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?

Know Your Status

Twenty years ago when someone acquired HIV, they would, on average, not live more than 12 years. Today, a young person who becomes infected in the developed world can expect to have a near-normal lifespan with access to lifelong, uninterrupted HIV treatment. These are the words of professor Glenda Gray president of the South African Medical Research Council. In 2018, in a population of 56 million people, 8 million people are HIV infected. Today is the 1st of December, a day that is internationally recognised as World AIDS Day. A day where those who are infected with the virus are celebrated for the bravery they possess as they fight this disease, and where those who have unfortunately perished at the hands of this disease are remembered. Prior to commencing work on a study in pediatric HIV surveillance at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), I will admit to having been very ignorant in regards to the plight of HIV that affects South Africa and its inhabitants. We’re all guilty of having seen ads on TV and thinking ‘HIV isn’t something that affects people like us (whatever that means.) We think ‘HIV isn’t something that affects me.

In the almost 10 months that I have been in this job position, I have seen the detrimental effects that it can have on a mother when it is revealed to her that her infant is infected with HIV. I have seen the detrimental effects that it has on a mother when she is told that she is infected with HIV. Over the past few months, I have also seen something else. I have seen doctors and research scientists do all they can to offer hope to these newly infected mothers & infants to ensure that both mother and baby can have as healthy and normal a life as any other mother and infant who aren’t infected. I have been able to interact with members of a team that were responsible for the first ground-breaking liver transplant from a mother who is HIV positive to her uninfected child. I have seen a resilience and dedication to research and undertaking of new methods to ensure that in 2018 and the future to come, no single person should have to die from HIV infection.

I have come to the realisation that the fight isn’t necessarily against HIV but against the stigma that is present in society when it comes to having conversation about HIV infection. Detrimental ideas such as the one expressed by ex-president Thabo Mbeki about HIV not being the causative agent of AIDS, putting into place policies that denied thousands of HIV-positive South Africans access to ARVs, caused deaths that could have been prevented. Alongside former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who promoted the use of lemon, garlic and olive oil to treat AIDS, such ideas led thousands if not more, into falsely believing that HIV is a virus that they could live with sans treatment.


A virus cannot cause a syndrome.  As you know, AIDS is an acronym for ‘Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome’ – therefore AIDS is a syndrome, i.e. a collection of well-known diseases, with well-known causes. They are not,together, caused and cannot be caused by one virus! I said that HIV might be a contributory cause of immune deficiency – the ID in AIDS!

These are the dangerous ideas that we will continue to fight against. Ignorance of the mind and an unwillingness to research and educate yourself. On this World AIDS day, my message to you get tested and know your status and should you find yourself in that group of brave people infected by HIV, find someone, just one person that you can trust to support you as you show society and the world that this virus WILL NOT BEAT YOU.

This week, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, labour MP for Brighton revealed in the Chamber of Commons that he has been HIV positive for nearly 10 years. It’s an act that I hope will inspire others to reveal their diagnosis, get the help they need and bash the stigma that persists through silence and fear. 

Honey, honey how you thrill me: overnight oats recipe

For the past two weeks I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting. My eating periods are from 12-8 but I have had exceptional days where I’ve pushed my eating window out a bit later to 14 and on one special day 16 (which was more forced than anything.) One of the things that I enjoy about intermittent fasting is the fact that it’s made me a lot more conscious of the things that I do eat. I know to be more mindful of what I put in my mouth because I want it to fuel my body and sustain it for those periods when I’m not eating. In terms of my CrossFit performance it has also helped me in choosing those meals that won’t leave me feeling sluggish or heavy during a workout. 

One of my favourite things to eat for breakfast or delayed breakfast if you do intermittent fasting, is oats. Oats keep me fuller for longer and you really can create any flavour component you’re after by adding in different ingredients. I go through phases where I enjoy oats & then I hate them & then I love them again. I’m currently in the love phase and this morning found myself craving oats. The creamed honey by Eat Naked is what makes these oats spectacular  in my opinion!

Here’s my goji berries and nuts overnight oats recipe, you’re going to love it!

For this recipe you will need:

  • 80g of oats (instant oats work best.)
  • 200ml of milk or milk alternative
  • 25g of unsalted butter 
  • 1 tablespoon of raw honey (my favourite, Eat Naked creamed honey 🍯 smells RIDICULOUSLY yummy too!)
  • Nut & seed mix (goji berries, cashews, walnuts, pecans and sunflower seeds.)

In your bowl put your knob of butter with your milk and oats and stir. Heat in the microwave for a minute or until the oats cook through. Tip: if you’re doing overnight oats you can used traditional rolled oats, let them soak in the milk + butter & then heat it in the morning when you’re ready to eat. Give the whole thing a good mix and then add a tablespoon of your raw honey and a generous sprinkling of your nut mix. 

