan bingo was assembled en masse for the first time since Christmas. Great gift.

4) Church. It is 10:45 AM in Cleveburg and I have not yet gone to Easter mass. Indeed, I have been describing myself of late as a “recovering Catholic”; religion as punch line. In truth I have been struggling for some time with this, treading water in the shallows between religion and faith.

Once upon a time I found the Catholic mass to be a sanctuary. A home away from home, if you will. In church I was in solidarity with millions of other people, all doing essentially the same thing at the same general time. The sameness, the ritual, the knowledge that it was ever as it was and ever shall be was a comfort. That consistency was a touchstone of a sort. For decades I never missed mass.

Although there are significant differences in the basic faith beliefs across the religion domain I have found essential behavioral modes that consistently surface in most, if not all, of them. Be kind. Treat you neighbor as you would wish to be treated. What you do unto others you do unto me. Gaia and her children are to be cherished and nurtured. The circle of life. As soon as humans congregate in units >1 these essential social modes of behavior exist, and in many corners of our planet are reinforced through religion.

So, too, is the faith domain in some way consistent. There MUST be something more than this life. There MUST be something greater, something at least watching. There MUST be something that comes next. There MUST have been something that came before. Indeed, I have written elsewhere that the absence of this faith is a ticket to madness.

The process was gradual, unconscious, unplanned, but over time a less defined yet stronger faith arose, while religious fidelity weakened in the face of its stricter definition. I got less and less out of each visit to church, and more and more out of deeper, more private, more personal explorations of a broader, more expansive faith. Indeed, my spiritual life grew and my adherence to those general behavioral niceties grew, kind of like a plant removed from the confines of its pot that grew to be a tree once planted in the garden.

There is nothing inherently wrong, or bad with the Church of my upbringing. It brings joy and comfort to many of my loved ones as well as countless millions around the world. Nothing wrong with the many other religions and the peaceful practice of their tenets. It’s just that I, like that emancipated tree, find it difficult to fit any more.

It’s now 11:10 here in Cleveburg, and I’ve not yet been to Church.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at April 24, 2011 8:15 AM

 

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