Sunday, October 6, 2013

I Called Uncle

"There is a difference between giving up and knowing when you've had enough."

I've had blogger sitting open on my laptop most of the day knowing there was blog post inside of me that I wanted to write, but not knowing where to begin.  Then I saw the above quote on Pinterest tonight and suddenly the words began to flow.  

I started this blog a little over three years ago and the entire time my focus has been on weight loss.  I talked about health and exercise often, but let's be honest.  From day one my objective has been to be a smaller person, to take up less space.  

Throughout these three years I've watched my weight bounce up and down several times.  Each time it bounced back up I would vow to "get back on the wagon" and this time I'd make it stick.  The whole time convincing myself I wasn't dieting.  I was changing my lifestyle.  Funny, though how every time life threw curveballs at me, the lifestyle change didn't stick.  When things got tough, all bets were off.  Doesn't sound like much of a lifestyle change does it?  

At what point in time did our society decide that if you weren't on a diet you were clearly a glutton and must be bingeing all day long?  Why does there need to be a wagon upon which we need to climb?  Why do we have to label everything?  Why have we, as a society, become so afraid of being entrusted with making our own choices?  

I remember when my oldest son was a baby and we were entertaining guests for dinner.  This couple had a toddler and she was being picky about what I was serving.  The other mom looked at me said "worry about your child's nutrition over the course of the week, not on a daily basis.  Otherwise you'll drive yourself insane."  That made so much sense to me and I've clung to those words, as they pertain to my children, for over a decade.  Why, then, could I not apply them to myself?  Why could I see moderation as the best course for my kids, but needed black & white rules for myself?  

I called 'uncle'.  I didn't give up.  I'm declared enough.  I eat dairy.  I eat gluten.  I eat meat.  I eat fat.  I eat vegetables.  I eat fruit.  I eat ice cream.  I eat rice.  I move my body.  I lift weights.  I go for walks.  I run with my children.  I do it all.  I eat it all.  These are habits I can sustain for my entire life.  There are no rules.  There is joy.  There is happiness.  There is health.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Year (+ some) later.....

**Warning!  This post went in a completely different direction than I'd originally planned.  I just started writing and let the words come out.  My apologies if it seems a little disjoined**

July 2012 ~ 202.5#
I posted this pic a little over a year ago.  I wrote this blog post to along with it and decided it was time I updated what's been going on since.

After that blog post, I just kept going on about my business.  I had done reasonably well in the diet challenge at our box the previous Spring, but just couldn't seem to get "back on the Paleo/Zone wagon"  I started to feel like a failure and was continuously beating myself up mentally because the scale was no longer moving in the right direction.

October 2012 ~ 195#

What I hadn't realized at the time was that a lot of physical symptoms I was experiencing were a direct result of that diet I was trying so desperately to get back to.  My hair was coming out in clumps every time I showered.  My nails were brittle, I was skipping periods and I had to take a 2 hour nap almost every day.  These are all classic symptoms of starvation.  My "bingeing" was my body trying to preserve itself.  Around this same time, all of my lifts and performance progression stalled out.  I got very frustrated and was tempted to throw in the towel.

Instead, I swung in the other direction and decided to double up on my workouts while easing up a little on my diet standards.  I ended up sick and overwhelmed.


