Why I probably won’t be going back to CrossFit…at least not in South Africa

Integrity. It’s one of the first things that people mentioned when I first heard about CrossFit almost six years ago. A sport where you’re given crazy workouts, where regardless of how long it takes you to finish the wod (workout of the day) your pride is in the honest effort you gave. I drank the CrossFit Kool-aid and I loveeeed it!!! It was refreshing to be part of a sport where women were encouraged to be strong. A sport that on a larger scale, pays female athletes just as much as male athletes. Equality in almost every sense of the word, I say almost because until recently there was very little representation from minority groups in CrossFit but slowly, I do believe it’s going to get better.

This post is inspired by a blood boiling moment I’ve just had at this lovely hour of the night, 23:54 to be precise, triggered by suddenly noticing that a few members from my old box who in truth were more the owners friends than mine, suddenly unfollowed me on insta. Meanwhile I was there merrily tagging them in posts 😂 These individuals for me have tarnished the love I once had for CrossFit as a community sport. In a South African context, I am about 99% sure that I will not be returning to a CrossFit box anytime soon…covid-19 lockdown or not!

About six or so months ago, the box that I was training at suddenly closed. The worst part about it was hearing from other members that the owners didn’t want to say anything because they didn’t want to lose people’s money. The timing of it was horrid for us as members who now had to scramble to find a box that felt like the home we thought we had. In addition to that, being billed for membership when you haven’t been to the box for 3 months while nursing your injury, is the d*ck move that I just didn’t see coming. As members, it left a bad taste in our mouths. It left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m over the drama but I’m also not, you feel me?

Here’s the thing that’s unique about CrossFit, you’re encouraged more than any other sport that I’ve ever watched, or partaken in, to make connections with the people who will see you shed blood, sweat, and tears, for the 5, sometimes 6 days that you’re there. How real those connections are varies, I know people who’ve met their partners through CrossFit. I also know people who have had their hearts broken through CrossFit. When you really buy into a box, and (sadly) believe the owners care as much as you do, it’s as though you’re seeing ‘la vie en rose,’ a little bit of naïvety, blind faith, and trust in your coach, that the box will always be there.

I think those three traits are reasons why a lot of members are blindsided when they’re kept in the dark about major changes or say in my case, the closure of a box that had become such an integral part of their life. As I detox from this CrossFit breakup I realise now why I can never again join a box in South Africa, I will always see every box owner as more interested in having my money in their back pocket, as opposed to wanting to improve my health markers. I kinda understand the shakeup at CrossFit HQ that Greg Glassman did. It was to remind boxes of what the purpose of CrossFit is, not just forging elite fitness but forging elite health as well. The CrossFit formula only works if you have a coach who is more passionate about improving health markers of his members, than enriching the health markers of his back pocket. It’s always interesting to me how a lot of people will forget to keep the main thing, the main thing when money is involved. It’s not to say that you can live on passion alone because Lord knows if I was just passionate about my job but never pursued excellence in it, I’d never be able to afford my favourite NARS and Chanel makeup items 😂(silly moment there!)

For a long time I held my tongue on writing about this issue because y’all I am trying to be a great Christian, you know: love God, love people? But the people, Lord your people are making it so darn hard for this girl to stay on the narrow road that leads to heaven 🤦🏽‍♀️ I’ve always said that my blog would be reflective of all seasons of my life, and I didn’t think I wanted to post on this issue because of how messy and unresolved it still is, but as I continue to be confronted with duplicitous behaviour from people who are so far from having integrity, it is truly all I can do to write this post and not put any names in. Even though the petty Patty in me wants to put names in… I won’t and trust me it’s not because I don’t want to 🙈🙉🙊

The moral of the story is this: think twice, and then a third time before you join a box started by a friend 😂 it’s not that I’m saying don’t support your friends’ new ventures, I’m just saying if it’s a box, girl!!! You better stay away because you’d be surprised at how much mediocre coaching you’ll put up with when it’s your ‘friends’ box! 🙈

Shout out to Fit 5ive/CrossFit 4E for giving me some really good years of CrossFit before this doozy. Most importantly, shout out to my sister who is less petty than I am, I have zero respect for people who mess with someone else’s hustle. You know who you are. Anyhoo you live and you learn peeps! #throwingshade.

