Sunday, February 26, 2017

My First Year as A Crazy CrossFitter


When clients used to ask me about CrossFit I would always give a huffed response like yeah go try it and when you get injured go ahead and come back to me. I had never actually been to a CrossFit gym or even taken a class. My response was based solely on my experience as a massage therapist, where I had known a handful of people, who had got injured through CrossFit.

I remember one day, a few years ago, getting in an argument with a waiter at a restaurant who was also a friend and a CrossFit coach. Finally he said, "Look Anna, CrossFit doesn't hurt people, bad coaches hurt people".

I shut down my gym in October 2015 for various reasons. I hardly worked out from October to January. I felt so tired and so burnt out. Well and then I couldn't fit into my pants so I knew my fitness vacation was over. One of my old clients had told me they started going to this gym called ShambaFit. She said the workouts were crazy hard but that the instructor always made sure she was doing things right or would modify things for her. All of this (and the desire for my clothes to fit again) peaked my interest and I headed over for a free class.

I decided on the drive over I was going to keep the fact that I had been a personal trainer under cover. I wanted to just be a regular person. I was also slightly intimidated by the bars and the idea of Olympic lifting. I realized quickly that ShambaFit was kind of a sneaky cover of a Crossfit style gym and workout.

Right away I can tell you that I knew coach Jake and I were going to get along. As an under cover trainer he did all the right things. He was engaged in the workouts, made modifications for things I couldn't do, always would check in with me, and most importantly went over basics and correct form (especially on heavy lifts).

A few months in, my old clients, friends and family were laughing and shaking their heads at me. I can't believe you're doing CrossFit after how much you hated on it. Calm down everyone!! I made a mistake LOL! A year ago I told Brad, "Don't worry I won't become one of those crazy CrossFit people. Then a few days ago I told Brad,"Yeah, so I'm gonna be home late for a few Fridays because I signed up to compete in the CrossFit Games Opener.

All that being said here are somethings I have learned in the past year from my ShambaFit experience:

1. Find the right coach: This is key. Jake cares about his clients. He has a way to push you right to the edge of your limitations even when you want to roll your eyes and say no. Along with a knowing of when to hold you back.

2. Find the right gym: It seems that different coaches and different gyms attract certain types of people. I don't mean this is a good or bad way but like attracts like.

3. Lifting heavy is EMPOWERING: As a woman (or maybe for anyone) it feels so empowering to be able to lift a super heavy weight that I at first think there is no way I can do that. That attitude has filtered out into all aspects of my life this year. It's amazing to think that a workout style could effect my whole life but it has.

4. The workouts are mentally challenging: The Navy Seals have a saying "If it doesn't suck we don't do it". Some of these workouts take you to that point. You have to dig deep and really go outside yourself.

5. This shit works: Jake said to me a few days in - if you can find another workout style that works as good as Crossfit than go for it but I haven't seen anything as effective. There is a method to all the madness. Every workout is different. So simple explanation: your body never has a chance to get bored and comfortable with what is going on. That in turn means it has to work harder thus burning more calories and making more muscles.

6. Keeping scores: Almost all the workouts are times and scored. I thought at first this was a little silly but after being there for a year its fun to see how far I have come. The other day I did a workout and Jake said when you did this a year ago you did it with 25 lbs and today you just crushed that with 65 lbs. Are you listening? This shit works!

7. You gotta listen to your body: It's probably easier for me to say that than most, since I have some education in both massage and personal training. But inevitably there is going to be a time when you need to rest instead of push. There is a fine line between knowing when you're being lazy and when your on the verge of a potential injury. That nagging little pain? Listen to it! Foam roll ,stretch, do yoga, get massages - do your at home care as religiously as your workouts!

8. Instant family of support: I have done a lot of group sports in my life: gymnastics, karate, dance, skydiving, triathlons but there is definitely something different about this gym and this group of people.  No matter what your time is, or your max lift, or PR you're always going to have someone rooting for you in your corner. I have made some life long friends that I know have my back inside or outside the gym. Maybe there is something about doing these workouts that push you to your absolute limit, that we are all suffering and surviving together that creates this unique bond.

