Father Andrew's Hot Body Gym

April 20, 2010

30 and flirty

Filed under: real talk — Tags: , , — Lady Who Cooks @ 8:41 am

For the past week or so, a lot of people have been asking me how it feels to be thirty.  Apparently in my family, my brother and sister both went through a mini-crisis when they turned over that last digit to their third decade.  I didn’t have the same experience; actually it was quite the opposite.  I’m excited to be thirty and I can give you a few reasons why:

1.) Feeling good – I contribute this to my Primal lifestyle and fitness.  I didn’t feel this good a year ago when I was eating dairy, grains, and legumes.  I felt constantly bloated and had intense hunger swings.  Now I feel stable and content.

2.) Skin so soft – I’ve been moisturizing since my early teens, I’m not quite sure the Primal stance on lotion since the Paleo woman didn’t have modern moisturizers but I’m sure she had some sort of skin treatment whether it be oils or aloes (I feel a follow-up post coming on).  Although I used to try and tan (believe me being a blonde hair and fair skinned gal it was a big try to get tan) I gave up on it years ago.  Though I know my past tanning transgressions will show up later, I know the impact will be reduced since I have been relatively cautious my whole life on how I treat my skin.  Plus, whenever I feel a little too pale I remind myself that white skin tattoos better.  🙂

3.) Tons-O-Fun – Micah and I make it a point to have fun and to make the most of our time.  We spend a lot of time with friends and indulge our hobbies and interests.  We try to experience new things and travel when we can.  I’m always up to try something new with my hobbies so I’m constantly learning new things.

4.) Golden Age – One thing I try and do is to think of the benefits of getting older as opposed to the downfalls.  I like the idea of progression, the learning of new things and becoming wiser.

Overall, I think we all have more to offer the world than our looks.  Growing older is inevitable, it would be better to stay healthy and happy so you can grow old gracefully, than to fight it with unnatural means (facelifts, etc) and end up always fighting an uphill battle.

February 10, 2010

Lenten Fasts and Our Gym – For What Reason Do We Fast?

Filed under: real talk — Tags: , , , — frandrewrowell @ 2:33 pm

We quickly approach Lent, the 40-day season in the Church’s yearly recitation of the grand arc of God’s salvation story where we “go into the desert with Israel and with Jesus.” For 40 days, a period meant to echo Israel’s 40 years of desert living and Christ’s 40 days of desert temptation, we surrender many things that give us pleasure. We simplify our lives through abstention from some foods, some activities. We alter some of the normal patterns of our lives, praying more fervently, adding some additional time with the poor and downtrodden, remembering God’s command to us to find Him amongst the orphan, widow, alien and oppressed.

At the end of these forty days of reflection and contemplation, of abstention and preparation, we celebrate with loud shouts and the ringing of bells the “joy that comes in the morning” – the great Vigil of Easter where God’s salvation plan reaches its culmination, brought to dazzling light as we remember Christ’s resurrection from the dead. One of my favorite moments of every year is the eating of chocolate-covered strawberries and the drinking of a glass of champagne on Holy Saturday night/the wee hours of Easter Sunday morning. My tongue and my stomach get to tell my brain that joy has come, that the period of mourning and reflection has been cast aside! Easter becomes a full-body exercise, not just something I know in my brain or feel in my heart – my whole, unified self gets to join in the joy! The new light has dawned and the Church celebrates “Bright Week,” a week where NO FASTING is allowed AT ALL, because who in their right mind would fast when the Bridegroom in all His glory has come to feast with us?!

For most of the Church – both East and West – Lent is primarily practiced as a season of fasting. Accordingly, my Crossfit buddies are preparing to buckle down for Lent and get even more serious about their paleo/primal diets. In other words, they are going to do none of the regular “cheating” we all do. The chatter in the gym is that some are going from primal (roughly paleo + dairy) to full paleo by shedding dairy from their diets. Others have sworn that sugar will not pass their lips until Easter. These people are serious.