Fitness Reads: Jog On by Bella Mackie

I picked up this book on Sunday, the day of my flight back to South Africa after spending a glorious two weeks with my very yummy husband, look at him, he’s gorgeous.

No matter how many sleeping tablets I take (don’t take more than the recommended dosage), I never seem to fall asleep on the plane. My last journey, I read ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo.’ A book so beautifully written and in many ways descriptive of the journey many immigrants face when they move to Europe/North Americas. One of my goals this year is to read at the very minimum two non-academic books each month. My partner and I were in WH Smith when my attention was captured by the bright blue cover and title of the book. There are a lot of things I love about my husband, one of them being his accent and classic British slang that I try to implement in my South African/Congolese life. One of those phrases is ‘jog on’ If we’re picking favourite slang phrases, this is mine.

jog on

1. Literally, to run along at a slow and deliberate place.
2. By extension, to make progress slowly, deliberately, or patiently.
3. Go away; get lost; beat it. Primarily heard in UK.

I initially picked this book up as I was looking for motivation to spur me on in my running routine. New year, new me, am I right? And aside from CrossFit, there is no other sport I love more than running. Mackie writes with ease in a comforting and, relatable way. If you think this is a book purely about running, you’re wrong. The book makes me think of one of my favourite phrases by Nike head coach, Chris Bennett ‘this is about running, this isn’t about running.’ Mackie doesn’t claim to be an expert in running or mental health. The fact that she writes from her own experience is what makes this all the more beautiful and is what drew me in as a reader. She gives enough detail on the different mental health illnesses for the reader to have a better understanding of what it means to have a mental illness, as well as tools on how to be more supportive and understanding if you do have a partner that suffers with mental health. As a budding researcher, I appreciated that where she presented findings related to running and mental health, she cites those papers. Minor thing that most won’t care about but definitely did not go unnoticed for me.

I still don’t know why running was the tool I opted for in the midst of misery. I’d never done strenuous exercise before. But I had spent a lifetime holding at bay the need to run away – from my mind, from my negative thoughts; from the worries that built up and calcified, layer upon layer, until they were too strong to chip away at. Maybe the sudden urge to run was a physical manifestation of this desire to escape my own brain. I guess I just wanted to do it for real.

Bella Mackie

At 289 pages, it’s a very light and easy read! Overall I found the book inspiring and it’s reminded me of why I initially fell in love with running. It has also reminded me that this year, whatever levels of toxicity that I don’t want present in my life can ‘jog on’.

Bella Mackie is a freelance journalist and author of ‘Jog On’, a book about running and mental health

Pregnant or Fat?

I’m going through a crappy period with my weight and it’s hard not to get down on myself, especially when everyone keeps asking if I’m pregnant 🤰🏽 I’m not, I’ve just gained weight. I’m on a solid reset plan that involves zero sugar and mostly veg. So far so good, BUT it’s tough. I looked at my body today and I wasn’t happy with what I saw. There’s the quiet voice from my bulimic days that sometimes taunts me. My plan is to see a nutritionist and find out how I can potentially do plant based eating alongside long distance running and CrossFit. Right now I am being as gentle as I can be with myself while on this new journey of bettering myself and shedding a few kilos. Choosing to go on a health kick during the festive season is probably not the best idea 🤦🏾‍♀️.

When Everything Looks Okay, But Isn’t

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!”

No, it’s not a typo. I know we’re in 2019. This is an excerpt of a post I wrote two years ago.

I had a bit of a brain lapse at work and (God forgive me,) I went on my blog and started reading some of my blog posts. Listen if you can’t stand to read your own blog posts, then you my friend are doing something wrong. I landed on one that I had written when I bought my Metcon 3s on which I had scrawled on either side of them, Colossians 3:23 and Hebrews 12:11, pasted below.

‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,’

‘No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.’

At the end of this blogpost, I wrote about how my expectation for 2017, that it would be an amazing year. Prior to 2017, I had been heavily depressed and life did not fill me with joy. I partook in things but I got no joy from them. It was almost as though I was existing. My sister Nadège, my sunflower 🌻 , was instrumental in getting me out of that deep depression. I have often written that depression is like sticky tar, you can wipe it off you i.e. learn to manage it, but it always leaves a little bit of a residue. My sister understood this better than anyone else did. Coming from an African family, we were often taught to be strong and carry on. My sister made it her mission to remind me that I was not made to just survive, I needed to thrive.

