Dear Universe: I Got This

Foreword:  Can I first take a minute to say THANK YOU? I have been confident in my decision to leave my corporate ­­job and start a new journey. I expected SOME support from my close friends and family. I had NO IDEA that the support would literally come from every single person I have talked to, interacted with and who have been following my posts (and last week’s blog). You would think that as an adult hearing another adult say “I am proud of you” would not give you warm fuzzies, but guess what? It sure as shit does. Having so much validation from everyone has not just humbled me, but has given me such a confidence boost. It is also keeping me accountable and motivated because I feel like this is not just my journey, but something bigger that is going to inspire many people.

Also I really need to work on an elevator pitch for what it is I want to do. For now, let’s just say a fitness coach.

I believe that many of us approach change with practicality. We like to have a backup plan, Plan B, planned out just as well as Plan A. So it is really not surprising that quite a few people have told me (upon learning that I am venturing into something very new, very different), “Well you have great skills and if your plan does not work out the way you want it to, you can always come back here or find another corporate job.” I am very grateful that I am respected and valued enough to have that option, yet I am not allowing myself to even entertain it, not even for one micro second.

I am a strong believer that what you put out to the universe is what you get back. So if I even tell myself or I tell someone else or I tell the universe straight up that I am ok with returning to a job similar to the one I am leaving, then I am essentially giving myself permission to not succeed at my journey ahead. I cannot give myself a fall back plan that  involves returning to a job that does not inspire me. I have to believe in myself and my abilities (and divine timing) that I am on the path meant for me. I have to believe that I CAN (and will!) succeed at my dream. I have to believe that I do not belong in a traditional corporate environment and that I should not ever go back again (unless it is because they want me to coach their employees for healthier living! #shamelessplug).

I have nothing but excitement for what is ahead of me, which if you know me, speaks volume. I am not someone who typically goes with the flow or just “trusts”. It has taken me a long time to get to where I am, and I am choosing to focus on the positive. By giving myself permission to return to the corporate life is like telling myself I may not be good enough to do what I want to do. I would never say that to a friend or my sister or a niece or a nephew that they “may” succeed. I would tell them, “Absolutely! You got this!” So why would I tell myself anything less?

I had an epiphany watching a recent Facebook live that one of my respected leaders at Pruvit (the company I am an independent promoter for) posted.  She talked about how when she herself chose to take a leap of faith to promote, she had a lot on the line financially. She really did not even have the money for the small investment to get started. She did it though, and she told herself that she would and HAS to sell the product she was investing in. And she did. Pretty damn quickly too.

When she was telling that story, I realized I had the complete opposite mindset when I started promoting. I told myself that the worst case scenario was that if I did not sell the initial batch ketones I had to purchase that it was just a little bit of money and no major setback. And guess what? It took me months to completely sell them. Why? Because I gave myself an out. I told myself “it is ok if I do not succeed.” And after hearing my leader talk and having many conversations this past week with many people about my sort seemingly crazy but admirable career change, I realized that I need to ditch that thinking, with ketones and with my future business. I need to tell myself that I HAVE to do this. And I will. I believe that 100%. And I have to do it without a backup plan or contingency thinking.

I also think that we give ourselves permission to not succeed because it is easier on our ego. It is far harder to give something everything we have and not succeed than it is to maybe give half our energy and fail. Because then, it’s like, “Well I didn’t really commit to it.” Or “I knew it was risky, so I’m ok that I did not do well.”  If I am walking away from a solid income and stability, why on earth would I want to take any chances that I cannot replenish that? Girlfriend would have to be crazy. Which I am not. I am practical and sensible, yes. And even pragmatic. In this scenario though, where it is my livelihood and more importantly my happiness and mental sanity, I am completely committing to this. I want to. And I have to.

Committing to something obviously is not solely a way of thinking. I still have a lot of hard work cut out for me. I have to commit every fiber of me to this. Probably just as importantly, I have to work on a little thing too called confidence. If I believe in myself and my plans, then others will too. (People snuff out doubt and weakness like hounds, and that just comes back around in the universe). For the first time in my life, career wise, I am being very brave. I have no room for giving myself an out, even if it is hardly detectable.  Instead, I will stay focused, stay positive, and hustle my buns off. Because there is a lot of amazing, fulfilling, beyond- my dreams success waiting for me.

