Keep that core tight! 

A couple of days ago I was crying to God because I’m currently nursing a back injury which means that for the past two weeks, I’ve been unable to lift heavy. It is absolute torture!!! Going to the box, watching people throw their bars while I’m there stretching my lumbar spine 😴 and then the torture became too much and I relented to stretching and doing my core strengthening exercises at home…where I could sulk and pour as much as I wanted. All the while thinking, would I ever be able to lift without any pain again? Were my arms going to waste away into tiny little weeds? Were my thighs going to become floppy and forget how to power up when squatting? Was I going to lose all my strength? This was the trajectory that I was scared I’d go down on. 

Later that day, while soaking in the bath (still feeling very much sorry for myself,) I was listening to Ben Bergeron’s podcast chasing excellence and the topic was ‘redefining adversity.’ Ben spoke about how your reaction to failure, in my case, my reaction to injury, is what would define the outcome. One of the examples he used about adversity handled the right way is Katrin not being able to rope climb at regionals in 2014 and not qualifying for the games. She could have easily adopted the ‘woe is me’ attitude, but we all know that she didn’t and that’s why she’s the two time reigning fittest woman on earth! I listened to this podcast and I immediately switched my thoughts to: hey, I can love every single minute of these next few weeks because I’m working on foundational movements that will make me a better athlete. The bar’s still gonna be there when I get back; so will wall balls. 

Everything will be waiting for me when I’m 100% again, and I have a sneaky feeling that I’m going to be stronger, faster and even better than ever. A few minutes later as I was doing my core workout, thinking about how the lack of stability and strength in my core was one of the factors that contributed to my back injury, I began to think about how in life and in our walk with God, a lack of stability in our belief that God’s love is for us; is often what causes us to stumble in life. 

For such a person ought not to think or expect that he will receive anything [at all] from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides].  ‭‭James 1:7-8‬ ‭(AMP‬‬)

To believe that God loves you and that His love is for you, is the foundational truth upon which our lives should be built. This statement is what will cause you to be stable in the face of adversity. 

What does this adversity look like? Very simply, adversity in our Christian walk is anything that threatens to shake our identity in Christ and how we view our beautiful Jesus. This adversity can come in the shape of thoughts where you feel that you aren’t good enough; that you’ll never amount to anything. These thoughts trickle down into the depths of your soul and begin to shape a new identity, a false identity; one where you’re not made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) one where you don’t live boldly and without hindrance (Acts 28:31,) to do all the God has destined for your life. The only way that this can change is by renewing yourself daily with the word of God, putting on your new nature (Colossians 3:10) and trusting in His love for you. Trust in God begins with a thought as simple as ‘God, I’m going to believe that you love me and that you will lead me down the path of everlasting life. I’m going to trust the directive that you have for my life.’

When I repeat such seemingly simple phrases, (the Gospel is after all simple truth,) I find that my anxiety level drops by at least 90% and the striving ceases. Repeating such simple truths daily is what has crafted and is still crafting me into the type of woman that I want to be for Jesus. Notice that I wrote for Jesus! We become unstable and restless in all of our ways (how & what we think, feel & believe,) when we try to gather up all the different selves that people want us to be, into one. 

We’ll never achieve anything by such double minded living; the saying goes you can’t please everyone because you’re not Nutella, so why not choose to live for Christ, to please Him, doing your utmost for the Highest. In making this decision to live just and only for Him; you’ll find that all adversity does is strengthen your identity in Christ and push you closer to what He’s planned for your life but you have to choose. Nothing great ever came forth from being passive, core strength included. So today, on this beautiful Sunday, think about the little changes you can make to put you on the trajectory to an unrivaled life of excellence empowered by God, and as you think of those changes you can make, go ahead and do it! 

Now that we’ve covered the faith part of this post, let’s throw in some fitness. 

