Fitness

drop the weight.

Often enough, I get asked how I work out, what specific workout routine I follow and what I eat, because whatever I post on social media seems to be catching someones attention. The truth is, I stopped doing what everyone was telling me I should do: "CrossFit every other day! Eat less carbs! Do paleo!"

I tried a bunch of different workouts and meal plans to see how my body reacted/responded, and came up with something that actually works, for me.

I dropped the weight.

This means, the weight of the world, the weight of the pressures that I put on myself, the weight of sticking to a number (e.g. scale, plates on the bar, counting macros).

All this excess 'stuff' helped me focus on what I could control, which is ultimately moving in my own body weight (see: yoga) and more importantly, my breath (see: yoga, again). Something as simple as just remembering to breathe has been incredibly helpful in every aspect of my life. When the weight of the world seems too heavy to bare, deep inhales and slow exhales lighten the load.

For those just getting into the swing of things as far as working out goes, start with the easy stuff.

The things that come natural to you or things that actually excite you, that doesn't feel like a work out.  Whatever that is, stick to it for a month.  Get in to a routine of doing that thing and track how you feel each time you do it.

Don't worry about the number of pounds you're lifting or seeing on the scale. Actually, throw the scale away.

Walk outside for 5 minutes.  Do jumping jacks during commercials. Literally, just focus on breathing.

The more in tune you are with what you can control - your own body, your own breath - the weight (of starting) doesn't feel as heavy.

endure.

Whenever I work out in the morning, I set my intention that whatever I end up doing, whether it be a CrossFit workout, a 2 mile interval run, a spin or yoga class; that this will be the most challenging part of my day. Once I finish the workout, I know (or keep reminding myself) that the rest of my day will be easier than my workout, and that I can face and do anything because I’ve endured the hardest part of my day.

This morning I took a 75-minute spin class.  I knew it was 75 minutes only after the instructor mentioned we had another 40 minutes to go as I looked at the clock and almost passed out. I didn’t, but in that moment I had two choices: to quit or to stay with it.

“This is hard for everyone. Get over it and keep going. If you want this to be easy, raise your hand.”

No one raised their hand. Not even a flinch. #cojones

Challenge accepted.

The irony of this is that I found comfort in the challenge. That everyone is going at a level that is the most difficult for them.

Push through whatever it is you’re facing. We all go through hard times, and you're not alone.

It'll be worth it - and - you'll have a story to tell because you survived.

on time.

A few weeks ago the weather here in Baltimore caused delays and school closings around the area, and I had a plan to take a yoga class at a studio that’s 15 miles away from my home. Since news outlets don’t post anything related to fitness studio closures, I called to find out if classes were still on and if they had showers at their facility. This is important because I had a meeting to attend right after class and didn’t want to drive back home to change. No response, so I left a message – tweeted them with the same questions – and went about my business. As I finished up my morning meetings, the studio tweeted me back saying yes they’re open and yes they have showers. “Sweet! On my way.” As I was driving there, I got a phone call from the studio manager who was returning my message (not knowing that I had already received confirmation via twitter) and answered my questions. I told her about the twitter interaction, she was pleasantly pleased and just as surprised as I was and I told her I’d see her in 20.

Today, I got a phone call from an employee at another yoga studio (let’s call her Sara because I didn’t get her actual name) where I’ve only attended once. Sara called to let me know that tonight’s class was cancelled and that they’re calling people who’ve attended this class in the last few weeks to let them know so they don’t waste their time driving to the studio.

Grateful and surprised that these two studios actually called and followed up. Neither wasted my time, and there’s value in that.

i don't have the answers.

I [think I] started a movement. Well… here we are.

Ever since I’ve “escaped” the norm – I’ve been trying so hard to avoid it.

It = Corporate life.

People who’ve left their comfortable jobs have gravitated towards me for guidance - even if they haven’t directly asked me for it.

I take it it’s because I’ve experienced a pinch of what it’s like – I’ve tasted and felt what it’s like to take the leap; and for some people, having a blueprint to follow helps.