Benefits of the ingredients

Oats: Oats are a timeless favourite. As a child I’d have it plain with brown sugar added to it. Oats contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucan which is responsible for keeping you fuller for longer when you’ve tucked into a yummy bowl of oats. They can also help in improving blood sugar levels.

Goji berries: I first became aware of these on the tv show ‘You Are What You Eat.’ Gillian McKeith would rave about these and rightly so. These berries pack a punch. They provide support to the immune system, help in preventing liver damage and also improving depression, anxiety and sleeplessness. I always use raw nuts in my oats because salted nuts drastically up your sodium content and we’re all trying to live healthier lives so best we avoid it!

Honey: I love this honey soooo much, it smells like one of my favourite shower gels by LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics ‘It’s raining men.’ Coincidentally both of these products contain honey that is harvested in the most sustainable & ethical manner possible. Raw honey contains antioxidants which help in protecting your body from cell damage, it can help with digestion and if you’re feeling ill, it can soothe that achy throat. What I love about Eat Naked honey aside from the delectable taste and smell, is the packaging, it’s fun, playful and very tongue in cheek. I’m all for serious brands that don’t take themselves too seriously. Creamed honey is a revelation! There’s something about this honey that had a caramel like undertone to it that I loved. The company is local to South Africa which means my carbon footprint is lowered by being able to source such a great product locally. I was even able to use the honey as a face mask and my skin is glowing!  If you’re trying to kick a nasty addiction to sugar, honey is a great replacement. Maximise how much you get out of honey by buying it raw.

Unsalted butter: In moderation, unsalted butter is a welcome addition to your oats. It’s rich in your fat soluble vitamins A, E and K which is involved in calcium metabolism and a low intake has been associated with cardiovascular disease. It also contains butyrate which has anti-inflammatory properties and is helpful in preventing weight gain. 

So there we have it; my yummy honey, how you thrill me oats! What do you enjoy putting in your bowl of oats? 

In review: Superlatte Golden Cup Latte Blend

I know they say money makes the world go round but without coffee, I doubt the world would keep spinning. I used it to survive long days of lectures after even longer nights of partying studying when I was at uni.  I lived for that caffeine buzz and it quickly spiralled into an addiction. One night, my heart racing I called my poor mum in South Africa (I was in London,) and told her I was dying. Examinations by my GP revealed that the excessive consumption of caffeine was the culprit,moderation is key he expressed.  

Fast forward to now being a more health conscious 20-something year old, I was delighted to try out Superlatte’s turmeric,cinnamon and ginger golden latte blend. I am a big fan of golden lattes. The very first one I ever made was a simple paste of 1 tablespoon of turmeric, a pinch of black pepper and organic virgin coconut oil to which I added soy milk and brought to a simmer. I loved the earthy taste from the turmeric and anyone who knows me, knows that I’m addicted to coconut oil.
Superlatte makes the process just as easy for you. All you have to do is add a tablespoon or 2 of organic virgin coconut oil to 3 teaspoons of the golden latte blend,make a paste and add 1 cup of steamed milk or your favourite non-dairy milk alternative, whisk it up, serve and enjoy. I even had some edible gold glitter that made this the most fun latte I have ever had!

Why should you be drinking golden lattes?

The secret ingredient to golden lattes is turmeric. Turmeric has been used for thousands of centuries in India because they’re well aware of the immune boosting properties that this spice possesses. It boosts the antioxidant capacity of your body and contains a compound known as curcumin which has anti-inflammatory properties and aids in boosting brain function. Coupled with two of my other favourite anti-inflammatory & immune boosting spices;ginger and cinnamon, this is definitely a super-latte blend! There’s a pleasant tickle in your throat that you get from the ginger and black pepper, then there’s the warmth from the cinnamon that made this a very comforting drink. I’m a recovering sugar fiend and I need sweetness in everything, so I appreciated the addition of the unrefined organic coconut blossom sugar which gave it a pleasant but not overwhelming sweetness. I had my latte before bed and because it’s caffeine free, you don’t have to worry about any caffeine related jitteriness or caffeine induced insomnia. Coupled with the scent of one of my favourite LUSH perfumes, I’m Home it honestly felt as though the person who feels like home to me (my boyfriend) was hugging me. I really do find any way possible to gush about my boy don’t I? shrugs

You can find Superlatte at Wellness Warehouse , Yuppiechef  or you can buy directly online from Superlatte. (superlatte.com)

They have five other variants which I’m hoping to try soon… can you say Christmas? First up on my list is Purple Poet (sweet potato,cardamom & cinnamon) followed by Green Dream (matcha & mint), Red Velvet(beetroot & cocoa), Cosmic Choco (chaga cocoa & maca root), and Ruby Chai (rooibos, honeybush & masala spice) The brand is 100% plant-based, preservative free and GMO free.

