Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Square One

Fair warning- this post is going to be all over the place since I haven't posted for a few days. So many things have happened, and I'll be attempting to update y'all on my workouts, new found love of intermittent fasting (seriously, LOVE), no-sunscreen sun exposure, my wedding planning, and my recent trip to Connecticut.

A few months ago, I decided to extend the Memorial Day holiday weekend by a few days and take a trip back east to where my mom was born and raised, near where I was born and lived for 7 years (and visited frequently after our move 3,000 miles west), and where I plan to get married in the fall. The idea was to hammer down as many wedding details as possible. As of the Wednesday before I left, the only detail I had sorted out was a hefty deposit on a venue that I hadn't even seen. In addition to me having a holiday on Monday to work with, I would only miss minimal amounts of work, even MORE of my family would be in Connecticut that weekend because my cousin graduated from college the weekend before. My mom and I made a list of things we needed to do, and set out to accomplish them.

As if wedding details aren't enough to fill one's brain and patience to capacity, my own personal agenda involved not getting sidetracked from my intermittent fasting, workouts, water consumption, and grain free/clean eating while on this trip (especially since I knew I'd be tasting wedding cakes). I have a huge Italian family that does nothing but talk about food, eat food, and push food. For me, now that I don't think about food that much, or even care about it, its obnoxious. I can't even explain the disfunctionality between my family members eating ridiculous amounts of food, and then lamenting it. Food, food, food. I know how they are, I fully knew what to expect going there, yet, when I was there, it was STILL shocking to me. Before I left for the foodland, I was just hoping that I could slip under the radar with my eating, and no one would give me any crap. Wishful thinking.

Here is a rough outline/mini blog of each day last week up until today, and how I handled my cross country flights plus 4 days away from home with the nosiest food pushers you'll ever meet:

Monday- Wednesday in Seattle- ate and worked out like usual (fasted workouts, eating window 1pm-8pm)

Thursday- early am flight through 3 time zones- packed beef jerky, nuts, and dried fruit to eat on the plane at noon PST, and had dinner plans in Connecticut at a friends house in which the food options would not be up to me. I was very nervous beforehand about that dinner, but, then I received a text asking what I do and don't eat. I hate stressing people out that are feeding me with all my restrictions, but I did mention I eat meat, vegetables, all fat, and fruit. It was an excellent meal of grilled meat and veggies, salad, and the best corn on the cob I've ever had. It was perfect. I arrived at my grandma's house shortly after, visted for a bit, drank a lot of water, and went to bed early since I had plans to visit a CrossFit in CT in the am, and workout there.

Friday- woke up at 7am EST, drank my usual amino acid energy drink and took some BCAA's. Everyone knew I'd be heading to the gym, so it wasn't weird that I didn't eat food before going. I worked out with the foreign gym at 8am, and had an AWESOME workout. Seriously, it was so perfect because all the moves were things I could do- run, Kb swings, sit-ups. Best of all, I didn't embarass myself and get last in the workout, in fact, I felt so good and strong, it was the best fasted workout I've had to date. It was also the most humid weather I'd ever worked out in. I was dripping in sweat after the stretching warm-up. My mom and I had a jam packed day of caterers, venue visits, etc., so as soon as I returned from the gym, I showered and we ran out the door. We stopped for lunch at a fancy deli at noon, which was perfect, so I had my first meal of a small thing of chicken salad, and a huge container of curried cauliflower. More touring around and meetings followed, and dinner was at 6pm. Dinner was bar food- ick (my cousins just opened up a bar, and we needed to support it), I made the best choices I could- grilled wings (which were so damn spicy I could only get 4 down) and some sweet potato fries.

Saturday- woke up at 7am EST, and had my first round of battling with my grandma and others about what I wanted for breakfast. I just kept saying "I'll get something in a minute" or "we are headed out the door to taste cakes soon" I consumed my amino acid drink and BCAA's. At 11am, we really did have to taste cakes, and I was nervous about that. My first food of the day would be sugar, and not protein. In a fashion that a me of 2 years ago- or even 1 year ago wouldn't recognize, I literally only tasted 2-3 bites of a chocolate cake and a vanilla cake. To taste the fillings, I dipped my fork in each, barely coating the tines, just to get the idea. And, there were some I didn't even bother to taste because I knew I wouldn't like them. They tasted good, but I was easily able to control how much of each I had I was able to stop myself. Watching my mom on the other hand was different. She tasted everything, ate way more cake then I did, and it was like she was compelled to eat everything on the plate, just because it was there. We ate a delicious lunch at 1pm- I had mixed greens with balsamic and roasted pork belly. It was heaven. At 5pm, we attended a large family BBQ, and I ate some braised pork shoulder, cole slaw, salad, and got to taste some samples from the other cake place I was thinking about. The cake was so sweet, I literally had to eat each bite with a strawberry to tone it down. I much preferred the first cake place.