I know these words have become rather popular this week with the release of the documentary covering the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s trip to South Africa, however Jesus said it first: ‘The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, until it overflows]’ John 10:10 (AMP) Paraphrased you could read it as ‘depression comes to steal, kill and destroy my life. Jesus fills me with strength and hope so that I may enjoy life to the full, and overflow with joy’. This does not negate the need for therapy and/or medication that one may need in order to manage anxiety and/or depression. In fact, I think it is foolish that there are STILL so many Christians that will say to someone who is battling depression to pray harder. I have heard that one before, and I cannot even tell y’all how much more it made me want to break that person’s jaw à la OG’s threats from Basketball Wives (it’s a trash show I know).

2017 was not a great year. It was the year that my sister passed away and as I write this blogpost, the second last week that she would be with us, I find myself battling to write what she meant to me. I find myself tearing up and crying as much as I did the day that she passed. When my sister passed away, it felt as if air had been knocked out of my lungs. My older sisters have always been my sounding boards and I never thought the day would come where I would have one less older sister. The pain is raw, at times crippling and always unbelievable. I have all our last messages saved and I message her frequently each time foolishly believing that I will see ‘Ya Dena is typing…’ I find myself haunted by questions of what more I could have done to reach out to her for those periods when she went off the radar for a day or two. I ask myself if I could have better spotted that she was sick and done something sooner.

I ask myself if I will ever find the acceptance my family is still so desperately searching for since her death. It doesn’t feel like we will. This past month has been difficult. I find myself always sitting on the periphery of breaking down. I find myself faced with things that remind me of her and the illness that took her everywhere I go. The reminders are on my phone when I get tagged as my sister, when I’m at home recounting memories and I realise that she will never be able to take part in new ones I make. The reminders at work are in everything I do because it is so heavily tied in to what took her from us so soon.

The sweetest girl ever!

On the surface, I look like I’m okay right. I’m smiling, glowing (all thanks to my highlighter and NOT the 2 hours of sleep that I’ve been getting). Inside I feel as though I am crumbling. I miss her so much, it is a pain that only those who have lost a loved one dear to them, will be able to comprehend. She was wonderful, and I shall always carry the memory of her with me.

What to do when things look okay but are not okay:

  1. Talk to someone. I tend to bottle things up until I explode. It is not healthy and I am working to change it. I want to thank my darling fiancé for being my safe place to come home to. He was the first person I spoke to when my sister passed and I am grateful for his beautiful spirit that knows mine so well.
  2. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. This one ties in with the first point. Sometime this week on Twitter, I posted that I had been struggling with my mental health and to my surprise Lovette Jallow reached out, and she even gave me a suggestion on what to ask from my doctor to help with the zero hours of sleep that I have been getting. Don’t get me wrong, I am transparent with my fiancé about how I’m doing mentally but there is a liberation I felt with being vulnerable on Twitter as I believe it was the catalyst I needed in order to make that contact again with my therapist.
  3. Keep calm… try to keep calm. It may feel like the world is going to end, or is ending but I have survived many dark storms to know that this too shall pass. I have also learnt that if it doesn’t pass, there are things that I can do to better manage my mental state of mind, which leads me to point four.
  4. Exercise and eat as healthily as you can. You do yourself a lot more damage if your diet is as crappy as you feel. Treats are okay in moderation but make sure that you are giving your body what it needs to physically function at an optimal level, exercise to release endorphins and be patient with yourself.

To anyone dealing with bereavement, I am sending you mega hugs right now. Things will never get back to normal and that is completely okay. Be kind to yourself, be kind to others. Understand that everyone deals with grief differently. Don’t be ashamed of needing to take time out if you need it. Life may not always feel beautiful, in fact, sometimes you’ll want to punch life in the face. In those moments remember that the person you have lost is always there with you, loving you as hard in heaven, as they did on earth.

So You Ran a Marathon, Now What?

The last four weeks of marathon training were hard…one might say non-existent 😂 My knee was behaving like a juvenile delinquent, the kind that needs to be locked up and never let out. I could barely walk without feeling pain in each step. I went to a few physio sessions, 1 week out mind you and had my physio recommend that I skip the race. To be honest I had every intention of not running, but I had a whole week of my handsome man gassing me up to the point where I started to believe that I could at least hobble to the finish line 😂 then I picked up my race pack and there is something about the adrenaline of the race that erased any doubts I had, and before I knew it, on Sunday I was getting up to run.

