In review: intermittent fasting

It seems as  though there’s a new diet almost every single day. If you’re a 90s baby you’ll remember the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet, the Blood-Type diet, the Zone diet, the list is endless. One of the reasons why I’ve never stuck to any of these diets is because I don’t like being told what to eat. In the blood type diet my blood group (A+) is meant to avoid mangos and potatoes which is crazy for me. Intermittent fasting is less about what you eat and more about when you eat. It’s not a diet but an adaptation to your eating pattern. I became curious about intermittent fasting after having picked up a tiny bit of weight that made me feel uncomfortable in my skin. I love having breakfast…when I remember to prep so IF seemed like a good way to eliminate my morning forgetfulness around eating. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University Hospital have found out in a study called HELENA – the largest investigation on intermittent fasting to date, that there are many paths leading to a healthier weight and it’s all about finding the path that fits you best.

Right now, IF is the path that fits me best. I was interested in losing weight and keeping it off, with intermittent fasting because you’re not constantly eating, you give your stomach and gut a chance to recover from the usual churning of stomach acids to digest food which in turn can reduce inflammation. The first week of IF, I watched a million and one videos on IF (my favourite being anything by Dr. Jason Fung, I even follow him on Twitter!)  and read countless articles (I would recommend that before you commit to IF, do as much research as you can and consult a doctor or nutritionist if necessary) on the experiences that people have had with IF.

There are three main ways to do an intermittent fast: the 5:2 diet, in which you eat regularly for five days a week and reduce your intake to 600 calories during the next two; alternate-day fasting, where you rotate between standard and 600-calorie days; and time-restricted eating which is what I’m doing where you limit your eating periods to four-to-eight hours. What works best for me (since I wake up at 5 and am in bed by 22h on most days is to fast from the time I wake up until 12 noon and on some days I’ve even pushed that time out to 14h. This gives me a total of 16 hours fasting and on some days when I’m a superhuman…17 hours.

How am I feeling?

The first two weeks were hard. I had to make a conscious effort to drink not just more water (which is something I’m constantly practicing) but also more tea to ‘fill’ me up. One thing I realised is that once I made the decision that I wouldn’t be eating before 12/13h, it’s almost as though my stomach shut up aka stopped grumbling. The less I thought about food, the easier it’s was for my stomach and the less it complained. The mental aspect for me is what plays the biggest role in ensuring that you commit to IF. In terms of my weight, I have managed to lose centimetres that I gained on that glorious holiday to Cape Town and I’m feeling happy in my skin again. I wake up with zero bloating which does a lot to lift the mood. Whenever I get a little bit fluffy I have this moment of not knowing who I am anymore (I know that sounds very dramatic haha!) IF helped with the calorie reduction that I needed in order to shed those extra kilos. I’ve been on this IF journey for almost a month and I’m going to see this through till the end of the year and then re-evaluate. In the first two weeks I battled with extreme fatigue and feelings of hanger (hunger that leads to anger), luckily having to maintain good work relationships was enough of a reminder to keep me from lashing out in hunger!

In terms of my weight, I have managed to lose centimetres that I gained on that glorious holiday to Cape Town and I’m feeling happy in my skin again. Whenever I get a little bit fluffy I have this moment of not knowing who I am anymore (I know that sounds very dramatic haha) IF helped with the calorie reduction that I needed in order to shed those extra kilos. I’ve been on this IF journey for almost a month though.I’m going to see this through till the end of the year and then re-evaluate. I am not a fan of the feeling of hunger that is present during non-eating periods and in light of my 2019 body goals (which I’ll share in a later post) IF just isn’t going to work for the long-term. A girl is trying to get stronger and fitter as she approaches 30…damn did I just address myself in 3rd person!

For an eating plan to be successful, it should be sustainable and improve your performance not just as an athlete (where I’m concerned,) but as a human. This is the biggest lesson I’ve learnt through IF, food should be tasty yes but it’s even more important for the food you eat to fuel you. When I am eating, I am 100% more conscious about what I put into my mouth. Along the way I have had some treats but what I’ve noticed is that I have more self-control and those naughty treats are few and very far in between in comparison to when I was eating whenever I wanted. I will say the one thing I truly miss is having breakfast at breakfast time!

How to make IF work for you?

  • I cannot stress this enough: plan, plan plan! You’ve heard this cliché before and it’s because it’s true: fail to plan/prepare and prepare to fail. Fill your water bottle the night before, make sure that the tea you have is one that you won’t get sick of drinking during your fasting period and prepare your meals in advance.
  • If you’re going to snack during your eating period, make sure your snacks are healthy. I love to stick to raw nuts. Cashews, walnuts and almonds are my favourites but you can go with whatever you like best. Hummus & carrots will also NEVER go out of style. 
  • Get an accountability partner. Friends, I consider myself so lucky to be with the man I call my boyfriend. I tell him about every single lifestyle change that I make and he holds me accountable; whether it’s running more often, eating healthier and now sticking to this new eating pattern, he is SO good at reminding me of the goals I set for myself. I can’t tell y’all how much I love this man!
  • Plan your training at least an hour after you’ve had your meal during your eating period. I found that this worked best for me. Training in the morning while still in a fasted state left me feeling hungrier than usual and we all know that hunger can quickly transform to hanger. I also found that when I took pre-workout on an empty stomach, it’s almost as though I could feel my body disassociating with reality, can’t explain that.

