Audit, Analyse, Attack!

Today is not a significant day. I am not celebrating any special occasion, it is not my birthday (sadly) but as I sit in front of my laptop, I am inspired by a quote I read recently on Twitter:

If you aren’t seeing the progress in your life that you want, then take the initiative to audit your life, analyse your daily habits and actions, and reassess your goals as necessary, this winning in life thing takes deliberate effort, it doesn’t just magically happen.

I am slap bang in the middle of a study I am part of at work… I say slap-bang but it feels like I have just started. If you follow me on Instagram…why would you not? You will have seen my updates on the dried blood spot specimens I am collecting. The tally stands at 16…only 384 more to go. My workweek is spent travelling to hospitals that are a stretch to get to. I sometimes get home feeling as though I have given the best of me to the earlier part of my day. It is rewarding work but it is also hard work.

Lately while taking internal stock (something we should all do,) I realised that more than my workload, my mind-set was what was leaving me more fatigued than I needed to be. I have had to train myself into believing that I have just as much to give at the end of the day, as I do at the start of it when I’m as fresh as a daisy. I learn everyday what it means to give 110% to everything that I do, regardless of the working hours. It is about applying the strong work ethic and spirit of excellence in everything I do. One hundred and ten percent in being a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, an athlete, a blogger… the list is endless. Did you notice that I didn’t include my job title? Life and the effort you put in it, is about more than what your job title is. It is important to find a work-life balance that does not leave you overworked and always just on the verge of burning out only just being saved by a holiday.

On holiday in my favorite city, Cape Town!

One of the things that I often times allow myself to be burnt out by, is finances. It is something that even if I don’t say it… (I mean hello why would you speak about your finances to every Tom, Dick and Harry.) I’m thinking about it and in months where there’s a lot going on, I tend to obsess over it, more specifically, lack of money.

pinterest // @ lovecaitx

Some of it is down to my anxiety-riddled personality but most of it is because of my childhood when we really struggled to make ends meet. I am learning to manage it and one person who has helped me through my neuroses, is my boyfriend. He is the most handsome, kindest, most caring human that I have ever met and I cannot think of anyone better to procreate with haha! I cannot wait to have little ones who have ALL of his kindness and none of my sarcasm tempered into their cute little personalities.

Aside from the gorgeous boy, here are a few of my rules to live by:

  • Your health is, and should be your highest priority. Here’s the caveat: if any part of your life, exercise included fills, you with anxiety and you no longer enjoy it, stop doing it and switch to something else. Shortly after my sister passed away, the last place I wanted to go to was the box. Instead of CrossFit, I ran and when I was ready for CrossFit, guess what? The box was still there.
  • Self-care is more than a facemask. Self-care is therapy; self-care is journaling in order to have an outlet for managing not erasing your emotions. Self-care is putting your health first, all aspects of it: mental, physical and spiritual.
  • Find your tribe and love them hard. This one is a funny one because the people that know me would probably say that I hate people…I don’t hate people, I just prefer to surround myself with people that I TRULY enjoy being around. There is no point in being friends with people who make you feel crappy about yourself.
  • Having a schedule that you discipline yourself to stick to, will go a VERY long way towards keeping you sane. I wake up at the same time every single day, and I try to get to bed at the same time. Currently I am working on a routine for my eating and training because I have come to the realisation that my life revolves around 3 things: eating, training and sleeping.
  • Setting small goals is a lot better than having one big chunky goal that fills you with anxiety. When I went back to academia, I felt like I knew nothing, which is impossible because everybody knows something even if it is the lyrics to the theme song of ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I told myself that I would read for an hour and a half each day…by the 30-minute mark, I was thinking about how much time I had left and not at all focussing on the material that was in front of me. I changed my goal to reading two journal articles per night. This was a greater success and a goal that I have been able to stick to.  
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. I had an almost two year stint working at LUSH South Africa as their product & brand trainer. Working at LUSH meant that everyday when interacting with customers, you had to put on your bravest AND most fun face. No one wanted to listen to a walking encyclopedia, instead you had to play up to the innovation of the products. It was tough not just because you were on your feet the whole day but because of the fact that no matter what you were facing, the minute those roller doors went up, you put on your smiley face. Life is a bit like that too isn’t it? The show must go on…
The opening of the LUSH store in Cresta had me and my then regional manager Yvé completely naked underneath our aprons to highlight the Naked Campaign celebrating the package free products at LUSH. You had to put on your bravest face, smile, and just have fun with it! Would I ever do anything like that again…maybe!

The biggest take home message is this: when all else, fails, have a second, a third and if necessary, a fourth look at the steps you took to get to where you are. What do you need to audit, what do you need to analyse and what do you need to put into action? You can achieve great things, but you have to hate the comfort zone.

Mental Health Matters

Instead of writing this post, I should be working on the final changes on my slides for my presentation later this week. The changes are not that many, yet I find myself here undeniably stuck, uninspired. Sad without a reason to be sad. There isn’t anything out of the ordinary bothering me, my health is good. My family’s health is good, yet for about a month now, I have been unable to shake this feeling off my spirit. A feeling of indifference, a numbness that I can’t quite put my finger on.

