No one has clean windows

FBGAs I sit down to write this – I’m cooking supper and listening to music.  I just laughed out-loud because Queen’s Fat Bottom Girls just came on my Spotify…  And considering my thoughts today it just seemed… fitting.

Over the last year – I’ve shared some pretty personal things about my weight-loss and this journey.  Today is no exception.

If you’ve never been grossly overweight – you probably don’t understand the anxiety that comes with traveling and in particular, flying.  Right before I began this part of my story, I was on a plane.  Sitting next to a man who suggested to the stewardess that she move me from my seat because my ass was too big.  No really.  He wasn’t quiet about it and I – I was mortified.

I’ve always loved traveling, but as I started packing on pounds, I really started to hate flying.  I was always so apologetic to the person next to me. I felt guilty because I was fat and I might be intruding on their personal space.  I was embarrassed if the seat belt wouldn’t close or God-forbid, I had to ask for an extender.

Over the past 15 months, my body has changed drastically.  Not surprising – a lot of exercise and a 104 pound weight loss (that’s what I was down as of this morning) will do that to a person.

You've all seen the picture on the left.  The picture on the right was a still taken from a video that Troy and Pam took during a WOD.

You’ve all seen the picture on the left. The picture on the right was a still taken from a video that Troy and Pam took during a WOD.

Driving wasn’t really fun anymore, either.  I had been driving the same used car for the past 4 years.  As my weight loss increased and the size of my backside decreased, my car became more and more uncomfortable to drive, especially with the amount of time I spend behind the wheel.  When I started shopping for new cars – sitting behind the wheel became an enjoyable experience.  But when I was making my list of pros and cons of all the vehicles I had driven, right behind safety and gas mileage was comfort of the seat.  A month ago, I purchased my first brand new car – ever.  And, yes, it has a very, very comfortable driver’s seat.

I had two really mind-blowing experiences today.  While I was out shooting some photographs of corn and soybean fields (yes, you read that correctly), I happened to look down and realized there was all of this open space between my body and the steering wheel.  I had room before – but my seat was as far back as I could move it.  In my new car – that’s not the case.  As I looked down I didn’t recognize my own body.  And that is happening more and more every day.  Yesterday, when I tried on a pair of Size 12 Capris (a size I haven’t been in over 15 years) and a size 12 maxi dress, I looked in the mirror and thought “Is this really me?”.

I ran into the grocery store on my way home this evening – and ran into my friend Christina.  Actually, I walked right past her and she had to stop me.  One of the first things she said to me was “Look at you in a tank top and jeans.  Would you have ever worn that a year ago?” The answer:  Hell. No.  In fact – before this year, I can’t tell you the last time that happened.  Through exercise and these new relationships over the past year, I’ve established a self-confidence I’ve never had.  I’m wearing things I am not sure I would ever wear.

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I’m extremely proud of the fact that I’ve lost 104 pounds in the last 15 months.  And I’m proud of the fact that I get stronger and faster every day and of this body, MY body that has gone through this incredible transformation.  But what I think I’m most proud of, is coming to the realization that there was never anything wrong with me prior to the weight-loss.  I was fat.  That was my sin against humanity.

We are often quick to judge others, too quick to make hateful comments about someone’s appearance, and all too often we forget about the other person’s feelings.

And, we fail to remember we all live in glass houses… and none of us have clean windows.

 

Spinning plates

Before I even begin writing this – and you begin reading this… While it may come across like I’m bitching or complaining.. that’s not the case.  I am incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to do a job I love and be around an amazing group of people…. Sometimes we just need to share.  Today – I do.

 

I’ve been absolutely horrible about blogging.  Seriously.  I’ve let almost a month pass and I’ve not written anything.  This time of year makes me feel like I’m spinning plates.  Lots and lots of plates.  Between family obligations and work and the gym and all the extra projects… I feel like it isn’t just plates that are spinning.. my head is, too.  I keep adding events and reminders to my iCal because I’m seriously afraid I’m going to miss something.  Then I’m reminded of something else going on somewhere else, too!

Over the past year – I’ve come to realize the one thing that keeps my mind clear is CrossFit.  And when I combine CrossFit with a really well mapped out diet – I am on fire and sometimes feel like I can not only keep those plates spinning – I can do tricks with them, too.

The last time I blogged – I wrote about hitting one of my really big goals.. That was pull-ups.  I’m still doing them.  Still working on them with a band and still trying to put in some extra work when I have free time.  I need to put my extra energy and time into hitting the rest of my CrossFit goals now, more than ever.  Not just because I’ve come so far in the last year, but because I need to keep my mind busy.