The biggest thing I’ve learnt in this intermittent fasting journey? A healthy lifestyle is not just about the food you eat but the choices you make in your everyday life. It’s not just about losing weight, although it does start that way. When you remove the toxic elements that aren’t serving you well in your nutrition (if you’re consistent enough), it then extends to your physical environment. One day you’re making healthier food choices and the next you’re making healthier life choices! Constantly work towards being in the best physical, mental and emotional shape of your life, it’s what I’m focussing on and it’s what you should be focussing on.

YOUR journey.

Know Your Status

Twenty years ago when someone acquired HIV, they would, on average, not live more than 12 years. Today, a young person who becomes infected in the developed world can expect to have a near-normal lifespan with access to lifelong, uninterrupted HIV treatment. These are the words of professor Glenda Gray president of the South African Medical Research Council. In 2018, in a population of 56 million people, 8 million people are HIV infected. Today is the 1st of December, a day that is internationally recognised as World AIDS Day. A day where those who are infected with the virus are celebrated for the bravery they possess as they fight this disease, and where those who have unfortunately perished at the hands of this disease are remembered. Prior to commencing work on a study in pediatric HIV surveillance at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), I will admit to having been very ignorant in regards to the plight of HIV that affects South Africa and its inhabitants. We’re all guilty of having seen ads on TV and thinking ‘HIV isn’t something that affects people like us (whatever that means.) We think ‘HIV isn’t something that affects me.

In the almost 10 months that I have been in this job position, I have seen the detrimental effects that it can have on a mother when it is revealed to her that her infant is infected with HIV. I have seen the detrimental effects that it has on a mother when she is told that she is infected with HIV. Over the past few months, I have also seen something else. I have seen doctors and research scientists do all they can to offer hope to these newly infected mothers & infants to ensure that both mother and baby can have as healthy and normal a life as any other mother and infant who aren’t infected. I have been able to interact with members of a team that were responsible for the first ground-breaking liver transplant from a mother who is HIV positive to her uninfected child. I have seen a resilience and dedication to research and undertaking of new methods to ensure that in 2018 and the future to come, no single person should have to die from HIV infection.

I have come to the realisation that the fight isn’t necessarily against HIV but against the stigma that is present in society when it comes to having conversation about HIV infection. Detrimental ideas such as the one expressed by ex-president Thabo Mbeki about HIV not being the causative agent of AIDS, putting into place policies that denied thousands of HIV-positive South Africans access to ARVs, caused deaths that could have been prevented. Alongside former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who promoted the use of lemon, garlic and olive oil to treat AIDS, such ideas led thousands if not more, into falsely believing that HIV is a virus that they could live with sans treatment.


A virus cannot cause a syndrome.  As you know, AIDS is an acronym for ‘Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome’ – therefore AIDS is a syndrome, i.e. a collection of well-known diseases, with well-known causes. They are not,together, caused and cannot be caused by one virus! I said that HIV might be a contributory cause of immune deficiency – the ID in AIDS!

These are the dangerous ideas that we will continue to fight against. Ignorance of the mind and an unwillingness to research and educate yourself. On this World AIDS day, my message to you get tested and know your status and should you find yourself in that group of brave people infected by HIV, find someone, just one person that you can trust to support you as you show society and the world that this virus WILL NOT BEAT YOU.

This week, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, labour MP for Brighton revealed in the Chamber of Commons that he has been HIV positive for nearly 10 years. It’s an act that I hope will inspire others to reveal their diagnosis, get the help they need and bash the stigma that persists through silence and fear. 

In review: Superlatte Golden Cup Latte Blend

I know they say money makes the world go round but without coffee, I doubt the world would keep spinning. I used it to survive long days of lectures after even longer nights of partying studying when I was at uni.  I lived for that caffeine buzz and it quickly spiralled into an addiction. One night, my heart racing I called my poor mum in South Africa (I was in London,) and told her I was dying. Examinations by my GP revealed that the excessive consumption of caffeine was the culprit,moderation is key he expressed.  

Fast forward to now being a more health conscious 20-something year old, I was delighted to try out Superlatte’s turmeric,cinnamon and ginger golden latte blend. I am a big fan of golden lattes. The very first one I ever made was a simple paste of 1 tablespoon of turmeric, a pinch of black pepper and organic virgin coconut oil to which I added soy milk and brought to a simmer. I loved the earthy taste from the turmeric and anyone who knows me, knows that I’m addicted to coconut oil.
Superlatte makes the process just as easy for you. All you have to do is add a tablespoon or 2 of organic virgin coconut oil to 3 teaspoons of the golden latte blend,make a paste and add 1 cup of steamed milk or your favourite non-dairy milk alternative, whisk it up, serve and enjoy. I even had some edible gold glitter that made this the most fun latte I have ever had!

Why should you be drinking golden lattes?