I try to make an effort to tend to my mental health but since the start of the year it is something that I have neglected. The meditation and daily Bible reading that kept me as mentally healthy as I could possibly be, gradually got replaced by deadlines and more deadlines. My physical and mental fatigue is at an all-time high. I do believe that some of this is due to not having taken a break from work during the festive season in order to stay on top of deadlines. Now, it would seem that my mind & body are close to reaching their deadline. I am functioning but I know I could do better. The manifestation of this mental imbalance has led to me experiencing greater anxiety. I’ve felt this on a larger scale at work where I’ve been doubting myself an unhealthy amount and performing for approval. I am the most junior in my office and at times it has led to me feeling inadequate, underqualified and pretty much like a fish out of water. It has led to me reading too much into comments made by my boss and in some ways has been a hindrance to my improvement.

Now that I’ve noticed this, it’s time to get back into a routine where I prioritise my mental and spiritual health. I am in the process of drawing up a routine to ensure that every hour of the day is maximised and used as best as it can be. I downloaded a weekly planner from Savvy Spreadsheets, laminated it and will be writing down the things I will be doing on a daily basis.

  • I have gone back to journaling as I find that this was the best way for me to express my emotions and release them without fear of judgement. My favourite place to get stationary is Typo, they have the cutest items that you didn’t know you needed.
  • Reading. During my time, working as a product & brand trainer at LUSH South Africa, my then trainer Georgie Hopkins gave me a book by Patsy Rodenberg called ‘Presence’. I was a nervous ball of energy when I first met Georgie, one was because watching her train LUSH staff, you could not help but be captivated. She is a ridiculously good trainer. This coupled with the fact that being a trainer kind of thrusts you in a position of leadership, the introvert that I was, could not handle that. I learnt a lot from this book and I’ve realised that it is by reading that I learn the most about myself and how to maximise my personality to get what I want from life in a healthy way. I am going back to this book to rebuild some of the confidence I have lost.
  • I will be meditating for 15 minutes everyday. My favourite meditation app is 10% Happier. I find it to be fuss-free, practical and very applicable and easy to follow. I like to call it the meditation app for intellectuals. No chanting or ohm-ing, just connecting with your thoughts and learning how to manage your emotions and not the other way round.
  • Bin the negative self-talk. This one is probably the hardest to do. For every negative thought that comes in, replace it with a positive thought on something I can do well.
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Yesterday I saw a friend of mine filming her friend up in a coconut tree chopping down coconuts. He was also sawing off a few dead palms and he said something that really got me thinking. – The dead palms draw a ton of resources from deep within the roots in an effort to stay alive. In fact, it can starve the rest of the branches and eventually compromise the whole tree. – But if you prune the dying palms, then the ones still alive and the rest of the tree will flourish. – Our consciousness operates in much of the same way. – If we use up our valuable resources to feed unproductive thoughts that don't get us to our goals, we are wasting valuable energy. – And if those runaway doubts, fears, insecurities, and grievances keep being fed, they suck up all our energy and life force eventually leading to the demise of our dreams and goals. – But just like pruning the trees of the coconut tree, we can lop off the thoughts and feelings that no longer serve us and redirect our vital resources to feeding the thoughts and feelings that put us in direct line with our dreams and goals. – And when we do that long enough with consistent action it bears fruit. – When we've invested literally tens of thousands of hours in patterns of thought and behavior it can be almost impossible to unwind that on our own. – That's why I just opened up a handful of one month laser focused one-to-one coaching spots to help you do just that. It's designed to help you identify whats holding you back, get to the root of your current challenge, and set and attain 3 crystal clear soul goals this month. – If that resonates with you, just DM me and we'll set aside some time to chat. It's priced so those who are committed can easily afford it. – Chat soon 💜🔥🤙🏽

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The next few months will be challenging and I know that the only way I’m going to survive is by prioritising my mental health. My current state of mind has reminded me that we never finish working on our mental health, healing is not linear. It should be something we work on as consistently and frequently as physical exercise…it is probably more important than physical exercise. I refuse to live according to the cycle the world has created of working to the point of burnout, that is not living. I love this post by Kristina of the wildly popular blog ‘Fully Raw Kristina’. Growth happens in waves and maybe that’s just what I’m going through right now.

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Sometimes God breaks your heart to save your soul. 🦋 We all go through tough times, and sometimes it feels completely debilitating and devastating. The truth is: without rain there can be no rainbows. Difficult experiences allow us to truly appreciate what we do have and how far we’ve come. These times build character, integrity, wisdom, and strength. I know it’s not always easy to see the positive when you’re in the core of it, but trust that you are protected and loved. It’s through the notion of learning to pick ourselves back up that we gain not only self-respect, but also compassion, forgiveness, and self-love. Also keep in mind, sometimes the things we want most are not the best for us…or are not meant for us. Perhaps there is BETTER that is yet to come. Growth happens in waves—I say this from personal experience. Faith. Time. Some things haven’t worked out, but still may turn out better than we could have possibly imagined. 🙏🏽💕✨ I send you love today for all the good things coming. I love you. 🦁🐞🐛🦋🐬🍉✨ ✨ 📸 @cashgotwings ✨ ✨ #inspiration #motivation #waimeacanyon #waimea #vegansofig #vegansofinstagram #hawaii #girls #life #health #healthy #vegetarian #confidence #positivevibes #womenempowerment #positivity #happy #rawvegan #mountains #canyon #travelphotography #travelphotography #travel #traveler #sunset #fullyraw #vegan

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I came across the featured image for this post on Pinterest, I hope it helps, I will definitely be using it!

