Everyday I’m Hustlin’?

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-Sylvia Plath

Hustlin’. This has been weighing on my mind lately because I often feel like I’m never doing enough or I’m never enough. I suppose it’s because of the American standard that you’re never doing enough unless you’re always busy. I’m tired of this mentality and am working towards changing it.

It’s been about 2 months or so since I really got Silent Strength Fitness off the ground. I left my cushy job at UCSB the day before Thanksgiving 2014 and from that time until the end of the year, my time was spent planning, strategizing, organizing, and most importantly relaxing, recuperating and taking care of myself.

My last year at UCSB was a crazy one, but definitely a great one. During this time, my superiors allowed me to run with my skills and abilities, and it was such a nice feeling to see how much respect and trust they had in me. I was part of a team of two that planned four retirement parties that were all happening in one month, I covered my supervisor’s program while she went on maternity leave for four months, which included planning a week-long annual review conference for 30 people, I covered my student assistant’s job after she left abruptly after the devastating massacre that happened in Isla Vista, and trained a co-worker on all things procurement for our department. A lot of this all at the same time, all while doing my own job. I’m not looking for sympathy, just providing an example. Oh, did I mention that I was coaching CrossFit for two hours after work four days a week? Again, I am not bragging.

I envied my friends that worked their cushy 9-5 jobs and were able to go home, cook dinner, and watch TV before getting into bed at 8:30 or 9pm. I don’t know what that is like. Ever since I was a child I’ve been on the go, either to gymnastics practice or piano lessons, or when I worked in the music industry, working 8-10 hours in the office then taking clients to dinner and drinks and then to a show getting home around 2am. I’ve always been busy and I hate it. I’ve been trying to break this cycle for as long as I can remember.

This is why I left my cushy and wonderful job. I’ve always felt that a happy life entails doing something you love, doing something that is fulfilling to your soul. Yes, my job at UCSB was wonderful, but it was not fulfilling to my soul. I know many people would disagree with me about what a job should be like, and to those, I will agree to disagree. My husband is an attorney and he says that hates it (although, I think he secretly loves it), but he is great at it.

As a child, I had a dream of becoming a teacher and was on the path to college to become an elementary school teacher. However, as I became an adult I saw myself less and less standing in front of a classroom. That thought didn’t feel quite right. I wanted to do more. I wanted to work with more people, not just children.

After finding CrossFit, I realized that it was not in a classroom that I wanted to teach, but in a gym. Through fitness, I am able to teach a variety of people the world has to offer, and it excites me so. The best part is that these people want to learn, and they are eager to learn. They aren’t forced to come to my classes or sessions (well, maybe sometimes their SO forces them, haha). They come to my classes to be better people, to better themselves. That is why I want to teach.

This brings me back to the topic at hand.

I often hear that so-and-so is a hustler (and good for them) or that you have to hustle to get where you want to be. I get it. I did it. Been there, done that. But, you know what? IT KILLED ME. I was so unhealthy both physically and mentally. I have learned over time what works for me, and what does not work for me. No one else can decide that. Constantly stressing myself out trying to get EVERYTHING done all by myself to prove that “I’m doing it” is not worth it to me. There are other ways to get things done without all that nonsensical stress.

I have been fully immersed into my business for just over two months. TWO MONTHS. In these two months, I have created a solid roster of personal training clients and a successful boot camp. The most important part to me about this is the wonderful and kind words that my clients have said to me. I am helping them change and improve their lives. That is why I do what I do. And in turn, it is changing and improving my life.

I guess the purpose of the post is this: Everyone has their own way of hustling. I may not be moving as fast or seem as busy as others, but I know what I want, and I know what needs to be done to get there. I make shit happen, and do it in my own way. I am not going to sacrifice my health and well being (again) by doing it the “American Way” (read: constantly stressed, unhealthy, always busy) because that is what is standard in our culture. No, thank you. I’m done with that.