The secret ingredient to golden lattes is turmeric. Turmeric has been used for thousands of centuries in India because they’re well aware of the immune boosting properties that this spice possesses. It boosts the antioxidant capacity of your body and contains a compound known as curcumin which has anti-inflammatory properties and aids in boosting brain function. Coupled with two of my other favourite anti-inflammatory & immune boosting spices;ginger and cinnamon, this is definitely a super-latte blend! There’s a pleasant tickle in your throat that you get from the ginger and black pepper, then there’s the warmth from the cinnamon that made this a very comforting drink. I’m a recovering sugar fiend and I need sweetness in everything, so I appreciated the addition of the unrefined organic coconut blossom sugar which gave it a pleasant but not overwhelming sweetness. I had my latte before bed and because it’s caffeine free, you don’t have to worry about any caffeine related jitteriness or caffeine induced insomnia. Coupled with the scent of one of my favourite LUSH perfumes, I’m Home it honestly felt as though the person who feels like home to me (my boyfriend) was hugging me. I really do find any way possible to gush about my boy don’t I? shrugs

You can find Superlatte at Wellness Warehouse , Yuppiechef  or you can buy directly online from Superlatte. (superlatte.com)

They have five other variants which I’m hoping to try soon… can you say Christmas? First up on my list is Purple Poet (sweet potato,cardamom & cinnamon) followed by Green Dream (matcha & mint), Red Velvet(beetroot & cocoa), Cosmic Choco (chaga cocoa & maca root), and Ruby Chai (rooibos, honeybush & masala spice) The brand is 100% plant-based, preservative free and GMO free.

You can also keep up with their beautiful creations on Instagram.

The Struggle Is Real…Isn’t It Always?

Knowing things will go wrong is what keeps most people on the sidelines. Most people seek to avoid the struggle. But we are not most people. When the fists fly, we charge headlong into the fray. Because we saw the struggle coming. Because we want what’s on the other side more than we want to stay comfortable. Because we know a secret. That adversity is the only shortcut to greatness. CompTrain.

I have a confession to make. One that I’m hoping I won’t be stoned for. Lately I’ve hated CrossFit. I love watching it, the Games this year was one of the best in my opinion, I love the athletes (Bethany Shadburne is my new face,) but I started to notice that whenever I walked into the box, I would feel ‘meh’ about the wod before it even started. I didn’t say anything to my coach at first but eventually my face began to betray me. I have quite an honest relationship with my coach and on that day when my stank face was in full force, I told him about how I had been feeling. I’ve now come to the realisation that it isn’t CrossFit that I hate, it’s the pressure that I’ve piled on myself, it’s the little niggles creeping up whenever I improve a little bit more that I hate. The tiredness and crankiness from a life lived saying yes to far more than I should have been, was what I hated.  To me, everything felt like it was a test to break me. The reality was that I had begun to view adversity as an enemy as opposed to the friend that it could be to get me closer to the goals I have for myself.

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‘The fastest way to get in the way of your own potential is to view everything as a test. If you look at something as a test, then you will focus only on passing the test instead of maximizing your growth through the experience. – The secret is to understand that nothing is a test, but only an opportunity to learn and grow. Over time, the person who is simply focused on maximizing what they can learn and how they can grow will become much greater than the person who sees life as one continual test to prove themselves.’ CompTrain

Right now I’m nursing an oblique strain and while I am annoyed at how it has derailed my ‘8 pack by summer’ plan. This temporary setback has provided me with time to reflect on what I’m doing well, and plan and execute what I could be doing better. The niggles that I seem to constantly be plagued with was the first thing that came to my mind. Injury is something that I’ve been battling with since last year injuring my lower back. Now that I’m developing a better relationship with my body, I know that the reason why I keep getting these niggles is because I can be neglectful when it comes to stretching especially on days when I’ve lifted heavy. It’s not that no fudges are given, I just struggle to slow down and have often found myself yawning mid-stretch. In order to maximize my athletic potential, this life of not stretching is no longer a luxury that I can afford, and speaking about afford, if you can I would recommend a ROMWOD subscription if you’re all swole and not yet flexy!

The first three days of this oblique strain were painful as fudge: standing sucked, sitting sucked, breathing sucked. In fact just being alive on these three days sucked. There wasn’t a single movement that didn’t hurt. Anti-inflammatory medication, deep freeze and my hot water bottle were my best friends.  On Monday I could finally walk without feeling too much pain and began my ROMWOD journey. It honestly hasn’t been that long, 2 days to be precise BUT my hips feel so much better and there’s tension in my lower back that eases up after each session. My body feels better already, and I’m excited to see where I’ll be in a couple of months. There are some stretches like the saddle eagle and the more obscurely named fragon, that remind me of just how much mobility I’ve lost due to being neglectful but remember how I said we’ve gotta learn to look at the opportunity in every occasion as opposed to the failure that may lay in it? I’m doing that. It’s healthier for your mind and body to focus on what you can improve, celebrate those improvements and restart the cycle again. If you’re getting 1% better each day, that’s still something to celebrate.

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Going through the struggle? Here’s a few things to remember:

  1. The struggle isn’t permanent, on the other side of it should you persevere, is your goal.
  2. Smile. Don’t allow the adversity you’re facing to take away the joy and love you have for the sport.
  3. Rehab that injury properly. Do your stretches, do your strengthening exercises and don’t neglect your nutrition.
  4. Listen to your coach, sometimes he knows what he’s doing 😉

In Review: USN vs. NPL

One thing that grates on my titties is when I want to buy a supplement, my first instinct is to go on google to read reviews. Sadly 9 times out of 10, there aren’t any reviews. I like having facts in front of me BUT I also like to know how a product has or hasn’t worked for someone. When I bought these two products at Dis-Chem roughly two months ago, I had in my head the intention that I would review these to help someone else like me that loves facts combined with experience. The products that I’ll be reviewing are USN Energizing Amino Ener-G and NPL’s Amino Burn. At face value (with such similar names,) you’d expect identical results however there are a few key differences that would make one product more suitable for you in regards to training goals.

I am a very simple girl when it comes to supplements, I don’t like to use too many. My staples throughout the 3 years that I’ve been doing CrossFit, have been creatine HCL (unflavoured, mixed with nothing else,) and glutamine. In addition to that I take a multivitamin (when I remember.) I am at a place where I love what I’m currently doing, hard work but rewarding work and I find that my energy needs a little kick up the bootay before wodding. I’ve experimented with a lot of different pre-workouts and currently these are the two in rotation. I’ve rated each product on taste and energy delivery. Those (aside from ingredients of course,) are for me the most important things when choosing a pre-workout. I don’t want something that I have to force myself to drink. Many a time I have felt myself irritating a sales consultant when he recommends me the most expensive but also most useless supplement in relation to MY fitness goals. I would recommend always doing your research before buying anything. Go armed with facts because you cannot always trust what you’re being sold. These products were bought with my money, however should you feel inclined to send me vegan friendly products to review, I will gladly oblige 🙂

TASTE: NPL trumps USN in this round. The strawberry kiwi flavour that I bought actually tasted like strawberries, the kiwi taste I couldn’t pick up. As much of a sugar fiend as I am, these supplements are sugar free and are void of that sickly taste that some supplements can have. There’s a They do however contain a blend of non-nutritive sweeteners to enhance the flavour profile. The USN flavour that I tried is supposed to taste like raspberry flavoured rascals…it didn’t. It tastes like a watered down version of that horrid red version of cream soda. The one reason why I’ve been going on long runs is so that I can use up the 30 servings that I still have left. The blueberry rascals flavour from USN which I have also tried, is leaps and bounds better than the raspberry soda and I loved the way it turned the water a lovely blue colour…it’s the little things.

Overall score: NPL 5/5 USN 3/5

ENERGY: NPL recommends using either half a scoop (5g,) or a full scoop (10g) to 150ml-200ml of water. USN recommends one scoop (10g) to 200ml of water. They both contain caffeine and green tea extract as stimulants and are therefore not recommended after 16h (which I did once and suffered with insomnia.) Each 10g serving of NPL delivers 140.0 kilojoules of energy, while each 10g serving of USN delivers 26kJ of energy. I had to read the label twice as I couldn’t believe that there that there was such a discrepancy between the two. Per 100g, NPL delivers 1398kJ of energy, compared to USN’s 262kJ. You know how this round ends don’t you, NPL 2, USN 0. I have noticed that when I use NPL’s amino burn, my energy levels pick up gradually, stabilise and stay there. When I have used USN’s Amino Ener-G, it feels as though I have an energy spike that isn’t sustained. The inclusion of grape seed extract in NPL’s amino burn aids in focus and clarity which I have definitely felt on days when I have consumed it before work. Both products contain an amino acid blend, aka branched chain amino acids (BCAA, more on that in a future post) to aid in recovery, the most well-known (and one that I supplement on its own,) being glutamine.

Overall score: NPL 5/5 USN 2/5

OVERALL RESULT: Not a surprise, NPL. At the start of this review, I already had my (biased) opinion ready. It would have been a win for USN based on the fact that I’ve used (and loved) their products before and it seems to be quite a fan favourite in the fitness world. However, after analysing the labels and doing further reading on the ingredients contained in each product, NPL came out tops. One added benefit is that their amino acid blend has thermogenic properties which when combined with high intensity training is beneficial for your training regime/goals. It also aids in supporting lean muscle mass and hello, who doesn’t want to look leaner and meaner?

Faith, Hope & a Whole Lotta Love

I often ask myself what is the purpose of our lives and I conclude that life’s purpose is to be happy. We have no guarantee what will happen in the future, but we live in hope. That’s what keeps us going. Dalai Lama

Nothing hypes me up more than a compliment or two… from my siblings. Hang on, a couple of weeks ago I was in gym leggings and a top and my niece said I looked cute, so maybe it’s compliments from my siblings AND one very cute 3-year-old niece. If you’re lucky enough to have siblings and a niece or two, they should be your ‘hype guys.’ My sister Nadege or Ya Dena as we affectionately called her, always believed that I was stronger than I thought. She was our hype guy!

Her death was sudden.

No long drawn out illness that we knew of or had time to prepare for, it’s not to say that knowing in advance prepares your heart any better for a loved one’s death. The first few weeks after her death are still a blur. There is a void in my brain rendering me incapable of recalling how I survived those first few days; how I’ve survived these past few months. My heart still hurts, excruciatingly so and sometimes it feels as though I have to stop myself from thinking about her in order to not breakdown. It is a wound that seven months on, still feels fresh, one that hasn’t dulled in terms of the feelings of pain and discomfort that it elicits. I’ve heard from well-meaning people that it gets better in time… I’m still waiting on that.

We’re at the halfway mark of 2018, the warmth of summer has firmly been replaced by winter’s chill. Today I’ve given myself room to pause, ponder and reflect on all that 2018 has so far been and the lessons that I’ve learnt, i.e. how Jesus is holding me up.

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  1. You’ve gotta have faith, hope and a whole lotta love in your heart.

I stepped into 2018 semi-optimistic. Considering the fact that I ended the year, and started the year funemployed, the only expectation I had of this year was that I’d at least end it with a job. My hopes were not high, I was ready to take whatever came my way and not really fight for anything better. My sister would have told me off for that. In fact in the Bible, Paul writes to us and tells us that we should be prisoners of hope* and in the book of Romans speaks on how hope does not put us to shame.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the  Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-2 (ESV)

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I don’t believe that when Paul wrote ‘we rejoice in our sufferings,’ he meant that we get the tambourine out, beat the drums and express how delighted we are that we have this hard thing happening to us because ‘hallelujah Jesus, it’s going to produce endurance in us.’ That would be silly, and I don’t know about you but if silly were to denote a person whose word is to be taken as a joke, I highly doubt that Paul is in that league. This rejoicing I believe denotes a quiet spirit, perhaps one that has been or is being broken by the trials of life whether physical or spiritual, yet holding on to the truth and hope that things will get better. It is this kind of hope that fuels us and directs us into moving in the direction where great things can happen to us. It is this hope that brings opportunity to each new day that we face. Hope that today may not have been great but tomorrow will be. Apparently if you repeat that to yourself enough times, your brain begins to believe it as more than just a motto but accepts it as a fact of life. The more we look for good things, the more we find them. Of course there’s still work that needs to be done, the life you want isn’t earned by just hoping for the best. In garnering a positive outlook, you possess the drive needed to fuel your efforts that will get you to where you want to be. This is the attitude I adopted when I PROPERLY started looking for a job. Lo and behold 2 months into the year, I was employed 🙂 Having a positive attitude doesn’t make things easier but it does give you a better outlook on life and your current circumstance. It puts you in the right frame of mind to analyse how best to navigate the season that you’re in.

  1. If you believe in God, expect for your belief in Him to be shaken AND stirred!

I remember loudly (and proudly…pride comes before a fall no?) exclaiming to a friend that I didn’t feel any further from God since my sister passing, that was a month after she had passed and now that I look back on it, I realize that I had spoken in haste. I hadn’t yet felt the sting of what death can do not just to your relationship with others, but also to your relationship with God. The days leading up to my sister’s funeral were difficult, but being inundated with messages, as overwhelming as it felt, provided a distraction and gave me a break (albeit temporarily) from having to deal with my emotions. I comforted myself with songs and verses that stated God would never leave me nor forsake me. I lived on the memories of when Christ had been a tangible comfort in the midst of past trials and tribulations. I kept telling myself that it would get better. I wish I could pinpoint the day when I stopped believing that. Apathy starts off this way, a slow and gradual freezing of the heart. You tell yourself that you’re temporarily isolating yourself from the situation in order to preserve and protect yourself. Until that one day turns into a week, a week into a month et cetera. All the while, your heart growing colder by the minute. The interesting thing is that while we think closing ourselves off from feeling and emotion, protects us. What it serves to do is isolate us and further draw us away from God. I could no longer see things getting better and the more I saw how certain individuals behaved in disappointing ways following her death, the less I wanted to let anyone in. Choosing to ignore reality and the pain that was in every moment of it, led to me ignoring God and isolating myself from Him. I could feel the anger rising, disappointment creeping in, making itself comfortable in my heart.

I was disillusioned.

Had I believed a lie that God exists?

That Jesus exists and furthermore, that He cared?

It wasn’t until my boyfie sent me a book entitled 10% happier that I was able to identify the root cause of my moment of disbelief in God. The title alone had me questioning whether I’d ever again know what it meant to be happy, let alone 10% happier. As I analysed the causative factors of my unhappiness, I realised that I had begun to view people as accurate, wholly true representations of God. So when I had a number of friends withdraw when the dust had seemingly settled, I saw it as God withdrawing and no longer caring. When I saw someone behave in a way that filled me with disappointment, I viewed God as disappointing. Forsaken, disappointed and alone, I no longer felt like I needed God, especially if God was like these people that had let me down. There exists no perfect human model for the loving nature of God that I have in the past vividly experienced. As hard as it may be, a healthy relationship with Christ is only cultivated through focusing on Him and Him alone. He doesn’t need a plus one!

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  1. Better is not always better…at least not in the way you think.

Better isn’t better until it stops hurting, that’s what we’re taught to think. Better isn’t better until you’ve managed to run back in time (‘Flash’ fan here), and have managed to save your loved one. Right? Wrong. What we have to understand, what I’m learning to understand is that sometimes things getting better isn’t reflective of the physical, but the internal. How is your heart being moulded? How is your character being formed during this very crappy season? In the past few months as I noticed my heart growing cold, my faith in humanity feeling shattered, and my hope in God, seemingly nowhere to be found. I realise now that there is a different definition of what it means for things to get better, one that has greater defining power on my character than the definition that I know. This ‘better’ requires constant evaluation and introspection of your character, your actions, and your choices. This is echoed in the verse where Christ tells us to remove the speck in our eyes before we talk about the log in our brother’s eye. Environment does have a huge bearing on our emotions but the thing that is more important than our physical environment is the internal environment that we cultivate.

So here we are at the end of this post and if someone were to ask me if I’m hopeful of the future. My answer is a resounding yes, while the days aren’t always easy. The journey is often hard and feels littered with pain, I’m certain that Jesus is holding me up. How well you ask: like I’m in the palm of His hand. Securely.

Fight

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. Fight for what you want your life to look like.

A couple of weeks ago I deleted all of my posts on Instagram. We’ve all been on a page before and thought the person who deleted all their posts to be a bit of an attention seeker (CONFESSION: I’ve thought that!) I promise that wasn’t my intention. I had a moment of madness and felt that my account no longer reflected who I was, who I wanted to be. Social media doesn’t have to be serious, but sometimes it can become a place where we very easily spew out every single emotion we are feeling. How many of us have ranted about a bad day (or bad colleagues,) on Twitter (SO GUILTY!) Ever since the passing of my sister, I wake up most days feeling dangerously close to the edge. The horrible thing about depression is that, once it has tainted you it feels as though there will always be something to tip you over the edge. There will always be something that threatens to throw you off the edge. Notice I said threaten. This means that it can be avoided. One of the ways that I continue to avoid being thrown off the edge, is through CrossFit and my faith in God. I’ll admit that during this seemingly never-ending season of grief, I have sometimes drawn on CrossFit a lot more than on God, for sustainable strength. This is due to the feeling as though God doesn’t have time to listen to me and if He had listened to me, then perhaps my sister would still be alive. There’s a longer post on that coming up, I’ll aim to post it on Wednesday, pinky promise.

Until then (please be patient,) I’ll tell y’all what I have so far learnt: faith and fitness definitely work together and this has probably been the reason why I’m not in as deep and dark a hole as I would be without these two. Social media doesn’t have to be shallow and superficial, it can be a positive space where we’re inspired, challenged and dare I say, even pushed to grow. A place where strength is found by being the person you are online, as you are in real life. Going forward, my social media accounts will continue to more accurately reflect this journey of light that I am on and the fight to being the best version of myself. I will aim to inspire and challenge you as much as I can.

This is your life, you decide what it looks like!

Mesmerizing

For as long as I can remember, I have always been part of the club of women that put on muscle (and unfortunately fat,) very quickly. This has meant that even if I go without doing things like push ups (who wants to do those anyway?) my arms are always defined, T-Rex and I are one in the same! The fact that my arms are so defined used to bother me. You’d find me covering up my arms, even on the hottest days. For a long time, I wished that there was a deflate button hidden somewhere in a vein. On those very rare occasions when I’d go on a date, (real ones, not the imaginary ones with James Franco,) and I find myself sitting across the table from a guy with arms smaller than mine, I would feel like Batman, and was there anyone who wanted to date Batman in a dress? I didn’t think so, and for a long time that was the lie that I believed. The lie that somehow in order to make others (in this case, men,) feel secure about themselves, I had to downplay my strength and be the damsel in distress, and I had to have smaller arms…that was until I found CrossFit.

You’ll do the toughest wods, most with female names… Perhaps in acknowledgment to the unrivalled strength and indomitable spirit that every woman possesses, and a nod to the phrase ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ There’s a great sense of empowerment in every class, in the very best boxes (mine,) you’ll have a coach that pushes you regardless of your gender, and you’re not handled with kiddie gloves because you’re a girl. Being a girl means nothing in terms of how hard you’re pushed. In fact what I’ve come to learn is that in the world of CrossFit, if someone tells you to lift like a girl, well Jim* you better be scared of what you’re gonna have to load on that bar! The women of CrossFit are strong; we’ll paint our nails (sometimes,) and then ruin that fresh manicure landing a PR in our squat snatch (that’s the lift I want to PR!)

When I first started CrossFit in 2014, I wore the baggiest t-shirts. I still do now but usually with shorts because I like tricking people with the whole pants, no pants question. In those days I wore the baggy t-shirts because I hated my body. I felt like I needed to hide the way I looked. The fact that I had been vegetarian for two years (vegan for a mere five months,) and still hadn’t whittled down to a size 4, infuriated me. I guess some people are just meant to be built like elephants, or gorillas? I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. Fast forward to three years later, we’re in 2018 now and I’ve come to prize function over aesthetic…on most days at least. I haven’t completely thrown caution to the wind. I still have my periods where if I feel a little bit chunkier than usual, I’ll either train more or eat a lot less of my kryptonite…bread, potatoes, pizza…gosh I looooove pizza and anything that has sugar in it.

The best thing I’ve heard all year was that my body is mesmerizing. Now I will say, said person was a bit of a creep but there’s no reason to discount the truth that came from him. Mesmerizing.

Mesmerizing: capture the complete attention of (someone) or to hypnotize someone.

When was the last time you thought of your body that way? Have you ever thought of your body that way? Guess what, your body IS mesmerizing. Your body is strong. Your body is beautiful and I don’t just mean in an aesthetic way but physiologically as well. Have you ever thought of the work that goes into keeping you alive? Little things like being able to breathe, your heart pumping blood around your body without you having to remind it, being able to walk without having to consciously send a message to your brain to put the left foot forward now.

As the years that I have been fitness-ing add up, my nutrition and training habits are starting to get better, and each day I learn to love this body that is doing its best to function and perform as I want it to. Discipline tempered with kindness. Kindness to remember that my body (and yours,) is mesmerizing.

I’ve had people look down on me, put me down because I didn’t look like them- I look stronger. Serena Williams

*Jim is the generic name that I use for any man that dares to think women are the weaker sex.

Athletes’ Corner: Mitch Spjut

The Open is done and dusted, invitations for regionals have been sent out. The best part of the CrossFit season is almost upon us. In this segment of Athletes’ corner, I have the honour of presenting to you Mitch Spjut. I don’t know about you guys, but there’s something about these segments that has me really excited about the direction that fitness, in particular CrossFit (I’m biased; we have the best athletes)  is headed. I love that I get to hound some pretty INCREDIBLE athletes and ask them all the questions that we’d naturally spew out. 

Mitch Spjut, welcome to the Athletes’ Corner!

A: Hiya Mitch, so before we dive in, give us an intro on who you are.

MS: I am 24 was a member of the Wasatch Brute’s. Been doing crossfit for about two years now and getting ready for individual this year.

  •  As someone whose name gets butchered ALL the time, I’m curious to know, (and I’m sure everyone else is,) how is your surname pronounced

MS: Great question. It is pronounced spute like dispute without the ‘di’.

  • When it comes to your CrossFit journey, why did you start CrossFit, and what was it about CrossFit that stuck?

MS: I got into CrossFit for the act of competing. I was getting bored with only going to the gym to go to the gym, and felt I should be doing something to chase after. I started It when a friend of a friend told me I needed to get into something, I am too strong to not be competing in something. CrossFit stuck because it’s constantly varied it’s never the same and it leaves no room for doubt. You’re either better than the other person or not.

  • Last year you lifted the Affiliate Cup with the Wasatch Brutes; new rules have just been announced for the 2018 Games season, which means that teams will now have 2 males and 2 females to form a 4 member team. How do you think this might impact the competition?

MS: It’ll raise the level of competition tremendously. It’s a lot easier to get 4 really fit people together rather then 6. Also I think a lot more individual athletes will transition over the team side of competition.

  • I was watching a video that the Brute Strength team uploaded on YouTube last year, and in that video you spoke about how had you gone into the Games as an individual, you would have been a lot more nervous. How are you feeling this year, and will we be seeing you competing individually or as part of the Wasatch Brutes?

MS: This year I am going individual and I’m feeling awesome about it. I’m excited and this will be a good year. With last year under my belt I wasn’t nervous because I had 5 other amazing people right by my side. This year I won’t have that, but with the experience that came from that I’m not that nervous going into it. Now as things get closer that might change.

It’s a matter of putting in the work in and allowing that to shine through.

  • What are some of your aspirations as a CrossFitter individually and perhaps as part of a team?

MS: Well as a team we accomplished the ultimate. As an individual the goal is the same, to be the best. Win the south regional this year, and ultimately take the top spot at the Games come August.

  • Let’s quickly talk about that moment where the Wasatch Brutes lifted the Affiliate Cup. What was that moment like and how will you be using that to fuel your 2018 CrossFit season?

MS: Lifting up the affiliate cup was great. It was the culmination of all the hard work, hours in and out of the gym. Yet that one moment wasn’t what made that so great. The fun was the training. Going in everyday working hard with your team and pushing each other to get better. There was such a high standard that we held for each other. The attitude came from Adrian, but we weren’t settling for anything but winning it all. That was the standard everyday going into the gym. That is what made lifting the affiliate cup so great it was all the hard work paying off.

  • As an individual, and an elite CrossFitter, when you notice that you’ve gotten complacent and just that little bit cosy in your comfort zone, whether that’s in your training or your personal life, how do you get yourself out of that zone?

MS: When I get complacent or lazy I notice things aren’t going as well. Workouts don’t go well, recovery isn’t happening. It makes training hard, and not as fun. I know in those moments I need to get my focus back  to constantly push myself. It is easy to get complacent, not do the recovery work, eat the unhealthy food, but that isn’t what makes you better. I feel much better when I am pushing myself to be better in every aspect of training and life. When I get in those times I refocus and think about what I need to be better at and start doing it. It becomes real obvious in my training when I am getting complacent.

  • We’ve all heard/read the quote that says pride comes before a fall. In CrossFit, I’d say that it’s ego that comes before a fall. Do you have any puffy ego moments to share with us, and what/who is it that brings you back down to earth, keeps you humble and working hard?

MS: I don’t really have any moments that really stick out as huge ego moments. There is always someone better then you in a workout. CrossFit is really good at getting your ego in check constantly. There are times when I will think I am doing enough, or I am performing well enough and that is when I get complacent, like in the last question. That is when I know I need to refocus and push myself.

  • As an athlete, do you have an pre-wod or pre-comp rituals or practices that you can credit with giving you not just the physical toughness, but the mental drive that is needed in order to stay focused and give your best effort?

MS: As a team throughout the whole summer all of our training days through regionals and the games we would always huddle up before every workout. We’d talk about what we needed to do, strategies, what we do if things went wrong, motivation, and then Adrian would yell ‘WASATCH’ and we all would yell ‘BRUTES’. It became a mantra for us. I’m sure at regionals and the games people would get annoyed or think we were dumb, but it set us up with the mindset to win and dominate. I knew from after that we were ready to go. Then we could be loose and confident in what was about to go down. For me now as an individual I go through a similar thing, I think about what I need to do, how to do it, get ready and know the plan. After that I can be loose and confident, cause I know I can do this.

  • My fitness motto is not necessarily just about fitness. It’s the way that I aim to live my life. Two Bible verses, Hebrews 12:11 and Colossians 3:23. Do you have any fitness/life mottos or verses that you try to live by?

MS: Even though I am a Christian and have a strong belief in Christ, I don’t get motivated by scriptures, or quotes. I love them, and think they’re awesome, but when it comes down to it they give me no power to be better. My actions, what I am doing gives me power. I try everyday to be the best that I can. I make mistakes all the time, but I am constantly trying to get a little better than the day before. All the scriptures give us are things to live by and how to be a better person. I don’t like choosing one specific verse to live by constantly, I think there are many verses to help us and those are constantly changing depending on where we’re at in our lives. I firmly believe we should anchor ourselves to Christ and not to anything else. If we get caught up anchoring ourselves to other things even if it is a scripture then that keeps us from progressing. God gave us lots of scriptures and we should use them all and constantly try to progress in those everyday. In short I try and live by Jesus Christ’s example everyday.

  • What advice do you have for newbees?

MS: The process takes time. You are not going to be great overnight. It takes time, and it can feel long. Everyone is at a different pace, you can’t compare yourself to others. You need to focus on getting a little better everyday. And don’t let fear or frustration take over. It’s a struggle and you’ll get mad and annoyed but you can do it. I remember when I was learning stuff it was frustrating I constantly expected myself to be better then everyone else, but I realized that isn’t the objective it’s a matter of becoming your best. I still get frustrated and annoyed. I have an Instagram post of me throwing my jump rope because I was struggling with double unders on that day. It happens, but laugh at yourself move on and be better.

  • What is your typical pre-workout snack? And what do you have post-workout?

MS: Every morning before I workout I have the am protein from FNX it’s perfect and is just what I need in the morning. I also like to do something like a piece of fruit and sometimes a protein bar. Post workout I do a protein shake and creatine. Nothing too special or crazy just the standard stuff.

  • In closing Mitch, what’s the legacy that you want to leave behind?

MS: Easy question. I want to be my absolute best. Which there is no reason why my best, can’t be the best in the world. I never want to leave a doubt that I didn’t do everything I could to become the absolute best I can be in everything in my life. That’s what I want to leave behind that becoming your best is possible.

Hurt Locker

‘Hurt fuels me. I don’t let it sit and fester. I let it drive me. I let it save me. I’m not gonna sit and lick my wounds here. I’m the one giving the wounds now.’ Charley Bordelone, Queen Sugar.

Never was this quote more true than on the 10th of April when I Aurélie, fully kitted in my MEGA cute Nike outfit (not the one in this post, it’s cute too right?) decided to head out for a run. We’ve all had those tough runs where the starting 10 metres feels like we’re already at the end of an ultra marathon…sounds dramatic but admit it, you’ve felt that way before! Five minutes into this run, maybe even less my shins were howling!!! The day before I had done a wod that had 99 million double unders but I’ve always prided myself on never really feeling doubles the next day. Well, that day must’ve been different. I told myself that eventually my shins would loosen up and ran further and further away from home. Each stride felt like death though, and while I truly wanted to stop, I was really enjoying this guided run (Kevin, We Gotta Go on Nike Run Club) Kevin Hart is a funny guy. So there I am, a million miles away from home, wondering whether I should request an Uber when that voice in my head, we all have it. The crazy one tells me to go, go slow if you have to but just go. At that point I was planning on walking home and it’s what I planned on doing but the more nuggets coach Bennet and Kevin actually are dropping, the louder that crazy voice is getting, fully convincing me that I can run.

A little disclaimer that my coach ALWAYS reminds me about and coincidentally one that Ben Bergeron states: there is a difference between pain and discomfort and you’ll know it. Because of my brush with back pain, I know when my body is telling me to stop. It’s usually when the tears start streaming down uncontrollably, and I can just about breathe through the pain, that I know I’m on ‘team too much’ and ‘girl you better stop before you really wreck yourself!’

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This run started off pretty painful. My shins felt like they were seizing up on me. On fire, a weird feeling of paralysis and the not so gentle reminder of the doubles I had done two days ago. I am usually very hard on myself but this time I knew I wasn’t being a baby, in fact there was a stage when I said that out loud to myself. The people around me probably thought I had lost my mind 😂 after a while, (I don’t know how long or short that while was) the run started to feel easier. My shins FINALLY loosened up, they stopped hurting and I began to smile…okay I was beaming!!!! Those last ten or fifteen minutes were stronger and better than when I had started. I ended that guided run on 5,3 kilometres in 35 minutes (that includes walking,) and then spontaneously decided to add 700 metres to round it up to 6kays, (I told y’all I’m crazy!) During this run, Kevin Hart said something that stuck: when you’re hurt, you don’t stop moving. You don’t let hurt stop you. This can be taken with a pinch of salt of course, if you’re injured, that is not the kind of hurt you want to force yourself to keep pushing through. I did that with my back injury and ended up on the sidelines for 4 months. I’m talking about the kind of hurt that is more discomfort than it is debilitating pain.

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The type of discomfort that you know you can push through and eventually find your groove. If I had walked home and stopped the run, I would’ve been disappointed but not in my effort, disappointed that I was missing out on a chance to get out there. I gained a greater appreciation for my body and the internal dialogue wasn’t one where I berating or critiquing myself harshly. I didn’t see myself completing that run and then before I knew it, I was at the end having completed 6 kilometres. It was a satisfying feeling. It was a great feeling. It’s the feeling we chase as runners. It’s a feeling I didn’t think I’d have on a run that felt like the hardest I’ve ever been on. It felt harder than my half marathon…yup that bad! At the end of it, I didn’t regret having pushed through. I was proud of myself and once again learnt how to temper discipline with kindness. I was in a bit of meditative space as I acknowledged the feelings I was experiencing, I didn’t downplay what I felt but I also wasn’t swayed by it. While emotions are valid, being swayed by emotion is never a good look. It’s about learning how to manage your emotions as opposed to being managed by them.

So here I am, pain free, shins feeling good, already dreaming about my next run.

See you on the road!