Emily Alvers

Day 21- Final Day!!!

Today is one of bitter sweetness for me. It’s the end of my 21 Day CrossFit Paleo Eating Challenge. Unbelievable how fast it flew by! Looking back, the entire experience far exceeded my expectations. Really, my only hope was to broaden my horizons. I can’t think of a single day I didn’t learn something new on this adventure. The workouts were completely different, and although I wouldn’t say I’ve become a CrossFit expert by any means, I did get a pretty good taste of what it’s all about. I’ve managed to throw a few new tools into my toolbox as a trainer and fitness expert, and I will be using them for sure!

I thought it would be fitting to celebrate my last day on this challenge by doing Velvet Daggers first thing this morning.

Today’s WOD:
Velvet Daggers 400 m (These are walking lunges for 400 m without stopping).
My time was 20:12. Great workout, but going to add weights next time or wear a 12 lb. weighted vest for more intensity. I could have gone longer on this one. Making a mental note and going to ramp it up next time.

And so the burning question I’ve been asked the most throughout this is, “Will you stick with the Paleo Eating?” Even though I already ate clean prior to this, Paleo Eating presented a whole other level of what clean eating can be about. I had to find substitutions for some of my usual favorites, and in many cases, just had to suck it up and deal with not having access to foods that are staples in my diet. Giving up oats, sweet potatoes, whole wheat tortillas, and salt was tough!

The scientific research supporting the positive benefits of Paleo Eating are evident. I don’t refute it, and I don’t think any of us would disagree that much of the disease and suffering we see in modern times are caused by poor diet. The more we can cut out processed and chemical laden foods and replace them with whole unadulterated foods the better. However, I personally feel that there are many beneficial foods available to us in modern times, which just weren’t around during Paleolithic times. For every research paper written on the benefits of a gluten-free, dairy-free, or otherwise Paleolithic diet, there is one that alternatively shows the benefit of including those same ingredients into a balanced diet: whole grains, legumes, beans, and dairy to name a few. Supplements are yet another consideration. Most supplements are not all natural, but again, there are many instances when I feel incorporating them provides a benefit that outweighs an alternative risk.

The fact of the matter is that eating is a very personal thing. I consider myself fortunate that I’m not pre-disposed to any health issues related to the ingestion of gluten, lactose or any other food products. Not everyone has that luxury. For anyone who’s lactose intolerant, has Celiac, or other nutrition related diagnoses, eliminating the foods which cause issues will undoubtedly improve the condition and an ability to enjoy the highest quality of life possible.

Additionally, going Paleo can have a tremendous amount of benefit for anyone who’s just not eating healthy in general, because it places so much focus on eating good wholesome ingredients. There are a lot of seemingly healthy food products out there being marketed by companies, when really they aren’t healthy and really they aren’t even real food. Going Paleo will cause anyone to take a closer look at the ingredients listed on foods and will most likely also increase the amount of foods eaten that don’t have a label at all. Think about it…foods without packaging or labels give true meaning to what constitutes “clean eating.”

Outside of being the final day of my CrossFit Paleo Challenge, it’s also a day of bitter sweetness for two other reasons. Not only is it my husband’s birthday (Happy 34th Matt!), but it’s also the anniversary of my mom’s passing. She was only 52 years old when she passed and the 4th person I’ve lost to cancer close to me. I firmly believe that my parents’ early deaths were influenced by their lifestyles, including poor diets and lack of exercise. They didn’t place health and fitness anywhere near the top of their priority lists.

When people ask me why I do “this” the answer is easy for me. I do this because I owe it to myself and to my family to keep health and fitness at the top of my priority list. I am not perfect by any means. I make plenty more mistakes than I’d like sometimes, but I know that in order to truly be the best wife, sister, friend and mother (someday this century!) that I can be, I have to put my own health and fitness smack dab at the top of my to-do list. That means constantly finding ways to stay motivated, to challenge myself, and to step outside my comfort zone. If I’m not uncomfortable, I’m not stretching far enough!

When is the last time you did something that made you a little uncomfortable? Maybe CrossFit doesn’t sound interesting to you, and if not, then that’s fine. I encourage you to really think about the last time you tried something new…something that also got you moving more. Find ways to step outside your comfort zone and become more active in the process. Living a healthy lifestyle is all about incorporating fitness in fun new ways. Sign up for surfing lessons, schedule a skydiving adventure, take that hiking trip to the mountains, go horseback riding on the beach, sign up for martial arts with your kids, or walk into the gym you’ve been contemplating getting a membership to. We only have one life, and it can be taken away in a split second. It’s time to shake things up!!!

I’d like to send a very SPECIAL THANKS to Brannon and CrossFit Texas for welcoming me with open arms and giving me the opportunity to become part of their amazing CrossFit community. Never would I have thought I’d learn so much in such a short amount of time! Thank you for your patience in helping a somewhat stubborn “gym rat” embrace a completely new approach, for answering my endless questions day in and day out, and for all the high fives and hugs even when I was covered in filth and dripping in sweat. Although I’ll be taking a hiatus from CrossFit for at least a couple weeks, I know our paths will meet again. I’m not sure how long I can go without flipping giant tires across parking lots...It's addictive!

Also a special thanks to anyone who’s read during this little adventure. Hopefully you learned something new right along with me or at least gained some inspiration. By the way, I've added a new video on the left titled "What is CrossFit?" which I thought was pretty inspiring. Make sure to check it out! There are many more exciting things in the works in my world on the health and fitness front, and no doubt I’ll be blogging about them, so stay tuned for more to come very soon!

Day 17

If people in my regular gym didn’t think I was crazy with my workouts before, by now they must. I was in there at 5 AM this morning claiming stakes on my workout area. I had a plan and wasn’t going to let anyone get in my way!

I wanted to try out a new CF workout I hadn’t done, but without any major Olympic lifting. I’m also getting ready to travel for 10 days next week and am always looking for workouts I can do on the road with little to no equipment. Thus, I chose to do “Angie” and it was a good one!

-10 minutes on the elliptical @ level 8

WOD: “Angie” for Time: 25:06
-100 pull-ups (on assisted pull-up machine @55 lbs.)
-100 push-ups
-100 sit-ups
-100 squats (holding 8 lb. medicine ball)

After 50 pull-ups, I had to start taking breaks after every set of 10. Took me more than 8 minutes to finish the pull-ups alone. The push-ups were equally as brutal. I had to eek these out pretty slowly. After about 50 reps, I could only do 5 at a time before having to rest. In my own defense though, my nose was to the ground every rep and no modifications here. Chest was on fiyah! The sit-ups and squats were like a walk in the park after those upper body exercises. Make sure to check out the time lapsed video of Angie over on the left. Rather funny to watch it with the time lapse, because it makes you realize how many reps this workout is.

Time must fly when you’re having fun, because before I knew it, I’d completed all 400 reps in 25:06. With the 10 minute warm-up and 5 minutes of stretching afterwards I spent the 45 minutes I’d scheduled for workout time and was out in just the nick of time.

The thing I love about Angie is that there was no equipment needed other than a pull-up bar. Anyone can do this, even if they don’t have a gym membership. Technically, Angie doesn’t even require a medicine ball for the body squats, but I just wanted to ramp up the intensity a little so I added that. I’d like to try this workout with a 45 lb. barbell doing back squats next time to really get some burn going in the quads and glutes. Even though this is a timed workout, I’m not competing in the CrossFit Games. I’m just trying to get an intense workout, so if it means modifying by adding weight in order to get the burn I’m looking for at the sacrifice of a few minutes of time, then why not right?

It’s kind of bitter sweet to know I only have a couple days left of CrossFit workouts for the challenge, but I’ve learned so much in such a short time. When I started this challenge I knew very little about what CrossFit is really all about. Only a few weeks later I feel I’ve mastered many of the moves, that I understand the methodology behind the workout design, and that there are many workouts I can now do on my own when I want to spice things up. I went into this with only one expectation….to put myself somewhere outside of my comfort zone and learn something new in the process. I definitely did that, but I also got the unexpected pleasure of seeing how CrossFit has changed people’s lives by becoming part of the amazing CrossFit community. And THAT is what has made this experience truly worthwhile.

Day 16

If ever there was a day that I felt like a fat kid in gym class, it was today during my CrossFit warm-up. I was the only person at the class, and it's probably a good thing, because I would have embarrassed myself yet again with my horrific Double Under’s. I can’t think of an exercise that I am this bad at, and it feels like a lost cause to be quite honest. I’m always blown away when I see people who can tear it up on the jump rope. It’s like something just doesn’t click for me with it, and I can’t get it around twice to complete the Double Under. One time yes. Twice around and under the feet…just isn’t happening. Argh!

The Warm-Up:
-200 m run
-20 DU’s
-10 push-ups

Luckily DU attempts counted, so I painstakingly made it through them and onto the WOD, which was utter craziness in the cardio department. This one gave me a run for my money!

Today’s WOD: EMOTM (Every Minute On The Minute) for 15 minutes
-5 S2S Burpees (Side-to-Side Burpees clearing 12 in. PVC)
-10 KB’s (Kettlebells Swings @25 lbs.)

So the idea is to do all 15 reps in less than 1 minute. Then when the next minute starts, you go again. There are mere seconds to rest between the start of each next round. I couldn’t help but think of the drinking game people play in college called “shot a minute.” If you never played it, it was where you were supposed to take a 1 oz. shot of beer EMOTM until the last man was standing. It was one of those things that always sounded easy, but by minute 10 you just wanted to die. Well this was the same thing but different….oh how times have changed! 15 reps per minute doesn’t sound like much, but it was INTENSE.

My score was 11 (15 rounds completed). So I kept up through 11 rounds total, had to rest one minute and then did the last 3 rounds to complete the 15 minute time period. I wish I’d been wearing a heart rate monitor, because I know my HR had to be in the high 170’s-low 180’s. Insanely good cardio workout. High fives and hugs all around with the completion of that one!

Tomorrow I won’t be able to make it to the CrossFit gym due to training my own clients and some extra projects I’m working on at LIVESTRONG. Was looking online for a WOD I haven’t done yet, to do on my own, and I think I’ve found a winner. So it’s off to bed by 8:30 PM and up at 4:30 AM for my date with “Angie.”

And by the way, for anyone out there that says they don’t have time to work out...You DO have the time. You just have to find it, schedule it, and make it happen. No one can do it for you, so find the time. Even if it’s only 20 minutes, find it and DO IT!

Day 15

The idea that grains, legumes, and dairy are bad for our health can seem like a foreign concept to many. The first thing we think of is the Food Pyramid right? How can whole grains, beans and milk be bad for us?

The foundation of the argument for Paleolithic Eating is that of evolutionary biology. Actually, if you want to get really deep, it’s based on research that’s been done in many fields including archaeology, anthropology, ethnobotany, evolution, biology, genetics, autoimmunity, and clinical nutritional research. Phew…that’s a lot of different fields that have actually influenced the argument for Paleo eating. It’s a controversial topic with viewpoints from both sides of the argument.

Reading about nutrition and its correlation with health fascinates me. I wanted to learn more about the whole “no grains and beans” rule with the Paleo diet and so I found an article by Paleo eating expert Loren Cordain to read more about it. Feel free to check out “The Late Role of Grains and Legumes in the Human Diet, and Biochemical Evidence of their Evolutionary Discordance” on this page under Resources if you’d like to broaden your horizons on the topic a bit.

In a nutshell, he points out that although our genetic make-up hasn’t changed significantly since Paleolithic Times, our diets certainly have. Because of this an “evolutionary discordance” exists. Our genes are not well suited to the diets that have evolved since the Agricultural Revolution, which is why we are seeing so many disorders and diseases that are positively correlated with certain aspects of our nutrition. A few of the major talking points from Cordain…

-The human genome is most ideally adapted to those foods available to pre-agricultural man, namely lean muscle meats, limited fatty organ meats, and wild fruits and vegetables—but significantly not grains, legumes, dairy products, or the very high-fat carcasses of modern domesticated animals.

-Cereal grains are a relatively recent food and our physiologies are still adjusting and adapting to their presence.

-When cereal grain calories reach 50% or more of the daily caloric intake, humans can suffer severe health consequences.

-Grains contain many anti-nutrients such as phytates and other protein inhibitors which prevent uptake of key nutrients.

-Wheat gluten has catastrophic effects on the GI tract.

-The genetic evidence for human disease is positively correlated with the introduction of agriculture and is being seen in instances of many disorders that are believed to be auto-immune in nature: celiac disease, lactose intolerance, non-insulin dependant diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatitis, and possibly some forms of autism.

-Cereal grains and legumes increase inflammatory response in certain cell cytokines, which promote auto-immune diseases and other disorders.

-Cereal, legume, dairy, and yeast free diets have therapeutic benefit, because they decrease antigenic responses that occur when ingesting foods our bodies aren’t completely adapted to.

The thing that stood out most to me was the way he put into perspective how recent the introduction of grains, legumes and dairy into our diets really is. Even though the earliest Agricultural Revolution was about 10,000 years ago, I couldn’t help but see that as a bit insignificant compared to the 2,000,000 years prior when humans lived as hunters and gatherers eating meats, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. Really made me think about the fact that people lived for more than 2,000,000 years just fine eating foods that were hunted and gathered alone. Now most people can’t fathom living without a microwave! The amount of change that’s occurred with respect to our diets over the last 50 years, especially when put into perspective of the previous 2,000,000 years is absolutely mind-boggling.

I’m not saying I think everyone should start eating a Paleo diet, and there’s a good chance I won’t commit to living oatmeal and sweet potato free once this challenge is over. However, I do think there’s enough scientific evidence to support the argument that diseases we’re seeing in modern times are absolutely tied to the foods we’re eating. A large number of people having weight related and other health issues today can bet their bottom dollar that their condition is either caused by, worsened by, or helped by whatever it is they’re putting in to their mouth. Nutrition is perhaps the biggest influence on our ability to stay healthy over a lifetime, and we can all stand to take a few notes from our ancestors if you ask me!

This could turn into a rant very easily, so I’ll cut to today’s WOD. It was FUN! I don’t know what I liked more…the workout or the name of the workout.

Warm-Up was 3 rounds:
-200 m run
-10 pull-ups
-10 wall balls (14 lb. ball)
-10 GHD sit-ups

The the WOD was the Playground BeatDown. Love the name AND the workout!

1 minute @ each station (3 rounds) for total reps in each round.
-HSPU (hand stand push-ups)
-Sledge Hammers
-Tire Flip (with a ginormous tire)

My totals were 105/112/100. Pull-ups slowed me down, but I made up some reps with the burpees, sledge hammers and HSPU’s which I did modified with bands around my arms as a harness to assist slightly. The people in the building across the parking lot must think we’re crazy flipping giant tires past their windows. I think this one will go down in the history books as one of the most fun workouts I’ve ever done. It was hard enough to make me curse, and funny enough to make me laugh at myself doing the exercises…2 thumbs up for the Playground BeatDown!

Day 14- Final Week!

48 hours away from blogging, and it feels like forever! I woke up Friday and rolled over to see my husband smiling at me and asking “Are you going to do CrossFit today or come to the gym with me?” How could I say no to that?! I’d gone to bed with every intention on heading to the 5:30 a.m. CF workout, but it only took about 2 seconds for me to change my plan once the invitation was extended. We’re together less days that I can count on both hands each month, and I love the days when we can drive to the gym together and get in a heart pumping workout. It was a double bonus for me, since I hadn’t done any structured cardio outside of the CF workouts in 3 weeks. I still can’t run due to my toe, so I did one of my favorite HIIT workouts on the upright stationary cycle. Heart rate got up to 183 bpm, so it’s safe to say I achieved a true high point with that workout….nice!

I was kind of surprised at how challenging the HIIT bike workout was for me. I’d done this same routine many times before, but with only 3 weeks away, my endurance felt slightly off. It got me wondering how I’d feel if I tried to do one of my typical pyramid strength training routines, and with there being no CrossFit offered on the weekends, I decided Saturday was the perfect time to just see how one of my own typical lower body strength workouts would feel.

This was Saturday’s workout:
Smith Machine Lunges (each leg)-- 15 x 20 lbs./ 12 x 30 lbs./ 10 x 40 lbs./ 8 x 50 lbs.
Barbell Squats-- 15 x 115 lbs./12 x 135 lbs./ 10 x 155 lbs./ 8 x 165 lbs.
Seated Calf Raises-- 15 x 50 lbs./ 12 x 60 lbs./ 10 x 65 lbs./ 8 x 70 lbs.

On the floor…
Lying Butt Bridges-- 25/ Hold at top until failure
Outer Thigh Leg raises-- (each leg)25/Hold up and pulse 10 at top/Bring leg in 45 degrees for 25/Hold up and pulse 10 at top

I must admit it felt really great to do the half pyramid rep pattern on the legs…not because it’s what I’m used to, but because I felt like I truly reached a point of ABSOLUTE FAILURE with each exercise. My legs and entire body was shaky by the time I was done, and the endorphins busting through the floodgates were comparable to a great flood after a massive drought. I drove home with one and only one goal….to get food into my body as quickly as possible. Needless to say, I woke up today with some significant muscle soreness in all the right places. Gotta love some booty DOMS!

Yesterday was spent running around all day and toting my cooler packed with grilled chicken, fruit, nuts, and loads of water. I’m perfectly fine eating my usual go-to’s when I’m out and about and it’ll take a lot for me to get sick of grilled chicken. However, I also need things to snack on when I’m home and especially on weekend evenings when I’m just home nesting or being social with friends. It’s so important to have healthy options that are easy to grab.

Since going Paleo I’ve been a little lost without my usual go-to snack of hummus with raw veggies or some Newman’s Own salad dressing with raw veggies. I needed to get some snacking food back in my fridge stat and figured making Babaganoush would be the closest Paleo version of something resembling hummus. The recipes I’ve seen for Babaganoush, although composed of healthy ingredients, seem a bit higher in fat than I’d personally prefer, so I whipped up my own version of lower fat Babaganoush, and it turned out fabulously! Hubby and I polished some off last night, and I have plenty of leftovers with a huge plate of raw veggies right at eye level when I open the refrigerator door. I’m set in the emergency snacking department for the upcoming week.

Hard to believe I’m already entering the last week of my CrossFit Paleo adventure. It’s been such an eye opening experience so far, and even though I enjoyed my workouts on my own this weekend, I’m really excited to get back to CF tomorrow morning. I’m rather enjoying letting someone else plan my workouts and knowing that I’m going to show up to something new and totally different every day.

Make sure to check out the recipe for my Babaganoush here on this page. It’s such a perfect dish to take to a party or to keep on hand for snacking. Going to grab some now!

Day 11

There’s a quote by my favorite Pastor of all time, Joel Osteen, that I love and use all the time. He says, “If you aren’t uncomfortable, you’re not stretching far enough.” How do you think ballerinas are able to do the splits? They aren’t born that way! It’s something they work at consistently over time, constantly pushing past their previous point of flexibility, until they finally succeed in a full split. It doesn’t always feel pretty either.

The same is true with fitness and with life in general. It’s human nature to want to be comfortable. I’m probably the world’s biggest creature of habit, so I should know. I used to drive 3 hours from Miami to Orlando, just so I could get my teeth cleaned at my dentist of more than 20 years. It was a bit ridiculous.

Looking back on life, I realize I had many missed opportunities to grow as a person, because I was constantly being held back by fear. It’s hard to believe it took me until age 30 to pursue a passion I had since age 4! I still have the book I made in kindergarten where I wrote, “When I grow up I want to be an exercise lady.” I have no regrets on the longer more windy path I’ve taken, and I know that things I’ve struggled with have made me a stronger person. I’m just thankful I’ve learned to embrace change more and am now to the point that I actually thrive on being uncomfortable. I still have personality traits that make me want to stay in a snuggly little spot sometimes, but I just make the conscious effort to do things that make me uncomfortable. …on purpose. I like that sinking feeling I get when I’m put in an unknown situation, because I know that by the time it’s over, no matter what happens good or bad, I’ll grow from it one way or another. So now you might understand a little more why I’m doing this CrossFit Paleo Challenge.

Today is about the half way mark. 6 workouts and 10 more days of Paleo eating left. A day hasn’t gone by that I didn’t feel uncomfortable in some way, but I’m learning something new every single day. Today was no exception. In our warm-up, for instance, I learned that Neutrogena sunless tanning spray doesn’t hold up well if you scrape the inside of your leg the entire way down from a rope climb. I swear…I’m like one big walking science experiment sometimes. But that’s exactly how like I like it. It keeps me stretching past my comfort zone and keeps life interesting!

Today’s Warm-Up:
-200 m run
-15 wall balls (14 lbs.)
-15 GHD
-400 m run
-1 rope climb
-30 second handstand
-15 KettleBell swings (35 lbs)

No doubt that CrossFit is good at making you feel like a kid again. Between the rope climb and the hand stands, I was ready to start playing some double dutch. But instead I did the WOD.

Today’s WOD:
-50 front squats (65 lbs.)
-50 KTE’s
-400 m run
-500 m row

I was so out of breath that I wasn’t paying much attention to my time once I called it. I think it was 14:53 or something close to that. Awesome workout today! As for tomorrow, I'm hoping I’m able to stretch outside my comfort zone without finally breaking the skin on my hands which is now holding on for dear life. Pray for me please!

Day 10

The first thing I thought of when I woke up today was how much fat and fruit I’ve been eating on this diet. Prior to going Paleo, I rarely ever ate more than one or two serving of fruit per day, and wasn’t eating nearly this many fats. My typical diet used to be composed of about 40% carbs/40% protein/20% fats. Since going Paleo it’s more like 30% carbs/30-35% protein/35-40% fats. Actually it’s been pretty close to the actual figures estimated on Paleolithic eating during those times. Their diets were composed of about 40% or more fat. There’s just no way around it really. When you cut out certain things from your diet, like whole grains, dairy, and supplements, then other things, like fruits, nuts and seeds ultimately make their way in more often. I'm a huge veggie lover, but a girl can only handle so much meat and veggies! I’m not one of those people who’s afraid of fat, and in moderation healthy fats are absolutely necessary. Today I just felt it was a good day to take a nut and seed free day and see if I can still find some resemblance of a Paleo meal plan that works without them and where I'm still satisfied...at least for a day. Nuts and nut butter are becoming a little too easy to grab out of the pantry!

But enough about food. On to the fun workout today.
Warm up:
500 m row
20 sit-ups
20 sledge hammers
20 push-ups

For those of you who don’t know what a sledge hammer is, it’s just picking up a full size sledge hammer and swinging it overhand as hard as you can onto a giant tire. I had one of those out of body moments where I had to question whether I was really swinging a sledge hammer at 5:30 AM. Yep. I was indeed! Made me laugh, and talk about a great warm-up!

Then the WOD for strength:
3-3-3- of OHS (Over Head Squats @ 95 lbs.)

Then the WOD for time:
500 m row
50 SDLHP (Sumo Deadlift High Pulls @ 35 lbs.)
500 m row
50 Push Press (35 lbs.)
500 m row

My time was 14:58, but my ego was a little hurt to know that I was way under the Rx weight of 65 lbs. for women on this one. I was on such a roll hitting the Rx lately! I had to remind myself it's only my second week and that it’s all a work in progress. I'm just trying to be the very best that I can be. Really that is what all of us should strive to do. Just forget about shortcomings and focus on building upon your own strengths, no matter how small they might seem in certain areas.

A friend of mine shared a video with me today that hit the nail on the head with that message. I found it very inspiring and think it’s something we all need reminding of sometimes. There is always going to be someone better or faster than you, but everyone has to start from somewhere. The other thing I hear a lot is "I'm too old" or "I've never been much into working out." It’s never too late to start being the best person that YOU can personally be. Please take a few minutes to watch the video on the left, and just try to tell me that Mary’s story isn’t inspiring! I love Mary!

Day 9

There’s no shortage of exercise videos on the web that I have to watch with one hand covering my eyes, as if I were watching a horror movie. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad form and misinformation going on out there. No one regulates the Internet, so it’s up to you to make sure you’re getting good quality instruction from a certified and trained professional. I’ve been getting plenty of emails since starting CrossFit asking about the risk of injury, and understandably so. I’ve heard my fair share of stories of people getting injured doing CrossFit, and so I too, was a little hesitant to try my hand at it.

However, one of the reasons I ultimately signed up to try CF was that I was 100% confident the gym I train in has their ducks in a row. Before I could even purchase sessions, I had to first take “Elements”, a series of 5 classes that teaches the basic moves used in the workouts. I also asked a lot of questions before I even told them I'm a trainer myself and was very impressed with the knowledge level of the trainer I spoke with. Now I know what you’re thinking, ”But you’ve already broken your toe!” Well, that was my fault actually. My shoes were off to avoid the risk of injury from squatting in running shoes. Kind of ironic that I took them off to avoid hurting myself and just wasn’t watching where I was going…my fault entirely. I will still take my shoes off anytime I squat, because I know it’s a huge help to do the exercise properly. I’ll just watch where I’m going next time!

In reality, with each day that I do CrossFit, more and more of the pre-conceived notions of it being overly risky are proven untrue. Yes, there are scrapes and bruises that are bound to happen along the way, but as long as you’re using proper technique and not hoisting more weight than you can handle, you’re not putting yourself at unnecessary risk. Now, with that said, it’s important that you are using proper form. In order to do that, you need someone who’s qualified to teach you that. Most of the people I hear of getting injured in CrossFit were either doing it in their buddy’s basement or they tried it on their own after watching a video on YouTube and it didn’t turn out so well. Don’t be one of those people please.

Today was a great workout, but even more than that, it was a genuinely good learning experience. We started off with a great warm-up.

3 rounds of:
250 m row
10 medicine ball cleans (14 lbs.)
10 wall balls (14 lbs.)
10 pull-ups
300 m row

The warm-up was perfect, because it gave me a refresher of how to do a “clean” properly to begin with. Even though I’m a certified trainer myself, Olympic powerlifting moves are not something I typically do myself or with my clients. CrossFit is an entirely different ballgame with a different set of rules, and these moves take a lot of concentration when you’re just starting out.

Then before we did the WOD, we took a good 15 minutes to practice correct form. We used PVC pipes to practice the moves building upon each part of the exercise…placement of the feet, shrugging of the shoulders, placement of the bar, etc. Talk about multi-tasking with some of these moves. It takes complete focus for sure! The trainer, Brannon, made sure we all had impeccable technique before we added any weight. Then we all grabbed 15 lb. bars and added 10 lbs. to each end (It was an all female class today). Once we felt confident with that, we moved up to the Rx of 65 lbs. or heavier depending on each person’s strength. This was all before we did the WOD. Learning to do CrossFit safely is all about building upon each skill. You need to know how to deadlift before you can power clean. You need to learn to power clean before you learn to clean and jerk. Many of the moves are built upon one another, so it’s basically one big continuum of progression to more advanced exercises.

Today’s WOD was a 5 minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible in 5 min):
-5 Hang Power Cleans (65 lbs.)
-10 air squats

I was able to complete the WOD for 6 full rounds plus 4 hang power cleans total. Goal is 7 or 8 full rounds next time! Our trainer was walking around monitoring our form the entire time, by the way. Now granted, if this had been an entire class of seasoned CrossFitters, there wouldn’t have been a need to spend so much time practicing form in the beginning, but do you see how this is different than just winging it in your buddy’s garage?

Even though this sport utilizes some exercises most people could probably do on their own, like bodyweight exercises and rowing, there are other components that require much greater attention to detail. Some athletes have exposure to Olympic weightlifting when training for team sports, but it’s not something typically taught in P.E. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make sure I’m doing things right before I go acting tough and slinging massive weights around. Today was a perfect example of exactly HOW to do CrossFit injury free.

Day 8

It’s hard to believe there are only 14 days left of my CrossFit Paleo Challenge. The toe is doing a little better today and the swelling has gone down a little. I figured I’d be playing with fire by going to CF this morning, but it didn’t seem to make the toe any worse than it already is. I just substituted rowing for any running involved, did the push-ups on one leg, and had a really great workout!

Our warm-up was 3 rounds:
1st round: 250 m row 10 pull-ups 10 push-ups (on one leg)
2nd round: 500 m row 10 pull-ups 10 push-ups
3rd round: 750 m row 10 pull-ups 10 push-ups

Then the WOD was:
300 m row

21-15-9 of
box jumps (22 in. box)
ring push-ups
DL (deadlifts @115 lbs.)

300 m row

I finished in 16:12 and was dripping in sweat….yes! DL Rx of 115 lbs. was perfect for me, and although I probably shouldn’t have been doing box jumps with a broken toe, it was motivation to get my heels all the way onto the box. It hurt on a couple reps, but I lived. I couldn’t help but think of Lance Armstrong’s book, It’s Not About the Bike. Anytime I feel like not working out or if I’m battling a minor injury, I just think about that book and it’s enough to wipe out any self-doubt that might be creeping into my psyche. By the way, if you haven’t read it yet, it’s a MUST READ!

Followed up my workout with my new favorite meal…Paleo Protein Pancakes. I made these for the first time yesterday and angels started singing. Hallelujah, pancakes are back in my life! Check them out on this page under Paleo Recipes, and whip some up if you’re looking for a high protein, high fiber, gluten-free pancake recipe. There’s nothing like a fresh hot breakfast to start the day, and the warm fresh fruit compote as a topping is what really makes them so fabulous.

Speaking of fabulous, make sure to also check out tonight’s dinner, Broiled Tilapia with Mango Salsa. Mangos are so scrumptous right now, and the salsa was super easy to make. Recipe is right here on this page of course! ☺

Day 5 & Weekend

Yesterday was quite a day, and truth be told, one I wouldn’t mind having to do over. It started off great with a CF workout as usual. Warm-up was 30 DU’s (double under jump roping), 15 wall squats, and 5 Turkish Get-Ups on each side holding a 15 lb. kettlebell. We were supposed to do 2 rounds, but I have some major room for improvement on the jump rope DU’s and only managed to get one round in before we hit the WOD.

WOD was Front Squat 1-1-1-1-1 with 3 minutes rest between each set. I posted a video on the left showing what proper form on the front squat looks like.

I did 150-150-150-150-150 and was pretty happy considering that front squats are typically done with less weight than can be handled with a back squat. I was feeling pretty darn unstoppable…until I went to walk around the squat rack wearing only socks and stubbed my toe on the corner of it so hard that a few curse words came flying out uncontrollably. I immediately knew that I’d broken the middle toe on my left foot. It isn’t broken in half, but there is definitely a fracture. My poor little piggy has now turned a not so pretty shade of purple.

I’m trying not to complain too loudly, because there could certainly be worse things to deal with. With 2 days off from CF this weekend, I was most bummed that I’d have to forgo the run I was looking forward to all week long. I shifted gears mentally and am just dealing with it the best I can. I did hit the gym this morning, but thought it best not to put pressure on it running or cycling. I decided to instead work on a couple upper body isolation exercises and target areas that weren’t hit much with last week’s workouts.

I call today’s workout the Broke Toe Workout!

Warm-up: 10 minutes on the elliptical @ level 10.

3 sets each of…
Biceps: 21’s (30 lb. barbell)
Triceps: 12 Skull crushers (EZ bar alone)
Outer Shoulders: 12 Lateral raises (negatives done super slow w/10 lb. dumbbells)

1 set each of…
Abs: decline sit-ups/front raise holding 10 lb. weight plate (25)
Decline leg raises (25)
Bicycles (50)
Swiss ball crunches (25)
Swiss ball hand-offs (25)
Russian twists holding 8 lb. medicine ball (50)
Roman chair knee raises (10 left, 10 middle, 10 right)

I’ve got to admit, as much as I’ve been loving CF, I love training with isolation exercises as well. I was happy to feel some serious burn in the arms and to get in some targeted abs exercises. Everything has its benefits!

On the food front, yesterday was a free day. I chose to continue eating Paleo authorized foods, just in unmeasured and unlimited portions and consciously chose to have a day much higher in calories to rev up my metabolism. I made some homemade Coconut Macaroons that really hit the spot. The recipe is posted under Paleo Recipes, so check it out and whip some up the next time you get a sweet tooth!

Tomorrow is a rest day from working out and from blogging, but I’ll be back on Monday to start week 2 of this crazy CrossFit adventure. Hopefully my toe can make it through the next two weeks along with me!

Day 4

I was pleasantly surprised to wake up a little sore today, because it’s proof that yesterday’s WOD worked muscles in different ways than I’m used to. It was the KTE’s that got me. Yes, I’m one of those weird people that loves the pain the day after a good butt kicking.

Today’s warm-up was 2 rounds of a 300 m row, 10 presses (45 lbs.) and 10 box jumps (22 in. box). The box jumps were like a rude awakening to my quads and hips which weren’t quite awake yet I don’t think.

Then the WOD was Max Push Press 1-1-1-1-1
Mine was 80-80-85-85-80(3)

I've posted a how-to video on the left that shows exactly how to do a Push Press. If you don’t know what a 1RM (1 Rep Max) is, it’s the highest amount of weight that you can lift for 1 repetition. We had a rest period of 3 minutes in between each 1 RM. I don’t know if I’m even counting the two 85’s in the middle, because I didn’t get them all the way up. I dropped back down to 80 for the last set and was able to do 3 reps instead of 1. It’s crazy how much of a difference 5 lbs. can make, but I did find my exact sticking point on the weight load. I’m really having to re-formulate the way I gain focus when lifting heavy in CF. The fact that there are no mirrors is still so strange to me, but I’m trying my best to get past it and focus on “feeling” the exercise without having a mirror to monitor my form. I’m determined to get 85 up next time!

2nd part of our WOD was 2 rounds:
-30 box jumps (20 in.)
-25 sit-ups
-20 DL (deadlifts @75 lbs.)

I finished in 6:54 and used the female prescribed weight of 75 lbs. on the DL’s. Still need to go heavier on these. I’m thinking I can do 90 next time. I also need to invest in some athletic tape to save my shins! They don’t mess around in this gym. Forget about doing DL's with the bar close to your legs. No, you’ve got to drag the bar all the way up, making contact with your skin the entire time. I much prefer Romanian Deadlifts, but I’m being open here! If only it were not summer in Texas, no doubt I’d be wearing pants.

I'm not too proud to admit I’m a wuss when it comes to scrapes, bruises, and torn hands. I’m the only person in there that wears gloves to lift, and I don’t have any plans to take them off in the near future either… just for the record. ☺

Trainer said the WOD is going to be fun tomorrow, and he said it with a rather evil smile on his face, so can’t wait to see what’s in store. Also planning to experiment with a couple new recipes this weekend, so stay tuned for more on the Paleo food front!

Day 3

Today’s WOD was definitely the favorite so far this week. We started out with an 800 m jog outside, followed by a 500 m row, and 20 wall balls. I used a 14 lb. ball. For wall balls, you squat down below parallel and have to throw the ball up overhead as high as possible against the wall, catch it and go immediately back into a squat without stopping. Sounds easy, but 20 of those non-stop, and you'll be catching your breath I guarantee it.

Then, the WOD was 5 rounds:
-3 HSPU’s (Hand Stand Push-Ups)
-6 KTE (Knees to Elbows) hanging from high bar
-9 Burpees

I LOVED THIS WORKOUT! There were 3 different positions suggested for the HSPU’s depending on ability level. The first was with knees on a bench for a the most assistance. The second level was to do an actual handstand but to put both arms through bands that were suspended from a high bar (somewhat of a harness) so as to provide some assistance. That’s the approach I took, because I could only do one true HSPU against the wall when I did my test run on these. The KTE’s were done by hanging from the high bar, kipping back, then bringing both knees all the way up to touch the elbows. Then 9 burpees. We did 5 complete rounds of this non-stop for time. I finished in 8:16. That coupled with the great warm-up, and I left a very happy camper today. I’m already feeling some soreness from those KTE’s.

Later on, I decided to stop procrastinating on my much needed Costco trip and bought a motherload of seafood (mostly all wild caught): mahi mahi, salmon, tilapia, scallops, ahi tuna, and colossal shrimp. Also picked up some chicken breasts and some bison steaks, which I’m excited to try out.

Speaking of trying new things, I was really craving some mahi mahi crusted with Panko bread crumbs, but since I’m not eating whole wheat right now, I was determined to figure out a creative substitution. Check out tonight's dinner “Almond Flax Mahi Mahi.” It’s under Paleo Recipes on the left side of this page. I am SO excited about this new find that I can hardly stand it! The possibilities with this new almond flax “breading” mixture are endless. I feel like I've found an oasis in the Paleo desert! First the almond butter and now this? Wonder if anyone’s ever overdosed on almonds?

Day 2

I’ve always been a morning person, and I love the fact that I can roll up to CrossFit, and hear the music pumping from the building before I even exit my car. Plus, the fact that it’s ½ indoor and ½ outdoor gives me a daily dose of the outdoors before it reaches 100 degrees.

Today WOD was fun, and I had a chance to do yet another workout I wouldn’t typically do. We did a 15 minute warm-up outside with some light drills, and then did the Illinois Agility Test as our WOD. The Illinois Agility Test is used to test agility in sports. One at a time, we started face down on all fours behind a line and went on a ready-set-go. We were timed as we sprinted as fast as possible for a 10 m sprint, then weaved through about 10 m of cones (we used kettlebells as our cones) back and forth, then finished with another 10 m all out sprint. Check out the video on the left to see what the Illinois Agility Test looks like. At each of the five rounds the bar got set a little higher, and there were penalties for not finishing in the prescribed time. First round the goal was 20 seconds, next round 19, 18, 17, and finally 16. Penalties for not finishing under time were burpees, so people were running as fast as they could to avoid having to do burpees of course!

My best time was 16:31 (excellent category) and slowest time was 17:54 (good category). I made it through four rounds without any penalties, but fell short on the last one and it was burpees for me. It was a short workout with short bursts of high intensity. I can see how these workouts are good at taking you through the metabolic pathways, but I guess I’m just used to spending a longer time with an elevated heart rate…still adjusting to all the variety I guess you could say. One thing I must say is that there is such comradery with this group that even if you’re doing workouts you have no experience with, it’s not embarrassing or intimidating. Everyone is there together, pushing you and saying, “go go go!” Really, I’m continually impressed by CF as a community.

As far as the Paleo eating goes, I’m still having some slight growing pains with no grains or dairy, but it’s way easier than the 30 day vegetarian experiment I did last year. I haven’t been nearly as hungry either, and I’m not sure if it’s due to having more fats than usual in my meals (especially earlier in the day), or because cutting out the grains is keeping my blood glucose even more balanced, or because my calorie burn is likely down from my normal. It’ll be interesting to see if the reduced hunger continues. I’m just thankful that in sacrificing certain foods, I’ve also been driven to try new things….like all natural almond butter. I don’t know how on earth I made it through life this long without having almond butter, but I can safely say I really could care less if I ever see another jar of peanut butter again…yes, it’s that good!

Day 1

Ready, set, go…officially day 1 of my CF Paleo Challenge! I was excited to get my hands dirty today and went to the first class at 5:30 AM. We started off with a 15 min. - of warm-up: high knees, crossovers, and some other agility type drills…stuff you’d see at a football practice. Then the Workout of the Day (I’ll use WOD going forward) was something I’d heard of before…Fran. I had to laugh because that’s my grandma’s name. Luckily the trainer, Brannon, immediately wiped that thought out of my head when he explained to me that, “They name the workouts after people the same way they do hurricanes. That’s because they leave you pissed off and wet.” He said it, not me! Ha ha!

Back to the WOD…Fran is a combination of thrusters and pull-ups done back to back with no rest in a 21-15-9 rep pattern. For anyone who doesn’t know, a thruster is like a squat below parallel straight into a military press. Also for each WOD, there are prescribed weights or an “Rx” for men and women. For Fran, the Rx is 65 lbs. for women and 95 lbs. for men. The Rx for men is usually roughly 70% greater weight load. The goal is to be able to complete all reps of the workouts at the Rx weight or higher. Not everyone can do the Rx at first, but it’s something to work towards and to surpass as you get better.

This is where my inexperience doing CF comes in. The thought of doing 21 military presses at 65 lbs. seemed like it would be outside of my ability, so I opted to start lower at 35 lbs. What I didn’t take into account was the added momentum I’d have from doing the press straight out of the squat position…thus the term thruster. So needless to say, I was able to complete Fran in 7:53 time, but felt like I could have done much more weight on the thrusters. The pull-ups were a different story. I used a band to assist from underneath, and it was still quite difficult to complete those reps. I’ll include a video over to the left of what Fran looks like. I wish I had the time to produce a video everyday for you to watch me personally sweating bullets, but unfortunately it’s not going to happen this go around. Check out the video on the left to see what Fran looks like.

Outside of the WOD, I tried to adjust to going Paleo. As a re-cap, Paleo eating means eating anything that could have been hunted or gathered back in Paleolithic times. There are many different degrees to which people practice Paleolithic eating, and it’s very difficult to replicate the true Paleo diet in today’s modern times due to the way we get our food, but it's basically meats, eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and oils. Check out the downloadable Paleo Food List on the left under Resources if you’re interested.

A couple things I’m missing already so far on this diet…salt, parmesan cheese, protein shakes, hot cereal for breakfast, whole grain tortillas, and Newman’s Own salad dressing. It definitely takes a little creativity when you want to run out the door and can’t just grab your handy protein shake…I learned that today! Grabbed some chicken breast, fruits , veggies, and nuts to get me through a couple days, but a trip to Costco for massive amounts of seafood is definitely in order. Meal 5 wasn't perfect as it's higher in fat and lower in protein than I'd like, but considering it's the first day adjusting to going Paleo. I did ok. Nothing else sounded good at 8 p.m., and I am in love with my new all natural almond butter.

Looking forward to tomorrow's workout, so stay tuned!

CrossFit Paleo Challenge

For a couple years now, I’ve been hearing about CrossFit. I’d seen the videos on YouTube and tried a couple CF workouts in a friend’s home garage gym, but I hadn’t really been bitten by the CrossFit bug. In my quest to always look for new ways to change things up, I decided it was time to try it out for real. I was dying to know what all of the buzz was about! So, last week I went into my local CF gym. I was immediately met with an unmistakable energy as soon as I walked through the door. The loud music and lack of conventional corporate gym fare sparked my interest, and I decided to stay and work out.

The workout I did my first day was called “Cindy.” It was a timed workout of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats using body weight as resistance. I completed 15 rounds of Cindy in 20 minutes and realized then that these workouts could possibly give my usual High Intensity Interval Training sessions a pretty good run for their money. Within that same hour I heard from one person after the next about how CF had completely changed their lives. One lady had lost 165 lbs. by doing CrossFit and changing her diet. Another said she hadn’t even lifted a weight until a few months prior, yet she looked to me like she could easily be a fitness model. Outside of anything I saw in the physical, there was undoubtedly a strong sense of community and positive energy. I’d only been there an hour, and already I was impressed…so much so, that I decided to commit to doing it for at least one month.

Last week was an introduction of sorts, where I learned what CrossFit is all about. So what is CrossFit exactly? In a nutshell, it’s a strength and conditioning program that incorporates the ten recognized physical skills: cardiovascular endurance, respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. In addition, it focuses on conditioning that takes the exerciser through all 3 metabolic pathways: oxidative (low intensity), glycolytic (moderate intensity), and phosphagen(high intensity). Although varying intensity is the same premise for other forms of interval training and intense workouts, the thing that’s different about CrossFit, is that the method of training is always varied and it is discouraged to use any one particular set of reps, sets, rest periods, or regular routines…..quite opposite of most other training methods. People who attend CrossfFit don’t even know what the workout of the day (WOD) will be until they arrive to class.

With that said, this next few weeks will be an experiment for me. My first week was spent learning the basic Olympic weightlifting moves used in CrossFit: deadlift, clean, squat, press, clean & jerk, and snatch. As of tomorrow, I’ll be starting a 21 Day CrossFit Challenge where I’ll complete Crossfit workouts 5 times per week (15 total) and will be following a Paleo eating plan. The Paleo diet is made up of things that our ancestors could have eaten back in Paleolithic times: meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and oils. Sorry Kashi, 7 whole grains won’t be on a mission here!

I’ll be blogging about my workouts and eating, so check back often to see how things unfold. I’m excited to see how I feel at the end of the 21 Day Challenge, and I’m happy to share my experience with you all. Wish me luck!

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Fran- 21-15-9

Illinois Agility Test
-10 m sprint
-10 m cone weave
-10 m sprint
Push Press
Front Squat
Email Address
Mary: Inspirational CrossFit Story
Angie- For Time
-100 pull-ups
-100 push-ups
-100 sit-ups
-100 squats
What is CrossFit?