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. 

Right handed

I remember the day I started wearing the black band on my wrist…okay maybe I don’t remember the exact date BUT I do know that it was a couple of days before my 27th birthday (loved that day!!!) I was on ‘fuel for fire’s’ Instagram page where they wrote about the white rubber band that reigning fittest woman on earth, Katrin Davidsdottir wears on her wrist to keep her from complaining or having a negative mindset. 

I very heavily document the highs and lows of my emotions, and having suffered with depression; sometimes it can feel like you’re just never getting better, I have days where I seriously question whether there might just be a very hormonal pregnant woman hiding in the deeper parts of my belly 🤔 However I have begun to ACTIVELY work on healing myself; no longer the passive bystander, constantly coming up with excuses on why things will always stay the way they are. 
For me; one of my excuses was: ‘hey I’ve suffered with depression and I’ve been through so much, people don’t know what I’ve been through. Besides I’m kind of trying to improve my mental game, I haven’t said can’t in agessss. At least I’m trying!’ 

Was I really trying? 
Are YOU really trying? 

The dangerous thing about excuses is that if we repeat them to ourselves long enough; they condition our minds into believing that these excuses are the gospel truth. Luckily for me, Jesus really loves me, (I mean I know we have the childhood song ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…’ BUT this girl over here, I’m His favourite!) and it is because of this fierce and passionate love that He will 9 times out of 10, swoop in like the hero that He is to destroy the excuses, as well as the wrong mindsets [strongholds] that oppose the great plan that He has for my life. Sometimes Jesus (along with some very wise friends,) has to remind me to drop the crutch. Don’t try, no excuses, just do it! 

So when I started wearing my rubber band; (mine is a black one that I got from A21, an organization that fights human trafficking, a cause very important to me,) I evaluated the things that are important to me not just as a human but also as a daughter deeply loved and highly favoured by God. These things are: Jesus, CrossFit, doughnuts and Jesus. Everything begins and ends with Him. As I questioned my motives and searched my heart in what has been a turning point in my spiritual health; I came to the realization that not only in CrossFit, but even in my walk with God, I had applied a lot of excuses, cutting corners where I could, sugar coating what was indeed laziness, with a WHOLE lot of excuses. Excuses that seeped into (and were threatening to derail,) my pursuit to become a top CrossFit athlete. 

My most popular excuse: I just don’t have time; I’m always working, and you know what? It might seem like a valid excuse (and for those who know me; they’ll know that I am indeed almost always working,) but whether you’re working or sitting on your 🍑 at home; life goes on, people go on. As you neglect to do what you can to ensure healthy spiritual growth or in the case of my fitness pursuit, better athlete ability; it doesn’t mean that everyone else is neglecting those areas.  

People were getting their muscle ups strung together. People were falling deeper in love with God. 

And me? 

I had a tug of war going on in my head. The very things that I wanted to achieve, I couldn’t even visualize myself doing. There would be a nervousness that would gnaw so viciously at any confidence that I had in myself; leaving me with just enough to get by (you’re survivin’ honey, but not thriving.) Not enough to excel, just enough to not completely sink. 

It was time for a mindset shift; for good this time. I hate to give this guy credit 🙄 but coach 1/2, Bruno, has been someone who I am learning a lot from in terms of creating in your mind a space where the energy that you draw from while training, while living, is always positive and life giving. A few weeks ago, I walked into the box for the best class; 5am and looked at the wod. This was a spicy one that was 10 rounds long, and because it had one of my favourite moves; front squats, I didn’t even bother reading twice before deciding that RX+ was going to be my portion that day; front squats at 40kg , easy for girls with thighs and just my kind of weight; (heavy just how I loooves it!) thrown in were double unders & handstand push ups. Now I don’t hate handstand push ups but in my head (on that particular day,) I felt that I had regressed. I wasn’t looking forward to the HSPU, but when you love squatting (or deadlifts;) you’ll go through any ugly movement (toes to bar are there,) to get to your cake, and front squats…that was MY cake, cake, cake! 🎂 

Front squats done, quads singing 🎤 and then I walk to the wall. Handstand push up timeeee!!! At least that’s what I thought; I could barely get on the wall which was frustrating to me because I have video evidence of me stringing 6 kipping HSPU together. On that day; I couldn’t even get 2. I could feel myself getting more and more frustrated each time I had to approach the wall, but before I could start crying (I cry a lot at the box haha,) I looked at my band and as much as my coach offered the scaled options to me; I (like to think that I was polite,) declined. Today was a great day to practice not allowing my mind to wander off into negativity land, and potentially even quit; I was not going to do that, ESPECIALLY because I had in my tank, the memory of being able to do HSPU’s.  