However, this is my own route. I’ve created the path for me. It’s time for you to create your own rules. What works (or didn’t) work for me, may or may not work for you.

Navigate with your gut, your feelings and pay attention to what feels good.

In any given situation, don’t allow fear or failure to deter your focus. Use them as a guideline to restructure your outlook.

choose to win.

What do I want to say? This is the first question I always ask myself before I even begin writing.  I read some blogs from my favorite people, listen to some music, take notes, highlight quotes from my favorite books - all in hope to get some inspiration to just start.

I get these urges when I know I have a lot I want to write, yet nothing ever comes out as clear as I’d like it to be – or at least coherent for those of you reading this.

The hardest part is always starting.  Always.

So, what do I want to say?

Life is a big beautiful mess. Everyone is going through it, and there’s no way to go around it or avoid it.

Going through emails, I came across one from Rog on choosing not to fail or choosing to win.  They both mean the same thing, but it’s how you’re perceiving and initiating your choices that make the outlook brighter, and more manageable.

Everyone fails at something in life.  It’s a guaranteed part of being human.  However, mentally preparing yourself for failure won’t get you anywhere.  Feelings of being stuck, or depressed, or unsure-of-what-to-do-next-so-you-don’t-do-anything aren’t pathways that lead to success. Changing your mentality of being capable of actually winning at whatever it is you want to achieve vs. thinking it’s absolutely impossible leads to action.

Asking for help doesn’t hurt the process either. I’ve learned over the course of the years that some of my best ideas, efforts and successes come from being in the trenches – and using my resources to help get me out.

Understanding the depths of each situation and how it makes me feel allows me to move upwards and be proactive in my decisions - in a positive fashion.  Failure is inevitable.  Reaching for the top is a choice; and it’s risky, scary and everything in between – and without a doubt, worth it.

 

This post is brought to you by: Shiraz (I keep it classy) Sade – Fear Dustin's Music 

one step at a time.

Spreading myself too thin can be disastrous.  More often than not, I do feel like I am superwoman - daily consumption of coffee (no sugar no cream) & avocados help - but I have learned over and over again, that I cannot do it all. This has been magnified ever since I took ownership in leading and managing a women’s health facility, that has had its share of change over the past few years.

Within my first month of the new position, I encountered what I thought was every worst-case scenario that can happen.  Reminder: I had only been with the company two full-months prior and was still on a massive learning curve of understanding each aspect of the business.

On top of what a general manager is supposed to do on a daily basis, I was traveling – almost every other weekend – because it’s wedding season. Which come to find out is year long. #blessed :) This prevented me from being fully immersed in my job initially, and I often felt guilty for not being there for my staff, because I know they needed and wanted guidance.

Things fell apart because there wasn’t a leader.  I was reacting vs. leading and trying to play catch up at the same time.

Not to say things have slowed down in the least bit, but I have a better grip on this role.  Over the course of three months, I’ve managed to say ‘no’ to a lot more things to allow myself time for things that actually matter: managing and rebuilding my staff.

This stage that I’m in now reminds me of my very first year as a sales coordinator of the HEAT. I’m 90% sure no one knew entirely what the department would look like.  However, we knew where we wanted to be, we had a plan to get there, we had the pieces to make it happen – and a dedicated leader to tie everything together. We created better habits through constant communication of ideas & best practices, we held team-building events to know each other better, and practiced the hard stuff.  The kind of stuff you hate doing, but know you have to do it (re: make X amount of calls a day, role playing, calling that client that you know owes you money but can never get a hold of, cleaning out your inbox).

It’s through my experience of going through the hard times that has helped me handle these worst-case scenarios a lot better than I would have a few years ago. I’ve created enough good habits to outweigh the bad ones, to keep me motivated and driven to make sh*t happen.

Yes, the process can feel overwhelming.  Yes, it does sometimes suck. But I know for a fact that if I dwell in all of the aspects that make me feel overwhelmed, I will never accomplish anything, nor will my team.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned so far in this role, it’s patience.  [Hard] work involves both a commitment of faith and time.

on trends.

