16.1

I entered the CrossFit Open with a lot of fear running through my blood. I’ve been doing CrossFit for a year and 2 months, of this time; it is only in December of last year that I started to take my training seriously. The fact is not everyone gets to go to the CrossFit games but everyone can call themselves an athlete and everyone can call themselves a CrossFitter, and I had the goal in mind to be able to call myself a decent CrossFitter.

Stronger, faster and more confident in my abilities.

I want to be a CrossFitter who can do muscle ups (bar and ring, still working on those,) strict handstand push ups, knock out pistols at an insane rate and for my snatch to become even deadlier…speaking of snatches, I hit a new 45kg on my power snatch. I was so ecstatic, I went home and cried.

Back to the open.

I woke up early on Friday morning to see what Dave Castro had planned for us CrossFitters.

16.1 [20 minute AMRAP.]

1 round consists of:

25 feet overhead walking lunges (43kg M, 30kg F)

8 bar facing burpees

25 feet overhead walking lunges

8 chest to bar pull-ups

 

It was better than I expected and not as bad as I expected. The night before the open, I read this:

It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not. Eric Thomas

For a while now, I’ve been reading a lot of sports psychology related articles because I began to realise that the one thing holding me back in my CrossFit career and in my running was my mental strength. I believed I could but never past the point of pain, and I’ve never thought myself capable of achieving anything spectacular. I am so grateful that even when I didn’t believe that I could, I had friends that believed in my abilities, and believed that I could do it, that I could become better. It was time that I started to believe in myself.  For a long time, I have always felt as though the one of the places where I get a chance to connect with God has been through physical activity. So often times when I’ve been on a gruelling run, I’ll have my Christian music playing and it is as though in that moment when I want to turn back or quit, legs aching, lungs revolting against you and your heart beating at a ridiculous pace, I can hear God loudly cheering me on and telling me that I can and I will complete those 16km’s.

For CrossFit I began to train with the mindset of encountering God through every difficult movement. I had to retrain my brain to become stronger than whatever weight was loaded on the barbell. It wasn’t easy but nothing is impossible with God. So I began to actively seek out verses prior to heading out to the box and being proactive in applying whatever I had read, to my training. This meant that I could no longer say (whether aloud or to myself,) ‘I hate this WOD,’ or ‘I hate this movement.’ Even if it meant that in the beginning it felt awkward to pretend that I was looking forward to toes to bar, I kind of like them a bit more now… Just a little bit.

This change in mindset completely shifted the way I performed in WODs, I no longer cared about how I had failed or under-performed in the past, I just wanted to give my all in that moment, in that WOD. The here and now began to hold greater weight than the ‘what ifs’ of the future.  The verse below is one that is become very pivotal in my CrossFit career;

For I can do EVERYTHING through Christ (the One), who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

When I read this verse or journal on it, it is not ‘I can do everything through Christ, so that I can become stronger than [insert person’s name here]’ It is ‘I can do all things through Christ so that His strength, His perfect unbroken strength will be seen through me even when and especially when I fail or when I fall short.’  It is being confident in Christ and being content in the abilities you have that though they might not be perfect, you are willing to do the hard work and hone them so that Christ is glorified through everything you do. At the end of the day, that’s what my goal is; that Christ would be glorified, His name, His strength, His abilities in absolutely everything that I do. It means that His spirit makes me aware of how I behave when I am the best and when I’m not the best. It means that His spirit of excellence is carried through on my good days and on my bad days. Everything I am and everything I become as an athlete is all because of Him and how He has changed and is still changing and transforming my mindset, from the inside out.

So when I read 16.1, I wasn’t thrown into a panic, I remember thinking ‘God as long as I don’t cry for my chest to bar pull ups, then we’re good.’ The first time I did C2B in a competition, I cried so much, I think my judge felt bad for me and gave me those pull ups just so I wouldn’t have a complete meltdown. It’s funny because I’m trying to remember whether I was in pain when I finished 16.1, but I can’t remember. All I can remember is looking at my wrist in that overhead lunge position, on the verge of tears and seeing Phil. 4:13 scrawled on it. It is as though in that moment, Jesus whispered to me, ‘a few more feet baby doll, you can do this. Everything through me, I’m the one who gives you strength.’ I feel satisfied and I can say that I gave it my all. I showed up and made those 20 minutes count but more than that, because I gave room and made room for God to speak and breathe through me. He also showed up.