So when I came home late on Friday, I told my husband, "I'm sorry but I lied to you. I'm totally going to be one of those crazy CrossFitters." To which he replied, "Ok but don't get hurt". LOL


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Transistion From Trainer To Trainee

A "gift" from my co-worker, ex-client, aka my reverse trainer
When I shut down my gym and went back to my office job one of my clients laughed and said, "Oh good you can try and find time to workout and eat healthy like the rest of us. Good luck!". Inwardly I rolled my eyes and thought wha wha wha big deal. It's not like I haven't done it before! I had my plan to go right back to my old ways of training at the gym in the mornings and making healthy lunches after work. Shrug. Totally not worried about it.

My first week was like a punch in the gut. While I had hustled plenty owning my own business I did it on my own terms and with in my own time frame. Office life was different. One hundred miles per hour different! Phones were ringing, people were asking questions, things were coming in and going out, paperwork was piling panic button mode! Needless to say I left the office every day feeling totally exhausted and wiped out. I think my husband and I ate out every night that week. No healthy diners were being made that's for sure. When the alarm when off in the morning did I get up and head to the gym like planned? Nope! I pressed snooze like all the other sheepeople!

Then Halloween came and the office was stocked with candy every day. I won't lie I skipped by that little bowl every day grabbing some candy on the way. I muttered all the empty promises to myself that I heard my clients say for years...I'll run an extra mile, I won't eat any candy tomorrow, I only ate salad for lunch so it's ok, it's only 80 calories who cares...

Well I sure did care when my pants didn't fit in early November! One day while trying to wiggle in a pair of jeans I told my husband, "I think my clients collectively put a hex on me to make me fat for all the burpees I made them do!" Brad looked at me in that wise half smile way he does sometimes and said,"I don't think anyone put a hex on you. I think you have been skipping your workouts, eating crazy and drinking champagne every night." I like the hex idea better but ok fine, it was time to get my shit together!

It's not like I didn't know what or how to do it it was simply a matter of time management and preparation. Losing weight really is as simple as eat less, exercise more. It's not going to happen over night in fact it takes more like a year depending on where you're at and where you want to be. There is no miracle pill, detox, diet or new fitness fad that will do what hard work will. Sorry it's the truth. I told my clients over and over work hard, eat clean and above all else be patient with yourself.

As I was running one morning I started thinking about how I had to follow all my own advice. It wasn't easy at first but once I pushed through the first 30 days I was back on track! So what is this magical advice I speak of? LOL here you go...

MAKE A PLAN: Think about what you want and where you are at. Be realistic. If you have been working out zero days claiming to train for 7 is probably not going to happen. Pick days that are the easiest to squeeze in some exercise and go from there.

BOOK YOURSELF LIKE ANY OTHER APPOINTMENT: Whether you are a paper person like me or a digital person pull out that calendar and mark yourself down. YOU are just as important as any other appointment on any given day!

PACK YOUR GYM BAG THE NIGHT BEFORE: Read any fitness article anywhere and this advice will be there because it works! If I have to stumble out of bed and try and find my running clothes and socks and gloves it just might be enough hassle to make me turn right back around and go to bed. True story it happened so I speak from experience. Pull your stuff out have it ready. Or if you workout in the afternoon bring your clothes with you. The less dilly dally time you have in between the more likely you are to have success.

EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS: We spend a lot of time sitting. We sit in our cars to go to work, sit at our desks all day, sit on the couch at night. So make up for those sitting times by parking farther away at the store, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, even adding in small walks in the day can make a difference!

MAKE IT FUN: 90% of my clients hated working out. Some of them hated even the thought of working out! As a their trainer I tried to find out what people liked and I would add that in. If someone said oh I love the TRX then done lets do it!! Personally I like to time myself and make a game out of it.

FIND SOME MUSIC YOU LOVE: Most of the time I run in silence but some days I just need something to get me going. Find that song that makes you happy or pumped up! You know you have one! Crank that sucker up and get on your way! There is no doubt about it I can run 10 min faster with some good tunes on!

DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP: Life is going to happen. Emergencies are going to happen, parties are going to happen, kids happen, you're not going to make every workout you plan but don't beat yourself. Reset, reschedule and move along.

Monday, February 9, 2015

21 Day Yoga Challenge Review

In December My Yoga Online (Gaiam Tv) started advertising their 21 day yoga challenge. The above picture was their main campaign picture. Every time throughout December I would sort of sneer when I saw it. Yeah sure commit to me?! With what spare time!? Commit to doing yoga every day for 21 days? Not possible!!! Yet the image and the message kept haunting me. In the back of my mind I thought I need to do this. I don't know why and I don't know how but I need to do this.

