Distractions

Following on from my post about balance a the end of March, things haven’t quite gone to plan!!

For the last two weeks, I’ve not stepped foot in the gym, not done any form of fitness and allow circumstances & distractions to get the better of me!

Life has so many ways of challenging us it’s scary!! Just when you thought you had it sussed, boom something else comes up to bite you or something happens that makes you wake up and smell the coffee, well that’s what has happened to me this weekend.

So I’m reminded to reset, refocus and believe…

To do this I’ve created 2 little laminated (love a bit of laminating) cards remind me daily of what I need to do and focus on to achieve my dreams!! Seeing as I spend a lot of time (probably too much time) at my desk!!

      

What do you do when you get distracted from your goals?

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In this connected world…

… how comes the number of people who feel lonely is growing?

And at times me being one of those people!! Now I’m not looking for sympathy as I’ve chosen my life and in the most parts, I’m really happy as I’m beholden to no-one but every so often I do get pangs of loneliness!!

In doing research for this blog all the stats and information about loneliness is mainly focused on the older generation and it would also seem that there are many projects to help with this issue. But about people like me?!?

I then came across this infographic from Office of National Statistics which actually shows that it’s middle-aged people who are feeling lonely more than the older generation.

So I’ll share with you my situation!! I’m currently single, I live on my own and I run my own business from home, all my family live hundreds of miles away, I have a great circle of friends however most have partners and/or have children and busy lives…

Often when I’ve mentioned to people about feeling lonely, I’m often told that just because you are in a relationship you don’t get lonely & I totally get that but this is often said by someone in a relationship or the other response is well you can always call or message me, which is lovely but I feel like I might call at a difficult time!!

I get out and about quite a lot with my business and am part of a CrossFit community, I know in recent years I’ve not been out much socially due to financial constraints which have made it harder to keep the loneliness at bay but my door is always open for visitors & tea guest!! I’ll happily cook tea for anyone if it means not spending another evening on my own!! Don’t all shout at once…

Its just the little things that hit you hard really, I’m not Bridget Jones crying into my Chardonnay every night but there are tearful moments, a good example of this was last week I spoke at a conference, it was a big deal for me, it went really well and when I got home it would have lovely to share my day with someone & have a glass of wine and celebrate. Or when I organised a BBQ over a weekend and one by one all the people invited contacted me to say they couldn’t make it and they all had valid reasons and I wasn’t angry with any of them but then it left me spending a weekend on my own!!

It’s having someone to give you hug when you’ve had a rubbish day or to make you a cup of tea when you’re working hard and don’t have time to stop or cook you tea when you are too tired to do it yourself.

I’ve often felt like a spare part when at social events when everyone else is paired up, even if it’s with their best friend rather than a partner and I just feel like the odd one out!!

This leaves me wondering, is it me? is there something wrong with me?

But it’s not just about being single, it’s feeling that you are invisible unless you shout up, I do my best to stay in contact with friends and when possible arrange to meet up, however, I do wonder if I didn’t make the effort what would become of that friendship?!

Like a said at the top of the post I’m not looking for sympathy, just remember that what you see on social media might always be what’s going on and a message to a friend might just brighten their day to know someone somewhere is thinking of them!!

Much Love, Rachel xx

All about balance

In these modern times it feels like we are all juggling lots of different thing to maintain a balance in our lives and sometimes things become unbalance.

Following on from my last post about the last 18 or so month, an area which has been out of balance is my fitness time.

We all have the same hours in the day and how we spend these hours is our choice, I remember someone saying to me that you can’t make time for activities (That’s physically impossible to make time) however you can find time if we look hard enough.

For the last 18 months my fitness routine/time has taken a back seat, I haven’t done this on purpose really it’s just I’ve allowed other things to fill my time and I guess this is a reason why some people find it so hard to exercise.

