Thursday, July 24, 2014

How To Tame Your Sugar Dragon. Bonus! Before and After Pics

Sugar and I are not friends. In fact, that statement is putting it lightly. Sugar to me is like kryptonite to Superman. Even if sugar was the only food left in the world to eat, I should still NEVER eat sugar. Research has shown that sugar is more addictive than cocaine (the proof here.) And a sugar addiction is not just emotional but actually biological - driven by hormones effecting brain chemistry. YIKES. But just like a vegetarian says no to meat and feels ecstatic; you too can say no to sugar and feel empowered.

This was me last weekend, minus the boobs
My relationship with sugar is completely addictive and self-sabotaging. For days after I eat large amounts of it via dessert(s), I pay a hefty price. Recently, I ate multiple desserts at a wedding and thus that bottomed out feeling was me falling off the wagon, but I am eager to climb back in. 

I stopped eating sugar almost a year ago (besides a few relapses). Giving it up was the best thing I ever did for my family, my mood, my body and thus, my general sanity. To end my sugar addiction meant I had to put up my dukes for one of the biggest fights of my life; but when I did my personal heaven welcomed me. Not only did I get stronger, faster and more self-confident, but I also got the body that I dreamed of my whole life. I had no idea that sugar was the major player blocking me from my dream self. It very likely could be doing the same thing to you. 

What happens After I Consume Sugar:

1. My CRaZY self comes out to play.  A gentler description would be that I get moody. But no matter what the label, I go for a roller coaster of emotions: ecstatic, guilty, happy, angry, negative, emotionless, needy and sad bordering on depressed; and they all play on repeat. It's a vicious attack.
2. Major dips in self-confidence - Anything positive I had been thinking about takes a nose-dive. I don't feel worthy of much, sometimes even the idea of putting myself out there in the world feels daunting. Self-doubt comes rearing his head in my direction and I feel too negative to put up a decent fight.
3. Sugar cravings- I crave MORE of the stuff that harms me. My cravings for dessert and fake, processed foods becomes intense and sometimes unmanageable. If there is sugar in my house,  I am drawn to it by obsessive thoughts and most often can not avoid eating more of it if it's in close proximity. 

What is Going On  Inside Your Body (The Parts You Don't See) When You Eat Sugar:

  • Insulin emerges. When excess insulin is lingering inside your body it means you are storing fat instead of burning it. Your liver doesn't have the ability to convert your fat into energy. And too much insulin inside your body gets stored to your tummy (can you say beer belly). This is reason enough to stay away from sugar. Keep that sugar raging in your blood and you develop blood sugar issues, insulin insensitivity, type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and a host of other issues.
  • Leptin and Ghrelin (hormones) get wacky. These are hormones which regulate your hunger/satisfaction levels. More on this here. The more sugar you consume (which includes fructose sugar from fruit juices) the more your body doesn't know when to stop eating. Also, your body will be conned into thinking it needs to consume high calorie foods & store them as fat deposits. Don't even get me started on how corporate America puts sugar in processed foods to profit from our overweight lifestyle.
  • Damaging your cells. Oh man. Sugar weakens your immune system by depleting your Vitamin C absorption, putting inflammation in your body, adding bad bacteria to your gut and damaging your cells. Being armed with all the factual data out there, why do we still reach for the cake? It's not just a craving anymore, it's an effing dragon.
My only saving grace is that after I stop consuming sugar, the negative/self-doubt subsides within about 3-5 days. As of today, after about four days, I can feel my stronger, better self coming back to the horizon, yea! There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Steph, FREE From SUGAR

1. Satisfy your (non-food) reward system with something you LOVE. Personally, I like to meditate, go outside, take a short nap, go for a jog, call a friend...what do you like to do? Maybe put a strike on TV watching, which is notorious for making people overeat and can be a complete drain to your soul. Do something different, do something that is super enjoyable. Hell, send me an email - I'm 100% committed to help you!
2. Stabilize your blood sugar (insulin secretion) with protein and fiber. This means to eat lean meats and loads of veggies. Eat your fill of the good foods so you don't want the bad ones. Eat the foods that your body really needs to function and eat them timely before your hunger steers you in the wrong direction. 
3. Eat more fat. Yes, fat had a very naughty reputation but it has now been vindicated! Foods full of healthy fats are going to grab your hand and steer you away from your sugar cravings. Think coconut, avocados, nuts, olive oil, and (my favorite!) nut butters. 
4. Sleep! Naps and a good night of sleep will help you feel your best! When you are sleep deprived you have a more difficult time saying no to those dirty, tempting foods. It's hormonal, it's not just you, don't get mad, instead, get even with those hormones by getting your beauty rest.
5. Cut up veggies and prepare healthy snacks ahead of time, get them ready to go in your tummy; just like sugar-laden processed foods are ready. Be proactive by preparing! Good foods to have around are almond butter, sugar-free beef jerky, eggs, radishes, bell peppers,and regular staples like carrots, celery and cucumbers. And for the love of your waistline, get all the processed sugary, junk, chemical foods out of the house! Don't let those fake foods poison you anymore.
6.  Make Rules that you can follow & stick to your guns! Write down your rules and hold yourself accountable. For example: Rule#1. No desserts for a week. Make your rules reasonable. In fact, I made a rule once that I could eat as many apples as I wanted instead of eating dessert. One crazy apple-eating afternoon, I ate 4 apples; I have no shame in admitting. It got me through my sugar craving & I was full. Do whatever you need to get through, take those baby steps if that's what you need.
7. Substitute pure maple syrup or raw honey for sugar. If you must have some sweetness, go with what nature has made. At least it won't burden your hard-working liver. Your body can trust foods that come from nature. But remember, the sweet tooth will still be activated, which means it might cause cravings to creep in later through the day so be aware you might be on a slippery slope. Maple syrup, coconut sugar, raw honey, agave are much better options than sugar. Baby steps...
Eat Food That LOVES You Back