Sunday- woke up at 7am EST, said my usual "I'll get something in a minute" over and over, and distracted everyone by my serious need to go to the beach that day- it was goregous out. I packed up some leftover pot roast, veggies, and chicken wings to take to the beach, and once again slipped under the breakfast radar. The beach was fantastic. I only applied sunscreen to my face and decided that this would be my true test. I layed out in the sun in my tankini for 20-30 minutes on each side, and then put on my beach dress cover up (sleeveless, deep V-neck) and walked around the length of the beach for another 40 minutes or so. I felt myself getting some sun, and began to panic wildly internally. What was I thinking?! I kept looking at my skin, and it wasn't visibly red or even pink, but I was STRESSING big time. The majority of my worst ever sunburns had come from the very beach I was on! If later that evening I turned into a lobster like I was SURE would happen based on past experience, I'd be miserable for my flight home. Literally full blown internal panic. I tried to calm myself by thinking I'd only been in the sun for 2 hours max. The car ride home after the beach, I kept checking my chest, arms, etc. Still no pink. We went to a movie after the beach, and once the movie was over, I checked myself for color. My skin was flushed a little pink, and my bathing suit tie line around my neck was barely visible. Surely I was in for more? There was no heat coming off my skin, it was a litte red, but not painful or anything. Dinner was more leftovers, and I watched as everyone ate ice cream and hot fudge without the slightest inkling of wanting any. I then listened as everyone said "oh, this is it, the last bad thing I'm eating, and then tomorrow I'll be good." My mom said all the pants she brought were now too tight for her to button. Weird.

Monday- fly back to Seattle day- Woke up 8:30a EST, and my chest was just slightly pink. No pain, no burn, my hawkeyed sunburn nazi mom didn't even notice it, so it couldn't have been bad!!!! Also, I remembered I had eaten some sugar/grains in my cake testing the day before we went to the beach, so maybe that is why the slighest red showed up? Either way, its strange and baffling. Part of me wants to knock it off, and keep wearing sunscreen, but part of me wants to push the boundaries of this no sunscreen thing. I was unable to escape going out to breakfast at 10am with my mom and grandma before I left. I figured, it was still a 14 hour fast, so it was ok. I ate a 2 pieces of bacon, a few potatoes, and a few bites of egg. It was so greasy, I couldn't handle it. I was on the road at 11am back to the airport to return the rental car and catch my flight. I had a 2 hour layover in Newark, and got a burger and some yam fries (yes, I ate the bun, I'm still alive, and the Paleo gods have not struck me down). Six hours of sitting and 300 pages into the second book of the Shades of Grey series later, I was back in Seattle. The bf deluxe picked me up, and brought some snacks of carrot sticks a cheese slices. I had a few of those, allowed all the frustrations of the weekend to fall out of my mouth in a fashion the bf deluxe is VERY used to. When I got home, I had a package- it was a dress I ordered from Nordies as a potential wedding dress to bring with me to my appointment this weekend. Kinda weird that I had to order a dress from Nordstrom online to bring with me to Nordstrom store, but whatever. If I don't like it, I can return it on the spot. I liked it a whole bunch, bf liked it a whole bunch, but I want my friends opinions (hence the appt. at the store this weekend). I'll also try on some other dresses when I'm at the store in case there is an even better one. I showered, and then went to sleep.

Today, its back to the usual. Woke up at 6am, downed my usual BCAA's, water, and amino acid drink. Worked out at 12 noon, and had a post workout refuel meal of banana, low fat protein, and some carrot sticks. I feel great, I don't feel bloated from my weekend, my clothes all fit (even looser?), I'm awake, etc. One thing I did notice on both ends of the cross-country journey- I adjusted to both time zones without issue. I guess that's another bonus to chalk up to the paleo/IF way of eating? I'll test it out further when I travel to Turkey in September. Ha.

As far as my personal agenda, the weekend was a huge success. As far as wedding planning? Not so much. I have less done now than I did before the trip. How is that even possible you ask? Well, my mom and I reached an agreement that the venue we have been holding since November 2011 is not right. I always suspected this, but it took her seeing it in person to verify that. My feelings now are that I'm back to the drawing board. Except the date that we set (and honeymoon that is booked) are 3 months away. I don't have any time left. Some decisions need to be made, and made fast. A courthouse wedding and reception in my backyard is not looking so bad now.

At least I might have a dress now? This is my life.

Stayed tuned for tomorrow's post on divine anti-cupcake intervention, and why airports might just be the new DMV.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Latest Experiment

For the past month, I've been keeping a secret from you guys. Don't take offense, but part of the experiment was keeping the secret. Let me explain- since the beginning of this blog, step 1 for me was to write about all the things I was going to do or planned on doing, and then as I went along, I would update and report things here. The theory behind this was that if I said it here first, I'd have more motivation to do it, because I know y'all are hanging on every word (ha! kidding). For some things, that technique worked (going paleo), for others it did not (half marathon training). There have been many evolutions and new plans and experiments over the past couple of years. Anyone that has been reading from the beginning (ahem, C, L, big sis) I'm sure is like, WTF is she doing NOW?!?!

