Good Reads: All About CrossFit

I know lately I’ve been talking more about CrossFit than anything else. After reviewing my blog, I realized a lot of it was recapping my daily WODs at Man O’War CrossFit. But I can’t help myself–I’m addicted!

And it’s fun to read about CrossFit from other sources. So I thought I’d share a few links worth reading, if you are a fellow CrossFit athlete, or if you’re thinking about starting it. Plus, it’s been a while since I’ve done link love.

CrossFit Gear: Whatcha Need versus What’s Nice to Have (Carrots N Cake): Thank you to Tina for this great list!!! I need a new pair of shoes for CrossFit like whoa, and I’m hoping to save up some money to try the Reebok Nanos. Also, it’s a great idea to purchase a jump rope to try to work on double-unders on my own at home.

Dear CrossFit: It’s About the Sex (jtkalnaynovels): This takes a funny look at how CrossFit improves not only your health and physical condition, but your physical attraction to the opposite (or same?) sex. We all know how much in awe we tend to get while watching our fellow athletes perform the gymnastic moves in the box, but how about in the bedroom? Learn how burpees, push-ups, and planks also help add to your repertoire… ūüėČ

The 10 Toughest CrossFit Exercises (IF-FIT.com): Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean Blog posted this in her weekly Bean Bytes and said she agreed with this list, except for burpees and box jumps, and believes snatches are #1. I would have to agree with snatches, but I would have to add overhead squats–those are my nemesis! Box jumps can be scary, so I think they should be towards the top of my list. My top five: Snatches, overhead squats, double-unders, thrusters, and muscle ups (haven’t even got to that point yet!). What would your five be?

Share your favorite read from this week below! 

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Sleep — The Most Important Factor

How’d you sleep last night? Or have you not even gone to bed, yet (if you’re like my husband and work midnight to 8 am), how exhausted are you right about now?

Lately I rarely get more than 4-5 hours of sleep it seems. There’s a few factors coinciding with this (Dally’s on meds that keep her drinking and needing to go outside at all hours of the night, lots of thoughts going through my mind, inability to relax…), but my worst nights are Monday nights. I ref volleyball at a local German bar/restaurant from 6 pm until about 1:30 am. I’m exhausted through the night, but lately it seems like when I get home around 1:45, I can’t fall asleep right away. For example. this past Monday night/Tuesday morning I think I finally fell asleep around 3 am. And guess what…my alarm went off at 6:43 (don’t ask–I’m strange about time) so I could make my 7:30 class at Man O’War CrossFit.

I do this every week–Tuesdays suck for me! Sure I could probably sleep in and make the noon class, or even the 5 pm class, but I like my peeps in the 7:30 am class. And I like to get my workouts done for the day early–even when I’m working from home and no longer have to be in an office by a certain time. So, yes, I still wake up early everyday (even Saturdays) for my workouts. My husband thinks I’m crazy, but I digress…

So, every Tuesday morning I walk into the box and proclaim “I hate Tuesdays” because the workouts are always tough ones. This week’s was no exception:

Talk about rough!! This was the first WOD where I felt like I could maybe throw up (which is pretty good, considering I have never felt that way, even when I started CrossFit in April). My asthma was affecting me for the first time in a long time and I had trouble breathing about 7 rounds into the WOD.

This was one workout where I definitely thought, “Maybe I should have tried sleeping in and tackling this at noon…” But by then it was too late–I was already dressed, had my half banana with peanut butter, and starting to fully wake up.

Sleep

How important is sleep to fitness?

According to research, growth hormone is produced mostly while you sleep. What is growth hormone? Growth hormone does many things: promotes fat loss, reduces fat storage, increases calcium retention, and can help boost your immune system.

Also, getting a full night’s rest has been known to satiate your hunger. (Which I’m always hungry…)

Read more from Men’s Fitness.

Sleep also allows your body to repair itself–hello recovery from tough WODs and long training runs!

It can also impact your mood (yes, I tend to be a tad cranky on Tuesdays) and your performance in anything–using your brain or physically. So I probably don’t do my best on my Tuesday workouts.

Hmm…so with all this in mind, maybe I need to rethink my Tuesday routine to include more sleep? (Though I do admit, every once in a while I’m actually able to take a nap during the day, but that’s pretty rare.)