But are we being serious about the right things? For some of us, it’s hard to imagine becoming more serious about our diets. Some in our gym have commented that, in the quest for the “perfect” diet, food has become only fuel for the next lifting of the next weight. The pleasure that comes from food and drink has largely leaked out of some of our lives. This can’t be God’s plan for us. Indeed, the constant conversation we have about what we are or aren’t eating, the contempt we sometimes express over the lack of commitment some in the gym have to our espoused dietary strictures….all of it has become a bit obsessive and I keep wondering if we’ve left any conversation about the joy of food out of our conversation. Indeed, if we find no joy in food during the other 325 days of the year, what spiritual traction could possibly be gained by becoming marginally more miserable during Lent?

I’m worried. For one thing, I want us to be cautious about utilizing a holy season as the means to further worship the idol of “elite fitness and perfect diet.” This season is not about losing a few pounds or getting more sleep or reading more books and watching less media for the sake of the advantages that might accrue through such alterations to our normal patterns. It’s about quieting our hearts, shedding some distractions, reminding ourselves physically of the deep spiritual need we have for the dawning of redeemed history through the Resurrection.

For another thing, I’m worried that the joyous feast I’m planning for the gym on Easter Vigil night, the feast that is supposed to be joyous, is going to be a failure because we’ve forgotten how to find joy in our food! For that feast to be spiritually full, it cannot be a time for us to feel guilty because we find ourselves neglecting the idol of perfect diet that sits so prominently in our gym. I seem to remember Jesus turning 150 gallons of water into wine for a wedding…I hate to think about FAHBG folks standing alongside that celebration with our arms folded, calculating how much of that alcohol was going to convert to unhealthy carbs in our digestive tracks….I’d want us to join in the dancing joy of that wedding feast because surely the joy of the Christ’s presence outweighs the worries we have of body shape and image and supposed perfection.

I’m pondering writing a post discussing the potential spiritual benefit of having all of us add three Twinkies a day to our diet for Lent, such that we will only be allowed to return to Paleo when, in the Church year, Easter season dawns with all of its joy. That’d be a way to kick the idol of fitness and diet to the curb. Not sure how much theological traction I could get out of that since, to be clear, I think we ARE doing holy activities as we try to purify our bodies through better eating and the care for creation that may come through eating grass-fed beef and local vegetables. But we must be careful to not become Pharisees along the way, neglecting the joy of being in the midst of the One for whom all of this obedience is supposedly being done – being more in love with the rules than the One towards Whom the rules are supposed to be pointing our hearts.

Let me say this again so that we don’t miss it:

We need to care for our bodies by eating well and exercising for one purpose and one purpose only – so that we are better equipped to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.

If we do it for any other reason, then we are merely worshipping our own physical form, caring for it for the sake of it, not the One who made it and redeemed it for Himself.

So here comes Lent. By all means, go crazy paleo….but do it to get ready for the revelation of the grandest chapter in God’s unrelenting plan to reconcile all things to Himself through Christ, not to make yourself more beautiful or more proud of your disciplined life. Bright Week better add a few pounds to our waistlines and we better not complain about it. I’m already stocking up the Cocoa Pebbles and whole milk.

December 21, 2009

Crossfit Culture and the Lack of the Male Voice

Filed under: real talk — Tags: , , , , , — Micah Vandegrift @ 10:52 am

As many of us are aware, there is a gendered element to almost any modern cultural practice. I was taught during my time in school to critique and question the culture that surrounds me, in effort to challenge myself as a thoughtful, informed human being and to hopefully inspire others to look at things differently too. I had not considered applying these skills to my involvement in the fitness/health sphere until recently, but when I started to think through what I was seeing and reading I knew I had to formulate some sort of commentary.

from Crossfit Unlimited

The culture of sport is, like many other aspects of life, inextricably divided on gender lines. We have addressed some of these issues in past posts on this very blog, and I don’t think I need to go through a history and update on the state of male/femaleness in American sports. Let it suffice to say that in recent years there have been considerable movements for the inclusion and acceptance of females as high-performing, capable, amazing athletes. In fact, I would go so far to say that Crossfit is doing a lot currently to empower females to their full potential, and in my brief experience with the Crossfit movement there seem to be as many female heroes doing Crossfit as there are males. As you might be picking up, my issue here is not with the treatment of females in the movement, but with the image of the males involved. So with this all in mind, here is my query – if this movement is so focused on creating a balance of health in real life, how do we account for the apparent lack of male voices discussing fitness, lifestyle and reality outside of the WOD and the gym? Is Crossfit, like the popular perception of many other strength-based programs, populated by a bunch of numskulls and jocks who care solely about their Over-head squat max?

