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Thursday, April 24, 2014


FYI - This house is moving!

I'll be setting up a new site over on Squarespace.

For a while it will be in construction mode but you will be able to find me at the following.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

National Pro Fitness League - Flash In the Pan or Legs to Stand

The National Pro Fitness League

Have you ever witnessed a birth? That is what I think about as I watch the NPFL take shape. 

There is some uneasiness, excitement, doubt, hope, uncertainty and fear surrounding the formation of this new professional league. Will it tank? Does it cater only to a niche market? Does it have the funding to really come out strong? Will it make a mockery of the functional fitness community and its athletes?

When I initially heard about the NPFL I had a bad taste in my mouth about it. I pictured American Gladiators or American Ninja Warriors. I pictured something seriously awesome being made into a joke of a sport. If you have ever participated in CrossFit, you know that the athletes are no joke. Yes we like to have fun and wear silly stuff but when it comes time to perform, it is not grins and giggles. We’re a competitive bunch by nature and the thought of someone toying with that makes me a little uneasy. 

That being said, the caliber of athlete that has thus far been drawn into the league development is impressive. At least on the women’s side.   Names like Annie Thorisdottir, Lindsey Valenzuela, Annie Sakamoto and  Becky Conzelman and Elizabeth Akinwale have  already signed to teams. That is a good start. Draws to the area combines show a good list of names with Kris Clever, Andrea Ager and Becca Voigt representing at LA. 

Where are the big names on the men’s side? Laying low at the moment. With the vague response from Rich Froning regarding his upcoming retirement from the CrossFit Games individual competition, the door has been left open for his slide over to the NPFL.  Maybe HQ is putting some kind of pressure/incentive on him and others, Jason Khalipa, to keep them quiet until the finale of Open season. It’s pure speculation on my part. 

I really think the smart thing to do would be a symbiotic relationship as much as possible between CrossFit HQ and the NPFL. They have opposite seasons. The NPFL is a team competition whereas the CrossFit Open is dominated by the individual competition at least in the media coverage. Sounds like a potential yearlong domination by the functional fitness community to me. Interesting times my friends. 

I wish the NPFL much luck and can’t wait to cheer those athletes on.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thoughts On My 2014 CrossFit Open

I've not posted on here about this but I just completed competing in the CrossFit Open.

Every Thursday night for the past 5 weeks the folks at CrossFit headquarters released a workout for over 200,000 folks to complete. We timed and counted our reps and posted our scores to see where we fell in the CrossFit universe. The first couple weeks had some movements that I am not good at or just plain can't do so my scores reflected that. 
The picture above is a classic CrossFit problem. 50 toes-to-bar will mess you up. Especially if your form is gone and you just go swinging like a monkey to get those toes up there. Eating my words on hating bad form but I wanted those 50 TTBs and I got them plus a ripped up hand!

We did other movements like Thrusters and burpees which wrecked me for several days. The soreness in my hammies was viscous. We also did double unders and chest-to-bar pullups. We did wall ball shots and deadlifts and several other funny named exercises.

We suffered and cried and bled all on a voluntary basis. Why? If you have to ask, CrossFit is probably not for you. 

Here are 5 things I learned doing my first CrossFit Open:

1. I've come a long way baby. I've been doing CF for 8 months now and I'm amazed at how far my fitness has come. I'm in the best shape of my adult life. 
2. I've got a lot to learn. One of the cool things about CrossFit is that you never fully arrive. There is always something new to learn. Just when you think you've got a movement nailed down it gets teamed up with another movement and you are humbled yet again. I've got to get my double unders before next year! Argh!
3. If you stay in your comfort zone you will never expand said zone. CF is expert at "discomfort" zones. But it works. Before the open I would have never believed I would have gotten 5 toes to bar. But the open forced me to confront that weakness. 50 toes to bar later I understand that I can do more. 
4. People are amazing! I witnessed some incredible things. New PRs, unbelievable determination, crazy fast times and incredible strength. Some of this stuff is just incredible. 
5. Community support boosts performance, motivation and fun. You can go your fitness journey alone but you're missing out. The support of a dedicated group of athletes is incredible. Iron sharpens iron and if you want to squeeze out a little more from your workout, then get a cheering squad to train with. The give and take of lifting each other up produces great performance from all.

