A Love Letter To Crossfit

A Love Letter To Crossfit

It’s a Process.  

I still remember what the WOD was on my first day. It involved copious amounts of wall balls.  I couldn’t breathe. I had a cramp in my side. I was afraid of getting high fived in the face with a 10 pound ball.  I contemplated death many times that day.  I heard “Caroline, breathe!” At least ten times a WOD for the first 2 months.  For some reason, holding my breath while working out was my body’s natural defense. Maybe it was hoping I would pass out so I could lie down. Anyway, CrossFit and fitness is general is a process.  Be patient! It’s a process. Sometimes it’s a very slow process but its working!

It’s fun unless it’s not. 

I curse CrossFit and my coaches (whom I love) on a regular basis.  Like most people I like to do the things I’m good at.  I’m kind of strong so I like to lift.  Push presses, dead lifts, bear complexes and even thrusters are fun for me.  Okay, maybe not thrusters.  I loathe any body weight exercise that is programmed. I just suck at gymnastics.  I have cried during WOD’s with high gymnasty skills on more than one occasion.  I’m told I need to break through the mental barrier. Really, I just suck at it and I hate it. Even if I could breeze through it like everyone else I will still hate it.  The cool thing is that when I hate something in Crossfit, you develop this need of working on it again and again and again. Now as much as my body protests I can stuck my mind to it and try my best. It’s not easy and sometimes I need to stop and rest but I’m doing it.

It hurts so good.

Um, yes. True story. Why do people insist that pain is good you may ask? It’s not. It sucks. I’m sore most days. For the most part it’s tolerable but the good thing is that it makes your mind so much stronger.

CrossFit is known for its undying love of the underdog.

We hoot, holler and yell encouragement at everyone but we have an extra special affinity for encouraging the person who is still working when everyone else is recovering.  I love that for everyone else. For me, I wish people would just leave me alone to finish in peace. It’s not that I don’t appreciate people cheering me on.  I do. I like the post WOD high fives and fist bumps. Love those. I love the people who want me to succeed. However, when I’m on thruster number 5 of 20 I just want to focus on what I’ve got to do. So, please, don’t take offense when I ask you to not cheer me on. (That is unless you’re Dan Bailey or Charlie Hunnam. They can cheer me on in any way they see fit!)   The people at my box already know this about me. It doesn’t always stop the encouragement but I appreciate that they respect me enough to keep it to a dull roar.

We all know who Rich Froning and Sam Briggs are. (If you don’t you need to study.)

They are the gold standard in CrossFit and are what a lot of people think of when they think of CrossFit.  They are phenomenal athletes and as a result of their hard work they have physiques to be admired.  But let me be clear when I say that most people who CrossFit do not look like this. The amazing people who test themselves daily are moms and dads, bus drivers and bankers and college students.  They look like you and me and they are all athletes to be admired.  Some have six packs and some do not. Regardless, these men and women work their butts off and should be revered.

There are a lot of interesting terms in CrossFit.

Some of them make people chuckle like the 12 year olds they really are, me included.  Don’t be fooled by the ease at which your coaches can perform movements like the snatch and the jerk.  They’ve had a ton of practice and it takes hundreds of times of doing some of these movements until we get good at them.  Scooping, thrusting and shrugging are hard!  One day I’ll be able to clean, jerk and have a nice snatch! One day, when I grow up that won’t make chuckle to say.

Flexing is fun. 

We’ve all heard all of the fun sayings that eventually end up on tank tops.  Suns out, Guns out! Welcome to the Gun show! Meet the Hammer Brothers… Jack and Sledge! These tank tops exist because flexing is fun.  The best days are the days when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and notice a curve to your arms or a ridge in your abs.  You turn to the left and to the right and you FLEX! It’s really one of the greatest benefits of CrossFit. Flexing is fun. Go Forth and Flex! Especially when you did a workout that involves tons of GHD Sit Ups, you will go check immediately afterwards if your abs are creeping out!

Few will understand.

People won’t always understand our love for CrossFit. It’s okay.  They don’t have to get it.  Sometimes it’s frustrating that they don’t understand.  I get it.  I deal with it.  It just may not be for them.  That’s okay too.  Don’t let that snuff out your light! Shine bright, baby! Let the love flow. Embrace it.  Nothing is better than some good old fashioned CrossFit love.  If you don’t have anyone to talk to about it send me an e-mail! I’ve got lots to say!

CrossFitters are the best people.

