lean wit it...

So for the past eight days, I’ve been focusing on shedding fat leaning out in preparation for my cousin’s wedding this weekend.  My training workout last week consisted of 4 days of CrossFit (lifting moderately heavy weight) and a yoga session to end the week.  This week I’m focusing solely on cardio intensive workouts meaning I’m running longer distances in addition to doing sprint intervals, every day. I’ll rest on Thursday.  I cut out all forms of sugar, with the exception of eating one banana right before one of the CF workouts, and focused on eating lean proteins (chicken breast, salmon) and complex carbs (carrots, zucchini) and green leafy vegetables (kale – lots of kale). I’m also drinking a ton of water. Prior to this, I had been lifting heavy stuff, running 3-ish miles every other day and taking in more protein than carbs and fat (with the exception of avocados….I could and often do eat a small one every day).  This was in preparation for right now.  I feel stronger and more powerful in my legs which helps when I’m running up these Maryland hills and my VO2 max has significantly improved. Again, I haven’t measured, but I definitely am running for longer periods of time at a faster pace.  (I should start measuring these things…).

I’m not the one to step on a scale to gauge my progress.  I just want to feel good in my clothes and see some muscle definition in areas that always need to be taken care of (arms, butt, and belly :)).  I’ve done the obsession with stepping on a scale every morning in the past, and it became discouraging as I didn’t know the difference between muscle fat and body fat and why I was weighing more even though I appeared to be leaner.  Then I learned…never to step on a scale again. :)

With the exception of this past Sunday (#cheatday), I’ve been eating clean and I feel amazing in my clothes.  After the wedding I’ll go back to a strength training routine mixed with yoga for a few weeks, and I’ll track my progression with updates as I see fit.

Maybe I’ll post some recipes too.

judgment day.

For 10 minutes I was in my element, on the other side of training.  I coached an athlete who recently started CrossFit, as in today was her 5th workout. CrossFit Owings Mills introduced a “new” type of programming wherein every member will be doing some sort of benchmark workout, titled Judgment Day.  It sounds scary and almost Terminator like, but it’s actually quite opposite. For the next four weeks of programming, the movements from the benchmark workout will be a focal point of the next month.  At the end of the four weeks, everyone does the same benchmark workout again, to see if he/she improved.

“Having someone judge your workout adds an element of accountability and pressure that is not always found in the daily WOD.” - Coach Nick

To get a true feel of what it’s like to be in competition mode, this box introduces a format in which members can be the coach/judge and competitor.  In a pretty packed class of about 20-30 athletes, we were broken down into pairs and the head coach explained how to be a judge (e.g. what to look for in each movement, what a “no-rep” is).  In addition to counting reps and looking for good form, the judge is also there to encourage the athlete through the workout.

I didn’t realize how much I missed this aspect of coaching – cheering on an athlete to fight through each rep.  I took into consideration that my partner was new to this (she mentioned she’d never been in a competition like this before) so I made sure I wasn’t being too hard on her.  Since this benchmark had a time limit, in the moments where she was resting I gave her succinct cues on how to strategize the next movement, by breaking down the rep scheme.  As a newbie, and I’ve been through this as well, you don’t necessarily know how to strategize the WOD.  Typically you just fight through each rep ‘til exhaustion, and that’s not necessarily the best way to go about a workout – as in you’ll get burned out early on.

Completing all 270 reps (ranging from single-unders to thrusters to pull-ups) in 9 minutes and 42 seconds, she finished her first competition-like workout under the 10-minute cap.  Although exhausted, and lying on the floor in true CrossFit fashion, she was completely stunned and elated that she got through it all.

Kudos to her for pushing through, and I’m proud to say I had a minor role in her accomplishment.


when cheat day goes wrong.

I can’t remember the last time I had a Cinnabon.  It was definitely before I started CrossFitting, so it had to have been at least 3 years ago.  Every time I would walk through a mall food court, the smell alone would sweep me off my feet.  Cinnamon, sugar, freshly baked bread.  Goodness. I don’t know how I resisted. Fast forward to today.  I had just finished wrapping up a fantastic meeting in the city with two phenomenal women in the fitness industry.  The weather was perfect – 75 degrees, no humidity – and there was time to kill.  I decided to have lunch with my mom and bask in the beauty of the day.  Earlier this week I had asked my fellow Facebook friends what their favorite breakfast spot in Baltimore was, and Miss Shirley’s Café came up multiple times.

Voted Baltimore Magazine’s “Best of Baltimore 2013” winner, we were both excited to try out the food.  Miss Shirley’s is known for it’s southern home cooking – offering everything from funky monkey bread (if you haven’t tried this before..ohmygawd) to the Eastern Shore ‘Po Boy.

As an athlete, I typically use Thursday’s and Sunday’s as my rest days and cheat days but because of the holiday earlier this week, I decided to make Friday my cheat day.  And boy, did I cheat.

I ordered the Cinnamon Roll French Toast with banana slices on top.  Three (massive) cinnamon rolls dipped in an almond scented egg mix, drizzled with cream cheese Icing, dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar.


How can you say no to that?

The first 15 bites or so, just enough to finish one out of the three rolls, were divine. Then I got incredibly full, but was disappointed that there was still so much left on the plate.  So I paused for a couple minutes, drank some water, and decided to eat just a little bit more (mistake #1) and drew the line when I was a third way finished with the second roll.

I never want to deprive myself of food that makes my feeds my soul (a.k.a. not-so-healthy) so I always allow myself a day or two out of the week to eat whatever I want to stay sane. I also don’t often go overboard on cheat days, but today was just different.  The combination of the bread (wheat) and a crap ton of sugar (mistake #2) literally took over my body.  I felt sick and uncomfortable and was thinking twice about my decision.  We finished our meals, made our way home in which I was trying to stay awake, and when we got home – I crashed.  My body ached, I was incredibly tired and felt motionless.  My body was literally going through shock. I have never experienced this type of reaction before and I never want to go through this again.  Even while I’m writing this – 9 hours later – I don’t feel 100%.

Was it worth it? Yes. Will I eat this again? No.

Note to self: Don’t over-indulge. Stay away from sugar.

Tomorrow I go back to training, and I’m afraid.

know when to say no.

An interesting article was posted on on what it means to be a CrossFit coach is being circulated around the interwebs.  I wrote something similar, from my past experience, and this post resonated with me tremendously. This comes about a week or so after this picture* posted by CrossFit Brick New York circulated through Instagram, Facebook and CrossFit blogs causing somewhat of an outrage.

doin' it wrong.

*this image has since been removed from Brick New York’s Instagram feed.

When I first saw this picture, my first reaction was why.  Jaw dropped, shaking my head...why why why.

For the majority of people who’ve probably never experienced a pull-up before (with or without a resistance band) this may not seem like a big deal.  In the CrossFit community, heck the fitness community, the majority of the people were furious.

Since the original post is no longer available, I can’t quote exactly what Brick New York commented, but it was along the lines of: the members pictured completed the WOD and wanted to try this out afterwards. List this under sign #1 that as a coach, you could’ve done better.

The fact that this post is no longer on their feed justifies that they know it wasn’t a good idea.  In this case, bad publicity isn’t necessarily good for the box.  They recently opened their facility and have incredible amenities, but having this picture up couldn’t have been great for their reputation.

I’m not undermining their ability as coaches or athletes, I’m just hoping that they know when to say no to their members.  Hopefully no one got injured from this, and that they use the negativity constructive criticism as a wake up call to understand the potential downfall of not being assertive with their members.

In this particular case, maybe it was a good thing that it went completely viral and caused a ruckus throughout the fitness community.  No one teaches you the morality of coaching.  It’s something that you have to understand and go through by experimenting.  Lesson learned.

the will to win.

This wasn’t just your typical partner workout.   It’s not the one where you get so excited to pair up with your BFF or your friend that you know kicks ass every single class.  This was a pure fight to win with your challenger alongside you. Today I was given a dose of friendly competition.  In CrossFit, and pretty much any other sport, the point of being part of a team and community is to keep moving.  It’s to try to go unbroken and finish each rep.  It’s to give it your 100% til the very last second and in the end, the goal is to win whether as a team or as an individual.

Four rounds of 12 burpees, 10 toes to bar and 4 power snatches was this “partner” workout.  One person would start with the 12 burpees, and as soon as he/she completes those, the second person will start.  The point of this was for the first person to not let the second person catch up and take the lead.

I have yet to encounter a workout quite like this one.  It was fantastic – pure competition.  This is the practice, the hard work, the hours spent behind the scenes, learning how to compete, strategize and win.  Testing for competition – both within CrossFit and your life outside of it.

When you’re paired up with someone in this sense, you’re strategically trying to pace yourself just enough that you’ll have lasting energy to push you through those last few seconds, where in essence, every rep counts. As an athlete, not only do you have to be self-aware, but be able to react and adapt to each movement that not only you do, but also what your competition is doing.

Get a glance at how they’re pacing alongside with you, or when they’ve started to get fatigued, or lose some form of their technique.  If you have the stamina to push an extra few seconds harder during those times, it could make a huge difference.

This was a great break from the other partner WODs that I’ve been a part of.  Not to say one is better than the other, they’re just not the same.  They both allow different ways to win – one as a team, the other as an individual.

At the end, no matter what, there is still encouragement regardless if you came out on top or not.  That’s the beauty of competition – fight to win, and applaud the effort.