Monthly Archives: July 2014

Emotional roller coaster of crossfit and weight loss

Past few days were very emotional for me. The ups and downs of building career in the financial world while devoting all of my free time to weightlifting, crossfit and weight loss have just started to show their true colours. It’s not easy and I almost want to give up.

The most frustrating of the past few days was making a decision not to compete at the European Inferno in Cardiff. My first ever competition in Crossfit and I had to pull out of it 2 weeks before it’s taking place due to my wrist injury.

hand

How did I arrive to this decision?

Through tears, through number of conversations with my training partner and team buddy for the said competition, through lots of resistance from my side, through a few physio sessions and hard training sessions checking my current abilities and most importantly through a lot of physical pain in my wrist.

Why did I decide to pull out?

It was probably the most sensible decision made in the past few years. I am not a person who enjoys sitting on the side lines and assuming a spectator spot especially if I trained hard to compete in the competition I will end up attending as a supporter and not athlete. The excitement of competing drove my training and influenced my programming, so this was not the easiest of decisions to make.

It was a moment of sanity influenced by professional fellow athletes who like me, once were injured (if not more than once) and knew that I am not fit to compete and would only injure myself more in the process and that would cause a long-term injury with inability to train AT ALL for at least 6 months.

Benefits of that sober moment when you DO THE RIGHT THING despite this being the MOST PAINFUL decision:

1. Avoiding further damage to my wrist and potentially preventing more injuries

2. Allowing current injury to heal properly

3. Refocusing for another competition (October 2014 – Inov8 Trials in Manchester) with my training and programming

4. Learning to listen to my body’s signals

5. Becoming a spectator at the fantastic event which will allow me to breathe in even more motivation for my future competitions

As my emotions were running high and consumption of sugars on a day of making a decision was significantly higher than usual, the positives of all bad situations appeared on the horizon and I decided to look up, wipe my tears and follow the ray of light shining from the end of the tunnel.

The good news which arrived included my first ever photo shoot for Women’s Health magazine and a good training session in crossfit with mastering of my 1st strict pull up ever!

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Onwards and upwards with setbacks being new comebacks.

I am a girl and I lift heavy

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Crossfit Games – late night watching and snacking

So the time has come. The Crossfit Games 2014 are upon us! Sadly due to time difference those unfortunate who did not obtain tickets to watch it LIVE will have to put up with a live stream on their computers or ESPN.  The stream starts 5pm GMT and ends around 3am in the morning.

Those who can stay up will have to be glued on their screens till early hours. So, what are the benefits of watching amazing athletes  and the fittest on earth?

They are inspirational! I wouldn’t want to miss Rich Fronning, Annie Thorisdottir, Denae Brown and inspirational Elisabeth Akinwale and many more amazing athletes.

They are strong!

They go beyond what many crossfit athletes dream of and aspire to!

Besides all the athletes, the WODs are something to look at and learn from whether you are the athlete or a coach. This year’s WODs are not a surprise but a combination of long distance running and swimming with our good old classics which can’t be missed in any Crossfit WOD – burpees and thrusters!

nut butter

But, what are you going to do with your own training routine during next 4-5 days? Are you going to stick to your morning training after spending a night glued on the screen being envious and excited to watch the impossible becoming possible?

Are you going to give into late night snacking? What will you snack on?

There are ways to combine your own routine with this exceptional TV coverage.

1. move your trainings to more suitable times (i.e. evenings if you are going to stay up late)

2. visit the website games.crossfit.com for schedules and WODs and select those that you will definitely want to watch

3. go to sleep if you are having a long day ahead – there is ARCHIVE which you can watch online after the events

4. Don’t snack too late and if you really can’t stop or hold yourself have something light or sip on a cup of green tea! Personally, I will have nearly empty jar of cashew nut butter hidden for the worst cravings.

5. Don’t forget to drink lots of water

Enjoy the Games and keep lifting!

 

I am a girl and I lift heavy x

Supporting from the side lines! Envy and jealousy of competing in Crossfit

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This weekend I was privileged enough to watch Kim (my training partner) and team from my Crossfit box competing at mixed team event Wild West 2014. What a weekend that was!!!