The main thing that has taken up my time more is my business, which in some ways is fab as it feels like I’m slowly but surely making headway towards what I want my business to be and I know that sometimes things have to be sacrificed to achieve other things. However I also know that doing fitness for me this is Crossfit and running that these actually help me to perform better in business.

The world of Health and Fitness has gone bonkers in recent years, I qualified as a Personal Trainer in 2002!! Wow I didn’t realise it was THAT long ago, that does make me feel old!! Fitness was still quite a new things in terms of gyms/health clubs that appealed the mass market and were open to everyone. The benefits of doing fitness to improve health have long been recognised!!

Then social media happened and somehow health and fitness turned into posing on Instagram (using filter & photography tricks to look better than you are), body image & body shaming, restricted diet (chicken, broccoli & sweet potato) and very little about health!!

My belief is that we should find an activity/exercise that we can do that helps us to live our lives better and improve our health rather than just to get a six pack or guns (biceps).

My chosen exercise is Crossfit (What is Crossfit?) which I absolutely love most of the time, it can frustrate the hell out of me at times but ultimately I go back for more every time.

One reason I love it so much is as soon as I walk into the box (what we call the gym) I forget about all my challenges and focus on what I need to do to get me through the workout, therefore improving my mental health, it’s my escapism/release!!

Another reason I do it is that it improves my physical health!! I do it as I like to feel fit, I like to know that if I needed to run for the bus I could, or if I needed to do some DIY or move furniture around my house I could.

The by product of the above is weight loss!! From when I started my Crossfit journey in July 2014 to about about Jan 2017 I’d lost a total of 25kg (3.9 stone) however, in the last 18 or so months I’ve put on 13kg!! Now I don’t really care about the weight as it really DOES NOT MATTER in the scheme of things but it kinda does as being a “healthy weight” is good for long term health.

Last July I hit an age milestone and went for a Well Women check up at my local doctors surgery with the practice nurse, after all the test were done I was told my risk of getting any of the big killers (serious disease) was put at 0.45% this was the lowest score the nurse had ever seen, however the one section of the check where I didn’t get a green was my weight. And yes I know they use the BMI chart to track this and we all know the flaws of using this as a stand alone measure but ultimately I know in myself that I need to lose the weight that I’ve gained over the year as it will help me to achieve long term health. But the truth is that I actually need to lose fat and this will take time and discipline to do.

My focus is always on my health and if I ever do get a six pack to be proud of I will know that I’m in a place where my health/weight will be best it can be!!

So like before when I did my crossfit diaries I’m going to be sharing my FAT LOSS journey with you not only to keep me accountable but also to hopefully inspire you to think about what you can do to improve your health!!

I won’t be living off chicken, broccoli and sweet potato but I will have to look closely at my food habits and see where I can make improvements. Food and eating is part of what I do as a business and I want to prove that you don’t have to restrict your diet to achieve health related goals!! Will I be calorie counting and balancing my macros? Hell No, life is too short for this, however I will be making sure that the majority of the food I eat is nutrient dense rather than calorie dense!

My diet will consist mainly of fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, beans and pulses and nuts & seeds, as well as the odd piece of cake (it’s good for the soul).

The main thing that I know I may struggle with is maintaining my energy due to poor sleep. This is mainly caused by stress, anxiety and mild depression as well as being overweight!! So exercising more will hopefully help with the sleep issues too!!

I know there will be days that I won’t feel like doing anything, my body will ache from the last workout I’ve done and work is calling, so the manta below is going to put at my desk to remind me to keep going!! This is a life long journey but getting started is the 1st small step along the very long road!!

 BRING IT ON!!

CrossFit Diaries, Part Seven – Time to take it up a gear

So it’s now 7 months since I’ve been going to CrossFit consistently and I can no longer call myself a newbie or beginner!! I know all the terms and mastered around 75% of the moves!! However there are times at the box that i still feel like a newbie, there are a number of smaller communitites within the main box itself which seem impenetrable so leave you feeling like a spare part if you aren’t part of any of these groups which is where I’m at!! I’m sure over time this may change…

After my wobble in Feburary I feel more determind than ever to just keep working & pushing myself hard to achive my ultimate goal of becoming as fit as humanly possible.

