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What Whitney Ate Wednesday (2/8/2012)

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Oh hello there! This is my new camera.  Which is why this post even came to be.  And moreover, why this post will be heavy on the photos.

Also, please note that the above picture was taken AFTER my workout yesterday.  So all things considered, I don’t look half bad.  The cleanliness of my mirror, however. . .

On a more pertinent note, this blog post is exactly what it sounds like.  I’m just going to show you what I ate today.  Yep. That’s it.  Why?  Because it’s the internet, and on the internet you assume that everyone finds your habits and opinions fascinating and sometimes even useful.  Obviously I must be at least a little right about this, because you’re still reading.  So. . . on with the food!

For breakfast (my favorite meal of the day) – 3 eggs, scrambled with one link chicken and apple sausage and some raspberries.

Roommates brother: The raspberries are out of place.  It’s a bunch of salty and then. . . raspberries.

Me: It’s like Paleo dessert.

But, really, it is.

For lunch: the most unphotogenic salad in the whole world.  It’s just butter lettuce, avocado and some barbacoa beef from The Kitchn.  As seen on Nom Nom Paleo, who makes me drool with her daily food photos.  I was going to sautee some baby bell peppers and red onion to accompany this, but I haven’t had time yet.  This has been a heavy homework week, so I’m just glad I have the beef at the ready.

Post-class/Pre-WOD snack.  More of that beef with strawberries and nut butter.  Yes, that is peanut butter.  Yes, I know peanut butter is technically not paleo.  But I alternate between almond, peanut and pecan-cashew butter regularly.  And a few tablespoons of the stuff is not going to kill me or hinder my progress or keep me from achieving my goals.

Why am I justifying my peanut butter to you?  If you’re judging me for my peanut butter, I am judging you for judging me about something as silly as a nut that is technically a legume.

Long story short, if you’re copying me but you’re on Whole30 or you want to be strict paleo, sub in something like Sunbutter or almond butter.  And you leave me and my little jar of peanut butter alone.

Not pictured: post-WOD protein shake with unsweetened almond milk and a few slices of frozen peaches.

And here is my late dinner. I pulled that serving of cabbage out of the oven a little too early, but I couldn’t wait any longer.  I also wish I had something else prepared because sausage (even though it has no preservatives or sweetener or nitrates) is not exactly the cleanest food in the world.  That’s what happens when I go home over the weekend, though.  It’s not as easy to get a variety of foods ready for the week.  Oh well, maybe tomorrow.

Other things not pictured: about 100 oz of water.  Mmmm water.

WOD today was sucky.  Because I hate rowing.

But I was relatively happy with my time, even though I was scaling my pushups.  Which I’m glad I did, because my arms got all tingly in the second round.  I’m sure they’re going to feel extra great tomorrow.

And that was what my day in CrossFit/Paleo looked like.  For as long as my camera addiction lasts or as long as the habit continues, I will try to do a post like this every Wednesday.  Even though people look at me weird when I take pictures before eating.  As previously stated, however, they can take their judgment elsewhere.  My camera is awesome and deserves to be  used.

Hopefully I will also someday make up my own recipes again.  I have one for a delicious noodle-free chicken soup that I should probably get around to writing down.  And making again, because it is super delicious.  Did I mention that it’s delicious?

And now, as an apology for this post being a bit of mess in the prose department, I will leave you with one of my test shots of Chris, who was kind enough to model for me last night as I played with the settings on my camera.

That is definitely the best thing about this whole post.

Planning on Being Awesome This Year?

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First of all: Happy New Year!  I don’t know that I’m really huge on partying to welcome in the New Year or anything like that, but I love any opportunity to reflect on the past and make goals and plans for the future.  I do this regularly.  The start of every semester I like to make a list of goals and an accompanying set of plans to help me work on things that I could be doing better at.

I’m sure a lot of you have goals that include getting more fit or losing weight.  And those are really great goals to have.  My health/fitness/overall wellness journey began with a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.  It’s been five years since then and I’ve learned a lot.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that a goal without a plan is just wishful thinking.  For example, I have a goal of someday hiking to Havasupai Falls.  However, because that isn’t a goal that I plan on accomplishing within the next year or so,  I don’t have a plan yet.  However, I do have a pressing goal of hitting 20% body fat by June.  So here is what my plan looks like:

-Get my body fat measured (in the BodPod on campus) every three months. Making an appointment on Wednesday.

-Eat clean (Paleo) 13 out of every 14 days.

-Be mindful of starch and fruit intake, especially on non-workout days.

-CrossFit at least 4 times a week.

