In review: intermittent fasting

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

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

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

How am I feeling?

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

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

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

How to make IF work for you?

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

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

YOUR journey.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: how to survive the holiday season

I have two more weeks of work left before I go on leave. To say I’m tired is an understatement. My poor boyfriend has heard me complain about being too tired to do EVERYTHANG: working, training, breathing, you name it! Life is just A LOT right now and this girl needs a holiday. The festive season is one where we can very quickly get caught up in activity and miss out on what should essentially be a good time to recharge the soul and body for the year ahead. How does one survive the holiday season? Is it possible to partake in the festivities and still come out standing on the other side? I think so! Here are my top tips  on surviving the festive season and holding on to as much of your sanity as possible.

  1. Take 5 minutes out of your day to write down what you’re grateful for. This one was suggested to me by the love of my life. After my sister passed away, it was hard to think of anything that I was grateful for and life was more painful than I could bear. I was dreading the first Christmas without her and that’s when the boy told me to think of one thing that I was grateful for.  It could be as grand or as small as I wanted it to be. The idea is that from that one thing, a type of snowball effect is created and you’re able to think of other things that you’re grateful for. It’s like Thanksgiving at Christmas. Eventually you’re so busy thinking about all the things that are right in your life that it lifts your mood up and opens you up to the fact that while life may not be perfect, it isn’t so bad. 


However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.’

Stephen Hawking

2. Get some exercise in. It’s easy to want to spend ALL of your free time sitting on the couch eating as much chocolate as humanly possible and while I won’t deny that I won’t be doing that, I will be trying to maintain as much of a healthy balance as possible. Exercise gets the blood flowing releasing endorphins also known as the happy hormone to leave you with better clarity of mind and if you’ve really pushed as hard as you could in your workout, you’ll need to fuel up by eating again right? 😉

3. Meditate. I started meditating last year as a means to manage my thoughts and stress. I felt on the edge ALL the time and if you find yourself laden with a lot of responsibility over the festive period, then I’m sure you know all about being on the edge. Meditating has taught me that it isn’t about changing the way I think but more so about accepting certain emotions as they come. It’s about acknowledging what you’re feeling, learning what you can from that emotion and then you move on. You learn to not dwell on circumstance and realise that your feelings while valid, are not important dictators of what mood you should be in. Over time you’ll find that you’re able to process feelings without them derailing you. The biggest thing I’ve learnt through mediating is to be kinder to myself and from this abundance, being able to lavish kindness unto others. So often we get the balance wrong and berate ourselves yet somehow find it within us to uplift others. It’s time to turn that that habit on its head; lavish all the love you can on yourself [self-care] and from learning how to love and support yourself unconditionally, do the same unto others.

4. Remember the reason for the season. I’m like the Grinch…sometimes. I hadn’t realised how much I didn’t like Christmas until my boyfriend pointed it out. I suppose it’s one of those things that unfortunately happens as you get older and go through trying circumstance in life. This past year falling in love with my boyfriend and that love being a conduit to rediscovering Christ again, I’m genuinely excited for Christmas this year… ok maybe excited is a bit extreme 😂 As a Christian, I know that there is much debate on the date that Christ was born, the date bears zero significance to me. The thing that is significant is this great act of love & kindness from an Almighty God to give everything up for a sinner like me. This is what will be at the forefront of my thoughts. I can’t promise that I won’t be that mom who will tell her kids that Santa doesn’t exist, sorry boyfriend 🙈

5. Have FUN! Yes, it’s bound to get stressful and crazy at some point but relish this moment that you’re alive here on earth. My late sister celebrated every single day that she was alive because she’d say ‘you never know what tomorrow will bring.’

BONUS TIP:If you want to avoid being unhappy, make sure you’re spending Christmas/this festive period, with the people you love and can tolerate without ripping their heads off 😉 what are your tips for surviving the festive season?

The importance of being a goal-getter!

Last year I was the product & brand trainer for LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics.  I loved the products and have met the most lovely people through LUSH but I was also burnt out, largely unhappy and I felt stuck. I took the leap of faith (without a job offer much to my parent’s delight,) and resigned. I was fun-employed for a month and then decided to send out an email to my current boss (who I later found out, had already decided before my interview that I was the candidate they would be going with) about working for them. Today I am closer to my goals than I was last year. If I had listened to everyone who said it would be better to wait until I had a job offer before I resigned, I probably would have never resigned.

Three simple rules in life. 1. If you do not go after what you want, you’ll never have it. 2. If you do not ask, the answer will always be no. 3. If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place.

I took a gamble and believed that I was skilled enough to advertise myself for a position that wasn’t even advertised.When I think of where I am now, I can definitely attribute it to God working things out in my life but it was also important for me to step out and make the active steps needed for me to be in a position where I could get a job. Now I’m working with ridiculously intelligent people that challenge me in the best way possible and have made work less stressful than you’d think it would be, there are days where I’ve gone in to work because I want to and not because I have to.

My advice to you: if you want a new job, put yourself out there and send your CV everywhere, if you want to lose weight then join the gym or if money is an issue there are loads of free fitness apps (my favourite being Nike Training Club,) to help you get started. The power is in your hands to create the life you dream of!

We’ve all made a series of decisions in our lives that have led us to the responsibilities that we currently have…so own it and get back to work and figure it out.

Brent Fikowski

The Black CrossFitter & Her Hair (Mishaps)

I am a black girl.

Oh you noticed.

Yay! We can proceed.

