The Blog

Am I doing Crossfit?

Once again, it has been some time since I have last posted here on my site… face palm. I will say it has been a productive 4 months: I have been putting many steady hours at the hospital, and also had my first out of country trip to Mexico with My Champ in early December. Come to think of it, things have been pretty non-stop since our return! Busy is a good problem to have, in my opinion. A busy life is a full life 🙂

The last physical venture I had written about was my Spartan Super race I ran in September. Naturally, coming off that race led me to wanting to challenge myself even more. Preparing for the Spartan in conjunction with my endurance training for my triathlon races was an eye-opener. There were both strengths and deficits that became evident. The strengths: I had decent muscular endurance and a fairly efficient ability to recover; the deficits: I had lost a lot of strength (mainly upper body) and my physical skills were very limited. Since I desire to be as rounded an athlete as possible, I had to change that.

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Katrin Davidsdottir of Iceland

For just about a year, I had been following the sport of Crossfit under the radar. I began following the likes of Katrin Davidsdottir (current Crossfit champ of the World, ‘Fittest Woman on Earth’), as well as several other professional athletes under the Crossfit umbrella. Inspiring doesn’t even come close to describing what these athletes are capable of. I watched a lot of YouTube on the sport, and as mentioned in another blog- the documentary “The Fittest on Earth” helped fuel my urge to finally participate/train in such a way.

What is Crossfit?

The sport of Crossfit was founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman, and is defined as a strength and conditioning program of constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains (1). An individual’s ‘fitness’ is measured by work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Individuals train often by taking classes at Crossfit affiliate gyms, also known as ‘boxes’. Classes are usually structured about 1 hour in length, including warm-up, skill development, followed by a circuit/workout of the day or ‘WOD’. Performance on each WOD is scored (ie. the amount of repetitions, rounds, or time performed) to encourage competition and to track progress. Over time, one can objectively measure their level of fitness based on the progress of their scores and even by comparison to others within their box or even in competition. According to Greg Glassman: “Crossfit is not a specialized fitness program, but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of 10 recognized fitness domains”(2). The 10 fitness domains include:

  1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
  2. Stamina
  3. Strength
  4. Flexibility
  5. Power
  6. Speed
  7. Coordination
  8. Agility
  9. Balance
  10. Accuracy

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    Samantha Briggs: 2013 Crossfit Games Champion and decorated triathlete/duathlete

Displaying some sort of skill in each of these domains makes one a complete, rounded athlete: excelling at each of them is the elusive goal in becoming the ultimate athlete. Sounds rather daunting, doesn’t it? On the flip side, I do believe that is the draw: to test one’s physical fitness in every was possible. Call me crazy, but the idea of being constantly challenged physically, really excites me. I knew the more I read up on the sport, the more videos I watched, the more WODs I attempted (thanks, Crossfit.com!) I knew I wanted to join a Crossfit affiliate to supplement my training.

Something New

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At SPARK Sport Conditioning: Oct. 2016

The sport of Crossfit is actually huge in the United States and all over the world (over 13,000 boxes and counting); and it is showing substantial popularity here in my hometown of Edmonton, AB. A few friends and acquaintances suggested their boxes to me, but it was SPARK Sport Conditioning that I fell in love with. The main reason was the quality of everything: the facility, the coaches, the people, and the expected quality of performance. There is a negative stigma that many have towards the concept of Crossfit. Many feel there is a great risk for injury having individuals who are beginners with little or improper instruction performing complex movements/lifts at an accelerated rate. I did not get that sense at all at SPARK. I can say from my own experience, as well as watching the coaches interactions with others- that they take great care in ensuring proper form is executed.  I will say that my background in weightlifting and sports has helped me progress at an accelerated rate. Witnessing other athletes from all walks of life attempt and excel at each WOD is so motivating and inspiring. SPARK’s positive environment and focus on quality have made me feel right at home.

What I love most about training Crossfit is the variety: you are always training a different skill, and the variety of workouts are limitless. You are constantly keeping your body guessing. Examples of equipment used in a Crossfit box/workout:

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  • Barbells
  • Dumbbells
  • Gymnastics rings
  • Pull-up bars
  • Jump ropes
  • Kettle bells
  • Medicine balls
  • Plyo boxes
  • Rowing machines

One item that you will NOT find in a Crossfit gym/box that you would commonly see in every other gym: a mirror. That’s right. Unless you are in the bathroom, you will not find a single mirror on the workout floor. GASP- no mirror??? How will you ever check your form, make sure you’re doing it right; how will you ever capture that perfect post-pump selfie?? My sarcasm is to prove a point: the mirror is NOT necessary to the purpose of your workout. You are encouraged to learn to FEEL when your form is on point; and actually, following your form in a mirror can lead to improper form (often due to head direction, and following a moving target). Your purpose for your workout has zero to do with how you look, but how you PERFORM. Your success is measured not from the subjectivity of your appearance, but instead objectively measured by the weight, time, and repetitions the task is executed. Something new, right? That is what made me fall in love with this training the most.  Ever since coming off the fitness competition scene, this is the very thing I have been looking for to switch my focus. Not looks, but performance, strength, skill. It’s a much healthier, tangible way to measure my fitness- my success.