You can also keep up with their beautiful creations on Instagram.

You Don’t Know Guac

In the past six months I have begun a process of reintroducing animal protein into my diet. No matter how clean I was eating, no matter how many juices or smoothies, there would always be this lingering feeling of tiredness, coupled with training, I could no longer ignore the fact that unfortunately my plant-based diet wasn’t doing me any favours. I’m exploring how sticking to a mostly paleo diet will benefit not only my training but my well-being. The other day I got home and wanted a potato salad but of course most potato salads are laden with mayonnaise, swimming in the stuff and I hate that. I want to see if I could make a dressing that would deliver on taste and perhaps even add nutrient value to my salad.

Introducing my guac dressing!

2

I love avocados, how I fell in love with a man who doesn’t, I will never understand. This dressing is simple, takes less than 10 minutes to make and if you’re partial to avos, is also super yummy! Here’s what you’ll need:
– 1 large avo, flesh scooped out
– The juice of 1 lemon
– ½ teaspoon of garlic
– A glug of olive oil (or any oil that you prefer the taste of)
– Salt and pepper to taste
Place all your ingredients except for the oil in your blender and add a tablespoon or two of water to get the churning started. With the motor still running, start pouring in your olive oil for a smoother consistency as well as more of a dressing as opposed to dip texture. Once you’ve got a consistency you’re happy with stop and place the whole thing in a jar.
This keeps for a week refrigerated and in my experience works best with fish and seafood. In my salad, I will confess to it being horrible, although that may have also been due to not cooking the potatoes properly and encountering ridiculous chunk of raw potato. Not at all appetising.
This will be my go to until it runs out and then I’ll move on to something new. Do you have a favourite salad dressing recipe or are you a shop bought kinda gal/guy?

In Review: USN vs. NPL

One thing that grates on my titties is when I want to buy a supplement, my first instinct is to go on google to read reviews. Sadly 9 times out of 10, there aren’t any reviews. I like having facts in front of me BUT I also like to know how a product has or hasn’t worked for someone. When I bought these two products at Dis-Chem roughly two months ago, I had in my head the intention that I would review these to help someone else like me that loves facts combined with experience. The products that I’ll be reviewing are USN Energizing Amino Ener-G and NPL’s Amino Burn. At face value (with such similar names,) you’d expect identical results however there are a few key differences that would make one product more suitable for you in regards to training goals.

I am a very simple girl when it comes to supplements, I don’t like to use too many. My staples throughout the 3 years that I’ve been doing CrossFit, have been creatine HCL (unflavoured, mixed with nothing else,) and glutamine. In addition to that I take a multivitamin (when I remember.) I am at a place where I love what I’m currently doing, hard work but rewarding work and I find that my energy needs a little kick up the bootay before wodding. I’ve experimented with a lot of different pre-workouts and currently these are the two in rotation. I’ve rated each product on taste and energy delivery. Those (aside from ingredients of course,) are for me the most important things when choosing a pre-workout. I don’t want something that I have to force myself to drink. Many a time I have felt myself irritating a sales consultant when he recommends me the most expensive but also most useless supplement in relation to MY fitness goals. I would recommend always doing your research before buying anything. Go armed with facts because you cannot always trust what you’re being sold. These products were bought with my money, however should you feel inclined to send me vegan friendly products to review, I will gladly oblige 🙂

TASTE: NPL trumps USN in this round. The strawberry kiwi flavour that I bought actually tasted like strawberries, the kiwi taste I couldn’t pick up. As much of a sugar fiend as I am, these supplements are sugar free and are void of that sickly taste that some supplements can have. There’s a They do however contain a blend of non-nutritive sweeteners to enhance the flavour profile. The USN flavour that I tried is supposed to taste like raspberry flavoured rascals…it didn’t. It tastes like a watered down version of that horrid red version of cream soda. The one reason why I’ve been going on long runs is so that I can use up the 30 servings that I still have left. The blueberry rascals flavour from USN which I have also tried, is leaps and bounds better than the raspberry soda and I loved the way it turned the water a lovely blue colour…it’s the little things.