I read a lot of health blogs, paleo blogs, crossfit/weight lifing blogs, weight loss blogs, attempted weight loss blogs, etc. The variety of what I read allows me to toss out the 'fringe thinking' or ideas that see, to be fleeting and unsubstantiated, and focus in on reoccurring themes with success and testimonials. March- April I spent some time sort of stalled out, thinking of just exactly it was that I wanted, and how I planned to get there. During that time, almost like fate, a reoccurring concept kept popping up in the things I read, and it was nearly across the board, making it seem less 'fringe' to me.

Very uncharacteristic of myself, I dove head first into the intermittent fasting (IF) pool. Luckily for me, the pool was WAY deep. I just decided one Monday 4 full weeks ago, that I was going to skip my breakfast, workout at lunchtime like I normally do (only this time fasted) and eat my first meal after that. Day one went ok, so I decided to see if I could stretch it out for a week. Sure enough, it fit into my schedule with ease like I never could have imagined. After my first week, I took some notes on how I was feeling. After week one, I decided I would give it a full 4 weeks of testing before I came here to write about it, and that is exactly what I did.

Below are my weekly notes. I tried to note only the new things that I notice each week, and not repeat any (but some notes are just different ways of saying the same thing) so, all four weeks is more of a cumulative list.

First week notes:
More energy
Improved mental focus/clarity
Easy fit with my schedule, less preparation
Better sleep
More activity (in all rooms of the house. ahem.)
General lack of interest in food
Heightened enjoyment of food when I do eat
Feeling hungry does not have to signal that something is "wrong" (and therefore I should eat)
Scheduling my eating around my life, not my life around eating = less stress

Second notes:
Frequent pee (including waking in middle of night)- usually a sign of me losing weight
Get full on relatively normal amounts of food, i.e.- I'm not making up for long the long period of not eating by gorging myself
Clothes fit better, but scale isn't moving- eventually it has to
Able to get through workouts, but feel kinda sluggish- hoping this is just an adjustment period to fasted workouts
Very thirsty
Sort of "slacking" with my eating- need to clean this up/ begin counting calories/macro nutrients/alternating macro nutrients on rest days
Hunger level significantly less before noon

Third week notes:
Began counting calories this week.
Acidy feeling/tummy uncomfortable occasionally during workout (not enough to stop the PR's though- booyah!)
Seem to "use" food quickly. 1-2 hours after eating, I feel like I've burned through it, not hungry, but definitely feeling like my tank in starting to get empty? IDK- hard to explain.
Still thirsty
Staying at or below calorie goal takes focus currently. I really was out of touch with just how much I was eating.
Watching calories is really making me think twice about what goes in my mouth, paleo or not
Get full faster- on smaller amounts of food
So relaxed...I never realized how much thought I put into what I was going to eat until I stopped. So freeing.
Starting to get the hang of calorie counting again.
Really trying to focus on changing up macronutrients based on whether its a rest day or workout day.
Weight has started to move downward- although I have noticed signs of fatloss around my body before this
For the first time in a long time there is a (tiny) gap between my thighs.

Fourth week notes:
Good, deep, sleep
Still thirsty
Morning hunger not as apparent- I treat any stomach grumblings with BCAA's, definitely feel like I've broken the habit of eating first thing in the am
Clothes looser, body changes more apparent
Really enjoying not having to think about/prepare food for breakfast. Fasting for 16 hours then working out fasted fits incredibly well into my schedule.
Seem to be spending less money on food (since I'm eating less) preparing for the day is SO easy- pack one good sized meal with me (usually dinner leftovers).
Caught a bit of a cold, but its not slowing me down/preventing me from exercising- slight sniffles, scratchy throat, dry cough- nothing too crazy. No body aches, no brain fog, just annoying not feeling 100%!
Scale continues to tick downward

Between ease of execution and seeing good results, I plan to continue. My absolute #1 focus is retaining muscle mass while losing fat. I know this means weight loss and body changes will be a slow process. However, I do feel that focusing on fat loss only is a much more efficient route to where I want to be than focusing on losing weight only, and THEN having to focus on building muscle. I have a solid amount of strength now, I want to keep that.

Due to my goal above, everything I read regarding muscle retention/fat loss lead me to paleo combined with intermittent fasting. The only thing left was for me to test it out on MYSELF. As much as I love food, I thought I was going to have a tough time with not eating for 16 hours (9 of that is sleeping though..). I was apprehensive about training fasted. I thought I might go crazy with meals once I was in my feeding window. I was under the false impression that I needed to be eating every few hours to keep my metabolism "going."