Here are 5 of my favourite core busting moves, starting with the move that’s in the image:

1. Wall squats with dumbbell 

Stand in front of a wall and hold a light dumbbell (or kettlebell,) in an overhead position. Keep your core tight and your arm straight as you lower down into a squat. This is mega hard for me and highlighted just how much I tend to lean forward with my back when squatting. I could only do 1 when I first started these and now I’m up to three, I typically do 3 sets of 3 after my main workout which these days is just simple bodyweight and Pilates. I’m working really hard at not leaning to the side, use a light weight for these. My dumbbell was 5kg; pull that tum into your belly, your core will feel it and you’ll get bette each time. 

2. Wall climb 

Start in a plank position or for an even harder progression, start flat on your stomach with your hands slightly outside your shoulders to support them as you start climbing up. Resist the urge to twerk up the wall, you’re not in a hip hop video and you aren’t using your bummy to get you up. It’s all in the core so don’t let your back dip. Using opposite arm and leg, climb up the wall until your nose touches the wall, 3 sets of 10 will set your core on fire. 

3. Downward dog 🐶 

This is a favourite of mine; nothing gets at those hamstrings and lengthens my back, better than this doggie! Start on all fours, your wrists about 15 to 30cm in front of your shoulders. Separate your knees hip width apart, curl your toes underneath. Push evenly into your palms, lifting your knees off the floor. Lift your sit bones and push the top of your thighs back so that your body looks like an inverted V. Slowly start to straighten your knees without locking them, gently moving your chest back towards your thighs. Don’t let your head do a little dangle dance. Lengthen your spine, keep those hips lifted and push strongly into your hands. Hold this post for 10 deep breaths and repeat 5 more times. It’s okay if you can’t keep your heels on the floor, I’m still fighting ridiculously tight hamstrings but practice makes perfect. I’ll get there, and so will you! 

4. Bridge 

This pose is great for spine realignment and teaching you how to use your gluteal muscles. It’s pretty straightforward! All you do is lie on your back with your knees bent directly over your feet, hands by your heels and palms up. Use your abs (I promise they’re there,) and glutes to lift your hips and torso towards the ceiling. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Lower down, starting with your upper back and finishing with your lower back, keeping your pelvis tilted up. Repeat this 5 more times and you’ll be well on your way to building a bridge that’ll get you over troubled waters. Was that mildly funny? No? Okay onto number 5! 

5. Bow 

This pose is one that I really battle with but I love the way my back feels afterwards. Lie on your stomach with your legs hip width apart and bend your knees then reach back and grab the outside of your ankles or the top of your feet. Inhale, pressing back through your legs as you lift your thighs and chest off the floor. Then press your feet back into your hands, drop your chin to your chest and breath deeply. Release and repeat 3 more times. 

I’m not enjoying being injured, but through this I’m still learning more about the athlete that I will become based on the athlete that I was. There probably will be a lot of days where I’m going to cry because I can’t yet do all the things I want to do, there will be days when I’m probably still gonna cry when I watch CrossFit videos, but it’s okay. This isn’t forever. It’s just a little pit stop on the way to greatness. 

Right handed

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

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

Was I really trying? 
Are YOU really trying? 

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

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

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

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

And me? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesse Owens 

Post-Open Reflection 

Two weeks have passed, the Open is over and training has gone back to its usual schedule. I’ve read a few posts on post-Open reflection, so here’s mine: I hated the Open 😂

This year, a recurring injury flaring up, partly…if not solely because of my inconsistency in keeping up with my strengthening exercises and yoga 🙈 kept me from feeling like I was Open ready, and I know you’re never ever truly ready for the hell that Castro unleashes, but prior to signing up for the Open, I didn’t feel fit enough or strong enough. I didn’t feel like I had enough. I finally signed up for the Open after chatting to one of my coaches at CrossFit 4 Elements, Nuno. One of the best coaches you’ll ever have, and ever since he started coaching us, first at Fit 5ive and then at CrossFit 4 Elements, there hasn’t really been a day where I don’t like King Louie 🐒 sing:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ooh be doo, I wanna be like you ooh ooh! I wanna walk like you *cheep*, talk like you too. You see it’s true, someone like me…


Stop, stop, let’s get back to the bare necessities of this paragraph at least!  In my opinion, it’s a great box where you want to be like your coach (and now I have two great coaches, the other being Bruno Calha) but being like coach means hard work and let’s be real, hard work isn’t as fun as posting inspirational quotes about how the lioness in you must roar louder than your fears. This is the reality that I have had to face. There is definitely a place for inspirational quotes but they don’t come before hard work, consistency and diligence. I have never been as emotional as I was this year and as I set my sights on the better athlete that I want to be; warning ⚠️ to the coaches, there are more tears and tantrums on the way 😂 #sorrynotsorry but with the tantrums, I know that there will also be growth. Where I was at 90% in terms of caring about what everyone else thought of me as a CrossFitter; I’m now at 85% 🙈 The narrative in my head was one that was highly critical, self conscious, so much negative talk going on in my head. Failing even before I begin: this is the story that I’m having to rewrite not just for CrossFit but in all areas of my life so that I’m always functioning at what works best for me, not what would accommodate everyone else’s schedule or preference.

And do you know what I’ve discovered? It is really hard! I’ve always been someone who’s cared more about what people think of her than what she thinks of herself…I think they’re called people pleasers 🤔 I’ve been making a more concerted effort to kill that part of me. I’ve realized this, or should I say, I am realizing this: it is not selfish to take care of your soul first and establishing the values that are important to and for you, before you take care of anyone else. It’s actually healthier to do things from a place where your spirit is balanced. The increase in confidence, though be it rather slow (feels slow from my side,) is the overflow from my time with God. I shared a few posts back about my battle with depression and as I make the baby steps to everyday not allowing those dark demons to win; God gives me strength enough not just for that day but for every moment that is encapsulated in that day. Music sounds sweeter, life seems sweeter, Jesus feels and is sweeter and nearer. Getting back to knowing my old Friend again is doing something to my insides that just makes it seem so disrespectful to this temple that He created, to be negative or to berate it for not being able to do 50 muscle ups…can we get there though God?

This walk back to the Saviour has been hard work; hard in the sense where I had forgotten how important and vital it is to have Him as my compass and as the one who calibrates me when my settings need a reboot. This principle is one that I am trying to apply to CrossFit. Talent is fantastic and if by any means you are naturally gifted to wack out those 50 muscle ups, by all means do it! But the still small voice of God that I’m starting to hear again during my wods, reminds me that there is no substitute for hard work, discipline and a little bit of optimism never hurts. It’s time to believe that I am a great advancing soul, and guess what? So are you!

I did have a little bit of a cry (on my own,) when the Open scores were finalized and I compared how much I had dropped from last year. And then I put on my big girl pants and decided to move forward; attack the weaknesses, do the accessory work and JUST MOVE ON.

Constant reminders like the white rubber band that I just bought help. Katrin wears one that reads “CFNE- Complaint Free world” and each time you complain you have to move it to your other wrist. The goal is to keep it on the same wrist, that translates to no complaining. For me this will be serve as a visual reminder to work hard, stay positive, believe I can and continue to build on my mental strength. I will do whatever it takes to get to the stage where it matters less and less what people think about me. So I’m excited, a bit scared but at this point; the only thing that I stand to lose, is a negative mindset.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

THIS SONG IS PERFECT!

#Goals

I love the word goals.

Last night as I watched Beyoncé’s Grammy performance, I thought #pregnancygoals. Her dance moves…#goals, her body pre-pregnancy, you guessed it…#goals! A couple of weeks ago at the box, I was admiring Andreia’s butt! If you have been lucky enough to see her butt then you’ll understand why; #buttgoals. A few moments later I was on instagram, mildly stalking Sam Briggs, going through a heavy bout of muscle up envy, and as soon as I saw her abs, do you want to know what I thought…#goals, #goals, #goals. And then I thought about how much cardio (which is hardio,) that I’d have to do in order to have abs visible through whatever I’m wearing…one day! This is where the part of me that is a little bit wiser stopped me in my tracks and asked me a question that I’m gonna unpack with you today: what if you were your goals? What if (if you’re pregnant,) you were your pregnancy goals? What if your body was your dream body? What if your life was your #goals? What would happen then? Would you have to take some time to truly work on yourself and the things that you can change in order to put that hashtag on your life? What if  instead of dissecting your life, and thinking about how far you still have to go, you used that time to celebrate your achievements, and if we’re still talking about CrossFit, what about celebrating the body you’ve worked so hard for and are still working hard for?

 

Because of the nature of my relationship with God, 9 times out of 10 when He knows I need to be corrected, it’ll be through something that happens at the box. Well yesterday after the WOD, I was talking to my coach and he asked me if I would be entering the Open. For those of you not into CrossFit (not judging you…a lot) the CrossFit Open is a five week competion, five workouts, one released each week, and it is without a doubt, the highlight of the CrossFit calendar. I said to my coach how I didn’t feel ready and how I just knew that I would suck, I would not be entering the Open because in my mind, I had already decided that I would bomb out. My toes to bar, they aren’t anybody’s goals, my deadlifts…maybe on a good day. I bet he didn’t know I could see that far into the future. Naturally I got a bit cocky and thought “well that settles it, I have presented valid points as to why I should not do the Open. I win.” Now if you have a great coach, you will NEVER EVER win any argument like that where you belittle yourself, highlight all your weaknesses and throw yourself under the bus. For the sake of not making this post too long, I will share one thing that my coach said that I’ve been mulling on for the past 24 hours and what my plan of action is. He told me to stop being so hard on myself, to stop thinking that everyone is judging me. To stop thinking that everyone is judging my failures as harshly as I do. Did I mention how much I hate my coach sometimes?  This morning when I got to work, I started a devotional by Craig Groeschel entitled ‘Words to Live By,’ and as I watched the video (which you can do by clicking on this link,) it is as though God crept into my mind to remind me how my stinking thinking was keeping me far from living a life that I could be proud of calling my own, and placing that goals hashtag in front of it. This is but one of the things the stuck out:

Our lives move on in the direction of our strongest thoughts. Your life is moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. Are you excited about the direction your thoughts are taking you?

I just about started to cry as I thought about the HONEST answer to that question. There is not a part of me that is excited about the direction my thoughts are taking me. For the purpose of this article, let’s keep it as CrossFit related as we can. If I think about the athlete I am right now and my current thought process, nowhere in the picture that I paint or have painted in my mind, is there an emotionally sound athlete. Nowhere in this negative picture driven by my thoughts, is there an athlete who does not easily get rattled. Nowhere in this picture is there an athlete who I would place the hashtag, goals in front of a picture of her. This is the reality. I would do the work but in the midst of buckling down and working, I would berate myself for not going fast enough, for not being strong enough, for not being good enough. And you know what, even though no one else can hear your thoughts audibly, (that would suck,) your body can! It begins to behave in the direction that your thoughts are telling you it’s going to behave. It’s great to be aware of my stinking thinking, to a certain  extent I’ve always known how detrimental I am to myself, it’s so much more easier for me to believe in others, see the good in them and celebrate their successes, than it is to celebrate (humbly,) my achievements. This awareness is great BUT what is the solution? Well after watching Pastor Groeschel’s message, I finally know what to do. Positive affirmations said aloud, each and every single morning until my words match God’s words about my life. This is one that I will be repeating for however long it takes for me to get it through my thick skull that I am enough.

My words, thoughts and imagination are under the power of Christ. I take all thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.

 

It lines up to Romans 12:2,

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

My prayer for you and for me especially today, is that God would renew your mind, renew your thinking, especially if it has been stinky like mine, and for Him to show you just how strong, beautiful AND capable you are. YES YOU ARE! 

In the words of Barack Obama; YES I CAN! YES YOU CAN! YES WE CAN!!!