There are other parts to this plan that are more secondary goals (work on mobility of one body part after each WOD, go to Endurance weekly, etc.)  And I did make other goals that have their own plans (audition to be a Disney Princess, improve my grades, etc).  But the important part is that I wrote it all down.  That always makes me feel more accountable to myself.  And I wrote down the things that I have to do on a regular basis to help me succeed.

Anyone can have a goal, but that’s like saying “I’m going to Hawaii”.  Making a plan is like buying the tickets to Hawaii.  And then when you achieve your goal, that’s when you’re in Hawaii. (Consequently, I wish I could afford to go to Hawaii as a reward for hitting 20% body fat.  Anyone rich want to take me?)

And for those of you who want to lose weight, I want to impart to you the wisdom that I have learned over the last 5 years.  If I had to give you only one piece of advice (other than making a plan), it would be this: DO NOT underestimate the importance of weight training. I did for four years, and I wish I had gotten started a lot sooner.

In my first couple of years, I went from a size 18 to a size 12 and from 215 to 150-ish pounds.  And I stayed consistent at that weight and size for a couple of years after that.  At the beginning of 2011, I decided I was ready to really embark on my quest for lady abs.  I did p90x and a few other home-based workout programs.  I started tweaking the last bits of junk out of my diet (everything processed had to go, even if it was whole grain — this eventually made the transition to Paleo a lot easier).  And then in August, Chris got me to join CrossFit.  In the last year, I’ve only lost about 10 pounds.  But I’ve gone from a size 12 to a size 8.  Sometimes a 6.  My body confidence is way higher, my pudge is way smaller, and my posture is improved.  I not only look better, but I feel amazing in my own skin.

And I am now convinced that whoever told girls that weight training would make them look manly was probably lying to someone they wanted to stay fat.  I am also convinced that thin girls who say things like “I’m fat” often feel that way because they lack the muscle to make their bodies look the way they want.  Looking fit is a combination of losing fat AND building muscle.  I neglected the muscle for so long because I felt like I was still too chubby to have to worry about it, but worrying about it is what helped me get to the point I wanted to get to.  Sure, I still have a handful of body fat percentage points to drop, but I can actually see the faint outlines of my lady abs starting to emerge.  My shoulders and arms look toned.  My legs look killer in high heels.    But in no way do I look manly.

Gratuitous picture of my arm. But seriously. Last year, that did not look like that.

So, basically my whole point is this: if you want to lose weight, you can do that any number of ways.  If you want to feel great about your body and you want to look your best: weights.  You don’t have to do any particular program.  Pick up a copy of the Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises if you’re new and don’t have a lot of resources, it’s an excellent place to start.  And they have a lot of 6-12 week programs, so you can switch up your routine a lot.  Of course, if you have the money and a nearby affiliate, you could always do CrossFit. Or you could borrow your friends copy of P90X.  Whatever you plan on doing, make a plan.  Pick up weights.  Don’t be afraid to lift as heavy as you can.  Practice good form.  Eat enough protein.  For that matter, eat enough food.  You can’t starve your way into a nice body.  You have to feed it.  And, oh yeah, did I mention that you should lift weights?  Because you really, really should.

Getting Sick, Making Excuses, and Some Thoughts About Genetics

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I’ve had quite the nasty sinus infection for just about the last two weeks.  Which has directly translated into  shocking lack of exercise.  I did go to CrossFit on Saturday, which turned out mostly okay although I am still not in optimal health.  But it was much better than the previous Friday, which triggered a nasty asthma attack.  Allowing myself to sit out for this long has been kind of hard for me, because I just feel like I’ve been lazy.

Yes, I know, I’ve been sick.  I need to listen to my body.  It’s more important to get better. . . blah blah blah.  But it took me a long time to get into the habit of exercising regularly, and I don’t want to fall out of it.  I have been dreaming of CrossFit for the better part of a week.  In these dreams, I can do an unassisted pull-up, which my extended leave from the gym has set me back from accomplishing.  And I have a goal to get it by the end of the year.  Which is coming up really fast. And I feel like I just have to jump back in while I still have the itch, because I am spectacular at finding reasons to not do things I don’t feel like doing.

In a lot of ways, I’m worried that being sick will allow me to sell myself an excuse not to do something that is hard for me (and working out is something that is still hard for me every day.  I enjoy it after it’s over and am like “Yeah! I feel awesome! I want to do this forever!”  But I swear, the hour before I go it’s like: “Seriously?  You’re going to put yourself through this crap?”).  Anyways, this has gotten me thinking a lot about the way we sell ourselves the idea that it’s okay if we never change things for ourselves.  The excuses we make that make it okay not to achieve our goals.  We’re all familiar with these, because they are the regular roadblocks.  The big three, in my estimation, are time, money and genetics.

