“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”― Edith Lovejoy Pierce
This is the beginning of a new year. A fresh start. A time to make changes.
For this year, I will explore the pursuit of greater courage.
I feel the last three years have been dedicated to discovering myself. Finding out who I am outside the walls of the comfort zone of my home.
A life outside of Florida. A life outside of the United States.
Discovering who I am as an individual is an easier feat when I am in an environment of unfamiliarity. Things that I always knew as happiness aren’t necessarily my happiness anymore. Priorities change.
I believe that I have changed my entire life’s path, by dipping my toes into small ponds over the last three years. I have discovered new loves for so many different things that have captured my imagination.
I feel I cannot personally grow by taking the same action that I’ve always taken.
This new book is dedicated to my continuance of growth as an individual.
Opening my mind to new things, things that I often consider frightening because of it’s unfamiliarity.
I find that the spirit to try new things is synonymous with the spirit of self-improvement.
Bravery is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger or pain without fear.
Courage is being yourself everyday in a world that tells you to be someone else.
I am the person that you see blasting on my Instagram pictures of my “healthy meals” and post workout ‘flexies’. I never get too personal on Facebook nor am I a person that shows a lot of vulnerability or sadness..But with this being Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and seeing so many articles and stories to which I can relate, I felt a tug within my heart to share mine.
I am the daughter of a man that chose to take his life. When I was 16 years old I received a phone call from my mother to ride home with my sister from school when she left early for work release. The silence that day in the car was of eeriness and I can still remember the feeling of worry that came over me. My sister and I walked in our house and the look that my mother had on her face was a look that I will never forget. My sister grabbed my hand and instantly, we knew that something was wrong with our daddy.
I had the opportunity that night to say everything to my dad that I felt. He lay in ICU hooked up to ventilators and life support without a trace to truth that he could hear anything that I had to say. As I sat there holding his hand, looking at the dried blood in his nose and the traces that had came out of his ears, he was still the most handsome man that I had ever seen. I felt every single emotion that one can possibly feel within minutes. I felt love, sadness, apathy, self pity, anger, hatred and Love. Brain dead and lifeless, I still held on to every single twinkle of hope that he could hear my words. To this day, when I think of my daddy, I face a roller coaster of emotion. I am still angered at the fact of his selfish decision. I am still angered at myself for lack of recognition that there was such a deep rooted issue. But most of all, just sadness. Not sadness for myself, but sadness that he obviously felt that he was at a place that he couldn’t get past. Problems and pain that had him hostage within his own thoughts. I can’t imagine, nor do I ever wish to know this level of loneliness.
My reason for sharing and my point being, there are people everyday living in this world of loneliness. Those that face these battles within their own minds. As outsiders, we don’t always know when people are living within this hell. All we can do, is our part of being good humans. Show love and support to those in your life every single day. Tell them daily that they are important. If you see any signs of depression or detachment, reach out… Love is Contagious!
To those that are facing these struggles, Please, ask for help! What if this one simple gesture could forever change your life! Asking for help is not a symptom of weakness, but rather one of courage! Turn a possible tragedy into a lifelong testimony! CREATE YOUR PURPOSE OF LIFE!!
HIIT involves alternating bursts of all-out intensity (90-100%) for a set duration of time, with a work to rest ratio of 1:2 or 1:3. This essentially means that you train both your aerobic and anaerobic stems simultaneously and hone your metabolic flexibility (i.e. your ability to transition between burning fat (during the recovery) and burning carbs (during the intervals). HIIT is often performed incorrectly. True HIIT training has a goal. To be faster and stronger. To perform optimal HIIT you need to know what your maximal performance is; the most number of reps you can do, how fast you can run, how high you can jump, etc. Then, your intervals are completed near maximal intensity. Most however do not allow enough recovery time (ex. if you are working ay maximal intensity for 60 seconds, you will need about 2 minutes to fully recover. A 1:2 ratio of work to rest is usually sufficient). Result of a shortened recovery means a decrease in intensity to follow. To end- if you are not having your programs created for you by a professional; then before you base your programming on “guestimates”, give yourself a few max performance tests.(ex. find your maximum speed for instance by running as fast as you can on the treadmill, complete as many burps, push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups as you can for 30-60 seconds; then program your HIIT accordingly). HIIT training if calculated correctly can drastically reduce body fat, increase lean mass and aerobic power. Other forms of HIIT training include: 1) Turbulence Training: 8 reps of weight training alternated with 1-2 minute high intensity cardio, for 45 minutes maximum.
Example Turbulence Training workouts:
Sets of 8 back squats x 2 minutes jump rope
Sets of 8 deadlifts x 1 minute burpees
Sets of 8 bench presses x 1:30 minutes sprints
2) Tabata Method: Each “set” is 30 seconds long, and consists of 20 seconds work alternated with 10 seconds rest. Repeat sets eight times for a total of four minutes. For Tabata “rest” sets you stop moving completely, unlike the rest sets in other HIIT workouts, which are low-intensity but you continue moving.
Example Tabata workouts:
8 sets of jump squats + 8 sets of push ups
Alternate sets of planks and sit ups, do 16 sets total
Simply do 8 sets of burps
3) Power Intervals: 90 seconds work alternated with 30 seconds rest, usually used for cardio activities such as running, walking, rowing, swimming, etc. Use maximum effort in the work sets, then 50% effort for the rest sets.Example Power Interval Workouts:
As athletes we need to train- and we need to train hard; However, if we don’t allow sufficient time for the body to complete the repair process, we run the risk of moving into ‘exhaustion’. In this stage, cells are not fully repaired before again encountering a demand they cannot meet. (ex. for instance, if your strength program calls for 5 sets of 3 front squats @90% of your 1RM and you spend the next two days moving gingerly and wincing from the resulting DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), its not going to be a good idea to program another heavy leg movement for a few days at the risk of doing damage; this is when injury occurs). Over time, insufficient repair time, stemming from training sessions that are too intense (RX’ing a workout that you should have scaled), too frequently, leads to overtraining and insufficient recovery means poor physical performance (WOD times get worse and loads that were previously easier get difficult). Yet don’t get it confused- A good athletes training program is to be constantly varied, in which muscles and energy systems regularly encounter an unaccustomed stress to which will be and should be difficult, but a healthy body will have no choice but to respond and adapt with willingness to improve and grow stronger. By virtue of its structure, the body adapts and can go further than the average person pushes it- but for the Elite athlete that presses it faster than it adapts, risks overtraining and exhaustion. Remember that rest is NOT laziness and it truly is part of the program.
Neuroendocrine refers to interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine system. Muscle growth and strength increases largely depend on the neuroendocrine adaptations and acute responses evoked during exercise. Unfortunately, one of the critical elements missing from isolation ‘weight-training’ movements (ex. bicep curls) is they invoke essentially no Neuroendocrine response. A vital hormonal response to athletic development is a substantial testosterone increase, along with an insulin-like growth factor and human growth hormone. Exercising with protocols known to elevate these hormones eerily mimics the hormonal changes sought in exogenous hormonal therapy (steroid use). Training Programs that induce a high neuroendocrine response produce top tier athletes. Increased muscle mass and bone density are just two of many adaptive responses to exercises capable of producing a significant Neuro. response. A starting point recommended for ‘weightlifting’ would be mastering ‘powerlifting’ (the sport of three lifts: the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift) to be followed later by the more dynamic ‘Clean’, ‘Jerk’, the ‘Clean & Jerk’ and the ‘Snatch’. Being not only demanding of precision and athleticism, these multi-joint compounds elicit a profound Neuroendocrine response, emphasizing constant engagement of midline, working core to extremities. Simply put, in order to maximize neuroendocrine response focus on working large muscle groups before smaller muscle groups. Use higher volume and moderate to high intensity with shorter rest intervals between sets. If you are not an avid Olympic Weightlifter, activate a higher Neuro. response, by programming your smaller muscle groups with your largest muscle groups. (ex. Superset your Bicep Curls with DeadLifts, your Tricep Extensions with Bench Press, Shoulder Laterals with Squats). Recruit an even larger response by incorporating Compound movements (ex. a Front Squat with an Overhead Press, a Sumo Deadlift with an Upright Row, a Back Squat with a wide grip Behind the neck Press). Maximize you Natural Growth Hormone by recruiting more muscle fibers, more quickly and more intensely.
I had the wonderful opportunity this week to guest coach at ASD CrossFit, Pordenone, Italy with another coach from our gym. This Box has been open for roughly eight months and is full of amazing athletes. With most being relatively new to CrossFit, I was unsure what to expect. For their skill/strength training, we programmed a Snatch Progression to a 1RM followed with an EMOM. These athletes are coached by an amazing Olympic Lifting coach and it shows!! Their pulls and progressions were extremely precise and their mobility was exceptional! We programmed for them a 20:00 AMRAP 20 Wall Balls (16#/20#) 20 Box Jump overs (20″/24″) 10 Clean & Jerks (85#/105#) 10 Burpees Not only were their movements on point, but they WOW’d us with their endurance!! The determination, drive and discipline of the athletes is absolutely inspiring!! A very welcoming group of people, that even with our language barrier, put us at complete ease:) I recommend to anyone traveling through or a local athlete searching for a Box..give this one a try!!! To show their gratitude, they invited us out to dinner which was an absolute blast- along with the best Tiramisu I have ever tasted;) Having this experience just justifies yet again to me the comradery among CrossFit and its athletes.
I am often asked what my typical training week looks like. I NEVER have workouts that are the same. Everyday, each week it is something different. Here is a rundown of this weeks training.
800M RUN -20:00 EMOM
3 STRICT PULL-UPS -20 RDS- EVERY 30 SECONDS:
1 DEAD HANG PULL UP AFTERNOON CARDIO:
2 MILE RUN 2 MILE ROW
BB STRICT PRESS X10
BB SQUAT CLEAN X10 SUPERSETS:
STRICT PRESS @70% X10/ @80% X10/ @80% X8
SQUAT CLEAN @50% X5/ @55% X5/ @60% X5 X5 SUPERSETS:
SQUAT CLEANS @70%
10X2 BACK SQUATS @55% 10X5 SUPERSETS:
SPLIT JERK @77.5% 6X3 POWER CLEAN @92.5% 6X2 END WITH
10 MIN ON THE STAIRS
Today’s Training was split into three sessions. I was earlier than usual for my 0530 class, so prior to setting up for my class I got in a quick WOD. 5 ROUNDS:
10 OVERHEAD WALKING LUNGES 55#
15 MEDICINE BALL SIT UPS 14#
Following class, I finished up with 6 ROUNDS:
30 DOUBLE UNDERS
This afternoon I went to the track to tackle todays programmed cardio TRACK WORK:
1 MILE RUN
5 X 100M SPRINTS
1 MILE RUN
I could tell as soon as my feet hit the ground this morning that my muscles were tired. I gave myself a longer recovery period between rounds than usual, but thats what it took to get it in;) 3 ROUNDS:
T&G SNATCHES @70% 3X5 3 ROUNDS: T&G SNATCHES @70% 3X5
5 RING DIPS 3 ROUNDS:
T&G SNATCHES @70% 3X5
5 ADVANCED RING ROWS
THURSDAY: A.M. WOD: 10 ROUNDS:
5 STRICT PULL-UPS
5 C2G PUSH UPS
5 T2B (STRICT) FOLLOW WITH: MUSCLE FOCUS 4 SETS EA:
25 PULL DOWNS
25 BB BACK ROWS
25 DB CURLS FINISH WITH:
5 MILES AIR DYNE
10:00 ROLL OUT/MOBILITY
500 M ROW
16 DB STEP UPS
8 RING DIPS
15 ROMANIAN DEADLIFTS OFF BLOCK
8 ONE LEG DB DEADLIFTS (EA) 4 ROUNDS:
10 DB STIFF DEADLIFTS OFF BLOCK
5 RING PUSH UPS
15 BANDED GOOD MORNINGS
15 ROMANIAN DEADLIFTS OFF BLOCK
I praise God daily for allowing me strength to do what I love. Pushing my body to the limits, overcoming obstacles, each day growing stronger than the last…Physically and Mentally. Milano, Italy- Super Spartan Although this race was no where near my toughest race to date, it was by far the muddiest! Dangerously muddy! I received a much slower time than I would have liked, but finishing the race without a broken ankle or sprain was most important! My legs kept telling my brain to run fast, you can handle it, but I knew better. I busted my ass so many times in this race, on my on and other times due to the person ahead causing a pile up. As with any race though, it was a blast! I will say that the last two obstacles of the race were a test of determination. An incline barbed wire belly crawl with a slippery, quicksand like effect, full of sharp shards of rock, just perfect for slicing and dicing those knees and elbows. The last obstacle, an incline wall with a slippery rope that may have well been lubed with oil, was so caked with wet mud, that when going for my last pull, exerting almost all of my energy, I lost control, sliding all the way back to starting position. After telling myself to breathe and move (my favorite thing to yell at my CF athletes in class:) I reached to the side of the obstacle where laid bundles of hay like grass. Taking some in my palms to hopefully act as somewhat of a grip, I was back up to the top within one more pull, struggling, when I see a hand the size of my head reach down for me to grab. Thank you God, chivalry is not dead:)
For far too long, the front squat has served as the least favored of squatting variations.You can’t front squat as much as you can back squat, so you simply discard it- toss it into the pile of lifts less regarded. The front squat engages your quads to a greater degree and, because of the more upright body positioning required, hammers your core to its max. For avid Olympic lifters with interest in improving your Cleans, Jerks and Push Presses, immediate benefits emanate from the front squat. The bar positioning and body posture in the front squat offer the most direct transference to Olympic lifting of any squatting variation.