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Body confidence: Feb. 2nd, 2017

Ever since implementing Crossfit-style training into my regimine (about twice/week) I have gained confidence and a new passion for my training. My aerobic capacity has increased in each discipline for my triathlon training- particularly in my swim. The aesthetic results are the icing on the cake. I have an increased metabolism, and my clothes are fitting me as though I’ve been dieting. The truth is, the better and stronger I feel, the better I want to fuel my body; the better I fuel my body, the better I perform. Everything just keeps getting… better. To answer the question of this title, the answer is ‘yes’. I can’t wait to unlock some of my undiscovered physical potential.

“What’s the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” – John Green, American author, YouTube video blogger, and historian (3)

“Your biggest challenge isn’t someone else.  It’s the ache in your lungs, the burning in your legs and the voice inside you that yells, ‘I can’t.’ But you do not listen.  You just push harder.  Then you hear that voice fade away and start to whisper, ‘I can.’ That’s the moment you discover that the person you thought you were is not a match for the person you really are.” – Author Unknown (3)

 

Citation

1. Glassman, Greg. “Understanding CrossFit” (PDF). The CrossFit Journal. Retrieved 20 February 2017.

2. Shugart, Chris (November 4, 2008). “The Truth About CrossFit”. Testosterone Muscle.

3. 50 Inspirational Quotes for Crossfitters. https://www.boxrox.com/50-inspirational-quotes-crossfitters/. Retrieved 20 February, 2017.

Double Chocolate-Chocolate Love ‘Pronuts”

Growing up in my youth before I was of junior high age, I played community league basketball on Saturdays. At least one if not both of my parents would be in attendance. My father and I had this tradition of a post-game Tim Horton’s donut after each game: win or lose. My Dad would get his coffee (large, 2 sugars) and I would select my favourite treat: either the Boston Creme Supreme (filled with REAL whipped cream) or the double chocolate-dipped cake donut. It’s funny the small things in life you never forget.

Fast-forward to today, and I’m bound and determined to (once again) recreate a traditional treat into something creatively nutritious! I acquired a pumpkin protein donut recipe via Pinterest several months ago, but just the other evening I thought to take it a couple steps further and turn it into something spectacular. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Double Chocolate-Chocolate Love ‘Pronut’: made with the high quality Magnum Quattro Chocolate Love protein! These are high in protein, low in carbs, and reasonably low fat. The topping is definitely optional, but I highly recommend you go all-out with this one 😉 Enjoy!!

 

Recipe

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*yields approx 10 servings

  • 1 cup pumpking puree at room temperature*
  • 1/3 cup liquid egg whites at room temperature*
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 4 scoops Magnum Quattro Protein in Chocolate Love
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • dash of salt
  • donut tin

*it is essential to have these ingredients at room temperature so the coconut oil doesn’t coagulate

Icing

  • 1 scoop Magnum Quattro Protein Powder in Chocolate Love
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 4 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped or chocolate sprinkles (optional)
Ready for the cooling rack, pre-iced

Ready for the cooling rack, pre-iced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Grease donut tin with non-stick spray
  3. Combine pumpkin puree, egg whites, and coconut oil in a separate bowl
  4. Combine 4 scoops protein powder, baking powder, 2 tbsp cocoa powder and salt in a separate bowl
  5. Mix contents of both bowls until well blended and smooth
  6. Place batter in fridge for 5-10 minutes
  7. Add batter to donut tin: be sure to not ‘overfill’ each tin
  8. Bake for 8-9 min or until batter is cooked through (test with knife/toothpick)

Do not over-bake the pronuts! (From experience) this will give you a very dry product.

Allow to cool before topping each with icing and chocolate chips.

These keep best when stored in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place or in the fridge.

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Chocolatey-goodness sized to scale 😉

Macros (includes topping) per pronut: 129 calories; 4.3 g F; 8.7 g C; 15.4 g P; 1.9 g fibre

 

Triathlon Training: My Journey… So Far!

When I started this blog site, I intended to have a ‘fitness’ category to share with you some of my favorite training exercises/moves. Should the demand present itself, I still may do that- but my training has DRASTICALLY changed since this site’s start date! For the past 2.5 months my training has been solely catered towards preparing for my very first triathlon race, May 29th. Since I’m just over the half way mark of my 16 week training, I thought I’d share with you how it’s all going so far!