It was Kim’s first crossfit competition and given that we are only training at crossfit for 3-4 months she was doubting herself and her abilities. Little did she know that she is absolutely capable of competing with athletes who are crossfitting for longer than her.

This post is not all about her, but she more than deserves a mention and she should enjoy the glory of the weekend – she was amazing to say the least! Well done and congratulations from many who know her are in order:

Kim’s PB on Deadlift – 130kg

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Personally, I have gained a new perspective over two days  spent shouting from the side lines at her and at the team; and also having some very good conversations with friends and new friends.

As I am close to Kim I was privileged enough to get a taste of her excitement during the build up to a competition. She was always sharing her doubts with me but also her successes, which I am unsure if can be told about other athletes. She made me feel as if I was part of her special weekend, which again made me feel more than involved.

Deep down, and initially, I was frustrated from my persisting injury and also jealous that I couldn’t be part of that amazing team and was “just” a spectator. As the event went on, my initial feelings changed considerably. All teams and all athletes involved in the weekend were absolutely amazing and more than anything they inspired me. So jealousy was gone very quick and pride ane excitement kicked in! Overwhelming feelings that crossfit community is a very competitive one but welcoming too. I didn’t feel out-of-place being a spectator and amongst strong and fit girls I felt “at home”.

Kim, Danielle and I in between WODs

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There were 100 teams consisting of 4 athletes which were 2 male and 2 female. All 100 teams did amazing job at 6 WODs spread over 2 days. The location was excellent, the venue was well set up, the rigs were of a good quality and atmosphere was of that comparable to CF Regionals which I watched online. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was one of those events which I would love to attend again as a spectator.

So, how can  supporting from the side lines be any better than spending the weekend in the park or even doing some exercise?

Firstly and foremost, this particular experience helped me gain a new perspective on my personal goals and targets. Girls who competed were in a commendable form and female of all ages looked very strong and fit. Healthy and fit was the best description for the mixture of body shapes, types and abilities. Very inspirational for me as a beginner and newbie into crossfit and lifting.

Secondly, the atmosphere of the competition was friendly between athletes as well as spectators and it taught me a lot about crossfit community. Embrace everyone’s effort – be it the first time competitor or a seasonal athlete! We all are competing against ourselves to be better than yesterday, stronger than yesterday and healthier!

Lastly, I’ve learnt that I have a lot to learn and a lot to conquer, but I found that all of us are conquering the same. Competitions are a great place to test your abilities and benchmark yourself against others, the adrenalin adds a lot to your performance and you might find (as many athletes have) that the atmosphere of that environment might help you with your PB or PR and you might even be able to do kipping pull ups under pressure of the team!

I am super excited for my first every competition in 19 days! I am hoping to get back into my training today after my third physio session!

I am a girl and I lift heavy

Injuries, frustration and getting over them

I’ve now taken 4 days of rest although work stress of past few days feels like equivalent of 300 burpees for time.

My thumb and wrist are definitely suffering as a result of poor snatch grip and consequent irritation without proper days of rest dedicated for recovery.

My training partner had a wise chat with me tonight and highlighted the importance of resting even though it is super irritating not being able to train.

There are only 3 weeks left till our first team competition and I am getting a bit stressed about these past 5 days of rest, but she seems extremely relaxed.

My eagerness to train and get back on track is probably commendable but in the same time it is detrimental. First step to positive recovery is realising just that! It might be frustrating to have a few rest days but it will prove beneficial once injury is healed.
Repetitive and poorly healed injury will keep coming back.

So Kim suggested even further rest perhaps one more week. I have booked a physio for Monday so that I can plan my next week of training around what she says.

How to get over your injury related frustrations:
1. Share them with your coach and definitely your training partner
2. Keep light exercise going especially if injury is not on your abs keep working on those even at home – that definitely makes me feel happier
3. Accept that this is a scheduled rest and that you will get stronger and better soon
4. Keep your food intake relevant to your output. Just because you are not training and are frustrated don’t hit the comfort foods – it will be harder to get back to clean eating
5. Sleep, rest and other happy activities are blessing in disguise. I did the ice challenge and had a lovely dinner at my friends house – that kept my mind of not training tonight

Keep positive thoughts!

