Archive for the ‘ Crossfit ’ Category

What’s Your Unicorn?

courtesy of stock.xing

We’ve all heard people talk about it. Whispers among the elite, touching around the subject in hushed voices, as if keeping the secret only among the chosen. It is almost as if it is this elusive unicorn, a beautiful beast which presents itself only rarely when you least expect it. But when a person finally spots one, the experience is euphoric, unearthly and life changing. You feel on top of the world and as if something special happened to you and you want the whole world to know about your experience.

But what if you are the one who hasn’t ever seen this symbol of all things glorious? It kind of sucks, doesn’t it? You slog though your experiences waiting for it, and no matter what you do, it doesn’t come. That is exactly how I felt about this elusive thing called, “runner’s high” . Before and during the early stages of Crossfit I ran, a lot. I wasn’t a high mileage runner by any means, but I put my fair share under my feet, and even trained and completed a half marathon. Yes, I know, everyone who has run a marathon or 30 are rolling their eyes at my novice status, and that’s fine with me. I was a dancer my entire life and running was something we just didn’t do, so the fact that I even had a propensity to run in the slightest was more than I could have ever hoped for (and besides, it’s about your overall fitness, not everyone else’s right?) I digress.

So a lot of runs and a half marathon later I still hadn’t seen the unicorn. I ran, and most of the time it hurt. My mind was in my feet and I couldn’t get out of it. I thought about every grueling step, every creek, every groan and most times it ended with that last mile counting every step until it was over. Each time brought new gains, and new pains and I just couldn’t find that moment when your mind goes blank, everything gets quiet and you just run.

Now, fast forward a year and about 300 hundred WODs later and I have finally found my unicorn. The reason for this post is not to get geeked out on what a “runner’s high” is (although if you want the scientific facts about the endorphins in your body releasing when your neurotransmitters fire out pain past your threshold then click HERE.) But I just want to get into the mental state of that runner’s high, or as I like to call it Workout High. See, I could run 8 miles a day and not feel once ounce of euphoria, but give me one, really intense WOD, long or short, metcon or oly lifts, whatever, and I swear I walk away flying high on those beautiful workout clouds.

Which brings me to the reason for this post. We are about half way through the month when resolutions start getting harder to keep, excuses and busy lives start to give you reasons why you can’t keep those goals. Now is the time to dig deeper and find your unicorn. Dig deeper, push yourself harder in your workout and give yourself the ability and chance to feel that amazing greatness that comes when you push past that wall or make gains you never thought possible.  My unicorn comes to me when I finish a WOD. Yours might be after a really hard spin class, a long swim or bike ride. Whatever it is, find it and I promise that feeling will get you to keep your resolutions. That’s the moment that will help you keep your goals and the drive to constantly come back for more.

Now you know the secret, you are part of that elite circle. What are you waiting for 3…2…1… Go!

Elbow…Shmelbow…

Soooo…I’m having some MAJOR elbow issues! I broke my elbow pretty much in half when I was in first grade and had to wear a bright red cast (my favorite color) for months which kept my elbow in a strict right angle for far too long. Unfortunately I remember everything from that day including the weird way my arm was bent…not normal. How did this happen you ask?? Well I may or may not have been double dog dared to do a cherry drop off the monkey bars, and who could turn down a double dog dare?

Not this girl. So up I went….and down I came, hard, popping my elbow and breaking it. Afterwards my elbow healed and with some therapy I was back to full range of motion plus some. When looking at my elbow it seems to actually straighten too much, a lot of hyperextension for ya. Which is great to freak people out at a party but not so

great in the overhead squat area.

