Monday, March 24, 2014

Pole Fitness - Trying a Variation on the Barbell

So yesterday, I joined the Blog & Tweet NH group in a Pole Fitness class at New Perspectives Pole & Aerial Fitness with Juel Sheridan.  I know I've been talking a lot lately about stepping outside my comfort zone and let it be known, this is WAY outside the box for me at this point in my life.  While I did have a few flashback to my time at Coyote Ugly in my early 20's, this was certainly a new experience for me.

First and foremost, I have to give some credit to our instructor Juel for her incredible athleticism and strength.  This woman is amazing and I aspire to have half the quads and core strength she brings to the table.  On top of that, she brings fantastic rhythm and a way of moving from pose to pose that is just flawless.  Unfortunately, I lack anything resembling grace and coordination so my attempts at the routine were far less appealing.

We began the class with some basic floor work that started with a few yoga-based stretches and quickly transitioned to fan kicks and body rolls... moves that can be used in a routine to keep it flowing after you dismount from a spin or lift on the pole.

Once we began working on the pole, my extreme lack of coordination began to shine though... as in, I managed to turn into the pole on a few occasions.  Juel however, was patient and extremely helpful with form so by the end, even though my face may have not conveyed the right level of sex appeal (I was gripping the pole for dear life), I was able to complete the move.

Our class was a crash course in pole fitness that would traditionally be broken up over two or three intro sessions, making the moves a bit less overwhelming for the rhythmically challenged, like myself.

The session was a lot of fun, and definitely something I'd consider doing again but on a regular basis, I think personally, I'm more suited for sticking a heavy barbell on my back and squatting.

If you're in the Manchester area and interested in checking out New Perspectives, they're hosting a grand opening celebration on May 3rd.  You can also check them out on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Find Your Weakness... and Destroy It

Winter in New Hampshire is starting to show signs of drawing to a close... halle-freakin-lujah.  While winter brings a few perks along with it, if I'm not careening down a mountain bound to a board, I'm not exactly a huge fan.  I don't do too well with cold in general.

Last year, as winter was wrapping up, I was just starting to get into my CrossFit routine, which led to a lot of positive lifestyle changes.  While I'm not looking to take on a new activity again this year, I do want to look at this as an opportunity to adapt some positive new habits into my everyday routine. I read a pretty great list this morning on 50 Ways to get Better at CrossFit written by Colin Suckert that really struck a chord.  I've made some really positive progress in the past few weeks and I would like to figure out some steps to keeping that moving in the right direction.  My 30 days of wall balls and pull-ups has yielded some solid results as well - I get far less winded doing wall balls than I had before and my pull-ups have come a long way.  After getting 12 strict chest-to-bars in open workout 14.2, I did manage to link 3 kipping pull-ups together.  I'm still not 100% there but they're definitely coming along faster than before.  This idea of taking my weaknesses and deciding to convert them into strengths might actually be on to something.  When I see pull-ups in a metcon now, I don't panic, I'm actually excited to work on them.  Woot for progress!

Next on the docket, along with continuing work on pull-ups, double unders.  They've transitioned from "I can't do these damn things at all" to "on a good day, I can string quite a few together," but I know there's a lot more ground to gain here.  Cheers to baby steps!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Double or nothing...

At the conclusion of workout 14.2, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet completed 404 reps of the overhead squat, chest to bar pull-up couplet.  I competed 32 reps and I'm probably just about excited as she is with my result.

When I started CrossFit just over a year ago, being able to do an unassisted pull-up was a mere dream, let alone getting my chest up to the bar.  I remember hanging from the rig, trying with every ounce of my being to pull myself up, but alas, I would just hang.  After a long, grueling year of progress, I'm still working on the rhythm of kipping and linking my pull-ups together, however I can do strict ones (with a little bit of a "leg kip" - think of kipping a ring dip, yeah, that's pretty much what I do on the pull-up bar).  Up until Friday, I had managed three chest to bar pull-ups in my lifetime.  Three.  Not consecutively, total.  

When workout 14.2 was announced, I was both nervous and excited.  Nervous because I was dealing with movements I wasn't fully comfortable with and excited because I knew this was something I could tackle.  My goal - more chest to bar pull-ups in that workout than I've ever done in my CrossFit career - basically, 4.  The workout began with 10 overhead squats at 65#, something I knew I could managed relatively quickly, followed by 10 chest to bar pull-ups, then repeated within a 3 minute time cap.  During my first attempt Friday evening, I managed to get a total of 16 reps - that's 6 chest to bar pull-ups!  Along the way, I made 8 other pull-up attempts that didn't quite get high enough unfortunately.  While I was so proud of myself, those 8 no-rep pull-ups were mocking me.  I decided to reattempt the workout on Monday evening, just before the score submission deadline, and guess what - 32 reps!  That was 12 chest to bar pull-ups with every single rep being high enough to count toward my score.  

Like I mentioned before, my 32 reps probably made me about as happy as Camille was with taking first place worldwide in the event.  No, I can't compare my performance to hers as we're not even in the same stratosphere of fitness, but I achieved something I wasn't sure was possible - probably much like Camille taking the event by 49 reps over the second place finisher (damn that girl is amazing).  

This is my first time competing in the Open and only two weeks in, I've learned so much about how to push myself to achieve more than what I previously capable of.  I don't need to be a Regionals contender in order to get the best out of my performance that I can, I just need to have the tenacity and faith in myself that anything is possible.  14.3, I'm coming for you!  (Fingers crossed for some heavy deadlift action...)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chocolate Raspberry Protein Crepes

Since James and I have sworn off gluten and transitioned our diet to being more primally based, there are certain things I've missed.  Decadent crepes stuffed with creamy fruit filling and slathered in Nutella would fall on that list.  This past Saturday morning, I played around in the kitchen for a while while James and the puppies slept in and after some trial and error (there was a pretty good deal of error before the eureka moment, I may add) I concocted a recipe that really hit the spot for curbing a craving without derailing progress.  For a each filled crepe, you're looking at 200 calories, 19 grams of protein and 15 grams of carbs with 4 grams of fiber.  Not too shabby of a way to start your day...  I know it's not a straight up pancake, but seeing that today is National Pancake Day, it only seemed appropriate to share.

Primal Protein Crepes
makes 4 crepes

2 large eggs
3 egg whites
2 scoops Tera's Whey bourbon vanilla organic protein powder
4 teaspoons coconut flour
1 stevia packet or 4 drops of liquid stevia
2 tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
grass fed butter or coconut oil, for greasing the pan

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 oz dark chocolate
1 tablespoon coconut milk

- In a mixing bowl or a blender bottle, combine eggs, egg whites, protein powder, coconut flour, stevia, coconut milk, baking powder and salt and whisk until well incorporated
- Preheat a nonstick skillet or crepe pan on medium heat
- Add one teaspoon of butter or coconut oil to the pan and once melted, coat the entire cooking surface
- Pour 1/4 of the pancake batter into the pan and cook for approximately 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned with stiff edges
- Turn your crepe and cook for an additional minute to minute and a half before removing it from the pan
- Re-grease your pan and continue until all crepes have been cooked

- In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the raspberries until thawed - around 30-45 seconds
- Add mascarpone, yogurt and maple syrup to the raspberries and mix until well incorporated

- In a small microwave safe bowl, melt your chocolate in 20 second intervals, stirring each time (do not overheat your chocolate or it will seize rather than melt into a creamy consistency)
- Stir in coconut milk

- Spoon approximately 1/3 cup of filling into the center of each crepe, fold over and drizzle with chocolate sauce prior to serving