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Time to Get Schooled On Common CrossFit Cheats

I recently came across a quote: “Cheating on your girlfriend is like cheating on your workout. Neither is acceptable” (CrossFit London ON).  Cheating happens more than we may like to admit, and it undermines and defies what CrossFit is about. Having said that, there are those who cheat deliberately, whether it’s miscounting reps or shorting movements. And there are those who cheat unintentionally. It might be due to not knowing what the movement standards are. It might be because someone is limited by injury or mobility (in which case, it is more of a scale than a cheat). It also can be because an athlete goes heavier than their abilities or needs to scale down to their level (which there should be no shame to do. It is better to scale and look solid than go too hard and look like a tool).

Whatever the reason is that someone cheats movements, this is the perfect time to get a little schooled on movement standards as the CrossFit Open is right around the corner. Let’s all understand what an honest rep is on a few different movements so we can all follow suit and help those around us who may need some extra guidance or assistance.

*Note: Cheating reps in many cases also indicates bad form which can lead to injury. I implore everyone to keep that in mind as above anything else, this is the most dangerous aspect to doing movements incorrectly or illegally.

**Note: This blog also by no means is intended to be an all encompassing technical reference nor am I claiming to be an expert in this domain. Any of the movements in the list below could be its own post, which in fact there are plenty out there if you google. I am including some references I found if you want to click to get much more information and perspective (and supporting expertise).

  1. Squatting to full depth. This means below parallel, ass to grass as we often say. This applies to ALL SQUATS: front squats, back squats and overhead squats. Also, full cleans and full snatches as they end with (front) squats. Thrusters have front squats too as do wall balls (more on this movement in #2). Do not forget the basic air squat (which are frequently shorted too). Squats may be done with just body weight, barbells, dummbells, kettlebells, med balls, etc. The point being, get full depth on any squat to have an honest rep. squat.jpg

    If you are not sure if you are squatting to full depth, firstly, do not assume you are. That just fosters bad habits. Secondly, ask someone, preferably a coach, so that they can help assist you in getting the right form to ensure you get full depth. Also, if a coach does tell you that you are not getting full depth, lose the ego and fix it, even if that means that you have to go lighter in weight.

    I found these 2 posts to have candid commentary as well as tips on how to squat correctly (and honestly).

http://crossfitoneworld.typepad.com/crossfit_one_world/2012/05/when-a-squat-is-not-a-squat.html

http://www.tabatatimes.com/why-deep-squats-are-good-for-you/3/

  1. Wall Balls (my favorite!) Firstly, I am kidding. I hate wall balls. Secondly, as they are not a short person movement, I have in my day cheated them in every way possible at some point along my journey of trying to hate them less (therefore, I can claim to be an expert in how not to do them). I fully understand how difficult they are but that does not mean it is ok to cheat them.

    Alright, so with that out of the way, remember as mentioned in #1 above, wall balls are 50% squats. SO GET LOW! A rep does not count if you do not complete a full squat. Similarly, when you throw the ball up, it must hit whatever the target required is. So if that means it has to be 10 feet, make sure you get it to 10 feet. Also, the ball has to make contact with the wall or target. If it’s all air, it’s all wrong. No rep.wall ball.jpg

 

  1. Push-Ups: the all American movement. They are difficult movements that require a lot of strength, and that is why they get so much respect. They are one of the most commonly cheated movements though, and I just find that to be rather unpatriotic.  There are too many ways to cheat a push-up so please read here for a post I wrote two years ago that gives many more details as to how to ensure you do an honest push-up.

 

  1. Burpees. We love to hate them. ­You know without a doubt they will be in The Open. One of the most common ways I have seen them cheated is by not either clapping overhead or touching a target (and yes, even burpees have variations. Often, you have to touch a 6 inch overhead target with both hands). There is a tendency when trying to quickly and ferociously crank them out to not get full height on them, so to speak. Same deal on the descend. Burpees can be cheated by hips and chest not making contact with the ground.

    On http://girlsgonerx.com/standards/, the standards are well outlined:

    Burpees Over Barbell
    The athlete must be parallel to the barbell at the bottom position, with the athlete’s chest and hips touching the ground. The athlete must come to her feet and must jump over the barbell with two feet to the other side where the athlete will start the next rep. You must jump over the barbell from both feet and land on both feet. One-footed jumping or stepping over is not permitted. Do not need to fully extend hips during jump.