Black girls unfortunately have a reputation for choosing to preserve their hairstyle over working out. I have never really been that girl, except for when I got my eyebrows microbladed. Those two weeks of very minimal sweating was SO worth it because I have eyebrows that anyone would be (and rightly so,) should be, jealous of.

Microblading incident aside, I am a huge proponent of health over everything. When my hair was longer, I would rock up to the box with the dodgiest looking cornrows, twists, looking crusty as anything, and I must be honest I didn’t really care. It’s easy now, to stand on this pedestal, preaching to all who will read this blog that health should be a priority over everything, however (remember how I wrote in this post, that there is ALWAYS a ‘however’ in life!) when I first started CrossFit, I foolishly believed that I could look cute while working out.

The year was 2013, I had just moved back to South Africa from the UK and after watching a RIDICULOUS amount of CrossFit videos on YouTube, I bit the bullet and joined a box that was a stone’s throw away from home. I had no idea what a black female CrossFitter was supposed to look like, (do you see why representation is important?) I hadn’t yet discovered Elisabeth Akinwale, Quiana Welch or Deborah Cordner-Carson.

The funny thing about being the only black person anywhere is that sometimes you feel as though you’re there as a delegate to represent all black people and naturally you have to be good at everything AND look the part.

On that day I decided that I would wear the new silky black and stupidly long wig that my sister had bought for me. I had just chopped off all my hair for the umpteenth time so while there was nothing to secure that wig to, I had tied a headband around the perimeter to sort of secure the wig. I’ve never been one to cherry pick my wods, so on that day I rocked up to the box ready (or so I thought,) for whatever would be thrown at me. I’ve been active my whole life, not as much as I am now, so I foolishly believed that I had encountered every move possible in the world of what my narrow definition of fitness was. On that fateful day, in the elements class, we would be learning how to do handstands. I was excited until the coach began to demonstrate the warm up. It involved forward rolls. I only really started to panic when I crouched down, attempted to roll forward and as I did, felt my wig start to shift. That wig shifted all the way off my big ol’ head. I had just revealed a black girl secret. After that day, I would love to say that I learnt my lesson but I didn’t…I haven’t! When my hair grew long enough, I dipped in the box braid trend, (thanks Solange,) only to get the worst neck ache from the weight of the braids whipping back and forth whenever I did pull ups, and I’ll never forget 16.4, where I hoped to never get to the HSPU. How would I be able to do those with the weight of these insanely long braids?

I’ve had wods where my braids have flipped in front of me, blocking my vision and effectively ruining my life. Wods where all I could think about was the pain of those fresh braids. I’ve even suffered from slight chafing on my back from the friction caused by having the bar on my weave. You’d think all these things would cause me to call it quits on looking cute while working out, but they haven’t deterred me. I am on an eternal quest to work hard without looking like I’m working hard and I have learnt a few things from these hair mishaps and luckily (unless you want to,) you don’t have to go through what I did, to find out what works best for a black female CrossFitter.

Tip #1: Box braids will never be your friend! The sooner you accept this, the better. In last years Open, I (still being ever so brave, foolish perhaps, and not willing to accept this,) had box braids. They made everything that much harder, annoying, and hotter. The amount of times my rope got caught in my braids during 17.5, wasn’t that high but in a wod where you’re racing against the clock, that second spent on re-adjusting a stray braid was one second too long. At least I looked cute right?

img_3919

Tip #2: Go natural. I’ve worried the least about how my hair is going to surprise me, or what it’ll do during a wod, when I’ve worn it in its natural state. There are no movement restrictions and I know for a fact that I don’t have to worry about whether my hair will get caught on my rope, chafe my back, or block my vision. Afros are a beautiful thing, they defy gravity, it’s part of that black girl magic.

my face of disbelief during 17.1

Tip #3: Remember to cleanse and moisturize. If you’re anything like me and you sweat when you work out, this is an important (and obvious,) one to remember. Natural hair  gets dry quickly and because sweat contains salt, it can cause further dryness. You’ll want to use products that inject moisture every step of the way. I wash my hair once a week, and will use shampoo every second wash. My choice of shampoo is the Aussie Moisture Frizz Miracle shampoo, and more recently Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Shampoo. On the days that I don’t wash my hair, I make sure to rinse it with lukewarm water and apply a leave in conditioner like my absolute favorite again by Shea Moisture, the Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow and Restore leave in conditioner. Firstly, it smells like vanilla cookies (SO IMPORTANT!) and with water as its first ingredient, it provides maximum hydration and softness to your hair because of the shea butter & coconut oil in it. A great bonus to this product is the addition of the Jamaican black castor oil and peppermint oil which are helpful in stimulating blood circulation and in turn boosts your hair growth. I should really do a review on this…

Tip #4: If you’re gonna fake it out with hair that’s not your own, make sure that your cornrows aren’t so tight that they give you a facelift. You’re black. You’re not gonna crack, so your cornrows don’t have to feature in your anti-ageing regimen. You’re just gonna end up bald 😂 #realtalk. Cornrows done in a circular pattern help in alleviating the strain on those precious edges, and if done neatly, you can even rock that as your protective style. If you decide to go the wig route, PLEASE for the love of preserving all black girl hair secrets, secure that bad boy correctly!

Tip #5: Accept that it’s a losing battle. If you’re going to choose your health over your workout, you will have days where your hair is going to look like a hot mess, you will have days where because your hair looks like a hot mess, you’ll look like a hot mess, BUT that’s okay because at least you’ve got a bangin’ body!