Tag Archives: whole30

Injuries, setbacks and how to cope with them

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My amazing holidays on Bali came to an end with ruptured tendon on my right hand wrist.

Initial emotions which filled my head when I sat in the hospital in Kuta (Bali) amongst many tourists with “Bali belly”, broken legs and arms and green faces, were anger, frustration, setback, pain, upset, anxiety and disbelief.

I was angry with myself, with the world, with the sport, with my holidays, with everyone and everything who might have contributed to this situation. X-ray scans arrived and showed no fractures, MRI scans showed the most feared for injury – tendon/ligaments tears. I was in need of an operation which would reconstruct my tendon for a proper healing and to grow back, however I was advised to do it in the UK and take a flight home as scheduled – 3 days later.

As the nurse immobilised my wrist and forearm with a temporary brace, the reality of the situation dawn at me. I will not be able to train for 2 months and longer, I will miss my first crossfit and weightlifting competition and my progress will turn into regress. Sad moment.

When you arrive at the point of realising that your injury is for a long-term and you won’t be able to continue to train, you’ve actually arrived at the crossroad.  From here you must make a choice of how you react to this situation. Your choice is either reacting as majority would – feeling sorry for yourself and letting the weight of the situation drag you down; or you can react as a true athlete in an athlete spirit where setbacks are viewed as opportunities to come back stronger.

Choice no. 1 – feeling sorry for yourself

This choice is made by us humans too often. We choose to feel sorry and dwell on the situations from a very negative angle. It is applicable to any setbacks, break ups, job losses, injuries and other emotionally heavy impacts on our lives. The surroundings we live in, work in and are influenced by will play a big role in this choice being made.

Firstly, majority of your friends and families and colleagues will feel sorry for you and no doubt they will express it in calls, texts and their behaviour, they will encourage thoughts about your injury being “bad”, “painful” and with long-term consequences.

Secondly, all you know and are coded with from a very young age is the information about injuries – they need rest and they are a setback. Doctors will tell you “no training for 6 weeks”, they put you through operation and stick a cast on (in my case), they immobilise your injured part of the body, prescribe painkillers, drugs and suggest no exercise for a long period of time.

Thirdly, your own perception of the situation is influenced by both surroundings and professional diagnosis and treatment. It is therefore very easy and almost understandable to make a choice no. 1. It’s the obvious one anyway and you are almost pre-coded to make this choice, so don’t despair if you find yourself in this article. You can learn from it for the next time.

Sadly the consequences of making a choice no. 1 are going to mean that your setback is going to be a true setback which will impact your fitness even more than the injury alone would have. It often means that you abandon your healthy lifestyle, find excuses to eat junk and comfort foods and prolong your recovery time not only through poor nutrition intake but often alcohol intake too.

Choice no 2 – if you eat like an athlete, train like one YOU SHOULD react to setbacks like an athlete would

This choice is the one which you are not told or taught how to make. It is a choice you need to learn to make as you get older, wiser and it becomes a result of disciplined life as well as the result of making the RIGHT choices through the messages sent from the RIGHT surroundings. This choice can only be made if you love your body, understand it, listen to it and you are in a complete equilibrium with it.

Luckily athletes have their coaches and professional sports doctors who when treating them, whether surgical or non-surgical way, create just the right surrounding for the athlete and his/her recovery. In addition, family of athletes also know what kind of words/messages need to be sent to injured athlete. This type of surrounding doesn’t encourage athlete to make a choice no.1.

Sad reality is that majority of us amateur athletes, fitness crazy, don’t have the surrounding which is that powerful. We don’t have doctors who understand the underlying issue of the injury. Our families are supportive of us, but they are not trained or told how to help us to make a choice no. 2. Our friends and colleagues see you as a crazy fitness enthusiast who probably overtrained and deserved this injury.