This post isn’t about fashion, or about gluten-free recipes or 33 ways buzzfeed reads your mind. It’s not about fitting in to be cool or keep up with everyone else. This post is about a trend that isn’t technically what’s hot in the streets.

Being a fitness trainer/consultant/life-coach/mentor/shoulder-to-cry-on/friend, I hear a ton of stories about why the person sitting in front of me wants to change their lifestyle.  I help them uncover a deeper meaning to why they’re having these hour+ long conversations with me, and shed some light on what I recommend for them.

As I'm consulting more, there is a commonality among those I meet. While in NYC, the majority of those I coached wanted to stay fit – meaning, being able to keep up with their kids, stay on track with their sport-specific training (see: marathons) and get clarity so they could focus more on their actual work.  Some common goals: stabilize ankles, improve posture, relieve lower back pain, have energy, get ripped. Done (for the most part).

In Baltimore, there's a deeper lining and factor that comes into play.  It's the actual medical reasons why people are stepping into the gym - to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, control blood sugar (see: get off meds). No one wants to be pill popping for the rest of his or her life.  Granted, these health issues could come from genetics, but they’re not concerned about stabilizing their core so they can run better.  Their main goal is to get a good report from their doc each time they visit.  Or, in some extreme amazing cases, pay a lower insurance rate if they are within certain criteria: weight, inches off waist, normal cholesterol levels, etc.

I often think of my own family and health related issues that they have/had and how I could be in a similar position with those I speak to.  It’s a tough pill to swallow (pun not intended, really) to hear stories from women my age (29) or even younger with serious health issues like diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol – some with clean/healthy family histories – and know that it’s probably due to poor nutrition and little exercise.  [Side note: yes, there are a hundred of other factors that could also contribute to these health problems , but lets just all agree that eating clean and exercising consistently could prevent a lot of issues later down the road].

The bottom line is that when someone walks into a gym/fitness center/box, they know that they want to get (or stay) fit.  If there’s anything that I could be 100% certain on, it’s that being proactive in having a healthy lifestyle will always be trending.

Foods to Help Lower Cholesterol Naturally

Do you have high cholesterol? Are you having a tough time figuring out what to eat? Not sure where to begin when you walk into the grocery store? If so, here are some tips for you :)

Genes and gender play a role that can contribute to the development of heart disease or stroke.  However, what we eat (and how often we exercise) plays an important factor as well.

We can control what we eat.

-        Avoid fatty cuts of beef, pork & lamb.  Choose lean meats, or substitute with fish or skinless white-meat poultry. I recommend grass fed or organic meats.

-        Stick to fresh and locally grown produce

-        Shop on the perimeter of your local grocery store

-        Avoid processed foods / food packaged in boxes or cans

Focus on eating food with a low glycemic index, those that are high in fiber and are omega-3 rich.

Foods with low a glycemic index: - Granny Smith apples - Bananas (the greener they are, the lower the glycemic index) - Eggs (preferably cage free) - Lentils - Yogurt (plain) - Nuts & seeds

Foods that are high in fiber: - Carrots - Beets - Broccoli - Spinach - Sweet potatoes - Beans (lima, garbanzo, kidney) - Brown rice

Foods that are rich in omega-3s: - Salmon - Walnuts - Flax seeds - Kale - Strawberries

Sources:

Harvard Health Publications “Glycemic Index and Glycemic load for 100+ foods” http://hvrd.me/1bzdcj6

Dr. Mark Hyman, MD | “7 Tips to Fix Your Cholesterol Without Medication” http://huff.to/1bzdF4Y

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.

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.

Death

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 Breakingmuscle.com 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 oh.my.gawd. 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.

personal development.

Life gives me words.  It’s the actions I do, the places I go and the beauty of what’s around me that gives me fuel to write.  I’m noticing more each day how I naturally gravitate to dedicating late nights to reflection and putting my thoughts to paper. Earlier today I was asked what does personal development mean [to me], and in what ways do I see myself needing to improve.

