Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Crossfit Booty

This week I asked for requests for a blog topic, and I got one from a friend:


Obviously, he was trying to be funny, but I can totally work with this!

So, the definition of twerkin', according to The Oxford Dictionary Online, is "to dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance. (If you need an example, I keep hearing that Miley Cyrus was twerkin', or attempting to twerk, all over the place this week.)

What is so important about twerkin'??? Well, nothing, actually. Its kind of gross and most people who attempt it should stop. But, it lead my wandering mind to another related topic....


Oh yes. The elusive and beautiful Crossfit booty. All the ladies want one and all the men want to look at one. It is truly the perfect booty.

Here are some examples because I know you want them, its okay, don't be embarassed:

Now is the perfect time to revisit my initial statement from June about wanting a Crossfit booty because I have some exciting news!

I made a shocking discovery when I saw myself from the side in an office that had floor to ceiling windows. It was a butt! My back no longer met the top of my legs with a non-commital half-bump.
At that moment, in that window, wearing those workout spandex (and no they weren't lululemon, so there was no magical illusion taking place), I had my very own, true blue, Crossfit Booty!!!

Is it the best Crossfit booty I've ever seen? Definitely not! But does it exist? I think it really might!
I also had un-solicited confirmation from a trusted outside source, who is not my husband and is therefore not obligated to tell me that my butt looks good, which means that I am not imagining this new bottom! Whooo hoooo!

I decided I would tell you how it is possible that I could be growing a bubbly bum after only four months of Crossfit, just in case you don't believe me or are curious about obtaining one of your own.

The four most important muscles in creating a Crossfit booty are the gluteus maximus and the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus, all of which make up hamstringsScientifically, glutes move your hips forward and hamstrings bend your knee. Superficially, strong glutes and hamstrings give you perky buns-of-steel.

There are many reasons so many Crossfitters (men and women alike) have such drool-worthy behinds, but one of the biggest contributers is the squat. We do a ton of types of squats: Back Squats, Front Squats, Air Squats, Jumping Squats, Overhead Squats.... the list goes on and agonizingly on. Other exercises that activate glutes are sprints, jumping, deadlifts and lunges.

I can safely say that I have done HUNDREDS of those exercises in the last four months, along with all the other workouts that I have completed which didn't focus on my glutes and hamstrings but used them secondarily. Actually, it is hard to think of movements we use that don't require these muscle groups. This makes total sense because Crossfit specializes in functional movements, which means you will never isolate a muscle to work it out. 
I am constantly being reminded to "tighten up your ass and abs" and "use your hips," no matter whether the exercise is lifting a bar overhead or squatting it down. Rob tells us all the time that we, as a society, have forgotten how to use our butts. I totally agree! It is crazy how hard it is to learn to do movements that should be so natural! So much power and fitness is going wasted! Plus, so many butts are going neglected when they could add so much bootyliciousness to the world!

I promise that I use my butt every time that I go to Crossfit, and as much as I have to focus on it, I am never thinking about what I need to do to make it look better (besides when my coach teases me for my original crossfit booty post or I notice a great one in class-- thats right boys, girls check out butts, too!) but four amazing months later, it just does. Like magic :)

P.S. Even when I do have a better Crossfit booty, you still won't catch me twerkin'. Ew.

Side note: Do you remember those annoying targeted workouts that are all over the internet? Take a second and browse a few of them meant for giving you a better butt....
They probably contain some sort of squat and some sort of hip extension. After the third time of repeating the whole process you will probably get bored and do something else. If you stick to it, besides your body getting used to doing the same workout over and over again, there is absolutely no way you will do as many reps as you would if you were working out at a Crossfit box. I would doubt that you will be using as much intensity, either. Also, in order to work other muscle groups, you may have to find other isolated muscle workouts and add them onto this butt workout. You don't want a beautiful beach-ready butt and flabby arms, right?? STOP TORTURING YOURSELF!!!! If you want real results, real strength, and real health/fitness, put in REAL work!!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Whoopsie... I'm not Paleo, I'm Primal!

I want to take a minute to correct the mistake in terminology that I have been making. Well, I've actually already tried to change my wording in day-to-day life, but I guess what I want to do is explain the mistake I was making, because it seems like I am far from the only one making it.

The way I eat is NOT Paleo. It is actually PRIMAL.

"What's the difference?" you may ask.