Some inspiring words of wisdom from Marianne Williamson, EAT FOOD THAT LOVES YOU BACK. Does sugar love you back? No way. Sugar harms you in every possible way. Sugar makes you puffy and inflammed, so you can't look fit. You can visually see the difference in people's physique when they stop eating sugar. Now is YOUR turn to put up a fight and let your body become whole and functioning at full capacity again. Out of all the steps above to get off sugar, the most important one is to stop eating sugar.

I can promise you giving up sugar can change your life for the better. Going sugar-free is going to give you powerful, almost-instant results, and it is completely doable. Maybe you take baby steps and try going sugar-free for a week? Maybe you try for 3 months? Either way, your body will be blissfully happy and you might even feel obliged to hug me. Best of luck in your endeavors with taming your sugar dragon. Feel free to email me in times of crisis during your battles or post comments, suggestions or progress reports. Constructive feedback is always a blessing to a blogger. 


****Now A feel-fabulous Challenge! When you are ready for this mentally and feel ready to see results, the challenge is ready for you. Remember, you have tried the other way (on sugar) now let's try to see who you blossom into when you nix the poison. Remember, you can always go back to sugar, since it isn't going anywhere. The challenge is FREE, it's outlined for you and it could make you feel like a million bucks! It's the Whole 30 Challenge. Which is 30 days of Real Foods for 30 days. ****

Extra Reading/References
1. Ten-day Sugar Detox

2. One Year Without Sugar

3. Sugar and bodybuilding

4. Sugars role in the body, a basic run-down

5. Weight loss and Blood Sugar

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pull- Ups: Variations on The Bar (with pics & a video!) (a rehash from April 16th post)

When I first entered a Crossfit Box, it was like I had found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; not kidding. I felt honored to finally find where the super buff bodies were built and whipped into existence. My eyes opened to strength, hard muscles & extreme fitness! There were suddenly so many exciting technical movements to learn; oh how sweet! The first skill I really ached to learn was kipping pull ups, however to my demise, it took me over a year and a half (and one pregnancy) to learn them.

Watching an established cross-fitter, the pull up appears simplistic. However, anyone who has had to learn them (all of the us!) knows there is more skill involved than what appears. Now that I look back, it was mostly my mind that stopped me from nailing the kip.  With all the skills to learn, I put pull ups on the back burner once the reality of the movement took hold. My WOD pull ups always included the green band for the first year. The green band can be a necessary tool initially, but will work against you if used as a crutch for too long. Honestly, I stopped trying to learn my kipping pull ups and accepted that I would use the band for infinity & beyond. Luckily, an amazing coach (that’s you Bradley!) saw my potential & called me out on it (oh the nerve!) He worked with me after class to help me up to the bar to reach my goal!

My coach’s training progression had me standing on a small box (12”) below the pull up bar. I would grip the bar pull up style leaving my feet on the box, then lean forward and pull back. Each movement, I was either rounding my back or arching it while using my hips & arms to control the movement. It was me moving slowly through the pull up motion, moving back and forth ahead of and then behind the bar. Once I felt comfortable like this, I started to do a combo of jumping pull ups with the same swinging movement. This was all I needed for my body to change how it looked at pull ups, thank you cell memory!
This child-like joy is a gimme when swinging!
This practice went on for weeks and I did it every class until I was ready to get up to the bar without the box under my feet. At first, my leg swings were wild and too forceful, and using too much energy. But eventually as I kept doing WODS like this; my body got tired enough to find a flow that was more efficient. Thus, I welcomed my kipping pull ups with loving arms (pun intended!)  No band, no problem.

Yes! A kipping pull-up has happened

If you struggle with pull ups, believe me: I know all too well how incredibly frustrating it is! Mostly, you just need to remember that your body can be trained, don't self-defeat by thinking you can't do it. It also takes a lot of practice, so put in the time and you will get them, know that! And don't expect pull ups to magically work without the effort, that wouldn't be fair to the others who struggled before you!
Also be prepared for some brutal damage to your hands. Read this article for the Proper Care and Treatment of Your Hands. I have suffered many times with broken skin that will hold you back from a lot of pull up training, thus it's best to use preventative measures to avoid that happening.