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Late Night Workout

Great find! I definitely recommend this for busy working ladies as well as busy travellers like me to keep little workouts going even late at night after busy day!

12 Months of Lent

Long week + late night at work + “Whoops, it’s 8pm and I’ve barely moved all day” = Time for this little Late Night Workout that I found on Pinterest from happyhecticlife.com. And let me tell you, it looks a lot easier than it is—my heart rate was up and I was sweating in no time.

Via happyhecticlife.com

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7 days Ab Challenge

After completing the whole30 and commencing re-introductory stage while on business in Spain, I have set myself another little challenge. The Ab Challenge.

As I have my first ever photo shoot for women’s health magazine in less than 12 days I decided that apart from training (which is very hard to keep up while I am travelling and working relentlessly on a completion of my biggest project) I will also work on my abs and strength of my core.

Abs are important (not solely aesthetically) to me as I need my core strength for my weightlifting performance and crossfit.

I spent a few days browsing the Internet looking for the challenge that’s different but will bring results.

I found this one http://m.skinnyms.com/7-day-ab-challenge/

Let the ab party commence!

Before and after update on my abs to come in 7 days!
Note: this is not the only exercise I will be doing and my food intake during upcoming 7 days will also be strictly controlled ! I want that photo shoot to turn out darn good!!!

With any challenge I ever do I always ensure that:
– timeframe (days) are realistic – always review your calendar and activity i.e if it falls on longer holidays then it is probably not a good idea to start
– I understand all the moves and moves so that I don’t injure myself
– my objectives as to why am doing it are clear
– my food matches the objectives and training output – don’t starve yourself it is not going to make you stronger!
– my mind is ready for the challenge
– I am committee to it 100%
– my training partner knows about this extra training taking place AND involve her too
– ALLOW for a REST day and recovery
– I can finish the challenge
– take before and after pictures to compare the results and progress

And to keep me going in my mission, training and challenges I will be looking at a lot of motivational quotes. A few good ones are to be found on Popsugar.com http://www.fitsugar.com

I am a girl and I lift heavy! What’s your excuse?

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Whole30 certified! What next?

My last day of Whole30 was spent in sunny Spain where I am on a business trip. To my surprise it was going well for me until my colleague decided to have a McDonald’s for lunch. Cruel! Especially when you have to sit opposite him watching (and smelling) his finger licking food. Luckily I resisted and put my sunnies on, ignored the smell of fried gluten and watched passerbys enjoying their milkshakes in a 30 degree heat.

So despite temptations I completed 30 days of an elimination diet which most of whole30 fans believe is a lifestyle change and the very beginning of a healthy clean eating for life!

I’ve learnt that 30 days of controlled clean eating is not an impossible challenge. I am very happy and proud of myself as I didn’t believe I could do it. Now I’ve done it, completed, finished I feel accomplished but also in the same time I feel as if I’ve reached some sort of a target and I am not too sure what next.

The challenge was accepted 30 days ago and 30 days later there seem to be no celebration with trash and binge eating as I thought would be in order when I was embarking on this long journey. I feel like I could continue. In fact I want to continue. So, should I start another 30 days?

No

The next stage, which is not reached by many is to start reintroducing the foods which were eliminated initially. Reintroduction must be done in a timely manner i.e. One day with dairy and two days without. Only reintroduce one food at a time. The purpose behind this (as my training partner Kim, who has now fully reintroduced everything, noted to me) is to observe your body’s reaction to foods which were eliminated. It might take up to two days to see how you get on with dairy or gluten free grains. So, this stage might take another 10 days or more before returning to “normal”. What’s normal though?

To me, the normal is gluten free life. Post Whole30 it is also dairy free life.