I was surprised on all fronts. The fasted workouts took some getting used to, and although I felt sluggish during the workout, my times proved that I was still in line (or better) than my fed workouts. I adjusted very quickly to not eating in the morning- it was always such a chore for me to have stuff prepared, and then eat it, blah blah. Not eating is SO much easier. In the mornings I focus on bringing my post workout lunch, and that's super easy, since I just grab dinner leftovers. I'll drink my amino acid energy drink and take some BCAA's, and I'm good! Yeah, occasionally I'll get some stomach grumblings before my workout, but since I'm at work, I find if I just busy myself with something else, I soon forget about them. I've been drinking a TON of water. The first week or so, my first meals of the day tended to be larger, but now, I find I fill up pretty quickly on what I would consider to be normal amounts of food.

So, how does it work? Like I said, I dove into this head first. I barely did any real research on the topic before deciding to try it. I read enough to see that I should fast for 16 hours, end my fast with a workout, and keep my protein intake high. Since then, I have done quite a bit more reading on the subject. At first I was like, well, duh, of course people lean out, they are eating less in a day by fasting for a period of time. Well, turns out that is not the driving force behind the results people see with IF. The difference is not in the total calories consumed, but the timing of when those calories are consumed.

Let's take a previous normal day for me food/workout wise so you can see what I'm talking about:
Wake up 6:15am- eat breakfast at 6:45-7am
Snack at 10am
Workout at 12pm
Lunch at 1pm
sometimes snack at 3pm
Dinner at 5-6:30pm
In bed by 9:30

This schedule roughly breaks down to 12 hours fed state/12 hour fasted. During the fed state I would rarely go more than 3-4 hours without eating.

Currently my day looks like this:
Wake up 6:15
Workout at 12pm
First meal @ 1-1:15p
Dinner @ 7
Sometimes snack @8p
In bed by 9:30

Now my schedule breaks down to 7 hours fed state/17 hours fasted.

So, what's up with this? Why does reducing the window of eating matter? There is a whole bunch of science-y stuff dealing with insulin and gherlin and fat storage that you can do the research on your own if you are curious. The abridged version is that when you extend the regular period of fasting that we all do (sleeping) for a few hours longer, you are giving your body even MORE time to rest/repair/recovery. Afterall, that is what is occurring in our sleep- we are recovering. The absence of being in the fed state allows other processes to take place in our bodies, and eventually, the body begins to tap into its fat stores. By extending that time, the body is essentially running on empty and using whatever energy is available. THEN, when you end your fast by a high intensity workout, you really blast your body into tapping into fat stores because then it has used up what is readily available. After this workout and associated fast, the food you eat replenishes depleted stores and it has been observed that insulin sensitivity increases (source below). We all want better insulin sensitivity.

I do want to add that I am practicing IF along with my regular paleo eating (high protein/high fat/veggies/low sugar/no processed crap) and in the second week I began counting calories. Just like anything else, IF is a tool. The way my body composition and metabolism are right now, there is no way I could simply change my eating window and eat whatever I want in those 7 hours. I still have to eat the foods that work for me, and in reasonable amounts. The way I see it, IF simply makes better use of the diet I was already adapted to.

Oh, and on Saturday, I was out in the sun for 2 hours from 11-1 pm doing yardwork in shorts and a t-shirt, no sunscreen, and yep, you guessed it- no sunburn.

IF pages of interest:
Mark's Daily Apple- search IF
Free the Animal- search IF
Angry Trainer
Robb Wolf- search IF
JAG's Fitness Blog


Thursday, May 17, 2012

I have a cold/I don't have a cold

Yeah, what I have is annoying. I'm definitely displaying some signs of a cold. But, I don't FEEL like I have a cold. This happened to me before, last fall. I kept thinking that I was coming down with a cold, everyone around me was sick, but it never turned into more then just a few sniffles and a dry cough. I realized I must have caught the cold, but something about my lifestyle kept the symptoms to a minimum. SAME THING HERE.

Last week the bf deluxe had a cold, and I kept thinking "hope I don't get it." Like I always have thought anytime someone around me has been sick. A few days later, I had a minor stuffed up nose (sometimes its more stuffed up than not). I had kind of a scratchy throat, but not anymore, and sometimes I cough. I've still been able to get a lot done at work, I've still been going to the gym, my body feels fine, no aches or anything.

So is this what a wheat free/gluten free/paleo cold is like? If so, sign me up! Before going paleo, I'd only get sick maybe once or twice a year, but it would always put me down for at least a day or two. My body would ache, and I'd feel too weak to work out. I figured it was ok once in awhile to get a cold, it would build my immune system. I've never had, and never plan to get a flu shot. Ew. I have no idea what is in that crap, or why I would ever need one if I only get one cold a year, and now I get a semi-cold?

I'm always so intrigued by the things I have become so accustom too changing simply because I eliminated a few items from my regular diet. I read a great quote yesterday on someone's FB page-

-Ann Wigmore

True Dat.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bring on the Sun

We are actually having a real spring this year. The dominating story in all local news lately is how we've had 6 nice weekends in a row. Having grown up in California, I find that both shocking and comical, but more comical that it continues to be headline news. In a few years global warming is going to make Seattle the best city to live in! I'm looking forward to that. 