In practice, not much. At least that is the way it seems from the number of Paleo recipes that are actually Primal by inclusion of certain ingredients. Also, there are many people who say that they have their own adapted version of Paleo (much like I did), when they may actually be Primal. (They may just be doing their own thing completely, but I find that the exceptions most people make to their Paleo-ish diet are more in line with the Primal diet, in general)

Basically, when you research Paleo, you are going to come across people interchanging the two like crazy! And that is totally fine, because in reality, the two diets are based on the same premise and are meant to function in very similar ways.

But, I suppose in theory, there is more of a divide than most people know...

I just finished reading The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson, which is what led me to understand that what I was actually leaning towards the whole time was a primal lifestyle. ((Book review coming soon!!))

In fairness, I haven't read books on Paleo all the way through, so I don't feel completely comfortable breaking it down into a science, but I did make some observations from what I believed Paleo to be in my research, and what I learned while reading The Primal Blueprint.

I believe that the differences are as simple as the fact that Primal allows some dairy into the diet, and even very small amounts of quinoa or wild rice for hard-core athletes. Also, Sisson is more laid-back (and in my opinion, realistic) with his rules. The way he explains the Primal lifestyle connects with me more naturally than the way the Whole 30 represents its suggested lifestyle.  I don't think many people would, or more importantly would be happy to, live their life as strictly as diets like the Whole 30 preach. I understand the premise of perfection in diet, and I applaud whole-heartedly my friends (and strangers) who can successfully stay with the plan. For me personally, a little more flexibility is necessary so I don't completely crack!
Yet again, it may not be fair to compare the Whole 30 to Primal as an example of Paleo, as it does seem to have some very separate rules from the original Paleo Diet as voiced by Loren Cordain... Basically, it all gets super confusing- and a little hair-spliting if you ask me!

As you can see, I am no expert in this field, although I do plan to read several more books so I can start to figure this out myself! For a more educated explanation, here is how Sisson writes about the difference on his website/blog "Mark's Daily Apple":

A fundamental difference? The role of saturated fats. Cordain and many within the paleo community continue to harbor a fear of saturated fats as the bogey that raises cholesterol and instigates heart disease instead of a critical source of nutrients for neurological functioning and other essential physiological processes. Partaking of only lean meats, eschewing butter and coconut oil (two Primal Blueprint favorites based on health benefits supported by extensive research), restricting egg consumption – this is not your Granddaddy Grok’s diet.
As many critics of the Paleo Diet have pointed out, early humans left virtually nothing of the animal carcasses they were so fortunate to bag. And the fact is they favored not the lean muscle meat but the richer organ meats, bone marrow and even fat deposits themselves. Grok, after all, was just trying to get enough calories and nutrients to stay alive from one day to the next. The denser in energy, the more valued the food. (And, can we add here, more tasty?)
And then there’s the discrepancies surrounding other fats. Sure, there’s a general agreement about the importance of omega 3:6 balance, but the particulars diverge. In the Primal Blueprint, unlike Cordain’s version of the Paleo Diet, omega 3 sources like canola oil are suspect. The fact is, the deodorization process that canola oil is nearly always subjected to removes the omega 3 content. But when you’ve written off saturated fat sources (like good old coconut oil), you’re pretty much stuck wading in the murky waters of processed polyunsaturated products. What’s wrong with this picture?
Also at issue is the role of diet sodas (allowed by Cordain) and other artificial sweeteners. The opinion of many in the paleo community is that as long as it’s not sugar, it’s acceptable. Working around the problem like this seems to be nothing more than a manipulation. Although the Primal Blueprint doesn’t demonize the occasional use of artificial sweeteners, it makes the stipulation that its use should be limited to foods or beverages that will inherently add something positive to the diet. In other words, if you aren’t getting anything positive from the meal or drink, you shouldn’t be taking the risk of the artificial sweetener. A better angle? Expand your cooking repertoire. Train your taste buds in the right direction, and don’t let the artificial stuff get in the way of that progress.
Finally and most importantly, the Primal Blueprint works as a broad, holistic approach to living and not simply a list for eating. While the majority of the underlying assumptions and suggestions of the Paleo Diet are generally sound, the diet encompasses only a fraction of what it takes to live a healthy life in the modern world.
The Primal Blueprint recommends wise supplementation appropriate to counter the stressors and toxins unique to our life today. (Grok didn’t have it all bad.) In its fitness and stress management approach, the Blueprint further highlights and capitalizes on our natural physiological functioning. The Blueprint emphasizes the overlap of good diet with essential fitness and relaxation principles to maximize muscle mass and organ reserve and to defend against the inflammation, sarcopenia and other preventable factors behind the aging process.
And isn’t it a comfort to know that power over your health is seated in more than diet? The big picture of a healthy, fit and happy lifestyle involves more than isolating a specific issue. The Primal Blueprint was designed for the purpose of offering a guide for all elements of healthy living. Let’s face it, some days life makes it particularly difficult to have the perfect diet. We like to think of the Primal Blueprint design as a comprehensive cover, so to speak. The knowledge and efforts you exert in each area (diet, fitness, supplementation, stress management, sleep, etc.) can make a difference when the realities of day to day life keep you from doing a 100% in a given area.
Read more:

Exhausting, isn't it?!?! In conclusion, I just wanted to let you all know that I am sorry for prancing around ignorantly calling myself Paleo... I now know the truth; I'm a Primal girl at heart <3

Friday, August 16, 2013

Four Days in Dublin

I just got over this awful bug that hit me on Wednesday and kept me in bed for almost 24 hours straight! I can't remember the last time I had a fever and chills, nonetheless the last time I threw up (worst. grossness. ever.), so I suppose I was overdue to get knocked down by something. It probably didn't help that Cody and I had such a busy 4 days of travel and then came right back in for some busy days at home! Whether our trip had something to do with my weakened immune system or not, it was totally worth it- we had a great time in Dubin :)

Our flight was super early on Friday, so we woke up at 1:30 am and drove the 3 hours to Frankfurt Hahn. We were very happy with RyanAir and both of our bags were under the 10kg weight limit so our 2 hour flight was smooth. Once we landed, we took a bus into town and started to explore the area looking for breakfast. We found the perfect spot on Grafton Street, which is the busy, shopping, pedestrian lane between Temple Bar and St. Stephen's Green. Then we dropped our bags of at our wonderful Bed&Breakfast, The Cliff Townhouse, and went for a stroll through the park. We ended up at the mall and got a little carried away with spending (tkmaxx is just as dangerous as tjmaxx!) but eventually grabbed our first Guinness in Ireland (how exciting!) and then heading back to the room. We got dressed up and went out to dinner at a wonderful tapas restaurant and then we got to watch Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre! I used to watch Riverdance on VHS at my grandparents' house, so I couldn't resist buying tickets to see it in person- it was the perfect way to spend our first night. We picked up some gelato, and made our way back to the room for some rest!

On Saturday, we planned to hit all of our sight-seeing within Dublin. Luckily, the breakfast at our B&B was the most delicious breakfast I have ever had in my entire life and it kept me full for the entire day (no offense to my mom and all the wonderful cooks who have made me breakfast in the past); we started with fresh fruit and organic yogurt, then a pastry platter with fresh homemade jams, and then a full Irish breakfast with an over-easy egg, black pudding, brown bread, sauteed mushrooms, sausage and bacon! MMmmmm I love breakfast food :) We started at the Archeology Museum, worked our way up to Trinity College, and then made the long walk over to the Guinness Factory. We left there pretty buzzed and meandered our way to the old Jameson distillery where we booked a tour and sat down for lunch. Our food was delicious, but our Jameson on the rocks was what really kept the day moving in the right direction. Next, we each enjoyed a specialty cocktail made with Jameson and then went on our tour, which ended with a tasting for me, and a Jameson and Ginger for both of us! As if we hadn't had enough, we decided to buy a tasting tray with a couple we had met, and we got to try samples of both 12 years, an 18 year, and a 25 year. We finally left with our goodies and caught a taxi to Temple Bar where we attempted to explore... but we ended up back at the room napping instead! We woke up for a late dinner and ended our night like an old couple yet again- back in the room catching some sleep!

Sunday was our Wild Wicklow Tour and we started early! It was a welcome change to get out of the city for the day and we got to see some beautiful sights outside of Dublin. After eight hours on the bus, we were ready to be back at our room, but we changed clothes and headed out to explore Temple Bar. We pub hopped for a few hours, hitting up some of the better-known joints in the area, and then went home to rest up for our last day of vacation.

For our last day in Dublin, we decided to check out Kilmingham Gaol, which was the most informational tour we did during our stay. We had to wait a little bit to get in, but the hour tour was worth the wait! It was kind of eery, but definitely interesting to be inside a jail that was once filled to the brim with women, men, and even children. After our tour we found a nice little cafe to have lunch and wait out a passing storm.  We tried to explore a few more places, but the Natural History Museum was closed and both of us were pretty tired of walking all over the place. We finally caught a bus back to the airport and relaxed until our flight home. We got back to Frankfurt Hahn at about 11 pm and made the 3 hour drive back to our house where we fell into bed and crashed until work the next morning!