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My new career is allowing me to spend more time with my senior puppy (she is currently sitting on my feet as I type this). It is allowing me to spend time with my husband during lunchtime. It is allowing me to have more time to myself, and allowing me to breathe. It is allowing me to reconnect with myself. I am still healing.

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We need to appreciate the work we’ve done and what we’re doing. It is smart to look and plan into the future, but we also need to appreciate where we are in the moment. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong if you truly believe it is right (that is, unless you’re doing something illegal. Ha!). Our internal voice knows what’s best for us, and that is what and to whom we need to listen.

I’ve already done a lot in two months, and I am excited to see where I’ll be in the next six.

I observe before I attack. I am not going into this blindly. I am doing this the right way. My way.

Be well, my friends.

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My Whole Life Challenge Experience

I’ve been debating whether or not I wanted to write something about my experience with the Whole Life Challenge, and whether or not I wanted to share my “before & after” pictures. However, I came to the conclusion that, as a coach, detailing my experience may help inspire others to make changes to improve their health and well being. Although coaches can be described as “health professionals” and can often be viewed as “having it together,” we have our own issues as well. I may or may not be slightly obsessed with Cheez-It. Just sayin’…

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I would like to say that I understand that some of you may look at me and feel that I don’t have any weight to lose, or may think “What is she thinking? She’s not fat,” or that I can eat whatever I want because I’m already “skinny”. I know that I’m not fat, but I do have some weight to lose and when I gain 5-7 pounds, I definitely feel it and it shows because of my small frame. Also, at my age, I can no longer eat whatever (e.g., junk food) because my metabolism doesn’t work the way it used to like in my teens and 20s.

A couple years ago, my husband and I tried to follow the paleo diet. If you’re not familiar, with the paleo diet, you basically cut out all grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, white potatoes and other “nightshades,” artificial sweeteners, and anything processed. You’re probably thinking, “well, what the heck do you eat then?” Meat, poultry, seafood, veggies, berries, nuts, and healthy fats and oils, such as avocados and coconut oil. There’s plenty left to eat! However, at the time I wasn’t quite ready to make the switch. I was addicted to crap food and towards the end of getting my college degree. Without Diet Coke, Cheez-It and chips, I don’t think I would have made it through those days where I was writing papers into the wee hours of the morning. I think I made it one or two weeks before I was so “hangry” (hungry + angry) that I, nor my husband, could take it any longer. Food is very emotional for a lot of us, and I was not emotionally ready for the change.

This past year has been quite stressful for me as work got super busy with four people in my department retiring and my supervisor going on maternity leave early and then being out for four months. My health deteriorated because I ate whatever was within my reach (i.e., lots of sandwiches and cookies) and working through lunch, which caused me to not sleep very much. I was also coaching in the evenings after work, and getting home around 8:30-9:00pm. I also reinjured my knee, and I just let myself go. My hormones were out of whack and I felt terrible all the time. Once things at work slowed down, I decided that it was finally time to get my shit together.

Enter the Whole Life Challenge (WLC). The WLC is an eight-week lifestyle challenge where you focus on clean eating, exercising and stretching regularly, taking a daily supplement, drinking 1/3 of your body weight in ounces of water daily, and participating in weekly lifestyle challenges (e.g., getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night or not using technology during meals). I have a few friends that have done the challenge in the past and have heard and seen the benefits from it. I felt I was mentally in a better place to take on the challenge, so I committed to it. I was a bit nervous because eight weeks seemed like a long time. Was I really ready for it?

There are three nutrition levels to choose from: Performance (strict paleo), Lifestyle (allowed to have some grains, starches, and corn), and Beginner (can pretty much eat anything but bread and sugar). I chose the Lifestyle level because I wanted to work on maintaining a reasonable diet and not drastically changing it, as I felt that I would be setting myself up for failure and disappointment had I gone the Performance route. I’m glad I chose this level because I was able to do just that – I found a way to maintain a reasonable diet.