Chin UPWithin the last couple of weeks, I’ve gone through a really tough break-up.  I’ve cancelled a wedding and haven’t felt as broken hearted as this has made me.  There have been a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of tears shed.  As I spent time with some of my CrossFit Fishers girls one Sunday afternoon – we talked about getting over him and what I needed to do to move on with my life.  I know it isn’t going to be easy.  But throwing myself into anything that doesn’t involve him is the best remedy to get over it, right?  It’s tough.  I thought he was “the one”.  I miss him terribly.  We share many of the same goals.  We both love agriculture, photography, cooking, and sense of humor.  But apparently our time isn’t now.  Then, I saw a shirt today and I smiled.  Big.  It said “Chase PR’s Not Men”.  Right on.

I had one today.

A new PR on my Hang Power Clean (which, sadly… was more than my last Power Clean) ahead of the Hero WOD “Daniel”.

 

This is what I’ve come to realize… the more time I spend with my CrossFit family the more thankful I am that I made that decision 14 months ago to walk into that box.

#strongerthanyesterday

One more box checked

89af88f18bb4090aa99eab07747e55d8At the start of the year, Pam and Troy had us write down our goals. I’m not sure if you remember what mine were but I talk about them in this POST.  Number one on that list was Pull-Ups.  And I have slowly, but surely been working my way to eventually get there.  But honestly, I was starting to think it was never going to happen.

As I write this – I think back to when I first started at CrossFit Fishers – I couldn’t even hold my body weight on the bar.  I was mortified… Not because anyone said anything – but because it was simple task that I couldn’t do.  When I started doing WODs – I was doing Ring Rows and I’d do Knees to wherever I could get them as modifications.  I spent the next 10 months working those same modifications.   Within the last couple of months Pam and Troy stopped me from using the Ring Rows as a modification and we started working on Knees to Chest and working on grip.  Movements and abilities I was going to need when I eventually started working on my pull-ups.

A few weeks ago, I was back home in Illinois,  and I dropped in to CrossFit North Peoria.  The Skill for the day was to “Pick a skill and work at it”.  So I worked on my grip (hanging on the bar) and Knees to Chest.  Arron (the owner) came over and asked me if I was “working on my pull-up progression” and I nodded.  So he suggested a couple of other movements to hopefully help me along.  They were even skills that I could work at home lying on the ground.

I’ve been getting the itch to work on it more.  So last week I asked Pam if she thought it was time to work on my pull-up progression and if she thought I was strong enough to handle it.

Tonight… That’s exactly what we did.

We worked for about 45 minutes on different progressions with different bands and chalk.  Lots of chalk.  It was awkward.. I felt like I was going to launch myself out of the bands.  I was self-conscious about how I looked doing them… Thank God it was a small class so I didn’t have to be embarrassed in front of a lot of people if I couldn’t get it down.

But – I did.  I’m sure they weren’t pretty… And in our last round of band pull-ups for the night… Pam wanted 3 in a row.

I gave her 4.

Give it all you have and then one more,  right?

I talk all the time about how my weight loss is so successful because of our CrossFit community.  And it is.

But this – this goal happened because of the people who are involved in my life.  It’s amazing coaching from Pam and Troy.  It’s encouragement and support from Rob, Adam, Justin, Shellie, Drew, Jess, and the rest of the CrossFit Fishers family.  It’s help from Arron at CFNP when I drop-in when I’m in Peoria.  CrossFit has made me a better person.  It’s made my hungry for all the right things.

Tonight I got to check one more box off my “To-Do” list.

Now – it’s time for the next big goal.

Part Two: The More You Know

As I sit in my living room on this Sunday – I’m putting together my grocery list.  I’m kind of a planner.  For me, Sunday is meal planning and food prep day.  And just so you know,  I’m the kind of grocery shopper that has the potential to drive you insane.  My grocery list starts as a general list and then those items are recategorized so I know which grocery store, of the four where I shop, I need to pick up those items.  Yes – you read that correctly… I shop at four different grocery stores.  Costco, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and Kroger.

I could explain it, but it is easier just to show you.

This is the start to my grocery lists.

This is the start to my grocery lists.

 

So why would my grocery list mean anything to you?  Notice what it does and it doesn’t say.  No where on that list does it say “organic” or “conventional”, “Non-GMO” or “GMO”.  Why?  Because I said in my first post in this series it is more about sourcing high quality proteins, fruits, and vegetables.