Wearing my black band (and telling my coach about it,) held me accountable; it meant that everyday I would choose  positivity. I had to keep my band on the right, which meant no complaining, no sucky attitude approaching any wod or movement. Now more than ever, I feel accountable to God. Am I squandering what He has given me? What did I believe, what do I currently believe? About who I can become as a Christian woman. About who I can become as an athlete? 

It’s no longer about not verbalizing the negative comments but also not thinking negatively! It was hard when I started and it’s still hard now. It’s going against what used to be your normal, it’s going against everything you’ve ever known as the right way to think. It’s fighting the battle within, and winning. Your mind doesn’t control you, you control it! 

The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself- the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us- that’s where it’s at. 

Jesse Owens 

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 

What God Teaches Me Through My Shoes

On the 1st of January, as the majority of the world does, I thought about the things that I want to improve this year; personally and professionally. I love to dedicate a bit of time on the 1st to sit with God and pause, ponder and reflect on all of the things that He has done and what I want to achieve in the coming year. This year before my quiet time with my daddy God, I was in the kitchen talking to my sissy sharing some of my frustrations about work and she said to me something that caused a shift in perspective and the approach that I would have brought to God. She said to me before you go to God and ask Him to change your life; pause and just say thank you. Everything else seems to fall into place sooo much better when we’re in a CONSTANT state of gratitude.

I went into my special time with God void of a prayer list of things I wanted Him to change and instead all I could write in my journal was Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

That’s all I want to achieve this year, a life where everything I do, ABSOLUTELY everything represents Christ.

A couple of days later, I went back to work very grateful that I could afford the metcons that I wanted, I call them my rose gold babies, and just like me they’re also black and beautiful haha! All jokes aside, as I revelled in that moment of having shoes that would hopefully help me with my toes to bar, God reminded me of a beautiful ritual that the two of us have. On all of my training or running shoes, I have these four verses scrawled on them: Hebrews‬ ‭12:11;Romans 1:16; Philippians 4:13 and my absolute favorite Colossians 3:23!

I must be honest, as I held the permanent marker in my hand I was a bit shaky about writing on my new rose gold babies. As quickly as that thought had entered, the Holy Spirit came in to convict me and to remind me of how my abilities are all due to Him. He reminded me of times when I truly did wake up on the grumpy side of bed, and would walk into the box with THE stinkiest attitude (hey, I can’t be perfect all the time!) and how through a quick glance at the verses scrawled on my shoes, I was able to check myself before I wrecked myself and was able to be a little bit more of a nicer human than I would be if I didn’t have those verses on my shoes. He reminded me of all the times I wanted to quit during a WOD and the reminder of Philippians 4:13 was enough to carry me through 1 more rep!

The first part sounds really lovely doesn’t it? Just before I gave myself a pat on the back for being a good Christian athlete, who is so ‘easily’ corrected, He reminded me of the flip side days. Those are the days when I am determined to let my feelings rule the day. The days where as much as Jesus would try, that stinky attitude would prevail and come out whether through my demeanor or through the thoughts swimming in my head. Through my shoes, He has been able to convict, correct and humble me. I think most of us, myself definitely included, are prone to occasionally getting on our high horse and thinking we’re amazing humans, so to have God humble us once in a while…every day perhaps, is truly what keeps and will keep us growing. Through my shoes I have learnt (and I am still learning,) to walk humbly, to stand strong on solid ground (the words that my Jesus speaks,) to walk in anywhere with feet that bring good news and refreshment wherever they go and to keep moving one foot at a time.

As I finish off this post, sitting on the floor, listening to “thank you” by Jonathan David Helser. In this moment God is taking me through all the other moments in my life where He didn’t have to come and yet He still did. As I dwell on those moments, a lump starts to develop in my throat and I am ever so grateful that this great Lover of my soul ransomed my heart, walked through all my walls and conquered my shame! How ridiculously good is His love???

From the outset I had already decided that 2017 would be amazing and it already is! My prayer for you today and for your 2017 is that God would pull you closer into Him, no matter what you have been through, I pray that He would restore joy, internal and external peace, as well as a heart of gratitude; whether that be through you hitting numerous clean & jerk PR’s (I’m hinting for myself to God here,) or through new promotions at work, may His love usher in so much goodness that it absolutely takes your breath away and all you’ll be able to say is “thank you, God that was totally you!”