Here is how I ended up in the 2014 Open

35,861 out of women worldwide
3,161 out of Masters women 40-44 worldwide
224 out of Masters women 40-44 in the South Central region

I have lots of room for improvement before the 2015 Open and I can't wait. I plan on whittling  those numbers down a bit.

Punky & Me: The bit between before and after.

READ THIS! Powerful story that so many of us can relate to. You will never be able to be free of the weight loss madness by shaming yourself. 

Punky & Me: The bit between before and after.: Well hello. It has been quite some time since my last "last" blog post. I am dusting the old girl off for a post that I never tho...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

PaleOMG – Paleo Recipes – Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie

Ooooo, y’all I found a good one. 

You know how you are scrolling around and you find a great recipe and think, oh I really need to make this one. You keep reading and jumping around and before you know it, you’ve forgotten the recipe, the site it was on and then all hope is lost. 

Well I’m happy to report, that didn’t happen this time.  

PaleOMG has a fabulous Pizza Spaghetti Pie recipe. I loved it, my husband loved it and it passed the kid test as well. 

I did make a couple of changes to the recipe. 

First, I didn’t use jar sauce. I did use canned tomato sauce but I combined it with sautéed onion, red bell pepper and finely chopped kale. I also added about 4 large cloves of garlic. We love garlic in the FitBit household. A little salt and Italian seasoning and you have a luscious tomato sauce with extra veg in it.
Secondly, I cheated the strict Paleo route and added about ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese to the top. And not that nasty green canned stuff. Use the yummy honest-to-goodness Parmigiano .
And thirdly, I doubled the recipe to have left overs. However, no need to get 2 squash. 1 medium size beauty will do.
Best recipe find in a while. It’s filling, tasty and great as leftovers (and I’m a leftover snob.)

Ok, so be sure to mark this because you'll want to try it.

  PaleOMG – Paleo Recipes – Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Here Comes the Sun

The sun was so beautiful yesterday. I just soaked it up. I think I am solar powered because I sure feel different when it's dreary and cloudy.

Vitamin D! We all know that extreme tanning is not good for our skin. Excessive sun exposure may not only lead to aged looking skin but to skin cancer as well. But 10-15 minutes of sun exposure a day can work wonders. It triggers your body to produce lovely Vitamin D that boosts mood, immune system, helps regulate insulin, promotes heart health and decreases risk of several types of cancer.

A couple of interesting facts:

1. The darker (melanin) your skin, the less UVB rays your skin absorbs. So you may be at greater risk of Vit. D deficiency. You might need to add some D rich foods to your diet if excessive sun exposure is a concern.

2. Vitamin D is fat soluble. Research has shown that if you are overweight, your D production system may not be functioning properly. More fat cells trap the Vitamin D and it doesn't get to circulate to trigger those immune responses, insulin regulation and such. So additional sun exposure or supplementation may be needed.

3. Most tanning beds deliver UVA rays. UVA rays do not trigger the production of Vitamin D. You need good old fashioned sun for that.

4. There is a new wrist gadget that will tell you when you've reached your limit of sun exposure. The Sunfriend can alert you when it's time to put on sunscreen. One drawback however is that it only measures the sun exposure of your wrist. You do need to account for the other parts of your body getting exposure. 

Sun screen vs. sun exposure is a controversial subject. Weigh your options carefully but for me a little bit of sun does my body good.

How Stuff Works - How much vitamin D do you get from the sun.
Harvard Health Publications- Time for more vitamin D 
Science Daily - Shining light n damage from daily sun exposure 
Skin Cancer Foundations- Understanding UVA and UVB - Which sun ray is responsible for the production of vitamin D: UVA or UVB? 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Body Image Challenge

I've been a fan of Girls Gone Strong and Molly Galbraith for a while. They promote strength and overall health and fitness as opposed to weight loss at all costs.