The onslaught of nice weather brings about all the fun stuff in our house- major home improvement projects, cleaning, home workouts, and of course SUNBATHING! We bought a fixer upper home, and for the past 2 years have been steadily chipping away at projects. The list from our home inspection was a mile long, but the list of cosmetic stuff we want to do is probably 1.5 miles long. We've been trying to find a balance between doing the stuff that really needs to be done and the cosmetic. A few weeks ago we got a new water heater- a gas one, since last year we switched out our oil furnace with a gas one, and part of our "deal" with the gas company was that we would get a stove and a water heater. The more appliances you inform them you are going to have, the cheaper the upfront cost is for them to bring gas to your house. We got the gas stove when the furnace was totally installed, so now we are all up on our promises. Of course, we will start to draw more gas and the gas company will still get plenty of money over the long run...

So, the cosmetic task we are now beginning is tiling the big family room. We don't have a garage, it was converted to a vaulted ceiling w/loft family room. When we moved in, we didn't even use the room because the carpet was so nasty (I HATE CARPET, especially other people's carpet). After a few months, we realized we weren't using the biggest room in the house, and that was dumb, so we got a few area rugs to cover the big nasties, moved our living room furniture in there, and promised to tile the bitch the first chance we got. Last Thursday, we pulled up the carpet. Touching gross carpet and the pad underneathe has to be on my top 10 list of things that totally skeeve me out. The bf deluxe doesn't seem to mind, and released me of touching duties and just ripped the whole thing out in one fell swoop. We knew that we would be looking at some form of concrete pad under the carpet, but we had no idea what condition it would be in. Turns out, it was in pretty good shape. After consulting some tiling friends, we learned of a waterproofing layer that you can just paint on. It goes on Peptol-Bismo pink, and dries red. It sort of is like liquid applied rubber. This made for an awesome workout room for me on Sunday:

I'll post before and after pics of the room if the tile looks good when we are done.

Yesterday I chose to do a quick Tabata workout of handstand holds and box jumps. I practiced some double unders, burpee box jumps, and kettlebell snatches for my warm up. It was super hot out, so it only took me about 2 seconds to break a sweat. I must be psychic or something because our workout today at the gym involves handstand holds and box jumps! Good thing I got practice in!
've heard some rumblings in the paleo community about sun exposure- rather, how people have claimed that since going paleo, they no longer need sunscreen (HERE and HERE to scratch the surface). I have very fair skin. Freckles, green eyes, the whole bit. I can't even look out the window when its sunny and not get pink, so these tales seemed far fetched to me. I also LOVE the sun. I love laying out in it, playing in it, and when exposed everyday with sunscreen, I have been known to get a decent tan. I've read that sunscreen might be more harmful than helpful, then, there is the whole argument about what did people do before sunscreen? 

Well, I've been doing some experimenting the past nice sunny 6 weekends, and the results are pretty interesting. I've just been going outside for a few minutes, sans sunscreen and drinking my coffee, or doing a few yard chores. I know myself well enough now to know when enough sun without sunscreen is enough. The past 5 weeks I would get out and have my time in the sun, and then at the end of the day, expect to see a little pink (which, I'm ok with). Nothing. I kept thinking- maybe I wasn't out when the sun was the strongest, or maybe I really wasn't out for that long?

So yesterday, I tried to get some sun. I wasn't looking for a burn, but I definitely wanted some noticeable lines. Anything. Around 11am, I drank my coffee and did some reading for work for about an hour in the sun. I had sunscreen on my face, that's it (not ready to mess with that yet). I could feel the sun warming me, it was fantastic. I went inside, did a few chores, and then at about 1:30 I put on my swimsuit and I layed out for over an hour. My suit is a tankini, so there was just the tiniest strip of my stomach visible- hasn't seen sun all year, no sunscreen, excellent conditions for a good red burn. At the end of the day, when I was getting ready for bed, I inspected myself for some sweet red vs. white flesh. There was next to nothing. Only the slightest touch of pink on my stomach, my chest, and my arms. My legs seemed to just go straight to their version of tan. I'm baffled.

All of the data I have up to this point in my life suggests that what I did yesterday should have left me with a pretty good burn. More research is necessary. Oh, but, I did notice this awesome thing while sunbathing:

See that? See what that is? A gap between my thighs. Yes, I know it's not much more than the thickness of a sheet of paper. But, my knees are touching