Overall score: NPL 5/5 USN 3/5

ENERGY: NPL recommends using either half a scoop (5g,) or a full scoop (10g) to 150ml-200ml of water. USN recommends one scoop (10g) to 200ml of water. They both contain caffeine and green tea extract as stimulants and are therefore not recommended after 16h (which I did once and suffered with insomnia.) Each 10g serving of NPL delivers 140.0 kilojoules of energy, while each 10g serving of USN delivers 26kJ of energy. I had to read the label twice as I couldn’t believe that there that there was such a discrepancy between the two. Per 100g, NPL delivers 1398kJ of energy, compared to USN’s 262kJ. You know how this round ends don’t you, NPL 2, USN 0. I have noticed that when I use NPL’s amino burn, my energy levels pick up gradually, stabilise and stay there. When I have used USN’s Amino Ener-G, it feels as though I have an energy spike that isn’t sustained. The inclusion of grape seed extract in NPL’s amino burn aids in focus and clarity which I have definitely felt on days when I have consumed it before work. Both products contain an amino acid blend, aka branched chain amino acids (BCAA, more on that in a future post) to aid in recovery, the most well-known (and one that I supplement on its own,) being glutamine.

Overall score: NPL 5/5 USN 2/5

OVERALL RESULT: Not a surprise, NPL. At the start of this review, I already had my (biased) opinion ready. It would have been a win for USN based on the fact that I’ve used (and loved) their products before and it seems to be quite a fan favourite in the fitness world. However, after analysing the labels and doing further reading on the ingredients contained in each product, NPL came out tops. One added benefit is that their amino acid blend has thermogenic properties which when combined with high intensity training is beneficial for your training regime/goals. It also aids in supporting lean muscle mass and hello, who doesn’t want to look leaner and meaner?

Athletes’ Corner: Mitch Spjut

The Open is done and dusted, invitations for regionals have been sent out. The best part of the CrossFit season is almost upon us. In this segment of Athletes’ corner, I have the honour of presenting to you Mitch Spjut. I don’t know about you guys, but there’s something about these segments that has me really excited about the direction that fitness, in particular CrossFit (I’m biased; we have the best athletes)  is headed. I love that I get to hound some pretty INCREDIBLE athletes and ask them all the questions that we’d naturally spew out. 

Mitch Spjut, welcome to the Athletes’ Corner!

A: Hiya Mitch, so before we dive in, give us an intro on who you are.

MS: I am 24 was a member of the Wasatch Brute’s. Been doing crossfit for about two years now and getting ready for individual this year.

  •  As someone whose name gets butchered ALL the time, I’m curious to know, (and I’m sure everyone else is,) how is your surname pronounced

MS: Great question. It is pronounced spute like dispute without the ‘di’.

  • When it comes to your CrossFit journey, why did you start CrossFit, and what was it about CrossFit that stuck?

MS: I got into CrossFit for the act of competing. I was getting bored with only going to the gym to go to the gym, and felt I should be doing something to chase after. I started It when a friend of a friend told me I needed to get into something, I am too strong to not be competing in something. CrossFit stuck because it’s constantly varied it’s never the same and it leaves no room for doubt. You’re either better than the other person or not.

  • Last year you lifted the Affiliate Cup with the Wasatch Brutes; new rules have just been announced for the 2018 Games season, which means that teams will now have 2 males and 2 females to form a 4 member team. How do you think this might impact the competition?

MS: It’ll raise the level of competition tremendously. It’s a lot easier to get 4 really fit people together rather then 6. Also I think a lot more individual athletes will transition over the team side of competition.

  • I was watching a video that the Brute Strength team uploaded on YouTube last year, and in that video you spoke about how had you gone into the Games as an individual, you would have been a lot more nervous. How are you feeling this year, and will we be seeing you competing individually or as part of the Wasatch Brutes?

MS: This year I am going individual and I’m feeling awesome about it. I’m excited and this will be a good year. With last year under my belt I wasn’t nervous because I had 5 other amazing people right by my side. This year I won’t have that, but with the experience that came from that I’m not that nervous going into it. Now as things get closer that might change.

It’s a matter of putting in the work in and allowing that to shine through.

  • What are some of your aspirations as a CrossFitter individually and perhaps as part of a team?

MS: Well as a team we accomplished the ultimate. As an individual the goal is the same, to be the best. Win the south regional this year, and ultimately take the top spot at the Games come August.

  • Let’s quickly talk about that moment where the Wasatch Brutes lifted the Affiliate Cup. What was that moment like and how will you be using that to fuel your 2018 CrossFit season?

MS: Lifting up the affiliate cup was great. It was the culmination of all the hard work, hours in and out of the gym. Yet that one moment wasn’t what made that so great. The fun was the training. Going in everyday working hard with your team and pushing each other to get better. There was such a high standard that we held for each other. The attitude came from Adrian, but we weren’t settling for anything but winning it all. That was the standard everyday going into the gym. That is what made lifting the affiliate cup so great it was all the hard work paying off.

  • As an individual, and an elite CrossFitter, when you notice that you’ve gotten complacent and just that little bit cosy in your comfort zone, whether that’s in your training or your personal life, how do you get yourself out of that zone?

MS: When I get complacent or lazy I notice things aren’t going as well. Workouts don’t go well, recovery isn’t happening. It makes training hard, and not as fun. I know in those moments I need to get my focus back  to constantly push myself. It is easy to get complacent, not do the recovery work, eat the unhealthy food, but that isn’t what makes you better. I feel much better when I am pushing myself to be better in every aspect of training and life. When I get in those times I refocus and think about what I need to be better at and start doing it. It becomes real obvious in my training when I am getting complacent.

  • We’ve all heard/read the quote that says pride comes before a fall. In CrossFit, I’d say that it’s ego that comes before a fall. Do you have any puffy ego moments to share with us, and what/who is it that brings you back down to earth, keeps you humble and working hard?

MS: I don’t really have any moments that really stick out as huge ego moments. There is always someone better then you in a workout. CrossFit is really good at getting your ego in check constantly. There are times when I will think I am doing enough, or I am performing well enough and that is when I get complacent, like in the last question. That is when I know I need to refocus and push myself.

  • As an athlete, do you have an pre-wod or pre-comp rituals or practices that you can credit with giving you not just the physical toughness, but the mental drive that is needed in order to stay focused and give your best effort?

MS: As a team throughout the whole summer all of our training days through regionals and the games we would always huddle up before every workout. We’d talk about what we needed to do, strategies, what we do if things went wrong, motivation, and then Adrian would yell ‘WASATCH’ and we all would yell ‘BRUTES’. It became a mantra for us. I’m sure at regionals and the games people would get annoyed or think we were dumb, but it set us up with the mindset to win and dominate. I knew from after that we were ready to go. Then we could be loose and confident in what was about to go down. For me now as an individual I go through a similar thing, I think about what I need to do, how to do it, get ready and know the plan. After that I can be loose and confident, cause I know I can do this.

  • My fitness motto is not necessarily just about fitness. It’s the way that I aim to live my life. Two Bible verses, Hebrews 12:11 and Colossians 3:23. Do you have any fitness/life mottos or verses that you try to live by?

MS: Even though I am a Christian and have a strong belief in Christ, I don’t get motivated by scriptures, or quotes. I love them, and think they’re awesome, but when it comes down to it they give me no power to be better. My actions, what I am doing gives me power. I try everyday to be the best that I can. I make mistakes all the time, but I am constantly trying to get a little better than the day before. All the scriptures give us are things to live by and how to be a better person. I don’t like choosing one specific verse to live by constantly, I think there are many verses to help us and those are constantly changing depending on where we’re at in our lives. I firmly believe we should anchor ourselves to Christ and not to anything else. If we get caught up anchoring ourselves to other things even if it is a scripture then that keeps us from progressing. God gave us lots of scriptures and we should use them all and constantly try to progress in those everyday. In short I try and live by Jesus Christ’s example everyday.

  • What advice do you have for newbees?

MS: The process takes time. You are not going to be great overnight. It takes time, and it can feel long. Everyone is at a different pace, you can’t compare yourself to others. You need to focus on getting a little better everyday. And don’t let fear or frustration take over. It’s a struggle and you’ll get mad and annoyed but you can do it. I remember when I was learning stuff it was frustrating I constantly expected myself to be better then everyone else, but I realized that isn’t the objective it’s a matter of becoming your best. I still get frustrated and annoyed. I have an Instagram post of me throwing my jump rope because I was struggling with double unders on that day. It happens, but laugh at yourself move on and be better.

  • What is your typical pre-workout snack? And what do you have post-workout?

MS: Every morning before I workout I have the am protein from FNX it’s perfect and is just what I need in the morning. I also like to do something like a piece of fruit and sometimes a protein bar. Post workout I do a protein shake and creatine. Nothing too special or crazy just the standard stuff.

  • In closing Mitch, what’s the legacy that you want to leave behind?

MS: Easy question. I want to be my absolute best. Which there is no reason why my best, can’t be the best in the world. I never want to leave a doubt that I didn’t do everything I could to become the absolute best I can be in everything in my life. That’s what I want to leave behind that becoming your best is possible.

Hurt Locker

‘Hurt fuels me. I don’t let it sit and fester. I let it drive me. I let it save me. I’m not gonna sit and lick my wounds here. I’m the one giving the wounds now.’ Charley Bordelone, Queen Sugar.

Never was this quote more true than on the 10th of April when I Aurélie, fully kitted in my MEGA cute Nike outfit (not the one in this post, it’s cute too right?) decided to head out for a run. We’ve all had those tough runs where the starting 10 metres feels like we’re already at the end of an ultra marathon…sounds dramatic but admit it, you’ve felt that way before! Five minutes into this run, maybe even less my shins were howling!!! The day before I had done a wod that had 99 million double unders but I’ve always prided myself on never really feeling doubles the next day. Well, that day must’ve been different. I told myself that eventually my shins would loosen up and ran further and further away from home. Each stride felt like death though, and while I truly wanted to stop, I was really enjoying this guided run (Kevin, We Gotta Go on Nike Run Club) Kevin Hart is a funny guy. So there I am, a million miles away from home, wondering whether I should request an Uber when that voice in my head, we all have it. The crazy one tells me to go, go slow if you have to but just go. At that point I was planning on walking home and it’s what I planned on doing but the more nuggets coach Bennet and Kevin actually are dropping, the louder that crazy voice is getting, fully convincing me that I can run.

A little disclaimer that my coach ALWAYS reminds me about and coincidentally one that Ben Bergeron states: there is a difference between pain and discomfort and you’ll know it. Because of my brush with back pain, I know when my body is telling me to stop. It’s usually when the tears start streaming down uncontrollably, and I can just about breathe through the pain, that I know I’m on ‘team too much’ and ‘girl you better stop before you really wreck yourself!’

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This run started off pretty painful. My shins felt like they were seizing up on me. On fire, a weird feeling of paralysis and the not so gentle reminder of the doubles I had done two days ago. I am usually very hard on myself but this time I knew I wasn’t being a baby, in fact there was a stage when I said that out loud to myself. The people around me probably thought I had lost my mind 😂 after a while, (I don’t know how long or short that while was) the run started to feel easier. My shins FINALLY loosened up, they stopped hurting and I began to smile…okay I was beaming!!!! Those last ten or fifteen minutes were stronger and better than when I had started. I ended that guided run on 5,3 kilometres in 35 minutes (that includes walking,) and then spontaneously decided to add 700 metres to round it up to 6kays, (I told y’all I’m crazy!) During this run, Kevin Hart said something that stuck: when you’re hurt, you don’t stop moving. You don’t let hurt stop you. This can be taken with a pinch of salt of course, if you’re injured, that is not the kind of hurt you want to force yourself to keep pushing through. I did that with my back injury and ended up on the sidelines for 4 months. I’m talking about the kind of hurt that is more discomfort than it is debilitating pain.

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The type of discomfort that you know you can push through and eventually find your groove. If I had walked home and stopped the run, I would’ve been disappointed but not in my effort, disappointed that I was missing out on a chance to get out there. I gained a greater appreciation for my body and the internal dialogue wasn’t one where I berating or critiquing myself harshly. I didn’t see myself completing that run and then before I knew it, I was at the end having completed 6 kilometres. It was a satisfying feeling. It was a great feeling. It’s the feeling we chase as runners. It’s a feeling I didn’t think I’d have on a run that felt like the hardest I’ve ever been on. It felt harder than my half marathon…yup that bad! At the end of it, I didn’t regret having pushed through. I was proud of myself and once again learnt how to temper discipline with kindness. I was in a bit of meditative space as I acknowledged the feelings I was experiencing, I didn’t downplay what I felt but I also wasn’t swayed by it. While emotions are valid, being swayed by emotion is never a good look. It’s about learning how to manage your emotions as opposed to being managed by them.

So here I am, pain free, shins feeling good, already dreaming about my next run.

See you on the road!

Drop it like a squat…

Can you remember the first workout move you ever did? No? Don’t worry I’ll help you out, it was the squat. It’s the first thing we do as babies, we do it  without even thinking about maintaining that 90 degree angle. We’re naturals at that age!  The fairytale would be that we stay that natural forever right? But then life begins , we take different paths, a path that might be void of sports and then one magical day, you find the best sport in the world, *DRUM ROLL PLEASE!* CrossFit!

As CrossFitters we know how integral a good squat is. It’s all over instagram, booty’s are important people! Posts accompanied by one…or in my case, all of these hash tags, #squats #shesquats #asstograss #squatbabysquat…and in my best Sam Smith voice, ‘I know I’m not the only one.’ The squat is an exercise movement that is useful for more than just developing a rounder tush that you can bounce a quarter off of.  You’ll see the squat in everyone’s favourite movement…wallballs, yay! The squat, a shallow form of it, is also present in movements such as snatches, box jumps, cleans, deadlifts and kettlebell swings to name a few. Learning and applying proper squat mechanics means that you will be less likely to injure yourself,  and will be on your way to a nice juicy butt!

What’s so great about the squat?

What’s not great about the squat should be the question you’re asking! The squat is considered a compound, full body exercise movement and not just for the great butt benefits, do I say that squats should be part of everyone’s fitness routine!

Here’s why: squats are functional and although the muscles that it primarily targets are your quads and glutes (we’ve felt that with Karen!) Squats can help you in promoting better  midline stability as you focus on keeping you core engaged, i.e. spine straight and neutral, (no hunching forward,) thereby building strength in your lower back.  If you arch your back during your squat, or any movement that begins in a squat, you’re more likely to injure/ hurt your back. Proper squat mechanics should  be centred on bracing through your core and making sure that the largest muscle that you have, your quads, do most, if not all of the work. Squats help in promoting mobility and balance by engaging your secondary muscles, known as stabilizers such as your transverse abdominal muscles (this is a muscle layer, considered to be a significant component of your core in providing strength and stability to your thorax…fancy biology term for your rib cage, which stabilizes your body movements,)  soleus and gastrocnemius (calf muscles,) erector spinae (the muscles that straighten and rotate the back,) your hip flexors which are important for flexibility and an increased range of motion, as well as your hamstrings. They’re an exercise movement that can be easily ramped up by either adding more reps, or more weight. Squats can be done anywhere with very minimal space and equipment, which is great because it means we’ve just scratched an excuse off of our list.

A good squat shouldn’t cause pain or put strain on your knees and/or lower back. When I injured my back last year, I found out that I have an extra vertebra, if you’re normal, you only have 5 lumbar vertebrae.  I have a sixth one, (known as a transitional vertebra) inserted just about my sacrum and coccyx, which can make most movements where I have to bend, i.e. squatting, uncomfortable. My physio taught me this gem of a trick, a hip flexor activation that helps ensure that those flexor muscles are primed and ready to do what they were meant to do. It also takes the strain and pain (nice rhyming skills there right!!!) away from your lower back, which is a common area of pain for those with an extra vertebrae.

How to do it: hip flexor activation

This works best when someone else does it for you, but you’ll reap just as many benefits by doing it on your own/to yourself? Whether it’s you or someone else activating you, you’ll want to lie flat on your back, the floor works best, sometimes I’ve even practiced this standing, keeping a nice tight posture with my core engaged.  If you’re on the floor, the idea is to have zero arch through your lower back, your core is engaged, your spine is keeping everything strong. Almost like if someone had to try tickle your stomach, they’d encounter your rock hard abs. While you’re laying on the floor, take the palm of your hand and rub the centre of your stomach, (your belly button area,) for 30 seconds. Then do the same by rubbing both sides of your oblique’s at a 45 degree angle.

Why this works: Something that I didn’t know prior to physio is that your hip flexors should be the initiators of a squat. A hip flexion is created at the bottom of your squat, with your hip flexor muscles, reach their maximal eccentric contraction, in simple terms, this means that the muscle fibres lengthen as they contract, those are the days when all your squats feels easy. This is generally why the wider the range of motion, or flexibility you have in your hip flexor muscles, the deeper and more comfortable your squats will be. You’ll feel your quads contract eccentrically in this downward squat motion. Coming up, your muscles contract in a concentric form, which means that the muscle fibre shortens and your able to utilise your quad strength to bring that booty up.

So there ya have it kids, for a stronger booty, core and quads, all you have to do is squat!

(Bathtime) Friends With Benefits

As I took the picture for this post, a few thoughts went through my mind:

1. I hope I don’t drop my book in the water. The cover kinda looks waterproof though 😂 should be fine.

2. I’ve already got a bath bomb in the water, can’t drop this one in! Plus it’s ‘Golden Wonder’ this only comes out once a year for Christmas. It’s not the special day that I’ve been saving it for.

3. I had better not drop my phone in the water. When was the last time I ran a back up 🤔 I’m gonna lose everything if I drop my phone…

Back to the intent of this post. In 2016, I started working as the regional product trainer for LUSH Cosmetics and I loved it. The best part for me was reading up on the ingredients, the buying stories behind how products are manufactured (hello!!! where else do you get a cosmetic company that has an ethical buying team?) and lastly, the beautiful videos that show you how their products are made!

When my sister passed away, I was a wreck, most days I still am. This led to me resigning, which I’ll write about one day, pinky promise! In the aftermath of my resignation, I think about just how supportive my parents, siblings and my oh soooo yummy man, have been. He probably bears the brunt of my 18.1 million mood variations, I don’t want to say that I’m like a grizzly 🐻 but I’m also not refuting that statement. He takes it all in his stride, I love that man 😍 But as wonderful as this dreamy man is, this post isn’t about him, it’s about my love for taking baths.

In prehistoric times, as far back as 3000BC, you’d be forgiven for indecent exposure because in those days, seas and rivers were nature’s version of a bathtub. Archaeologists have listed the Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro located in Sindh, Pakistan, as one of the earliest public baths. The Ancient Egyptians placed a lot of value in their bathing rituals and would wash themselves several times a day. I don’t know how credible the source to this fact is, but apparently they believed that the cleaner and more well-oiled you were (they too knew about the problem-solving powers of coconut 🥥 oil!) the closer you were to God, and I am all the way down for that!

I needed some convincing though. Baths weren’t quick enough, showers could be over in five minutes…okay maybe longer if you’re solving the worlds’ problems while you’re in there but my schedule was too busy to indulge in a bath. My alarm rang at 4am to get ready for CrossFit and then afterwards it would be getting in the right headspace for work. By the time I’d get home, it would be close to 19h. There was no room for indulgence. It was a race to make dinner, get cleaned up and pack my bag for the next day…all before 21h.

It was when I injured my back that I was forced to rethink laying in the bath. This was suggested by my physiotherapist to aid in alleviating the pain and insane level of discomfort that I felt. On severely painful days, it was a struggle to stand up. I got home that day and poured in half a packet (250g) of Epsom salts, known to detoxify and cleanse the body, into my bathtub and sat there for ten minutes. It was the longest ten minutes of my life.

From there I began to experiment with different bath products, mostly LUSH because I worked there. Those 10 minutes that I spent in the bathtub seemed to wash away the stress and grime of the day and replaced it with peace, a clearer mind and a very delectable smelling body.

Bath Benefits Laying in the bath is beneficial to your mental and physical psyche due to the fact that it can ease strain and tension that you might be feeling. Warm water stimulates blood circulation which means that your body is getting oxygen rich blood carried to areas that might need it the most. This came in super handy for me in my first few weeks back at training after my sister passed away. I felt like I might as well have been crawling, that’s how sore I was. Jeepers I had forgotten how painful training can be 😅

If you’re struggling to sleep, taking a bath at least half an hour or right before bedtime, can aid in better sleep and if you’ve caught some of what’s going around, a bath can improve cold/flu symptoms through the steam inhalation that occurs.

What you’ll notice is that all my favourite products are from LUSH 🤷🏾‍♀️ can’t help it, I worked there and I’m OBSESSED!!!! It’s the only brand I love to use in my bath and on my body. #LushSnob

Bathtime friends with benefits

Lavender: Whether you get the oil, or pick fresh leaves from your garden, this herb has been around for centuries due to the balancing and calming effect that it has on the nervous system. This positively affects your wellbeing and is great for relaxing trouble minds. It can enhance blood circulation, relieve pain and in some cases has been used to treat respiratory problems. Insomniacs you’ll love this herb because while it isn’t a cure to insomnia, it does help in alleviating it and getting you one step closer to that peaceful night of sleep.

Products I swear by: lavender essential oil (I add 4 drops in my bath water,) fresh lavender!!!! So worth getting a plant, nothing beats a sprig of this on your pillow, Twilight bath bomb by LUSH Cosmetics, Sex Bomb bath bomb by LUSH Cosmetics, and Sleepy body lotion by LUSH Cosmetics

Peppermint: In my injured state, I needed something that would ease the tension I felt in my lower back. Luckily the type of back injury that I have is one that I was born with…don’t actually know if that’s lucky? The ridiculously popular bath bomb by LUSH called ‘Intergalactic.’ is great for easing tension. It boasts fun and environmentally friendly. ingredients such as popping candy, biodegradable glitter and peppermint oil. This bath bomb is out of this world and the best for warming and soothing those achy muscles. It stimulates blood circulation to that area, delivering fresh oxygenated blood and in turn easing the tension and pain in that area.

Products I swear by: Intergalactic bath bomb by LUSH Cosmetics, Pink Peppermint foot lotion by LUSH Cosmetics, peppermint essential oil.

Geranium: This is an essential oil that shares similar aromatic properties to that of rose oil. The first thing I noticed when I opened my bottle of geranium essential oil was how beautiful floral it smelt. I could not get enough of it!!! The smell instantly perked my mood up and while I am not opposed to using medication to alleviate mood swings, I like using homeopathic remedies too. Geranium oil is also helpful in fading of scars, promoting an even skin tone, minimising inflammation, balancing hormones (I need ALL of that,) and also helpful in treating stress and depression. I’m particularly fond of the Dis-Chem and SoiL brand for all my essential oils.

Products I swear by: Rose Jam bubbleroon 😍😍😍 by LUSH Cosmetics, Ro’s Argan body conditioner by LUSH Cosmetics and Pearl massage bar by LUSH Cosmetics

I hope you enjoyed this post, feel free to share what you love to add to your bathtime ritual and how you make it special! I’m always open to suggestions…even if it’s not LUSH 😉