They really are.  Am I the only person who is surprised when someone is genuinely nice to me? Maybe I am but let me just say people who do CrossFit are the best.  They shine bright and they “Live with Fire!”   Their spirit, passion and love for CrossFit and their boxmates runs deep.  It’s a true love. It’s an undying love that is wrapped in truth, kindness, generosity and sometimes tough love.  I love them.  It has filled me with something that I didn’t know I was missing. I know that I will be supported and pushed and I know that when I succeed we all succeed.   The heart of CrossFit is the people. Don’t let anyone tell you anything differently. We love and we WOD!

Last but not least, you can do it!

Dig deep.  Press harder.  Push your limits.  Try. Fail. Try again.  It takes time but you can do it.  Come back for more. Don’t give up. A breakthrough is on the way.  And if you think you can’t do it…look at me. Through the doubt and the fear and rough days…I’m doing it! You can. You can. You can.

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Bangers

Bangers

Motivation… yeah, it’s a biatch. Especially during Festival Season! While there’s a whole list of advice I could give you – set goals, reward yourself, exercise with a mate – my fave (failsafe!) way to kick my butt back into action is to turn to my good friends Shania, Whitney and Miley.

I’m talking about bangers! You know, them feel-good beats that pump you up and make you feel amaze. I’m talking Crazy in love, Turn down for what, Girls just wanna have fun kinda stuff. And of course, I have my go-to’s depending on my mood. Whether I’m down and out after a long (crappy) day, unmotivated to hit the gym, or feeling out of sorts, there’s a song for it.

Check out my fave 14 ‘feel-good’ bangers for guaranteed confidence, smiles and good times.

1. Touch the sky – Kanye West

Let’s kick things off with the one and only Yeezy, for when I get to the gym and am just not feelin’ it. Go on, try listening to it without feeling “extra fly” (quote: Kanye) – I dare you!

2. I wanna dance with somebody – Whitney Houston

Volume up girls! Who cares if the guy on the treadmill next to you can hear the sweet sound of Whitney wanting to dance with somebody through your earphones, you’ll be feeling motivated AF.

3. Single ladies – Beyonce

‘Cause it wouldn’t be a list of bangers without a bit of ‘Yonce in the mix. Forgotten what a strong, independent queen you are? Press play on this one.

4. Believe – Cher

I listen to this one when I need a little reminder to stay strong. You know, on those days when everything seems to be going wrong. Can relate? Be strong, respect yourself and believe!

5. Nice for what – Drake

Nice for this playlist! When you can’t find your mojo and have lost touch with your inner hustler, Drake’s got your back. Feel empowered, be fierce and “hit them angles” girl.

6. Man, I feel like a woman – Shania Twain

Motivating, liberating, empowering. Yep, that just about sums it up. For an added confidence boost, chuck this one on your ‘pump me up’ playlist.

7. One more time – Daft Punk

When I’m 4 rounds into my workout, on my second last set of squats and about to give up, what do I do? I make like Daft Punk and smash it out one more time!

8. Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus

Basically just an all round feel-good, pump-me-up, banger. There’s nothing like belting this one out  with some carpool karaoke after a tiring day at work on the way to the gym, or even just on a road trip with your bestie… exhibit A!

9. I Got You – Duke Dumont

Missing summer? Listening to summer bangers is an awesome motivator to help you keep your eye on your goals in winter. This one’s my fave – talk about good vibes!

10. Hey ya! – Outkast

Talk about a ‘feel-good’ banger. I can’t help but smile when I hear this one. Rough day? Let it all go, and (in the wise words of Andre 3000) “shake it, shake, shake it.” Trust me, you’ll feel better.

11. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson

When to listen: Before a night out on the town. Who to listen with: your best girlfriends. When I’m not in the mood for a night out but it’s too late to bail, it’s time to get Uptown Funky. Without fail, it puts a strut in my step and some serious ‘tude in my mood.

12. Respect – Aretha Franklin

Boy trouble? Not for this girl. If you’re in a toxic relationship, lacking self respect or forgetting your self worth, Aretha’s your girl.

13. Only girl in the world – Rihanna

A banger if I ever did hear one. Let’s just say RiRi really knows how to pump me up for the gym. Queue bass drop… now!

14. Bring it all back – S club 7

Saving the best for last. Let me leave you with a classic (90’s babies represent)! Listen to this song for the ultimate motivation and smiles. Over and out. (BTW it’s my all time forever and ever favourite song)

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Some Running Tips

Running is a big part of my life (in case you didn’t already know, LOL). It’s one of my favourite ways to tap out from the world and de-stress after a crazy day.

Running improves lung capacity (big yes!) and strengthens your heart, plus helps tone your legs and glutes (yes, please!). And if you remember to engage your core while you run, you’re going to improve your rig, too.