January first came and so did day one. I laid out my mat with purpose and set forth on this 21 day challenge or rather journey. It was interesting as the days unfolded the different thoughts, feelings, emotions and obstacles that came up. Here are some things I learned:

Approach everything with an open mind. I realized right off that I had a lot of anxiety around not being able to choose the videos that would be assigned to each day. Would the teacher be annoying? Would I hate the music? Would it be too hard? It took about five days for my anxiety to fade and to just open my mind to whatever the days video would bring. In the end I practiced styles I never would have tried, found new teachers that I love and had some deeply profound meditation sessions. I had to admit, if I had never taken this challenge I would have kept using my same five saved videos.

Stop saying can't and start trying! I am more of a beginner yoga person. I like the easy classes and the easy poses that I can do well. I think most of us look for the easy safe route when we have the chance. Not so with these videos! Early on I found myself plopping down on my mat thinking in my head I can't do that pose. Nope not that one either. Without even trying, I had some how determined that certain poses I couldn't do. Then one day I thought well maybe I will try. This particular day was Bakasana pose. I positioned my knees up on to my triceps and slowly leaned forward. My toes lifted off the ground about a half inch. The teacher said, "Just play with it." My heart soared. It wasn't the pose itself, it was the attempting and not failing that felt HUGE! From then on whenever a pose came up that I thought I couldn't do, I went for it. I played with it.

Sometimes it's not about having the time, it's about finding the time. You might not think there is a difference between having and finding time but I assure you there is. As a personal trainer I am up at 4 AM and get home after 8 PM. My day is packed with helping other people commit to their goals and their journeys. I was determined to do all 21 not days which meant I had to find the time to squeeze it in. In doing this I found I became very efficient in my day. I found time in between clients or sometimes I woke up an hour earlier to get it done.

Don't beat yourself up. With the above being said there were days I missed. At first I got mad at myself. I should have done this and I could have done that. Bla bla bla all the negative self talk chattering around in my head. In yoga they say a lot "come back to the breath". And so I did. Big picture, did it matter if I missed a day here and there? No. Could I start right back up the next day? Yes. It made me realize sometimes we beat ourselves up over nothing and it really is a waste of time and energy.

Shavasana really is the most important pose in yoga. Any class I have ever taken they always say this. Inwardly I always roll my eyes. I don't have time to lay down for 5 minutes crazy yoga people!!! If you are unfamiliar with yoga, shavasana comes at the end of practice. Shavasana allows the body a chance to regroup and reset itself. In the first few practices I found myself skipping this part. After spending usually 50-60 minutes doing yoga really I didn't have 5 more minutes to just lay around. I started forcing myself through those last 5 minutes though. It was amazing the transformation that happened both mentally and physically. Think about it, when was the last time you sat still for 5 minutes, just breathing, not thinking, just calm? I bet you can't think of it!

In summary it was an amazing adventure. I would highly suggest that everyone try something for 21 days. Something just for you and no one else. Do something new or something that you have always wanted to try. Watch the way your mind tries to hinder you. Watch your body and thoughts change. I noticed with in 10 days that I felt stronger and more flexible. I mentally felt that I could try anything, I mean, heck, if I could do bakasana pose I could do anything!

Bakasana Pose

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Things I Learned From My Two Day Juice Cleanse

I am sure you have read or heard the numerous pros and cons of juice cleanse and detoxes. This is neither. This is my own personal account of what I experienced over a two day juice cleanse.  I did this for a simple experiment and maybe a little peer pressure.

When everyone at Breathe decided to do a three day cleanse I was luckily on vacation. I thought that would excuse me from the task but it didn't. To be honest l coming back after a two week vacation roll my body did seem to be crying for a break. So I thought why not. Besides my motto as a trainer is to understand where my clients are coming from. I get a lot of questions about cleanses but I really couldn't answer because I have never done one myself.

I got my juices from Growler Juice Pub delivered Monday and I was ready to juice! I should note that I did what I call a cheater cleanse. Upon Teresa’s suggestion I would juice in the day and then eat a small, all raw, salad at night. We both thought it would be a good introduction.