Feb 2013 ~ 198#


After the holidays, and once I was healthy again, I threw myself back into the workouts and tried one more time to get back onto "The Zone" wagon.  I lasted less than a week and then couldn't stop bingeing.  I realized this wasn't healthy or normal behavior and decided that day to swear off all diets.  FOREVER.  It was also around that time that I joined the "Eating the Food" group on Facebook.  This group, I honestly believe, saved my sanity.  They assured me that there wasn't something wrong with ME, there was something wrong with the diet industry.  The binge/restrict/binge/restrict cycle is rampant throughout our society and all it manages to do is fuck up people's self image & metabolism.  Eating enough food to support your activity (the biggest issue I had with The Zone ~ 1300 - 1500 calories) while not unnecessarily restricting foods.  Now, by unnecessarily, that doesn't mean all foods are created equal.  We know that's not the case.  There are certainly some calories that contain more nutrients than others.  It simply means eat food that makes you feel good and supports your current goals.  Sometimes my goals are building strength.  Sometimes my goals are fueling an endurance workout, and sometimes my goals are simply to gain pleasure from what I'm eating at the moment.  Learning that I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want has been the most liberating lesson I've learned in my entire life.  I no longer fear food.  I no longer label food as "good" or "bad".  And I no longer binge on food.  Funny how that works, huh?

March 2013 ~ 205#
As I was finding food freedom, I continued to Crossfit about 3-4x per week and started to get myself mentally geared up for the The Open.  That was absolutely the most exhilarating six weeks of my Crossfit experience, to date.  I blew myself away with my performance.  Sure, I still had a ton of room for improvement, but considering less than a year prior I was still spinning my wheels trying to become a runner/step aerobic queen, I couldn't believe what I was able to accomplish.  That lit a fire under me and since I was no longer obsessing about food, I was able to throw my entire mind, body, and soul into performance gains.  I had a plan and I couldn't wait to implement it.

Turns out I bit off a little more than I could chew with that plan.  It looks great on paper, but I seemed to forget that I was a mom with other responsibilities.  Damn.  So, the frustration continued.  I struggled to get all the planned workouts in, and cherry picked the WODs at the box because I wanted to lift heavy and only lift heavy.  I didn't exactly understand hypertrophy at that point and I thought lifting heavy weights for 1-5 reps was the way to get HAYOOGE.  Turns out that's the way to get strong, but not huge.  Slightly lighter weight in the 8-12 rep range is what I should have been focusing on.

April 2013 ~ 205#
I kept doing the Crossfit thing and trying to come up with a plan to get the results I wanted, while noticing a slight twinge in my elbow from time to time while doing laundry, putting dishes away, etc. I just grabbed the lacrosse ball & kept rolling out my arm and ignoring the issue.

Once summer started and (I thought) my schedule opened up a bit, I decided to start really focusing on strength and committed to working on the Strong Lifts 5x5 routine while still going to the occasional met con.

That lasted two weeks and my elbow pain migrated up to intense shoulder pain & discomfort.  Add in a few unforseen life circumstances and unplanned trip out of town and my summer basically turned into one big "deload".  My workouts for the last three months have been sporadic, at best.

June 2013 ~ 210#

I'm still dealing with some shoulder issues, but it's getting better and my plan is to get back in the gym, doing the regular Crossfit programming on M/W/F and work on the Couch to 5K program with my son, who is working on his endurance to help with soccer, on T/Th and to take Sat & Sun as rest days.  We'll see how that goes.  One thing I've learned in the past year is that plans can look great on paper, but fitness and health is a journey, not an end point.  Being flexible and maintaining an active lifestyle is way more important to me than making sure I get xxx number of specific workouts in each week.

There were a few times over this last year that I considered giving up my Crossfit membership.  I love the workouts and I really really love the community, and if truth be told, THAT'S what's kept me coming back.  The main frustration I have is that relying on someone else's programming was sometimes in conflict with my personal, specific goals.  There were some days that I "needed" a heavy, low rep workout and a longer, lighter weight, high rep WOD was programmed.  I had to reconsider my priorities.  I'm still sorting through this, but I'm realizing that one of the things I love about Crossfit is that someone else does do the programming for me.  As I stated above, I'm a busy mom with a lot of responsibilities and right now I do not have the time to research and write my own programming.  There is no absolute perfect program out there, at least not one that I've found yet.  Kitsap Crossfit is the closest thing I've found to perfect, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

Aug 2013 ~ 217#
So, this is me today.  I'm almost 25 pounds heavier than the lowest I saw over the last 12 months (I saw 191 once, but stabilized at about 193 for several weeks last fall), but I'm still wearing the same clothes and am approximately the same size.  The scale doesn't matter and I've broken the habit of weighing myself daily.  In fact, I weighed myself this morning just so I could write this post.  It'd been over a month since I stepped on the scale and I don't have any plans to do so again anytime in the near future.