So what are the main points of an overhead squat besides tight lumbar curve and weight on the heels…oh yes. Active shoulders. Exactly. The flexibility and shoulder strength come but a person can’t do a good, heavy overhead squat without active shoulders. Which is exactly what I tell myself when I’m setting up for a lift. Now, fast forward into a WOD…AMRAP in 20 of 10 overheads, etc. Round 3 comes into play and suddenly my hyperextended elbow can’t support the weight so it has to bend slightly to take the tension off the hyperextended joint. My elbow is actually straight when I bend it slightly which is great except a bent elbow carries hardly any strength. This therefore doubles the effort to get active shoulders because the strength is focused on keeping the elbow bent instead of pushing the shoulders up into the ears and pressing out. With my left elbow bent, my right has to support all of the weight and yep, you guessed it, there go my active shoulders and my ability to lift anything heavy overhead in a wide overhead grip. Grrr.

So here I sit, wondering how I will be able to fix a problem that stems from my bone structure and not a mobility issue. I am going to work with the overhead squat to see if different grip widths will help, but without a locked elbow and active shoulders I don’t see much heavy overhead squatting in my future.

I am going to work on this and hopefully give some updates in the near future… Anyone else have this problem??

I’m BACK!

Hello World!

Yes, I know… For shame! I am hanging my head right now at my long and sad absence from writing in this blog. It was not without lots and lots of guilt if that makes you feel better. I actually had bookmarked my blog address at the top of my browser and every single day when I would get on the internet I would look up and feel incredibly guilty for not writing. I could claim life, work, and everything else in between has kept me away, but there truly is no excuse for being gone this long.

So, here I am. I am not going to wait for a New Year’s Resolution to get this thing going again. For one, because that hardly ever works and two, because hopefully if I can get back into the swing of things, writing here will be more of a habit and not so much of a chore. So there you have it!

Updates are definitely in order! I am incredibly excited to announce that in September of this year, (my 2 year Crossfit anniversary Yay!) I got certified! Woo Hoo! I am officially a Level 1 Certified Instructor! Since then I have begun teaching at my affiliate and it is probably the most rewarding and fun thing I have ever done and the certification itself was an amazing experience. Besides the fact that we were in the presence of some Crossfit All Stars, we pretty much got a 48 hour non stop Crossfit workout! Who could ask for anything more!  Our Certification was in Allen, TX and our instructors included Miranda Oldroyd, Russel Berger, and Todd Widmann to name a few. They were absolutely amazing teachers and I learned more about Crossfit than I ever thought possible.

Although it was fun and exciting I definitely can’t say it was easy. Besides the fact that we literally had to memorize a 125 page manual before even showing up, at the end of the weekend they make you regurgitate all of the information on a 50 question multiple choice test. So the girls and I spent almost every waking minute of the weekend that we weren’t working out, studying and quizzing each other off of flash cards that we made. I can speak for all of us and say we were absolutely stressed out to the max! None of us wanted to be the one lady out of the group to fail the test and have to come back and face our affiliate, not to mention the awkward 5 hour drive home.

But after much anxiety and many kind words of encouragement from Miranda,

we all passed with flying colors! Hooray! And now we are officially Crossfit Certified!

And I am happily training at Crossfit Jenks. I started teaching the On Ramp class, Monday and Wednesdays at 6:30 pm and Saturday at 11:00 am. So if you are thinking of trying out Crossfit and not quite sure if it is for you, come out and try a free introductory class on Saturday!

Besides being an amazing workout and stress reliever, it is constantly varied and never gets boring. And I promise to be nice the first day 🙂

That is all I have for now. I promise to not be a stranger and keep up with the Paleo tips and Crossfit updates! Until next time! Stay active, stay healthy, and smile!

Mirror…Mirror…Reflections from Regionals

Hell’s Half Acre is over and boy, am I happy!

It was brutal 100 degree heat, scorching black top, and searing metal bars, but after two days and four WODs I can officially say that I went, competed, and came out better than when I went in. To say that I am happy this weekend is over is probably an understatement. There were multiple days leading up to the event where I would find myself staring into space thinking, “What the Hell am I doing?” “Why did I think this was a good idea? “Someone please, remind me!” And then I would hit the gym that night, hard, working on my weaknesses, adding more weights and making gains that I never thought were possible.