As for learning other methods of pull ups. I know of two other versions: dead hang and butterfly pull ups. Butterfly pull ups are similar to kipping however, they are more fluid and take less time to complete. When you see Crossfit athletes competing in competions, they usually do butterfly pull ups because they are the quickest. Dead hang pull ups are static, and there should be no kip (no hip movement). I never really had to work on my dead hang pull ups, because they seem to come naturally after kipping. Where some people (haters) might say kipping pulll ups are not pull ups at all, I would beg to differ. The kipping pull up actually originated from gymnastics, thus the movement is in line with muscle ups and handstand push ups. There are all kinds of pull ups so it's best to vary your workouts with different styles of pulling yourself up to the bar.

How to learn butterfly pull ups, great video with Chris Spealer

Friday, July 11, 2014

New Version of Tire Flips with Fitness Pics

My trainer on Monday was trying to teach me to land in a split jerk during the catch part of a tire flip. I couldn't do it with the 450# tire but had no problems with my (lighter) Michelin Man. F** ya!
Sweat ran into my eyes on the last 5 flips. I wonder where my eyebrows were during all this, that’s the whole point of the eyebrow isn’t it - suppose to soak up all the sweat before it goes into your eyes?
Eyebrows= FAIL. Steph = WINNING!
64 Tire Flips consecutive 
100 Tire flips for time = 13min. 42 Seconds

The Face of Victory!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Getting Serious. Progressing From Squats to Pistols (One-Legged Squats) With pics and a Video

When I first saw someone do a pistol, I thought I had just witnessed a donkey turn into a unicorn. And when I tried my first pistol immediately after, I was both baffled and completely star struck. Years later, after a couple months of training, I am doing pistols like a firing handgun! If you don't yet know what a pistol is, let me explain so you understand we aren't talking about firearm training. A pistol is a deep squat, where your booty comes down to your ankle while you stand on only one leg.

The bottom of my pistol

Had so show you how I can float :) had me laughing at least

So...I decided to nominate Pistols as one of my new favorite moves to do, right up there with burpee tuck jumps and handstand push ups. The reason, you ask? Because it took a lot of work to get pistols, and things that come naturally just aren't as rewarding. And that uber proud moment when you get your first pistol is magical! And it motivates you to want to learn more new technical movements, maybe L-sits and muscle ups?

If you are ready to get in the gym and start squatting like an automatic weapon, watch this video!

My quick video on Pistol progressions, how to get them the easy way:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Why I Haven't Eaten In Ten Hours. The Benefits of Starving...I Mean Fasting!

Fasting is good for so many things; the body, the mind, the hormones and the wallet, really. While it can help us save money and calories, it is so much deeper than that superficial stuff. Right now, I am in the depths of my 36-hour fast, I am feeling uber motivated to move you towards my fasting tenancies (i.e. insanity).


1. Fat loss, not just water weight, nope. Fasting is a hardcore blubber buster! 

2. Cleanse & Detox the body, give the digestion a head start 

3. Increase energy 

4. Cleanse “stuck” emotional thoughts

5. Repair inflammation in cells & stop cancer cell growth

6. Protect against Alzheimer’s

7. Hardcore increase in Human Growth Hormone (good stuff to get you ripped!)

When fasting, you will get hungry, but your hunger does not increase as time goes by. Rather, you hunger comes in waves. I notice around the times I normally eat (meal times) that my hunger goes up and the other times I am perfectly alright. I think about food, but I just remind myself that I can eat later. Also, it's best to stay busy when you are fasting, which is why I have two blog posts today! Best of luck and don't forget to send me your results, comments, etc. 

Pulling A Truck...Yeah, I Did that Today (nonchalantly I say this while twirling my hair)

Holy Crap! One of the quickest intense workouts of my life. Yes, each truck pull will burn your legs, upper body and lungs make you ache all over, but in a good way (that makes this girl VERY happy!) There I was roped to a truck, strapped into a harness, and pulling that truck like I never had a choice! Truck pulling is dangerously close to being something I love more than flipping a tire, and you know I love my Michelin Man flips! Truck pulling is so draining to your whole body, that you really can't do it over and over because each pull puts you on your ass.

1. Stay low during the pull, the power comes from your sprint stance
2. On the initial pull, stand up straight then hinge down into the rope with your upper body until you are down
    towards the earth into your sprint stance
3. Keep your feet close (mine were flailing out to the sides, what a rookie!)
4. Climb the ground with your toes/ball of foot, while you pull with your upper body
5. Breath! I realized I was not taking air in but only blowing it out, and once I did breath, it helped me relax

1. A Large Truck. Heavier is better but maybe don't start off with a semi-truck. We pulled a Chevy.

2. A harness to strap on around you (buy one here) Expensive so I would check for used on Ebay first
3. A heavy duty rope to attach you to the truck (via harness)

4. A second heavy duty rope to pull with (optional- you don't need this if you will just be using the harness on your back and not using a rope to pull with
5. A Strong light pole or something that won't move (only if you are using the 2nd rope)

BIG DEAL! Don't forget to put the truck in neutral and have a person inside the truck for good measure (no feet on the brake- that would be just CRUEL!)