Hero WOD Murph – 43:30

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CrossFit has a set of workouts called “Hero WODs” which are designed to test your physical limits to commemorate and pay respects to certain people who have earned the title of”Hero”. This morning myself and two of my friends decided to do the Hero WOD Murph – in honor of Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael Murphy who died in Afghanistan during Operation Red Wings in 2005 after sacrificing himself to get to higher ground, and expose himself, so he could get a signal to call for help in an attempt to save the rest of his group. No matter your view on war, you have to commend a man who is selfless enough to choose to sacrifice his life to get his brothers to safety.

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The idea came about to do this WOD after I saw the movie Lone Survivor, which tells the story of operation Red Wings. My friend’s husband who I visited in Hawaii is a helicopter pilot in the Army and my boyfriend is ex Air Force and current AF Guard. After watching the movie, my friend and I were both discussing how we had heard both of them talk about the level of brotherhood and the amount of mental toughness they had built during their times in service, but we hadn’t been able to comprehend it until we saw it played out in front of us in that movie. When my CF Friend Emily told me there was a Hero WOD after Murph, I jumped on the idea of doing it in his honor and in honor of the 18 other people who died during that operation.

The Workout Is:

1 Mile Run

100 Pullups

200 Pushups

300 Squats

1 Mile Run

We decided to break it up into 10 Pull ups, 20 Push ups, 30 Squats for ten rounds. The Pull ups and Push ups were assisted with bands/from the knees, as that’s a lot of pull ups and pushups to do strict. Several times during it one of us would comment that we were getting tired and the other one (mostly me, bc I’m a dramatic sap) would respond with “At the end of this, we will still be alive and we still be fine. If this is the worst we have to deal with, I think we’re pretty good”. Total time was around 43:30 minutes. Great way to pay respect and appreciate life on a sunday.

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CrossFit Frustrations

Patience can be hard.  As I’ve mentioned before, I have a nasty little habit of giving up on something if I don’t get it right away. I’m trying to kick that habit by continuing to get better at snowboarding, but  recently I’m noticing those familiar frustrations are sneaking into my CrossFit workouts. And they’ve brought their  nasty little friend jealousy.

Image I can’t squat.  I have a distinct memory of a conversation I had in high school with my friend Cameron trying to figure out why she could just hang out in a low squat so easily and when I tried I would just role backwards. At the time, we came to the conclusion it was because I had wide hips that made me unsteady compared to her narrows ones. Now I’ve learned that’s not the case, that it has to do with hip flexor mobility, strong glutes and hamstrings etc etc. But some days, I still feel like just chalking it up to my wide hips and throwing in the towel would be way easier than to carry on trying.

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I’ve made some good progress, but with each step I take forward my coaches ask more of me and it’s another step backwards. Sometimes the nature of always being able to improve on a skill can be exhausting.

Today I finally started to feel like I was getting below parallel with heavier weight consistently, when I got told that my feet point out in a duck position too much and I need to make them parallel facing forward. I tried it, and found I was back at square one.  I stood there wanting to ask my coach if it really f*&king matters how my feet point if I was still getting low and getting stronger?

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But I didn’t, because I know better. Of course it matters. There are no shortcuts to success. Proper form is an essential foundation if I want to keep getting stronger, so if that means going back to square one so be it.

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Yesterday I stayed after the WOD to do some more work during open gym. Our  box has a special program for our “competitors” aka the most elite atheletes in the gym. They were going through a WOD while I was doing my own thing and I watched as they moved seamlessly through rope climbs, pull ups, hand stand push ups, pistols… All things that I hope one day to do. Some of the comppetitors only recently joined that WOD, after having made significant improvements in the regular WODs that I attend. I couldn’t help but feel some jealousy at first, mad that I hadn’t been making more progress.

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You can say “I’ve come so far from where I was X months ago”, but sometimes it really doesn’t matter. You aren’t where you want to be and that sucks.  But as I sat there I realized I had two choices. I could sit and be frustrated and jealous and pout that I wasn’t getting better fast enough… or I could keep focused, bust my ass more in work outs and trust that if I give it my all it will come. So, I took a moment to acknowledge my frustration, and then tried to push it out of my mind. More mobilizing, more technique work and more determination. It will come and it will be more rewarding if I know I didn’t take any short cuts to get there.

Blogiversary and A New Year

A year ago I sat down to write my first blog post, inspired by the quote ‘you only have one life to do everything you’ve ever wanted, act accordingly’. I didn’t expect many people to read this blog, but I found myself overflowing with the emotions that accompany a life changing stage and I needed to get them out. I had spent years reading blogs, from travel blogs to ‘mom’ blogs’ to healthy living blogs. The longest relationship I’ve ever had is with a blog whose author ‘got me’ during my emotionally depressed late teens/early 20s and helped me grow into a happy, strong, opinionated woman 10 years later. I felt that if my blog could inspire just one person, then it would be worth the time of blogging.

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And it has, a thousand times over. I never expected to get the response I have had to my blog. From people I haven’t talked to in 5-10 years messaging me thanking me for my blog, to random strangers in the blogging community treating me like a friend, to people close in my life who are stuck listening to me everyday still taking the time to read my thoughts.

I’m currently sitting on a plane, with 3 hours down and 5 hours left in my travel, typing away on my iPhone to once again try to get some thoughts out of my buzzing head. New Years is often a time that people think about what they should have done in the past year and resolve to ‘do better’. But, for the first time in a long time, I don’t have any disappointment in myself for things I should have done.

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I had a great year.

And that’s not due to luck or circumstance, it’s because I actively took control of my life and chose to make it that way. I broke free of the mold that had become my life. I resolved to not just smile everyday, but to laugh multiple times a day. I had more patience, not just with others but with myself. I accepted the fact that I am not perfect and that it is okay to try things and fail. I didn’t allow myself to settle in relationships, both friend and romantic, that were ‘comfortable’ but not fulfilling. I made note of the people in my life, near and far, who inspire me and I let them know how much they mean to me. I challenged myself. I appreciated my life and reminded myself of everything I have, even in moments when it was hard to see beyond the immediate distress. I fell in love, both with myself and with an amazing man who helps me squeeze the most out of life.

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Life doesn’t just ‘happen’. As the saying goes, crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Break free from the ‘one days’, the ‘I should’s ‘ instead of the ‘I am’s’, the ‘maybe tomorrow’s’.

This year my resolution is to once again be an active participant in my life. To continue to push myself outside of my comfort zone in order to grow. To love more, worry less. To keep being overjoyed with my life.

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And I hope you will all continue to follow me on this wild ride called life, while also enjoying the adventure of creating your own happiness. Happy New Year to all my readers and thank you for sticking with me.

What will you do to make this year memorable?
What is one of your ‘maybe one day’s?

How to be happy.

I have spent a lot of my life content, not necessarily super happy but not sad either. Content and waiting. Waiting for high school or college or grad school to be done. Waiting for summer to come, waiting for me to get that job, to lose that weight. I was sure that once that happened I would move from “content” to “happy”. But there was always something more I wanted, always a better body, always a better job, nicer clothes.

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I watched a documentary the other night called “Happy” that studied the causes of happiness. The producers went all over the world to measure the happiness level of people, from a rickshaw driver in India to an old man who lives in the Louisiana swamps to the busy streets of Japan. What they found was that the rickshaw driver (and people in similar situations that people would assume had unhappy lives) measured higher on the happiness scale than many of the people who appeared to be successful and “have it all”. This was because there was a large difference between what they valued most in life.

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They found that there are two types of happiness that are based on what people valued. “Extrinsic” goals – wealth, status and image vs. “intrinsic goals” – satisfying yourself through personal growth, relationships and sense of community. The people with intrinsic values and goals were far happier, no matter their monetary status, than those with extrinsic values. Therefore, working to get the perfect job, aiming for the perfect body… those things aren’t what will make you happy. 50% is genetic, and the rest is building strong relationships with those around you, setting goals and working towards them, and being a part of something bigger than yourself – that’s what matters.

Another thing that they said can greatly improve your happiness is, you guessed it, EXERCISE. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that plays a role in motivation, reward, motor control and happiness. As you get older you loose Dopamine synapses, but exercise can help to slow down the process. Either you use it, through exercise, or lose it. Also, studies showed that allowing yourself to get “in the zone”, something physically and mentally demanding for no good reason, can increase your happiness levels.

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So if you are currently living your life how I used to, simply being content and waiting for something to happen, to get rich, have a nice car or lose weight, it’s time for a change. Stop focusing on what could happen in the future and focus on the now. Focus on the intrinsic values, the relationships that you form and your own individual accomplishments. And go out and get your dopamine flowing. Go for a run, a hike, lift some weights, and see how good you feel once it’s done.

Life is too short to live it unhappy.

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Planning for Success (Includes 1/2 Marathon Training Plan)

Guys, I’ll admit it. Past couple weeks I’ve fallen off the wagon. I could blame it on being sick, but in reality I’ve been lazy. I just haven’t been that motivated to cook/eat clean or work out that much. In fact, I haven’t really been motivated to do anything, including the piles of reading I have to do for school.

My dog thinks Corporations reading is boring too.

My dog thinks Corporations reading is boring too.

I definitely go through phases of being super motivated, I can totally do this, I’m a rockstar, YAH!… and then I just burn out. It’s hard once you lose that drive to try to find it again and re-motivate yourself to be the best version of “You” that you can be.

There’s a two phase plan I used to try to get myself back on track when I fall of.  Phase 1 starts with watching this video, which always makes me want to go take on the world This. Very. Second.

Then I look up and see it’s cold and grey outside and I decide the world can wait.  But no one ever got what they wanted out of life by watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns for hours on end, so then Phase 2 kicks in. Success doesn’t just happen. You have to work for it. You have to plan for it. So, I make a plan. I make it detailed. I make sure I stick to it.  It’s hard to fall off track when you know exactly what you are supposed to be doing at any given moment.

I’ve been really slacking in the cardio department. Like, really slacking. Like, I’d probably be wheezing after a mile or two if I went for a run. Since one of my 2013 goals is to  break a 1:45 1/2 marathon time, we can’t have that. So last night I sat down and drafted a training plan. It’s an easy one, one just to get me back into the grove of running. I still want to keep my lifting, so I scheduled Three “PT” (Personal Training) times in there, along with interval runs to work on speed, hills, and tempo runs.

Week Mon Tuesday Weds Thursday Friday Sat Sunday
Week 1 PT 2 Mile Tempo PT 2 Mile Easy REST 4 Miles &PT 1 Miles Easy
Week2 PT 3 Mile Tempo PT 3 Mile Tempo REST 5 Miles &PT 2 Miles Easy
Week 3 PT 3 Mile Tempo PT 3 Mile Interval REST 6 Miles &PT 2 Miles Easy
Week4 PT 4 Mile Tempo PT 3 Mile Hill REST 7 Miles &PT 2 Miles Easy
Week 5 PT 3 Mile Interval PT 4 Mile Easy REST 8 Miles & PT 2 Miles Easy
Week 6 PT 4 Mile Interval PT 3 Mile Tempo REST 9 Miles &PT 2 Miles Easy
Week 7 PT 4 mile Tempo PT 3 Mile Easy REST 10 Miles &PT 2 Miles Easy
Week 8 PT 2 M. Hill, 3M. T PT 4 Mile Tempo REST 11 Miles &PT 3 Miles Easy
Week 9 PT 5 Mile Tempo PT 3 Mile Interval REST 9 Miles &PT 2 Miles Easy
Week 10 PT 5 Mile tempo PT 4 Mile Interval REST 1 Mile EZ RACE (?)

As of now I haven’t registered for a race, but I know in a month or so I’ll start looking some up.  I’ll have another week’s worth of groceries/recipes this Saturday to help get me back into making my own food again.

I know I’m capable of more than I’ve been giving the past couple weeks in school, in working out and in life. I’m ready to get back on track. I’m ready to be successful.

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How Psychologists are making you addicted to junk food.

I have a confession. I love Cheetos. Back in college, they were my go to junk food. Especially the spicy kind. I couldn’t get enough. I could eat multiple bags and still not be full.

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Thanks to an article last week in the New York Times, I now know why. Cheetos, along with every other type of junk food/processed food, is the result of thousands of hours of scientific research with the ultimate goal of making that food as addictive as possible. Not just the marketing. It’s a well known fact that primary colors attract kids, especially orange, that red stimulates the appetite etc. What I didn’t know is that everything down to the sound that the chip makes when it crunches, or how fast the cheetos dissolves in my mouth (a term dubbed “Vanishing Caloric Density”), has been tested over and over to find what is most appealing to consumers.

The article follows one of the prominent Food Psychologist, with a PhD from Harvard, as he talks about several products on the shelf today, from Dr. Pepper (high carbonation added to it’s popularity) to Prego Sauces (as much sugar in a 1/4 cup as two oreos and chunks of mystery meat skyrocketed it to #1), Lunchables (built with a three month non refrigerated shelf life, “cheese” and all, as well as almost much saturated fat as a kids supposed to have in a day) and Potato Chips( the perfect mix of starch to give you a quick glucose sugar rush, fat to send happy signals to the brain, and salt to satisfy our most basic animal cravings).

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If the idea that your food is being psychologically designed to make you an addict doesn’t disturb you enough to make you think twice about processed foods, then I’ll bring out the gross factor. Lots of ingredients that make up anything from your Starbucks to your ice cream to your gummy bears are “enhanced” by ingredients that aren’t publicly advertised.

Let’s take the natural flavoring “castoreum”. It’s used to enhance vanilla flavoring, like in ice cream or candy. It is indeed natural, that’s no lie, but that’s because it is made from Beaver Anal Secretions. And it’s even FDA Approved. 

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Don’t eat vanilla? Well how about that mushroom pizza you ordered? Or should I say, that Maggot Mushroom pizza? The FDA approves up to 19 maggots and 74 mites in every 3.5 ounce can of mushrooms. Next time, buy them fresh.

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Lastly, I’ll leave you with the one that hurts me the most, because I love them. Gummy Bears/Worms/Fish you name it. First, if you’ve eaten any gummy item that has red dye in it you can proudly say you’ve eaten a beetle, because that’s how it get’s that lovely red color (Same with those Strawberry Frappuccinos you love so much..).  But Gummy Bears don’t stop there, the gelatin used to create that fun texture comes from boiled connective tissue, most likely pig.

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Now don’t get me wrong. I still love my gummy bears, pig skin and beetles and all. I try to follow a 80/20 rule, as in 80% of the time I eat clean, 20% I allow myself cheats. But keep in my mind how much junk food you may be eating and whether the hours of time put into making it addictive are working on you.  Remember they don’t have your best interest at heart.  As the head of General Mills said, “Don’t talk to me about nutrition, talk to me about taste. Talk to me about sales.”

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Warning: This post may act as a trigger to those suffering/recovering from an ED.

This week, February 24th – March 2nd, is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I’ve known for a while I wanted to write a post on it, but it’s been very hard for me to figure out the jumble of thoughts in my head about something I feel so strongly about and whether to write on such a personal topic.

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The theme of this year’s NEDA Week is “Everybody Knows Somebody”. With 7 million women and 1 million men suffering from Anorexia or Bulimia (that means 1 in every 200 with anorexia and 1 in every 100 with bulimia) that is almost certainly the case.

One of the most important things I feel the need to stress is that an eating disorder is not a choice. Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, and “Eating Disorder not Otherwise Specified” are classified mental illnesses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). In fact, these three classifications of mental illnesses have the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness. 5-10% of women with Anorexia die within 10 years of developing the disease, while 8-20% percent die within 20 years. The mortality rate of people with anorexia is twelve times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death in women 12-24.

These are very serious diseases.

Yet society today still does not remove the stigma placed on people suffering from these diseases or offer the research and care necessary for prevention. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health in 2011 showed that the average amount of money spent on research per person living with Schizophrenia was $81, for Autism – $44 and for Alzheimer’s – $88.  The same study showed that the average amount of money spent on research per person suffering form an Eating Disorder was $0.93. This is a mental illness that needs to stop being ignored.

Many people can’t comprehend why people suffering from an eating disorder “can’t just eat” or why they don’t see the sickly state their body is in. To understand that, one needs to realize that the mindset of someone suffering from an eating disorder is not one of someone just trying to look good. That may be how they describe their desired body. It may be how their disorder started, counting calories and restricting food to try to loose weight and slowly spiraling out of control. But a person suffering from an eating disorder truly feels powerless to the control the disorder has on their mind. It is the feeling of worthlessness and disgust that come from putting food in their mouth due to the thought that they should have had the self control and strength to resist the temptation. Not because they fear getting fat, but because at that point it is strictly a mind game equating self control with self worth, thinness with value.  The shame and solitude that comes from binging and purging, whether through vomiting or use of laxatives, because they know that what they are doing is wrong, but cannot help the suffocating anxiety and self loathing that fills them until they force it out.

To anyone currently suffering from an Eating Disorder, I urge you to seek help either through someone you know or by contacting someone here . It can be difficult to seek help, because you know that treatment will mean forcing yourself, or even being forced, to break from the obsessive rituals that currently define your life. There is the fear of loosing that control, that small bit of reassurance and happiness that you currently have. It seems impossible to have a positive relationship with food and yourself and that may cause you to resist entering treatment.

That is not the case. There are millions of people, myself included, who have proven that wrong. Getting past that initial hurdle is the hardest step, but the most important one on the way to recovery and happiness.