I told myself that the only way I’d get through the marathon was by loving it and keeping my pace slow and easy. Running is a mental game more than anything, I had to be present in every stride and not allow negativity to settle. The race kicks off on Granger Bay Boulevard alongside the beach which was absolutely stunning and nostalgic as my man proposed to me on the beach. It was mesmerising having the sea air fill your lungs up on a route that thankfully was flat with minimal elevation. I loved every second of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. At no point did I hit a slump and I plan to carry this feeling of elation in every marathon I do. Mentally I had the following phrase on repeat: ‘head up, eyes up, one foot in front of the other. Just keep moving.’ I had a stretch where I sped up a little bit to get away from a lady who was complaining about why she was running the marathon. My knee injury meant that I had to re-adjust my goals, at the start of my programme my estimation was a sub 5 hour marathon, I finished with a time of 5:59:15. For my debut marathon I could not be prouder, knowing how much I had to fight to get to the starting line made me appreciate the fact that I could run. The funniest part was that my knee didn’t act up, and even now it’s more muscle soreness that I feel and not the type of pain usually associated with an injury. It was an amazing race!!!!

My fuelling strategy that I had only tested twice on my longest run being a 22.5k, did not fail me and I am proud to say I escaped the wall. I ate at pretty regular intervals, spacing my re-fuels out every hour. Water is great BUT nothing tastes as good as ice cold Coca Cola and Powerade. I am pretty sure I guzzled a litre of that good stuff. This race was just what I needed as September through to the end of the year is usually tough for my family. October is the hardest as it’s a reminder of the glimmer of hope we had when my sister moved back home but also a reminder of the pain that still hasn’t gone away from her sudden death. On the 4th of November we laid her to rest, and a month later (3rd of December), her birthday reminds us that she is no longer here. This race was never about how fast I could go, but about running in honour of the most badass, resilient and beautiful person I had the privilege of calling my sister. I miss you so much baby girl.

Special thank you to all the kind humans who have donated. My fundraising page is still up. Thinking about the people who have supported me is what kept me going. It is how I knew I would be running this marathon as I thought of my sister and the wonderful people at Hillcrest AIDS Centre who provide hope to all those infected with HIV. I’ve heard people say that once you’ve done one marathon, the bug bites you and you start planning your next one and I think it’s true. I’m probably going to (properly) do this again…

3 Things I’m Loving About CrossFit

After having been sick for what feels like a century, I finally got better enough to resume training. The first workout back, a modified yet still very spicy 8 on the CrossFit Richter scale, of an ascending triplet of snatches, box handstand push-ups, and ball slams was an assault to my still recovering lungs. The time after I have been ill always leaves me with a greater sense of gratitude about the fact that I have a body that is not limited in terms of movements that it can perform. My time spent in a seemingly endless cycle of sleep, waking up to take medicine, and sleeping again made me miss physical activity more than I thought I would. On a particularly grumpy day, I recall my boyfriend telling me that he wished I were better so that I could train because he could tell that I was not enjoying the lazy life. Now that I’m back at training, these are the three things that I’m loving.

  1. Seeing muscle mass return to my arms again. I felt like they were starting to look SUPER small. Too small for my liking. I previously had a love/hate relationship with my arms. I banished it with this post on Insta.

No longer do I care about what people think about MY arms. I have had too many comments to count over the past years about people who have told me to stop CrossFit because my arms were too hard (Yeah! Let’s rather have them functionally unfit and bingo wing looking…) my shoulders were too broad, I even had someone say that men don’t like women who don’t have soft bodies, to which I so badly and desperately wanted to reply ‘well you should really speak to my boyfriend then. It’s clear that he hasn’t gotten the memo because he’s crazy about me.’ Alas, I did not, because as I have mentioned many times on this blog, Jesus steers the wheel and helps in making sure that at least 89% of the snarky comments that I want to make, don’t make it out. #Thestruggleisreal when you have a mouth that moves as fast as your brain can whip out sarcasm.

2. My strength.

Due to work commitments, I have had to for the past 2 days (which has felt like 2 weeks,) train at 5 a.m. I don’t live too far from my box, can we say #blessed! HOWEVER, it still means I have to wake up at stupid o’clock* 4:30 a.m. Any later (as I discovered this morning), and I’m late. I realised that as long as your technique remains tight, your strength will never leave you or maybe I’m just naturally strong.

