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What I’ve Learned About Food

At CrossFit Texas, the trainers stress that nutrition is more important than the WOD (CrossFit speak for Workout Of the Day).  If you don’t fuel your body the appropriate way, you aren’t going to get the results you want, even if you are killing yourself in the gym everyday.  They recommend both the Paleo and Zone diets, or a combination of the two.  Paleo focuses more on the type and quality of the food, where Zone focuses more on quantity.

When I started, I decided to try following the Paleo diet because I thought I ate pretty good and didn’t want to be hungry all the time by limiting how much I could eat.  I cut out all grains, dairy and anything processed and forced myself to eat more fruits and vegetables.  I ate whenever I was hungry.  I lost 7 pounds in the first two weeks.  I read Robb Wolf‘s book, The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet (in two days) and, having a degree in biochemisty, it made complete sense to me.  Especially the part where he goes into detail about grains and why they are bad:

Grains, particularly the gluten-containing grains, contain molecules that fit into the opiate receptors in our brain.  You know, the same receptors that work with heroine, morphine, and Vicodin?

Throughout his book he challenges people to try it for a month and see how your body reacts.  What happens when you add stuff back in?  Hi, my name is Wendy and I’m a grain addict!  I don’t have allergic reactions to grains, no gluten sensitivity, only the nagging feeling that I need more.  If there is bread, crackers, cookies, pretzels (even the gluten-free variety) in the house and I know about it…you can be pretty sure that I will eat it, as quickly as I can sneak it, and I will be thinking about how to get my next fix for the rest of the day.  I had no idea!  I now limit myself to the occasional corn tortilla at a Mexican restaurant, and maybe some rice here and there, but never at home.

Another thing I did was to start tracking my meals on dailyburn.com.  It’s a free website that allows you to track your nutrition, body (weight and other measurements), workouts and sleep.  It’s amazing what you can learn from your own body when you start paying attention.  I started playing around with my macronutrient (carb/protein/fat) ratios to see what works best for me.  I followed a Paleo version of the Zone diet for a month or two.  It’s a 40-30-30 diet, which means 40% of your calories come from carbs, 30% from protein and 30% from fat.  You can view the CrossFit Journal’s Zone Issue here for a more detailed explanation.  I followed the 11 block plan.  It was a little more calorie-restrictive than I like, so I would be strict during the week and eat whatever I wanted, while still staying Paleo, on the weekends.  It worked really well, but as my weight went down and my workout intensity got higher, I wasn’t getting enough fuel and was having trouble getting through a workout.

While doing some research, I looked more into the Primal way of eating, via marksdailyapple.com.  Mark Sisson suggests keeping your protein to .5-1.0g of protein (or more depending on your level of activity) per pound of lean body mass per day, carbs to 100-150g per day, and the rest of your calories from fat…the good kind, that is.  For me, that means a 20-25-55 diet.  That’s right, 55% of my calories come from fat.  Even with these numbers, I still eat less than 2000 calories per day (on average).  Fat is NOT a 4-letter word, people!  Robb Wolf says in his book:

A few enlightened folks recognize that fat is important as a fuel and is a building block for many of our cell membranes and hormones.  However, the reality is that fat is far more than just fuel or raw materials.  It is us.  Our brains are mainly fat, most of our nerves are fat.  Reproductive hormones, yep, fat.  Now there are different types of fat, and we will look at those sub-types because, if you can believe it, there are even essential fats.  Fats that if you do not get enough of, or the right ratios, you will become sick or die.

A low-fat diet can be dangerous.  For me, it caused my gall-bladder, whose main function is the digestion of fats, to become inefficient.  Over the years, I developed gall-stones, which eventually caused gall-bladder attacks, which led to the surgical removal of my gall-bladder.  Now I’m not saying that that is the only reason my gall-bladder had to be removed, as both my parents had gall-stones, but I did not start to have problems until I started increasing the fat in my diet.  Side note: Some people continue to have issues digesting fat after gall-bladder removal.  Fortunately, I am not one of them.  Fat digestion is no longer a problem for me.

People have asked me what kinds of snacks I eat.  Honestly, I don’t really feel the need to snack anymore.  I do keep a Larabar in my purse on the occasion that I can’t get home in time for a meal, but I rarely find the need to eat it.  I have found that if I eat a good breakfast of mostly protein and fat, I don’t need to eat until lunch.  My afternoon ‘snack’ is Advocare Spark, a sugar-free energy drink that helps with that afternoon lull.  Protein and fat are what keep you feeling full.  Keeping carbs to a minimum keeps the hunger away.  I also try to eat at approximately the same time every day and at home.  I know that is not possible for everyone, but it works for me.