 

 

 

But isn’t organic healthier?

All too often I hear “organic is so much better for you”.  Well – that actually is proving not to be the case.  We’re seeing more and more research that says there is little evidence of health benefits from organic foods.  In fact, a few years ago the magazine Marie Claire even tackled the issue.

Here are their 6 Myths About Organic Food.

MYTH #1: ORGANIC FOOD IS ALWAYS BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.

Organics don’t contaminate soil and groundwater with pesticides and chemicals like regular farming does, but there’s a surprising downside: Since organic farming is only about half as productive as conventional farming, it requires far more land to produce the same amount of food.

MYTH #2: IT’S MORE NUTRITIOUS.

Studies keep flip-flopping on this: One found more vitamin C in organic tomatoes than in conventional ones; another found more cancer-fighting flavonoids in organic corn and strawberries. But other studies haven’t found organics to have a nutritional edge. What makes the biggest difference in nutrients is how long produce sits on the shelf. Spinach, for instance, loses about half of its foliate within a week.

MYTH #3: IT TASTES BETTER.

Nobody has been able to tell the difference except in one study of apples, where organics came out ahead. To get raspberries that taste raspberries, buy produce that’s locally grown, is in season, and hasn’t been sitting on the shelf too long.

MYTH #4: YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE AS CAREFUL ABOUT WASHING IT.

All produce, whether purchased from a grocery megachain or your local organic farm, is susceptible to nasty bacteria, such as E. coli (the news-maker that’s also been known to kill people). Soil and runoff water that’s contaminated with E. coli-harboring animal poop can get onto produce — particularly melons, lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes, spinach, and green onions, since they grow close to the ground. Your best defense: Wash everything thoroughly under running water.

MYTH #5: YOU’RE SUPPORTING SMALL FARMS OR ECO-COMPANIES.

General Mills owns the Cascadian Farms brand, Kraft owns Back to Nature and Boca Burger, and Kellogg’s owns Morningstar Farms, to name a few conglomerates basking in organics’ glow (and dough). And with such high demand (in the past year, the market for organic milk outstripped the supply by 10 percent), these giant companies are importing organic ingredients as cheaply as possible — often from other countries. Whole Foods sold roughly $1 billion in produce last year; only about 16 percent was locally grown.

MYTH #6: IT’S BETTER FOR YOU.

Not if it’s organic chips, organic soda, or organic cookies. Cane sugar is still sugar and fried chips are still fried, no matter what kind of compost was or wasn’t heaped onto the potatoes. Sorry!

Those are just a couple of samplings of articles addressing the issue.  I am reluctant to share this (because of the vulgar nature of the program – no really… please be warned by how vulgar it really is) – but in 2009, an episode of Penn & Teller’s Bull*&#t! on Showtime took up the issue of organic vs. non-organic.   If you’re not offended by foul language and quite a few inappropriate and vulgar comments – I highly recommend watching the episode on YouTube. They bring up a lot of really valid and interesting points.

So how does this play into my weight-loss journey?

A little over a year ago I had a conversation with the coaches CrossFit Fishers about diet, nutrition, and food in general.  I realized I needed to reevaluate what was going in my body.  I’ve always loved fruits and vegetables – but likely not prepared in the healthiest manner.  When we had the conversation I was never encouraged to only buy organic, I was encouraged to evaluate how I prepared foods, what foods I paired together and meals, and was shown how to assemble a perfectly balanced and healthy meal.

So over the course of the last year and 100 pounds of weight loss, I’ve reformulated and recalculated my diet.  More high quality protein.  More fruits and vegetables that have a high nutritional value.   My weight-loss hasn’t come because I’m only eating organic or non-organic…. It’s come from hard work.  It is also about understanding food and figuring out what works best for you and your family.  Buying organic is a choice and some would even argue a lifestyle.

American farmers produce the safest, most affordable food supply in the world and I feel blessed every day that I have access to the food they produce.

Part One: The more you know

The picture on the left was my first day of CrossFit 3/13.   I took the picture on the right 3/14 while in China.

The picture on the left was my first day of CrossFit 3/13. I took the picture on the right 3/14 while in China.

A few posts ago I said I would be adding another section to my blog because earlier this year I was asked to join a group of women bloggers that share a couple of common bonds – we have ties to agriculture and we blog.