I’m kidding; it’s not all-natural strength. A lot of it has been mental strength pushing me through from the days when I was sick in bed psyching myself up for the day when I would be able to lift again. This morning the wod had a clean & jerk EMOM that had us doing 3 TNG (touch ‘n go i.e. the bar doesn’t rest on the ground a.k.a. fast lifting, a.k.a. CrossFit cardio!) When I loaded, the bar up to 50kg, aside from the fact that I was stuck with the men’s bar, which was an unwelcome challenge, 50kg, also felt good in my hands and I definitely think I could have gone MUCH heavier for this EMOM. Next time maybe…

3. My pals.

It takes a lot for me to warm up to people. I know how to be polite but for extra friendliness, you’re gonna have to worm yourself in. In any sport, it is important that you not only remain consistent and show up every day but also that you train with people who make training fun. When you surround yourself with people like that, the wod movements & weights may remain the same and still give your lungs a good bruising, but you find yourself enjoying it. You might even catch yourself smiling DURING a wod.

Over to you beautiful fit-friend, what do you love most about training, and what do you miss most when you can’t train?

*stupid o’clock, a phrase coined by my boyfriend when you wake up before the birds even start chirping!

Get to Know Me Tag

Inspired by Sharon of In the thick of it, I was inspired to do the ‘get to know me’ tag. This tag is probably one of the most popular ones on blogs/vlogs. The first one I did is a very cringe-worthy video on YouTube back in the days when I was a dedicated vlogger…one of my goals this year is to go back to vlogging. If you’re so inclined to watch that video, I’ve made it easy for you by embedding it in this post.

Here’s the 2019 updated version, if you’re a blogger and end up doing this tag, please let me know, I’d love to get to know more bloggers. I’m tagging Jordanne from ‘of a Glasgow girl’. I love Jordanne’s blog and she’s the biggest supporter of other bloggers that I have encountered and I love reading about her experience as a mother. Tag you’re it Jordanne!

What is your middle name?

This question should really be what are your middle names? Ariel Vanessa Isomba Lo Mama (yup, this isn’t made up!)

Share your favourite subject in high school.

I loved (and still do,) English and Biology.

What is your favourite drink?

I had this drink at Salsa Mexican Grill that had rum and coconut in it. It was delicious!!! I forgot the name though, when I go back I’ll update this post.

What is your favourite song at the moment?

I have two, one is ‘Awesome God’, an oldie but an eternal goodie by Michael W. Smith. The second is ‘all my love’ by George Ezra.

What would you (or have you) name your children?

The boy and I joke about this all the time but for a boy Basil and for a girl Violet-James…I’d better get to the birth certificates first!

Have you participated in any sports?

I did cross country, netball and believe it or not in spite of my height, even basketball in high school. Now I’m a CrossFitter and long distance runner. My body does not cope well with inactivity.

What is your favourite book?

Hands down the Bible.

What is your favourite colour?

Cobalt blue, it just works so well on my skin tone.

What is your favourite animal?

I’ve been stuck on this animal for years…dolphins!

What is your favourite perfume?

LUSH Vanillary and Rose Jam…heavenly!

What is your favourite holiday?

Easter. I love the religious symbolism to it and it’s always a reminder to remember Christ’s sacrifice for me.

On a scale of 1-10, rate your childhood.

I’d rate it a 10 because my parents did the best they knew how to.

Have you been out of the country?

Yes I have. The United Kingdom 🙂 Congo, does waiting at the airport in France and the Netherlands count?

Do you speak any different languages?

Oui, je parle Francais!

Do you have any siblings?

Yes, three sisters (one unfortunately no longer here,) and one baby brother.

What is your favourite store?

LUSH, I looove LUSH!!!

What is your favourite restaurant?

Stacked in Cape Town, they have the best breakfast menu.

Did you like school?

Read this post and you tell me if I liked school…

Who are some of your favourite YouTubers?

Not YouTubers but channels, I love watching Elevation Church, Life Church and Transformation Church on YouTube. The rise of influencers has led to the rise of disingenuous personalities and I find that being centered, or trying as much as I can to be centered on Christ, goes a long way in keeping me authentic.

What is your favourite movie?