If you want to fall in love with running like me, or simply up your game, here are my top eight tips:

1. Invest in a good pair of runners

Wearing the wrong shoe can not only hurt your feet, but can also injure your hip, knee and back. I recommend going to a specialist sports store. They have trained staff that know how to fit your feet correctly and can recommend styles based on your goals.

2. Download a good playlist

Music is a runner’s best friend. An awesome playlist will get you fired up and will improve your mood and the quality of the run. My running picks? Beyoncé, Bieber and Flume.

3. Mix up the surface

Don’t limit yourself to just the footpath, mix up your terrain. The pavement is great for sprinting, the beach (running on sand) trains your muscles as it forces you to lift your feet higher, the park (or running on grass) is wonderful for cushioning, and the treadmill means you can train all year regardless of the weather. Mixing it up ensures you never get bored, too.

4. Introduce cross training

If you really want to up your running game, don’t just run. Other forms of exercise can improve strength, endurance and cardiovascular health.

5. Stretch!

Running is very physical and can be quite taxing on our bodies. To ensure you don’t get injured, it’s essential you stretch and cool down properly after every run. You’ll thank me later!

6. Add distance gradually

Don’t try and run 5km one week and 10km the next – build up your distance and speed gradually. My training technique is to add 500m each week. Start at your own level (even if it’s one kilometre) and have patience with yourself and your body.

7. Slow down

When you first start running, don’t try and sprint. Keep your pace slow so the effort is easier. It may be tempting to run fast or to keep up with others, but you’ll exhaust and may injure yourself. Remember, it’s about duration not speed.

8. Have a rest day

Yep, I’m encouraging you to have a day off – your body will need it so don’t feel bad. Treat your body to 24 hours of rest and recovery. I, personally, run two to three times a week, one will normally be a longer run (around 10-15k), the other one or two will either be sprint work (see my other posts about these workouts) or just a shorter run (5-6k).

My Running Program

My Running Program

A lot of you have been asking about my running program and what types of running sessions I regularly do.

So I’ve put together this blog for you to answer these questions!

My training involves a combination of both running + strength work; including functional body weight exercises, interval-style running, plyos, HIIT, heavier weights in the gym & middle distance running.

1. Easy Hard Running Session

  • 90sec hard run –  90sec easy run    x2
  • 60sec hard run –  60sec easy run    x3
  • 45sec hard run –  45sec easy run    x4
  • 30sec hard run –  30sec easy run    x5

Record distance achieved 

2. Split Running Session

  • 2.4 km run
  • 1.2 km run
  • 600 m run
  • 300 m run
  • 150 m run

1:1 Recovery* for all runs. Record all split times.

*1:1 means your rest (stop) for the same amount time that it took you to run each split.

3. Stairs Running Session

I do this session on a set of stairs that is ~50-100+ stairs.
  • 2 sets walk / slow jog
  • 3 sets; 1 step at a time – for time*
  • 30sec rest
  • 3 sets; every second step – for time
  • 1min rest
  • 5 sets; 1 step at a time – for time
  • 1min rest
  • 5 sets; every second step – for time
  • 1min rest
  • 2 sets walking lunges
  • 2 sets walk / slow jog

*For Time means as fast as you can.

I run because I love it! But it’s also great for my overall cardiovascular fitness. Plus I love being outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine to train to.

Workout #15

Workout #15

This is an ab workout and it is quite challenging (trust me, it is more difficult than it looks!). It works every muscle in your core, and is a great workout to add to the end of cardio or just to do on its own.

 

How To Complete The Workout

Complete 6 reps of each, without any rest. After you have completed 1 round, you can rest for 60 seconds if you need to. Complete a total of 2-3 rounds.

1. Straight leg toe taps (complete 6 reps each side)
2. Half tuck and pike (using gliding discs – I will put the link to the discs I use at the bottom of this post)
3. Crunch pulses
4. Pyramid plank
5. One sided v up
6. One sided rope climbs (using gliding discs)

Workout #12

Workout #12

HIIT is fantastic for losing weight and toning up.

This is a full body HIIT workout that won’t cause you to bulk up, and will still burn lots of calories (both during AND after).

Complete each exercise for 40 seconds, and then rest for 20 seconds. Once you have completed 1 round, you can either rest for 1 minute, or go straight into round 2. Aim to complete 3 rounds in total. If it is too difficult, you can just do 2 rounds and then work your way up to 3 rounds.

  • Bench hops
  • Advanced toe touches
  • High knee runs
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Straight punches
  • Mountain climbers
  • Burpee roll ups
The Female Athlete Triad: Part 2 – Prevention & Treatment

The Female Athlete Triad: Part 2 – Prevention & Treatment

In one of my last blogs, I wrote about The Female Athlete Triad; a common, yet serious medical condition that can affect female athletes & fitness lovers.