What I’ve missed on Whole30 and what will be returning to my food diary:
– protein shakes – I never drink more than three a week, but they are my fall back nutrients needed after training when I am lazy and tired to cook – they are good when needing a speedy recovery. I carefully choose my protein shakes and try to buy good quality ones and pay a bit more as it’s worth it
– gluten free grains – breakfast granola is something I miss when I train in the
morning. Easily prepared and quickly consumed offering great start to my day
– coconut yoghurt (contains a small portion of tapioca starch)
– occasional treat – when you train hard to achieve something in the gym or even at work – treat is a really good way to recognise these efforts. Whole 30 taught me to not do this but I disagree and don’t want to carry on without recognising and celebrating successes (I hope this doesn’t read that I won’t continue being disciplined and).

What will NOT be returning to my food diary:
– refined sugar (in many ways sugar is nasty). I have avoided fizzy drinks for long time now but occasionally sneaked in brown sugar to my coffee or tea. I also have a sweet tooth for chocolate, but with the whole30 I learnt to appreciate natural sweet flavours – ie sweet potato really is sweet, berries are sweet too, ginger is sweet and spicy… Before whole30 I couldn’t think of any of these being sweet enough for me.
– rice – being gluten free with celiac d. means that rice is used to substitute gluten. I used to eat rice cakes believing they are the healthiest thing in the world – they are not. So, I am leaving rice out as much as I can for as long as I can.
– alcohol (!) – a big shout! Especially from somebody with a big social network and job which requires meeting clients for lunches, dinners and drinks. I’ve decided that it has to stay out of my day to day life and the only allowed consumption is on holidays.
– many other foods and preservatives such as soya, maize, colourings etc etc the list of individual ingredients goes on and on… I only listed a few major groups

What have I learnt?
– discipline
– focus
– cooking the new way
– preparation and planning
– timing meals and planning portions according to body’s output

Whole30 in figures:
This is the bit where many go wrong. They ask me how much have I lost? It was not a diet to start with, I didn’t intend to lose anything.

I am still a size 8 as I was when I started and I prefer it as it is expensive to drop sizes because you have to replenish your wardrobe again.

The only major difference is my tummy is not bloated and is flat.
My face and skin have a healthy glow and complexion.
I go to sleep and wake up in the same time without having to take any sleeping support.
I am only tired or fatigued because I upped my training levels during the whole30 and that might not be advisable but I still did it.

It was well worth it and the whole30 comes highly recommended by me. I am not enforcing anyone to do it I am just referring to it as a very good mental and physical test for anyone of any age or size.

Good luck!

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Skinny jeans are NOT for “she squats bro” girls

A few months ago I made a “motivational” jeans purchase. Jeans which were definitely never going to fit me even if I was to shrink. Super skinny cut was definitely not going to be worn on my thighs and bum, but I still bought them.

Why do women always make these occasional motivational purchases? They don’t make sense! Or do they?

Here is what I thought before I paid for the (too) skinny jeans which were tad too small. It was very soon after I joined CF box so a few months ago and I remember it till today.

“I am starting to train even more, fixing my eating habits, I am definitely going to be able to wear size 6 clothes if I continue this way!!! Maybe in a few months though these pair of jeans will fit. It would be amazing if it was next week. Maybe I can actually fit into these jeans today. Oh whatever, I’ll grab them, and try them at home to see how much I need to lose to fit into them if anything.”

From that day that pair stayed labelled as brand new in my wardrobe and I completely forgot about it.
It was not because I was not keen to wear jeans or that the weather in london was too hot for jeans (it never is). It was because I changed the way I think about weight loss/fat loss and the way I thought about it at a time of making emotional purchase which was through the size of your clothes.

Crossfit, lifting and eating clean made me appreciate my body for it’s strength and power, development and progress, not for it’s size.

Yesterday my friend asked me to come out for a few drinks (to me it was an invite to a bottle of sparkling water with lemon – depending on the establishment visited it might end up being a tap water with ice).

For this occasion my friend suggested wearing jeans as the establishment planned for the party was not requiring noble dresses. I only had a super skinny pair of jeans purchased a few months ago with hope that I will wear them once.

After 10 minutes of getting into jeans from made in hell I managed to squeeze in my butt and my hips plus my calves. If anyone queries how to squeeze a perfectly squatted bum into skinny outfit, you will need:
– bed to lay on to close the button
– spacious room to jump around
– patience

Or
Don’t buy them!
Just don’t try them if it is frustrating! They might not be for you or your figure which doesn’t mean you are fat or big.
I found it impossible, but I managed. I will not be wearing these again!