I'm just looking forward to seeing what the next 12 months bring.....

Monday, April 22, 2013

Stepping Up the Awesome ~ Week 2

I gotta say, I don't feel as awesome this week as I did last.  I'm not freaked by it, though.  It's just another step in my road to Awesome.  I'm getting back into the swing of things now that my husband's vacation is over and juggling the kids alone is getting more and more complicated as they get older.  What?!  You BOTH want to play soccer?  Geesh!

I didn't get all of my workouts in this week, but I did ok:
Monday: Deadlift 5x5 (got up to 213#) followed by met con
Tuesday: rest day (life happened)
Wednesday:  Bear Complex (63#) 5x7
Thursday: Rest Day
Friday: Shoulder Pres 3x1, Push Press 3x3, Push Jerk 3x5
Saturday: Fundraiser WOD
Sunday: Rest Day

I continued with approx 2500-3000 calories per day (I didn't count every single day) and my weight continued to stay about the same (a slight gain towards the end of the week, but it's also time for my monthly cycle, so I'm not sure).

Monday, April 15, 2013

Stepping Up the Awesome ~ Week One

Week one of "Stepping Up the Awesome" is officially in the books, and I'm excited about going full steam ahead for week two.

I ate between 2500-3000 calories per day (some days I just couldn't get them all in).  It was mostly whole foods:  meat, veggies, fruit, rice, oatmeal, cheese, milk, and Haagen Dazs.  My weight is essentially the same ~ a 3/10 of a pound difference, but let's be honest.  That's probably just poo!

Monday ~ Tabata + heavy squats
Tuesday ~ Olympic Lifting class
Wednesday ~ heavy overhead squats + muscle up skill work
Thursday ~ rest
Friday ~ Heavy Metcon (cleans, front squats, pistol squats & hand stand pushups)
Saturday ~ rest
Sunday ~ rest

I know it's early in the experiment, and it's quite possibly all psychosomatic, but I swear I'm noticing my muscles are a little more visible in my arms and shoulders.

My plans for this coming week are to do one or two short and fast met con (depending on the programming at my gym), continue with heavy lifts several times over the week and keep up with the calorie intake....and ice cream.  Of course there will be ice cream!


Friday, April 5, 2013

The End of the Open, the Beginning of the New Awesome

....and just like that, with 15 Thrusters and about 10 "you're sssoooo close" chest to bar pull ups (story of my life recently, BTW), my very first Crossfit Open has come to an end.  I have to say, it has been one wild ride.  I had no idea what to expect when I signed up.  I went in with an open mind and just wanted to see what I could do.  Well, I did way more than I ever imagined.  I exceeded my goals (blew them away, actually) for the first three WODs.  13.4 threatened to derail me, mentally, but I rallied back and pushed through 13.5 and I have to say, overall, I'm extremely pleased with my performance, and I learned a lot about myself in these 5 weeks.  I learned that the depths of my determination go further than I ever realized; I learned how to push past the pain and just keep going.  Just. Keep. Going.  Believe it or not, I've never done that.

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have read my recent status about how I've basically ridden my natural athletic talent my entire life.  I've never put much effort into it and I was still mostly successful.  I'm ready for that to be over.  I'm ready to not just "do Crossfit".  I'm ready to train.

While I accomplished more than I could have imagined during the Open, it also shined a glaring spotlight on where my weaknesses are.  I've come a long way, but I still have a long road ahead of me. It's GO TIME, baby! new plan to "Step Up the Awesome"

Are you familiar with the Lift Big Eat Big crew?  No?  You should be.  I don't believe in comparing myself to other women, but boy hardy have I got a serious girl crush on Streaky.  She's amazing.  Ah-mazing.