The first week was difficult because my body went through withdrawals. I did get hangry, but not like before. But after that week, I started feeling and seeing the benefits and it felt so good. I found that in the first 2.5 weeks, I lost 1.5 inches around my waist, and my workouts felt easier! I also found that I wasn’t craving the bad food and not eating my feelings. It was pretty exciting.

I was on a roll and doing so well until October 10. It was that day that I found out that a friend had passed away earlier that morning. He was a very close friend of my brother’s, and he was also like a brother to me. I was shocked and upset. My husband asked me what he could do for me and I told him that I wanted Cheez-It and a glass of wine. He was so sweet and went to the store to buy both. Although I was eating and drinking my feelings, it felt different. I’m not sure how to describe it. I guess it wasn’t so much the addiction driving me to eat and drink; it was more of a conscious decision to do so. I felt in control of that decision. The next week was difficult as I was emotionally spent and I didn’t have the energy to focus on the challenge very much. I ate crappy food and drank a lot of wine and cider. Additionally, the following weekend was a close friend’s wedding and the weekend after that my birthday! So from October 10-26, I ate crappy and drank a lot of alcohol. Thankfully, I was able to get back on track for the final few weeks of the challenge. It was difficult, but I overcame the minor setback.

My goal for the challenge was to learn how to manage my diet better and to learn how to take better care of my body through nutrition. I refuse to be a slave to medication! Through this challenge, I now understand how my body reacts to certain foods, such as dairy, grains, and starches, which has led me to not crave them as much as before. Score! And since I don’t eat much of those types of food anymore, when I do eat them, they don’t taste as good as I remember them to be.

To give a bit of history, the verbal abuse and harassment that I received from my gymnastics coach from the ages of 10-16 still affect me to this day, which is why I have had such a bad relationship with food. His negative words also still affect my self-esteem. He often called me and my teammates “fat whores” and other names that I will not repeat. Mind you, we were still in elementary school/pre-teens when he said these nasty things. That shit does not go away. Because of this, I have not worn my bathing suit in public in the past two years. One, because I have a crazy tan line due to our gym being outside, and two, because of my self-esteem issues. However, after this challenge, I am feeling a little better about myself, which is why I now feel somewhat comfortable showing my before and after pictures (enjoy my tan line!)…

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My results from the challenge are as follows:

Weight:
Pre-challenge: 131.4lbs
Post-challenge: 126.8lbs

Body fat %:
Pre-challenge: 20.1%
Post-challenge: 18.4%

Challenge workout:
11min time cap:
800m run
75 air squats
50 sit-ups
25 push-ups
For the remainder of the time, do as many burpees as possible.
Your score is the total number of squats, sit-ups, push-ups, and burpees.

Score:
Pre-challenge: 173 (23 burpees)
Post-challenge: 183 (33 burpees)
I was able to bust out 10 more burpees!

I am pleased with my results, as my goal was to get around 126lbs, 18% body fat, and get a higher score during the workout. Woot!

Now, you’re probably wondering what my meals consisted of. Well, here ya go!

Breakfast: usually 3 eggs (scrambled-sometimes with spinach, or hard boiled) and 3-4 pieces of bacon or sausage, and coffee with stevia.

Lunch: spinach & kale mix salad with chicken and avocado or leftovers from dinner, and sometimes a vegan soup I bought from the café on campus.

Dinner: pork or beef cooked in the slow cooker with sweet potatoes and onions, tacos made with leftover pork, or steak with broccoli and/or sweet potatoes.

Snacks: Cashew cookie Larabar, apples, bananas, brown rice cakes with cashew butter, carrots, strawberries, cantaloupe

I’m glad the challenge is over because having to log points and do the weekly lifestyle challenges were a bit cumbersome, but I am happy that I am learning better nutrition and eating habits. I’m looking forward to being released into the wild and doing it on my own.

Here’s to cleaner eating and better health!

