For the Ladies

In the past few days I have been thinking a lot about what I want out of CrossFit, and I’ve realized that a lot of my frustration in the past few days has come from feeling like I’m not seeing the physical results that I’ve wanted. Of course, I wouldn’t admit to myself that I’d been expecting any certain physical changes to take place, because that sounds shallow. I shouldn’t be doing CrossFit just because I want a six-pack, or just because I would love for my shoulders to get just a little bit wider so I would stop dropping purses and tank top straps off their narrow, sloping edges.

I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t qualify her body by saying, “I wear a size 26,” but by saying, “I can do Fran unbroken,” or “I just power cleaned more than my bodyweight.” To me, those measurements should be more important than the size of my hips. And yet at the same time, I can’t help but want those cosmetic things too.

I’m sure many of you have seen it already, but yesterday CrossFit HQ posted an awesome video to their YouTube channel about strong women. It totally inspired me to let go of the superficial expectations I’ve been subconsciously imposing on myself.

 

As women, we want to be strong without giving up our femininity. How weird is it that we feel like we have to pick?

Advertisements

Plants & Animals

Thanks to everyone who offered their advice yesterday, it means a lot! I took little bits and pieces of what you all said, and decided to take a few days off, but not too many, to hit a little reset button and make some new goals. Also you all reminded me that smaller accomplishments are just as important as the larger accomplishments, which I need to work on remembering!

Anyway, another thing I have been thinking about is my diet. This morning I was directed by a friend and fellow CrossFitter’s blog to a short article written by a CrossFit trainer about Paleo vs. vegan. He said that he had always coached his clients to eat Paleo, telling them that they would never be able to gain muscle without a diet full of meat, but then realized one day that he had never tried training on a plant-based diet and therefore was pretty much just preaching ignorance. He spent six weeks eating vegan (but still grain-free), and was surprised by how much energy he had, how well he performed, and especially that his body didn’t actually seem to need extreme amounts of meat in order to build muscle.

That article really got me thinkin. I have always talked about how I like the idea of eating Paleo, but it just seems like too much meat. I feel sluggish and heavy when I eat a lot of meat (like right now, since I had a piece of smoked salmon and about a cup and 1/2 of ground bison for lunch…), but have kind of felt obligated to eat Paleo since it’s such a CrossFit thing. But… I think the time has come for me to stop focusing my meals around the consumption of animal protein, at least for a while… and I am pretty excited about it.

First up on my list is to make more of this paleo granola. Holy crap this stuff is good. I don’t even eat it with milk, I just eat it like trail mix by the handful. But let me give you a tip: It only calls for 1 tsp of cinnamon, but I used more like 1/8 cup, and I would highly recommend that approach.

Honeymoon Stage

 

Everyone knows that in a relationship, the Honey Moon Stage might be the most fun, but ultimately is the least meaningful. Sure, you get butterflies when you’re on your way to hang out, you try really hard to impress the other person all the time, and you might even wear deodorant when you go to see them (wait, are we talking about boys or the gym here?). But ultimately, you don’t learn much about the other person or yourself in that phase, and you can’t stay there forever.

Since last week, when I wrote about feeling like it was time for me to go harder during WODs, I have definitely pushed myself a little more in each WOD–going heavier, longer, or a little faster each time. For example, last night, in honor of 9/11, we did a Hero WOD called “Holleyman,” which is 30 rounds of 5 wall balls, 3 handstand push-ups, and 1 power clean. At the beginning of the WOD I set the goal for myself that I would do every round of wall balls unbroken, and I stuck to it. I also went so heavy on my power cleans that TJ stepped in and took some weight off in the middle of the WOD, and if I bruised like a normal person, my sternum would be totally black and blue (not recommended, and also probably why TJ intervened).

But maybe a few too many meals of grilled-meat-with-the-same-side-of-veggies in the past few weeks have jaded me. Maybe fall is in the air and I am dreaming of pumpkin-ey baked goods and creamy soups and sleeping in through the only-getting-darker mornings instead of waking up for a WOD. I really do feel like in the past few weeks I have finally started to move from being a total CrossFit newbie into the realm of “beginner” and maybe even (VERY) occasionally “beginner/intermediate.” But I think the real reason I am suddenly dragging my feet on the way to CrossFit or lusting over Pinterest recipes for Nutella cookies and Crockpot Mac and Cheese is that this new progression comes with very different challenges. I am not seeing huge leaps and bounds in my abilities like I was when I first started, and even though that’s a sign that many of my basic skills are improving, it also sort of feels like I’m stalling because I haven’t had a big first or gain in a while.

