On CrossFit, Coaching, and Progress

When I first started CrossFit everything was a new experience. Now 3 years into it and every workout is still a totally new experience.

2014 was an interesting year for me. Every year I since I started my health journey I have been able to look back and say I’m stronger… faster… lighter… than the year before. I don’t know that I can do that this year. This year was all about having my excess skin removed, letting my body recover, and trying to learn what this new body is capable of. I am finally getting back to where I am just about as strong and as fast as I was before surgery. I weigh 10 pounds more than I did the day I had my surgery. So I’m not stronger, faster, or lighter than I was last year. In this new year time of reflection and growth it is hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I haven’t made any significant progress in those areas I’m used to using for measurement.

barbellsforboobs

I have been following some CrossFit Open Prep Programming for the upcoming Open season. We have been doing strength cycles for the last few months and now are starting to get more into metcon conditioning in preparation for the Open. I felt like I was finally hitting some old numbers and even PR’d my squat clean after one of the cycles, but as we started repeating old open workouts I’ve battled with frustration that I’m not even hitting some of the old PRs on those WODs and some of my skills have completely slacked off. The rational side of me realizes my body has been through hell and back this year. And I haven’t been able to work my weaknesses as much as I’d like. And that after all I’ve been through I should be glad to be within striking distance of where I used to be. The emotional side of me gets caught between the two extremes of being completely pissed that I’m not better… and wondering why I should care so much at all.

deadlift

Then I realize that being frustrated just means that I care. I love having goals and working towards them. And sometimes those goals can’t be measured the same way all the time. I may not be stronger, faster, or lighter than I was last year. But I have learned a lot about myself this past year. I learned that I do care and I want to be the best athlete that I can be. Not just for me, but for my athletes. This year I learned that I love coaching even more than I love competing. I used the think that the best feeling in the world was finishing a workout I wasn’t sure I was capable of finishing… not true. The best feeling in the world is knowing an athlete is capable of something great and finally getting them to realize it.

goodcoach

As a coach I’m always encouraging our athletes that consistency is key. Doing the work day in and day out makes the difference. And while I don’t hesitate to tell our athletes that, I often don’t remember it for myself. It’s like I forget that has been what has gotten me where I am today. When I started CrossFit I struggled to squat just my body weight. Now I can squat with more than weigh on my back. It didn’t happen overnight. So, I’m taking my own advice and remembering doing the work makes the difference. It isn’t always easy, but it will be worth it.

So, I’m going to develop a structured plan to follow to reach my goals. This includes regularly working on my weaknesses like pull ups, toes to bar, double unders, and rope climbs. This is my year. I’m going to take what I’ve learned as a coach and apply it to my goals.

What are your fitness goals for 2015?

Manifesta Activewear

Happy New Year!! I’m so excited for 2015. I love the feeling of a fresh start that comes with a new year. It may just be another day but the refreshing dose of motivation that comes with it is always welcome.

Around this time motivation for getting healthy is at an all time high. Along with the New Year’s motivation, I often find some motivation in wearing cute workout gear. A few weeks ago while browsing online I came across Manifesta. What attracted me to them was their positive, encouraging posts on Social Media. After digging a little bit deeper into the company I found their manifesta on their website and I fell in love.

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OUR MANIFESTA

We believe that every woman deserves to feel sexy.
We believe that every woman deserves to look amazing.
We believe that every woman deserves the chance to achieve greatness.
We believe that every woman deserves the opportunity to improve herself and her fitness.
We believe that the only valid judge of a woman is herself.

Manifesta is a body positive activewear company. I found out this was a small company founded by a fellow Crossfitter who simply got tired of not being able to find cute well fitting clothing to WOD in. I chatted with the founder, Rachel, for a bit and she offered to send me an outfit to try out. The first thing I noticed when I was looking through their products was the sizing. Manifesta wants women to stop being so caught up in a certain number on a label so they created their own sizing chart naming each size something unique like Lily, Rose, Poppy, & Violet. They also don’t just have conventional sizes, they have sizes that range from 0-24. She sent me the Sore Not Sorry Capri and the All the Right moves tank, both in Orchid.

manifestaactivewear

I put these through the paces during a few WODs and I can say I really appreciate having a cute outfit that is sturdy and stays in place!  The material is thick enough to not show every flaw, but breathable enough to keep you cool during a tough WOD. All their clothing is made with the curvy woman in mind so it fits in the waist, thighs, and butt… typical problem areas for a curvy girl. The material is also sustainably sourced.