Patience and Persistence Leads to Progress: Maira’s First Year in CrossFit

BeforeAfter1Left: May 2013, Right: April 2014

April 15, 2013 is the day it all began. Actually, it began a few days before she joined her first class. Taking the initiative to make the call to sign up for a basic movements course in CrossFit is a HUGE step. It’s easy for some, but nerve-wracking for most. When I first saw Maira and her friend walk into my class, they both looked scared, hesitant, and had the look of “what the hell am I doing here?” all over their face. To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, or how long they were going to last. That didn’t change my coaching them, but it was something that stirred in the back of my mind. As with the majority of the female athletes when they first start, they gave me every excuse as to why they couldn’t do this or that. (Thanks society for fucking up our self-esteem!) Working with them was a challenge as they had never done anything like this before and had never been encouraged to step out of their comfort zone in this way, and it was my job to break them of their negative thoughts and to convince them that they could indeed do all of this “crazy CrossFit stuff”.

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After a few months or so into it, Maira’s confidence began to grow, as did her willingness to push herself harder and further. Her negative mindset began to diminish as well. As such, she began to post pictures of her lifting on Instagram, and of course, the haters came out to express their ignorance. Did it stop her? Absolutely not. It only made her stronger – mentally and physically. (She took screenshots of some of the messages people sent her and sent them to me. It was pretty ridiculous.) She started eating better, she was smiling more, she had more energy. She was running! She was seeing results, which increased her drive to do more. Now that she was becoming more comfortable with the movements and with who she was (which is awesome, btw!), she no longer wanted to just look good, she wanted to get stronger. This pleased me so.

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Other than the community aspect, what I love most about CrossFit is that it changes and challenges your mindset and every negative thing you’ve ever been told. The workouts that we set before the athletes present a challenge. These challenges suck, but it gets easier. It gets easier in a sense that we approach them differently than how we did at the beginning of our CrossFit journey. It is our choice as to how we approach these workouts (aka challenges), and you soon figure out that having a shitty mindset gets you nowhere fast. This also translates into real life.

 

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Maira is a twenty-something single mama of a beautiful 6 1/2 year old girl. She also works multiple jobs and has to deal with the usual stress that comes with a “baby daddy (BD)”. Over the past year that I’ve known her, she’s dealt with a lot of drama (even the death of her best friend), but this woman is relentless. There have been days where it looked like she wanted to cry because she was worried and/or stressed about finances or the BD or whatever, but she still came to the gym and did work. In return, I think this new mindset that CrossFit presented to her allowed her to tackle life’s challenges in a positive way.

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Now, after a year, Maira is getting PRs left and right and out-lifting some of the guys at the gym. She’s even lifting with some of the big dogs, too! It brings me so much joy to see how much progress she has made over the past year and to see turning her into the beautiful and confident woman that she was meant to be. Nothing’s gonna stop her!

Maira, I am so very proud of everything you have accomplished this year, and I look forward to many more years with you! Get it, girl.

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Being Content with Mediocrity in a Community of Overachievers

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Team Ninja & the Goon

One thing I find interesting about CrossFit and the Olympics is that you are constantly reminded of your age. The majority of the commentators I’ve heard while watching the Olympics have mentioned that one’s athletic career is pretty much over once the athlete has reached their 30s. Hell, if you’re an Olympic-level gymnast, you’re done by 18 (21, if you’re lucky). With regards to CrossFit, you are constantly reminded of your age when your body just doesn’t want to move like it used to – you feel your knees and back ache often and that’s just during the warm-up! Actually, I’m pretty sure the constant reminder is when you see these damn youngins walking around with their perfect bodies not realizing (or caring) what’s coming for them in about 5-10 years. Ha! Yeah, go ahead and continue to think you can eat like that… just you wait! (Insert evil laugh here.)

When I mention “age” I am also referring to what got you to where you are at a particular age. At ages 14-16 years, I was in my prime in gymnastics – flexible, nimble, beautiful six-pack abs; at age 18, I was still pretty good and still had some of my six-pack abs; at age 19 I moved to California and basically didn’t work out until I started CrossFit at the age of 32. I also had a terrible diet. Imagine what sort of shape I would be in had I had CrossFit as soon as I finished my gymnastics career. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

Well, here I am at the ripe old age of 36, and after 4 years of CrossFit, mixed in with two major injuries (from softball), I am feeling the strongest I’ve ever been, all the while feeling my body getting older.