For those of you that don’t know  – I’m the daughter of a fifth generation family farmer.  My family raises corn, soybeans, oats, cattle, hogs, and chickens and I work as a news anchor and reporter for an agricultural radio network.  Every day I combine two of my greatest loves, agriculture and communications, and call it “work”.

If you follow my blog – you know I talk a lot about my weight loss journey, CrossFit, and when I remember, I’ll throw in some of my favorite recipes.  This new section, gives me a chance to share with you that other part of my life – agriculture.  And at the same time – for those of you that don’t have the same background I do – clarify some of the misconceptions about how your food is raised in this country.

When people find out I’ve lost 100 pounds in the last year there are usually two questions: “How did you do it?” and then “What do you eat?”   The answer to the first question is hard work and a lifestyle change.  The answer to the second question – I eat food.  Good food.

In Part One of this series – we’re going to talk about proteins.

Almost every day I am asked about why Grass-fed beef is better than Grain-Fed beef.  My response is always “It’s not.”

KNOW YOUR MEAT

Out of curiosity I Googled “Grain-Fed” vs. “Grass-Fed” beef.  I can see why consumers have so many questions.  Page after page of articles that could lead you to believe that grain-fed beef will kill you.  Which, by the way, is absolutely not the case.  With so many opinion pieces out there it is difficult to separate the truth from the fiction.  Instead of me rambling on about things I can only offer my opinion on, I found a few things, from trust-worthy sources, that can answer some of your questions.

The first link comes from Meat MythCrushers, a website developed to provide consumers with information from some of the leading experts in the field of meat and animal science, food safety, and nutrition.

So is Grass-fed Beef Healthier?

And one last thing comes from BestFoodFacts.org’s ABCs of Food infographic.

GrassVGrain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not here to to tell you grain-fed is healthier or safer.  I’m a fan of agriculture.  I know that there is enough demand for all kind of food, conventional, organic, grass-fed, grain-fed, etc. that all of agriculture can be successful.  Grain-fed, pasture raised beef from our farm is part of my diet and a huge part of my successful weight-loss.  Why?  Because I eat a balanced diet that contains high-quality proteins, vegetables, fruits, and good-fats.

If you take one thing from this series of posts I hope it is this:  It is important that you ask questions.  If you want to understand how your food makes it from the farmers field to your table – ask questions.  Engage in a conversation.

We live in an era where less than 2 percent of the population works in production agriculture and we are generations removed from the family farm.  While we may not have the opportunity to actively engage with farmers and get our hands dirty on the farm, Social Media does make it a lot easier to ask the right questions of the right people.  Twitter.  Facebook.  Blogs.  Instagram.  Farmers are doing a great job telling their stories and giving you a behind the scenes look at the start of how food makes its way to your family’s dinner table.

 

Tied up in a pretty little bow

I haven’t blogged since the start of the CrossFit Games – so it’s fitting that this blog comes shortly after I finished them.

As I dropped to the ground after finishing 14.5 on Monday I fought back tears. Not because I hurt (which I did) and not because I survived (which I also did), but because as I finished the last three Thrusters and last three Bar Facing Burpees the 6:30 class was watching and cheering me with each movement.

Let me take you back a year. I had just started CrossFit. The Games had just begun. I still thought these people were crazy. A year ago I hadn’t lost 100 pounds. I still hadn’t come out of my shell and was still trying to figure myself out. A year ago – I couldn’t do a lateral jump over a bar. You get the picture. Right?

When the topic of signing up for the Games came up this year – I laughed. Out-loud. To think that I could do any of these workouts wasn’t plausible. I couldn’t grasp it. But then Pam and Troy and Rob and Adam and Justin and the rest of the 6am crew gently reminded me that it’s about measuring your own accomplishments. Seeing how far you’ve come personally.

I signed up, reluctantly. I struggled through the Double Unders in 14.1. I got my 10 Overhead Squats in 14.2, powered through the Dead Lifts in 14.3, and got my 60 cal row in 14.4.

Then I left for China. I hadn’t worked out in a week and knew I needed to loosen up. Sunday I came in to work some skills and mobility. Monday night I came in to get what I could 14.5. Jet-lag and all. And then – I saw a few of the 6am crew at the box.

A little fun with the CrossFit Games poster at the box.Adam told me not finishing wasn’t an option. So did Rob. And so there it was – my fate had already been decided. This miserable piece of shit WOD was either going to kill me or take me all night to complete. Rob was my judge. He kept me on pace. Provided encouragement. All of the things that I love about our community. All of the reasons my weight-loss story has been so successful. We finished the 21’s. The 18’s and then the 15’s. I finished that last Bar-Facing Burpee in the 15’s and laid on the ground. I was finished. Every excuse was coming out of my mouth. “I just flew back from China.” “Pam said if I hurt I could stop.” “I’m tired.” “I tried.”

