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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

Why I Never Want to be Like You

The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that.”- Arnold Schwarzenegger

While some might dispute me choosing to quote Arnold, fan or not, the man has done some great things in his lifetime. I use Mr. Schwarzenegger as an example because his rise to fame all stemmed from what was once an unusual anomaly: bodybuilding. It’s hard to believe now, as in recent times muscle is very much ‘in’ and desired. But back in Arnold’s heyday, it wasn’t so. It was considered freakish and strange: why would anyone want to look like that? Confident in his pursuit to be the best in the world at his craft, he did just that: and went on to succeed in many other storied achievements. He is now one of the most successful and powerful celebrities on the planet.

Many of the role models I look up to have at least one of two things in common: they overcame some type of adversity, and/or chose a road less traveled to attain success. There is no such thing as the ‘perfect journey’. In fact I find the more difficult the pursuit, the more inspiring the story.

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When I began competing in fitness, my start was not easy. Many people thought it was a strange choice of sport: hardly anyone was doing it. My coworkers would vocally accuse me of not eating enough, and exercising too much: even calling me obsessed, which I was. My mother was concerned that I was going to morph into this bodybuilder and render myself beyond recognition. It was hard for her to accept me not eating the same things at family dinners. I did lose a few friendships along the way, but also gained many others. As each season went by, I continued to get better and better, and my hard work was paying off. Others started to notice this wasn’t some onetime ‘fad’ I was partaking in: I was genuinely passionate about this lifestyle. I BELIEVED in it. Fast forward 7 years later, fitness competitions are everywhere! I’m sure everyone reading this can list 3 people they know competing in some type of bodybuilding category. It’s amazing to see. The sport has become ‘mainstream’!

Competing all those years has brought me many opportunities; and the opportunities continue to present themselves. Even though I have hung up my clear platform heels, I am still very much living the fit life. That will never stop. I am so passionate about living and sharing this lifestyle that I created this very site you are on. So what is my point? There is something to be said for being true to yourself. Be unique. If there is something out there you want to do and can’t stop thinking about it: DO IT. There will always be naysayers. Even some of the closest people to you will question your decisions. You need to take a stand. Follow your instincts. Work hard on your craft and prove what you already know to be true. The more you stick to your guns and stay true to your goals and your plan, others will start to notice. They will start to see different. People are afraid of what they do not understand. It only needs to make sense to YOU. And who knows, maybe one day those very same people that questioned your aspirations will be telling others how they know you… 😉

 

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Know When It’s Time to Walk Away

“…after a while you learn that even the sunshine burns if you get too much.” – Veronica A. Shoffstall, After a while

July 5th, 2014: my last figure competition. My hometown of Edmonton, Alberta was the host city of the CBBF Figure Nationals (an IFBB pro card qualifier) and I could not be more pumped to be on stage in front of so many familiar faces. This would be my 9th show in 5 years, and my 5th national-level competition. With all the excitement and expectations leading up to it, I had no idea it would be my last.

It had been a difficult prep, as I had developed bronchitis about 7 weeks out forcing me to put everything to a halt for several days. Nevertheless I pulled through, and was coming in my best condition to date. I had never been so lean; I had never felt so calm; I never felt more confident in all my life. Even with hiccups like my suit being denied at height-ins, I was totally unfazed. I didn’t care if they wanted me in a garbage bag: I knew my physique was 100% my very best.

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My girlfriend and fellow competitor Paije and I on our way to prejudging

The day of the competition I was as calm as pond water. The entire day I was so chill. I knew it was going to be a very long day, with 400+ competitors registered, it was the largest national show the CBBF had ever seen (at that point). I laid up backstage for 8 some- odd hours before going on stage for prejudging, still totally unfazed. My coach said I had done well- the one critique was to get another layer of spray tan before the night show as I looked a lot lighter next to the other girls. Because I don’t tan my skin with sun/sun beds (for health reasons) I have a trickier time achieving that desired competition-dark look. I took my coach’s advice, and was ready to rock the night show.

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Showcasing my front post at the night show

The night show is where they announce how the judges placed the athletes from prejudging: the awards ceremony, if you will. I felt the expectations on me were pretty high: I had placed 3rd in 2011; 2nd in 2012; and 2nd in 2013. So naturally, one would feel since they are coming in as their best ever, first place would be the next step. I did not feel this was a cocky or arrogant way to be- I EARNED this belief. I worked myself (literally) to the bone for this. They had me up on stage in the night show as one of the top 5. Then they called the top 3. My name wasn’t called. You know how on sitcoms when unexpected moments occur, they play that record-scratch sound?? Well that’s what I’d heard in my head. I actually felt like I heard dead silence after that. I heard nothing. I kept smiling (though in hindsight it was probably the fakest smile ever) and walked off stage. Some of my close friends who were also competing then saw me, shocked. I said nothing. I knew, as hot-tempered as I can be, I needed to say absolutely nothing until I saw my family. And actually, that’s all I do remember saying- over and over: “I just need to find my family.”

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My brother, my Mom, Me, and my Dad- the dinner the day after my last show: July 6th, 2014

I have competed all over Canada, and my family has been there for each and every show. Toronto, Saskatoon, Vancouver (twice)- they were there. This is rare in the bodybuilding world. I am aware I had tremendous support as a fitness competitor- in a sport where many family and friends do not understand (or want to). My heart instantly went to them. It was 12:50 am when I got off stage. I know, because I remember looking at my phone. Once I finally found all of them, seeing their tired, weary, forced smiles on their faces- I said ENOUGH. I sank inside. My coach was there too- and gave me the advice to just take a break, to “reset” I believe he said, and just enjoy life for a little bit.

And so I did. I vowed I would take at least a whole year off from competing and then see how I feel. In that time I did some deep soul-searching. Was competing actually making me happy, or was it just about having a goal? It was becoming apparent after the last few shows I had always had this ’empty’ feeling post-show. I was actually my happiest just training, preparing for something. The sport of figure was also beginning to change. The girls were getting bigger, harder, almost (forgive me) harsher looking- the ones that were placing high. To each their own, I did not want to have to resort to this type of look just to win a trophy. After much introspection, I knew this was no long my path.

About mid-way through my fitness career I often got asked: “how long do you plan on doing this for?” I would always answer “until I stop enjoying it.” And that’s exactly what happened. Each season I was becoming more and more consumed with how I would place, and I was no longer enjoying the process. If I didn’t get the placing/outcome I wanted, I would go through a period of private bitterness and self-pity before picking myself up and thinking about the next show. It was a perpetual cycle. And although I’m flattered that others see me as this fitness competitor, I wanted to show so badly that I am so much more.

Fast-forward to present day 2016 and I am now at peace with my transition. My boyfriend is a top-ranked Muay Thai fighter, and I love that the spotlight gets to be on him. We bought a house last May, and I am so proud to be a homeowner. I am now preparing for a full Olympic-distance Triathlon May 29th, and the new training I have to implement is new, exciting, and challenging! It truly brings out my inner athlete.

Don’t ever let something define you. I say this because I believe each and every person should be so much more than one thing. If you’re following your passion and your dream, and it fulfills your life and your soul- hell yes, keep going! But consider the ‘why’- why are you doing it. If you can’t think of the answer, and you’re just plugging away and going through the motions- that is NOT joy.  So what IS your why? Give it some thought. Learn, grow, and know when it’s time to move on.

 

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.

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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.