This past weekend, Tall Guy and I competed in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre down in Ventura hosted by West Coast Strength and Conditioning. It was a co-ed partner competition with RXd, Modified, and Masters divisions. We still have a few years before we are considered masters competitors; however, we are at the upper end of the regular divisions, which is one thing that I love and hate about CrossFit. I love that I get to compete against people much much younger than me (and it feels pretty good to beat them, too), yet at the same time it’s no wonder when they do beat me (and at times I feel like they should beat me). Some of these “kids” are just out of college having competed at D1 schools, other competitors took part in past Regionals competitions, and many are also contenders to make it to Regionals this year.

What I also love and hate about CrossFit is that there are no weight divisions. So little 130-pound me often competes with women that have easily 20+ pounds on me. Me having to push jerk 95lbs 40 times is not the same as someone that is 155lbs. I think it’s pretty cool that I can lift as much weight as women that are bigger than me, but at the same time it sucks because they have a distinct advantage.

Many of the competitors this past Saturday looked like they were in their early to mid-20s with some that looked around my age. Many of the women in my division had beautifully muscular and toned bodies to the point where I would find myself staring at them. They sure are fascinating specimens of the female body! Dayam.

During the competition, while I was out of breath, trying not to vomit, and my body hurting, I looked around and saw these young competitors just plowing through the WODs and all I could think was, “This isn’t fair, I got like 10 years on these bitches! This isn’t fair, I’m lifting half of my body weight here and they’re not!” Yeah, I know I need to work on my mental game; however, this perceived “unfairness” pushed me to work harder, to not give up, and to also appreciate my effort and placing in the competition. Not only was I one of the smallest competitors in my division, I had the tallest partner – one I had to carry twice for the distance of 60 feet each time in the middle of a WOD. So, yes, I’m gonna say that I had to work a little bit harder than others. I’m not writing this to complain, but to merely breakdown how interesting, shitty, fair and unfair CrossFit is and that’s why I love it.

Tall Guy and I had 3 goals going into this competition: 1) Don’t get injured; 2) Don’t get divorced; 3) Don’t get last place. I am pleased to say that we succeeded in all 3 goals. We ended up placing 31st out of 46 teams, he didn’t crush me during the partner carries, and we are still married. Not bad for some old farts.

The competition WODs for the RXd division were:

WOD #1
10 min time cap:
21-15-9
Deadlift (245#/155#)
Box jump (30”/24”)

Our time: 9:16 (20th place)

WOD#2
22 min cap (partners split the reps)
200 Double unders
Partner Carry 60 ft (girl carry guy)
120 Sandbag Shouldered Squats (80#/60#)
Partner Carry 60 ft (guy carry girl)
80 Shoulder to overhead (135#/95#)
Partner Carry 60 ft (girl carry guy)
40 DB Snatches alternating hands (55#/30#)
Partner Carry 60 ft. (guy carry girl)
200 Double unders

Our time: 21:51 (34th place)

Floater:
For calories: 3 min Airdyne + 3 min rower (switch during 1min transition)

Our score: 198 (32nd place)

What’s Your Motivation?

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My day started with me feeling gross and exhausted. I had a fight with myself whilst laying in bed – one part of me saying, “get your ass up! You’re running late!” the other part of me saying, “it’s okay. You work hard, you need the rest.” Who am I kidding? That is me EVERY morning when the darn “ripples” alarm goes off on my iPhone.

Because I was feeling crappy, I defaulted to my food-based comfort and was adamant about going to Starbucks (even though I was late) and getting a sugar-free vanilla latte and a tomato and cheese croissant. They didn’t have the tomato and cheese (gasp!), so I opted for the spinach and cheese (meh). I also forgot my lunch (again), so I purchased a turkey and havarti sandwich along with my healthy breakfast. As I was walking back to my car, I felt bad about myself because this is not what I had in mind with cleaner and healthier eating. To add to my crappy state of mind, I threw in some Cheez-It at lunch.