In other words, I think it’s safe to say that the Honeymoon Phase is over.

What do you do when you hit plateaus like this? Is it time to take a week or two away from CrossFit? Or is it time to buckle down and recommit to my goals and maybe stop looking at baked goods on Pinterest?

12 Favorite Paleo Recipes


I have finally come to the realization that making up original and interesting Paleo recipes from scratch is a lot harder than it sounds. Since meat + vegetable = paleo, I am not regularly inspired to get super creative about it. This limits my ability to share exciting recipes with you guys, because I feel like I shouldn’t be sharing recipes on my blog that are not my own creations.

So today I am going to share with you the links for my (in no particular order) 12 favorite Paleo recipes! Click the photos to be taken to the recipes.

1. Butternut Squash + Bison Shepherd’s Pie from Healthful Pursuit

2. Blueberry Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie from PaleOMG

3. Sweet Potato Hash from Amazing Paleo

4. Coconut Shrimp (ok I did actually make this one up)

5. Double Chocolate Energy Bites from PaleOMG

6. Venison Sausage from Cavewoman Cafe

7. Fried Green Tomatoes made with Almond Flour from Jan’s Sushi Bar

8. Zucchini Pesto Roll-Ups from PaleOMG

9. Moroccan Spiced Spaghetti Squash from Smitten Kitchen

10. Stir Fried Kale + Bacon from Nom Nom Paleo

 

11. Paleo Morning Glory Muffins from Carrots n Cake

12. Paleo Granola from Paleo Table

I’m sure a lot of you do your weekly grocery shopping on Sunday evenings like we do, so hopefully this will give you some new ideas for the week’s menu! And I’d love to know: What great Paleo recipes have I been missing out on?

 

 

Adapting

Editor’s Note: Today I saw a video that turned on a huge lightbulb for me about why CrossFit has been such a great fit in my life, and brought me back to something that I have an extreme passion for. The result is a pretty long post, but it needs to be that way, and I hope you’ll stick it out and read the whole thing.

Two summers ago (and for the first part of last summer), I worked for a non-profit rafting company in Moab, UT called Splore, running river trips for people with disabilities and their families and friends. As it turns out, rafting is totally adaptive–you can bring as much crap as you want, and you don’t have to be able to swim, walk, or even talk in order to do it. If you needed to take 12 medications every day, you just brought them with you; If you were on a liquid diet, we would bring a hand-crank blender; If you had a wheelchair, we would just strap it down and lift you into the raft.

Suddenly, having the ability to go to the bathroom independently or even feed myself took on new meaning as I met more and more people for whom such tasks were impossible. But these folks did the opposite of give up or feel sorry for themselves–they sought out new challenges like whitewater rafting, which is something that even most able-bodied people get nervous about.

Each trip I took with Splore gave me a greater perspective on what it meant to live life to your fullest ability, and that “living life to the fullest” meant something totally different for everyone. I felt very humbled, not by what I lacked, but by what I had.

At the end of my first summer, I was invited on a trip for people with Friederich’s Ataxia, or FA. FA is a rare, genetic, degenerative neuromuscular disease that has no cure and limited treatment options. Most people with FA will end up using a wheelchair and eventually losing the majority of their balance, coordination, and motor skills, and many will die in early- to mid-adulthood from resulting heart complications. And yet the people with FA that I met on that trip, and those who I continue to meet, are the most positive, optimistic, generous, and, most of all, adventurous people I have ever met. The lessons I have learned about physical strength and perceived boundaries in CrossFit, though profound, pale in comparison to the things my friends with FA have taught me about the true spirit of human perseverance.

Within that amazing group of people was a young man named Aaron. The founder of the annual FA rafting trip, Aaron had been going on river trips for over a decade. He had pulled his family into his love for the river so much that his brother, who does not have FA, was in his second season of guiding for Splore. During our trip, Aaron was experiencing the advanced stages of FA–he had been in a wheelchair for years, had very little control of the movement in his arms and legs, and was even having trouble speaking coherently. But he came alive on the river, watching excitedly as we strapped his collapsed wheelchair to the metal raft frame and smiling wildly as we lifted him into the boat. On the final afternoon of our trip, after five exhausting days on the river, we had reached the boat ramp where our trailers waited for us, and began to pack up for the drive back to Moab. We would then be faced with unpacking and cleaning all of the supplies and gear from the past five days–a process known as “de-rigging,” which is basically the last thing anyone wants to do after a week of heavy lifting, rowing through flatwater, and pooping in a shared metal box (oh yeah).