The premise and basic foundation of this craft is to always strive to get better every day.  No matter what it is that you do, diving in to your skills, figuring out what you can improve on – whether it’s through education, teaching or experimentation – is the only way to grow.

It’s the experimentation of my daily schedule that I know needs improvement.  When I was employed and had a “9-5ish “job, I didn’t really have to put too much thought into my schedule.  I got in at 9am, replied to emails for about an hour, recorded data, made some calls, then it was lunch at noon.  Back from lunch, check/reply to emails, set/conduct meetings, then it was time to go home…or stay for another six hours if there was a game.

Now my day is a lot different in the sense that I literally create my own schedule.  I’m not as focused on sending emails or ideating, so to say, in the morning.  I tend to gravitate to reading articles that are meant to inspire and spark the creative light in me.  Mid-day I focus on exploring everything related to health & fitness, and in the evenings is when I put my ideas and thoughts to paper.

It’s a simple format, but it’s not necessarily easy to do day in and day out.  I’m still struggling with finding times where I’m most productive at each of these times.  What I have noticed is that when I envision what I want my schedule to look like each day and what goals I want to accomplish, I get sh*t done.

With this vision set, I dive in to each day with gusto and it feels great.

we are in the future.

As a kid, I often daydreamed of what the world would look like “when I got older.” I wouldn’t say I was necessarily obsessed with sci-fi stuff, but I thoroughly enjoyed movies like Jurassic Park, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Back to the Future (all of them).  To me, getting older meant that we’d be flying around to get to friends houses and devouring pizza that didn’t take FOREVER to deliver or make. Now we officially have hoverboards, the foundation of a system to transport us from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes, and healthy food that you can’t chew.

When I first heard about Soylent a couple months ago, my immediate thoughts were “WTF is this?!” and “WTF – this is actually good for you?!” Then had flashbacks to that pizza scene in Back to the Future Part II.  I kept thinking that there’s no way this is good for you.  Then I started reading about it & Rob Rhinehart, the man behind this creation.

Soylent currently has over $1 million in pre-orders all through crowd funding.  People that are conscious about their health want convenience.  To have a healthy go to meal that you don’t have to think about preparing, that carries all the essential nutrients you need to function? Um, yeah that appears to be the move.  But there’s still debate on the actual benefits of this product.

The FDA approved the mixture in order for it to be available for purchase nationwide.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good for you or for everyone. Rhinehart says this isn’t made for everyone, but it consists of 90% of his daily food intake. He’s documented his weight, bloodwork and exercise performance while drinking Soylent and dropped 15 pounds from it.  Tim Ferris recently posted the documentation of another tester of Soylent and there are still a lot of concerns, problems and more data to be analyzed.

Although there is enough technology to make our lives simpler as it relates to our overall health, we still have a ways to go to make sure that it is in fact, good for us.  In the meantime, I’ll stick to my locally grown veggies and grass-fed meats.

mobilize.

There was a period where I didn’t step into a CrossFit box to train for weeks on end.  After experiencing one of the most humbling workouts training at Equinox (TRX to be specific) I knew there were major issues that I needed to fix prior to lifting any type of weight again.  I had issues that I didn’t even know were a big deal until I tried working out using just my body weight. I thought it was normal to hear a click in my hips as I did mountain climbers.  I thought my left heel would never touch the ground when I did a squat due to a high-school soccer injury that I never took care of.  Holding a plank position, I thought it was normal to feel a slight burning sensation in my lower back.  That means it’s getting stronger right?! Smh.  It wasn’t until I read stories and was educated on proper technique and form that I knew pain and not being mobile isn’t normal or good. So, I started paying attention to my movements.  I started paying attention to any pains or sensations that I felt while doing basic, functional movements and researched how to fix each issue.  Pain that is ongoing is never a good thing.  Soreness, yes, but never pain.  The three areas that I needed to focus the most on were my t-spine, ankle and hip mobility.

Focusing on these areas using foam roll techniques, exercising using just my own body weight and spending about 10 minutes each day on mobilizing these areas using a lacrosse ball (which I have a love/hate relationship with), has improved my form tremendously.  Taking supplements that help with joint mobility and inflammation (glucosamine and omega-3) has shown a significant improvement in the way I move on a daily basis.