So what does this have to do with motivation, you say? A lot. I’m not saying this is healthy, but I have a habit of making myself feel like shit before I step it up and take control. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel as crappy as I thought I would after eating all the bread items. However, it was enough to do the job.

I was debating going to CrossFit because I was so exhausted and felt gross, but I forced myself to go. After I parked, I wasn’t quite ready to get out because I needed to mentally get in the zone before stepping into the gym to see my friends and to do work. I decided to check Facebook (which I don’t usually do before the gym, surprisingly) and saw that my friend Alexis (aka Fancy Pants!) shared a new blog post entitled “The Root of Suffering is Attachment” with the post starting off with “…attachment to things, feelings, people, ideas, expectations…” Oh, the expectations. This really resonated with me. The expectations I set for myself are often too high, which in all honesty is why I am currently exhausted. I reminded myself to “simmer down” and that I am doing okay. I am not perfect. I am doing the best I can. I walked into the gym, and did quite well with my workout. I left starving for protein and veggies and in a good mood.

So what’s my motivation? My motivation is the people I care for. Even though I may be their coach and am the one who is supposed to do all of the motivating, all of the athletes that I coach inspire me; however, my friends Alexis, Susan, Maira (aka Bon Bon), Janyce (aka Black Widow), and Allison in particular are my motivation. They all have their own strengths that push me to be a better person, athlete and coach. Being around them make me happy. My friends that pursue their dreams also motivate me. They may fail, but they keep on pursuing because they believe in their talent and abilities. People like Lakeisha Shurn motivate me. I may not know her personally, but her story and the determination and effort she put into losing weight inspires me. People that actually do the work rather than doing a lot of talking motivate me. We can all “talk the talk,” but not everyone can actually walk.

On a superficial level, my other motivation is this purple sports bra:

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I saw this sports bra a while ago, but didn’t purchase it for some reason. I haven’t been able to find it in my size since then. Janyce knew that I’ve been wanting it and bought it for me when she saw it in my size a couple weeks ago (she’s so rad!). My goal is to comfortably wear this without a shirt over it. Sometimes during a workout I get super hot and want to rip my shirt off, but I am not comfortable enough with my midsection to do so. I know I’m not fat, but I’m squishy and it’s uncomfortable and funny looking. I love my shoulders, arms, legs and booty, but my stomach? Not so much. It may not look squishy to you, but it’s because I’ve gotten pretty good at hiding it. I wore my bathing suit once last year, and never took my tank top off because I was too ashamed of my squishy midsection. Silly, I know.

So there you have it, whether you wanted it or not. Haha! I commend you for making it through all of my rambling about my mundane day. So my question to you is, what motivates you? What keeps you going?

What does Ninja eat?

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(Black Widow and I at the WODseries partner competition on December 8, 2013)

A few friends have asked me over the past few weeks what I eat, as well as for the recipe for the meatloaf I made. Never in my life did I ever think that I would be sharing a recipe! I am not one to cook, but have been dabbling and trying to do it more often. But before I continue, I would like to share some exciting news…

Today is my 1-year anniversary of being soda-free from my favorite sodas!!! WOOT! I say “from my favorite sodas” because I haven’t been completely soda-free. The only soda I allowed myself to have was ginger ale when I wasn’t feeling well, and I’ve had a total of 4 over the past year. Pretty good considering I had a mad addiction to the corn syrup-filled goodness that is soda. I still crave my beloved Diet Coke (especially with Captain Morgan!), but I try to distract myself when I get those cravings. I still glare at Tall Guy, though, when he drinks a giant Coke or gets a Coke Slurpee. RUDE!