Friday, May 11, 2012

One of the best things about my gym is the varied backgrounds of the trainers. We have the "triathlete chiropractor trainer," the "old skool rugby playing/air force academy/cop trainer," the "world class kettlebell athlete/trainer/crossfit Regionals competitor," and the "newbie level 1 crossfit certified trainer." All bring their own elements to the gym and programming, and the result is some constantly varied, high intensity, functional shit.
We are in the midst of world class kettlebell athlete's programming, and today she was in her wheelhouse. I wish we spent more time learning kettlebell intracacies, but there are just SO. MANY. THINGS. in CrossFit, that as soon as you start to get good at one thing, you are letting another slip. That is why this truly is the sport of fitness. Oh, you can deadlift 300#? Awesome, now go sprint 400m in under 1:30. Oh, you can do 30 box jumps in a minute? Cool. Now back squat 2x your body weight. Specialize in not specializing. That's the whole idea, its also why we don't spend too much time on one thing.
So today, we got a quick lesson in Kb snatches, before having to do the SSST.
Heh. I promise that the Secret Service Snatch Test is a real thing, and that it is probably NOT what you dirty minds are thinking.
This might just be my most favorite workout ever. For 10 minutes, I performed as many one armed Kettlebell Snatches as possible. You can switch arms, put the bell down, rest, whatever, but your score is how many reps you get, so you probably don't want to be resting too much. When we were learning the Kb snatch, I was having some difficulty getting the movement to "click" in my head. Do this move wrong and you have a 35# Kb slamming down on your forearm. Do this move correctly, and its like the Kb is made of feathers. I prefer the later.
During the warm-up I played around with both the 12kg (26#) and the16kg (35#) trying to get it right. The 12kg was comically light, while the 16kg was just a tad too painful. Trainer suggested I use the 16kg, and I had it all set and ready to go, but changed my mind at the last second and grabbed the 12kg as I pondered 10 minutes and the fact that during the warm-up I never really got one to work for me. The time flew by. I never had to let go of the bell once, I was breathing quicker, but nothing crazy, I was switching arms every 5 swings rhymically, and I got 192 reps. I should have used the heavier bell.
Oh, well.  It was super important for me to work on getting the movement correct, and plenty of times in the 192 reps, I got it. I felt what it was like to do a perfect one armed Kb snatch. Now I can practice those bad boys with my 16kg toy at home.
Update on calorie counting- I'm adjusting. I'm beginning to remember what size meals constitute the caloric goals I'm looking for. Also- here is the real shocker- instead of eating/tasting/nibbling on something because its "paleo" I'm actually thinking of my caloric allotment for the day before I dive in and whether or not it fits into that! WEIRD! I'd say so far this exercise is a huge success for me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


So, its officially been 2.5 days of counting calories for me, and all I can say is WOW. I am humbled.

I haven't counted calories for well over a year (since going "paleo"), but before I stopped counting them, I had been counting calories off and on for years, and even religiously the entire year before I stopped (using LoseIt on my iPhone). I had a really good grasp on what was what, and how much I was consuming. Everyday I would enter in my eats to my app, and pretty soon I got to the point where I would just know roughly what a meal was calorie wise, and how many calories I had left for the day (but I still entered). The fact that I got so good at it gave me confidence in my calorie counting abilities. Apparently, counting calories is not "just like riding a bike" and you can not simply be as good at it after a year PLUS of not doing it as when you are in the habit everyday. Facepalm.

One of the major selling points of Paleo for me was the notion that calorie counting was uneccessary. My first 3 months of paleo sans calorie counting supported this as I shed 25 pounds. I'll admit, the break from having to enter every single thing I ate into my phone was glorious. I felt great (seeing as wheat was a major cause of irritation to my body) and ate Paleo approved foods with reckless abandon. Nuts by the handful, fruit, fatty chunks of meat, chicken skin off other's plates, salads, avocado, etc. I was invincible! "Watch me eat this bacon-guacamole sandwich for breakfast and not gain a pound!" True, but I also wasn't really losing.

The only thing I was watching was my carb intake. It took me awhile to figure out that calories matter (um, ok, I just figured it out). Facepalm. But...for me, its not as simple as a calorie is a calorie. For some, it is. Some can eat 1400 calories of twinkies everyday and lose weight, where as I need to make sure I'm eating 1400 calories (or whatever) of protien, fat, veg, fruit only. Refined sugar/carbs/etc. cause my blood sugar to swing wildly. The swings make it nearly impossible for me to have any restraint/willpower against overeating. Simply restricting my intake on the Standard American Diet (SAD) is not a sustainable way for me to lose weight. (I could also go into a book of a blog post about how just reducing any calories will result in weightloss, but a significant chunk of that would be muscle, in which you would need to further cut your calories to continue to lose, and you would not be giving yourself any additional help of increasing your base metabolic rate, because of said muscle loss and would gain back weight faster and more of it...sound familiar?) Where calories come from matter.

I've written before about how in order to lose weight, someone needs to figure out how they can eat less calories. For an extended period of time. For as long as needed. Possibly forever. Its a highly personal thing to figure out. Everyone is different. DNA is some tricky shit. I'm still trying to find my "go to" best losing strategy. I've found a lifelong way of eating, I just need to tweak it to find the losing range. Enter paleo with calorie counting/fasted workouts.