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Buttah baby…

Buttah not butter… it’s smoother, creamier, melts in your mouth and is most probably a word that was invented by some crazy scientist who found the formula to perfect buttah! I’ve been searching all over for coconut butter. I am obsessed with coconuts and wherever I went, all they had was coconut oil (I love that too but I said buttah!) A few weeks ago I read up on how to make coconut butter and even though I don’t own a food processor or a Vitamix, I decided to try it out with my blender.  Thirty minutes later I had smooth creamy coconut butter with a hint of vanilla (another favourite of mine,) and spurred on by this enthusiasm, I decided to make a second batch for my friend, my brother in law and sister. Surprisingly I haven’t been tempted to eat it off a spoon. On bread and in smoothies…well that’s another story. I’ve kept myself from polishing off a jar by thinking about the 5kg that I still have to drop 😦 it’s a lot harder when you’re trying to sculpt existing muscle. My butt and thighs are pretty stubborn!

 

Place all your ingredients in a blender and pulse for five minutes until the dessicated coconut has incorporated into the oils. It’ll look a bit lumpy but don’t panic, it will work out!

Run your blender and keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t overheat or come dangerously close to burning out!

Keep checking (and tasting) with a spoon until you have a smooth, warm liquid. This is the part that requires the most patience because you have to keep blending until the liquid is absolutely smooth. No one enjoys grainy buttah!

Once your butter is completely smooth, pour into glass jars and place in the freezer to set for 15 minutes, after that the coconut butter can be stored in the fridge or a cool dry place.

Enjoy this on toast, porridge, smoothies, on its own. It is pretty yummy! For a toasted coconut butter, lightly toast the coconut in a medium sized frying pan keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Then repeat the same method. The toasted coconut butter has a richer nuttier flavour. My guinea pigs (my bestie, my brother in law,) preferred it to the plain coconut butter. I love both, it was hard to part with these buttahs!

 

Vanilla Lovin’

I love ice cream…who doesn’t? Before I became vegan, my favourite ice cream was Häagen-Dazs Strawberry Cheesecake. The yummy taste of strawberries and the crunch from the bits of cheesecake was amazing. In the past I would joke with my friends that I could never become vegan because of my love for ice cream, but who says you have to give that up? Enter my vanilla lovin’ soft serve nana cream. This is the first of many attempts in me finding my perfect recipe for vegan ice cream, something that could very well rival Häagen-Dazs. I fell in love with this recipe and I know you will too. It’s smooth, packed with banana flavour with a subtle hint of vanilla and coconut and the best part… IT’S GUILT FREE!!!

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You’ll need:

3 bananas that have been sliced and frozen for 8 hours.

1 teaspoon of vanilla seeds

2 teaspoons of organic cold-pressed virgin coconut oil

A scant amount of rice milk (coconut milk is a great alternative)

Place all your bananas in a blender and add a little bit of milk to get the blender going. Don’t add too much milk unless you want a smoothie. Add the rest of the ingredients, blend then grab a spoon and enjoy! IT’S THAT SIMPLE!

Coco about you!

I’ve waxed lyrical about the benefits of bananas here, so this time I’ll be giving some love to coconut oil. I am obsessed with the smell of coconuts, the real smell not the artificial kind.  I think it’s one of the reasons why I love coconut oil so much, the smell transports me to a beautiful island where James Franco is rubbing oil on my back and we’re drinking green smoothies together. Fantasies aside, I started using coconut oil on my nails and noticed that they got stronger, grew quicker and maintained their length. I did some research and found out that  coconut oil is a great all-rounder. It’s great for your hair, skin and your body, all of which I can vouch for. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is then converted to monolaurin which has been touted to fight viral and bacterial infections caused by organisms such as Listeria monocytogenesStaphylococcus aureus and Heliobacter pylori (microbiologist that I am, I sense a study on the effects of coconut oil on these organisms hmm…) which cause food poisoning, stomach and duodenal ulcers. The composition of fatty acids in coconut oil (medium chain triglycerides) assimilate well in the body and also help body systems such as the liver in cases of detoxification. Lauric acid makes up 50% of the fats (good fats) found in coconut oil and is beneficial to the heart, it does not increase your LDL’s due to it being a healthier alternative to other cooking oils. It also reduces the risk of  atherosclerosis and damage to the arteries. On the skin I found coconut oil to be best applied as a mask (apply a generous amount to your face, take 5 minutes to massage your face and then use a warm face cloth to wipe it off. The excess can be left to leave you with a gorgeous tropical glow.) It’s also great for treating eczema and preventing premature aging!