I feel like I should really discuss the genetic aspect of weight loss/fitness, because it’s one that pretty much everyone falls back on.  I know I handed all the responsibility for my body over to my genetics for as long as I can remember.

In a lot of ways, my belief that I was only a product of my genes sheltered me from a lot of emotional hurt in high school.  Rather than obsessing over my body, I simply looked at myself and said: this is what I am and this is how I look and that’s all there is to it.  A significant portion of my extended family is overweight, and I felt like I just happened to be made that same way.  Did I want to be thin and cutesy like my friends? Yes.  And I wanted to not have to feel like every shopping trip was a battle.  I wanted to not have to worry about finding a plus size prom dress.  I wanted to be the kind of girl a boy would have a crush on.  But I just didn’t accept that as a possibility for myself.  The way I saw it, I just wasn’t made that way.

You see, I used to be a master at making excuses.  It took me a long time to learn how to take full responsibility for myself.  It was easier for me to “give away my power” (as Jillian Michaels would say) than it was for me to take a long, hard look at myself and say: you are a result of you.  Nothing else.

I was so sold  on my inability to fight my genetics that I set very conservative goals when I started losing weight.  I wanted to weigh 160, to be a size 12 rather than an 18.  I wanted to run a 10-minute mile.  At the time, these were really big, good goals.  Achievable.  They would require work, but I could do them.

But in my mind, that was as good as I could ever do.  “With my structure,” I told myself and everyone who would listen, “I just wasn’t made to be thin.  It isn’t possible.”

I also told myself that it was harder for me to lose weight than it was for most people because of my genes.  Other people would have it easy, but it was going to be extra hard for me.  I used this an excuse to not expect too much, to not want too much, to not try too hard.

And then one day someone told me something that changed all that.  One tiny little sentence that changed my whole perspective once I dropped all my excuses and accepted the gospel truth: You are a not a slave to your genetics.  It’s something I’ve had to relearn and accept more than once.  Who I am and how I look is really completely up to me.

Well, we tell ourselves, my bone structure. . . yadda yadda yadda.  Shut it. Right now.  There is some truth to that (obviously I am never going to one of those super cute girls who is 5’3 and weighs 100 pounds. . . or a 5’11 supermodel), but you likely have no idea what your best body looks like. So don’t count it out before you even start.  I always thought I would have massive hips, no matter what.  Turns out, I am pretty well proportioned.  I look absolutely nothing like I expected under 75 pounds of fat.  And although I am still working on getting my body fat percentage down and my lean mass up, I look so much better than I ever thought I could.

So whenever you want to say, “I’m just not built that way” or “my metabolism is slow” — just stop it.  Unless you’ve seen a doctor and have some hormonal issue, there is probably nothing different about you.  Most people are not just naturally thin.  Some are, but not a lot.  Just like most people are not naturally fat.  Most people don’t have smaller bones or a faster metabolism than you.

And even if they do: so what?  You can still work with whatever your genetic makeup has given you.  Because you likely have some genetic strengths that balance out your weakness.  Mine? I seem to build and maintain lean mass pretty effectively.  Also, I’ve got long legs that make me a faster runner than I thought I could be (although if I were working on it as much as I should, I could be much faster).

I thought I was big boned and could never wear a single digit pants size.  I was wrong.  I also had no idea that I could weigh 140, that I could have a waist that was less than 30 inches (let alone 27 and still shrinking!).  I never thought I could run an 8-minute mile.  If I had let myself continue to believe what I had always believed about my genes, I never would have had the courage to try for more.

I bet you’re just like me, and you have no idea what you’re capable of.  I still have no idea what I’m capable of, because I am not at my health and fitness pinnacle yet.  And even if your genes don’t always work with you, they aren’t ever a roadblock.  They’re more like a hurdle.  You just have to learn how to get over it.  So stop thinking and saying you weren’t made that way.

You were made to be magnificent.  Get after it.

My (Winning!) Contest Strategy and CrossFit Conversion Story

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I am going to be up front with this right now: this blog post might not be comprehensible because I have abandoned all of my regular eating rules for the last two days which has resulted in a near-constant stomach ache and fuzzy brain.  Pretty much nothing in my body feels right.

Anyways – if you traveled to this webpage from my facebook, you likely know that I won the Biggest Loser competition at work! Hooray!  2 months of super disciplined eating and regular CrossFit attendance was definitely challenging, but completely worth it.  How were my results, you ask?  Pretty darn good, I think so.