‘Kate & Leopold’ is a favourite! I could watch it over and over again and never get sick of it! ‘When Harry met Sally.’ is also a favorite, I’m a romantic at heart.

What are some of your favourite TV shows?

Chopped. I love watching such talented individuals making a meal out of obscure ingredients. I don’t know how I’d cope in the ‘Chopped’ hot seat.

Chips or chocolate?

Chocolate, I loooove chocolate. I have the worst sweet tooth.

What phone do you have?

An iPhone 7, it’s alright. I can make calls so that’s good right?

How tall are you?

1.59 cm.

Do you have any pets?

Unfortunately not.

There we have it folks, you’ve made it to the end of this post. As I said in the beginning, if you end up doing this post let me know. I’d love to get to know you!

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.

The Struggle Is Real…Isn’t It Always?

Knowing things will go wrong is what keeps most people on the sidelines. Most people seek to avoid the struggle. But we are not most people. When the fists fly, we charge headlong into the fray. Because we saw the struggle coming. Because we want what’s on the other side more than we want to stay comfortable. Because we know a secret. That adversity is the only shortcut to greatness. CompTrain.

I have a confession to make. One that I’m hoping I won’t be stoned for. Lately I’ve hated CrossFit. I love watching it, the Games this year was one of the best in my opinion, I love the athletes (Bethany Shadburne is my new face,) but I started to notice that whenever I walked into the box, I would feel ‘meh’ about the wod before it even started. I didn’t say anything to my coach at first but eventually my face began to betray me. I have quite an honest relationship with my coach and on that day when my stank face was in full force, I told him about how I had been feeling. I’ve now come to the realisation that it isn’t CrossFit that I hate, it’s the pressure that I’ve piled on myself, it’s the little niggles creeping up whenever I improve a little bit more that I hate. The tiredness and crankiness from a life lived saying yes to far more than I should have been, was what I hated.  To me, everything felt like it was a test to break me. The reality was that I had begun to view adversity as an enemy as opposed to the friend that it could be to get me closer to the goals I have for myself.

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‘The fastest way to get in the way of your own potential is to view everything as a test. If you look at something as a test, then you will focus only on passing the test instead of maximizing your growth through the experience. – The secret is to understand that nothing is a test, but only an opportunity to learn and grow. Over time, the person who is simply focused on maximizing what they can learn and how they can grow will become much greater than the person who sees life as one continual test to prove themselves.’ CompTrain

Right now I’m nursing an oblique strain and while I am annoyed at how it has derailed my ‘8 pack by summer’ plan. This temporary setback has provided me with time to reflect on what I’m doing well, and plan and execute what I could be doing better. The niggles that I seem to constantly be plagued with was the first thing that came to my mind. Injury is something that I’ve been battling with since last year injuring my lower back. Now that I’m developing a better relationship with my body, I know that the reason why I keep getting these niggles is because I can be neglectful when it comes to stretching especially on days when I’ve lifted heavy. It’s not that no fudges are given, I just struggle to slow down and have often found myself yawning mid-stretch. In order to maximize my athletic potential, this life of not stretching is no longer a luxury that I can afford, and speaking about afford, if you can I would recommend a ROMWOD subscription if you’re all swole and not yet flexy!

The first three days of this oblique strain were painful as fudge: standing sucked, sitting sucked, breathing sucked. In fact just being alive on these three days sucked. There wasn’t a single movement that didn’t hurt. Anti-inflammatory medication, deep freeze and my hot water bottle were my best friends.  On Monday I could finally walk without feeling too much pain and began my ROMWOD journey. It honestly hasn’t been that long, 2 days to be precise BUT my hips feel so much better and there’s tension in my lower back that eases up after each session. My body feels better already, and I’m excited to see where I’ll be in a couple of months. There are some stretches like the saddle eagle and the more obscurely named fragon, that remind me of just how much mobility I’ve lost due to being neglectful but remember how I said we’ve gotta learn to look at the opportunity in every occasion as opposed to the failure that may lay in it? I’m doing that. It’s healthier for your mind and body to focus on what you can improve, celebrate those improvements and restart the cycle again. If you’re getting 1% better each day, that’s still something to celebrate.