 

Breakfast Smoothie

I love smoothies! I am not a huge fan of having solid food in the morning. It’s all about finding what works for you and for me,solid food in the morning usually has me feeling sluggish, maybe a tad grumpy and ready to go back to bed! This smoothie is a great way to refuel after a workout. I typically have it after my morning workout and sometimes during the day if I don’t feel like eating anything too heavy. It’s super yummy, dairy free and vegan. I am having such fun transitioning from vegetarian to vegan, I can’t believe I didn’t do this sooner!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1l apple juice

1 banana

1 avocado

2 tablespoons moringa leaf powder

a handful of oats (adjust according to desired consistency, not too much though, we’re not making porridge!)

Here’s why I love this smoothie:

Bananas have a high content of potassium, potassium is an important electrolyte that maintains good cardiovascular health. It lends to maintenance of blood pressure and heart function via the electrical impulses that travel through your body. The conduction of these impulses are what keep cardiac muscle contracting [i.e. your heart beat] at a normal rate and without potassium (lack of potassium is called hypokalaemia, I’m a qualified biomedical scientist, geeky side coming out…) your heart rate will display irregularity and let’s be honest the only time one’s heart should display irregularities is when watching James Franco :-p Bananas are also a great source of fibre, that’s why they’re a favourite of so many runners.

When I was a child I hated avocados, now I can’t get enough of them, I’m obsessed with avocado oil as well. I love avos in guacamole, face masks, on their own, on top of black beans but especially in smoothies.  Like bananas, they are also an excellent source of potassium but I love them for their meaty texture chockfull of monounsaturated fat which boosts your heart health and lowers your risk of stroke and heart disease. I also love that it’s packed with vitamin B6, folic acid and vitamin E, a great one for beautiful skin that screams ‘I have a breakfast smoothie everyday!’

Moringa leaf powder is a new addition to my smoothies. My mum has been buying it for almost a year and I never paid attention to it until now.  If you’re anaemic, morning powder can provide you with that boost you need to get your body producing oxygen rich, iron loaded power red cells. It can help in boosting your energy and your stamina. Word of caution; I’ve read that it can also prevent pregnancy so if you’re like me and you’re not trying to fall pregnant or you’re single and not ready to mingle then by all means add this to your smoothie, otherwise steer clear!

Oats are added to add more fibre and bulk to the smoothie. This is a breakfast smoothie therefore it is important to make it as nutrient rich as you can. Oats are high in iron and lower your LDL (low density lipoproteins which are your bad fats that clog your arteries.) They also contain beta-glucans which strengthen your immune system against bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. I typically have a big glass of this smoothie and find it very filling. Let me know if you try it, I’d love to know what you think!

*I have a soft spot for James Franco, if you look like him, I might have a soft spot for you too 😉

Green beans and radishes on a bed of spicy brown rice and Fry’s thick cut chunky strips

In this post I’ll be sharing a recipe of one of my favourite things to eat: green beans and radishes on spicy rice. This recipe is great if you do meal prepping as it yields a large quantity. It freezes well without losing flavour. Quick plug for Fry’s…they are my favourite brand of vegetarian/vegan frozen foods. I’ve been a vegetarian for 2 years and 1 month. I am currently transitioning to vegan and I love that Fry’s provides food that is free from genetic modification, MSG (it really does taste good, no trick chemicals needed,) artificial colourants or preservatives. It’s also been a great way for me to get my protein intake, something I had been struggling with. On to the recipe…

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Green beans and radishes on a bed of spicy brown rice with Fry’s thick cut chunky strips

  • 1kg green beans
  • 500g radishes
  • 380g (1 box) of Fry’s Thick Cut Chunky Strips
  • 2 tablespoons of Mrs. Balls Chutney
  • 1 tablespoon of Ina Paarman’s vegetable seasoning
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Check your green beans for any that may be bruised and discard those. Top and tail the beans and blanch them in boiling water. Cut the radishes in slices. Coat the vegetables with sunflower seed oil and the vegetable seasoning. Heat a large frying pan and place all the ingredients in the pan, fry until the chunky strips have cooked through and serve on top of the rice.