Now back to food. Last week I had a competition and I wanted to make sure that I was feeling well for it. My diet has been a bit dirty over the past few months and I wanted to clean it up and do a bit of detoxing. So I decided that I would cut out sugar (natural sugars were fine), dairy, and bread. It was tough, but I did it for a full week… and I lost 6 lbs! I wasn’t trying to lose weight; I just wanted to clean out my insides. I felt great and the bloating went away. Below is a list of what I ate during the week, and pretty much what I generally eat, except when I decide to throw in some sandwiches and cheese and crackers into the mix (bad Ninja!):

Breakfast: 3 hard boiled eggs or scrambled eggs, 2-3 pieces of bacon, avocado

Lunch: spinach salad with hard boiled eggs, apples, chicken, avocado, drizzled with oil & vinegar; lentil soup if I’m needing a little something else; leftover chicken or steak with rice and/or broccoli and/or green beans

Dinner: Chicken or steak with rice and/or broccoli and/or green beans, and corn if I’m feeling a little frisky

Snack: bananas and/or almonds (but I wish I was eating Cheez Its!)

Nothing too exciting or too fancy. Ain’t nobody got time for that with our schedules, so we make do with the time that we have.

A couple of recipes I’d like to share are as follows…

Meatloaf (gluten-free, Paleo-friendly)

I combined a couple of recipes that I found online and tailored them to my liking. Both recipes said to bake at 350° and cook for 40 min, but I would probably cook it a little higher for a tad longer.

Ingredients:
1.5 lbs of ground beef
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 large egg
Sprinkle salt and pepper to your liking

Mix in a bowl, then add the ground beef and mash with your (clean!) hands. Yum. Mold into a loaf pan. I sprayed the loaf pan with coconut oil instead of the other baking sprays. Instead of using ketchup (even though I wanted to) I spread tomato paste on the top and then layered bacon across. However, I think the next time I will chop up the bacon and throw it into the mix. It didn’t get as crispy as I hoped, so we had to throw the meatloaf in the broiler for a couple of minutes.

Lentil Dip Delight (vegetarian-friendly)

I had this “dip” at a BBQ a few months ago and it was so delightful that I had to ask for the recipe, and come to find out, it’s totes easy to make! It involves 3 ingredients all pre-made from Trader Joe’s. When I have time, I plan on trying to make it from scratch because of the added sugar in the bruschetta, but for now the pre-made stuff will suffice (because it’s BOMB!).

Ingredients:

1 package of pre-cooked lentils (found near the small packages of veggies in the refrigerated section)
1 tub of Bruschetta (found near the salsas in the refrigerated section)
1 tub of Feta cheese (found near the other cheeses, duh)

Throw in a bowl, mix it up, and voila! Lentil dip delight! This can be eaten with pita crackers or chips, but I also highly recommend putting it on top of chicken breast. Holy moly it is fantastic!

Well fancy that! I just Googled the Trader Joe’s bruschetta to find a picture to add and I found a picture with ALL of the ingredients! Looks like another short, Asian lady loves this stuff too!

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(Pic via The Fresh Find)

That’s all that I have for now. After the competition, I indulged with a giant burrito with lots of cheese and sour cream, as well as a Hawaiian pizza with garlic parmesan bites from Dominos (not at the same time – oh my, that would be painful!). To answer your question, yes, I feel awful, but it was worth it. Now back to cleaner eating… until Christmas dinner!

Happy holidays friends!

Women are not weak. Pregnancy is not a disability.

Last week, CrossFit posted a picture of a pregnant woman performing an overhead squat on its Facebook page and apparently it got many people’s panties in a bunch.

CF Mom

(Picture from CrossFit’s Facebook page. Photographer: Nick Stern)

I saw the picture and “Liked” it because I thought it was empowering and inspiring. I hope that when I become pregnant I am still able to continue with my CrossFit workouts. Unfortunately, many people disapproved of what this picture depicted (a strong woman) and the ignorance came pouring out. It led to many news outlets posting articles online where more ignorant comments emerged:

Yahoo: Should Pregnant Women Be Weightlifting?