A photo posted by Courtney Norman (@courtnorm) on

Overall I’m super pleased with the quality and performance of manifesta activewear and I plan on expanding my collection! I’ve got my eye on this Keep Your Head Up Hoodie for my next purchase!

keepyourheadup

If you are looking for quality activewear made for curvy women, you have to try them out! They have been kind enough to offer my readers 25% off! Use the code Dreamer25 to get 25% off your purchase.

What do you look for in activewear?

Learning Balance, Finding a Healthy Relationship with Food, and Loving My Body

As you all know, I’m a big dreamer. I love to set big goals. For the longest time my main goals have been either weight loss or body image related. Lose XX number of pounds, fit in a size 12, be “normal” on the BMI Scale. Even though my goals have gone from get skinny to get healthy and from “weight 175” to “be strong” – It still all relates back to my personal body image. Almost everything I have done for the past 4+ years has somehow been related to these goals. Heck, I even turned it from a hobby into a full blow job! I guess what I’ve really been thinking about is where is that line? When do you go HAM on reaching a goal and when do you say ok I’m just going to be ok with where I’m at?

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. I see some of the fittest people I know come into our CrossFit box. People who workout hard 5 days a week, eat strict meal plans most of the time, are the picture of health and fitness… and they still aren’t happy. They want abs like so and so, or a butt like Stacie Tovar (I mean, who doesn’t?! #strengthisbooty after all…) I’m guilty of the same thing from time to time. I am guilty of negating the progress I’ve made by focusing on the things I’d still like to change.

When I first started out on this journey I was morbidly obese. I needed the structure and discipline of adhering to a strict plan. I was motivated and had a lot of fat to lose. I had specific health related milestones I wanted to reach. I went from one side of the road to the other. I used to eat whatever I wanted, and that’s what got me to 50% body fat! I needed some intervention to turn that train around. And I did (for more about my journey check out my “Before & After” page)

Read how my health journey has helped me learn balance, find a healthy relationship with food, and love my body.

Even before my surgery, I started to realize I was happy with myself. The surgery was just the cherry on top of my body acceptance sundae. It just helped me to be able to see the body I had built underneath all that skin, and that body is beautiful. And when I realized that I was happy with my body, all size 14 and 200 pounds of it, instead of being happy I felt confused and slightly panicked. What am I supposed to do now? Where do I go from here?

After over 4 years, I was suddenly on the other side of the spectrum. I had gone from 50% body fat to 20%,  I went from not being able to do a proper air squat with my own body weight to being able to load up a barbell with my body weight and back squat it. Throughout the last few years I went through strict Paleo, Whole30, and spent the better part of the last year on detailed meal plans through a nutrition coach. It was a lot of restricting. Suddenly foods became “good” or “bad” and meals became either “on plan” or “off plan.”

Food isn't good or bad, it's just food. How I learned balance, found a healthy relationship with food, and started to love my body.

I had become one of those Diet Martyrs… “Oh, guess I”ll have to skip the Christmas cookies this year” or “Man, I wish I could eat that” or “I can’t believe I ate that!” followed by a big serving of guilt and shame. While I never thought I had a full blown eating disorder, I saw an article about Orthorexia and found myself nodding my head in response to the list of possible symptoms. I had some disordered thinking and unhealthy mindsets when it came to my relationship with food. I was in the mindset of I can’t have it because It’s not on my meal plan. I followed a specific meal plan, eating the same safe foods over and over again. I was afraid to stop counting calories, measuring portions to the ounce, or following a rigid meal plan. Because if I didn’t have a plan it meant I would gain back all the weight I’ve lost and suddenly be fat again *eye roll*

How losing weight became less about the number on the scale and more about how I felt about my body.

I guess what I’m saying is I am finally happy with my body. I feel a sense of peace with where I’m at right now. I’m healthy, I’m fit, and I’m happy. Society still tries to tell me I’m plus sized, so what. This plus sized girl rocked a bikini in Florida last month! I still have stretch marks and squishy areas. I know that if I want to take my body to the next level it would require more restricting and while I know I could do it, I’m not in a place where I’m willing to do what it would take. Could that change next month? Absolutely. For more about the cost of getting lean check out this article from Precision Nutrition.

 I’d like to challenge you to take a look at yourself and your goals. If you are restricting yourself or beating yourself up about your body or how you’re eating, why? What are your goals? If you have a hard deadline goal like doing a bikini competition, by all means eat according to your goals this holiday season. If you have serious health risks that are obesity related or a history of unhealthy binge eating than maybe you need to structure your eating a bit more. Whatever you do, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and in a healthy way. Super restrictive diets aren’t great for your mental health. Food isn’t something to fear. Take time to Learn balance, find a healthy relationship with food, and love your body.

You are worth it.

Do you struggle with Balance or a Healthy Relationship with food?
What are some things you can do today to love your body?