 So where does it all stack up after this concerted drive to get to my end goal?

Well in terms of body shape, I’ve lost 10lb in weight & 12.5 inches off my body, with the biggest loss off my waist of a whole 4.5 inches!! No wonder all my trousers have been feeling so loose recently!! This demonstrates clearly that what you weigh is irrelevant as my body has got smaller yet the weight loss is pretty low (roughly 1.4lb a month). Although I’m on this journey for myself, a couple of people have commented on how slim I’m looking which is a great boost to confidence & motivates me to continue.

So some firsts to mention: 

I took part in my first in-house competition, I was captain of my team with RIchard B, Toots & Wil being the other members, we did really well on all the WODs & ended up coming 3rd out of 10 teams!! Which I was really chuffed about.

I entered the CrossFit Open, for those who don’t know, CrossFit is a global sport. The CrossFit Open allows all CrossFit Athletes to compete against each other, each week for 5 weeks a WOD is released and you had 4 days to complete & submit your score, thankfully this year they introduced a scaled options for the WOD which meant that I was able to post a score for all the WODS, and 15.5 I was able to do the WOD as Rx.   

I was happy with my finishing position seeing as it was my first open!! It has helped me to identify my weaknesses within CrossFit and the moves that I really need to work on.

I’ve also been pushing hard to get some more personal bests on the board for the weight lifting moves, including clean & jerk, front squat & squat clean.

So where do I go from here? Earlier in the post I said that body weight is irrelevant which it really is however like I mentioned last time it does matter when you have to preform exercises/moves that involve you lifting your body weight which is where I’m struggling the most, most of the moves I can’t do are body weight based moves!! So the obvious thing is to create a calorie deficit (consume less calories than you are using) which would mean that your body has to used interal resources to make up the shortfall and therefore you lose weight. Unfortunately it’s not that simple!! The first thing you need to work out is exactly how many calories you are burning just being alive (known as your basal metabolic rate) and this varies based on your body composition as if you are muscly you will burn more calories than someone who isn’t as muscles are very calorie hungry. So knowing my body fat percentage, weight & height I calcaulated that my BMR was roughly 1500 calories a day, then you need to add on the additional calories you burn during the day be this normal workday activity & exercise. I can track roughly how many caloires I burn during exercise as I use a heart rate monitor & then use the info I get from my Jawbone to workout other calories burnt. So this figure can vary from 2000 calories to 2500 calories on any given day.

Then you need to monitor your food intake to track how many calories you are consuming, but again it’s not that simple as if you consume a high percentage of carbohydrates (an easy energy source for your body) then the body will just utilise these more efficiently & not need to use your stored energy (fat & muscle) to make up the shortfall. So you need to reduce your percentage of carbs & replace with fat & protein. Making sure you are also consuming plenty of fruit & vegetables too.

Getting the balance is the hardest bit and to that end I’ve decided to sign up to the next Clean Eating Challenge the box is running. I don’t ned to gain knowledge on nutrition & eating right as I already have that but what I do need is the accountability of being monitored on a weekly basis. This starts are the begining of May so have the rest of April to get ready for this!

I’ve also decided to up my running & take part in the interval training on offer on a Saturday morning…

Next time the focus will be on the mental side of CrossFit, what your head says or doesn’t say is half the battle of CrossFit, it’s not always the strongest who wins but the one who uses mental strength to get them through.

Until next time, happy WODing!! xx

CrossFit Diaries, Part Five – The Kit

Well we are now in 2015 and what a start it’s been, already completed 7 WODs so far so a great start to the year.

So looking back in December again the month didn’t start well as I was still suffering with my knee so decided to take another week off to rest it, during this week I really missed going to the box, seeing the other members & in general the feeling you get when you exercise I noticed that I was less productive in general & pretty mardy!!

In the end I managed 12 CrossFit WODs in December but no runs and my knee is still playing up but I’m determined to carry on, just being careful not to push myself too much or too quickly, probably should have thought about this when I decided I could do dynamic lunges which caused the issue in the first place!!

Anyway, here are how my stats are stacking up:

  • Weight: 13 Stone, 11lb – 6lb gain
  • BMI: 36.4, big increase!!
  • Chest: 39 inches – 2 inch loss (1 inch loss in total)
  • Waist: 35.5 inches – No change (0.5 inch loss in total)
  • Hips: 47.5 inches – 0.5 inch loss (0.5 inch loss in total)
  • Thigh (R): 26.5 inches – 0.5 inch loss (1 inch loss in total)
  • Thigh (L): 26 inches – 0.5 inch loss(1.5 inch loss in total)
  • Bicep (R): 14 inches – No change (1 inch gain in total)
  • Bicep (L): 14 inches – 0.5 inch loss (No change)

The above stats have started to be not very representative of my progress in my CrossFit journey as in December I really did start to see some results in terms of CrossFit moves & lifts or the fact that my clothes are looser!!

Back in July when I first started Crossfit, my 1 rep max (RM) for dead lift was 70kg, in December I made the 100 club by lift 100kg 1RM!! I am really chuffed at this and in other areas I’m also making gains.

I can do a pull-up or a few pull-ups using a black band (this is the thickest of all the bands but when I started I couldn’t even do it with one of these), so the challenge now is to start to work my way through bands to eventually do a pull-up unaided.

Still no progress with double unders but I know I haven’t really been putting the work in to improve these so what can I expect, what you put in – you get out!!

This month I want to talk about the kit we use.

When i first walked into the box I was struck by the lack of machines, I was used to walking into a gym and seeing row upon row of machines be this treadmills/cross-trainers or weight machines.

But the philosophy of CrossFit is:

Machine 2

So what do we use I hear you ask?

Processed with Moldiv

Top (L-R): Rope, Barbell with weight, Medicine Balls (3,6,9kg)

Middle (L-R): AbMat, Kettle-bells (various weights), Bars

Bottom (L-R): Ring, skipping ropes, weight (from 0.5kg up to 20kg)

Processed with Moldiv

Box!! At 3 different heights (L-R) 20″, 24″ & 30″

We also use the standard Concept 2 rowing machines as well as our own bodies, doing movements like burpees.

You wouldn’t believe that such simple pieces of kit can change your body shape & improve your fitness so dramatically but they do. You might also be thinking that you could easily get all this equipment relatively cheaply and set up an area in your garage or spare room and you probably could but the secret/science behind CrossFit isn’t really the kit itself but the way you use it in the form of the WODs & of course the community who help to push yourself further than you thought you could go.

The great thing about all this kit being quite simple is that it is all scale-able, meaning I as a relative newbie can workout next to someone doing the same exercises who has been doing CrossFit for years, which makes it a level playing field so to speak, you’re really competing against yourself more than the other people at the box.

Since the beginning of this journey there have been quite a few highs & lows but I now feel really part of the box, everyone has been so friendly, welcoming & helpful, I’ve started to make friends & feel part of something that I don’t think I ever want to leave. Thank you everyone!!

This has been helped by me mixing up the times I workout, I will always be a morning exerciser & will quite happily workout on my own if I have to but  I have been enjoying going to the evening WOD’s once in a while when other areas of my life get in the way which means I get to meet other members too!

The other thing that I’ve decided to do is get a paid for customised programme for 8 weeks (started 8th Jan) to help me improve some of my weak areas and try to speed up my results, I’m impatient & want to see result quicker than I’m getting. This means upping the number of times I go to box from 3-4 a week to 6-7!!

Doing this I know will put a strain on my body so next month I’m going to talk about one of the biggest passions in my life FOOD & nutrition and what I’m doing to ensure I stay healthy to be able to continue my CrossFit Journey.

Machine

So until next time, stay active & healthy.

Rachel

CrossFit Diaries, Part Four – Lets get competitive

Before I talk about the last month I just want to say a big thank you to all the other members at the box, I posted my last post in our members only Facebook group and the response I got was amazing & very touching with many people sharing their struggles with getting to grips with CrossFit, some of the people I hadn’t even met so the CrossFit Witham community spirit definitely showed.

This was also demonstrated to me one Saturday when I went to box fairly early. Another member was setting up for the WOD and said asked if I was doing the WOD too and he offered to wait for me to do the warm up and we could do it together!! So we got started the WOD involved doing some lifting exercise then 400m run, another lifting exercise, 400m and so on, after 2 of the runs I was puffed out and still had to do burpees, I was struggling and this member shouted “Keep going Rachel” and I actually thought, how does he know my name as I didn’t think I’d met him before!! Then my next thought was I don’t know his name, ARGH!! I know i’m no shrinking violet, but also didn’t think that many people knew me seeing as I felt like I was still a relatively new member & I tend to go to the WODs early in the morning where I see the same people most weeks, I now know his name is Richard Breed (I asked him at the end of the WOD) so thank you Richard for your encouragement.

So November started really well, I had got myself into a good routine and getting to the box 4 or 5 times a week consistently which meant that I was started to see some good results, but then I had to rest for a week, I’ll explain the reason why later…

So the scores on the doors are: Managed 10 CrossFit workouts and 1 run (6.65km)

  • Weight: 13 Stone, 5lb – 2lb gain (no change)
  • BMI: 31.1 – (no change)
  • Chest: 41 inches – 1.5 inch gain (1 inch gain in total)
  • Waist: 35.5 inches – 1.5 inch gain (0.5 inch loss in total)
  • Hips: 48 inches – No change
  • Thigh (R): 26.5 inches – .5 inch loss (1 inch loss in total)
  • Thigh (L): 26.5 inches – no change (1 inch loss in total)
  • Bicep (R): 14.5 inches – 0.5 inch loss (1 inch gain in total)
  • Bicep (L): 14.5 inches – 0.5 inch loss (0.5 inch gain in total)

As well as the measurements above I’m also now going to record my progress with certain exercises we do during WODs, as ultimately, it doesn’t matter about the above as my goal is about getting fit and now that I know most of the exercises I can start to see if I’m making gains in these too. An example of this are deadlifts, when I first started back in July I know my 1 rep max was about 70kg, this month I manged to do 90kg, so over the coming months I’ll keep you posted on some of my personal bests & 1 rep max to see the progress I’m making. This was a suggestion from another member Craig, so thanks Craig for the idea :0).

So this month theme is competitions, When I first started at the box I didn’t know about competitions & don’t really know much now as I’ve not been exposed to them but what I do know is that if you wanted to you could take part in a CrossFit competition most weeks if you wanted to. From what I’ve seen these range from individual, pairs or team competition. Some you go into a ballet to get drawn or you have to take part in qualifiers before hand to gain your place. These are done at you box, videoed and submitted online. The Reebok CrossFit Games is massive in the states, getting national TV coverage!!

My first experience of competition was to take part in the in-house qualifiers leading up to the in-house competition!! I was a little nervous about putting myself forward seeing as I still felt fairly new to CrossFit and didn’t want to let the team I was picked with down as we were randomly selected but I needn’t have worried as the team I was picked with were extremely supportive I was with Suzanne, Andrew & Liam and they made me feel great about what I could achieve & really part of the team. Each week a new qualifier was published and we had to week to complete it below are a couple of examples:

IMG_1705 IMG_1816

In the end we finished 4th out of 10 teams!!

In the final week before the in-house competition I unfortunately injured my knee while taking part in the qualifiers :0( , don’t know what I’d to cause the injury but knew it meant that I was unlikely to take part in the main in-house competition and I was gutted!! But knew I had to be sensible to allow my knee to repair itself so I don’t do more damage.

I decided I’d still go to the competition to cheer everyone on, and I have to say it was an awesome day, the atmosphere at the box was electric with everyone really pushing themselves to the max and the team spirit/camaraderie was clearly evident, I did however feel a little out of it, no other reason that I so wanted to be the one doing the WODS not watching from the sidelines but know that hopefully next time I’ll be fit and well and can take part another time.

IMG_2002      IMG_2050

IMG_2037    IMG_2007

IMG_1994      IMG_2065

The competition was fab and now I can see why competitions are so popular, the sense of achievement was palpable, it also renewed my determination to keep going to CrossFit to achieve my fitness goals, so am looking forward to coming months to continue my progress, just have to hope that my knee gets better and doesn’t cause me any more issues, as I write this I’ve had another week off as it still doesn’t feel write but am hoping to get into the box very soon, the main reasons for this is A: I’m missing it and B: I’m right mardy when I don’t exercise as I feel rubbish!!

Next time i’m going to focus on the equipment (or as some might see lack of…) we use doing a WOD.

I’d love to hear your experiences of competitions.

You can’t be on your own at Christmas…

tumblr_static_decorated-christmas-tree

This is the usual response when I tell people that I’ll be spending Christmas day on my own and then it’s often followed with an offer for me to spend it with that person’s family, which I politely decline, I am always grateful for their generosity in opening up their home to me at this special time.

Now don’t get me wrong I actually love Christmas & everything that goes with it, however for me I feel that the reasons behind Christmas have been totally lost in this mad world we live in.

Having grown up the family run food business, Christmas proper didn’t really start until late on Christmas eve as my parents were busy up until this point with the business, we would put up the decorations as a family early evening on Christmas eve before one of my parents & older sisters would head out to midnight mass so for me seeing Christmas starting sometime in November if not before really does make me feel sad. Having Christmas for just a couple of weeks is what made is so special.

We did enjoy the run up to Christmas with advent calendars/candles but these were traditional ones with no chocolate in sight!! And I really enjoyed making the orange offering for the Christingle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christingle) service and carol singing & concerts.

Cristingle

The focus was always about helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves not on how much we can spend on presents & how much food & drink we could consume in just one day!!

I have to admit I do love all the Christmas adverts that are now a sort of tradition to mark the start of Christmas, however by the time Christmas day actually arrive the idealist “perfect family Christmas” does start to wear a bit thin!!

So why you might ask do I often spend Christmas on my own, well there are many reasons:

All my family live miles away from me here in Lincolnshire and yes I could go & stay with them however I do like my own company and to do my own thing, so find it hard when I have to fit in around others!! I know this sounds very selfish but luckily I do have the choice, some people don’t have this choice & i’m acutely aware of this.

I love my family dearly but we are all very different people with totally different outlooks on life so spending time with them is great but can be a little strained at times when our views clash, this I find stressful & want my Christmas to be as chilled & calm as possible.

As I run my own business I don’t get many days off (again my own choosing) so I use Christmas as an opportunity to have some proper days off where I don’t feel obliged to check emails or tick things off my to-do list.

So my day is usually pretty quiet, I cook myself some really nice food & enjoy a relaxing day watching TV or reading a book. I may be on my own but I know that I’m very much loved by my friends & family. You don’t need to be with people to know that you are loved!!

In the spirit of Christmas past I’ve decided to do something a bit different this year, instead of sending out cards I’m going to give £3 to a different charity everyday up until Christmas eve, these charities will be ones who help people who are less fortunate than myself a bit like an advert calendar but giving something away instead of receiving.

What are your family’s traditions? Would love to hear what you do to make this time of year special & memorable.