After all the trouble, squeezing, huffing and puffing into clearly too small of jeans, my night ended up being a good one and I met friends whom I haven’t seen since last summer, and water was not bad either. But, I had one uncomfortable time myself as these super skinny jeans were not for me!

Love yourself the way you look and buy clothes which make you feel happy and comfortable!

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Toes to bar – a move I never knew I will master one day

Two phase training today was well worth it!

I have been training in the crossfit box for 3 months. It has been frustrating at times and the wish list of movements which I want to master continues to grow but for the first time I can start crossing out those moves which I’ve managed to do a few reps uninterrupted.

Crossfit moves wish list:

Strict pull up
Kipping pull up
Handstand walks
Handstand push up
Muscle ups
Toes to bar
Double-unders
Pistol squats

The best feeling is to cross these moves as they become achievable.

Today I am one very happy crossfit bunny!!

Onwards and upwards!

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Whole30 observations from day #26

Today is day#26 of Whole30 and I am coping really well. I am fully adjusted, sleep well and my tummy is happier and flatter. I don’t want to make Whole30 sound easy by saying I am coping well, however truth to be said, as of day #18 I no longer feel restricted or as if I am on some diet. I expect all Whole30 and Paleo lovers to jump in and highlight to me that this is not a DIET but LIFESTYLE. I hear you healhty eaters and worshippers, and, I agree with you.

However, it is very difficult to get used to NOT having comfort food, so at first you feel like you ARE on a diet. For me it was the first two weeks, they were the most challenging.
It was hard accepting the fact that there are junk eaters sitting around you in the office; that there are birthdays almost twice a week in a large office to celebrate with a cake or trip to pub and that there are social events to attend. All these temptations make it so much harder to not think about comfort food.

But, it does get easier. On a day #18 I completely forgot about any rules or restrictions related to my food. I simply got used to certain routine, and food became fuel rather than a taste driven consumption. It might sound bad, but with the amount of training I did during the Whole30 I was required to eat smart! Once I realised how much to eat i.e. the portion sizes, the different variations of mains and sides which would fulfill me for a bit longer, breakfast which would keep me going, and most importantly timings between the meals, it got much easier and manageable.

It’s not going to be just another simply looking diet and it will be hard to start with, but in the process you will learn to listen to your body and you will learn so much more by eating clean.

Few practical rules to remember for those that have full time jobs, busy lives and still want to succeed:

1. precook your meals for at least two days in advance – there are some very regimented Whole30 eaters who precook for the entire week, however with my work/training/life I knew I will not be able to do it. I therefore committed to 2 days meal planning. And it worked

2. Don’t despair when you forget to cook your lunch meal or you forget your meal in the fridge – yes, it happens! I’ve done it a few times. There are pretty good alternatives in your local shops like Marks and Spencer, even Pret a Manger sells hard boiled eggs for when you forget to eat your breakfast!

3. Don’t be too obsessed about Whole30! I don’t talk about it and I am trying to not make a big deal out of it. Working in the large open office is difficult enough and I used to get asked questions about why am I not eating this and that or that. Every time I answered I felt like explaining some diet which then raised different conversation etc. Making your Whole30 mission less public is probably the best thing for it. You don’t have to think about it and answer questions which might make you doubt yourself and choice you made.

4. Eat when you feel like eating and eat good sizes. This is not a diet, so sizes of your meals/portions are not supposed to be reduced. Especially when you consume your main nutrients. Don’t feel bad for eating large sizes of chicken protein!

5. Eat your breakfast! I am the worst person for it. In 26 days I only managed 10 breakfasts which I cooked at home in the morning!
The rest was not considered breakfast and on those days I regretted not eating breakfast and not taking time to plan it. As simple as it sounds I just didn’t have time.

6. When little cold or flu hits you, definitely don’t give up. It hit me on day #10 and I worked through it. I stopped my training, took a day off and took it easy for a few days but didn’t stop my whole30

Enjoy!!!!