 

Weight Training

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Although I have been weight training for years, this area has had to change the most and was the hardest for me to wrap my head around. I’m used to weight training about 5x/week, and high-volume sessions at that. I am now weight training twice a week, and all movements are strictly for strength and mobility purposes. The exercises I perform were recommended to me by My Champ (functional trainer extraordinaire and kinesiologist 😉 ) and are designed to make me more efficient in my swim, bike and run. My routines currently looks like this:

Routine #1

Plyo Rudiments (Jumping forward/backwards/lateral; recruiting leg muscles from only below the knee)- 3 sets of 6, each direction

Front Squats: 3:2:1 second tempo; 4 sets of 5 reps

Conventional deadlifts: 3 sets of 6 reps

T-Y-I raises (laying on a bench, 5 lb dumbbells in each hand: Ts- rear flyes; Ys- extending arms out and forward; Is- extending arms forward at eye-level, fluttering weights as quick as possible for 10 seconds total): 10 reps; 10 reps; 10 seconds

Nordic Curls: kneeling on a foam roller with heels secured, lowering your upper body towards the floor, and back up again (like an eccentric leg curl); 3 sets of 6 reps

Routine #2

Plyo Rudiments (same as above, plus A-skips)- 3 sets of 6, each direction

Front Squats: 4 sets of 5 reps, max weight

Bent Over Barbell Rows: 2 second iso-hold- 4 sets of 8 reps

Pull-ups (bodyweight): 4 set of 8, or until failure

Strict Press (Standing barbell press): 4 sets of 8 reps

 

Swimming

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This has been a major focus of mine since the very beginning. For those of you that don’t know, a triathlon consists of the three disciplines: swimming, biking, and running- in that exact order. In my opinion swimming is the most physically taxing out of all 3. I’m willing to bet this is also why it’s the shortest distance component of the race 😉 For this race in particular, I’m to complete a 1000 meter swim (a standard distance is 1500 m). At least once a week I attend swim practice at the Kinsmen (a fitness facility here in Edmonton), and then at least once, if not twice more I swim train on my own time. The swim practice is where I have a coach that offers me suggestions on my technique as well as what  distances I should be hitting at a certain point in my training. Even if I only gain 1-2 pointers from this man each week, he has been very helpful in guiding me thus far. Every time I go to practice I am reminded of just how hard I have to PUSH IT. At this point in my training my goal is to swim well over my required 1000 m, and hit at least 2000 m if not 2500 m so the my endurance is up to snuff. So far I can complete 800 m non-stop without issue. 2 months ago I could only complete 400 m non-stop and would be completely gassed at the end!

 

Biking

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This is the discipline that is TERRIFYING to me! Ok, look- I CAN bike. The thing is, prior to accepting this challenge of a triathlon I had only ever ridden a mountain bike. A road bike fits and feels very different. Road bikes are extremely light in weight, with very skinny, narrow tires- and the seat sits incredibly high. They are 100% built for speed, NOT comfort. While I practiced several times on my road bike through the winter in my house on the trainer (a device that holds the bike stationary so you can ‘ride’ it), but getting on top a moving, high-seated bike is something else! 2 weeks ago my girlfriend and I took our bikes out for their first ride of the pavement. It took me about 10 minutes just to leave the parking lot!! It was extremely difficult and awkward for me to get on top of the seat, with the bike moving, and pedal. The seat felt a little too high for my short legs (although I’m 5’8″, I’m all torso) and I was feeling unsafe. I went back to the shop and got them to lower the seat a bit for me. I am going to give it a few weeks of getting used to, then go back when I feel I can confidently raise it again. Until then, I am only riding flat routes at the moment- I can’t quite imagine heading down a steep hill in such a top-heavy position! I plan on concentrating more and more on this as it’s currently an obvious weakness. The bike component of a triathlon is a very important discipline as it’s the longest distance of the race, and the area you can make up for the most amount of time.

 

Running

This is the area I have been most confident in all along, and that remains so. I’ve considered myself a runner for almost half my life. Even though I feel running is my best asset, I am still diligently preparing for this component at least twice a week. I am concentrating on building my distances, and purposely training tired. “Brick Training” is a method triathletes use to prepare for their multi-discipline sport. A brick either involves a run, bike, then a run again; in my case I will perform a bike, then a run directly following. I will do this once a week. It is a great way to give yourself a sense of performing the race if you will. Now that spring is here to stay, I plan on doing more conditioning drills outside such as running hills to bring up my strength even more for race day. The longest distance I’ve hit thus far was 10.5 km; I don’t require practicing much farther in distance as the running component of my race is 8 km.