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.

Athletes’ Corner part II: Adrian Conway

If I had to ask you about the most important part of a CrossFit box, what would your answer be? Facilities? Location? And then maybe after a little bit more thought, you’d say the coaches. In my opinion, CrossFit coaches are what make this sport unique and unmatched by any other. My first foray into CrossFit, at my very first box, I remember a coach who would be on his phone during wods, he spent the first part of the class with the competitive athletes so beginners that came in, never lasted for longer than two or so months. In this first year of CrossFit, as much as I would come to the box because I wanted to be fit and strong. On the flipside, I’d also approach each class with dread as to what movement I would be berated on for not being able to do it as he saw fit with very minimal instruction. One of those movements was the snatch. I would cherry pick and any wod that had a snatch in any shape or form, would see me skip that day. I wouldn’t even come for open gym sessions.

Frustrated I got a PVC pipe and learnt how to master these moves by watching videos on YouTube and reading CrossFit articles online. It wasn’t long before our box had to relocate and we got a new coach, Nuno. He will always be my OG coach, regardless of where I find myself in the future, I call him my first coach because  it was only when Nuno started coaching me that I began to see myself as a CrossFitter. A coach who cared about how his athletes, (ALL OF THEM,) moved. The pressure to load the bar for the sake of loading it disappeared, in fact I can remember wods where he would tell me to strip weight off after seeing horrendous technique and sure it meant sometimes I wanted to throw the weights he told me to take off at him, but it also meant that for the most part, I remained injury free. I have a separate article on this very special coach coming up so I won’t say too much about him, although I kinda feel like I have haha! The point I want to make is this, in CrossFit especially, coaches matter! They’re a big deal, they’re the real MVPs. The success you have as an athlete is down to the work you put in, but you need people in your corner who help you work on those barriers stopping you from progressing in a sustainable and healthy way. In this part of athletes’ corner, Adrian tells us on what it takes to be a good coach!

  • What are the skills/characteristics a coach needs to in order to better relate to individual personalities at the box?

AC: No skills. You have to care. Coach Glassman said in order to be successful as a coach, “you have to be interesting, and you have to be interested.” To me this is a lot like Paul teaches us in the New Testament that we must be “all things to all men”. We need to care about who they are, get to know them and be willing to share ourselves with them as well.

  • A statement that often swirls around is that CrossFit isn’t for everyone. You’re a coach and a competitive athlete, in your own words, what is the appeal of CrossFit for someone who maybe doesn’t have any competitive aspirations, and is out to improve the quality of their life? How do you as a coach relate to those who don’t have as a goal to compete or make it to the Games?

AC: CrossFit isn’t designed to get you to the Games. CrossFit is designed to increase your work capacity across broad time and modal domains and do so for as long as you live. This training regime is designed for EVERYONE to live a longer fuller life. I don’t glamorise competing, it is not glamorous. I glamorise those that come in 5/7 days of the week, eat well and have great performance results to show it. I don’t create an ultra competitive environment, that is not the purpose. I don’t even talk about competing, there are many members at my own gym that don’t know I was at the Games as an individual or even what the Games truly are. And for that I’m proud because the Games and CrossFit in my gym are very different and I hope they always are. People having the ability to RX a workout here and there, people who get their first pull up, or their first real burpee, those people are the foundation of my community, those are our all stars. As long as coaches and box owners understand that and lead by example with lifting that up, they will have success at communicating that it’s for everyone.

  • As a coach, how do you know when to draw the line between encouraging & pushing your members, to knowing when they’ve had enough and need a bit of a breather?

AC: Experience is key for this one. We all learn hard lessons through experience. I’m sure I’ve almost killed a few people. Haha. But, again….people come to my gym to pay for my service, so they WANT to get better. I don’t need to do much to fire them up. I do this by being excited about what I teach and empowering their training. I’m very informative with the why’s behind what we do in my gym, this helps them own their workouts. They then know why we are doing something and what they should be getting out of it. There are some people who need a kick in the butt, and some people I need to tell to calm down….you learn that through genuine relationships and getting to know them. It takes simply time and effort.

  • What habits can be created/implemented in a box that can help in creating the sense of community and motivation that CrossFit is so well known for in order to create a culture where members keep coming back?

AC: Who you are, is who your community will become. If you are serving, honest, engaged, and caring….they will become that OR they will not like your gym. To me culture is what you create by who you are. You can’t tell people to be a certain way, you show them, and then they follow suit if they respect you. As a good leader you understand and see the balance of being a little of the lion and little of the lamb. I say that because you want to serve, care, love and help everyone….but at times you must remove cancers or dangers to your community from it. And being stern and honest can cut some to the heart, but those are hard things a leader of a community must do to protect the rest of the flock.