Spicy brown rice

  • 1 teaspoon of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of chilli paste*
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 cups  brown rice washed and drained
  • 2 cups of a tomato and onion mix*
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth

In a large frying pan, add about 2 tablespoons of sunflower seed oil. Once the pan gets hot, fry the rice until it has browned or you hear a faint popping noise. Once the rice has browned add the garlic, the chilli paste and cayenne pepper making sure to coat the rice evenly. Add the tomato and onion mix, the vegetable stock and the tomato paste and leave to simmer for five minutes on the hob. Remove from the hob and place in a preheated oven (180 C) for fifteen minutes. After fifteen minutes stir the rice and cook for an additional 15 minutes. If you find that your rice is not soft after the cooking period, add a little bit of liquid and cook for another 15 minutes. You’ll be left with soft, very spicy rice. *I make my chilli paste from  scratch using habañero chillies and a little bit of onion, if you want something milder use jalapeños. My tomato and onion mix is also made from scratch. I whizz up 2 tomatoes and 1 onion in the blender with water.

Holding On To Heaven

Today was a bad day, in fact this week has been pretty difficult. It’s week 4 of half marathon training, the mileage has gone up, my body feels more tested and I’m plagued with the thought of why exactly am I doing this? The half marathon blues perhaps? In any case, I pushed through all feelings of lethargy (thanks to a really cool song by Foxes,) to get in today’s workout: Level 2 of Jillian Michaels Ripped In 30, an hour of Tae-bo II (get ripped) followed by Silje Norendal’s 15 minute workout on Nike Training Club. All in all, a very jam packed morning! I am a HUGE fan of  workout DVD’s. When I was in high school and I couldn’t afford a gym membership, Jane Fonda and Billy Blanks were instrumental in getting me in shape. When I moved to London in 2008, I avoided the dreaded weight gain that comes from starting university with these DVD’s. I don’t find it as challenging as before…on some days haha but I love the cardio burst that I get. I’ve also found that by increasing your weights, your muscles definitely work harder. Last year I was using 3kg weights and this year I jumped to 5kg. I must admit, rather ashamedly that my upper body strength is rather pitiful haha. I’m a work in progress, aren’t we all?

Did I mention that I still have to squeeze in a 6k run this afternoon?

Welcome!

Hi! My name is Aurélie. I’m a biomedical scientist and I am currently transitioning to veganism and training for my first half marathon, don’t ask me which one. I tend to enter races last minute (a horrible habit that I need to kick.) I’ve been a fitness addict my whole life and a serious runner for about 3 years. In 2012 when I became a vegetarian, I started to take my running and nutrition a lot more seriously. Last year I met a guy who has continued to be my inspiration in becoming a better athlete. Maybe I’ll let him chip in further down the line 😉 My friend is a triathlete and an amazing one at that. He’s the one that inspires me to push my body further than it ever has been and unbeknownst to him,  he acted as the catalyst to me deciding to take on a half marathon. On this blog you will find everything pertaining to my fitness journey, the highs and the lows and all my favourite recipes. You will also sometimes get scientific explanations of things haha, I can’t help it. Science is wired in my DNA. Thanks for stopping by!

Today I started 22 days of veganism. I’ve always wanted to be a vegan…I know! Not a lot of people say that but I have always had a fascination with green living. So here’s what I had for breakfast:

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-2 pieces of vegan rye bread with Salanova baby leaves, mini Italian tomatoes and an apple and beet slaw with an orange chilli dressing.

-Half a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice

I usually prefer to have a light breakfast but having recently started week 4 of half marathon training, my body needs the fuel. I have days where I wake up hungry, ready to devour whatever is in the fridge. Correct nutrition is half the battle won. I was a notorious breakfast skipper, I’d wake up in the morning, go for my run and it would be noon when I’d have my breakfast. My runs weren’t bad but I found myself feeling lethargic more often than not. Doing your research on what you’re putting in your body is so important which is why I’m an advocate of a healthy vegetarian lifestyle. Remember to read the labels, treat your body right and it will reward you.