Cody and I both thoroughly enjoyed our trip- but were reminded that we aren't city people at all! I got so sick of being bumped into and walking in a crowd all the time; I feel like all my time in small towns has given me some sort of anxiety about crowds, haha! I was so excited about all the options when we first arrived, but after the first night of wandering around trying to pick a restaurant for an hour, I decided that I would much rather have 6 great options than 60 unknown options! We have both turned into bumpkins, hehe :)  As cool as Dublin was, the next time we check out Ireland, we will stick purely to the countryside!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Crossfit Testimonial

I am an awful blogger- look at me neglecting the shit out of this thing... so irresponsible, right? ;)  I apologize to you all for my lack of writing, I just didn't really know what to say.
Okay, okay, I had an idea for this post like two weeks ago, but I have been putting it off because its kind of (very) cheesy and I tend to sound like an annoying infomercial when I talk about it. Also, (mainly) it is pretty personal. I have already talked about the content of this post to some of the closest people in my life, and they always reaffirm me and add meaningful commentary.  I feel a little funny about it, but I figure I can't leave it off the blog anymore.

Here it goes! (Be a dear and try not to judge)

Let's start with a little bit of insider info on me:
Before Cody and I moved here, we were living at Fort Rucker in Alabama. And before I was with Cody, I graduated from Morehead State University with a B.A. in English with a Secondary English Education Certification- which I have never even used. I subbed for two different school districts, but besides that, I have been working random serving and administrative jobs. For the first few months in Alabama, I didn't work at all, but once I was settled in, I found a job serving at Mellow Mushroom. After that job, I worked as the Administrator for a new restaurant, Cheddar's. I liked who I worked with at both of the jobs, but I didn't enjoy either of the jobs themselves, nor were they very meaningful (or financially rewarding). 

Sometimes, while living in Alabama, I struggled with not knowing what I was supposed to be doing, and I would feel like I was useless, or a loser, or that I should be furthering a career because that is what you are "supposed" to do when you "grow up." At the same time, I didn't know what direction to go in, didn't have a desire to try to find a teaching job (which I couldn't do anyways with not knowing when we would be moving away), and I couldn't even think of a different career-path that would be fulfilling. Even though I felt really lazy NOT working, I hated the unnecessary stress and unhappiness that I felt when working pointless, time-consuming, sometimes-demeaning jobs.

I had this imbedded idea of myself as a career-woman, which is what I always thought I wanted, and what I knew I was more than capable of. But I got to that point in life, and realized I didn't want it anymore, and I didn't know what to want instead. I was kind of disappointed in myself that I didn't want a career, because growing up with a single-mom, I knew that I should always be able to take care of myself. I always thought that as soon as I finished college I would start working and that would just be a part of my life. I never wanted to depend on anybody to take care of me past my college days, and there I was, depending on Cody. Other military wives were understanding of this aspect of Army life, but as much as I appreciated the understanding, it still didn't make me feel 100% okay with me.

Don't get me wrong, anybody who knows me knows that I am a pretty happy person in general; I don't spend much time "depressed," and I feel like I adapt pretty well to most circumstances. I was happy just being with Cody and being alive- I loved our friends and the community at Fort Rucker. But deep down, I felt very unsettled about my own life. I felt like the only interesting aspect of my life, and the only topic I had to talk about, was Cody's job; which is really pathetic because that has nothing to do with ME, at all. I hated feeling like I was in his shadow; I wanted something "cool" to care about, too, and something to work towards. I would tell Cody all the time that if I went to a high school reunion I would have nothing to show for myself... I was just a girl with a useless bachelors degree, living off of her husband, and barely making minimum wage. 

It was frustrating to know that I am an interesting, intelligent, capable woman, yet, nothing in my life spoke to that point...
Even though some of those aspects of my life haven't changed, I still feel like everything has changed since moving here. I know it sounds silly, but Crossfit has totally changed how I feel about myself and my life. 

I have gotten more and more hooked over the past 3 months, and I can not remember a time that I felt this passionate about something. I have always been a "quitter" in everything except school. I have tried almost every sport possible, but never wanted to stick with one, or put any time or effort in. I've had a million hair-brained schemes and not one has stuck. Now, as much as it can suck in the moment, I yearn for that feeling of pushing my limits. I am scared of what I read on the board somedays, but I never leave disappointed, and I always show up the next day. When it comes to Crossfit, I can't get enough. Even when I'm not at the box, I am absorbing all the information I can in books and videos and articles (ask Cody, its the truth). 