Being fit to me doesn’t just mean being able to look big, or lean or any other type of physical attribute for aesthetic reasons.  To me, being fit means being able to perform everyday functions without feeling any pain.  It means being able to catch an NYC train without running out of breath or pulling a muscle as you’re cleaning up things around the house.  Performance over aesthetics, all day.

My go to resources on mobility: -       Kelly Starrett’s Mobility WOD Videos -       Practicing Vinyasa yoga -       Exercises to do especially if you sit all day long

passion and desire.

“If you are influenced by the opinion of others, you will have no desire of your own.” – Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich)

Passion is defined as an intense desire or enthusiasm for something; a strong and barely controllable emotion.

I was filling out a questionnaire online today and this question came up: “What are you most passionate about?”

I took a couple minutes to really listen to myself – to take this question and let it wrap around my mind.  I started to write down all the things that I enjoy doing.  This list comprised of things ranging from fitness to traveling to writing to meditating to spending time with people I absolutely adore.  I want to be involved of all of these activities, at different times of my day and periods of my life, but this all ties into one simple message.  I am passionate about spreading the message to do what you love.

Having discussions with people about this very topic is not always easy.  Some questions that tend to come up are how do you make money from that? How do you support yourself? How do you support your family? Those questions matter, but they shouldn’t be the reason to divert you from pursuing what you love.  This concept can be difficult to grasp if you’re constantly asking people for advice or trying to fit in to a certain group to be accepted.  I’ve been there.  I’ve been lost in the opinion of others, not having a clue if what I did was actually because I enjoyed it.

Everyone wants to be happy and successful.  These two desires can only come when you declare what you’re passionate about.  From blocking outside noise, from being courageous with your decision making and knowing that it’s coming from a place that no one else can have access to.  Your own true self.

eat clean. train dirty. read labels.

There is a beautiful fitness movement going on.  There are tons of articles and research based on what foods you eat and it’s correlation to daily performance, cancers and diseases. When you search the web you’ll most likely come across the Paleo diet, Bulletproof diet, Intermittent fasting, and if you have Instagram – the thousands of #fitness related pictures. Growing up in a Haitian household where dinner is regarded as the most important (and best) meal of the day, it wasn’t a coincidence that it was also the biggest meal of the day.  A typical meal consists of a starch, a grain, and a meat or fish. Usually cooked with vegetable oil.  Now, it’s a fact that my mom is the best cook ever (ask around). She cooks the most amazing, delicious, comforting food and even created a cookbook to share our family recipes with everyone.

As much as I will vouch and say Haitian food is the best tasting food in the world, it’s also not the healthiest, and this makes me sad.  Discipline can be defined as resisting the temptation to eat mom’s food – your favorite mind you – knowing that it’s free and comforting and everything you could ever want in life.  However, when it comes to training or knowing that I’m working out, I have to respectfully decline.

I notice a significant difference in my workouts when I eat not-so-healthy food vs. fresh and non-processed. I’ve created a habit to pretty much eat clean because I perform better when I stick to this.  No, it’s not a diet.  I just like to eat healthy.

So, today I went shopping to get back on track with eating clean.  It’s pretty simple and a lot of people make it more complicated than it is when it comes to shopping.

Some tips:

- If you have access to a local farmer’s market or co-op, shop there to get your produce. - Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store where most of the food is fresh and expires within a week or two. - Sugar is bad. All of it. Organic dehydrated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup, pretty much anything ending in "-ose." All bad. - If you’re interested in getting something that has labels, make sure they’re legible. Everything that is labeled fat-free, sugar-free and even organic isn’t necessarily good for you.

Perfect example: I needed almond milk.  A brand that was labeled USDA certified organic had about 10 different ingredients listed.  It’s almond milk! It’s supposed to be just almonds and water! This one had one particular ingredient that I had never seen: carrageenan.  Frustrated that I wouldn’t be making delicious smoothies tonight, I left the store and when I got home I did some research on this ingredient. Although it’s stuff that is extracted from seaweed, this “natural” food additive can cause gastrointestinal problems and there are petitions to ban this in our foods.  For more info, click here.