So, the past 2.5 days have been a GREAT exercise in me getting my ass handed to me by the myfitnesspal app...Unlike previous calorie counting streaks, I'm not hungry these first few days as I adjust to eating less. Since my blood sugar doesn't swing, I rarely notice hunger. I'M JUST BAFFLED BY HOW I'VE BEEN THINKING THAT I'VE BEEN EATING WAY LESS CALORIES THEN I HAVE. I know I am cocky at times (ha, my friends are saying "at times?") but I admit when I'm wrong. Seriously, I just thought this whole exercise would be me, eating what I normally eat, and seeing the caloric totals. WRONG. Its been more like, ok, just had my normal lunch of.... 2 sausages, a yam, strawberries, some veggies sauteed in olive oil, and WHAT?!?!? I only have 300 calories left in my day?!??! Facepalm. Ok, that's a little dramatic, but you get the idea.

Lesson of the day? I can not just "eyeball" calories today because over a year ago when I was counting them everyday I could. Facepalm.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rockin' PR

Sunday night per my normal routine I checked to see what Monday's workout would be.  I saw three familiar words- Shot Ain't Dead.  We have creative workout namers.  I remembered that workout vividly, like it was just a few weeks ago.  I remember how much it sucked.  I looked back through my food/exercise log and was surprised to see that it was actually all the way back in January that we did it!  The workout is a pyramid, (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1) of thrusters (65#), star jumps, seated Russian twists (15#).  My time was 26:15, ugh, a long grind.  My only goal for the day was to beat that time. 

I got to the gym, and was surprised by the sheer size of the noon class today- 14 people! I think that's the most I'd ever seen. I started to get nervous. You'd think after 1.5 years of CrossFit the nerves would go away, right? Ha. Every workout is a chance to push yourself to new limits. Sometimes there is a chance to PR. The nerves will never go away. I did a quick look on the results board to see what the 6am times were. There is one girl who I am always neck and neck with, on the majority of WOD's we finish within seconds of each other (sometimes she wins, sometimes I win). We are a pretty good match. Her time today? 19:20 Rx. What? Holy crap. I started to get even MORE nervous because a) I wanted to get somewhere close to her time, but b) that would mean a 7 minute PR. That just seemed nuts to me.
We warmed up, I made sure to make one last trip to the bathroom, I loaded up my bar, staked out my spot and promised myself to give it everything I had. A two or three minute PR would be great.
I was positioned facing cop trainer, and I tried to keep pace with him as long as I could. We were matched rep for rep until about round 5 or so. When I got to my 10 round, I saw the clock was at 9 minutes and change. Not only was I on track to PR, I was on track to get within striking distance of the 19:20 time of my buddy. I forced myself to keep moving. It hurt. I felt like I was going to puke. I had to take way more breaks on the way down through the reps then when I was going up. Then suddenly, it was like the reps were flying by, but the clock wasn't moving.
Cop trainer finished around 15 minutes or so, and I heard him say to me "sub 20 Violet" meaning that was actually a possibility! I pushed. I threw the weight down after my last Russian twist, looked at the clock, and saw the most glorious thing- 19:48. Over (6) SIX minute PR. 6:33 to be exact.
As I was thinking about typing this post up, it seemed a little familiar, and I looked back into the archives around January 24th to see that I wrote a post about the first time we did this HERE. It's pretty interesting to go back to three months ago, and see that I was very happy with a 26 minute time! Now I think I must have stopped for a nap sometime during the last time we did this workout.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Where I've Been and Where I'm Going

It took me "going paleo" to discover that eating wheat and/or gluten makes me feel crappy (and heightens my allergies). I also realized that abstaining from processed sugar and carbohydrates makes any cravings I had for said items go away. The positive effects/experiences I have observed since "going paleo" can not be denied. It has changed life the way I see it.

1.5 years ago, I stepped into a CrossFit gym and began setting goals for things I wanted to be able to do with my body. I saw girls lifting heavy weights, performing pull-ups, push-ups, handstands, box jumps, etc. Some of these things I can do now, but there is so much more I want to do.

In February, I participated in a challenge that involved very structured eating (still paleo), insane water consumption, and including supplements into my routine- fish oil, branch chained amino acids, vitamins, calcium and more. While I found the structure tedious, the results I saw were amazing, so I have continued with the supplementation.

This is where I have been.

In order to know where I'm going, I need to take a look at what has worked for me, and what needs improvement/testing.

Diet- While paleo was an awesome introduction into low carb living, I find I'm much happier when I can eat occasional high fat dairy, as well as rice, corn, white potatoes, and other gluten free starches. Wheat is still off the table for me because I don't like being a stuffed-up sneezy mess with one eye all red and tearing up. Not cool. I absolutely do love that eating fat is widely accepted and encouraged. However, due to its caloric denseness, fat still needs to be monitored, or as I will test out, allowed more freely on rest days, and rationed on workout days. I also enjoy the effect of not caring about food and therefore going long periods of time without eating. I always feel better when I eat less calories. ALWAYS. Fish oil, branch chained amino acids, vitamin D, and other supplements don't seem to be doing me any harm, and I rarely get sore from a workout. These are working for me. Bottom line, where does that leave me with diet?