I spent most of May stressed. Actually, stressed is an understatement, I was stressed, frazzled and in a constant state of anxiety, wondering how the limited number of hours in a day could possibly prepare me for what the end of the month would bring. I had so much to improve on that it felt like a monumental task that I wasn’t sure I could complete. Besides getting at least 10 handstand push ups in a row, I had to master the muscle up, get my squat snatches higher than the 85lbs I was used to lifting and all of the other laundry list of things that I needed to do. It was such a different feeling. Sectionals brought out the worst of nerves in me. I woke up every morning with a ball in my stomach and worried that I would vomit at any minute. Regionals however, the nerves couldn’t even touch me because my stress level was so high. It was such a 180.

And then one day, while I was training, 2nd WOD of the day, tears welled in my eyes as I failed yet another muscle up…Attempt number 75 of the day I am sure. I walked to the bathroom filled with frustration and had to stop myself as the anger rose. Breathing deeply I began to reflect on May, the first month that I had went unlimited, coming to the box every single night, working hard and realized the gains I had made. For the first time since training for Regionals I was left with a sense of accomplishment. To hell with the things I couldn’t do…Look at the things I have done!  I finally got my muscle ups, 3 of them the Wednesday before Hell’s Half Acre, I had one good 105lb squat snatch that Monday…good enough for me, I was doing about 5 handstand push ups in a row, and I was having times that I wouldn’t have fathomed possible in March or April. I was as ready as I was going to be for this…so lets bring it on.

For those of you who don’t know the WODs, they were as follows:

Individual event 1 – Snatch/OHS
10 Bars will be set up for men and women – 20 total per heat.
Weights for the men’s bars:
135/145/155/165/175/185/195/205/215/225
Weights for the women’s bars:
75/85/95/105/110/115/120/125/130/135

At each station athlete must complete:
1 Squat Snatch with 2 Overhead Squats or 1 Power Snatch with 3 Overhead Squats
Athletes will have 45 seconds to complete all three movements.
Athletes will have 15 seconds between stations.
Athletes will finish the workout when they are unable to complete all 3 movements within 45 seconds.

Individual event 2 – Weighted half Cindy
10 Minute AMRAP of:
5 Pull ups
10 Push ups
15 Squats
Men will be wearing a 20lb short weighted vest, Women will be

Individual event 3 – DU/DL/SBR/Row
For time:
100 Double Unders
3 Rounds of:
10 Deadlifts(275/185lbs)
1 Sandbag run(75/50lbs)
Then row 1K

Individual event 4 – Final Event
For time:
10 Muscle Ups
15 Handstand Push Ups
20 Squat Cleans (155/105lbs)
Run the Block

Overall I ended up in 19th place. The first WOD was my weakest and I knew this going in. I failed at 105lb which was ok, because Cindy was on deck and I knew that I could do that WOD no problem. Cindy came and went and I ended up making 10 full rounds which was my goal. So I left Saturday content with where I sat. The competition was steep and I was just happy to be one of the contenders. WOD 3 came, Double Unders are my favorite movement in Crossfit so starting off with them felt great. And as I descended on the 185lb deadlifts I realized quickly that my body was not going to like this one bit. But I got through it, painfully, and ended with the row. The sandbag run was actually like a rest for me after the horrendous deadlifts. The workout ended, 11:20, hey it was over, good enough for me. And lastly… the muscle up workout. Stress and anxiety filled me as I waited. I just remember saying in my head over and over, “Just please don’t let me be the only one standing there failing these things.” I was so worried that I would be the last competitor in my heat still at the ring station as the crowd watched, embarrassed for me.

When the heat was preparing to start, two other women came to choose their rings stations next to me and looked just as nervous as I. Could it be that everyone was feeling the pressure?? Chatting briefly before the clock began I learned that neither of them could do a muscle up either! Hallelujah. I wasn’t alone. And then…3…2…1…Go.

4 Muscle ups, 35 attempts and two bloody wrists later the WOD was over. No, I didn’t move on to the next movement, but I had gotten four muscle ups in this WOD, more than I thought I could have ever done, and definitely more than I could do as May began 30 long days ago.