Metro: Pregnant weightlifter just two weeks away from giving birth provokes online storm

CNN: How much is too much exercise when you’re pregnant?

What upset me about these comments is that people view pregnancy as a disability. Apparently, pregnant women aren’t supposed to be active. They’re supposed to sit at home and do nothing, except perhaps to cook, clean and tend to other children.

Women are not weak. Pregnancy is not a disability.

To me, this picture depicted strength and dedication. This woman made the decision to focus on her health and that of her unborn child. She is not going to succumb to a sedentary life just because she is pregnant.

What these commenters fail to recognize is that this woman discussed her exercise regimen with her physician (a regimen that she has been doing for 2.5 years). They fail to recognize that she exercised during her two previous pregnancies and her children turned out just fine. They fail to recognize that what she does with her body is none of their goddamn business. Now, if her lifting weights while pregnant directly affected their life, then perhaps they could argue that she should stop. But it doesn’t. Now, if this woman decides not to vaccinate her children, then yes, I would have something to say about that because it directly affects our society. But that is a whole other conversation.

What people also don’t realize is that CrossFit is based on functional movements – movements that we do in everyday life. For example, picking up a basket of laundry = deadlift; picking up your child into your arms = clean; putting a box on a shelf above your head = shoulder press. How is training these types of functional movements detrimental to our health? There is another picture of this woman lifting a 35-pound kettlebell. She also states, “The most I lifted while pregnant is 65″ (Yahoo). So you are telling me that she is not supposed to lift her existing children? I see pregnant moms toting their children all the time and no one says anything about that. But put the name “CrossFit” on something and “Watch out! Irresponsible fitness is happening!”

CF Mom2(Picture from Metro. Photographer: Nick Stern)

One of my friends and current athlete with whom I coach is about 7 months pregnant. Prior to her pregnancy, she worked out 4-5 times per week and was capable of lifting a lot of weight with high intensity. As soon as she became pregnant, she scaled back her workouts – frequency, weight, and intensity. She modifies all of the movements that would put her baby in harms way: instead of doing sit-ups, she hangs from the pull-up bar and does knee lifts; running has become difficult so she uses the rower; instead of doing the traditional stance in a deadlift, she stands in the sumo position, which is a wider stance allowing room for her growing belly.

I had a visitor at our gym a few months ago who was 6 months pregnant and has been doing CrossFit for 6 years. The workout consisted of “goblet” squats (air squats with while holding a kettlebell against your chest) and burpees. She could have easily used a 53 pound+ kettlebell but she opted for 35 pounds and didn’t squat below her knees. Instead of doing the push-up in her burpee she just went into a plank hold.

These women are highly aware of their bodies and their abilities. How dare people say they are putting their unborn child in danger when that is their number one priority? What would be detrimental is if these women stopped doing CrossFit and became sedentary. CrossFit is what they do; it is who they are. This is what their body is used to doing.

I have another friend who is about 4 or 5 months pregnant and recently started CrossFit because she wants to feel and be strong for her growing baby. Will she be going all out with intensity and weights or doing as much as the more experienced CrossFitters? No. She just wants to gain some muscle so that she won’t have to struggle when her baby gets bigger. Her husband is also an avid CrossFitter of many years and a CF Level 1 trainer. She is in good hands.

Now, I’m not saying that all who do CrossFit are responsible and that all who have taken the CF Level 1 certification course should be coaching. There are many people who have no business coaching. This goes for ALL sports and activities as well. But this woman obviously knows what she is doing – she is healthy, and is taking the proper precautions. She was excited about her fitness, her abilities, and her pregnancy, and wanted to share that with the CrossFit community. Let’s not scorn a woman who wants to share happiness with others.

Our bodies are meant to be active; we are not built for a sedentary lifestyle. It’s obvious that obesity is an epidemic that needs to be resolved. Rather than attacking those who are proactive with their health, let’s celebrate them in hopes that we will encourage those who aren’t.