And then – there was Rob… Pick up the bar. Let’s go. 3-2-1. Get up.

The next thing I know the 12’s are finished. And in between the swearing, hating myself, and not liking Rob I managed to knock out the 9’s and then 6’s.

Three Thrusters and three Bar-Facing Burpees stood between me and completing my first CrossFit Games. In the midst of all of it there was this cheering, yelling, clapping, and encouragement coming from the other side of the box.

And there it was. It was over. I tied a not so pretty little bow on my first CrossFit Games. The girl who a year ago couldn’t do a lateral jump over a bar just finished 84 of them.

Here’s to my next set of benchmarks and continuing to tracking my progress.

Like anyone, my weight loss journey isn’t easy. It’s not pretty. I fight my addiction to bad food daily, but I continue to work at it.

There is one constant that makes every day easier. It’s the faith and support and encouragement of the CrossFit community, particularly our CrossFit Fishers community.

The community is just one of the many reasons why CrossFit works.

They make me stronger than yesterday.

Getting out of my comfort zone

I’m sitting in the airport and realized it has been a few weeks since I’ve blogged.  February has been a wicked month for travel.  Central Illinois.  Louisville.  Louisville again.  Central Illinois.  The Mother Ship in Jefferson City, MO. And now – I’m in Peoria trying to make my way to San Antonio, TX for a meeting for work.

As my travel settles down – you’re going to see me blog more.  We’re going to talk about different things and how it relates to this massive overhaul I’ve had on my life over the past year.

In fact, it was upon my return from this very meeting, one year ago, that I decided it was time to make a change.  And oh how different my life is today than it was at this time in 2013.

So here’s my story…

RIP.I saw a t-shirt from a CrossFit box where I dropped in this week that said “We don’t build character, we reveal it.”

Over the last year, my body has gone through a complete overhaul, but so have I, internally.  I’m not sure if I’ve told this story or not, so forgive me if I have….

This summer in the midst of the Paleo Challenge at CrossFit Fishers – I was back in Illinois for business.  Every point mattered and we could drop in to a box when we were traveling – and get points towards our total at the end of the Paleo Challenge.  Last summer – I got ready – drove myself to CrossFit North Peoria (where my friends Travis and Kate WOD).  When I got close to the box I saw it was PACKED.  At that point – I had only been doing CrossFit for about 4 months.  I still wasn’t sure of myself – and I had this huge fear of these athletes judging me.  I still had such a small amount of self-confidence, I couldn’t force myself to go in to CFNP.  I tried.  Twice.  Each time I chickened out and drove off.

I called my Paleo Challenge partner after it happened and was almost in tears that I couldn’t go through with it.

Fast forward almost 8 months.

In the last two weeks I’ve dropped in three different CrossFit boxes.  And I survived each time.  It’s another step in this journey.  I’ve found that I can get comfortable outside of my comfort zone.  Yesterday I did my first WOD at CrossFit North Peoria, it was back squats, burpees, and double unders.  I went back again today.  For some power cleans, push jerks, and split jerks.  And the coaching was amazing.

It’ll be 2 1/2 weeks that I’ve been gone from CrossFit Fishers – and I’m anxious to get back (especially with the Games getting ready to start)…. But I definitely feel like I’ve found a home away from home here in Peoria.  And that makes the once uncomfortable… comfortable.

And I dig it.

I’ve caved….

This is going to be short and sweet.

TheGames14

I’ve succumbed to peer pressure.

I just signed up for the 2014 CrossFit Games. I’ve been adamantly against doing this since it came up the first time in the morning announcements at the box. Here’s why – I’m still really out of shape.  I’m still one of the least-fittest athletes on the planet.  Not to mention, the first time any form of Pull-Ups are in a WOD I’m finished.

But this morning Shellie and Justin made a really good point – it’s about being able to track my progress.  A year from now – I’ll be in better shape.  I’ll have those Chest to Bar, Toes to Bar, and even plain old pull-ups down.  But I won’t be able to judge my progress from the previous year.

Now I can.

So Pam, Troy, Justin, Shellie, Adam, and to most importantly, to myself – I’m in.

Here’s to embracing being one of the least fittest athletes on the planet…. And loving every minute of it.