Things I learned:

·         I am more attached to food than I realized. It was interesting to watch and feel the different emotions that came up when I couldn't have food. The night before I was straight up depressed and felt like I had nothing to live for. Then when I came into the gym and had all my yummy Bite Me Kitchen meals waiting for me I felt like I wanted to cry.

·         I missed my coffee.  Not just the coffee but the ritual of coffee. I wanted to throw my pillow on the ground when I got up to make coffee but realized there was no point.

·         I had more time. I didn't have to thinking about what I was going to eat for dinner or when could I get to the store. On the second day in my spare thinking time instead of thinking about food I tried to think about all the people I love and really embrace them mentally. It filled me with gratitude (even though my stomach may have been growling!)

·         I didn't miss my champagne. I thought that I would really miss my glass of champagne at night but by the time I got home I just felt somehow peaceful, quiet, tired, like my body had fully surrendered to its fate. I Ate my salad and pretty much went to bed.

·         I had more energy than I thought. I worked out both days. The first day I did an hour of hot yoga and I literally felt like my body was vibrating. The second day I lifted weights. Surprisingly half way through the workout I felt like I had more strength and endurance than ever.

·         It changed my cravings. It’s weird to think in just two days my tastes would have changed. I am a total carb loving girl and I thought after this cleanse I am going to eat some pasta and this and that! But I have found myself craving more juice and salads. I even skipped my coffee the next morning because it sounded too thick! What? Who am I?!

All in all it was a positive and interesting experience.  Physically my body felt less bloated. I felt lighter and leaner though I didn't actually lose weight. Mentally I felt uplifted, grateful and at peace.  Would I do it again? Yes.

If you think you want to try one yourself here are a few helpful tips:

·         Go organic! Make sure your juice is organic. Since it will be the only nutrients you will be getting you want to make sure you’re getting the cleanest product you can

·         Plan ahead. Remove any temptations from your house. I made sure to have no coffee, champagne or yummy food in the house.

·         Buddy up. It’s better when you make other people suffer with you right?!

·         Listen to your body. I think it’s perfectly ok to add in a little snack if you are really feeling bad. Preferably something raw and easy to digest. A half an avocado is amazing! Or a small spinach salad. You will be surprised at how you will cherish each bite.

·         Plan for a headache. Especially if you are a heavy coffee drinker like me you will probably get a headache. Also know that you might get a headache from all the toxins being released into your body. That is perfectly normal. Add in lots of water to help flush your system out. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Positive Mental Attitude: Change Your Life & Athletic Performace

I was super excited and honored to be asked to write an article as a guest for the Kenpo Women. Head on over to their site and check out my article on Positive Mental Attitude and how it can change your life and athletic performance. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

This IS My Game Face

I am totally serious.
As I head into the OC Triathlon this year my hip has been acting up again. Just like it did last year before the half ironman. I kept blowing off Michelle, Teresa and Christine who told me this hip "problem" is emotional. No, its over trained, I insisted! Just like last year, the closer the race has come the more it hurts. The other day I literally limped out of the gym. Not good at all.

As I sat in my car letting the heated seats warm up I had to ponder maybe they were right. I laid my head back, fighting tears and feeling stupid. I hate crying! Then it hit me. You can call it a vision or a voice or whatever you want but suddenly I knew. I knew that it is time for me to accept that I am great. I am strong. I can do anything I want and set my mind to. That is a huge feeling if you have ever felt it and really let it sink in.

It occurred to me that racing has been a physical version of my inner battle. I would sign up for a race, train, work through my inner doubts and demons and then conquer it! I really thought this race would be easy. I have done it before, I know the course and I have trained as hard as I can. But this damn nagging hip reminded me why every race is hard in its own way. This race is my emotional battle against myself. How the $#%@ do you train for that??!!

As I cleaned my bike this afternoon I thought this is how samurais must have felt going into battle. Dramatic, I know. I can prepare every physical detail from my bike to my shoes to my body. Yet Saturday night will come and I will only be left with my thoughts. Yup... this race is going to be an all out mental battle!

I didn't have time to get in all the hill runs and canyon rides I wanted to but I must believe and know for certain that I AM strong enough and I CAN do this. I have ran through my race in my mind. Each step from swim, to bike, to run. At each point I WILL gain confidence, speed and power. I will finish knowing I didn't just cross a finish line but I broke down a barrier in my heart, memories and soul.