BEFORE

WEIGHT: 153 
BODY FAT: 32.1%
WAIST: 28″
BELOW BELLY BUTTON (PUDGE):37″
HIPS: 39.5″
THIGH: 22.5″

AFTER

WEIGHT: 141.5
BODY FAT: 26.6%
WAIST: 27″
PUDGE: 35.8″
HIPS: 39″
THIGH: 20.5″

I was super happy with my measurements and the way my body is looking.  I was actually surprised I lost any inches off my thighs at all, because I was genetically gifted with the flattest butt in the universe (shout out to my mom for that one) and CrossFit has really turned that around for me.  Seriously.  Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my rear end in the mirror and I’m like: I can’t believe that belongs to me!

So, in the diet arena, the rules I had for myself were pretty simple.  Lean protein with every meal, 4 or more servings of vegetables daily, no refined or processed or packaged foods, no added sugars of any kind (honey and agave included).  And no more weekend cheats.  I had 1 cheat day (on the anniversary of my mother’s passing) and 2 cheat meals over the entire course of the competition.  And as difficult as that was, sometimes, I actually felt awesome.  As evidenced by how crappy I feel today.

The other integral part of my victory was definitely CrossFit.  And here is a little love story about how the girl who scoffed at CrossFit became converted in less than two months.

I was always a little put off by CrossFit.  Probably because everyone I knew who did it was extraordinarily intimidating.  We’re talking about the fittest-looking people I’ve ever encountered.  And for anyone who doesn’t know about this, I have a hard time when I feel inferior.  I like to be the smartest, funniest, prettiest girl in the room. It’s a sickness, I know.  So when Chris told me to come with him to CrossFit, I grimaced and whined.  But I knew it would help me get to where I wanted to be, considering the reason I didn’t want to go is because I wasn’t anywhere near as fit as the CrossFitters I knew and I was afraid of being harshly judged for my inadequacy.

So I went for my free workout.  It involved wall burpees.  There is nothing I hate more than burpees.  And then they added a wall to that hatred.  When we finished our 15-minute AMRAP, my face was pinker than it had been in months.  But no one made fun of me for doing box dips instead of ring dips.  In fact, everyone had been encouraging and nice.  And, much to my surprise, there was a whole range of people with different fitness levels and abilities there.  The next day I was sore in muscles that I didn’t even know were utilizable.  And I couldn’t wait to go back.

I found that my original perceptions only sort of aligned with reality.  My first misconceptions: only the super-fit (and super-crazy) do CrossFit.  In reality, there are people of all fitness levels scaling the workouts to make it work for them.  And if you’re willing to throw yourself in and throw the words “I can’t” out the window, you can make progress and gain fitness confidence more quickly than you can imagine.  Although I am no master CrossFitter, I have seen measurable improvements in the two short months I’ve been going.  Most notably, I started out doing 16″ box jumps and last week I completed my first WOD on the 24″ box! And I front squatted 85 pounds two weeks ago, a marked improvement from the struggle I had with 35 pounds my first week. Basically: CrossFit isn’t just for the super-fit — it will just make you super-fit.  My stomach is even starting to flatten out (lady abs, here I come!)

Another major misconception I had was that the trainers (some of whom I already knew) would be intense and intimidating and/or think I was pretty pathetic because I had so much to learn and a lot of room for improvement.  In reality, they’ve all been incredible.  I’ve been in a class at least once with each of them, and they each bring something different to the table with their personality.  I’ve learned something useful and important from each of them.  And the trainer that I thought would be the most terrifying to work (coughBrandycough) with has actually turned out to be my favorite.  (Should I say that on my blog? . . . you guys are all favorites!).  Although there are days where I’m the last one who finishes or the one with the lightest weight in my class, it doesn’t really bother me.  As long as I know that I’m pushing myself, I feel like I do something every single day that I can be proud of.  And although I still get a fair bit of correction on my form, I also know that I’m getting a little bit better with every WOD I complete.

And here is the unexpected bit: I love it.  I love that every day brings a different challenge.  I love that I can’t think or worry about something else and my brain is marvelously free of stress  (other than don’t drop the barbell on your head) for the length of the workout.  I love that I always feel better, stronger and happier after I finish.  I love that other people encourage me when I struggle or congratulate me when I do more than I thought I could.  In short, I love not only CrossFit itself, but also the community.

And based on my contest win and the fact that I can’t wait to get back to it on Monday, I believe this is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship.