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.

Image (13)

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

    samantha-briggs-700_0.jpgsamantha-briggs-700_0_0

    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

Image (11)

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:

crossfit-fuengirola-slide01

  • 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.

Image (14)

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.

So Ya Wanna Be A Spartan?

The summer of 2016 has been an eventful one for Lindsay Lee Orange. 2 triathlons (placing 3rd in each-yay!), Femsport in July, and on Sept. 3rd I completed my first-ever Spartan Race. Not just any Spartan: the SUPER! Many people usually enter in the 5 km, or ‘sprint’ distance for their first Spartan. I was advised by several others that as a runner I would find the sprint distance ‘too easy’. The Spartan Super-distance is 12+ kms, with 27 obstacles. The farthest I had ever ran in recent years is 10 kms, so I had my work cut out for me. I thought I’d share my personal experience in both training and completing my first Spartan. Some of you can take this blog as a useful tool if you are truly interesting in entering in a race yourself, or simply as good reading material: the choice is yours 😉

 

Set your goal

For the last 4 years I had pondered the idea of doing a Spartan. It wasn’t until I had competed in Femsport (an all-female strength-agility competition) that I truly felt I was primed and ready to take on the challenge. Since I had been training for my triathlon races all summer, I knew my cardiovascular ability was at an all-time high. I was told the 5 km would be a ‘cake walk’ based on my endurance level; so I went ahead and registered for the Super. Coming off my triathlon race on August 7th, I had 4 weeks to try to bring up my strength and agility as much as possible for the Sept. 3rd race.

 

Training

image-95

There are many people that will enter in a Spartan without any type of formal training. While this is entirely possible, it would depend on the individual’s existing physical condition/athletic background upon entering the race. Also, if your goal is to do fairly WELL- I do advise conditioning yourself accordingly:

Running

The most basic, but most necessary training you will need. Whether your race is 5 km, 12+ km, or 20 km (that would be a ‘Beast’ distance): you need to be able to run AT LEAST that distance. The race is not just running: you are faced with obstacle after obstacle, many of which are much more physically demanding than actual running. And for every failed/incomplete obstacle, your penalty is 30 burpees. Yep. 30. It’s no cake walk. And that brings me to my next tip:

Practice Burpees

Nobody likes burpees. They are hard, they are exhausting, and no matter your pace doing them, they are going to kill your Spartan time. For those of you that don’t know what a ‘burpee’ is: Google it. They’re no joke. But let me tell you after 4 weeks of practicing drill after drill involving burpees, I was beginning to get pretty lean- especially in my midsection! Here are a couple of drills I did to help me prepare:

1) Indoor Drill (with treadmill)

*4-5 min warm-up, at 4.0 mph, incline at 1.0%

Sprint 30 sec at 9.0 mph, incline at 7.0%

Walk 30 sec at 4.0 mph, incline at 15.0%

15 burpees

x 8 rounds

2) Outdoor Run Drill

For every mile (1.6 km), stop, drop and complete 30 burpees

*I would complete this drill on my 5 mile runs (8 kms)

As brutal as these drills are, the idea is to bring up your physical conditioning so that if you miss many obstacles you are physically prepared to finish the entire race regardless.

image-93

Strength Training

This is an area that I feel many endurance athletes overlook, in general. Although you most likely won’t know exactly which obstacles you will be faced with, I can tell you you will need to be able to pull your own body weight (several times), climb over walls/fortresses, and be made to lift some challenging weight. Working on my grip strength was a big one for me. I worked on my strength training 2-3 days/week involving exercises like:

  • conventional deadlifts
  • seated rows
  • pull-ups
  • farmer carries up/down stairs
  • planks/core strength
  • wrist curls

It helps having My Champ as the awesome trainer he is, to advise me on all of those. Lift, pull, carry as heavy as possible (while maintaining proper form) to ensure you will be ready for ANYTHING!

OCR (Obstacle Course Race) Training

At Femsport I was fortunate to learn there is an outdoor-fitness club called ‘River City Fitness’ that offers training specifically for individuals entering in obstacle course races (Spartans, Tough Mudders, Rugged Maniacs, etc.). I was only able to go once in my 4 weeks of prep, but I found it super helpful!! It was a good way to train for the ‘unexpected’, I found. The group was super friendly, very positive- much like the people you will meet at your race! I had a great time. Check out their website: www.rivercityfitness.ca if you are in the Edmonton, AB area.

Nutrition

image-91If you have been following me for a while, you already know that I’m a pretty huge advocate for eating well. I found with training for triathlons it was important for me to keep my carbohydrate intake fairly high to sustain my energy for the long distances. For Spartan training, I made adjustments to cater to the strength demands, high-intensity and endurance training, as well as efficient recovery. While everyone is different, I found that my body works best with a 40/30/30 ratio (carbs/protein/fat). I stuck to whole foods during the week, while allowing myself a couple of ‘free’ meals on the weekend- like pizza with My Champ or apple pie with my family. During the week my diet consists of foods such as:

  • oats
  • egg whites/whole eggs
  • sweet potato
  • whole-wheat wraps
  • avocados
  • nut butters
  • yogurt (plain, either 0% or 2%)
  • reduced-fat cheese
  • chicken
  • fish
  • bananas
  • apples
  • berries
  • salads/veggies
  • protein powder
  • almond milk
  • protein powder

As you can see, tons of variety! I keep track of all my food intake on an app such as MyFitnessPal.

What to wear

image-92

This I had to resort to the Internet myself for info- I was completely lost. So I am here to help! First off: invest in a GOOD pair of trail shoes. It is worth the money. It is so important for your overall run and joint health to consider this. Yes, your shoes will get crazy-muddy during the race- but good quality shoes can be put through the wash! Good as new. I went online and bought myself a pair of Reebok ‘All Terrain Thrill’ shoes, and they were great. There are many other good brands out there, but do go out and get a pair. Make sure you have ample time to break them in before your race as well. In addition to good quality shoes, I do strongly advise you to either tape your ankles/wear ankle braces for your race. The terrain is extremely uneven and slippery: the LAST thing you want is a blown ankle. My Champ taped me up using Pro Wrap and stick tape and my ankles were injury-free.

image-97Every site I visited stated ‘less is more’ for clothing. This is totally sound advice as you will be trudging through several mud bogs as well as walking/swimming through bodies of water (rivers, maybe a lake) so you don’t want to be wearing anything that will weigh you down when wet. I ended up wearing a thin tank and 3/4 length lululemon pants (to cover my knees) in 13C weather, and it was perfect. I wore gloves, but I did have to take them off for most things about halfway through as they became far too muddy to help me any. I still say they are worth bringing if you like using them.Because my race was going to be quite long, I invested in a hydration backpack from MEC to get me through. I say it was money well spent. Those packs are super lightweight, and it also held my energy gels for ‘just in case’ I felt my blood sugar crash.

image-94

 

Pack: a towel, crappy clothes to change into (even that pressure hose at the end doesn’t get all that mud off), face/baby wipes, garbage bags, snacks, your ID, and money for the beer gardens!! And your smile- the whole thing is seriously so much damn fun. You get oh so muddy, but you’ll love it. You will amaze yourself when you reach that finish line, and find out what you are truly made of 😉

 

 

Spartan Race

My Ascent: The Journey Continues

It has (again) been some time since I have been on my site. I hope I haven’t lost too many of you! I actually have no idea who is on here or what my numbers are like. This site is first and foremost a platform for me to spew out my thoughts, ideals, my routine (or lack thereof) and the occasional recipe that I think is worth sharing 😉

Image (89)

Since I have a good minute, I thought I’d share my current plans for the upcoming month and my feelings on what’s to come in subsequent months. This upcoming Sunday, August 7th I will be competing in the St. Albert Triathlon. It is a sprint distance (750 m swim, 20 km bike, 5 km run)- I was hoping to experience at least one Olympic distance tri (double the distances of a sprint) this summer, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Following the triathlon I had completed in May I felt the need to maintain all that preparation and conditioning for AT LEAST one more race.

Image (87)

Performing 50 18″ box jumps for time. I completed mine in 1:16, a PR

On July 23rd, 2016 I had competed in an event called ‘Femsport’ in Fort Saskatchewan (a suburb of Edmonton, AB) which is a strength and agility competition. The events included: an obstacle course (which ended in pushing a 3/4-tonne truck 50 ft.); a kettle bell relay; 50 box-jumps for time; 125 lb tire-pull; 300 lb tractor tire flips. It was quite the day! Over 100 female athletes were participating, so the biggest challenge was much of the all-or-nothing, full tilt-to-rest effort all day long. Although I completed each event (even got some personal bests!) I was by no means good enough to podium. I was not discouraged or disappointed by this- the exact opposite! These women were SO motivating, so inspiring. Some of them were quite young (a couple of 19 year olds) and some more seasoned (including a 60 year old cancer survivor). What I took from this event was I needed to be more prepared. I had only given myself a few weeks to practice the skills, being in between triathlon races and vacations.

The night before my Femsport competition I watched ‘The Fittest on Earth’: a documentary that follows several of the world’s top Crossfit athletes competing in the 2015 Crossfit Games. If you ever need some kind of physical motivation or fitness inspiration, I highly recommend watching it (find it on Netflix). Currently, I won’t comment on whether or not Crossfit is my next venture, but I am absolutely enamored with the passion, dedication, and positivity from the sport and it’s athletes. I like the idea of having a variety of events/skills that you have to excel in, combining both strength and cardiovascular abilities. I like that what is expected of you seems impossible at first, but then with the right amount of heart and work ethic you find out it can be done.

fittest-on-earth-940x360

 

Experiencing Femsport motivated me to enter in yet another event: the Reebok Spartan Super Race, September 3rd, held in Red Deer, AB. It is a 12+ km race involving a variety of obstacles along the way. I have wanted to do a Spartan for a couple years now, and I thought no time like the present. Although I have very much enjoyed preparing for my triathlons, Femsport made me realize I have the potential for so much more.

***WARNING: SELF-CONFIDENT COMMENTS ABOUT TO ENSUE 😉 ***

Many have mentioned how ‘busy’ I have been this summer with my events and my races. It is no accident. Last fall I was feeling very lost in regards to my training. I had no focus. When a girlfriend had challenged me to enter in my first triathlon this past January, I had no idea it would ignite such a hidden spark inside of me. In my years competing in Figure, I had reached what I would call my ‘aesthetic  peak’. In all the preps I had done, I always knew by my cardio capacity, performance and recovery I was built for endurance; I also knew I was decently strong. I feel at the age of 33, I am approaching my ‘performance peak’. I have NEVER been in this kind of shape. The distances I have hit, the times I have beaten, the strength I possess, my ability to recover: I am surprising myself each and every week. I am a woman in her 30s who is simply just GOING FOR IT. Putting the work in, and continuing to see results is incredibly rewarding and motivating.

So to summarize, I am basically still searching for my ‘niche’. I simply enjoy training, but training with a purpose is so much more rewarding for me. The idea of a race/competition just adds gasoline to my fire. It makes me nervous, but mostly it makes me excited. As long as I continue to feel those butterflies, as long as I continue to enjoy the process and continue to improve- I will continue to challenge myself in as many ways possible 🙂

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine 

Spartan Race

 

 

Be All In: Key Points for Success

Some time has passed since my last blog entry, and much has happened in the land of ‘Orangezilla’. The loss of my maternal grandmother and coping with that consumed much of my heart and mind; then simultaneously handling affairs while My Champ was away in Sweden for the IFMA World Muay Thai Championships. I was both busy and preoccupied. My number one way to deal with adversity: I get to  WORK!!

Image (86)

The 2016 Coronation Triathlon took place this past Sunday, May 29th here in Edmonton, AB. I could not have asked for a better day! The weather conditions were perfect, and I was decently rested and fuelled to go. I had followed some carb loading guidelines My Champ had advised before he left, and I will say it totally worked! I had tons of energy to last the entire race, and zero crash. A family friend (an experienced triathlete) who was also taking part in the race had asked me if I had a goal in mind. I had told him based on my best training times, and estimating my transitions (from swimming, to biking, to running) I was hoping to finish around the 2 hour mark. He replied: “This is a tough course. And this being your first triathlon, if you finish in 2 hours, you won’t be making many friends!” He wasn’t trying to doubt me or be rude: he was simply preparing me for possibly falling short of my goal. I simply smiled and shrugged it off. He had never seen me train or race. He is also unaware of my competitive spirit. Instead of feeling discouraged by the comment, I thought to myself “just watch me.”

Image (84)

My sprint to the finish

As mentioned, I had loads of energy throughout the race. The discipline I feared most, the bike, turned out to be the easiest. I realized just how effective my training was as I passed other cyclists, uphill. For the run I had enough gas in the tank to sprint to the finish line, welcomed by the cheers of my family and friends as well as total strangers. I handed in my time chip, and instantly looked up my time (results were posted immediately). I finished the race at 1 hour, 51 minutes!!! Not only that, but I place 3rd in my age category! As I type this I smile because not only did I beat my goal, but I shocked other seasoned athletes- including my family friend. That particular ‘shock value’ is priceless 🙂

Now that I’ve had several days to reflect on the success of the past weekend, I’ve thought about how I go about approaching each and every challenge. When I put my mind to something I definitely have an ‘all in’ approach. These are the five key points (I have found) to achieving success, in any challenge/goal:

  1. Be VisualImage (78)

    A goal needs to have a timeline: write that date down. You can choose to keep this goal/date/event private in a journal or in your phone; or you can make it public by posting it on social media. Either way, once it’s out there you’re accountable. Week by week write down your training schedule, your meals, your measurements, etc. to keep track of your progress.

  2. Check your ego at the door

    Image (81)Realize that when encountering a new challenge, you won’t be highly skilled right off the bat. Believe me, this one is HARD for me! As long as you allow yourself sufficient time for improvement, you WILL get there. Everyone has to start somewhere. As cliche as that sounds, take it from the girl that could barely ride her road bike 2 months before her race!

  3. Surround yourself with those that are better than you

    This ties in with the point above: accept that you are a student of your craft, and prepare yourself to LEARN. Join training groups, enlist a coach, allow yourself to be a sponge from those who are more skilled or have more experience. I independently joined both swim and bike groups that both respectively had some very skilled athletes. It was scary, it was intimidating: but I learned so much from both. It was all the more rewarding watching myself improve in the midst of such talented company.

    Image (85)

    My friend and seasoned triathlete Carlene, post-race

  4. Don’t cut corners

    You know the saying ‘hard work pays off’? Well just like how all your hard work will be evident on race/event day, so will it if you half-assed your preparation. Leave nothing to chance. Train hard, practice perfect, take in the proper nutrition, and you will NOT be disappointed with the results.

  5. Know your ‘why’

    Image (79)Last but not least, I feel this is the most important point of all. Many of us will have moments where we stop and think ‘why am I doing this?’ And we’re right to do so. But the ‘why’ has to be good enough in order to keep going. My ‘why’ is almost always to prove something to myself. It never has to do with anyone else. Your why can be anything at all: just keep in mind that it should be something related to your self-love and respect in the end.

    Why be all in? Why be so intense? Why do anything at all, if you can’t give your best… That’s my question 😉

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

Image (59)

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

Image (61)

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

Image (60)

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.

Image (58)

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 😉

Image (54)

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 🙂

Shapely Shoulders Workout

*Photos courtesy of Taylor Oakes for BodyRock.tv

Although I was born with a wide frame, the round, solid and shapely shoulders you see in pictures were earned. When I began competing I hardly had any shoulder ‘caps’ to speak of. With each competition season I made it my mission to add size to this area. Through hard work and relentless high volume training, my delts (deltoid muscles) became a strength!

I know many women are scared to put on muscle, for fear that they will appear ‘bulky’. Here are the main benefits (in my opinion) of adding some size and shape to your shoulders:

Lindsay-Feb2015 (14 of 69)

  1. Looks great in a tank top/spaghetti straps/strapless dresses. Sure, it’s not tank top season (yet), but summer bodies are made in the winter! Now is the time to build and improve your physique so you can confidently rock those cute summer outfits and dresses in a few months time 😉
  2. Creates the illusion of a smaller waist. Instead of stuffing your organs into a waist trainer (right?!), why not control what you can make bigger? The wider your shoulders, the narrower your waist will appear. Again, a v-taper shape looks great in tank top/dress!
  3. You will appear (and actually be) stronger. Whenever I see someone (male/female) with round, solid shoulders I think ‘athlete’!! It helps bring up your posture- especially if you balance out the rear area of your delts. An aesthetically strong-looking appearance screams confidence. And with an improved appearance I’m willing to bet you WILL be more confident!

 

Listed below is one of my favorite shoulder workouts for hypertrophy (putting on size). Remember with high volume training, it’s better to have shorter rest periods (no more than 1 minute). This is an intermediate-style workout: feel free to comment below if you have any questions!

 

The Workout

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

*2 warm-up sets

4 sets of 15/12/10/10 reps

 

Upright Row on Smith

3 sets of 10/10/10

Superset with

Plate front raises

3 sets of 10/10/10

*maintain upright posture for both exercises; do not ‘bounce’ or rock while raising plate/weight to eye-level

 

Side laterals: Triple Dropset

3 sets of 10/10/10; 10/10/10; 10/10/10

*You will start with your MAX weight at 10 reps, then drop the weight to 5-7.5 lbs lighter than your max, and so on. Ex: 25 lbs (10 reps), then 20 lbs (10 reps), then 15 lbs (10 reps). Rest 1 min between each set.

 

Bent over cable side-laterals (rear delts)

4 sets of 15/12/10/10 (each arm)

*no resting after each arm: this will help increase the intensity, and each arm technically gets a rest as the other arm works

 

Reverse Pec/Dec Flye (FST-7)

7 sets of 10/10/10/10/10/10/10

*30 sec rest between each set; weight must either remain the same or increase for entire exercise; this is a great finishing-move to really hit those rears (posterior delts) 😉

 

Lindsay-Feb2015 (16 of 69)

 

My Top 3 Treadmill Workouts

When I say I love to run, that love is mostly reserved for outdoor running. However, based on gym workout schedules and the turbulent weather changes of living in Edmonton, AB (with a 5+ month winter season) I am often limited to running on the treadmill. Not quite as stimulating and scenic as the great outdoors.

My solution: interval training. I NEVER run steady state on the treadmill: talk about boring!! If I am to do steady state (meaning- the same consistent, low-intensity pace for the entire duration of the exercise) I will do an incline walk. Interval training on the treadmill has several benefits: 1) cures boredom; 2) burns more calories (especially post-training); and 3) will make you a stronger runner for your future outdoor runs!

These are my top 3 favorite treadmill workouts that I use in rotation. I like to change things up constantly in order to keep my body guessing, and I invite you to do the same! You can tweak the speeds/inclines based on your current fitness level, but do CHALLENGE yourself 😉

Enjoy!!

 

Interval Pyramid

Run time: approx 40-45 mins

*warm up 4-5 mins at 4.0 mph (no incline)

Increase incline to 1.0%

1 min at 4.0 mph

1 min at 7.0 mph

1 min at 9.0 mph

x 10 rounds each

Cool down 4 mins at 4.0 mph (no incline)

Incline Conditioning

Run time: approx 35-40 mins

*warm up 4 mins at 4.0 mph (no incline)

30 sec at 8.0% incline at 9.0 mph

30 sec at 15.0% incline at 4.0 mph

1 min at 0% incline at 6.0 mph

x 10 rounds each

Cool down 4 mins at 4.0 mph (no incline)

 

Build and Burn

Run time: approx 35-40 mins

*warm up 4 mins at 4.0 mph

2 mins at 6.0 mph

1 min at 8.0 mph

2 mins at 6.0 mph

1 min at 9.0 mph

2 mins at 6.0 mph

1 min at 10.0 mph

2 mins at 6.0 mph

*repeat sequence x2

TABATA SPRINTS

8 rounds of:

20 sec at 9.0 mph

10 sec off (hop off treadmill)

Cool down 4 mins at 4.0 mph

 

What Inspires Me

I don’t aspire to be like anyone else. I am motivated and inspired to be a better version of myself each and every day. In my career I am a witness to just how resilient and adaptable the human body is. I experience this first hand with my training. The greatest disservice you could ever do is to not even try. Surprising myself with physical challenges is my greatest addiction.

Out of all the questions I get asked, the most frequent one has to be “how do you stay so motivated?” This is of course referring to my motivation for fitness.

For those of you just getting to know me, I work as a pediatric registered nurse in 3 different departments: a floor nurse on a pediatric surgical unit where 12-hour shifts are required; a clinic nurse in pediatric outpatients, providing IV therapy to children with chronic conditions; and as a bed manager, working as a liaison placing patients triaged from emergency, as well as ensuring patients from the operating room, and out of region are placed to the appropriate units of care within the hospital. All 3 hats I wear in my nursing career keep me busy, and all 3 are a lot of responsibility. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

For the 5 years I competed in fitness, I maintained a position on the pediatric surgical unit. I worked 12-hour day and night shifts, and managed to fit in all my weight training and cardio sessions while following my diet immaculately. It was very challenging to say the least, but I was so incredibly passionate about both that it was a labor of love. As each season came and went, regardless of how I placed I had a great deal of pride in that I was able to pull off my absolute best each and every show.

Image (7)

Putting in some hours Christmas Eve 2015

So when people ask “how do you stay so motivated”- I almost always relate it to my line of work. Working in pediatrics is the single most rewarding thing I have done with my life. I have seen children and families face great hardships, and yet still find several reasons to smile within their day. I have seen some horrific incidences turn into miraculous recoveries. I have spent Christmases, birthdays, witnessed first words, held hands, laughed, and cried with these brave little soldiers. I don’t think people give children enough credit: they are strong, resilient, powerful beings that we can all learn from. I have performed painful procedures on patients that would ruin the average adults’ day; but instead the child (patient) then proceeds to play Xbox with their sibling. That’s TOUGH. Each and every shift, no matter how difficult- I always leave work feeling both amazed and inspired.

These stories, these experiences not only inspire me to push each and every day- they remind me just how grateful I am for my health. I have an able, fully functioning, working body and mind. Many of these kids don’t get to have both. I have some of my best workouts following a 12-hour shift because I know if any one of those patients I had that day could, they would kill it too. There’s the odd time I will think driving to the gym “I don’t know if I’ve got it in me today” and then I snap out of it saying “you have today. You don’t know about tomorrow. You only know for certain you have today.” Sounds hokey- but it works every time. Just move: because you can.

 

 

 

Muscle Confusion Workout: Back and Hamstrings

Ever since I hung up my figure competition heels, I have put a ton of emphasis on variety in my training. I added circuit/body-weight workouts into my regime about once a week, and every so often I will participate in something different like a Muay Thai class to shock my system. I still aim to strength train at least 4 times a week in the gym because well, I love it.

Here’s a little insight as to what it’s like to train with me in the weight room: first, clear your schedule. It’s going to be a while. Unless it’s some sort of cardio circuit (which I will be sharing many of on this site), I actually don’t know how to train ‘quickly’. I’m addicted to volume. I like knowing that I am going to be completely spent at the end of my workout; that I’ve pushed myself to the absolute brink.

I have had many people offer to train with me and no offense, I know most of you would hate it. I brush off many of the “oh we should totally train together sometime!” I am 90% business, 10% girl-next-door. I am somewhat chatty-jokey in between sets as I like to keep the mood light. I reserve all the intensity for the set at hand. I often train with higher reps than most, but that’s because my intent is to go to failure- with as many repetitions I can possibly execute with proper form intact. I have been told many times that I have ‘resting-bitch-face’ at the gym, and I’m at peace with that. I’d rather be known as the intense, hard-working chick than the flaky, 10 lbs of makeup, texting-on-her-phone the whole time, walking on the treadmill slower than I walk to the fridge kinda girl. Oh and I do take gym selfies, but only pre or post workout… timing is everything 😉

This is an example of what I call a ‘muscle confusion’ workout: super-setting two muscle groups that have nothing to do with each other. For those of you that don’t know: a ‘superset’ is performing 2 different exercises back to back as one set. It’s a super efficient way to cover two major muscle groups and burn a ton more calories than a typical workout. You could also categorize this as a ‘pull’ workout since although you are training upper/lower body simultaneously, both muscle groups involve a pulling motion. It is lengthy, but the less you rest in between supersets the quicker it will be, and the more you will get out of it.

And here it is… Give it a try 😉

1534494_10152275474320709_1237328333_n

 

Back and Hamstrings

superset (x 5 sets including warm-up)

  1. Straight-legged deadlifts x 15 reps
  2. Straight bar pull-ups (bodyweight- to failure)

superset (x 3 sets)

  1. Reverse lunges on Smith Machine x 15/leg
  2. Reverse grip bent over rows (on Smith) x 15

superset (x 3 sets)

  1. Sumo squat (Using T-bar: stand facing T-bar, holding bar between legs) x 15
  2.  T-bar rows x 15

superset (x 3 sets)

  1. Cable side lunges x 15/leg
  2. Cable straight arm pull-downs x 15

superset (x 3 sets)

  1. Single leg lying curls on balance ball x 15
  2. Reverse hyperextensions on balance ball x15
*Cardio= 35-40 mins