I’m not a nutritionist, but I know that if there’s things you can’t pronounce or stuff that has an expiration date for 2032, it’s probably not good for you.

Related, I found what appears to be a simple recipe for making your own almond milk. Trying it tomorrow.

being an expert.

I am not a CrossFit expert…yet. A lot of people come to me for insight on this lifestyle because of my posts/updates/pictures, personal stories and 2+ years being a part of this community.  I’ve heard everything: -       What CrossFit box (gym) should I go to? -       How often should I train? -       How much does it cost? -       Will I throw up? …and everything in between.

Yes, I have a Level 1 Certification to be a CrossFit coach, but I don’t consider myself an expert just yet.  My experiences training with different coaches, actually being a coach, dropping in to about a dozen or so locations in the U.S. and Argentina, gives me an advantage on what CrossFit is like.  It also gives me a wide perspective on what works, what doesn’t and how I can implement my experiences to helping other coaches and affiliates out, but I have entirely so much more to learn and test out.

CrossFit has blown up.  Competitions are now televised on ESPN 2 and there are over 3,100 affiliates just in the United States alone.  Anyone with a Level 1 Certification can own a box and be a coach.  This is a great yet scary notion.  A lot of people have told me that they’re afraid to try CrossFit because of the horror stories they’ve heard – injuries, vomiting, can’t move body parts – really extreme stuff.  I’m not saying that none of it is true, but there’s a high chance that it can be prevented, if you do your research.

A lot of CrossFit coaches are extremely great athletes – former and current collegiate athletes, games competitors, senior year football MVP (does that exist?), etc. – yet they don’t necessarily have the knowledge on how to train average working people.  People that have 9-5 jobs that are sedentary for 40+ hours a week, people that sit at a computer all day and have pronated shoulders, moms (and dads) that are constantly picking up after their kids toys and are blowing out their backs because of it.

In my stint working as a personal trainer at Equinox (yes, as a CrossFitter I actually stepped into a gym), I quickly learned how little I knew about what it actually means to be a trainer and coach.  For six weeks, I went through a crash education coarse covering topics on anatomy, kinesiology, workout progressions, program design, stretching and mobilizing.  This led me to researching more on what actual experts and trainers who have been in this business for years were doing and suggesting to their clients.  This also left me overwhelmed with how much information there is on the web – and how it all can be confusing because of conflicting advice.

In order to prevent injuries and to hopefully minimize the fear that people have when they think of CrossFit and be a well-versed coach of all things fitness, coaches must make it mandatory to be educated.  Not just by going to seminars and getting mobility, nutrition, or corrective exercise certifications and be done with it.  They need to make this a continuous effort to always be educating themselves on how to be better coaches as well as how to properly train average people.

I don’t believe that you need 100 different certifications or degrees to be an “expert.”  Yes, those all help, but I believe that you need to continuously test out what you’ve learned.  See what works and what doesn’t and actually know what you’re talking about.  Talk to other trainers - not just CrossFit coaches - and see what works well for them or what didn't.  Being confident in telling someone why they should train with you or join your box - not just because you have this CF coach title, not because you can deadlift 500 pounds or do 50 pull ups in a row – because you actually know your sh*t because you've done your research.

Disclaimer: I don’t think that CrossFit is the end all, be all way to working out or what it takes to be fit (whatever “fit” means to you).  However, it’s worked for me, I’ve seen people transform into super-humans, and I recommend training in this type of fashion – HIIT (high intensity interval training) - to get you feeling sexy and strong if done in a proper way ;)

clarity through action.

A status update by a friend on Facebook sparked this idea:  write a 300 word post every day for the next 62 days and publish. Why 62? Because I want to hold myself accountable every day leading up to my 29th birthday. Today is the start of another transition phase of my life where I need and want to recharge and refocus.  I want to reflect on what I’ve learned the past six months living and working in New York City, as well as focus on what I want to accomplish moving forward.