So, in retrospect, am I glad I competed? Yes, every single day. I am proud of my accomplishments and glad that even though the challenge looked too great, and I could have given up at any moment, I did it. I gave my all and now it’s on to the next one.

A few thoughts

Paleo this week has been great! I have been able to stick to the eating plan and keep it clean! I went shopping on Monday night and grabbed a ton of great fresh things including zucchini and squash, cilantro for my cilantro shrimp and a ton of fruit including this beautiful picture here: Oh my Strawberry/Blackberry heaven! Usually blackberries are way too overpriced for me and I frequently have to pass them up. But Monday must have been my lucky day because sitting in front of me at the grocery store was a huge box of them (not those wimpy ones that hold like four blackberries, but the big mamajammas) and it was only $3!! Yay! Perfect for my budget paleo meals. So grabbing a nice beautiful box of those and two boxes of strawberries I was set for a delicious week of snacks!

This discovery couldn’t have come at a better time. About 3 weeks ago I had an intervention. I finally hit rock bottom and actually admitted to myself that I had a problem. I was addicted…addicted to cranberries and cashews. UGH. I absolutely had to cut them out. I was going through way too many cans of cashews and I wasn’t seeing any results being restrictive on Paleo. It had to be my sweet sweet delicious mixture. Since then I have been cashew/cranberry free and I feel great! I do still put cranberries on my salads but only about a teaspoon and occasionally I eat them with an almond so I can choke it down (yuck!) but alas, no more mindless munching and haphazard handfuls. I had broken away! Thank goodness. And now with summer I am hoping to eat more and more fruits and veggies!

On a side note. I have been having a particularly hard time at Crossfit. My performance in the workouts has been fine and some days even great. But one crossfit movement has been evading me. The Muscle Up..dun dun DUUUNN. Yes, the dreaded muscle up. I just can’t get those darn things to click. I have done a few legit ones in my day, a total of four or five, but I have entire days when I fail over and over again. It is so frustrating. So. My new goal is to focus on getting a muscle up and hopefully each day I will get to practice them and they will click. Fingers crossed!

Meet me in St. Louie!

So happily I was able to make it to St. Louis this weekend for an amazing visit with my family. It was great! I was able to see everyone and even went bowling! I was very happy to reach a personal high score of 175! Woo hoo. What a blast.

And now back to the grind. Paleo eating was a little touch and go this weekend I have to admit. But all I can say is that this fall off the wagon has just inspired me to get right back on with a renewed motivation. I was having some guilty feelings Sunday night, hey a 6 hour drive will do that to you. But when Monday morning hit, I was excited for the week ahead. Bring on the clean paleo eating. Besides a couple of weddings in the next few weeks  I am hoping to be obstacle free and able to keep to this eating style. I didn’t realize how much it really affected every day eating until you are in a place where very few paleo options exist. Ok, that was dramatic, of course there are paleo options in St. Louis, but my parents  in no way eat Paleo, so there wasn’t a lot of options in the fridge, or cooked for dinner. We are Italian, remember? What does that mean..oh yes, wine and pasta. So I had to compromise on quite a few things, but looking back, I think it was definitely worth it.

I was also very excited to visit what I call my “home away from home” crossfit, Crossfit Kirkwood. St. Louis, surprisingly has a ton of Crossfit Affiliates and I feel like Crossfit Kirkwood fits me the best. It is run by a husband and wife, Meg and Rich Mottl. They are always so welcoming and nice to me. I love working out there. This weekend we tackled Cindy, and it was actually my very first time. I have danced with Chelsea before, but Cindy was new for me. So after the warm up we worked on squat cleans and then dove right in. End result: mediocre. I wasn’t feeling too bad about my performance until I came home and obsessively clicked on the Crossfit Games site and compared myself to some of the athlete profiles of the elite women athletes competing at various regionals this year. All I can say is I have my work cut out for me.