How does lack of sleep affect you in your workouts? Everyday life? 

Celebrating Love

This weekend we got to celebrate the love between two friends (and my former co-workers) as they got married. It was a lot of fun to finally be able to get dressed up and feel like we were going out on the town (when you’re on such a restricted budget like we are, we rarely get to go all out fancy). I had bought a new dress at TJ Maxx ($124 Ralph Lauren dress for $25?? Holla!) and was ready to rock it.

The hubby and I in a rarely-seen moment--dressed up!

The hubby and I in a rarely-seen moment–dressed up!

Erica and Adam are probably one of the cutest couples you’ll see. They just fit so well together, even if there are some big differences between them (he’s a big Star Wars geek, she’s a big horse lover). But they’ve definitely shown that you can put that aside and accept each other and their hobbies.

The wedding and reception was held at Crossroads Christian Church and was simple, but elegant. Erica wore a dress perfect for her–tea length and girly–and Adam looked dapper in his all black three-piece suit.

M and I hung out with my other friends (and former co-workers) Alex and Ian, who always can make us laugh. (Ian is a huge wine connoisseur, so he spent most of the reception looking at bottles of wine to purchase online.)

Here are just a few photos from the wedding. I’m so excited for these two. I can’t wait to be part of their new life together now as Mr. & Mrs.!

I love how Adam sang to Erica during their first dance.

I love how Adam sang to Erica during their first dance.

Former co-workers, but still great friends!

Former co-workers, but still great friends!

Her bouquet had hair from her late horse's (Taz) tail, who passed away earlier this year. So sweet! (I wish I had thought about that!)

Her bouquet had hair from her late horse’s (Taz) tail, who passed away earlier this year. So sweet! (I wish I had thought about that!)

Too funny. Though, I'm still very happy we did not do the bouquet or garter toss at our wedding.

Too funny. Though, I’m still very happy we did not do the bouquet or garter toss at our wedding.

Ending (Your Gym Membership) is So Hard To Do

Wednesday morning, after a tough double workout of a 4.3 mile run followed by CrossFit, I drove over to my old gym with the intention of canceling my membership. I walked in, started to stand in line and then…I balked.

Was I sure I wanted to cancel my membership? What if things change down the road and I want to start going back? I’ll have to pay a signing fee (again) and probably be charged more monthly than I do now ($24.95 a month, plus bi-yearly fees). What if it’s been decided that I shouldn’t be running and need more cardio (spinning class)?¬†

All these thoughts just flooded my mind and I turned around and walked back out.

I haven’t been in my old gym for three months, since I started going to Man O’War CrossFit. I’ve been running, walking the dogs, and doing CrossFit, not spending time in the gym like I used to. That’s about $75 down the drain because I haven’t used it. When things are tight financially like they are in our house right now, that’s a lot of money.

My regular gym has let me down in the past--most of the treadmills didn't work this winter during my half marathon training. But there was always spinning as a back up...

My regular gym has let me down in the past–most of the treadmills didn’t work this winter during my half marathon training. But there was always spinning as a back up…

I love my box, and I love spending time outside, but soon the weather will be turning and I’ll need to take my runs indoors again. Sure the cheaper gym ($18 a month) closer to our house has treadmills, but there aren’t classes there, so goodbye spin class. Is it worth it?

I’m traversing into the unknown–it’s been a long time since I didn’t hold a membership to a conventional gym.

What have you done when battling tighter budgets and gym memberships? Should I jump ship, or continue to keep paying for a membership I may or may not be using in the next few months?

Alabama Adventures

This weekend M and I decided we needed to get away for a couple of days. Unfortunately, when you have a very limited budget, your dreams of a cabin getaway is a little too far fetched. Thankfully some friends of ours invited us to drive down to Athens, Alabama, to visit them and stay on their farm. They’ve only just moved onto the farm less than a year ago, but it’s so nice!

The weather wasn’t perfect–we were hoping for it to be warm and sunny so we could take advantage of their pool, but instead it was cloudy and cool. Oh well, we had plenty to do to keep us occupied.