Again, based on my short and limited experience with Crossfit, filtered through blogs, online videos and discussion boards, I’d like to think that those voices exist. There are some extraordinarily gifted and intelligent men out there who we see a glimpse of every now and again. (Jon Gilson of Again Faster and Robb Wolf come to mind). But, the overwhelming majority of writers/voices that are discussing and connecting Crossfit to real life, with personality and relatability, seem to be female. Two ladies that the team here at FAHBG like to follow are Thera Storm and Melissa Urban. My question is this: are there male voices out there writing about Crossfit AND life? And if, so why are they not rising to the top and receiving recognition within the community? To further complicate things, is the movement, by not having/encouraging such a male voice, relegating females to a particular role – as behind the scenes commentors/writers – and thus limiting their influence or agency in the Crossfit culture? I don’t even want to get into the objectification issue, as more and more hits on our blog are coming from searches for “Sexy Crossfit Girls” ect. (Not to mention 90% of the pics on the CFHQ website home page are of sweaty, good looking females.)

As a young, educated male with broad and varied interests, I would feel a lot more comfortable associating myself with the sport and community of Crossfit if it seemed like there were other, similarly interesting men in the movement sharing their experiences working out and living outside the gym. Fortunately, there are several such characters in our garage community, and I think we represent balance pretty well, pushing hard in the gym and pursuing our various interests with the same fervor. And yet, even as I am writing this, I can imagine the comments and heckling that one might endure if a male Crossfitter were to write and share about life the same way Thera and Melissa do. Perhaps this is all just that 14 year old punkrocker in me, tired of being picked on by the football team, wishing to bulk up like Henry Rollins, and still wear my politics and beliefs on my sleeve.


This post was inspired positively by Thera’s amazing post on the value of women, Melissa Urban’s letter to her mom, and inspired negatively by the current controversy within Crossfit surrounding Robb Wolf. This is also meant as a challenge and encouragement for men in the community to speak up, write and share!


November 4, 2009

Mark’s Daily Apple on CrossFit – Finally!

Filed under: real talk — Tags: , , , , — Mara @ 6:10 pm

The Sandbag Carry at CrossFit Games 2008

Pretty much since I first started reading Mark Sisson’s site and seeing the type of exercise he recommends – sprints, heavy lifting, no chronic cardio – I have been wanting to hear his take on CrossFit, since he seemed to have so much in common.

Finally, that day has come.

In his recent series on fitness, his third part is about Physical Fitness Standards used by any and all. He explores various army, navy, and firefighting PT tests, which are certainly not to be scoffed at, but his personal fave is CrossFit.

Here’s what he says about CrossFit’s multi-faceted and personalized standards:

For my money, this is the way to do it, especially compared to the way military and law enforcement test their recruits. CrossFit (and other similar fitness methodologies) is constantly evolving, and its athletes evolve along with it. There’s always that drive to best your personal benchmarks, to improve and to grow. Typical fitness tests, on the other hand, are usually one-shot deals; a police recruit could conceivably train just enough to pass the entrance exam, only to go to pot once he’s embedded in the force and comfortable with his place (funnily enough, CrossFit is hugely popular with police, military, and firefighters).

Now, I think CrossFit is on the right track, but it’s not for everyone. The overall, well-rounded approach to fitness is generally superior, though, (for most people’s purposes, which do not include dunking on a ten foot hoop or catching a touchdown pass) to the sport-specific training. Does the average person need to be able to complete the WOD in record time? No, absolutely not, but he or she should be able to squat down to pick up their kids, pull themselves up into a tree (using their feet, if need be) to climb around, go for a quick run with the dog, lift a heavy suitcase overhead, walk up several flights of stairs without breathing hard, and swim without sinking.


It’s no coincidence that military and fire-fighting training programs are more and more turning to CrossFit’s infinitely variable, cross-modal techniques to make sure their personnel are ready for anything!

Well, if there was any doubt, Mark is now one of my favorite people-whom-I’ve-never-met. Now when can we get him talking about treating your body like a temple?

BONUS: Check out Mark Rippetoe’s (and old-time CrossFitter) Barbell Strength Standards, to which Sisson links.


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