(Photos used with permission)

I want to be Streaky when I grow up.  Which is funny, because I'm like a decade older than she is, but whatever.  What I love about Streaky is not her appearance (which, BTW, is smokin') but it's her story. It's a story we've all heard so many times before.  It's a story a lot of us have lived.  She was over weight, unhealthy, and spinning her wheels on the treadmill.  But instead of restricting her calories to a level that barely supports basic metabolic function, she went the opposite way ~ she started eating food.  A lot of food.  And lifting weights.  A lot of weights.  BOOM.

I'm finished with restricting calories.  According to this calculator,  1500 calories (I'm looking at you Zone Diet) isn't even enough to keep my body from cannibalizing itself if I were in a coma (BMR), much less enough to fuel life and my regular old workouts.  I'm done.  From here on out, Jess is EATING THE FOOD.  

Lift Big Eat Big, quite handily, recently wrote an article about how to get big while also doing Crossfit. Hello serendipity

And this brings us to "Stepping Up the Awesome".  

Running Drills & Sprints 1x/week
Lifting Big & Skill Work 2-3x/week
Regular Met Cons 3-4x/week 
Full Rest Days 2x/week

Lots and lots of food.  Real food.  Whole food.  Even some starch and grains (gasp).  

I'll maintain this schedule until the end of May, at which point my regular life schedule will change due to summer break.  I'll take a few days at that point to rest & deload and make any needed adjustments to my training or schedule.  

I plan to weigh and measure myself on Monday and then not again until the end of May, but I'll come back here every weekend and let you know how the week went and my plans for the following week.  

Stepping Up the Awesome in 3...2...1...GO!!!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I can, and have, gained weight on a Paleo Diet

I mentioned on Facebook today that pretty much everyone that's told me "you don't have to count calories, as long as you eat the 'right' foods" has never battled a weight problem.  I seem to have touched a nerve.  It was a simple observation.  

The trendy thing in fitness & health these days seems to be that as long as you are eating whole, unprocessed foods, you don't need to count calories.  May God have mercy on your soul if you pop up on a Paleo or Vegan or Clean Eating forum and mention the "c" (calories) word.  You'll be drug to the town center, hung up by your toenails, and left to be ridiculed for all eternity.  Trust me.  I know.  

"Not all calories are created equally."  I hate that saying.  A calorie is a unit of measurement, like a mile.  Saying not all calories are the same is like saying not all miles are the same.  Now, not all miles will lead us to our destination, just like not all calories will get us closer to our ultimate goal of health.  Certainly, some calories offer more nutrition than others, but a mile is still a mile.  And a calorie is still a calorie.  

Calories count.  It is physiologically impossible to gain weight while eating in a caloric deficit and it is physiologically impossible to lose weight while eating in a caloric surplus.  It's simple physics.  The idea behind this new theory of 'calories don't matter' is that by eating whole, unprocessed foods it's impossible to actually eat in a caloric surplus.  That sounds great, if we lived in a perfect world.  We don't.  We live in an unhealthy, obese, metabolically dysfunctional world.  Most people that need to lose a significant amount of weight are no longer in touch with their satiety and fullness cues.  It is absolutely possible for a lot of people to over eat, regardless of what types of foods they're eating.  

I can, and have, over eaten carrots.  I can, and have, over eaten almond butter.  I can, and have, over eaten grass fed steak.  I can, and have, gained weight on a Paleo Diet.