    Burpees
    The athlete’s chest must make contact with the ground before the athlete can jump back up to the starting position. Athlete must jump and touch hands over head at top of burpee, reaching full extension of hips. Feet need to visibly leave the ground at the time of full hip extension during the jump.

    Bar-facing burpee
    Each burpee must be performed perpendicular to and facing the barbell. Your head cannot be over the barbell. The chest and thighs touch the ground at the bottom.
    You must jump over the barbell from both feet and land on both feet. One-footed jumping or stepping over is not permitted. The next rep will then begin on the opposite side facing the barbell.

  1. Gymnasty stuff on the bars. I am lumping a few movements together in this last point as they all have a common cheating trend: not making full contact or clearing the bar as prescribed.

    When it comes to pull-ups, often athletes can use whatever grip they fancy as long as their chin goes over the bar and that they fully extend their arms in between reps.  Chest to bar pull-ups require your chest to actually make contact with the bar. No contact, no rep.pull up.jpg

    Toes-to-bar. Your toes have to make contact with the bar at the same time. This is what I see as the most common way of cheating. If you don’t know for sure if your toes touch, most likely they didn’t. If you can’t get your toes to the bar, well then they are more like knees to chest. Girls Gone Rx explains the standards well:

    The athlete must go from a full hang to having the toes touch the pull-up bar. Both feet must touch the bar together at some point. The arms and hips must be fully extended at the bottom and the feet must be brought back to behind the bar, not out front.

I am calling all these out so everyone can be aware of encouraging and promoting  good honest reps. Often we do not even realize we aren’t doing honest reps so let’s just put it all out there. Let’s all agree to withhold the standard in which this crazy thing called CrossFit has fostered.  Let’s all hold each other accountable and help one another to learn how to do full honest reps. (And yes, I am deliberately repeating the word honest not because I have run out of synonyms but rather as I want to instill that CrossFit is about being honest as much as it is about being strong and fast). When we do honest reps, we are better CrossFitters. Let us all strive to not cheat or short movements. We will all be better for it.

 

Dear PopSugar

Dear PopSugar,

I have followed and adored you for quite some time now, and I have enjoyed the frequent tips for fitness and nutrition. I fear though, that my respect for you has wavered after reading a recent article you posted entitled “The Top 4 Workouts to Avoid if You’re Trying to Lose Weight.” (link here ) I was astonished and admittedly maddened just a few sentences in and all the way to the end. As someone who considers herself to be healthy, fit and active, I simply could not disagree more with what was written. I am not a trainer, a nutritionist nor am I a doctor, so I will not be an expert on any physiological argument. I write to you though not out of anger or spite but to well, put it eloquently, call bull shit on this article. 

Too many of the points made are straight up blanket statements. The glaring message, starting with the first reference being in the title, blatantly says these workouts will not be effective in losing weight. Does that mean that there is not one single person who would not be a candidate to shed pounds on any of the 4 offending workouts (CrossFit, Yoga, Indoor Cycling and Cardio)? I am sure you do not truly believe that to be true yet that is more or less the message of your article. There are tons of success stories out there of people who did lose weight through these workouts. Not to mention, any combination of these workouts actually do complement each other. Also not mentioned, all these workouts have the ability to be catered to anyone’s fitness level and weight loss plan.

Ok, right, let’s really get into it. CrossFit, my love, was at the top of the list. PopSugar, here is what you wrote about CrossFit (and I quote): 

“CrossFit is number one on the hit list,” Rowley said in an email. “The risk-to-results ratio just isn’t there. If you’re just beginning your weight-loss journey, you likely won’t have the strength to get an effective workout without injuring yourself. It’s very popular, and I can see how fun and challenging it is,” he noted. “But the way the exercises are done is very dangerous, especially for someone not in tiptop shape.” 

 Remember, I am keeping science out of this. I will say that the arguments against CrossFit imply that only people in tiptop shape should ever attempt it. If this were the case, that CrossFit caters to more elite or advanced athletes, then well the franchise would be out of business. The athleticism and level of CrossFitters span the gamut. Not everyone that is new to CrossFit is a former collegiate athlete. There is a very prevalent population who begin after years or even a lifetime of being sedentary. Everyone has to start somewhere, just like any other sport or activity. People do not run for 26.2 miles the first time they put on their trainers (unless their name is Forest Gump) nor does someone perform an advanced movement like a muscle up in the first metcon (but oh that would be bloody amazing if they did!). The movements and exercises done in CrossFit are extremely flexible and scalable, hence the beauty of this phenomena. A beginner can very easily modify a workout to their level and still burn calories (which as a non -scientist, I am still confident that translates to losing weight).