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Going through the struggle? Here’s a few things to remember:

  1. The struggle isn’t permanent, on the other side of it should you persevere, is your goal.
  2. Smile. Don’t allow the adversity you’re facing to take away the joy and love you have for the sport.
  3. Rehab that injury properly. Do your stretches, do your strengthening exercises and don’t neglect your nutrition.
  4. Listen to your coach, sometimes he knows what he’s doing 😉

Arms like aunty a.k.a black, female & strong

Aunty* just turned 60…

Simmer on that. Yes, my eyes popped out too!

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I was about six months late on watching Black Panther. While I understood the cultural significance of Black Panther, I am not one of those people who will rush to the cinema for new releases. When I finally watched it, I left feeling as though an incredible opportunity to feature more of aunty Angela was missed. I don’t have any doubts that CrossFit, running, Nike training club workouts and the occasional Jillian Michaels workout here and there will keep me fit until the day I return to God, but whenever I feel myself getting lazy, somehow as if by magic a picture of aunty Angela pops up out of nowhere. As a black female constantly at odds with the stereotype still running rampant that black women don’t work out or have a high sense of health prioritisation, seeing a black female icon (my others being Serena Williams obviously, G.O.A.T!!!  Elisabeth Akinwale, Massy Arias and Lita Lewis,) breaking this stereotype is representation that truly does matters!

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In an interview with Essence magazine, Angela spoke on her confidence on the red carpet;

Sometimes, if you don’t feel it, you gotta do it and then the feeling will come. I’ll say to my glam team, ‘I have great arms, you might want to show that!’ I believe we all have something—great legs, beautiful hair—so find your something, be proud of it, and accentuate it.”

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My something has for a long time been my arms, however it isn’t always an asset I flaunt because of past insecurities on my arms being too muscular for a girl, add to that a very strange experience where a man I do not know came up to me and touched my arm and proceeded to ask how I got them that way. Lord knows I wanted to say ‘if you train, you too can have arms like mine.’ Unfortunately, it’s only in my head that I’m extremely snarky to intrusive strangers. How can I forget a blind date gone wrong where I was asked to flex? That is exactly what every woman wants to do on a date…

Lately I’ve started to care less about what people think about my arms, about me. At the end of the day, my body houses my spirit, my thoughts, my emotions, my intelligence (both intellectual and emotional.) Our physical appearance, our physical make up is secondary to our spiritual make up. Internally, (not just about my arms,) do I love the physical manifestations that I am responsible for on this glorious journey of life that I get to experience every day? It’s the opinion that you have in relation to your life and the things you can control that matter the most. There are circumstances and people that are out of our realm of control. The things that we can change, requires strength from us to take that first step towards boldly walking towards those things we know will fulfill us. I love Beyoncé (you’re crazy if you don’t) and I love what she said in her interview with Vogue magazine. Queen B said that she wants her son to realise that the real magic he possesses in this world is that power and ability to affirm his own existence.

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image courtesy of Vogue magazine

I believe this is the boldness and confidence that exudes so visibly from the women that I’ve mentioned in this post. The ability to claim the space that you take up unashamedly and unapologetically being true only to yourself. This act of taking up space and claiming it is one that I am currently learning. I work with the most intelligent people, yet they’ve maintained a humility that you wouldn’t expect from people of their calibre. The boss lady is a woman who astounds me each time I speak to her. I gush A LOT about my bosses to my boyfie. When I first started my contract, I would have this ‘deer caught in headlights’ look whenever I spoke to her and now I’m finally moving to a stage where because I’m growing in confidence simply by listening to the knowledge they impart, the fear-filled look on my face has all but disappeared and I am learning to use the responsibility I’ve been given to speak up when needed, without fear or apprehension.

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G.O.A.T

Positive images of blackness are affirming, positive images of womanhood are affirming. Positive images of what it means to be black and female, even better! In a world that doesn’t immediately (and often times does not at all,) appreciate blackness, seeing black women thrive whether they be artists, sportswomen, academics or the girl next door, is empowering and validating. To see women who are as committed as you are in looking after the body that houses their spirits, the very essence of their being lends to your own stamina and endurance on this journey of life.

You can recognize strength by it being juxtaposed against vulnerability, vulnerability is sensitivity and tenderness and all those things, there’s great strength in that. It ebbs and flows, it’s just being human. Knowing that whether I’m strong, whether I’m weak or I’m tender, I’m enough. Angela Bassett

aba*you’ll get the aunty reference if you watched Black Panther 🙂