Molly just started a 28 day challenge to help others begin to shift their mindset from body hate to body acceptance and love. Sounds like a great idea to me. 

Please take a few minutes to pop over to Molly's site and read some truth from and about fitness professionals regarding their body image issues. (Hint: they have rolls, cellulite and stretch marks!)

Just like almost every other woman in America, I've had and continue to have issues with parts of my body.  I'm getting better and better with self acceptance but it is a work in progress. The picture above is a prime example. I would never have posted that before but I'm feeling inspired to share in an effort to help myself and others get over some of these flaws that are only of concern to ourselves. 

No one else really cares that I have back fat (pictured above.) Guess what, I have rolls, cellulite, wrinkles and other stuff.  Guess what, no one cares. Guess what else, I'm still awesome.  And so are you.

I urge you to take the challenge. If not for you then do it for the young girls in your life. 

Working with 3rd through 6th grade girls, I've witnessed the despair, heart ache and anxiety over their body image and weight in particular. It breaks my heart to hear a 3rd grade girl call herself fat. What's even worse is when that 3rd grade girl is well within the average range of weight for her height and age. I'd like to say that I only witnessed that once, but that would be a lie. Time and time again as I weighed these girls I heard these body hating comments. I felt like I was at the births of many eating disorders. And that is probably the sad truth. Some of those girls will have or at least flirt with an eating disorder. I can only remember 1 girl that held her head up high and had obvious self worth when it came time to weigh. Guess what, she was a young athlete in the making. She was the girl playing tag and swinging from the monkey bars. She was a girl that liked being strong and agile. And I'm willing to bet that her mom had a pretty healthy body image as well.

I don't have a daughter but if I did, I would want that mindset for her. I would want her to know that a body is for running and jumping and working and playing. I'd want her to know that her body will carry her to do good and great things for others. I'd want her to know that her body is a home that houses her soul and carries it around to bless the world it's in. I'd want her to know that her body runs best on good wholesome food but that ice cream on a summer day (really any day) is glorious. I'd want her to know that she will be knocked down and beaten up in this world, but her body can and will carry her through it. I'd want her to know how fearfully and wonderfully she is made and that her worth is not a number on a scale. I'd want her to know how to treat her body  preciously, respectfully, guardedly and lovingly. Most importantly, I'd want her to know, to her very core, that her true beauty lies within. It can't be seen in a mirror. It can't fit into size 6 jeans. It can't be quantified because it's potential is infinite.

We are all works in progress. Never ever give up.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shame shame!

Body shaming – we’ve all been the target or targeted someone else.

“Women who lift weights are manly.”
“Girl, she is too big to be wearing that. Mmhm.”
“That girl is too skinny. She needs a steak.”
“Runners just have no muscle tone.”
“I look horrible! If only I could lose ____ pounds. “
“Who does she think she is?”

A couple things come to mind;

1. Those speaking and those being referred to are most often women. We are our harshest critics.
2. Those speaking often speak from a place of jealousy or dissatisfaction with themselves.
BONUS “Who does she think she is?” – ANSWER: She may think she’s all that and a bag of chips. Is self-confidence a bad thing? Or would you prefer she is a quiet unconfident shell in the corner. Ponder that Einstein.

How about we,
1. Cultivate and appreciate inner beauty.
2. Judge people by the strength of their character.
3. Be the kind of women that lift people up.
4. Place more value on health and strength. 

5. Show a little compassion. ust a suggestion.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Rheumatoid Disease Awareness Day!

Rheumatoid Disease Awareness Day.

I was diagnosed a few years ago. I had joint pain, muscle pain, severe fatigue, brain fog and a low grade fever. I basically felt like I had the flu for weeks and months. I was a runner at the time and the more I ran the worse things got. In the evening after long runs I had trouble just getting up and walking. I also in those few years before diagnosis had back and neck issues which both resulted in fusions.