As we finished loading the trucks, Aaron’s nurse called me over to ask if I would wait with him in the outhouse near the parking lot while she went to get a dry change of clothes. As I stood there with Aaron, supporting his shoulders so he didn’t fall off the toilet and thinking about how much I didn’t want to go back and clean out five days’ worth of coolers, dishes, tents full of sand, and boxes full of trash, Aaron started crying. “I would give anything,” he said, “to be able to help you de-rig.”

Even though I did not know Aaron for very long, he made a huge impact on my life. He passed away a few months after our trip, and Brandon and I drove to Colorado from Moab to visit him about a week before he died. We happened to witness the last interaction between him and his brother, the raft guide. His last words to his brother were, “See you on the river.”

I bring up Aaron’s story for two reasons: One, to show you how inspiring the community of people with FA are, and two, to give an incredible example of the impact that adaptive recreation can have on people who are not generally given the opportunity to experience new things.

Today I saw an amazing video of a man with FA who does CrossFit, and I had a lightbulb moment. After a very profound season of being on the “giving” side of adaptive recreation, I realized that I have been experiencing my own version of adaptive recreation with CrossFit. In fact, in almost every way, ALL CrossFit gyms are adaptive. And maybe that’s why I feel so drawn to this community that does not ridicule you for not being able to do something, but that nurtures a desire to push beyond your boundaries, and shares your excitement in even the smallest achievements. A community of people like Aaron, who want to be able to experience all of it: the burpees, the blisters, the sweat running into your eyes–even the part where you clean out a giant box filled with poop.

Giveaway Winner!

First of all, I went “Harder” last night. It was a partner WOD, and I was paired with a woman who is not only faster and stronger than me, but definitely has more of the “Don’t stop! Keep going!” mentality than I do, so I think it was a good fit for my first WOD after rededicating myself to pain. I got home from the 7PM WOD after 8 without having eaten dinner but never got hungry–a sure sign my body is in distress. And today I am suffering. Not quite can’t-walk-down-the-stairs-or-sit-on-a-toilet suffering, but it’s close. I went heavy (75 lbs is heavy for me, OK?) on a set of 25 power cleans, killed it (if I do say so myself) on a set of 50 slam balls at 20#, and ran as hard as I have in a long time for two rounds of 1200 m. It felt good.

AND! The folks at SlimKicker have picked a winner for the slowcooker giveaway!

 

Congrats, Kimmy! Shoot an email to team@slimkicker.com and get ready for some slow cooker goodness! Thank you so much to everyone who entered, hopefully I will get to do another giveaway soon and give all you lovely people a chance to win more cool stuff.

Harder

I have started to notice a weird phenomenon happening at CrossFit. I am getting comfortable. This is the opposite of what CrossFit is about, and I’m not sure how it happened. I’m not sure how the word “comfortable” can be associated with things like box jumps and wall balls, but on Sunday we did a Hero WOD called “Blake” (which included LOTS of box jumps and wall balls), and I noticed that the amount of discomfort I was in almost felt normal.

My awkwardly circular kneecap bruises from lunging down a pebbly sidewalk during “Blake”–I was very dedicated to touching my knee down every time!

At first I was kind of relieved, like hey, this is getting easier! But the more I think about it, I don’t think this is a good thing. CrossFit is supposed to be about pushing yourself and breaking through boundaries. On Sunday it felt like even though I was pushing myself, it was a comfortable amount of pushing. Does that still count? I’m not sure, but if my vague feeling of cheating myself out of my full potential is any indication, I would say no. I don’t get nervous driving to the gym anymore, and even though I went heavy and actually did a WOD fully prescribed on Friday (holy 45# kettlebell!), I am feeling more and more at the end of WODs like I could have gone a little harder.

Maybe the problem is that I am still working with the same intensity that I did when I started–which at time, was almost more than I could handle. But over the past almost 6 months (what!?), I have gotten a lot stronger, a little faster, and learned so much more about what my body is capable of, that doing 30 box jumps in sets of 5 isn’t my limit any more. Sure, it’s hard, but maybe I should be going even harder.

If you had asked me in April if I felt like I would ever get to a point where my then-maximum effort would feel like a cheat, I would have absolutely said no. At least I would have tried to say no, but it may have been tough with all the gasping for breath, trying not to vomit, and choking back tears because my body was so wrecked.

But I think that in the past week or so I may have reached my most meaningful (and unexpected) CrossFit milestone yet: I am ready to go harder.