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In summary, I am thoroughly enjoy my training and all the variety that is involved. As my distances increase each week, the rest of my life gets a little busier as more time is required to train. Although I am seeing great improvements each week, there a still parts that really scare me! The transition from the swim to the bike worries me some: the equilibrium change of swimming then getting out the pool onto a high-seated bike is very daunting to me. I’ve heard stories of people crashing in to one another, spilling their bikes… but hey, I guess they all lived to tell about it, right?! 6 more weeks until go-time… time to stifle that fear 😉

 

Event: Coronation Triathlon, May 29th, 2016; Edmonton AB

Swim: 800 m; Bike: 26 km; Run: 8 km

Goal time: 2 hrs, 15 min

 

 

Diets Shouldn’t Have Finish Lines

This past week I got asked by a coworker if I had heard of a certain nutrition plan (I won’t name names of programs here). I genuinely hadn’t, and then proceeded to ask her what was entailed. She mentioned something about so many shakes, and a meal service. She said it was an 8 week plan, and she just really wanted to get her weight down quickly- even though she admitted she understood losing weight slower was better in the long term. I could tell by the look on her face she knew I wasn’t going to be on board with her plan. I simply responded: “Could you maintain this ‘program’ for the next 20 years?” Her answer: “Well, no…”

People ask me questions about fad diets/quick fix nutrition plans almost as often as they ask me how they can spot-reduce fat (how do I get rid of my underarm fat; how do I tone my legs; I just want a six-pack, etc.). The only painful part for me is that I know they know the answer. It’s like they’re hoping their bogus weight loss plan might be ‘it’- the one diet program that will actually work! But here’s the ugly truth: there ARE NO quick fixes. Sorry, but you know it, I sure as hell know it, and unless you can maintain whatever program realistically FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE that weight is only going to come back and then some. I have not met one single person who lost a ton of weight at a quick rate (without surgery) and didn’t gain it all back.

Competition diets are very similar. Most people lose a significant amount of weight (most of it being body fat) at a fairly acute rate. Many many competitors, usually female, then strive to achieve that same leanness year-round. First of all, we as women are not meant function with body fat so low we have striations in our shoulders and veins in our lower abs. I mean, you could try- but I will say long term it’s not possible ‘naturally.’ Many of these competitors forget all that they gave up nutrition-wise to get in that condition. This is a huge part of the problem. Any diet that restricts entire food groups (unless you’re celiac/lactose intolerant) WILL NOT WORK in the long term. Our bodies need macro and micronutrients from various sources of food to achieve optimal health- but that is a whole other lengthy blog 😉

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A quick selfie before shooting with BodyRock TV last spring. I did a series of shoots over the course of 3 months which I was able to maintain shoot-shape for.

It’s taken me a long time to come to this. By ‘this’ I mean coming off 6 years of competing in fitness- all of which involved yo-yoing between 20-30 lbs (which is better than most), going from a super-restrictive competition diet to free-for-all ‘off-seasons’, I feel I have FINALLY arrived at knowing very well what my body needs to maintain itself. And herein lies my point: all of this takes time. I’m sorry, but I really wish I could say I had the magic ticket to get everyone lean, right away, and maintain it forever. It’s just not like that. If you truly are passionate about a fit lifestyle, about bettering yourself, living your BEST possible life then you have to be willing to put in the effort. I’m not talking effort for 8, 12, or 16 weeks- I’m talking for ALWAYS. If I sound preachy, it’s because I live and breath this. It is a huge compliment to be told by someone they want a body like mine, but make no mistake- I work for it EVERY single day. I am not lucky, and it’s not genetics. It is a testament of my passion and willingness to live this lifestyle, and my work ethic. If you want it bad enough, you’ll get there 🙂

Healthy Chocolate Mousse

My only regret with this recipe is the picture doesn’t do it justice! This decadent, guilt-free snack has become a staple in my nightly routine. Currently my only ‘lower carb’ meal is the one I have right before bed. I ensure that I have some sort of healthy fat incorporated to keep me satiated while I sleep. I have posted about ‘smoothie bowls’ before containing avocado with Magnum Quattro protein (the BEST 😉 ) but this switch up makes for a smaller, yet rich and satisfying meal resembling more of a dessert. I really can’t get enough avocado… and chocolate… I’m female, ’nuff said. I give you “Healthy Chocolate Mousse”! Enjoy!!

Recipe

1/2 ripe avocado, medium (approx 2 oz.)

1/2 scoop (or 2 tbsp) Magnum Quattro protein in Chocolate Love/Chocolate Peanut Butter Addiction**

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your milk of choice)

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Splenda/stevia, to taste

Dash cinnamon (optional)

Directions

  1. Blend all ingredients in food processor/blender on medium-low speed until smooth, no visible lumps. You may add more/use less milk, depending on desired consistency: I like mine to resemble chocolate pudding.
  2. Pour contents  into a bowl and enjoy!!

 

*Yields one serving

**May add more protein powder depending on nutritional needs; may need more milk for consistency

Macros: 199 calories; 13 g C; 12 g F; 19 g P