Rheumatoid Disease is an autoimmune disease and therefore can affect the entire body including skin, organs and eyes. It is not just a joint problem. It is less like arthritis and more similar to lupus. It was thrown into the arthritis camp early on due to the severe joint deformity at the tail end of the disease progression. That is why there is a push to drop the arthritis description and simply refer to the disease as Rheumatoid Disease.

Medication for this disease is a real pain (pun intended). Each patient goes through lots of trial and error with the best result being a slow down of disease progression. It really is just a moving target that you constantly have to adjust your meds to address. There is no cure. I recently had to drop a medication due to side effects. I do however continue to take Methotrexate which is a chemotherapy drug. This is one of the first line medications most RD patients receive. I also take a few other medications to help deal with daily symptoms.
Diet and exercise helps me tremendously but I'm one of the lucky ones. You should have seen my Aunts' hands and feet. She was not one of the lucky ones.

So there is my part in bringing awareness to this disease. Hope it was slightly informative and in no way was meant to elicit sympathy. I work to crush this disease everyday and hope that by doing so, others will find their own way to do the same.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet!

The mind is the key folks.

How fast can our minds change? Speed of light fast, that's how fast.

I have a pretty high self esteem. I don't often struggle with feeling less than for the most part, at least not in the past year. But Saturday, that old habit of being critical about my body flipped a switch in my head and I spent 2 days thinking things that weren't accurate or kind.

It all started when hubby took some photos and I sat down to take a look at what he captured. I needed some shots to edit for this blog. What I got was a big ole bunch of pretty unflattering stuff. My eye went to those places that I am most insecure about and suddenly my mind gave in to the negative self talk. It's crazy how quickly that reversal can happen.

So what do you do about it? How do you change your mind back?

I just reminded myself that I am more than those pictures and more than just a body. My worth is not tied to how lean I am.

I am more, and so are you.

How do you change to a more positive frame of mind?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Are You a Competitor? World Wide Wod Gym Resolutions 2014

I love competition. I have ever since I was young. However I was always part of a team. I wasn't much for individual competition. Too much of a spotlight on you. 

Now that I'm a little more mature, finding a competitive outlet has been hard. For the longest I wasn't in good enough shape to be a part of a team sport. I ran for a while but that really got to aggravate my Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease and I was never a fast enough runner to be competitive at races. 

Now that I'm on track with my fitness and have the RAD under better control, I have the competitive juices flowing once again. This past weekend I competed in my 2nd CrossFit competition and had a serious blast. 

The competition was the World Wide Wod Gym Resolutions. This was a competition that my home box hosted however the scores were submitted and compared nationally to other folks across the country. 

I competed in the 40 year old Scaled division however there was actually no difference between my workout and the younger female scaled athletes. However, since I am still trying to get my double unders (jump rope) I was not able to compete in the RX division. I'm still pretty new to the Cross Fit competition scene so that was fine by me.

It was a great day and when all was said and done, I came in 8th in the nation. I am extremely happy with that and know that my training is spot on at this point. 

Here is a breakdown of the WODS: 

“Helena” 12:00min Time Cap
 Master SC 40 – 2rds of 21x 1.5pood (men)/1pood (women) KBswings,12x jumping pull ups, 200x Single jump rope.

“Karena”: 5:00 min time cap
Complete 60 situps as a “buy in” then wallballs till the clock runs out
Competitor chooses ball weight.
Throw to the normal marks (boys 10feet / girls 8feet)
There is no difference between RX, Scaled, and Beginner.

“Grace”: 6min cut off (if incomplete you will enter the number of reps completed at 6 minutes)
WOD: 30x clean (muscle, power, squat) and jerk/press/push press (aka ground to overhead with a stop at the shoulders).
Masters Scaled 40 = 95#, women = 65#

Love CrossFit and so happy to have the opportunity to  compete as a Masters athlete.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Part III: Nutrition Planning

 Last post on planning for a change! Nutrition. 