 

Making THE choice no. 2 – amateurs manual to turning Setbacks into Comebacks

1. Arriving at the “crossroad” I knew I had to make a choice – you must realise and firstly be aware (many ARE NOT) that you have a choice. They are simple: Injury will be a setback for long OR injury will become a comeback in disguise – all you need to do is make the choice no. 2, BUT it starts with realisation that you have the said choices

2. Surround yourself with the right people and accept the fact that there will be friends and family who will try to influence your thoughts, but you MUST talk to your coaches, fellow athletes or even read information on sports injuries and how to cope with them. There is a lot of right information out there, but also a lot of information which conflicts with making choice no. 2

3. Accept the injury as part of the long-term goal which you probably set and keep reviewing as you progress. My goal is set for 2 years and I chose to accept this setback as part of getting closer to my goal. It might be hard to believe that injury will get you closer to it as it might seem like this is getting you further away from your fitness goals, but in a long-term it is only 2 months out of 24 which you will be out of the REAL ACTION. 2 months are less than 10%!!!

4. Don’t take it word for word when your doctor says “NO TRAINING or EXERCISE” – this is one of the biggest mistakes we all make when injured. I injured my right hand wrist and tendon. Yes, life with this injury is not particularly easy and I am uncertain about when the pain will stop, when will the operation take place and the real consequences of it, but I chose not to accept NO TRAINING or EXERCISE comment from doctors. Nothing is stopping me from exercising my core and abs, doing crunches, leg raises (on the floor) and many other exercises which will keep my form going and in fact will improve the most needed part of my body for weightlifting moves – abs and core.

Also, my legs – they are not injured! Why shouldn’t I try to work on my legs? Squats are the best way to keep training when upper body is injured. I started with air-squats and body weight lunges but I am sure during my recovery when my grip improves I will hit my back squats with supervision of my coach.

5. Avoid junk food and boozing as much as possible. When your body is injured all it needs is a lot of healthy nutrients to heal. I was also given a window of roughly 2 months before I am back on track and training. I made a choice that I will do another Whole 30 in that period and offer my body a lot of healthy nutrients in form of clean eating.

As it is joint/muscle injury I also upped intake of fish oils and other natural sources of nutrients.

Keeping your body fueled when it is injured is the key to speedy recovery.

6. Socialise wisely – time out of the gym means a lot of free time. As I now won’t be training with my fellow crossfiters and weightlifters I won’t be spending evenings in the gym for some time, there will be a reduction in my usual physical activities at the weekend, so I am faced with a lot of free time. It is going to be hard to fill, but I chose to use this time to self-educate myself and use it to improve in other areas of life. My work requires my full attention and committment as well, so I will spend more time here and get ahead of the game. My blog and writing will also get more attention and finally I will write my papers for weightlifting coaching certificate and prepare for exams.

7. Find a new goal while injured and deliver on it – I’ve decided that my goal is to perfect my abs and core along with my bum, so when I finally return to training I will be stronger and turn injury into comeback!

 

I am a girl and I lift heavy, so what’s your excuse?

Article credits go to: Rich Kite – my weightlifting coach, Kim – my training partner and a friend, my family – my dad particularly who is my long distance coach and other friends and athletes. Thank you for helping me turn setback into comeback.

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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!

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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

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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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!!!!

Managing work life and healthy lifestyle – mastering being Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

This is one of my first posts and somewhat a very broad topic on my blog. It is my first post, so bear with me. To start a blog was suggested to me last night by one of my coaches (I dare to call him my coach, even though it is very early days since he started to give me input into my training). He convinced me that I should record and share my experience with achieving my fitness goals through leading healthy life style while working in a full-time job and still living a busy Londoner’s social life (even though that is a topic on its own). So, I took his suggestion on board and started TODAY.

I often get approached on the topic of weight loss (in my dictionary fat loss) by my female colleagues who as much as I, work long hours 8am till 6pm and commute to their workplace over 30 minutes each morning and evening. Our jobs are stressful. We are working for a young, dynamic financial company (FX brokerage) with 3+ year super plans for growth which requires our 110% committment not only during working hours but also after and before.
So, they ask, how do I manage to work on my personal fitness goals while I have to perform in my job and continuing to build my career in financial world as a young female ? Where do you find the time and energy to do everything?
I’ve noticed in past years that this is not only my few female colleagues  who question this but many other friends and anonymous posts on social media.