This is not to say that I think everyone will have my same experience.  That would be absolutely arrogant and short sighted of me.   It's simply to say that someone that hasn't dealt with my issues doesn't have the insight to tell me that I don't need to count calories.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Eats for Today

I've been following Allisa's blog over at A Journey to Thin for about three years now.  She's hit a few bumps in the road recently, but she always has such a positive attitude, it's impossible to not be inspired by her daily.  She often blogs photos of her food and she's recently decided to try to clean up her food choices.  In an effort to support her, I decided to blog my food choices for today as well :)  Here we go!

I start every morning with coffee and my beloved creamer.  This morning I had two tablespoons.  Ingredients listed.

 Breakfast was 1/3 of a large sweet potato with two slices of bacon, one sausage link, one fried egg and a glass of whole, raw milk.  (sausage & bacon ingredients listed).  The sausage listed is for pork sausage (it was a photo I had in my files already), but this morning I actually ate chicken & apple sausage.  Ingredients are nearly identical.

 Post workout shake and lunch!  Lunch is often my biggest meal of the day.  It certainly was today, but ironically it was my lowest calorie meal.  Go figure!  My post workout shake is one scoop of Jay Robb Whey Protein and 8 oz of Zico  Chocolate Coconut Water.  Mmmm.....

Lunch was 4oz of brisket prepared by our local grocery store, 1 cup of spring mix salad greens, three strawberries, 1/2 cup of Bubbie's Sauerkraut, 2 oz sweet & sour pickles, 1/2 an apple, 1 tsp homemade almond butter and a tablespoon of carmelized coconut flakes.  (I use this recipe and it is DA BOMB!)

  Dinner was pretty simple tonight.  One grilled chicken thigh, 1 tablespoon of BBQ sauce (forgot to take a pic of the ingredients, but it's sweetened with molasses and no added sugar!), 3/8 cup of applesauce and 1 cup raw, whole milk.

I needed some extra protein and some more calories tonight so I had a slice of Tillamook cheese, some shrimp and 1/2 tablespoon of cocktail sauce. I also had a Fage 2% with strawberries  yogurt cup with 1 tsp of homemade almond butter, but I forgot to take a picture.  OOPS!

I try to aim for 2,000 - 2,400 calories per day.  Today I was a little shy of that goal.  I don't like being under too many days in a row, as then my workouts begin to suffer and my weight loss actually slows down.

So, there you have it.  My eats for the day....blogger is being moody so I have no idea how this post is actually going to look once I click on "publish" :-)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Getting into The Zone

I'm pretty sure I've used that picture at least eleventy million times on this blog now.  What can I seems to fit my entire way of thinking.

When I first started Crossfit, everything about it was waaayyy outside of my comfort zone.  But you know what?  The cool thing about comfort zones is that if you push yourself outside of yours often enough, you find that the scary stuff becomes your NEW comfort zone.  Then you get to push yourself further.  Isn't that awesomesauce?

So, I'm not saying that Crossfit has become "comfortable".  Nope, I'm still gasping for breath and begging for mercy at the end of every WOD, but the idea of Crossfit and the fact that I'm an active person is my new comfortable.

I had a pretty solid grasp of nutrition before I started Crossfit.  I didn't always eat the way I knew I should, but I'd done enough research to know what was up......putting it into consistent practice, though, well that didn't happen until the Spring Challenge last year.  You give me a competition and it seems I can do anything!  I'm competitive like that!  After the challenge was over, I kept an eye on my macro ratios, but I wasn't being nearly as strict.  Eating this way has become my new comfort zone, and my weight loss has pretty much stagnated....since about September.  My BF% is still creeping downward and my inches are slloooowwwllly going in the same direction, but I think it's time I step it up a notch.  I've got the quality of food nailed down.  But it seems the quantity of food I need is changing.  Time to start playing around again....

.....which means I'm considering going back to doing The Zone for the month of Feb.  I've made it clear on more than one occasion that I really don't like "diets" and I don't believe in food rules.  I also know that The Zone is simply not a sustainable way for me to live long term.  I've gone back and forth about how to jump start my weight loss again and I keep coming back to what worked last Spring.  I'm ready to step back out of my comfort zone.