I saved the most difficult for last. I really haven’t been looking forward to writing this one. Folks get so mired down in the details when you discuss “diets.” I get it. I’ve been there a bazillion times. You think if you can get that magic diet it will finally solve all your problems. Fact is, often times we know what to eat, we just don’t want to.  


So let’s keep this short and sweet. 

Here are my top 5 suggestions for working on your nutrition.

1.       Think about addition not subtraction. It’s easier to make a new positive habit than it is to break an existing bad habit. So add one good thing to your diet. It might be drinking 8 glasses of water or adding a serving of veggies daily. Keep that up for a week or two and then add something else. After a while the good additions will begin to crowd out the less desirable habits.  Go slow,  but go. 

2.      Eat plenty of protein. A lot of “fitness” related diets recommend 1-1.5 grams per pound of body weight. For me that is almost impossible to hit and not necessary. I generally get between 75 and 100 grams per day but don’t stress if I get less. As far as I can tell I haven’t lost any muscle mass and my strength has continued to increase. I just try to have a little protein with every meal and snack. Protein curbs your hunger so you feel full longer. So it helps dampen cravings. Generally speaking, good quality protein is relatively low in calories per portion size so you have a hard time over-eating it. 

3.       Watch your energy levels. When I was dieting, I always went for the most extreme diet thinking that it was going to give me the best results. So I’ve gone from mostly carbs to no carbs and what I learned was my best diet lies in the middle. Duh! Mostly protein (Adkins) and I get headachy, cranky, low energy and miserable. Mostly carbs and I get bloated, cranky and my cravings go berserk.  So I mix the best of both worlds. That sweet spot where I have great energy combines protein, carbs in the forms of veggies and fruit and a little starchy carbs and lots of good fat. I might have a serving of the starchy carbs a day or I might have just a few bites. It depends on how much energy I anticipate needing to produce. If I’m CrossFitting or have a competition that day or the next, you better believe I’ll eat a little more starchy carb. It translates into better performance for me every time. 

4.      Unprocessed food is superior. Packaged and boxed food has been so manipulated and mutilated by the manufacturing process that little good is left in it. Think about white flour. The ingredients list the word “Enriched.” Why does it need to be enriched? Because all the best has been stripped out of it in the manufacturing process. Do I eat some processed food? Yes, but a relatively low amount. I do have packaged bread every morning and often greek yogurt and from time to time I’ve been known to eat a cupcake or donut or even Taco Bell.  But I try to stick in an 80/20 area. I eat as unprocessed as possible 80 percent of the time. The other 20 is whatever I want. 

5.       Be your own guinea pig. Just like exercise, one size does not fit all. Try things out and if it doesn’t work, adjust. Eat foods you like. “But I don’t like veggies!” Have you tried all the veggies? Have you tried all the veggies prepared in all the ways possible? I didn’t think so. Experiment! And honestly, sometimes I don’t like being an adult. But guess what, I am so I have to make uncomfortable decisions from time to time to do what is best for me or those around me. Children live in ignorant bliss. Not grown adults. Have you heard the phrase, “Embrace the suck!” Embrace it and really before very long at all you will be one with it. It won’t bother you as much. 

6.      BONUS* Eat more. Eating too little food is a sure recipe for failure. Sure you can lose weight for a while, but what kind of weight are you losing? Probably water and muscle. Muscle is the engine that burns up the calories and fat so if you lose it, you burn less. When you cut your intake, your body goes into survival mode and shuts down your metabolism in an effort to keep your body where it is. Feed your body and your metabolism revs up. I really like this article from Built Daily on Binge Eating. It does a great job of explaining why you should eat and how that can actually give you control over your hunger. Another source that I really like is a book called Diet Recovery by Matt Stone. Very informative on how eating more may be the answer for you especially if you have been in the deprivation dieting cycle.  

Of course we could list several more things but this is a good place to start. Be kind to yourself and patient. It is so very hard to change. But it can be done with a positive attitude.