Friday night we joined Megan and Wayne for a donkey penning they were competing in for a benefit. Donkey penning is where there are seven donkeys, each with a number around their neck. You go out in a team of 3 horse/rider combinations. The announcer will choose a number, and you start with that number. One by one, you must pen each donkey (and keep them penned) in numerical order (if your number starts with 3, you must go 3-4-5-6-7-1-2). You have 90 seconds to do so. Here’s a video of my friend Megan (sorry it’s poor quality, this was with my phone and it was dark):

Then Saturday morning I joined the group for a 2.5 hour trail ride along the Tennessee River and in the Tennessee Valley Association area. Megan was able to get a horse for me to borrow, so I jumped on the opportunity. (M, meanwhile, slept in to make up for the lack of sleep he got Friday.) The ride was enjoyable, with great views and great company.

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Logging in the Tennessee River.

Logging in the Tennessee River.

Finally, Sunday we went kayaking! I’ve been wanting to go kayaking for forever, and when Megan mentioned it over dinner, I was stoked. M had never been kayaking, either, so we chose a fairly quiet route down the Elk River, starting in Tennessee and then going about 5-7 miles into Alabama. The weather was fairly warm, but overcast. The river was quiet, with us only floating by a fishing boat once. We just relaxed with some snacks (my rice whiskey treats were a big hit) and some beer to pass the time.

Wayne, Megan, and M ready to set off on our kayaking adventure.

Wayne, Megan, and M ready to set off on our kayaking adventure.

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This relaxation was exactly what we needed.

This relaxation was exactly what we needed.

Rice whiskey treats = the best kayaking snack!

Rice whiskey treats = the best kayaking snack!

Overall, it was a great weekend, and I’m very thankful for our friends for hosting us (and the Stump Kids)!

M and I have decided we need to start kayaking more often. Have you kayaked before?

What’s one outdoor adventure you’re dying to try?

Recipe: Cheesy Quinoa & Yellow Squash

I’ve mentioned earlier how my brother-in-law gave me a ton of zucchini and yellow squash from his garden. I’ve been trying to figure out ways to use it up or save it for later. Last week I blanched quite a few of the produce, and I also attempted my first zucchini bread thanks to my friend Nicole’s recipe.

One day I was really craving something with quinoa. But I also knew I needed some veggies with our dinner (which included grilled chicken breast and mashed sweet potatoes). So I scoured my cabinet and found a can of vegetable broth and my bag of quinoa and I decided to try to whip up something on my own.

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Cheesy Quinoa & Yellow Squash

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 medium yellow squash, sliced & quartered
1/8 tsp minced garlic
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Basil
Shredded cheese (I used a colby jack mix and some mozzarella)

  1. Rinse your quinoa, then place in a saucepan with the 2 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth. Follow directions for cooking.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, sauté your yellow squash in the olive oil with minced garlic, garlic powder and dried basil to taste.
  3. When you have about 3 minutes left for the quinoa to cook, add your sautéed squash to the saucepan.
  4. Once the liquid has been absorbed in the quinoa, add your cheese and spices to taste. If you want it really cheesy, add lots of cheese. If you feel the dish needs more garlic powder, pepper, or salt, add it.

This is a really easy, flexible dish. I didn’t measure the spices because I wanted to wait until the whole thing was cooked, then I added until I got the right taste for the meal. I was a little nervous about the dish, but it was a raving success with M and myself. It was hard to not want to eat the whole pan. I even told my brother-in-law about the dish and he tried it (his first time ever having quinoa) and loves it.

So give it a try. I can see using zucchini in this as well. If you try this with a different veggie (broccoli, hello?), let me know!

How do you throw together a new dish?

Little Struggles

**I got to write my first guest post for my friend Nicole’s blog while she’s on vacation! The post is up today, so be sure to check out Fruit N Fitness for my post, plus to see what all Nicole has to offer!**

We all have them. Those things that frustrate us so, wreak havoc on our good moods or ruin a good workout. Things you know you need to work on, and you do, but it seems like they’re always going to be a struggle.

Yesterday I was confronted with one that I’ve known I needed to improve during our workout at Man O’War CrossFit. My CrossFit struggle/demon?