I don’t think that these girls lack motivation; and I would be too harsh if I said that girls who want to be fit, strong and healthy often don’t have motivation or real drive. In today’s information overload there are plenty of motivational images, messages and marketing out there in the ether that will help you get your bum off the sofa and do something about your health and aesthetics.
The problem is that many girls often start encouraged, self-motivated and with the right intention but give up after 7 days! They don’t even make it to-day 5 in some cases. This has nothing to do with lack of motivation but actually a lot to do with not knowing HOW TO manage busy life style and prioritse the correct activities. Believe me, the fitness models on the websites and Facebook which are used by media to motivate us to do something about our bodies and our health are not full-time employed girls in the office or shops or even restaurants. Often enough they are sponsored athletes and can train more than once a day! Training in the gym is their job!

On the other hand…
Office girls (like me), as I refer to many girls I see on the tube or buses with their gym bags and hand bags, in suits and trainers often start their week with a resolution to go to the gym at least 3 times in that given week, but they often end up going once or not at all.

In my view we fail after a few days because we are not taught how to manage change in our lives. Even in business when there is a major change we appoint an interim change manager – a person that is solely responsible to manage unexpected reactions to scheduled changes within business.

How to manage early days changes in your lifestyle and go beyond 7 days of healthy life style and exercise:

Here I am assuming that you’ve decided on your goals and you are motivated to work on your these fitness goals.  Below is a simple guide on how to stick to your plan in early days and not give up in early days:

  • Establish whether you are exercising in the morning or evening or you are mixing it up (as I often do due to my work commitments)
  • Plan your week at least 7-9 days in advance (i.e I know on Friday what I will be doing for next 7 days and I stick to my plans and schedules – don’t beat yourself up if you have to cancel or change, but treat cancellations and changes to your plan as an exempt to the rule)
  • Ensure that your work diary contains your evening  or early morning commitments (I book my crossfit and weightlifting sessions up to 9 days in advance and I always put these into my work diary, so no one books me into late meetings)
  • Pre-pack your gym bag and prepare your work clothes the night before – a good way to commit to taking a gym bag to work with you and go to the gym after work
  • Learn to say “no” to tempting social activities if they are not happening on your rest day or suggest that you will join the crowd later on. I used to have a huge “Fear Of Missing Out”, but I’ve managed to overcome it by seeing the results of my training and improvement in my performance. One drunken night can be missed if I can lift 5 kg more by not attending one of many drinking sessions.
  • Learn to synchronise your friends and social life with your training commitments. This is the hardest bit and many fail, but we already know how to synchronise work and social life, so why not gym and social life? I train on Saturday morning, allowing myself to spend Saturday afternoon and evening with friends. I often go for nice dinners or host girls’ nights in on Friday so that I am not too tired for an early morning training session, but still manage to socialise.
  • Keep a diary and record your sessions and performances. Every time you open it and see it, it will be a reminder of what you achieved and what you could be achieving in the future.
  • Financial committment i.e. paid for PT sessions are always a good way to get yourself out there, but make sure it is the right session for you. No point in paying somebody for mediocre session which doesn’t suit your goal. Crossfit gyms might seem expensive at first, but you are being coached in a class with attention of a professional, so they actually work out to be cheaper than gym + PT (which I used to spend a lot of money on).tumblr_m4qthg5uiM1rnpszno1_500

GYM and 2hrs of PT per week cost in Central London: avg per month £49 + £240 = £289

Crossfit in SW London: 5 sessions per week plus free gym session: cca £160 per month

Gym only fees (but will you attend at least 4 times a week??) in London from as low as £19 per month

  • Nutrition and food intake need to match your goals. Are you looking to run faster, get stronger, lift more or lose fat in certain areas? Food is the most important part of your journey. Starving is not allowed! You must eat healthy food. I am not a nutritionist but I can give feedback on some changes I’ve made in recent years to my nutrition. Some worked better than others, but I don’t eat any wheat or gluten. I am controlling everything I eat and I plan my foods at least a day in advance. Personally, this always has been an area where I failed and was challenged by. But, I never gave up!

I am currently completing my first WHOLE30 programme which has brought results I strived for. I am on my 24th day as I write this and I feel pretty good. (if you are interested in trying it out then I suggest you also get a book “It all starts with Food” to find out why clean eating is important)

When you can’t train professionally or have gym training as your job then you will have to become Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as I have.

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

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