When I start my day at Crossfit Ansbach, I leave feeling full; I am happy and motivated to tackle whatever the day has in store. I feel like I'm rarely in a bad mood anymore, when I used to spend weeks just moping around- and although I still don't care about cleaning as much as Cody would like me to (haha), I feel like I'm on a roll the entire day- workout, cook, eat, clean, walk the dog, go the the grocery, write, read, cook dinner, ride my bike, etc.... 
This new-found passion has brought me success in other areas, too. It is so inspiring when my mind thinks there is no way I can finish a workout, but I do it anyway. I believe that inspiration has bled into other aspects of my life. I have noticed that many of the people I work out with are happy, successful, and driven; I don't know if it is because Crossfit attracts people with those traits, or if it makes those traits in people, but I'd be willing to bet its a combination of the two. Having the support of a community has to help (check out the video at the end for more thoughts on that). 

As far as I go, I've been keeping a blog since I got here, and like the other blogs I've had, it was meant for friends and family members to follow my travels. There was a time, in college, when I couldn't stop writing and I spent a lot of time in a creative writing community, sharing and reading and hanging out in coffee shops; but since then, writing has been an on-and-off hobby of mine. 
Amazingly, and thanks to my trainer/coach, one of my Crossfit posts was recently read by around 500 people! I almost couldn't believe it! It is so funny that I have tried to force myself to focus on my writing since those college days, with no success; but when I found passion in my life, it bled into my writing. All I ever wanted was for people to read something I wrote and get something out of it, and the Crossfit community made that happen.
Also, through focusing on this working out and all around interest in health, I finally found something that I would like to go back to school for- Dietetics. I love school, but I have had this hesitation about going back to school because I haven't even used my Bachelor's degree; why go into debt for another one? But since I have been doing Crossfit, I have been reading a lot of books on nutrition and I am so interested in it. Between my love of cooking, planning, working out, and eating healthy, it seems that I may have found a future career that I not only care about, but may also be monetarily rewarding, as well (something definitely lacking in my first career choice, haha). It would be even more amazing if I could combine studying diet with studying Crossfit, and maybe someday becoming Level One Certified. I am hitting some brick walls in my research, but I am hoping to figure out a way to move forward towards this new career path. (If any of you have any tips or insider information on becoming a dietician, please help me out!) **UPDATE: I am currently taking my first two classes heading towards my goal of becoming a Registered Dietician!**
On top of these, and several other, "side" effects of my new passion, there are the more obvious effects as well. I am getting really strong! I don't lift much compared to some of the more experienced women I work out with, but each step forward is still a huge accomplishment. The sky is the limit! I know in a years time I will be more fit than I could have ever imagined before. It feels amazing to push myself every single day, and the results I am seeing are pretty incredible. I have never felt so capable and healthy. I think that feeling of power is another reason I feel so happy and motivated outside of the box, too.

Mainly, I have goals for myself again. I feel like most of my pre-adult life was focused on going to college and getting my degree in four years. Once I completed that, I just floated around, lost and not sure what to latch onto. I took a year off to travel after college graduation, and once that was over, I didn't know where to turn. All my friends were either continuing school or starting up promising careers, (or stuck in the same rut as me) and I didn't want to go in those directions. I always knew I should have some sort of life-goals to reach for, but what goals are you supposed to have when you care about happiness more than a career, and haven't found one within the other? Finally, I am reaching towards daily improvement, and feeling motivated by those personal records I am sharing with everybody at Crossfit Ansbach.

I know that working out seems like a stupid life achievement to some, and I can laugh at myself when people poke fun, because it is does seem kind of silly that Crossfit is my passion- I know, I know, "its a cult and we drank the Koolaid." I guess the way I think about it is this: a job can't love you back for all the time and energy you put into it, but my body is the only body I will ever have, and the amount of care I put into it will hopefully pay me back with a healthy, long, and happy life. It isn't just the working out that has made Crossfit such an important part of my life in such a short time, but also the strong community that I have become a part of. Everybody should be greeted happily by people who care about them on a daily basis. I think I get just as much fulfillment and motivation from the hugs, hand-shakes, and high-fives I share with my Crossfit family as I do from the WOD...  

We are all in this together.

They always say it takes a village; thats just as true for us "adults," as it is for children.