And now, on to some good food. I thought I would post my own Turkey Chili Recipe. I know a lot of people don’t like to eat chili in the summer, but I can eat chili all year long. It is so filling and has such a great taste. Plus, the recipe makes a ton so I always freeze it and have some ready on a night I don’t feel like cooking. I have made this recipe quite a few times and it even won first in a chili cook off! So here it is. Enjoy!

Paleo Turkey Chili

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 yellow & red bell pepper

2 lbs ground turkey

1 (28oz) can diced organic tomatoes (undrained)

2 cans organic tomato paste

3 Tbsp chili powder (or to taste, I always add more later on)

1 cup low sodium chicken stock

1 tbsp garlic powder

Couple shakes of Louisiana (to taste)

1 tbsp dried basil       

1 tbsp oregano

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

Directions

In a large skillet, sauté onions, garlic and bell peppers in olive oil over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add ground turkey and cook until browned.

Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Taste test the chili frequently and add ingredients or heat as needed. (I always end up adding more spices as it cooks)

 (sorry the recipe is so long. I can’t figure out how to take those extra spaces out. Help!)

I’m picking up Good Vibrations

Alright, enough is enough. Time to come out and admit. I am competing at Hell’s Half Acre Regionals for Crossfit. There. I said it. And even as I am typing this my stomach is doing flip-flops. To say I am nervous about the challenge ahead is probably a grandiose understatement. I am terrified. Hell, convincing me to compete in the Oklahoma Sectionals was probably like pulling teeth for many of my friends. Encouragement and kind words were only the beginning. My confidence was not exactly where it should have been for the competition that was in Tulsa on March 13th and 14th. Finally, I reluctantly signed up and then focused on my weaknesses for the months and weeks leading up to Sectionals. I don’t think that my nerves calmed for even a second that entire month and included many sleepless nights of worry.

All in all I am glad I competed. I ended up coming in 8th which I was happy about. I know I could have done a lot better on my first wod but was very happy with my performance on the second and third. I know what I need to improve on and what I excel at. I have found overall the Crossfit is a very humbling yet fulfilling activity. I have been humbled countless times during a workout that I thought I would kill…many a lady’s workout (cough…Isabel) had me frustrated and red-faced on the side of the gym, cursing the high heavens in anger. But then there are other times when I walk into a wod, stomach in knots, and unsure of my abilities only to knock one out of the park. Crossfit keeps me guessing and has mentally pushed me harder than I ever thought was possible in my life.

And now, onward to Regionals. Again I will be tested and hopefully will succeed. Another major reason I started this Paleo Challenge was to see improvements in my performance and training specifically for Regionals. So far I haven’t seen any physical differences which, I’ll admit, being a lady and all makes this whole thing very frustrating. But physical results aside, I have to say that Monday night was the first time I actually thought, “Hey maybe this Paleo eating is helping me become stronger and faster”. We had an affiliate team tryout and because I couldn’t come on Saturday, I had to do all three super secret wods in about two hours that night.

Man, I stressed all day and my motivation was lacking. After I showed up and found out what the wods were my confidence wasn’t any better. The wods included running, thrusters, kettlebells, snatches, rowing, etc. I know I looked like a scared puppy dog as I read the board. Oh lord, what did I get myself into. After brief warm up and stretching we dove into WOD #1. Ok, that wasn’t as bad as I thought. I tried to pace with the boys and ended up finishing first, much to my surprise. Now came a few max lifts. Knowing my abilities on these I wasn’t surprised with my snatch results, but was very excited about how the kettlebells went. Have I ever mentioned how I love kettlebells.  Finally WOD #3 and what looked like the hardest to me. In my head I just kept telling myself that it was the last one and I could push through the pain.

End result: very good. I ended up tying with the leading lady at our affiliate. She is amazing at Crossfit and always pushes me to be better.  I felt strong and was full of energy which was unexpected considering that I had just done three workouts. Now, I just hope this feeling keeps up!

This Paleo challenge has been hard for me and I have definitely hit some speed bumps. But I can truly say that I am stronger than I was yesterday and tomorrow I will be stronger than I am today, and that my friends, is progress.