To recap, The Female Athlete Triad is a combination of three medical conditions that are all linked to each other:

  1. Low energy availability & disordered eating
  2. Menstrual problems
  3. Weak bones & stress fractures

Now its time for Part 2 of The Female Athlete Triad – prevention and treatment strategies. There are many nutrition-related options to help prevent and manage this condition, and enable females enjoy fitness & sport in a healthy and happy way.

Prevention

One of the keys to preventing The Female Athlete Triad is awareness and education. Educating females, athletes, parents and coaches about what The Triad is, signs and symptoms (click here) and steps to prevent it are essential.

 

To help prevent the Triad, it is important that female athletes are educated on nutritional requirements for their age, particularly energy (especially from carbohydrates), calcium and vitamin D. Good nutrition and adequate energy intake will ensure a healthy weight and foster good bone formation.

As a Female involved in sport & fitness:

  • Focus on healthy, nutritious eating for optimal performance
  • Avoid restrictive eating practices or cutting out specific foods/food groups
  • Don’t avoid carbohydrates-rich foods – carbohydrates are essential for optimal fitness training as they are your body’s primary fuel source. Choose healthy carbohydrate options like sweet potato, oats, brown rice, yoghurt & fruit.
  • Eat regular meals and snacks to fuel you for training – don’t skip meals or snacks, especially pre & post workout snacks
  • Monitor your menstrual cycle by using a diary or calendar
  • Consult your doctor if you have irregular/missed periods or recurrent injuries and stress fractures
  • Seek the help of a Dietitian to design a healthy diet specific to your sport and to your body’s energy needs
  • Talk with someone if you are concerned about your body image or weight
  • Seek emotional support from parents, coaches, friends and teammates


As a Coach:

  • Encourage your female athletes to eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Remind your female athletes that healthy eating is an important part of successful training and competition
  • Focus on health and a positive body image, not body weight
  • Educate your athletes about the Triad and warning signs and symptoms
  • Avoid out-of-competition weigh-ins
  • Include weight based training to strengthen bones
  • Link your athletes with other health professionals including Dietitians and counselors
  • Look for warning signs and symptoms of the Triad and help your athletes seek medical advice

 

As a Parent:

  • Provide your children with healthy meals and snacks
  • Talk with your children about The Female Athlete Triad and healthy body development
  • Look for warning signs and symptoms of the Triad and seek medical help if you are concerned
  • Focus on health and a positive body image, not body weight

 

Management & Treatment

Managing and treating the Female Athlete Triad requires a team approach – the female athlete, parents, coach, Dietitian, G.P. and other health professionals.

The first aim of treatment for any Triad component is to increase energy availability. This may involve increasing energy intake from foods or reducing energy expenditure from exercise. Nutrition counselling from a Dietitian is essential to have energy needs assessed. Increasing energy availability should restore menstrual cycles and optimise bone mineral density. Ensuring adequate amounts of bone building nutrients including calcium, vitamin D & K, protein and other essential nutrients will aid bone recovery. Amounts can be determined by a Dietitian and dietary supplements may be necessary.

What If I Think Someone I Know Has It?

It is easy to ignore female athlete triad and hope it goes away. But successful treatment requires help from a doctor and other health professionals. If a friend, sister or teammate has signs and symptoms of female athlete triad, discuss your concerns with her and encourage her to seek treatment. If she refuses, you may need to mention your concern to a parent or coach.

Tips for Female Athletes

  • Keep track of your periods – keep a record on a calendar or in your phone of when your have your periods. That way, if you start missing periods, you’ll know right away and you’ll have accurate information to give to your doctor.
  • Visit a dietitian – they will help you get your dietary game plan into gear and find out if you’re getting enough key nutrients such as iron, calcium, and protein. And if you need supplements, a Dietitian can recommend the best choices.
  • Don’t skip meals or snacks – if you’re constantly on the go, it can be easy to skip meals and snacks. But eating now will improve performance later, so stock up with healthy snacks like fruit, muesli bars, fruit muffins, yoghurt tubs to ensure you have something tasty and easy to eat on the go.
  • Talk to someone – if you are concerned about your health or you have some of the signs and symptoms of the Female Athlete Triad, it is important to talk to someone about it. Talk to relative, friend, coach, and seek medical help. Talking to a doctor or dietitian will be confidential.

Remember: It’s your body and your life; you can stop unhealthy consequences of the Triad if you seek help and live healthy and compete at your best!