Even though I've been maintaining my loss since September, I've increased my muscle mass and strength quite a bit while seeing NOTHING on the scale. my mind, I'm sort of likening it to a 'cutting and bulking' cycle in the body building world.

I've decided that while I don't necessarily enjoy The Zone and I don't believe its sustainable forever, it's a good tool for me to use temporarily to jump start fat loss again.

So, while I don't expect to see many PRs over the next four weeks, I do expect to fit into that pile of jeans I have waiting for me in my closet.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Strong People Are Harder To Kill

That Mark Ripptoe's a smart dude......

This afternoon my son's cub scout den was at a local park working on their athletic badge.  They were running 50 meter dashes, doing sit ups, push ups, etc.....Then we all walked over to the pull up bars.  All three boys hoisted themselves up to the bar and not a one of them could get their chins above it.  I was aching to try.

Let me back up a bit.  I've had a secret little goal in the back of my head ever since I started Crossfit.  I haven't mentioned it to anyone.  I wanted to be 'that mom'.  You know, the one that's fit enough that while the kids are all running around the park and the moms are all eating salad, can get up and just do a random pull up on the play ground equipment.  Yep....I wanna be her.

Ok, back to this afternoon.  I recently got my first pull ups at the gym.  I knew I wasn't warmed up and I knew my hands were so cold they were numb, but I wanted to see how close I could get.  I jumped up on the bar and immediately noticed it was a lot bigger around than the one I'm used to.  I started my kip.  One Kip.  Two Kip.  Three Kip and Puuuu.........UH OH.  Suddenly I was free falling.  My hands were no longer in contact with the bar and them BAM.  I landed on the hard, cold ground.  Tail bone first, followed immediately by the rest of my back and my head.

My son and the leader's son (another Crossfit family) immediately ran to my side and started screaming and asking if I was ok.  They were pulling at my arms; they were trying to pull me to my feet.  I yelled for them to let go and then I quickly took inventory.  I could feel my legs, my back was in one piece, and my head seemed to land on a pillow(?).

Apparently the knot I had my hair tied in took the brunt of my head trauma.  Phew.  I've already had one Traumatic Brain Injury.  I certainly don't need another one!

I got myself upright again and the boys moved on and finished their test.  We all went out for coffee and to discuss a few of their other badges and then my boys and I went to run some errands.  After sitting at the coffee house and then the 20 minute drive to Trader Joe's, I was in tears getting out of my car.  My oldest son became convinced I was dying and that we should go immediately to the ER.  Dr Google confirmed what I already knew ~ a bruised tail bone caused by acute injury.  Yup.

Hauling firewood into the house actually helped loosen me up.  I've taken some ibuprofen and now it's just a wait and see game.  I have to admit, I was a little nervous when I went to pee.  It crossed my mind for a brief second that maybe I decimated one of my kidneys and I'd pee nothing but blood.  Nope.  Phew.  Dodged a bullet there.

The fact is, I made a stupid mistake and I'm paying for it now.....but it occurred to me tonight that if I hadn't spent the last year Crossfitting, today's fall could have gone very differently.  This is not to say it would have killed me, but in that split second that I felt myself free falling, instinctively I activated all of my muscles, and they responded.  They did their job.  The muscles of my back protected my spine.  Later in the evening, when I was hauling firewood and tucking the boys into bed, I was able to bend down using my legs, instead of my back, and move around relatively pain free.

This last year has been about so much more than losing weight and learning how to do pull ups and push ups.  It's taught me how to move my body.  It's taught me how to let my body function as it's supposed to.  It's given me the confidence needed to realize that even though I'm in excruciating pain, I can handle it.  It's also given me the knowledge to know that taking some time to let your body heal can be just as beneficial as pushing yourself through that last, miserable rep.

And with that.....I'm going to bed.  And I may have to miss tomorrow's WOD.