The next part in this series will be with you in the new year. Happy holidays lovelies. Enjoy this time with your family and see you in 2018! 

Keep that core tight! 

A couple of days ago I was crying to God because I’m currently nursing a back injury which means that for the past two weeks, I’ve been unable to lift heavy. It is absolute torture!!! Going to the box, watching people throw their bars while I’m there stretching my lumbar spine 😴 and then the torture became too much and I relented to stretching and doing my core strengthening exercises at home…where I could sulk and pour as much as I wanted. All the while thinking, would I ever be able to lift without any pain again? Were my arms going to waste away into tiny little weeds? Were my thighs going to become floppy and forget how to power up when squatting? Was I going to lose all my strength? This was the trajectory that I was scared I’d go down on. 

Later that day, while soaking in the bath (still feeling very much sorry for myself,) I was listening to Ben Bergeron’s podcast chasing excellence and the topic was ‘redefining adversity.’ Ben spoke about how your reaction to failure, in my case, my reaction to injury, is what would define the outcome. One of the examples he used about adversity handled the right way is Katrin not being able to rope climb at regionals in 2014 and not qualifying for the games. She could have easily adopted the ‘woe is me’ attitude, but we all know that she didn’t and that’s why she’s the two time reigning fittest woman on earth! I listened to this podcast and I immediately switched my thoughts to: hey, I can love every single minute of these next few weeks because I’m working on foundational movements that will make me a better athlete. The bar’s still gonna be there when I get back; so will wall balls. 

Everything will be waiting for me when I’m 100% again, and I have a sneaky feeling that I’m going to be stronger, faster and even better than ever. A few minutes later as I was doing my core workout, thinking about how the lack of stability and strength in my core was one of the factors that contributed to my back injury, I began to think about how in life and in our walk with God, a lack of stability in our belief that God’s love is for us; is often what causes us to stumble in life. 

For such a person ought not to think or expect that he will receive anything [at all] from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides].  ‭‭James 1:7-8‬ ‭(AMP‬‬)

To believe that God loves you and that His love is for you, is the foundational truth upon which our lives should be built. This statement is what will cause you to be stable in the face of adversity. 

What does this adversity look like? Very simply, adversity in our Christian walk is anything that threatens to shake our identity in Christ and how we view our beautiful Jesus. This adversity can come in the shape of thoughts where you feel that you aren’t good enough; that you’ll never amount to anything. These thoughts trickle down into the depths of your soul and begin to shape a new identity, a false identity; one where you’re not made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) one where you don’t live boldly and without hindrance (Acts 28:31,) to do all the God has destined for your life. The only way that this can change is by renewing yourself daily with the word of God, putting on your new nature (Colossians 3:10) and trusting in His love for you. Trust in God begins with a thought as simple as ‘God, I’m going to believe that you love me and that you will lead me down the path of everlasting life. I’m going to trust the directive that you have for my life.’

When I repeat such seemingly simple phrases, (the Gospel is after all simple truth,) I find that my anxiety level drops by at least 90% and the striving ceases. Repeating such simple truths daily is what has crafted and is still crafting me into the type of woman that I want to be for Jesus. Notice that I wrote for Jesus! We become unstable and restless in all of our ways (how & what we think, feel & believe,) when we try to gather up all the different selves that people want us to be, into one. 

We’ll never achieve anything by such double minded living; the saying goes you can’t please everyone because you’re not Nutella, so why not choose to live for Christ, to please Him, doing your utmost for the Highest. In making this decision to live just and only for Him; you’ll find that all adversity does is strengthen your identity in Christ and push you closer to what He’s planned for your life but you have to choose. Nothing great ever came forth from being passive, core strength included. So today, on this beautiful Sunday, think about the little changes you can make to put you on the trajectory to an unrivaled life of excellence empowered by God, and as you think of those changes you can make, go ahead and do it! 

Now that we’ve covered the faith part of this post, let’s throw in some fitness. 

Here are 5 of my favourite core busting moves, starting with the move that’s in the image:

1. Wall squats with dumbbell 

Stand in front of a wall and hold a light dumbbell (or kettlebell,) in an overhead position. Keep your core tight and your arm straight as you lower down into a squat. This is mega hard for me and highlighted just how much I tend to lean forward with my back when squatting. I could only do 1 when I first started these and now I’m up to three, I typically do 3 sets of 3 after my main workout which these days is just simple bodyweight and Pilates. I’m working really hard at not leaning to the side, use a light weight for these. My dumbbell was 5kg; pull that tum into your belly, your core will feel it and you’ll get bette each time. 

2. Wall climb 

Start in a plank position or for an even harder progression, start flat on your stomach with your hands slightly outside your shoulders to support them as you start climbing up. Resist the urge to twerk up the wall, you’re not in a hip hop video and you aren’t using your bummy to get you up. It’s all in the core so don’t let your back dip. Using opposite arm and leg, climb up the wall until your nose touches the wall, 3 sets of 10 will set your core on fire. 

3. Downward dog 🐶 

This is a favourite of mine; nothing gets at those hamstrings and lengthens my back, better than this doggie! Start on all fours, your wrists about 15 to 30cm in front of your shoulders. Separate your knees hip width apart, curl your toes underneath. Push evenly into your palms, lifting your knees off the floor. Lift your sit bones and push the top of your thighs back so that your body looks like an inverted V. Slowly start to straighten your knees without locking them, gently moving your chest back towards your thighs. Don’t let your head do a little dangle dance. Lengthen your spine, keep those hips lifted and push strongly into your hands. Hold this post for 10 deep breaths and repeat 5 more times. It’s okay if you can’t keep your heels on the floor, I’m still fighting ridiculously tight hamstrings but practice makes perfect. I’ll get there, and so will you! 

4. Bridge 

This pose is great for spine realignment and teaching you how to use your gluteal muscles. It’s pretty straightforward! All you do is lie on your back with your knees bent directly over your feet, hands by your heels and palms up. Use your abs (I promise they’re there,) and glutes to lift your hips and torso towards the ceiling. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Lower down, starting with your upper back and finishing with your lower back, keeping your pelvis tilted up. Repeat this 5 more times and you’ll be well on your way to building a bridge that’ll get you over troubled waters. Was that mildly funny? No? Okay onto number 5! 

5. Bow 

This pose is one that I really battle with but I love the way my back feels afterwards. Lie on your stomach with your legs hip width apart and bend your knees then reach back and grab the outside of your ankles or the top of your feet. Inhale, pressing back through your legs as you lift your thighs and chest off the floor. Then press your feet back into your hands, drop your chin to your chest and breath deeply. Release and repeat 3 more times. 

I’m not enjoying being injured, but through this I’m still learning more about the athlete that I will become based on the athlete that I was. There probably will be a lot of days where I’m going to cry because I can’t yet do all the things I want to do, there will be days when I’m probably still gonna cry when I watch CrossFit videos, but it’s okay. This isn’t forever. It’s just a little pit stop on the way to greatness. 

The Truth About Oreo’s

Every girl and boy, their mama, grandmothers and even their grandpapi’s, know that I looooooooove Oreo’s. My nickname is Oreo. I am a walking Oreo, just as sweet and D-LICIOUS, confession: I have always wanted to spell delicious like that!

Oreo’s are the easiest thing anyone can use to buy my friendship/my love/my allegiance and undying loyalty. Need me to hide a body for you? Oreo’s. Need me to donate a kidney? Oreo’s!

Oreo’s are the answer to everything!

‘Hey Oreo, would you like an Oreo?’

Me: ‘FORRRRRR SURRRREEEEEE you crazy cat!

Who says no to Oreo’s? Usually… NOT THIS GIRL!

Oreo’s moved from being something that I would have as a cheat, or if I had been exceptionally good (i.e. the perfect instagram vegan: juicing her kale, eating her bananas, dicing her pumpkins, you get the point!) to then over time as the addiction grew, Oreo’s simply became a part of my every day life, now that I think of it…there was a study done by Conneticut College stating that Oreo’s are as addictive as cocaine…hmm, must be why no one ever falls out of love with me 🤔

All jokes aside, I like to think of myself as being very ethically aware. In fact, ethics and my concern of this lack of ethics especially when it comes to the food we consume, was one of the motivating factors behind my decision to switch to a 100% plantbased i.e. vegan lifestyle, (can you guess who celebrated 3 years of veganism on the 18th??? THISSSS GIRL!!!)

Being plantbased presents with it a few challenges, I’ve often had people ask me what I have as a cheat meal and it’s usually bread. Boy do I love my carbs, I like to think bread is the reason why my legs are so strong, now about that strength travelling all the way up to my arms so that they too can be as strong as they look… All the vegan chocolate that I’ve tried thus far, still leaves me wanting for more, so Oreo’s (aside from the little disclaimer that states they’re produced in a factory that handles milk and eggs,) were the closest I could get to a cheat meal.

This morning I’m clearing out my emails (which was about as overdue as the 3 weeks of laundry that I still have to do,) when I opened this email from Crush Mag Online which speaks about the devastating effects that the harvesting of palm oil has on the environment. About a year ago, I started working for LUSH SA as their regional trainer, and with that comes training staff on sustainability and ethical buying practices that the brand employs when it comes to sourcing of natural ingredients. One of those that popped up a few months ago, and again today, was palm oil.

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the palm fruit. Although these trees originate from Western Africa, they can pretty much flourish wherever heat and rainfall are plentiful! 85% of all palm oil obtained globally is produced and exported from Indonesia and Malaysia and most of the time using methods that aren’t sustainable. The palm oil industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations. According to the World Wildlife Fund, an area the equivalent size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production.

The lack of sustainable and ethically sound harvesting methods is causing thousands of animals to lose their natural habitat and in turn removing the biodiversity that exists (or used to exist in these countries.) This means that indirectly we’re removing from the enviroment the ability that forests have to capture the carbon that is causing climate change and in turn we see an increase in soil erosion, smoke air pollution (due to the fires used to clear these forests.)

So what’s the fuss about palm oil and why should we all embark on this 28 day challenge that Say No To Palm Oil, has created?

As stated above, palm oil is everywhere, and because it is so widely used and the popular choice amongst manufacturers, the harvesting of palm oil will continue to fuel deforestation. As consumers, the power is in our hands (whether we realise it or not,) and although avoiding all products that contain palm oil is only one half of the solution, (to find alternative sources would require more land and potentially introduce unsustainable methods of development.) Unless a company can validate that they’ve obtained their palm oil through sustainable methods (which unfortunately most don’t want to expose their unethical sourcing,) it’s time we stop supporting these companies, and minimizing as much as we can, the purchasing of products that contain palm oil.

This handy list (which is super easy to print,) gives you the legal names used for palm oil, and sadly my beloved Oreo’s contain palm oil, so guess who’s kissing them goodbye? This girl. Carry this list with you when in doubt and for those of you aiming to be ethically aware consumers, this list will help you when you’re trying to figure out whether your favourite cookies contain palm oil. Every little bit helps.

  1. Elaeis guineensis
  2. Etyl palmitate
  3. Glyceryl
  4. Hydrogenated palm glycerides
  5. Octyl palmitate
  6. Palm fruit oil
  7. Palm kernel
  8. Palm kernel oil
  9. Palm stearine
  10. Palmate
  11. Palmitate
  12. Palmitic acid
  13. Palmitoyl oxostearamide
  14. Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3
  15. Palmityl alcohol
  16. Palmolein
  17. Sodium kernelate
  18. Sodium laureth sulfate
  19. Sodium lauryl lactylate/sulphate
  20. Sodium lauryl sulfate
  21. Sodium palm kernelate
  22. Stearate
  23. Stearic acid
  24. Vegetable fat
  25. Vegetable oil

Greenpeace have these beautiful pictures of the Orangutans and the Sumatran tigers that lose their homes due to the deforestation caused by high demand of palm oil. These pictures for me were enough to convince me that I will no longer buy Oreo’s. On the plus side, at least I’ll have .5% less junk in my trunk and maybe my running will get faster because I will be .5% less weighed down by the booty! 😂

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Keen for more info? Want to check the facts for yourself? Here’s some great resource: saynotopalmoil.com | mongabay.com | greenpeace.org |whatispalmoil.weebly.com 

Skinny vegan

Very early on, at the start of my vegan journey, I remember someone asking me how come I wasn’t a skinny vegan…almost three years down the line, I still haven’t figured out how all this kale and broccoli can be so disrespectful to me, and hasn’t yet caused my butt to whittle down at least a size down. I must be honest, one of the (very selfish,) motivating factors for me about becoming vegan was the success stories I had read about people who had lost a ton of weight simply by cutting out animal products, and if you read my previous post (barbells & eating disorders,) you’ll know that for the bulimic girl that I was, to lose weight while embarking on a path that would reduce cruelty to animals and to the environment, was one that I was more than ready for! I’ll admit that it wasn’t the healthiest start. I was more fixated on being skinny than any other factor. A skinny me, imagine that! A me that would be able to find jeans that would finally get over my thunder thighs, and my butt. Imagine that; a me that would wear jeans, that was completely unheard of! 

In my first year of veganism, I dropped 4kg (my cheeks held all my chubbyness,) and I started to feel a lot more confident and comfortable in my body, I started to run more. I started to run in shorts. I bought crop tops. I wore crop tops… I was obsessed with crop tops. I became a lot more body confident and wanted to get stronger. 
Enter the beautiful sport of CrossFit. In September of 2014, when I started CrossFit, I felt that this (CrossFit,) would galvanize me to the pulpit where I would gain the title of hottest vegan the world had ever seen, and the bonus… my butt would shrink. My butt goal was Kylie Minogue in “spinning around.” I may or may not have wanted to buy myself a pair of gold hot pants…

Well a month or so later, my arms getting a lot more defined, my stomach even flatter; during a session of back squats, I decide to do as Beyoncé tells you to do in “get me bodied,” drop down almost hit the floor with it (aka ass to grass,) and my body naturally being too bootylicious for the world, I hear a rip. Yup, I had just ripped my tights, I had to think of very strategic ways to squat without exposing anything. Let’s just say that on that day, I did not break 90 😂 It was on that day that I realized that I would never be a skinny vegan. To be fair I still have days where I’m convinced that if I just eat a little bit less, I’ll drop more weight, but then I get hungry and forget that resolution. This plantbased diet of mine has allowed to put on weight when I feel like I look too lean, which by normal definition of the word, isn’t even what a true lean looks like…whatever a true lean is anyway. This plant based diet has also allowed me to lose weight when I feel like I look too heavy; that’s when I cut down on pasta, bread and potatoes. 

I have to be honest, I was mildly devastated when 1 year later I was still the same size I was when I first became a vegan. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that God obviously wants me to have a booty and that no matter how hard I pray, my weight gain will always be booty first before it travels up to my pancake chest. I have had to come to terms with the fact that sometimes you’re just always going to be that girl with the “big, big booty, what you got a big booty” 🎶 and that’s okay, because let’s face it, and we know this; no one ever writes songs about small bottoms. I’ve had to choose strength over aesthetics every single day because 9 times out of 10, when you have suffered with an eating disorder, you battle body dysmorphia every single day. You have to choose to see your body differently, see yourself as a racehorse, not just looking like one but being one. This has meant that I have had to learn to prioritize my body performing well, over aesthetics. I will be honest, there are days when I want to cry at how my body looks like. Crying is next level isn’t it haha, but on some days, particularly my hot pink shorts days that I do love so much, I look at my bum and I feel like a pink elephant and I adore elephants 🐘 but on some days you do wish that you were a lithe gazelle. It’s not gonna happen for me though and I think I’m FINALLY truly okay with that. My goal is strength, speed and better gymnastic ability. My goal is no longer a size that has been stitched on a label. There are days when I try on clothing and I have to do some deep belly breathing to not go into a panic attack about now having to try size L. Once I get over that I am able to appreciate how strong and ready for life my body looks. I look rock steady and even if I have my emotionally charged days where I feel like the wheels are coming off my train; at least my body fools people into thinking “hey this girl has it together!” It must also be the highlighter that I apply, it makes me look alive even on my insanely dead feeling days. 

I thought I’d end this post with an example of what I eat in a daily basis. As much as I adore my doughnuts and French fries, 🍟 I am 9 times out of 10; a very healthy eating vegan. I love my kale smoothies, my freshly pressed green apple and pepper juices (try it, it’s yum!) I don’t believe in the starving vegan misconception. There is so much to eat and I eat a lot of it. The only supplement I have to take is a vitamin B complex, other than that, my iron levels are normal (even donate blood regularly,) I’m as fit as a fiddle and my blood pressure is also within the healthy range. Eating vegan helps with my depression too but we’ll talk about that in another post. 
Breakfast: massive bowl of oats, I’m assuming that I measure out roughly 500g. I’m a little bit of a 🐷 To my oats I add cocoa powder, a vegan protein powder (currently using the vanilla ice cream flavored one by Biogen,) chia seeds, sunflower seeds and linseeds. I sometimes add brown sugar if I have a sweet craving. Sugar is probably my biggest weakness.
Snacks throughout the day: fruit (apples are my faves,) and grapes. 
Lunch: I usually have a sandwich with a stir fry mix inside,( peppers, kale & Frys chunky strips.) Depending on what I made for meal prep, I have that too. Usually pasta with a tomato based sauce. 

Dinner: this also depends on what I’ve made for the week. Sometimes I’m not even that hungry to have a full meal. What I have noticed though is that I am always hungry. Sometimes that’s the biggest struggle as a vegan; always being hungry but having to travel 6 million kilometers to find a place that hasn’t caused harm to animals in order to feed you. 
What saves me is meal prepping, in my early and inexperienced days as a vegan, I would be lazy with my meal prep and I would not only starve, but my energy levels were deathly low. When life gets busy, I sometimes forget this and then I have to give myself a swift kick in the booty and prep. 
The point that I am trying to make through this post is that being vegan (especially if you’re an athlete,) will not result in you losing your gains. Look at my butt and arms for proof. It is possible to be ripped and shredded even more than a grater, without causing harm to animals. Being vegan is one of the best decisions I could have ever made not just for myself, but for the animals too. I do not at all see myself ever turning back because that to me would be a massive step backwards. I proudly wear my vegan badge and will ensure all the vegan jokes, I’ll endure my bum seemingly getting bigger because it isn’t about the size of the vegan, but the size of the heart in the vegan and while I will never be that girl who picks up worms and takes them home 😂 I just can’t stand slimy creatures, they scare me 🙈 I am however that girl who wants to see the end of animal cruelty. Vegan and proud of it! 

You’re Gonna Be Ok

Initially when I was thinking about my next post, I considered writing about how much I hated Tuesday’s wod…maybe not the wod, but one movement in particular…toes to bar.

6 Rounds For Time (why!!!)

7 x Burpee Box jump over

14 x T2B<—evil!!!

21 x SDHP (50/35kg)

15 min time cap

WOD 2 (just to ruin your grip a little bit further…)

15 Min EMOM

1st – Dead Hold (80/60)

2nd – 15 x Snatch (35/20)

3rd – Max reps pull ups
Woke up the next day and my hand was throbbing! Spicy, spicy!

Toes to bar are my arch nemesis, truth be told, I don’t spend enough time working on trying to string them together, but we’ll talk about  my laziness in another post ok!

In the Uber yesterday, and this morning on the way to work, as I dissected that wod (I am an overthinker and I analyse absolutely everything, gift and sometimes it’s a curse!) and how much better I could have done if I didn’t allow my general dislike of TTB to consume me, I came to the realization that it wasn’t just knowing that there were TTB in the wod that had ruined my day, dramatic sounding I know…but it was mainly because yesterday was one of those days where the mean reds got me. If you don’t know what the mean reds are, I suggest you stop what you’re doing right now and go watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 

Here’s a snippet of that scene:

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?

Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?

HG: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

PV: Sure.

HG: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

The mean reds are what people who suffer or who have suffered with depression, are all too familiar with. It’s those days when the darkness inside you makes you feel a lot more despondent about a situation, whether big or small. The mean reds, as HG stated is not the same as being sad. I think of sadness as something that is largely circumstantial. The mean reds, or depression is different. When you suffer with depression, everything around you could be going great but in your eyes, you’re sinking in a dark hole, and if I’m being honest, there are days when you would love for nothing more than to be swallowed by that dark hole. Disappear.

As my beautiful friend Vanessa put it, depression is like dipping your feet into tar only you never quite get rid of that stickiness, you never quite get rid of the black mark that it leaves on you. At the same time, if you’re intentional about it, there are places that exist like Tiffany’s, that can calm you down and stop those mean reds from controlling you…except I’d buy a dog instead of a cat, dogs are the best!

My first bout of depression was triggered off in 2013, that incident is too lengthy to put it in here, maybe it deserves a separate post. During that period of my life, it felt as though the life was being sucked out of my soul. I felt battered and bruised. And then you go for therapy, and you think you’re okay. This was also when my walk with God became a lot stronger because oftentimes I felt as though no one else understood what was going on inside, and the great thing about venting to God is that in those moments, (and even today,) I never feel judged by Him. I never feel as though He sees me as weak or unable to cope. In Him I found a strong tower and refuge, my confidante from whom I never hear any of those labels or stigma attached to people who suffer with depression. So you might be wondering, ‘if you have found this strong tower and refuge in the LORD, why did the mean reds get you yesterday?’ My reason: getting so wrapped up, perhaps too wrapped up in work and rescuing other people that I began to neglect time for myself with God.

CrossFit, fitness in general has always been how I personally connect best with God, but the past few months, this busyness of life and trying to rescue others when you’re running on empty, has left me on the verge of depletion, on the verge of breaking down and all the more easily controlled by the mean reds. It took a  crying session with one of my closest friends (Sherine,) and the day before a chat with my other darling (Monica,) and then yesterday’s chat with my beautiful Vanessa, and then later in the evening, being pulled out from under the bus by my sissy and bestie (Givs,) for me to realise that I absolutely cannot keep neglecting my mental health. This is something that I forget. When things are going well, I forget that I need a daily tune up. If the Word and Jesus is truly my life then that means that everyday I should be running to Him, being molded and transformed into His likeness. His peace and His rhythms of grace challenging and conquering all that I face.

This morning I woke up feeling a little bit better, that’s the thing about suffering with depression, it can sometimes feel like you’re constantly on an emotional roller coaster. It can also make you one really tough cookie to love. Sometimes I feel incredibly emotionally unstable, those are the days when the reds probably consume me the most because I try to hide it from everyone, but that’s okay because now and then, thank the Holy Spirit, He reminds me that I don’t fight alone and that he loves me. Do you know what a challenge it can be to remember that daily? It’s hard, but another darling friend, (Ashleigh) reminded me that it isn’t impossible.

I truly love my girlfriends, incredibly blessed with them, and do you know  what, in spite of sometimes feeling like a failure, I know that I truly do love God. I am very much aware of how much worse I could be if I didn’t have Him. In Him, I have found a place better than Tiffany’s.  I’m not always the easiest to love…heck, not even the easiest to like because there is a part of me that has become calloused because of having suffered with depression, but as Ness put it yesterday, you sit in the sun (or with the Son,) and He thaws you out, but you have to be intentional about sitting with Him, and this sitting is anything but passive. It’s uncomfortable and will expose you for who you and who you’re not .

Mental health is important. It’s something that we neglect. It’s something that we don’t like dealing with, and in a ways perhaps we are even ashamed of saying that we suffer with mental illness, but the only way to confront any illness, physical or mental is to confront it and keep working (preferably with God,) to get better and healthier. Mental health is just as important, if not more important than physical health for out of your soul, out of your spirit, is where life flows from.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

One of the ways that I cope is through writing, running and CrossFit. All of these done with God. My challenge is to remember to keep coping and keep fighting with God. I need to remember that it’s okay to not be okay but that I will be okay.
To illustrate this example, let’s go back to my toes to bar. Obviously I will never be able to cope with a high volume of toes to bar in a WOD, if I don’t work on them (I don’t really want to work on them though…) and if I don’t listen to my coach, or ask for help in mastering that stupid move…okay from now on, no longer calling them stupid haha, then I will never learn how to cope and excel with TTB!

It’s a similar thing with depression, I have to keep going to my Creator who has mastered living life, to learn from Him, how to do life without letting the reds control me. I cannot neglect this. It doesn’t mean everyday is going to be fantastic, but it does mean that he makes me stronger each day. Yesterday I listened to this anointed song by Jenn Johnson and started crying at work haha, luckily I didn’t have any make up on and no one had arrived yet. I pray that it will bless you and that God would cover you with His spirit to remind you that you, yes you! You’re gonna be ok.