The push and pull of trying to maintain a balance between diving into what I enjoy doing (working out) while coaching a mix of clients left me exhausted and confused.  It felt as if I were trying to navigate through a thick forest without any light or tools to guide me.  I got lost, tried to retrace my steps, and felt overwhelmed by the density of my surroundings.  So, I decided to remove what I felt was draining me: the constant buzz of the concrete jungle.

In order for me to show up in the world and be of use to others, I need to be healthy.  This involves being able to maintain a clear sense of what I want to accomplish for myself and how I can help others with my knowledge and skills relating to fitness. Clarity through action - meaning focusing on writing about topics that interest me, working out, training women entrepreneurs like myself, eating clean (little-to-no processed foods), and/or eliminating things that don’t feed my soul in a positive way.

What I want to be able to achieve from this experiment is a sense of fulfillment.  I have no clue what will happen after these 62 days. It’ll be tough, but I’m up for the challenge.

inspire and bond through sweat.

“Several cups of tea will only get you so far, so this is where sport and business meet: an entrepreneur needs to be in decent shape. When you hit a roadblock, getting your body moving will help you to stay creative.” – Richard Branson

A few weeks ago I was grateful to coach six women who are all part of Brooklyn’s first Lululemon store.  Their fitness backgrounds range from dance to yoga to triathlons, and with the exception of one, they never had a CrossFit experience quite like the one held at Columbia Street CrossFit(CSCF).

Lululemon and CrossFit are synonymous with building a community through various fitness-related outlets, which is a key element why both brands are so effective.  They are strong components of connecting a group of people who use fitness as the catalyst to inspire others to live life with a purpose, by doing something once a day that gets them out of their comfort zone (among other things).

Megan Dolce and Kaitlin Kerns, Store Manager and Assistant Store Manager of Lululemon Brooklyn respectively, are extremely involved in the fitness community in Brooklyn.  They reached out to me to host a sweat session for their staff as a way to build camaraderie.  Usually these sessions involve yoga or spinning, but considering that Lululemon and CSCF will be neighbors, we decided to incorporate a sweat session that wasn’t so traditional, held at the box.

I took into consideration that 80% of the women have never experienced CrossFit before and designed a team-building partner workout that didn’t involve barbells or climbing ropes or flipping tires.

The group was paired off and had to complete a set of 10 movements for as many repetitions as possible within a 10-minute time frame.  The goal was not only to get a great full-body workout in, but also to encourage support from their partner by cheering them on through each rep and exercise.

Now, I can’t describe how they were feeling after the workout, but what I can say is how touched I was to know that they all expressed how great they felt afterwards.  For me to create an experience that is unique to each person and each group that I train, to set their fears aside and to give them an outlet to feel indestructible, to feel AWAKE, to feel great is what I aspire to do every time I coach.  Building a connection through fitness is the ultimate bond that I strive to create in each community I am a part of.

These women are all part of an exciting time for Brooklyn, and I have no doubts that the talents that each of them have will bring limitless opportunities for them to share their passions with NYC.

 

Lululemon Brooklyn + Columbia Street CrossFit

create value. be specific.

As I'm beginning to gain more clients and train and coach more people, I'm understanding how important it is to specialize. The process of researching different techniques, movements, corrective exercises, etc. for each person is creating the pathway for me to become an expert in every aspect of the fitness & health industry.  It also showcases the commonality between my clients and I.  We all want to achieve greatness, we all want to continue to learn new things, we all want to succeed.

For them it's by investing their time, effort and money into me, the expert; and for me, it's by investing my time and effort in doing the research geared specifically to each client.  If a program designed for them is too vague, they won't see the value in investing in me.  Having a template that breaks down reasons why this program will work for them enables the connection of why they should do the work (workout, spend $, time, etc.) in order to reach their goal.

I see the value in connection.  I see the value in building rapport.  It's the constant pursuit of connecting with each person I interact with that helps me stay motivated and on top of my game.