I feel grateful for all the amazing people in my life who have surrounded me with love and light and have made me feel safe enough to finally drop my guard down. I am ready to let life in (and smell) and see what the new chapter brings. Lets do this!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How I Fell In Love with Running

On the left: my first triathlon with a 3 mile run. On the right: half ironman with a 13 mile run
Once upon a time I hated running. Just like everyone else.

Unless you’re one of those gazelle like people who were born to run you probably have dreaded running at some point or another. Junior high one mile run test anyone? Maybe you just don’t run at all because you somehow instinctively know you will hate it. Don’t worry I know how you feel.

I first really started running in December of 2012. I had just signed up for my first triathlon and was ready to get training. Someone asked me what sport of the three I was good at. To which I laughed and said none! I struggled through swimming, liked biking but hated running.

Looking back on it my hate came from the fact that every run was painful and I was slow. Two things that believe it or not you can change! Slowly over the last year I have tweaked my training, shoes and body to eventually find a pain free faster pace. Here is the good news, wait for it, so can you!!

Things I have learned:

Shoes: I put this at the top of the list because in my opinion it’s the most important place to start. I literally bought 6 different pairs of shoes before I found my perfect shoe. Some brands were too narrow, some made my feet ache, knees hurt, back hurt and so on. You might just think that running hurts but I bet if you switch your shoes you would be surprised at the difference it makes! Well once you find your dream shoe that is!

Start slow: You don’t have to go out and run a race distance. In fact you don’t even have to run a mile. Try a run / walk combo. Run for a little bit and test your legs out. Then walk and catch your breath. When you feel up to it, run again. This is called an interval. It will help you build not only muscle endurance but improve your cardio.

Ground: When at all possible try to run on softer surfaces. Especially when starting out. The sidewalk is the worst and hardest place to run. Great places to start are at a track, a dirt trail, smooth grass or even the sand. Get your body used to the impact slowly. I used to laugh when my brother in law would insist that our bodies were made to run and that people who think running is bad are just not doing it right. Twelve months later I have to admit he is right.

Form: Have someone watch you run (Preferably someone who knows about running).  Start at the head and work your way down. Are your shoulders relaxed? Arms swinging all over the place? Hands balled up into fists? Knees in or out? Feet flipping out to the side? Long stride? Short stride? All these little adjustments can make your running more efficient and pain free!

Time Yourself: Once you can run for a little bit test yourself. See how long it takes you to run a mile or a half mile. Write it down somewhere and save it. Keep running. Test yourself a few months later and you will be surprised that that time will probably be a little bit faster. Nothing is more encouraging than progress.

Speed it up: I’m still not a very fast runner but I work every week at getting just a little better pace. There are all kinds of ways to improve your speed. Here are a few of my favorites:

Hill sprints: (After a good warm up) Find a good hill sprint up, recover on the way down

Pick ups: During an easy run / easy pace add in a few quick 10-30 second sprints

Fartlek Training: This is my favorite! It basically mixes hard and easy all together. There are all kinds of Fartlek workouts but here is an example:  a structured fartlek might be: 10-15 minute warm up, 2 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 3 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 4 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 4 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 3 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 2 minutes hard, 10-15 minutes cool down. 

Treadmill sprints: I used to hate the treadmill but now it is one of my favorite running tools. Try a 10-15 minute warm up. Then using the hand rails jump your feet to either side. Find your sprint pace and then you sprint 30 sec on / rest 30 sec. If it feels too easy either up the pace or increase the sprint to 60 seconds. Do this for about 20 minutes and follow with a nice 10-15 min cool down.

Strength Training: When I started training for my half ironman I let my weight training slip away. It was one of the biggest mistakes I made. Runners love to run and often forget to cross train. I can tell you personally that the cross training and core strength will improve your running by 100%! Most of us have some imbalances. A stronger side or leg or hip and while you might not notice that in day to day life you will eventually feel it after pounding in miles and miles of running.

Stretch: PLEASE! I can’t tell you how many runners I have as clients who do long weekend runs, show up on Monday sore and then when I ask if they stretched after slowly shake their heads no. This is probably the most important step. After your run foam roll and stretch for at least 15 minutes minimum!

Recover: Ok so you start running and you actually maybe just a little bit start to like it. So now you want to run every day. Just remember to listen to your body!

The thing I love about running now is that not only is it pain free but it’s simple. All I need is my shoes and I’m out the door. So, on that note, I’m headed for a run.