Fruits and vegetables are carbs!  Did you know that?  Would you believe that 2 1/2 cups of steamed broccoli has the same number of carbs as 1 slice of bread…just 1.  I’m sorry, but 2 1/2 cups of steamed broccoli is gonna fill me up a lot more than one slice of bread!  Can you eat just one slice of bread?  I know I can’t…grain addict here, remember?  For those of you concerned with fiber and think you have to have your whole grains to get enough fiber…try eating more fruits and vegetables!  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Do I ever cheat?  Of course I do.  I’m human and I have a sweet tooth, although it’s not near as big as it used to be.  You have to be able to enjoy life and food, otherwise you’ll be miserable.  You will find, as I have, that once you change the way you eat, your tastes will change, too.  Some of the foods that I used to crave or have trouble staying away from no longer appeal to me.  I try to only ‘cheat’ once a week.  Whether it is a whole meal, or just adding a yummy dessert to a regular meal.  Recently, Jeff and I have started using a ‘cheat window.’  Every Saturday night from 8-10pm, all bets are off.  We make a special run to the store to get whatever cheat food we desire.  Ice cream, cookies, brownies…anything we want…as much as we want.  But you know what?  I used to be able to eat a pint of ice cream in one sitting, no problem.  Now, I can barely get through 1/3 of a pint before I start to feel sick.  Jeff has found he has to stay away from the gluten.  Oh yeah…at 10pm anything that is left gets trashed.

What matters is how your body responds to the food you eat.  Do you really want to make yourself feel sick just because something looks or sounds good?  Honestly, those sweets just don’t taste the same as they used to.   So my advice to you is to pay attention to your body, find what works for you and change your life.  It’s a lifestyle change…not a diet…and it’s a lot easier than you think.  Try it for a month and see what happens!

So, let’s recap:

1.  Food is fuel.  The better the fuel, the better the body works.

2.  I’m an addict.  You can’t NOT eat, but you can make the conscious decision not to eat certain things.

3.  Find what works for you.  Pay attention to your body.

4.  Fat does not make you fat.

5.  Carbs are not just breads and pastas.  Fruits and vegetables are carbs, too.

6.  Nobody’s perfect.  Cheat meals are OK every once in a while.

7.  If you’re not sure about something…ask.  I’m willing to help in any way I can.

 

Disclaimer: The logic behind the Paleo and Primal diets talks a lot about how our ancestors ate and how we have evolved over time.  Being a Christian, I am not advocating evolution, I am advocating a way of clean and healthy eating that works for me.

How CrossFit Changed My Life

For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, you’ve seen this before (if you bothered to read it).  Bear with me, there’s more to this post below.  This was in January of 2011, 4 months after starting CrossFit:

I must be doing something right…I was recently asked to share my CrossFit testimonial at the Free Saturday boot camp at CrossFit Texas.  Since speaking isn’t one of my strengths, I know I left a lot of stuff out.  I decided to write it down, so that I could share it with more people.

A little fitness background first.  I grew up playing soccer, played competitively through high school (club and school teams), recreationally in college and for a few years after until I had my second knee surgery.  I got back into the gym a year or so later, trying to lose a few pounds before a trip to Jamaica and then became pregnant with my son, Cooper (now 4).  When Cooper was 6 months old, I hit the gym pretty much every day, spending an hour or so on the elliptical and adding in some circuit training when  I had time.  I hit a plateau and took a shot at running.  I worked my way up to a half-marathon and another plateau.  Took some time off running and tried P90X…got about half way through and became pregnant with my daughter, Skyler (now 7 months).

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I first heard about CrossFit from my brother-in-law, Robert.  He had been talking it up quite a bit, trying to get Jeff to try it.  Jeff considered himself in decent shape (he had completed the Austin Marathon, ran the Texas Independence Relay, etc.) just needed to work on his portion control.  He decided to give it a try in May, looking to drop some weight before the next marathon season started.  He took it seriously and even stuck to the nutrition guidelines (Paleo/The Zone).  The weight melted off of him and his overall physique improved tremendously.   He was hooked.  I was still quite skeptical.  I didn’t think I could physically do the workouts, and I was afraid of changing the way I ate while trying to breastfeed Skyler.

Needless to say, I was only able to breastfeed for about two months and the ‘baby weight’ stopped coming off with about 30 more pounds to go.  I had to do something…I started going for long walks with the kids, but until Cooper was back in school, I couldn’t really use the jogging stroller I had borrowed from a friend.  In August, Jeff was invited to participate in the Texas Throwdown, a CrossFit competition in Dallas, with the teams from CrossFit Texas.  I spent the day watching them compete in team WODs (workouts) and the individual competition.  Have you ever had to sit on the sidelines due to an injury and watch your team play, all the while dying to get out on the field?  That’s how I felt sitting there watching.

It took a couple of weeks to figure out how I was going to make it to the classes due to the kids and Jeff’s schedule, so in the meantime, I tried Paleo.  I cut out breads, dairy and anything processed, forced myself to eat more fruits and vegetables, and ate only all natural foods.  I dropped 7 pounds in the first two weeks.  I stuck with it and started going to CrossFit Texas twice a week and the free Saturday boot camp.  The thing I like most about CrossFit is that it is totally scalable.  If you can’t do something, there is a way to modify it so that you can, and you just keep working at it until you don’t have to modify it anymore.  I also don’t have to worry about trying to figure out what I’m going to do at the gym.  There is a set workout every day…the WOD: workout of the day; and it’s different every day.  I have yet to do a single workout more than once.  It didn’t take long before I was hooked as well.  By November, I was going 4-5 times a week.

In the last 4 months, I have dropped 30 pounds and 4% body fat.  I just reached my pre-pregnancy weight, but my pre-pregnancy clothes are too big!  My 1 mile run time dropped from 11:10 to 8:22, doing only CrossFit.  I still can’t do a pull-up, but I have gone from jumping pull-ups to kipping with the medium band (I really need to try the small band).  I am no longer doing push-ups on my knees.  50 sit-ups…no problem…how many rounds?  I can deadlift 185 pounds, front squat 130 pounds, bench press 85 pounds (in high school, I was lucky to bench press the 45 pound bar).  I can feel myself getting stronger every day.  I feel great and have tons of energy to play with my kids.  I have yet to hit a plateau.

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I can’t say enough about the trainers at CrossFit Texas!  They are all super nice, extremely knowledgeable, and they push you just enough, without going overboard.  They know how to motivate you to do your best and make the most out of your workout.  The CrossFit Texas community is the same way.  Everyone is friendly and encouraging and they don’t mind that I bring my kids with me to workout.  It is a family friendly environment that I’m proud to be a part of.

Since then (approximately 6 more months), I have dropped another 10 pounds and 6% body fat (in all 40 pounds and 10% body fat).  I now wear a size 2 (in high school, I was a tight size 4).  My one mile run time has dropped to 7:30, I can do kipping pullups, 2 consecutive strict pullups, I can do hand stand push-ups, I can dead lift 200 pounds, front squat 150 pounds, and back squat 175 pounds, and do most workouts as Rx (prescribed weight).  I’ve made so much progress in such a short time that Brannon, the owner/coach of CrossFit Texas, asked me if I want to compete next year (which is just plain crazy)!

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After running the 3M Half Marathon in 2009, I knew one day I would want to attempt a full marathon.  Thanks to CrossFit, I’m in the best shape of my life, so…why not now!?!  I am registered to run the Austin Marathon in February, 2012.  I am also competing in two CrossFit events this fall:  the Life AsRX US Tour in Dallas on August 12-13 and Fight Gone Bad 6 (a fundraiser) on September 17.  I have created a training log to keep myself accountable.  You can follow it by clicking on the Training tab at the top of merys.net or on the month on the Training Log menu to the right.

For those of you who want to know more about how I eat (paleo/primal), I’ll get into that later.

Want to know more about CrossFit?  Check out these videos:

What is CrossFit

My Gym is Different

CrossFit Texas Promo Video – my CrossFit family :-)

What happened?

Wow, it’s been almost a year since my last post.  What happened, you ask?  LIFE!  Two kids is a lot different than one.  Especially once Skyler grew out of the ‘sleepy all the time’ stage.  Skyler was not the easiest baby and I had to choose my battles wisely.  The blog was one of the first things to get tossed to the side, along with my camera.  I probably have three times more pictures of Cooper’s first year than I do of Skyler.  It also did not help that she absolutely hated the camera.  She would anticipate the flash and flinch every time.  It got to the point where even the sight of the camera (with the flash turned off) would make her cry.

I continued working for Lesley, doing contract photo editing, and was on the MOPS Steering team again.  That, along with Cooper’s various activities (swim lessons, soccer, preschool) kept me a busy mom.  I did do something for myself this past year, however.  Jeff introduced me to CrossFit and I have not looked back.  I’m in the best shape of my life and I will never go back to the way things were before.

I hope to get you all caught up on the kids, pictures, my personal transformation and plans for the future soon…stay tuned!

I promise, it won’t take me another year :-P

Snow!

(Update: not sure why the pictures aren’t showing up, go here to see them all)

We woke up this morning to big, fat flakes falling from the sky.  It was beautiful.

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Of course, I couldn’t let Cooper play in it because we had to get ready for school.  But he got to play in the snow at school and he got to break in his new snow boots when he got home.

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Unfortunately, the snow had died down after school and was starting to melt, so it wasn’t as fun.  I got him down for his nap and looked out the window as I was heading upstairs to the computer…big, fat flakes again…figures!

Finally!

Hello, my name is Wendy, nice to meet you!  Oh…wait…this is my blog…right.  I guess it has been a long time.  Well, a lot has happened in the last few months.  Where do I begin?

Well, I guess I’ll start where I left off.  After Cooper’s birthday, we went to Houston for Thanksgiving.  The first weekend in December, Cooper and I went to Arlington to put up my grandmother’s Christmas tree, which I’ve been doing for her since high school.  Then we came home and the next weekend all of us went to Arlington to cheer on Jeff’s cousin, Steve, who ran his first marathon (White Rock).  Then we came home and was soon time to return to Arlington, yet again.  This time for Christmas, where my brother kindly ruined it for us due to his appendicits (just kidding, Todd).  Oh, and there was lots of snow and ice as well.  We came home, had a sonogram, found out we are having a girl (Princess #3!), closed on our new house, traveled to Boerne for New Years at Jeff’s uncle’s house, then came back and moved in to our new house.  Whew, that makes me tired just thinking about it all.  Did I mention this all took place in the span of about 6 weeks?

No wonder I haven’t had time to blog.  Well, I’m finally caught up with work and house stuff (mostly) so now I can import the 400 or so photos off of my camera and write Cooper’s 37, 38 and now 39 month letters.  Pictures to come soon, I promise!

Merry Christmas!

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Have yourself a ‘Mery’ little Christmas!
We wish you all joy this holiday season.

Seriously !?!

I cannot believe how big my belly already is!

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This picture was taken of us in Jamaica when I was about 14 weeks pregnant with Cooper.

Here I am at 14 weeks with #2:

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Need I say more?

By the way, I am now 16 weeks and even bigger. People keep asking me if I’m having twins, I’m so big. Guess this is just going to be one long pregnancy.

Chugga Chugga

This past Monday was my 11 week doctors appointment.  Since my doctor didn’t have any openings on Tuesday or Thursday, while Cooper was in school, he got to go to my appointment with me.  We hadn’t mentioned anything about the baby to him since I wasn’t really showing and he probably wouldn’t understand anyways.  He was having trouble understanding why I had to go to the doctor, so I just told him that I was getting a check up.  We waited and waited and waited some more and finally it was our turn and then we had to wait in the exam room for a while.  The waiting and trying to keep Cooper entertained is the stressful part.  (Just so you know, this won’t be happening again if I can help it, except for my 20 week sono).  The doctor finally comes in and is so sweet to Cooper.  She asks him if he went trick or treating and what he was for Halloween.  I think you know where this is headed.  The subject of choo-choo trains comes up, and of course he is wearing a shirt with a choo-choo on it. 

So they continue to talk trains while I get up on the table and the doctor starts to listen to the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler.  The heartbeat is strong and steady, up in the 160s.  Cooper is intrigued by the sound and I ask him what he thinks it sounds like.  In true Cooper fashion, he says it sounds like a choo-choo train.  The doctor and I laugh and I tell him that Mommy has a baby growing in her tummy and that sound is the baby’s heart beating.  His first response is: “the baby is riding on a choo-choo train! Chugga chugga chugga.”

Luckily, he no longer thinks the baby is riding on a choo-choo train.  I’m already starting to show a bit and he sees my belly and talks about the baby.  It is so cute.  He hugs and kisses my belly and tells me he loves ‘his’ baby.  He even gets upset when I lay on my side next to him, because he thinks I’m going to hurt the baby and he doesn’t want the baby to cry.  I can’t wait to take him to my 20 week sonogram, so he can actually see the baby. 

When I ask him if he wants a baby brother or sister, he usually answers that he wants a baby sister and then a few minutes later he’ll say he wants a baby brother.  He even told his teacher at school that he was going to have a baby brother.

I just know Cooper is going to be an awesome big brother.  I can’t wait!

Procrastination Station

I know I’m really late in posting Cooper’s 32 month letter, and I only have 12 days until it’s time for his 33 month letter, but there is good reason…

First of all, our house sold after 3.5 weeks on the market, yay!  We are set to close on Aug. 25th.  We will be moving into an apartment next weekend, boo!  Our new house should be ready before Christmas, knock on wood!  Have we packed, yet?  No.  Do we have a moving truck reserved?  No.  Why are we procrastinating so bad?  I don’t know.  I think, subconsciously, that it’s because we are not at all excited about having to live in an apartment for 4 months. 

Secondly, the photographer I work for has had some major personal issues going on which caused her to get way behind, which in turn, caused me to get way behind after a couple of weeks of having nothing to work on.  I have been slammed with a ton of work for the last three weeks, most of which was past due.  I’m finally starting to get caught up, though, so that’s good.

Thirdly, P90X is very time consuming.  You work out everyday for atleast an hour.  Most workouts end up being an hour and a half long after you add the ab workout to the routine.  I’m sticking with it, though, because I’m starting to see results.  Each workout is getting easier, I’m adding weight and reps and I’m able to keep up with the ab workout, which I couldn’t even do some of the exercises the first time around.

Lastly, MOPS is starting soon.  We had our Steering Retreat last weekend and it was amazing!  We got the entire year planned and I’m super excited about it.  Jeff purchased the rights to gcnmops.org for us and set it up so I could administer the site.  Didn’t know I was web savvy, did you?  Neither did I!  Actually, we’re using some free software (Joomla) to administer the site and it’s super easy, with lots of tutorials.  Jeff thinks I’m addicted now, but I just want the site to look the way I want it to look, so I’ve spent a lot of time working on it.

Once we get into the apartment, I’m hoping to have some time to sort through all the photos and get Cooper’s letters written.  That is, if we ever get into the apartment.  We got a call from the complex this morning and they said they made a data entry error.  The apartment that we are supposed to be renting (2 bedroom, 2 bath, den and attached garage) was supposed to be vacated this weekend.  Was it?  No.  Apparently they entered the move-out date into the computer incorrectly.  So, we can’t move into that apartment next weekend and they don’t have any others like the floorplan we were wanting available until September.  Did I mention we close on August 25th?  We told the sellers we would be out next weekend so they could do a final walk-through before closing.  The apartment complex is awaiting a response from their regional office to see if they can lease a three bedroom apartment to us for the same price.  We’ll see what happens.

UPDATE:  The guy from the apartment complex just called.  We’re getting the 3 bedroom for the same price, yay!  The downside to all of this is there is no attached garage, and they don’t have any unattached garages available, either.  We were going to use that for storing our appliances, extra furniture, etc.  The upside?  He said he would have ‘his guys’ help us move all our stuff up (it’s a second floor apartment) to the third bedroom for us.   Hopefully, it will all work out.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat…

…well, not exactly.  A couple of months ago, Jeff and I ordered P90X.  We were looking for something we could do that did not include running in the Texas summer heat and trying to save some money by getting rid of our gym memberships.  If you’ve never heard of it, just flip through the channels, they have an infomercial that plays every so often.  Yes, we bought something advertised on an infomercial.  My boss, Les, has been doing it for a while with amazing results.  Then, two of Jeff’s running buddies from his marathon training group started it, so we had real life proof of its effectiveness.  After watching the initial video and reading through the fitness and nutrition guides, we went shopping and bought all the supplies we needed: a pull-up bar, push-up stands, and resistance bands (I already had a yoga mat).  I would like to say that we started it immediately, but I would be lying.  We were scared, and rightly so…

I finally got angry enough at my laziness up the courage to start it last Monday (about 2 months after we bought it).  Here is the routine:

  Weeks 1-3, 9, 11 Weeks 4, 8 Weeks 5-7, 10, 12
Day 1 Chest/Back, Abs              Yoga Chest/Shoulders/Triceps, Abs 
Day 2 Plyometrics Core Plyometrics
Day 3 Arms/Shoulders, Abs    Kenpo Back/Biceps, Abs 
Day 4 Yoga Stretch  Yoga
Day 5 Legs/Back, Abs                 Core Legs/Back, Abs
Day 6 Kenpo Yoga Kenpo
Day 7 Rest or Stretch                   Rest or Stretch   Rest or Stretch                  

Doesn’t sound so bad, does it?  Yeah, right!  This program was designed to get you in shape in 90 days, without hitting plateaus, through muscle confusion.  It is the most intense workout I have ever attempted.  After Day 1, I could barely raise my arms, after Day 2, I could barely walk, and so on and so forth.  By Saturday, my entire body hurt.  But the funny thing is, this morning I was ready to do it all over again.  It will be a while before I look stronger, but I already feel stronger.  It’s crazy!

I wasn’t brave enough to take before pictures, but I plan to take pictures on Day 30, 60 and 90, unless I get pregnant, but that’s a discussion for another time.  

Jeff started on Wednesday and is writing about it here.

To my fellow P90X’ers:  BRING IT!