OVERHEAD SQUATS

(Insert the “dun, dun, duuuuun” music)

The strength portion of our workout was to work on our overhead squats for 3-3-2-2-1-1, gradually increasing our weight. Then the WOD was a 15 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) 3 pull-ups, 3 box dips, 6 kettlebell swings (35 lb), and 9 overhead squats.

For some reason with overhead squats, I get in my head way too much. Granted, with the move you have to make sure you’re pressing up on the bar to lock your elbows, making sure you core is tight, and you’re looking up to keep your chest up and balance in order. So, there is a lot to think about, but if you start thinking too much it can spell disaster.

Luckily I have a patient coach who knows when to push me and when to let me walk away. At one point I was so frustrated that after I dropped the weight (75 lbs) I walked around the box and he just said, “Walk it off, clear you mind, then come back when you’re ready.” And that’s what I did.

It was still hard. I start to feel my left arm try to bend or give out, I try to use my core to strengthen my upper body, but by then it’s too late and the bar is moving forward and I drop it.

And when the weight gets heavier, it gets harder to get the weight over your head. So then you have to do a thrust and get under the barn and use your legs to push it up more before you even do the overhead squat. So as if you’re not frustrated enough…

What little struggles do you have?

Another little struggle I have is pacing myself on my runs–I go all out way too much and then tire after a few miles. However, if I run with a group of friends, they help me pace myself, which is what I need. I just can’t do it by myself? Anyone else?

 

Fun in the Mud–Kentucky Warrior Dash

For the second year, I tackled mud, water, wooden walls, etc., all in good fun. That’s right, I was a warrior and tackled the Warrior Dash.

I wasn’t going to do it, because I missed the cheaper registration rates, but two weeks ago I got a Groupon for a deal I couldn’t pass up–$30 (when the last minute registration was like $75). So I forwarded the Groupon to my former co-worker, but still good friend, Tom, to see if he was game. I’ve missed Tom and I remembered how much fun we had doing the Warrior Dash and Extreme Rampage together last year, so why not tackle it again?

Oh, yeah, and did I mention that Tom’s almost 69 years old? Yep. And he has a rotator cuff tear. And he still finished the run. Badass.

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Here were the obstacles, in order:

High Hay (3 lines of round hay bales stacked in 2 rows)
Barricade Breakdown (3 or 4 solid wood walls you climbed over, a little more than hip high)
Two By Fall (walk up a slanted 2×8, then walk over ditches on 2x8s using balance, and then back down)
Mud Mounds (3 long mounds of mud with mud/water/slop trenches between them that you had to either jump over or in)
Great Warrior Wall (Extremely tall solid wood wall with 2x4s nailed as “rungs”, and a nylon top to help pull yourself over)
Storming Normandy (going under netting bent over)
Trenches (dug into the ground you crawl in with barbed wire above)
Cargo Climb (use cargo netting to climb up and over a high point)
Giant Cliffhanger (another tall solid wood wall, only at an angle you start to run up, then grab the rope to finish climbing/pull yourself over, then go down a tilted wall with another rope)
Iron Crossing (cargo nets set to where you had to climb part-way up and then go sideways over a trench to get to the other side)
Warrior Roast (jump over two lines of fire)
Muddy Mayhem (crawl through mud/slop/water under barbed wire, then up a mid-height mud mound to cross the finish)

I have to say that this year I felt super strong. The first big obstacle was the High Hay and I was a little worried about running and jumping onto the first level of hay bales–I grew up climbing up round hay bales, so I know how tall they can be. But a simple running start, then launching myself up allowed me to grab onto the strings and pull up and over. On the Two By Fall, I was having a hard time using the rope to pull up, so I gave myself one more try by just using my hands to climb up using the 2x4s. Once I got up, I used the rope to pull myself over and then climbed down. As I landed I could hear my CrossFit coach, Taylor, yell “BEAST!” and I was pumped.

Tom bypassed a couple of the obstacles with climbing, like the walls, because of his shoulder. But that doesn’t make him any less awesome. He struggled with the end as well, and I got a little concerned that he’d get stuck in the slop. His glasses kept falling up, so he held onto them. After I crossed the finish, I came back and climbed back over the mud hill to cheer him on and offer a hand up if he needed it. He threw his glasses to me and ended up finishing on his own…BEAST!

