Crossfit In A Skirt

Fitness. Modestly.

Bouncing Back — May 5, 2017

Bouncing Back

So even though I consider myself pretty well researched in the area of birth, labor, breastfeeding…I heard a new word this week that has sent me reeling.

Granulation.

When we got pregnant, I was delighted to be having a spring baby. My mind flirted with images of sunny walks in the park, breezy mornings in the backyard and weeks  upon weeks of not-going-to-work-bliss. This would all lead to my 6 week appointment where my midwife would be pleased with how quickly I bounced back, declare me healthy and fit to resume all regular activities.

And the last 6 weeks have been an amazing adventure of learning about the little creation that has graced our home. My mood has been high. I so look forward to spending my days as Benton’s mom. Doting on him. Holding him. Rocking him. Feeding him. But the postpartum body that I’ve found myself in has held me back from considering it anything close to blissful.

“How are you doing?” It’s the most common question asked of new mothers. It’s a fine question to ask. But do you want to know the real answer?

The snail-like pace of my recovery has put quite the foggy cloud over my sunny mental images. I don’t go on spontaneous walks with him. I rarely sit in the backyard with him, enjoying the spring air.

I’ve been uncomfortable. I spent two hours in post-birth repairs and my intelligently designed body has been doing it’s best to heal…but it’s been rough. I’ve been unable to feel the freedom to get up and walk normally. I can’t sit very long. I can’t stand very long.

Through the discomfort, I’ve attended some meetings, some church services. I do the grocery shopping and a little bit of extra when visitors are in town. I’ll smile through it. I’m glad to be out.

Maybe I just need more time, I reasoned. It’s gotten a little better as the weeks have passed. But the time has come. The time for the 6 week follow-up.

I made the appointment to coincide with Benton’s nap so he would sleep through the questions I would answer, the examination and the results my midwife would give.

Blood pressure is awesome. PPD screening passed with flying colors. We got around to the big question and I told her about my discomfort. Upon examination she informed me I had granulation tissue.

Granny-who?

Tissue that was outside of my sutures. Tender little guys that were making my recovery so uncomfortable and seem so distant. They needed to be removed.

I had never heard the term before. Didn’t know it was even possible.

I will spare you the details of the procedure that followed.

I didn’t cry during labor, delivery or any of the birth. Not during post-birth repairs.

But I screamed and cried during this event. Hot tears. Getting numbed was the worst. Silver nitrate cauterization was worse than the worst.

Sweet Benton slept through it all.

I cried because of the pain. I cried because of the last 6 weeks. And the weeks ahead that will be the same. I cried out of disappointment. I cried out of frustration. I cried out of confusion. I soaked though a pile of tissues in the exam room feeling helpless.

I cried because I didn’t expect this. I wasn’t prepared for this. Why hadn’t I ever heard about this? Someone should’ve told me this, right?

I’ve since researched this new term. There’s no way to know who will experience it and who won’t. I read that some women considered the removal procedure to be ‘painless’. Others shared my sentiments.

More bad news. I have diastasis recti. Physical therapy was recommended. More tears. I truly thought the hard part was over on March 25th at 10:04 PM. Silly me.

I spent the next 24 hours in bed. Waves of pain came and went. My sweet husband raced home from work – cared for Benton, cared for me and cared for our home.

I was weepy for a day. Upset for a night. As time went on, the issue seemed to get smaller. My emotions seemed to be a bit shallow. There are worse things, bigger things that could’ve happened. And while I feel like I’m back at square one of the recovery road, I’m hopeful that my recovery will be complete soon.

Rest assured, you’ll see me out. You’ll see me about. You’ll see me smiling because, truly, life is amazing as Benton’s mom.

But know that it’s not perfect. I’m not doing any bouncing back. It’s more like a pitiful crawl back. But I wasn’t going to tell people that. Not during meet and greet at church or when I bump into them in the aisle at the store. But I don’t want to give false impressions either. Postpartum healing can be so different for everyone.

So here is my safe place to tell the world. I’m not OK, but I will be soon.

I’ve been repeating this to myself since delivery day and it’s an even more necessary reminder now – my body made an amazing transformation in just 9 months – stretching, moving and making space for the creation of a small human. If it takes a few extra weeks, even months, to feel ‘myself’ again, that’s OK.

My birth experience was amazing and I’m so grateful for a chunky, happy baby.

But in birth, in delivery, in postpartum life…there will always be things that catch you by surprise. Things you overlooked. Didn’t read about. Nobody told you about.

I clearly need a lesson on how to handle those surprises better.

 

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Fast & Furious — March 31, 2017

Fast & Furious

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38 Weeks

Our Saturdays have a particular routine. Gym together. Errands together. Home together. They used to include a hike or an outing but in the last few weeks, my feet and belly couldn’t keep up. This particular Saturday had the same agenda. I woke up earlier than normal. On Saturdays, I usually partook in the luxury of sleeping in ‘til 8 but my hands were acting up – I had been dealing with numbness and pregnancy induced carpal tunnel for over a month. At night, they got worse and kept me awake. So 6:30 a.m. was my body’s choice for this weekend. I cleaned both our bathrooms before I made a protein drink and headed to the gym for my 9:00 class. Deadlifts, cleans and push jerks greeted me and I modified weight to accommodate my rounded frame. After a good sweat, I stuck around to get my baby fix from my friend’s baby, Maple. She’s probably what got our baby fever started last year! Justin coached my class and stayed to work out 10-11. Maple and I were content to to watch and cheer on her mama, daddy and Justin from the sidelines. CrossFit is entertaining if nothing else! All our gym friends couldn’t help themselves from asking how close we were to the due date, if I felt like it was going to be sooner and commenting on the size of my larger-than-ever, barely-fitting-into-my-shirts belly. They’ve seen me from the beginning of the journey so it was long for them, too!

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38+4. Note my shoelaces.

I wasn’t impatient but I was eager to meet our baby and I was ready for the swelling in my feet to go down. Working out with shoelaces untied is probably not recommended for too long! I felt good but did not feel that that Benton was very near to making his appearance. I hadn’t even had a single Braxton Hicks. There was no indication that my body was priming to deliver a baby but I kept my attitude positive and was excited at the prospect that at 38+5, it truly could be any day. I had been eating my 6 dates a day, was using Evening Primrose Oil, exercising as much as possible, started acupuncture, got adjusted at the chiropractor several times a week for the last 2 weeks and more all in an effort to jumpstart labor. All to no avail, it seemed.

Justin and I left the gym at 11 a.m. and did our weekly grocery run. We hit a few stores and made it home by 1:00 for lunch. I told Justin I was going to try to avoid a nap and go to bed early that night. As an avid napper, the irony of that decision is not lost on me. I had 7/8 of an Amy’s pizza as I vacuumed and dusted the house. It would have been 8/8 but my husband helped himself to a slice. I’m just going to say my body knew it was going to need fuel. No shame.

I was getting the dust bunnies from out of underneath our bed (cause who knows how long ’til I’ll get around to it again, right?) and as I stood up I heard an audible pop. I thought it was a joint cracking and didn’t think much of it. As I walked to our kitchen, I suddenly felt a rush as I stood near our table. Justin was sitting a foot away from me as I watched in awe as my pants turned dark with water. My water broke in classic Hollywood fashion at 3:10 p.m. I danced around, trying to shed my pants as Justin exclaimed the tub would be a better place for that.

I lost the rest of my water and mucus plug and immediately placed a call to our midwife. Once water breaks, a 24 hour timer starts and we need to deliver the baby within that time. With no contractions on the horizon, the race was on. But I can be competitive so that was OK with me!

I was instructed to down 2 tablespoons of castor oil and start a 10 minutes on/10 minutes off routine with the breast pump. No matter what happened, we needed to be at the birth center at 7 pm and settle in for the night. As I got in bed to get the pump started, Justin went to the store to collect the remaining items on our birth list and the infamous castor oil.

At 4:15, I had my first contraction and first small peek into the window of birth. It was mild and I started tracking duration, frequency and strength in a hastily downloaded app. No pattern was emerging so I didn’t think we were quite on the fast track to meeting Benton.

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All over the map!

By the time Justin got home, I had several contractions that required my full attention. He packed our dinner, snacks and birth bag and we got in the car for the last time as a family of 2.

It was exactly 7 pm when we walked into the birth center doors. Our midwife confirmed that water had broken and noted that I was 4 cm progressed. That check was the most painful thing I had experienced up until this point and I didn’t hold back letting the world know. She predicted an early morning baby so she held off calling in her nurses. As a first time mom, it would not be unusual to labor past the 12-hour mark so we were hunkering down for the long haul.

As soon as we got into our birthing suite, Justin dimmed the lights and turned on Benton’s playlist. I put him in charge of compiling it and he brought together a soothing combination of instrumental and lyrically meaningful worship songs. “Color” by Bethel was by far my favorite…that’s exactly what Benton was about to bring into our world! It set the tone for the room as I labored – we utilized techniques we learned in our Bradley Method class to help me through some of the stronger contractions. Ultimately, there was walking, sitting, swaying, mantras and finally the tub. For some reason I avoided the bed like the plague. It was the last thing my body wanted. I began to alter the peaceful mood of the room as the contractions got stronger. My birth song (the universal moaning of a laboring woman) increased in volume as the depth and duration of the pressure increased. In tune with the fact that my body was quickly doing its job, my midwife checked me again just one hour after we arrived.

I was 7 cm and her surprise wasn’t hidden. She noted the unusual quickness of my progression as she called in her nurses. It wasn’t going to be that long after all. Justin helped me count through my contractions as I labored in the tub, doing my best to relax through each wave. He counted me through many of the hardest parts and the mantras I had prepared were particularly encouraging coming from him. He quoted scripture and declared strength over me as I focused on each breath. He stayed by my side as protector, helper, encourager and birth partner.

The nurses arrived at some point and began charting my progress. I was to the point where I needed some help. Justin and I were at the birth center because we wanted an all natural, limited intervention, independent birth experience but all women get to the point where they believe the pressure to be more than they can handle. At 8:30 p.m., I was there. The option the birth center offers is nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and after several breaths, I wasn’t laughing but the edge of the pain was a little more distant. I could still feel the strength of each contraction but around 9 pm the feeling changed. I needed to push.

Intermittent monitoring of the baby’s heartbeat indicated he had dropped and was continuing to drop. I had a small front cervical lip and was told some hands and knees positioning would put me in the right condition for my body to push. Moving from my sitting position to hands and knees in the tub was difficult but necessary. 15 minutes of hands and knees had Justin helping me count through double and triple peaks. This was the point where I said aloud “I can’t do this!” And I felt it was true. Nobody agreed with me, though! Justin and my midwives continued to affirm my efforts and my progress.

9 pm, just 5 hours after my first contraction, I was fully dilated and I leaned into my first involuntary push. There was a sense of relief that accompanied. Still on my hands and knees, it wasn’t long before I was back in a reclined position. Justin held me up under my arms so I could push without sliding. Each contraction brought an opportunity to push two or three good times. Soon, Benton’s head began to crown. I could feel the sensation and willed his head to emerge with every push. I envisioned him coming earthside. I envisioned my body opening up to allow him to enter this world. I talked to him, encouraging his descent.

After 45 minutes of pushing I was exhausted. My midwife kept me abreast of his progress and with the next push I felt it – the ring of fire. It wasn’t pleasant but it wasn’t unbearable and it gave me something to focus on other than the contraction. If I could push through this, Benton would be here. Another 10 minutes passed as I dug deep and continued to push. I roared his head into the world just after 10 pm. The tub proved too narrow for the rest of his body to emerge so, much to my dismay, I needed to stand up into what they call a runner’s lunge. As soon as I stood, the rest of this precious boy fell into the hands of my midwife – midair. Our half water baby, half air baby was here at 10:04 p.m. Less than 7 hours after my water broke.

Benton Oakes was placed on my chest, covered in his birthday frosting and we made our way to the bed. They covered him in warm blankets and he nestled in. I could barely see him as my eyes were swollen from being closed and tense for so long but it was enough! His dark head of hair with a perfect swirl pressed into me. Total euphoria.

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Benton Oakes | March 25 | 9 lb 5 oz | 21.75

Justin cut the cord after it had stopped pulsing and my baby was no longer physically connected to me. He was his own person now.

We enjoyed the warmth and bonding of skin-to-skin for 2 hours straight as the nurses checked our vitals and made sure all was well.

By 2 a.m., we were discharged and ready to begin recovery in the comfort of our own home. At 3:15 a.m. we arrived back at the place where labor first began – but this time as a family of 3.

He came fast. He came furious. The human body is amazing. I’m so thankful that Justin and I entered this experience armed with knowledge, options, and a sense of what to do. Relaxing through those types of sensations is no small feat but I trusted my body and the One who created it.

Although I truly achieved the birth I wanted, there are so many variables between mom and baby that can dictate how a birth goes. There are no guarantees, there is no controlling it, there is only trusting the process.

Birth is hard. Birth is beautiful. My, oh my, mamas….isn’t it worth it?

Avoid lifting more than 15 pounds… — November 1, 2016

Avoid lifting more than 15 pounds…

That title line legitimately came from a birth/pregnancy book I had started and am no longer reading (for obvious reasons).

Why am I reading a birth/pregnancy book? Because WE ARE PREGNANT!

19 weeks along now! We are thrilled to say the least. This was is a much wanted, well-timed, planned-for child and God has truly blessed us with the desire of our hearts!

Back to the line in the book. Ever since the announcement I have lost track of how many people have asked (all in the absolutely sweetest way possible) if I can continue Crossfit.

It’s a legit question. No running. No being out of breath. No overheating. Avoid lifting more than 15 pounds. Don’t ride a bike. Each of these are guidelines I’ve read somewhere at some point in the last 3 months. So…just lay in bed, then? With this type of information out there, no wonder people think I shouldn’t darken the bay door of a Crossfit gym.

Here’s my question. What is it about our culture that sets a pregnant woman aside as a fragile and ready-to-break porcelain flower from day one of conception until long after diapers have taken over her life? This isn’t how I view myself – even being with child!

Do I need more naps? Definitely. But that’s about it. Oh. And more food. For sure.

There are many other cultures that reflect a perspective I prefer – strong, capable women continuing to work (often doing manual forms of labor), care for their families, animals, homes, fields, etc. until their bodies are ready to give birth and continuing once the healing process is complete.

So should I, can I, will I continue to do Crossfit?

The short answer? Absativelyposolutely.

The amazing thing about the timing of this baby is I’ve seen no less than 6 women in our gym go through the entirety of pregnancy and postpartum stages while still working out. And they’ve all done it with amazing vigor – modifying movements or scaling intensity as needed. That’s what I want.

I’ve really had to figure out what was safe and what I was going to be able to do.

This is what I found.

General consensus has finally turned in America – doctors now recommend continuing exercising as normal just not increasing intensity or adding anything new into the picture.

That. I can do.

Maintaining stamina, cardiovascular capacity, muscle tone, mental toughness and NOT gaining 90 pounds are all things that lend themselves to a healthy pregnancy and labor. For real. Eating like a pregnant woman and not working out seems like a recipe for disaster.

There are clear exceptions to this recommendation so be smart. Consult your doctor with any concerns. And by all means – if you or your baby are high-risk then it’s ok to chill out. It’s not worth it if it puts you or your child in harm’s way.

Duh.

But as for Crossfit, it hasn’t seen the last of me.

I’ve been able to put in an average of 4 workouts a week since this new life nestled itself inside of me. There will be a point where I will have to give up burpees, maybe certain barbell movements and perhaps even sit-ups. But I’m ok with that and very prepared for that day. It’s temporary and so worth the reward!

I’ve found so much inspiration via Instagram – personal accounts of moms that are 41 weeks along and still getting in some resistance band work, #fitbump, @pumpthebump and more! Staying active has so many benefits! You can’t keep me from believing that!

This growing body does require new workout clothes, though. I would be excited about that in normal, every day life…but maternity workout clothes? Nope. Not excited. Like. How does that even work?

I’m about to find out.

Much love,

HJ

P.S. See some amazing stories of pregnancy women accomplishing amazing goals here, here, here and here.

 

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All that Mod — February 2, 2016

All that Mod

So it’s February 1st. Exactly one month since we all made those pesky resolutions. Well – some people did. I didn’t. I should’ve. But I didn’t. Have you seen the videos people take of their gym right after New Year’s. Places are jam packed.

Did you make any resolutions? Are you sticking with them? I think I heard a stat that says only 8% of people stick with their resolutions. Depressing, huh? Justin and I started the year with a 15-day cleanse. Short and sweet. Not fun. I’m so glad that’s over.

But truthfully, over the last three years this workout-and-eat-pretty-good thing has become so ingrained in our lifestyle that it’s a non-issue. We are going to work out 3+ times a week and we are going to eat well 85% (or more) of the time. It’s just the facts.

So – maybe I should’ve written down some goals like I did waaaaaaaay back in 2014 – things I want to accomplish within those 3+ times a week. If I could time travel back to January 1st, I might make a small list that looked like this.

  1. Butterfly pull-up(s)
  2. Handstand push up(s)
  3. Ring dip(s)

But you know the hardest thing about working out in a skirt?

Finding a workout skirt!

So many are wrong, wrong, wrong! Wrong color. Wrong waistband. Too short. Too tight. Too thick. Too stretchy. Too restricting. Too ugly. Too bulky.

The list is endless. I might be picky. I might not be. But let’s be real. If you’re going to be the odd (wo)man out, you at least want to make it look cute! Well…I do, anyways.

Enter Hannah. Hannah works out in a skirt, too. Hannah realizes there is not enough options for an activewear skirt that is right, right, right. Hannah decides to do something about it.

Brilliant.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Hannah acquires Apostolic Sportswear. Rebrands and introduces a new line of sport skirts. Designed for women, by women! Hannah now travels the country promoting her expanding line of sport skirts!

I got a black Classic SportSkirt this summer and am delighted about it! I told Hannah how fantastic it was to have a another sport skirt option! I rotated between 2 skirts for a very long time. One got a hole in it (that’s what happens when you wash it 3x a week) leaving me with 1. So I ordered 2 different ones from other places that were a 3 out of 5 on the “I’m happy with it” o-meter. Options were so limited.

But no longer! I am so happy to introduce you to Mod Sportswear!

http://www.modsw.com

Running. Pull ups. Deadlifts. Double unders. Burpees. Hiking. Yoga. Chasing kids.

Whatever is on your list to do today, I promise you can do it in a Mod SportSkirt. Pinky promise. You’re going to get to do all the amazing things us women do and stay covered while doing it!

Just today I did a little running (brrrrr), dead lifting, kettle bell swinging, rope climbing and overhead stuff in my MSW skirt.

*Don’t mind my right hip being so misaligned. I’m overdue for a chiropractor appointment*

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Icing on the cake? You’re gonna look cute!

Sprinkles on the icing on the cake? It has a hugely helpful snap feature! You can snap the skirt at the hem for those activities that might cause your skirt to want to sneak upwards on you! (Handstand push up?)

Ice cream on that sprinkled, icing-ed cake? Enter code INASKIRT in February and March for free shipping when you order two skirts! One for you, one for a friend. Or one for a daughter. One for your sister. For the stranger on the street. Who cares? It’s free shipping!

She has sizes from youth all the way up to Ladies 2XL. Literally. No excuse for you not to give this a try. But seriously. Hurry. Her current line has been selling like hotcakes and your size might not be all that plentiful.

I’m so excited to keep up with MSW. They’ve already improved on the version that I have and they have amazing things coming up this year with a new design and new colors! You have got to keep your eye on this girl. She’s got the right idea.

And there’s nothing like a new outfit to motivate your tooshie at the gym!

With love,

HJ

P.S. There is something so amazing about the women I’ve met via this blog. I am NOT alone in being modest while getting fit and I’m so thankful for that. I so deeply respect the women who take their God-given calling to be separated and holy to heart and allow it to permeate every part of their lives. When I post a blog like this that specifically promotes modest sportswear, I truly hope you find it helpful! I have nothing to gain other than the hope of providing resources to women who seek to retain their dignity, grace and value in a world that has long forgotten those terms. ❤

 

The Weighting Game — November 5, 2015

The Weighting Game

“I wish everyone had to deal with a weight problem – then they would know how it feels.”

These words have never left me since the moment I heard them. A dear friend of mine was dealing with the struggle of her weight after marriage, a baby and another one on the way had taken their toll on her body.

She was discouraged. And I, being a beanpole teenager, had no idea how to process that statement. I had struggles. But it hadn’t crossed my mind to wish them on everyone so that we could all be on the same page. As I got older, I figured it out. She didn’t really want everyone to rapidly gain weight. She really just wanted everyone to understand where she was and to put a stop to the judgement and criticism she had felt.

I’ve had people make comments that I don’t know how it feels. That our lifestyle is not normal. But really – here’s a reality check.

Today marks exactly one year that Justin and I have been in NWA. We came here in the winter. Hadn’t had that in a while. 8 years, actually. What a change. Figuring out how to wake up in the cold, the dark, the bitter wind and get to the gym was a chore. Thankfully, I had friends who met me at the Walton Fitness Center to at least keep me moving during the coldest months of the year. Justin and I hadn’t found a Crossfit gym for him to coach at and really – I was OK going to a fitness center that was heated to a comfortable 74 degrees!

But the strangest thing started happening between November 2014 and April of 2015. I steadily gained weight. It was about a pound or so a month. And not the muscle-y, flex in the mirror kind of weight. It wasn’t like a I-can’t-explain-it-strange (cause we all know how to gain weight!) but it was more of a hm-I-think-this-dress-used-to-fit-me strange. I’ve never been a scale watcher but when I finally got mad one Sunday as I was trying to put on a dress for church, I decided I’d weigh myself. Fail. We don’t have a scale. I had to wait to the next day when I went to WFC. Gr.

I did the deed. Stepped on the scale (the real kind with a thingymabobber that you move to the left and right) and I was shocked. The heaviest I had ever been and it was 9 pounds more than when we crossed the state line into Arkansas. 9 pounds in six months. How? That’s the size of a newborn child! I was working out 4 days a week at WFC. So, what gives?!

As I stewed over it and vented to Justin, it came to light. Unconscious eating. Justin and I had been eating out more often. Even the best dining-out choices are not equivalent to home cooked meals with fresh ingredients. I was intaking a lot of fats – the good kind! Nuts, avocados, oils – but my body was telling me it was too much.

Once we switched to a Crossfit gym, my body got shocked back into action. I lost a little bit by switching it up but I needed more than that. Enter Justin.

He did the legwork in the research for me and came up with a macronutrient plan. I needed to up my protein and carbs and lower my fats.

In one day I needed to consume 100 grams of protein. 200 grams of carbs. And 60 grams of fat. And cut back on sugar a wee bit. He broke it up for me into 3 main meals and two snacks.

Now that I had goals I had to hit, it was on like Donkey Kong.

I became a scale watcher. But more for the satisfaction of accomplishment rather than the anxiety of seeing my weight.

I went from consuming 1100-1300 calories a day to 1700 calories a day. A bit less on rest days. But week by week I was surprised. The uptick in (the right kind of) calories resulted in a down turn on the scale.

This week – exactly 6 months after getting back to Crossfit and 10 weeks after introducing a macronutrient plan – I have shed the 9 pesky pounds. Back to the weight of my Floridian life. Not going to lie. It took a LOT of moving. And some days with the “who really cares” attitude. And some miserable mornings of doing hard workouts in the cold. That’s a nightmare for me.

Ugh. But it paid off. So that’s good.

But the best part? I haven’t lost any strength! I hit new PRs on several movements this week. Putting my (almost) body weight over my head is hard. Putting 125% of my body weight on my back to squat it is hard. But so worth it! I’ve made progress. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Progress of any proportion is progress.

This was a personal quest. Small to some. But huge for me. This was a first.

So here’s to you. If you have a goal of walking a mile. If you want to build muscle. If you want to do a pushup. If you want to cook better. If you want to model an active lifestyle for your kids. Figure out what your goal looks like. Recruit help if you need it. Most people do. I did. But above all.

Do it.

Here’s to you. You are capable. You are driven. You can be what you choose to be.

Even if it is one year later.

HJ

Tried & True — July 11, 2015

Tried & True

I am part of a great Facebook group (The Ms. Fits), and one thing the moderator often reiterates to the members is that there is no special pill, magic shake, miracle machine, mystic meal plan or instant diet solution that will get you to where you want to be with your health and with your body. It comes down to hard work. I cannot tell you how true this is! The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that sells those very pills, shakes, machine, meals and instant solutions. This very much appeals to our cultural and societal tendencies (get it quick and without much sacrifice) but they are really only putting a band-aid on the symptom of a problem that can only be resolved with a signifiant lifestyle change.

A huge, sacrificial, against-the-grain, out of the box, difficult, challenging, not easy, people-might-make-fun-of-you, sometimes misunderstood lifestyle change.

That brings me to the Shalisha. I met Shalisha in November of 2014 when we moved to Northwest Arkansas. She’s a busy wife and mom of 2 beautiful girls, wakes up early, works, takes care of her family and is involved in many aspects of our church. But she wanted to add one more thing to her plate. She told me she wanted to get started on a lifestyle overhaul. And guess what? She made it happen. After the flurry of the 2014 holidays subsided, she made sure she knew what time I was going to the gym and was always there waiting. Sometimes she was rushing there after work. Sometimes she barely squeezed it in. But she was nothing less than consistant. While we were huffing and puffing, sweating and working, she would pick my brain about eating, about cardio, about weightlifting, about running, about anything and everything that pertained to her lifestyle change. And that’s what she kept calling it.  A lifestyle change. She has told many people that she is not on a diet. And she’s NOT! She has used a tried and true method to reach her goals. And this girl has goals! But enough about my side of the story…I asked her about her experience and this is what she had to say.

~~~

When did you start your journey to a healthier you?

Jan 15th, 2015.

Did you have any specific goals in mind when you started?

Yes! To eat healthier, to turn fat into muscle, feel better, have more energy and lose at least 20 lbs was my first weight loss goal.

Tell me a little bit about where you are now in regard to those goals. 

I have cut my portions and have a lot less sugar intake (unless it is fruits/natural sweeteners). I do a lot of meal prepping. That alone helped a lot and then I started working out with you. When I started, I had never done a sit up, push up, had, like, zero flexibility. All I had ever done in the form of exercise was Leslie Sansone “Walk Away the Pounds” and some light jogging. In just a few months of working out with my friend, I can do so many different things! Sit ups, push ups, BURPEES, etc. I love seeing and feeling my muscles develop, I LOVE feeling stronger, breathing better, sleeping better and I celebrate every little victory! I have lost over 17 inches and 20 pounds…and that is with zero supplements, shakes, starving myself…etc. I still enjoy the occasional ice cream sundae with my kiddos. But I just make conscious choices about what I am going to eat, when I’m going to eat and how much. I am so happy to have met my first goal and now I am ready to lose my next 30 pounds! And I want to gain more muscle and strength.

That’s so much progress! What were the most important things you did to get you to where you are right now?

Meal prepping and exercise. Not just cardio stuff but actual exercise. And staying consistent. Even if you can’t go to the gym, do HIIT type workouts at home! It only takes like 30 mins.. and it is so worth it! Also measuring AND weighing. Sometimes the scale can be discouraging – but if you are measuring you will see that the inches are falling off 🙂

What was your relationship like between your self-image and your eating habits?

I was a really bad stress eater… I was always eating! Especially candy/chocolate. Food had become a comfort that was actually killing me. I hated the way my clothes fit, hated that I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t even bend over to buckle my shoes.. ugh!! I had aches and pains, felt very self conscience & depressed which in turn,  made me just eat more!

What about now? 

Oh my goodness.. even though I have only lost 20 lbs.. I feel SO much better physically and emotionally. I stop and THINK about everything I put in my mouth.. I feel so yucky now if I give myself an “off” day so those are getting few and farther in between. I love that my clothes are fitting better, I can buckle my own shoes… I feel so good when I exercise. It is the best stress reliever ever – besides prayer! It is amazing what a difference it makes on your whole outlook when you start paying attention to how you are treating this temple (our body).

That’s an outer and inner change! Amazing! How often do you work out or like to work out?

I like to go to the gym at least 3 times a week, sometimes 4 times. But if I can’t fit that in, I at least do some kind of exercise at home. My husband laughs at me and says I never relax!  When we are in the pool I make it count, when I am doing housework, I make it count! I lunge it up and squat all over the house! You really can add it in everywhere. I am a busy mom! I have do what I can when I can!

What exercise or workout do you hate?

Jump squats, inch worms, scissor lunges Love? Oh my goodness I love so many!!! I love feeling the BURN! I love planks, lunges, wall balls, push ups, dead lifts, sumo squats, burpees (yes I really do like them.. I like the challenge). I think the hardest part for me still is trying to do all those as fast as I can without stopping.. but, I will get there 🙂

What’s your motivation for continuing to change your lifestyle?

ME. I need to do it for myself first and foremost. And then my family. I want to be a healthy wife & mother. I also do it because I feel like God wants us to take care of ourselves.

That’s so true! Have other people noticed your new choices?

Ummm, YES! After the first 2 months, everyone started noticing my weight loss. My little girls love to work out with me. My oldest likes to play my conscience! If I start to even think about making a bad choice, she will say “Mom, are you supposed to eat that? Is that healthy for you?” Ha! Hopefully I am teaching her to make those wise choices also.

You’ve come so far and for some people, they think that those goals are out of reach. What advice to you have for someone who wants to get started?

Just start!!! Don’t put it off! Don’t keep trying to plan for the right time to start, just start! I mean you do have to plan. When I started I did all the meal prepping…but I had been putting that off forever. I finally just said “Today is the day!” And don’t look back.. It is not a diet. It is a lifestyle change. I always fail at diets. But I have not failed at this! I will never eat the way I have for the past 30+ years again..My life has changed and continues to change on a daily basis!

As you continue on this path, do you have new/different goals for the remainder of the year?

Oh, yes! I will drink more water! I am going for another 30 pound loss. I will perfect my form on a lot of the workouts that I do as I gain more strength & control. I want to lift weights this year. I will do a *real* push up. and I want to lose a few more dress sizes!

~~~

So there you have it – this woman has done some amazing things! She was generous enough to share some photos that show what the last 6 months of work have done. Here’s the proof, people!

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Her most recent formal event left her in a fit of giggles! She packed without trying her clothes on and ended up with some extra room!

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*Much thanks to Shalisha for taking the time to answer my questions and for letting me post this for the world to see! You rock! Love you, girl!

Hunger Zone — May 6, 2015

Hunger Zone

So we opened our fridge last night (Friday) and literally, nothing was in there.

Fruit/veggie drawers…or whatever they’re called? Empty.

Shelves touted eggs, milk and almond flour. Useless. Well. Useless since we didn’t have chocolate chips to make something sweet.

Some mustard and syrup in the door. More uselessness.

We don’t have a pantry. We have some cupboard space for canned goods but we don’t really buy processed foods so it’s not a necessity. So. Pantry? Empty. Freezer? Some beef.

This is, in them most literal sense, the story of our lives. It happens every. Single. Week. We eat all of our food. And this is called the Hunger Zone, folks. When, on Friday night, our Saturday morning grocery run seems so far away!

But – I DO remedy this on-going, reoccuring problem every Saturday! We try to stick to a weekly budget and it has to last us at least 6 days. That’s a long time for produce to stay fresh so usually I make a mid-week run to replenish certain items. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but – such is life.

So after I hit the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market (I KNOW! WALLY WORLD?) for their (cheaper than everywhere else) organic produce, nut butter and organic canned goods, I hit the Fresh Market for meat, snacks, nuts (to make my weekly batch of pesto!) and the rest of the produce W-World couldn’t provide. Oh, and Enjoy Life chocolate chips. 🙂 Eggs? Those come from Akin’s. They have the best deal and since we go through 5 dozen a week, that can add up if you don’t find the best deals! We also get beef jerky there. Really amazing, organic, almost-no-sugar beef jerky. And lastly, I hit Marshall’s. Believe it or not, they have some amazing paleo, raw snacks! Coco-roons, dried fruit, nut mixes, etc. It’s actually very interesting and worth the extra stop. If you have the self-discipline not to pick up an end table or ottoman while you’re there.

So after 4 stores, 5 reusable bags, and about 2 hours, I get to take my prized possessions home! And here is what our fully stocked fridge looks like!

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Top Shelf Fun! Sauerkraut, tuna, powdered protein, flours and water! Meat drawer holds my precious bacon,  Justin’s deli meat and on occasion…some goat cheese!
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Second Shelf: Nut milk, leftovers, tomorrow’s meat   and of course, eggs! We buy up the 18 counts – 4 at a time
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A stock of probiotics and some superfood (kale) finish off our second shelf…
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Refrigerated produce – Also, we don’t refrigerate a lot of our produce (bananas, tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, avocados and more).
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Our stock of Perfect Bars take up the room where butter is supposed to go. These are the..well..perfect bar for snack, on the go, to stave off hunger, as a meal replacement, etc. I take them to church when we have long music rehearsals!
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Meat. You can never have enough meat! I stocked up on $2.99 Tuesday at Fresh market. Chicken breast in our house is like gold! We also go through salmon, beef, and varieties of pork pretty frequently. Buying when things are on sale will save you big bucks in the long run! So be prepared!

We also hit the Farmer’s Market for the first time this season on Saturday! We bought some local eggs and local grass-fed ground beef and beef sausage. They’re starting a Wednesday & Saturday schedule this week so that will be perfect for that mid-week run I was talking about! So – that’s another stop. And my sister was touting the great organic finds at Aldi’s. So. Another stop I need to look into.

All that to say. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes time.

I normally start my meal planning on Thursday, have it perfected by Friday night so that I’m ready to go on Saturday. So even before I set my eyes on a storefront, I’ve started planning my big sweep ahead of time. So…yes, it takes time. But you can figure out a way that works for you! Some people are better at the “little at a time” approach and don’t have 2 hours on any given day to spend shop-hopping!

So for us, this is what a 7-day plan would look like.

Saturday: Slow cooker pork carnitas (burrito bowl with cauliflower rice, etc.)

Sunday: Chicken & pesto (spaghetti squash) pasta

Monday: Pesto meatballs (leftover pesto from Sunday) with brussels sprouts

Tuesday: Summer salad with chicken (click here for easy dressing recipe)

Wednesday: Slow cooker tenderloin with broccoli on the side

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Salmon w/cauliflower rice

And then it’s time to grocery shop again!

Lunches are leftovers, salads, occasional deli meats, etc. Breakfasts are any mix of protein shakes, eggs, fruit, bacon, sausage, veggies…well. Veggies for Justin. I still haven’t gotten there.

Last little tip. Keep your fridge clean and organized. It will help immensely to cut down on waste ($$), leftovers becoming moldy/stinky, etc. When you open it, you’ll know what you have and what needs to go on your grocery list in an instant.

Anyhow – thanks for trooping along on this very long post about food. But it IS very important. And I’m preaching to myself. The results you can get from cleaning up your body are endless. Clarity of mind, bloating relief, skin cleansing, stamina increase, freedom from fatigue…endless.

So do your best. Start small. Start big. However you want. Just start.

Best of “good planning and time investment” to you! Cause when it comes to your body. There is no luck. There’s just work.

HJ

9 Months Later… — April 21, 2015

9 Months Later…

So it’s been 9 months since my last post.

In July of 2014, Justin and I were in Clearwater, FL – he was coaching full time and I was working out like a mad woman. Or – to me, it felt like a mad woman! 4-5 times a week. It was perfection.

Back track to May of 2014 – we had received some information that led us to think about relocating (again) to Bentonville, AR. There was an open children’s pastor position and beyond Crossfit, beyond health, beyond anything else…that is Justin’s heartbeat. He love kids ministry. He has a passion. He has a burden. He has a desire to see kids grounded in faith.

Anyhow – May passed and I was in huge denial. Arkansas has winter. And God knows I don’t do winters. He loves me and would never make me suffer through cold weather again.

June came. The thought of relocating would pop up and I would happily suppress it.

July came. He’s a full time Crossfit coach! Nothing could pull him away from that!

August came and the leadership at Calvary Tabernacle in Bentonville, AR wanted to fly us out to visit the area.

No. Way. My head could not wrap around leaving Florida. I told Justin August wasn’t an option. I was too busy. (I WAS working every weekend.) Then I went in the bathroom and cried like child. A small child. Big, huge, alligator tears. Wretched sobs. My heart broke and only a supernatural miracle was going to mend it.

September came. We flew into XNA in Fayetteville, AR. Home of the Duggars. #19kids. My reservations were still in full swing.

We stepped off the plane into this ridiculously beautiful weather. Breezy. Sunny. We met people. We walked trails. We ate crepes and tacos off of food trucks. We went to a softball game. And didn’t sweat a drop. We dropped by a Crossfit gym. We walked the square. Sat on a bench and decided we could raise a family in Bentonville, AR. Soon after arriving back to FL, we accepted the offer to become the Kids Ministry Directors at Calvary Tabernacle.

A supernatural miracle did happen. On October 31st, 2014, we packed up our small apartment on Seagate Drive. And on November 3rd, we left FL. I still had more of those alligator tears left. So I let them out. We left our roots. We left family. We left friends. We left the beach and the palm trees. We left full time Crossfit.

Along with his position at the church, Justin got a full time job with Walmart headquarters the day after we arrived in AR. It was another 8 weeks before God placed the perfect nanny family in my life.

We are deliriously happy. The people, the city, the church, the environment – they are all a perfect fit for our lifestyle. God knew what he was doing. He DOES love me. Although, we have had several talks about the winter.

All this and there’s just one glitch. Crossfit doesn’t fit in the budget. I won’t lie to you. It is expensive. Always has been. We were incredibly blessed to have been fee free for so long. Justin working in it had provided a way for us in the past.

So what to do now? How’s a Crossfit girl supposed to survive?

Well – Justin’s job is with Walmart and they provide access to a state-of-the-art fitness center designed solely for Walmart employees and their dependents. We went with it. Better than nothing.

It has been such a blessing to be part of the Walton Life Fitness Center. I’ve had the opportunity to introduce many of my new friends to the physical fitness side of health. There are women who have lost weight, women who have found their motivation, women who have regained confidence….I love to reach out and encourage my girlfriends! This open door has been amazing.

But.

I’ve gained weight since we moved here. Dresses, skirts, even shirts don’t fit the same way. It’s not a lot of weight but it’s unhealthy weight and enough that I notice it. My body was so used to being shocked into action in Crossfit that the WLFC couldn’t offer the challenge, the programming, the motivation that I needed to stay trim. I’ve tried! I use their weight lifting equipment, their tracks, their Crossfit-esque equipment to push myself. But really. I need to tighten up my diet and get back to Crossfit.

It’s been 6 months since we moved. 6 months at WLFC.

I had my first Crossfit workout yesterday. Justin and I dropped in at a box that opened in August. It hurt so good.

We are going to make it work. Justin’s work schedule is set to change on May 18th. He might be able to start coaching part time. That would take care of our membership fees.

This would be another miracle. I can’t be buying new clothes! That’s not in the budget, either!

So to wrap this all up – HUGE changes.

Good changes.

Amazing changes.

I cannot say enough good things about Bentonville, AR. About the people. About our new lives.

I met Jessa Duggar.

Jill Duggar works out in her skirt at WLFC, too.

Calvary Tabernacle Kids (CTKids) is growing, thriving and God has truly blessed us with a great group of kids.

We are starting a vegetable/herb garden. Couldn’t do that on our 3rd floor patio in FL!

Our marriage has seen amazing growth through this time of spreading our wings and trusting God.

He knows what he’s doing. Why it’s hard to remember that through clouds of emotion is beyond me. But we are on the other side of the biggest transition of our lives. 9 months since my last post. And 9 months later, I am thankful.

HJ

*Sorry to anyone who thought this post was baby related. The 9 month time gap is totally coincidental.

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*Photo Credit: Courtney Boyd, Nova93 Photography

Summer and Such… — July 15, 2014

Summer and Such…

It’s been almost 3 months since my last post. I’m well aware, thank you very much.

But seriously – some of the best things have been happening! 

When Justin and I went on our trip to NYC, we were contemplating a career change for him. He switched from medical care to preventative health in January of 2013 and was recruited to join a supplement company as they go from multi-million dollar company to multi-multi-multi million dollar company! What a fantastic and valuable experience…!

We also joined The Next Level Crossfit Tampa (as you know). In October of 2013, Justin became certified as a Crossfit trainer and  started working any extra hours he could coaching night classes and on the weekends.

 

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He found that he love, l-o-v-e, loved it.Enough to do it all the time. Enough to want to learn how to run the box in hopes of opening his own at some point. We contemplated the pros and cons for months. It’s a pay cut. It has risk involved. But he loves it. It loves him. It’s flexible. He can learn the business without owning the business. We don’t have kids. Or a mortgage. Or debt. So why not take the leap?

So that was that. After praying, thinking, talking, debating, stressing, debating, talking, thinking, praying and deciding – July 1st was Justin’s official first day as a full-time trainer and Crossfit coach at TNL Tampa. It’s been a full 2 weeks since he’s taken the position.

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He works with fantastic, skilled co-coaches, has a great boss and I keep hearing such positive feedback from all of the members at the box about his people skills, his training style and his passion for the sport. But the best part is that once he settles in, he will begin working on piloting TNL’s personal training program. 

This is amazing to me for several reasons. First, Crossfit can be intimidating. I don’t care who you are. When you see the videos of big athletes throwing around heavy, large objects, dangling from bars and rings, all while sweating profusely with their muscles bursting at the seams…it just has a way of making people want to avoid it. That’s the effect it had on me, anyhow. I did an 8 week personal training session that set me up for success in the Crossfit environment – I worked on learning the movements, the mechanics, the lingo, the workouts, the equipment. It was all brand new to to this traditional machines and treadmills girl. Now I’m a huge advocate for getting involved in Crossfit in any way you can. Including starting small with a personal trainer.

That being said, personal training at a Crossfit box offers a non-intimidating introduction to Crossfit and all of its beauty!

Second, it will be available in many different forms! Clients can split between classes and personal sessions, small groups can be accommodated (group of 3 girlfriends, etc.), it can be an 8-week program or as extended as the client wants or needs, it can be as frequent or infrequent as needed and it can be scaled to athlete of all abilities.

Lastly, it can be customized! Crossfit workouts are varied daily – that’s the point. It’s not just about weight loss or only muscle building or only cardio. It’s about doing it all. But in all of that variety, some skills may not be practiced or consistently utilized.  With the option of starting off with or adding in personal training, the client has the advantage of charting the course and setting the goal – whatever that may be.

Focus on skills. Focus on form. Focus on weight loss. Focus on toning. Train for a competition. Train for an obstacle race.  Whatever it may be, a custom program is designed and applied for each client to obtain optimal results. 

This is exciting to me! I cannot wait to see what blossoms from his endeavor…!

If you happen to live in the Tampa/Clearwater/Westchase area, give TNL a call and set up a consultation to see if Justin can help you hit your goal. Tell him I sent you. Maybe he’ll give you a special deal!

With love for all things fit,

HJ

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NYC & Paleo Me — April 27, 2014

NYC & Paleo Me

My husband and I took a trip up to NYC last week to celebrate our 2nd anniversary. It was fabulous.

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About to depart!

The hustle and bustle, the people, Times Square, the clothes, the view, