Oops I Did it Again…

I have been a really bad blogger. I almost punched myself in the face (don’t worry, I didn’t, I like my face too much haha, not in a vain way though, in a normal ‘hey girl hey you’re kinda cute’ way) when I realised that I haven’t blogged since April!!! It really has just been an insanely crazy period for me. I started a new job as a product trainer and between store visits and trying to have some what of a social life, blogging feel down the wayside. I’ve had to learn the fine art of balancing, which let me tell you is horribly difficult!

Yesterday I was talking to my bestie and she reminded me of how much I love blogging, well…how much I used to love it when I blogged…That conversation with her was all the push I needed to get back into doing something I love. It got me thinking, sometimes in life we find ourselves becoming so wrapped up in our roles (whether that be work or not,) that we stop doing the things that ignite the fire in us. For me, the crazier work got, the more I found myself sacrificing the things that I love doing. One of them was blogging, and even my time with God suffered as I tried (in vain,) to juggle all the balls that were suddenly in my hand. I am constantly fighting to avoid being a people pleaser and I found myself saying yes to so may other engagements which after they were done, left me feeling depleted and in some ways resentful of the things I used to enjoy doing and a tiny bit more irritable.

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Mark  8:36 (KJV)

It took my body coming dangerously close to breaking point and a conversation with two very wise friends, for me to realise that I was sacrificing the most important things, i.e. my walk with God, and my health to a certain extent; to gain things that at the end of the day didn’t define me. What was the point of advancing in work, if I was too tired to enjoy the fruits of my labour? Yes, work is important but it isn’t everything! It isn’t what life is about. I am so grateful that I have such great friends who remind me of what life is truly about, those moments that take your breath away, the things that put a smile on your face, those are the moments and things worth pursuing. Lately I am so much more protective of my personal time.

These are some of the measures I’ve put in place:

-My time with God is not up for grabs. I’m a lot kinder, a delight even when I’ve spent time with Jesus. He has a way of spreading His sweetness all over me, it’s almost like He spreads spiritual nutella all over this elephant*  and this sour puss functions a lot better when she’s spent time with Jesus. A sweet Aura is a delight for everyone.

-My time training is also not up for grabs. Whether it’s at the box or even out going for a run or doing one of the workouts on the Nike training club app, the healthier my body is, the better I function and the better I function, the more balanced I feel; and I don’t need to speak about how important balance is now do I?

-My time with friends and family is also not up for grabs. This is an area that I must be honest, I was very quick to neglect because naturally we all just assume that our family and friends are always going to be there for us, and its true, they are always there for us, but it’s important that we have quality time reconnecting with them, keeping those beautiful connections alive.

The moment I made my not up for grabs list, the more clarity I felt in my mind. So even though I still have my responsibilities, because I have my non-negotiables, I function better because I’ve learnt (the hard way,) that my time is precious, and time my friends, is something that we should guard fiercely!

*I call myself an elephant because I love elephants and I aspire to be like an elephant…strong and able to eat more than twice my body weight #lifegoals!  

In pursuit of happiness. ..

Happiness. If I had to ask you what it means to be happy or what happiness is, what would you define it as? Is happiness a dress size, a new job or even a new partner?

The dictionary defines happiness as ‘prosperity or a state of well-being and contentment.’

For a long time my definition of happiness was based on how I looked. I would change my hair 3 times in the space of a month (not good for the bank account,) because I was never satisfied with what I saw in the mirror. I never felt as though I was enough. My butt was too big, my chest was too flat, my nose too wide…the list was endless. I felt as though I needed to get to a certain size before I could find true contentment in who I was. My happiness and state of mind was heavily linked to how much I weighed that particular day and if I felt fat on that day then I couldn’t find any happiness in being alive and robbed me of the joy present in so many experiences that God had allowed me to partake in.

Now I have come to realise that happiness should not be what I pursue.  If my soul is set on pursuing happiness then it will be set on pursuing a list of things that I believe will make me happy. Things like new shoes, a new job, a new partner etc. All those things are good but the happiness those things bring is fleeting. In the Bible God tells us what we should be in pursuit of:

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. Matthew 6:33 (AMP)

Another definition for the word ‘seek’ is  the word pursue.

Pursue first, strive after God first, His ways, His spirit and then all these things (whatever it is that you need,) God will add unto you.

When we run after God, He adds happiness to our lives regardless of whatever we are facing and He teaches us what it means to have joy. Joy is an emotion more stable and constant than happiness because it is not based on what you have or don’t have and remains even when you’re going through a difficult period. This week seek God, seek His ways and watch how He changes you from the inside out, and teaches you what it means to be happy.

 

Will You Flex For Me?

An odd request right? I remember staring at the guy in disbelief when he asked me that. I’ve always been very conscious of my arms. I used to be scared that it would intimidate whoever i was crushing on. Now I don’t care, if any man feels that my arms are too muscular, the easy thing to do is for him to start lifting!

My obsession with my weight started when I was in high school , I struggled with my weight for years. It was a vicious cycle of being happy with myself when I managed to survive on that one meal a day, (most days it was a bowl of cereal heavily laden with sugar.) Then there would be the days of self-loathing when I felt that I had eaten too much and the quick fix solution was to bring it all back up. A day turned into a week, a week turned into a month and before I knew it I was bulimic. It was easy to hide, you excuse yourself from the table just before everyone finishes eating, or you offer to help with cleaning up the table. No one ever asked any questions.

This is what I did for 3 and a half years, up until I graduated from high school, and moved to London for university, I realised that I had to work on the relationship I had with my body. I’m glad that I wasn’t too stubborn to hear God speaking to me in those dark twisted moments in the bathroom, that I needed to stop. I couldn’t carry on this way. Bulimia gave way to binge eating, and I would go through periods where I would eat healthily for a few days and then I would binge on chocolate, Kit Kats were my favourite. In 2012, I read ‘You Are Not What You Weigh,’ by Lisa Bevere and it completely changed the way I saw my body. I began to see myself as the spiritual being that God saw me as. I no longer sought to find confidence based on what I looked like, whether I was 2 kilograms lighter or if I could zip up those skinny jeans. I started to focus more on who I was on the inside and I know that sounds like a horrible cliché, but it’s what matters the most.

The less I worried about stepping on the scale, the better I felt. I started to focus on eating for energy and performance as opposed to eating for aesthetics. One method can be very detrimental and the other is healing.  The more I focused on how I could better fuel my body for performance, the less I cared about the number on the scale.

When I became a vegan, I thought that I’d finally become as skinny as I had always dreamt of being. The weight dropped but not how I expected it to. I was leaner and my body eased into a weight that I have been able to maintain without any huge effort on my part, for the past 5 years. It’s the funniest thing when people say that I look healthy. I have to stop myself from laughing or from spewing out a sarcastic comment, I mean I’m eating healthier, am I supposed to look emaciated? Or perhaps people kind of expect your muscles (and your ass,) to waste away. That didn’t happen with me. In fact if you look at any pictures I had pre-vegan days, my butt was probably just a little bit smaller…okay I’m lying, I’ve never known what it is to have a small bum…I probably never will. I have found comfort in knowing that my butt gives me that extra boost I need when I’m squatting haha, those thighs have to be good for something right? The biggest lesson that I have learnt is that I am more than the number on the scale. I’m more than a dress size or a pant size. We all are. It would be such a shame for us to go through life never realising the worth and potential that lies in us. All because we have allowed ourselves to become fixated on a number that bears no importance on who we are as people. I have found greater joy in focusing on being strong. Physically yes but most importantly mentally and emotionally

So to answer the question of whether I flexed or not…I didn’t and I kind of regret it, I mean how many more opportunities will I ever get to flex again? Or be asked to flex? Except maybe here on the blog, you guys won’t hold that against me will you?

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All Pain No Gain

As we draw to the close of the CrossFit Open, with 16.5 being released this Thursday, (early Friday morning in South Africa,) I think about all that I have learnt thus far in my first Open journey. There have been tears, feelings of helplessness, wondering whether I can really still call myself a CrossFitter, yet after 16.2 (those disgusting toes to bar,) I couldn’t help but think this portion of scripture in Habakkuk 3:17-19

‘Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.’

What does this passage mean? In short, it means that sometimes you will give it your all but it just won’t be good enough. The fruit of all those hours that you’ve been training won’t be measurable or evident in the amount of reps you achieve. Does it mean that you stop training because of a bad WOD?

No.

You keep going back because even though the pain of that moment didn’t bring with it any ‘gains’ you are getting stronger and you are learning. I remember the feeling of despair and hopelessness I felt after 16.2, I told myself that if I tried it again a whopping third time on Monday I would do better. I had a plan, I had a strategy. I was going to beat myself. When Monday came, I was ready. My toes to bar were still as shoddy as ever but I told myself that if I just kept moving then everything would be okay. I needed to get to my second round of squat cleans, I was excited about those.

Well when the 3…2…1 went and I got through the toes to bar and double unders, squat cleans destroying my soul but still getting every rep out, I could feel myself edging closer to beating my old score. With 10 seconds or so to go, I lost focus, came up from my squat, lost my footing and just about almost killed* someone as I watched my bar travel in front of me. I felt as though I had failed myself and had failed CrossFit as a sport. I wanted to skip training for a week and lick m wounds, maybe even not ever do another open WOD. Those feelings of despondency and inadequacy, miraculously gave rise to a more tenacious spirit. I began to realise that what counts is giving my full effort. Now of course, you don’t win the CrossFit Games or any competition for that matter, by being the person who put in the most effort but when you focus your mind on what you can control (your effort) , you’ll find yourself feeling less anxious or scared about what you’re about to face. Sometimes the dedication that you’ve applied to your training won’t yield any blossoms or great results immediately, but it always creates in you a stronger work ethic and when your work ethic is strong, it may take you longer to get to the place that someone with more talent is, but once you get there, you’ll stay there and there isn’t anything anyone can do to take from you what you have earned.

As the days roll out and we all live in anticipation and excitement of 16.5, I want to challenge you to focus on what you have to bring, you may not be the fastest or the strongest but you are the best at being you so be you FULLY. In every WOD, in every rep, you bring all that you have to the table. Maximum effort will always give you maximum results.

*didn’t really kill anyone…

Be Strong. Unapologetically.

‘And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong.’ Ephesians 6:10 (MSG)

There is a myth that women aren’t supposed to be lifting because it makes them look manly and that it’s not a very feminine thing to do. Women should stick to things like yoga and pilates. The weights room is strictly for the boys…well that’s what they say. If your idea of a woman is one who is weak and follows every opinion but her own, then you’re right, maybe lifting isn’t very feminine. I mean you might just find yourself empowering someone else and who wants to do that?

One of the reasons why I found myself falling in love with CrossFit is because of the fact that it is encouraged to be as strong as you can be. No one apologises for their strength and you worry about the weight on your bar. You’re there to give it your all, not watch what someone else is doing. It’s an important thing to remember that you are not in competition with anyone but yourself. I am fortunate that I have grown up with the strong belief that God wants me to be strong and He delights in me being strong. Granted there have been periods in my life where I have been uncertain about whether this strength that He wanted me to exude, might be too much for people. But God has since taught me that the strength He wants me to have is one that doesn’t have to announce itself, it’s a strength that is loud, boisterous and unstable, a strength that gets lost in the midst of difficult circumstance. The strength God wants me, wants all of us to have, is a strength that is secure, confident and silent. It’s the type of strength that makes its presence felt as soon as you walk into a room. I used to be hate wearing sleeveless tops because I felt as though I would make the men around me nervous because women aren’t supposed to have muscles, I’m supposed to be a delicate flower and what flower has biceps? Over time as I grew in my godly strength, I realised that all that matters is that I become and grow into the woman God has planned for me to be, if that woman happens to have muscles then so be it. Fast forward to the present and all I ever wear are sleeveless tops. In fact if you see me wearing anything with sleeves then it must mean it’s really cold or I’ve lost my mind.

Being a woman isn’t about how you look, it’s about how you carry yourself. My early definition of womanhood has been replaced by a truer definition, which is one that rooted in God. Being a woman means being strong, it means having influence, it means not being afraid to do what YOU want, whether that be lifting weights, karate, yoga, kickboxing. You do what makes you happy not what makes other people happy, you decide what you want to look like. You’re not just strong for a girl, you’re strong period.  So no more apologies, embrace your strength and whoever is intimidated by how ripped (and amazing,) your arms are…well that’s their problem isn’t it?

 

Tomato Soup

So we’ve entered into the first month of autumn here in South Africa. There’s a chill in the atmosphere, mornings are a lot cooler than they were in the heat of summer which means I find myself enjoying the time that I spend in the kitchen a lot more than in summer. I am a huge lover of soups. I love to make mine from scratch because then I’m in charge of exactly what I put into my soup and I always make sure to keep the sodium intake at a minimum and pack it with tons of flavour. Tomato soup sounds pretty basic, I mean all you have to do is whizz up tomatoes and that’s it right? Wrong. In order for your tomato soup to not taste like pureed tomatoes, bland and acidic, you have to take some time and throw in some extra additions.

Here’s what you’ll need:

10 large tomatoes diced

1 and a half red onion diced

A can of coconut milk

A handful of fresh basil and oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

I call this easy tomato soup because it is super easy to make. All you have to do is place the tomatoes with the onions in a pan and add just a little bit of oil to get the pan sizzling. Once the tomatoes have been on the stove for roughly 2 minutes, put them in a blender with the fresh herbs. You won’t really need to add any water because the tomatoes release a lot of their own juices. Blend until you have a smooth consistency and pour the whole lot into a pan adding the coconut milk and let it simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to season and boom! Yummy tomato soup done.

How easy is that?

For a little bit more punch to your soup, add some habañero chilli paste, it’ll light your fire!

Plum & Basil Sandwich

This is one of my favourite sandwiches to have. Sometimes if I’m feeling lazy to cook, this sandwich is awesome because it fills me up without making me feel like I’m going to explode.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 slices of rye bread

1 plum (stone removed and sliced)

1 tablespoon of tahini

Fry’s chunky strips

A handful of basil leaves

Cherry tomatoes

It’s pretty straight-forward, everyone knows how to make a sandwich, you just throw everything together. The plums are an interesting addition because you’d think, they might not work but they add a sweetness to the sandwich without it feeling overwhelming or tasting weird. Tomato and basil has always been one of my favourite combinations. In fact I try to eat tomatoes in almost every sandwich I make because of their anti-carcinogenic effects. This is a sandwich that packs nutrition and delivers on taste, at the end of the day, when we eat, our goal should be to fuel our body on quality so that it performs better.

What are some of your favourite sandwich combinations?

 

Let Me See You Do That Yoga

There’s a love-hate relationship that exists between yoga and I. For one, I am not an ‘OM’ chanting kind of girl. I like to throw things, pound the ground and go, go, go! So teaching my mind to be still, inhale and exhale through poses, has been very difficult. I would go through phases where I’d stick to doing yoga 3 times a week and then should I stumble into a pose that my thunder thighs won’t let me slip into easily, I would come to the resolution that maybe I was clearly made for just running and CrossFit.

The past few weeks, there has been a shift in my mind. In my pursuit to become a competitive CrossFitter and a more well rounded athlete, I’ve rediscovered my love for yoga. My favourite pose to date is the pigeon pose and the dragon pose, these two for me have been amazing stretch for my inner thighs and hips, which take such a beating during lifts in CrossFit.  It also helps in maximising your flexibility and your stretching ability. Additionally it also gets rid of any tension that you may be carrying in your hips or legs.

I’m taking it slowly this time and documenting the process to have that tangible proof that I am improving. After a few sessions this week, the key difference I have noticed in myself is that I feel at peace. As soon as I’m done, it is as though that concentration just carries itself into all other areas of my life. So what about you guys? Any yogis out there with tips for me?

This Isn’t Fun

This past weekend, the second open workout of the CrossFit Games was released:

4 min. AMRAP + bonus time

25 toes to bar

50 double unders

15 squat cleans

Time extends 4 minutes each time a round is complete. Reps decrease. Load increases. The starting weight for cleans (RX,) was 38kg, then 52kg, 65kg, 79kg and ending off with 93kg.

 

I could have cried when I read the first part of the WOD: 25 toes to bar. Even though I can do toes to bar, stringing them together has been something that I’ve been struggling with for a long time. Sometimes I’ll get two in a row and then all the other times are double swings, wasted energy hanging on the bar trying to gain momentum and most importantly, fighting that voice on the inside that wants to drop off the bar because things just aren’t clicking.

I walked into my box nervously, with zero excitement…well if I’m being honest I was excited about the squat cleans but I had to get past the toes to bar and double unders first.  3…2…1 and GO! I was 4 reps shy of finishing a round and afterwards I cried. All I could think was about how I felt I had failed with my toes to bar, it wasn’t supposed to have gone that way, ‘this isn’t fun.’

I spent the whole weekend thinking about 16.2 and when I re-did it on Monday, ending up with the same score I realised something very important not just for CrossFit but for life. Sometimes you give your best and it just isn’t enough, but you have to be mature enough to pick yourself up from that disappointment, learn and try again another day. 16.2 has highlighted something that my coach has always told me, you can’t train for what you’re good at. You have to be a well balanced athlete, a well balanced individual. Life will always throw the good with the bad and it’s up to us to learn to master our emotions and to not get overwhelmed by the task that’s in front of us. It isn’t easy and it isn’t going to be fun but it’s the only way to grow.

This week as I went to God to recalibrate my emotions and my ego that was so sorely bruised by not having done as well as I wanted to in this WOD, I was reminded that it will take time for me to become a competitive CrossFitter but I have to keep pushing and I need to be patient. Greatness doesn’t happen overnight, greatness happens when you give your all in every WOD. Giving your all means that even on the days that you feel empty, you push and leave it all on the floor. This is the only way to live in such a way that you never have regrets because you know that at every try, you gave it your all.

Overnight Oats

I used to be extremely militant about what I ate, when I ate and how much I ate. Cue the eating disorder that ravaged me for a good 3 years.

Even when I thought I had recovered, portion control was still a very difficult thing for me to master. I would eat small amounts of food, so it was no surprise that after training, I would be heavily fatigued with barely enough energy to do anything else afterwards.

When I became a vegan, I learnt how to use food to heal and fuel my body, as opposed to punishing it for being too big, not skinny enough or just not right. Now eating is my favourite activity.

One of my favourite things to have for breakfast is overnight oats. Whenever I am pressed for time, this is what I have. It’s quick and easy and so good for you. Oats get a bad rep for being boring but with a few simple additions, you can make oats exciting and the taste is far from bland. Oats are great because they keep you fuller for longer, I like to use traditional old fashioned oats with no added sugar or flavouring in them, as the base for this recipe. Oats contain beta glucan, which is a soluble fibre that aids in fighting and preventing cancer and obesity. It also helps in reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and maintaining a healthy heart.

Here’s my overnight oats recipe.

You’ll need:

  • A generous helping of oats (you choose how much you want, you can either make enough for the next day or the whole week.)
  • Non-GMO soy milk (or any other dairy free alternative.)
  • A seed mix of chia seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds and sesame seeds, this is a great way to pump in some omega 3,6 and 9 into your system.
  • 2 bananas sliced
  • coconut blossom sugar (optional

The rest is pretty straight forward. Cover the oats with enough milk to completely cover them, then add your seed mix and bananas. Stir well and place in the fridge. The next day, your oats will have a creamy texture and you can either choose to have them as they are or to heat them up a little bit in the microwave. How’s that for a quick breakfast?