It had been raining a good amount on Friday and overnight, so the course was slick! Parts that were muddy were sloppy and hard to get a grip. Parts that weren’t supposed to be muddy were muddy anyway. The course designers were still working on the finish because of the rain when we got there. We were in the second wave (9 am) and boy were we glad we were–I can’t imagine how horribly slick the course would be by 2 pm!

Here are some photos from the event. M joined Tom and I as our cheerleader, but he couldn’t get on the course to get action photos.

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I love these obstacle races because they pose more of a challenge than just running, which fits my personality just great. I definitely feel stronger this year doing them, and I have to thank CrossFit for that.

I think we’ll be trying the Extreme Rampage in September, if there’s another Groupon. ūüėČ

In case you want to see a video of the obstacles, check this one out on YouTube.

Have you done any obstacle races? What’s your favorite aspect of them?

Goodies in a Box–Kona Kase Review

A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to review the July Kona Kase (sorry it’s taken me a while to do the review). I’m always excited to get these types of packages in the mail because I know they’re going to introduce me to all types of healthy goodies that I’ve never seen before.

Inside every Kona Kase is a fun, inspiring quote, which I always love to share. Here’s the quote for July:

“You’ve got to get to the stage in life where going for it is more important than winning or losing.”

–Arthur Ashe

And here’s the line-up from the Kase:

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Perky Jerky: This is turkey jerky marinaded in special ingredients that include Guarana to give you a little kick to wake you up. Both M and I liked it (and I’m not a big jerky fan).

Health Warrior Chia Bar: I’ve seen some bloggers eating these, so I was excited to try the chia bar. I ate half before and half after a CrossFit workout for a little energy boost. The one downside–chia seeds get stuck in my teeth.

Caveman Cookies: These were two small cookies individually wrapped and made with all-natural ingredients. They weren’t really sweet, but still have a nice nutty taste.

Barbara Llewellyn Granola: OMG This was soo good. The granola had sliced almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, honey, oats…such a perfect, crunchy combination that I enjoyed in my Greek yogurt bowls.

Garuka Bars: These bars had a great texture to them that helped you feel full. One bonus to these snack bars is that a percentage of each sale goes towards gorilla conservation. You can also get 10% off your first order by entering code “KONAKASE” on their website.

Pro Bar Chews: All natural energy chews? Sign me up! These were a delicious orange flavor. I had some before a couple early morning CrossFit classes and loved them.

Do these treats entice you? Sign up for a Kona Kase by hitting their website!

Losing My Running MoJo?

It’s been a long while since I’ve run. Well, alright, it’s maybe been a week, but it had been a week before that since I had run. One run a week? Really? That’s a big change from running 3-4 days a week like I was this winter/spring training for the half marathon. And yet, it’s not freezing, it’s light early and late, and the weather has been gorgeous (well, until the past couple of days). What’s wrong with me?

I came out of training for the Run the Bluegrass injured–patellar tendonitis. I was planning to try to run the Kentucky Derby Half a month later, but I listened to the sports medicine doctor and took some time off from running, while going to physical therapy. It took a while for my knee to return to normal, which meant some time away from running. I lost valuable running conditioning.

Hardest

Since then, I’ve been trying to get back into it, but I’ve been so immersed in CrossFit that I don’t want to run in the morning before class so I can have energy for the WODs. So I can run in the evening, right? Well, by then I’m really not feeling like it. I have squeezed in some mid-day runs, but the heat/humidity can get to you, so I’m not able to run very long.

I don’t know…I just haven’t felt like running. I missed doing the Bluegrass 10K because of a financial situation. But I wasn’t too heartbroken. This spring I was already talking about training for a fall half marathon…but I couldn’t commit to the one I wanted because of a potential time conflict (which isn’t a conflict now) and money. So maybe a half later in the fall? That means back to scheduling long training runs…which means scaling back on CrossFit workouts…

SlowRun

So have I lost my running mojo? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a phase that I should be comfortable with and just let things happen. Surely I’ll get back into running later this summer…

How have you dealt with a lack of running (or working out) inspiration? Am I normal?