Eating nutrient dense, high quality, real foods, but only when I'm hungry or haven't eaten for a really long time, and only in amounts that support my activity levels. I will try playing with macronutrient levels on workout vs. rest days, and I will begin roughly counting calories (gasp!) as I am trying to shed fat. I really liked the paleo illusion of not having to count calories, but I have slowly learned that for me, I need to better gauge how much I'm eating. I'm very much in the habit of recording what I eat in a day, but not so much tallying up calories. I'll be using the myfitnesspal app for that.

Exercise- CrossFit sometimes gets a bad wrap in certain fitness circles, particularly ones centered on fat loss/muscle gain. I like my gym, I like the workouts, and I've seen progress so, I'm not ready to give this up. The main focus of my training is going to be tweaking my diet, so in reality, whatever activities I choose to do should be my prerogative. Enjoyment/sticking with something in my experience far outweights what could be considered "best." I do not attend one of those CrossFit's that centers the majority of their workouts on MetCon's (or metabolic conditioning). We do hard, short workouts, rarely longer then 17 minutes. We also have strength days where no traditional conditioning is involved (trust me though...lifting heavy weights right is cardio). Bottom line, where does that leave me with exercise?

I'm going to continue what I'm doing (CrossFit/skills weekends at home) with the exception of fasted workouts. I will consume some branch chained amino acids prior to workout, but that is it. When I go to the gym at my regular noon time, I most likely will not have had anything to eat since the night before, and I will eat my first meal immediately after working out.

Oh, another thing I will be doing is "checkpoints." We already kind of do these at the gym with our benchmark workouts, but the schedule is never really consistent. I'm going to pick 3 movements, and every 8 weeks or so "check in" and see if I've improved. The three movements I'm picking are: deadlift, OH squat, and pull-up.

Currently, I'm at 235# for one rep max deadlift, I haven't tested my OH squat in awhile, but since spraining my ankle, it has reduced dramatically mostly due to flexibility I think? (pre-ankle it was 110#?) I'm going to go with 85 pounds on that one, and currently I'm only able to do band assisted pull-ups (I used the thick black band during high rep workouts), and I can do a max of 3 medium thick green-band assisted pull-ups before I have to stop. Next check in will be on Monday, July 2, 2012. Putting in on my calendar now. Wheeee! I'm excited to see how this experiment goes.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Playgrounds; Not Just for Kids

Last Sunday, while on a bike ride, I was reminded of just how close we live to an Elementary School.  With a fancy playground.  The bf deluxe and I rode onto the school grounds, and played on the weird new things that playgrounds have these days (seriously, have you been to a playground recently?  They have apparatuses that look like they could be from outer space?).  There were also plenty of bars for me to hang from...I instantly had a genius thought.  I could come here when I want to practice my pull-ups/toes to bar/etc!  Eventually I want to install some sort of pull-up bar in the yard, but until then, I have the playground that is about 400m from my house. 

Today is a goregous day here in Seattle, perfect sun and 65 degrees.  After some coffee and sun time, I put on my spandies and ran the 400m down the street to the playground for some quality pull-up time.  The bars are skinny, and it felt weird holding onto them.  For whatever reason, I didn't feel as strong hanging on these skinny bars as I do at the gym.  I decided to make the most of it and do what I could. 

After praciting some kip swings, I did 5 rounds of: 5 toes to bar, 10 pistols (5 each leg).  There was a little platform that was a perfect target for my bottom to hit as I squat with the pistol- I am unable to do them without making sure my butt has something to land on, I then make sure to only use the one leg when standing back up.  They are freaking HARD.  I have mad appreciation for people that can do them free standing.  Just for fun, as I was running the 400m back home, I started to tall up all my movements for the week:
Including today, for the past week, I performed:
72 air squats
72 reverse alternating lunges
72 jump lunges
72 jump squats
80 chest to bar pull-ups (band assisted)
80 plyo-push ups on a 25# plate
2600m of running
100 Deadlifts; 75 at 135#, 25 at 185#
95 Burpees; 45 burpee box jumps onto a 20" box, 50 regular
45 snatches; 15 full snatches at 65#, 30 snatches at 45#
25 toes to bar
50 pistols (25 each leg)

All of these were of course being performed as fast as possible.  There really is a different element added when you are trying to do something as fast as possible versus just getting through it.  I need to be working harder.  I don't mean during my workouts.  I give them my all as frequently as I can.  I mean I need to be spending my free time practicing movements.  I need to make use of every second at the gym and work on skills in addition to the written workouts. 

Weekends have now turned into skill days for me.  Until I'm a pro (ha!) I'll be practicing double unders, pull-ups at the playground, turkish get-ups, box jumps, pistols, etc.  If there is one thing I know, the best and fastest way to get better at something is to just keep doing it.