For someone who has been inactive, they can very well perform very basic, NOT DANGEROUS movements putting them well on their way in their weight loss journey. (Air squats, short distance running/jogging, rowing, burpees, scaled push-ups, minimal weight push presses, box step-ups, sit-ups, jumping pull-ups, jump roping. Shall I go on?) 

 Ok then, moving on to the Rowley’s next offender: yoga. Mr. Rowley says:

 Rowley explained that yoga “has a lot of benefits, but losing weight is not one of them.” Although you’ll gain strength and tone up, if you’re aiming to shed pounds, “you want to work as much of your body as possible to lose weight and to stimulate your metabolism,” and Rowley said yoga is not the most effective way to do so.” 

I have tried yoga enough times to know that instructors strategically target all muscle groups, which to me require much strength, which burns calories, which leads to weight loss. Also, as a non-scientist of course, toning up  (as Rowley did state is a benefit of yoga) means turning fat into muscle which essentially is weight loss (or at least decreasing body fat).

From the little I do know about yoga, I am comfortable saying that the practice of it centers on the idea of balancing ourselves both physically and mentally. It quiets the mind which again, in my humble opinion, is the biggest obstacle in losing weight. It is more than the time you put it in at a gym or a class. I dare say that the practice of yoga can really reshape someone’s thinking which leads to making better choices about health and diet. 

So even for the sake of argument (as Riley makes) that yoga  is not the best method in which to stimulate metabolism, he would be hard pressed to argue that people do not carry the core of yoga with them in all that they do resulting in smarter choices. 

 The third on Rowley’s no fly list is cycling. His logic is much the same as that of CrossFit. PopSugar, I quote: 

 ” While indoor cycling classes are great for exercise veterans, Rowley said, “they can get out of control as well,” and the format of the classes can put you at risk for injury. “The rooms can get too hot, the movements can be too aggressive for some…” 

 Firstly, I want to know what  Rowley defines as an “exercise veteran” and should anyone who is not in said category, limit themselves to only the very basic movement that has been around since the beginning of time, walking? Anyways, I digress. Much like CrossFit, cycling is scalable. There is a little thing on every bike called a resistance knob which enables people  to have control over their movements so that they do not “get out of control” (which I also find this bit to be vague and would genuinely love to know more on that point). I have been taking cycling classes for close to a decade and have met numerous people in them who have great success stories of losing weight by cycling. With my small science lens, I do know cycling can demand a lot of output from your body which again, equals burning calories (leading to weight loss).

 Lastly, Rowley frowns upon cardio only workouts to lose weight. He claims that:

“Cardio will help burn calories but often can make you hungry, leading to excessive calorie-consuming after workouts.” 

 This may just be my favorite worst perspective in this article. PopSugar, in the closing of your article you advocate for resistance training, which Rowley defines as weight lifting. I am just as hungry after an all cardio workout (like running or stair climbing) as I am following a weight lifting session (which I do in CrossFit may I add). I chose though to not come home and devour an entire pizza or a box of Girl Scout cookies. So, what I am trying to say is that increased hunger is  not specific to cardio (or indoor cycling) workouts, and with that increased hunger comes discipline to make smart food choices. (If someone who is trying to lose weight is not proactively planning out meals and snacks, then perhaps they are not even that committed to losing weight. That is a whole other topic in and of itself). Anyways, discipline and self-control can prevail. That is key to losing weight no matter what the preferred method is. Ruling out cardio-only routines to lose weight is absolutely ill-advised. 

 PopSugar, you are blessed with a platform to promote healthy living to many viewers and followers. I expect more from you than what this article has provided: blanket statements. I walked away believing that YOU are advocating that there is only one approved way to lose weight (resistance training).  Right, because there is always only ever one way to get from Point A to Point B. Weight loss is just that cut and dry. People should not experiment and find out for themselves what works for their bodies. I am having difficulties suppressing my NJ sarcasm because I am so passionate about exercise and fitness. I revel in the idea that there is so much variety out there, and I want to promote all the 4 aforementioned workouts as great ways to explore for weight loss. 

 Sincerely,

Missy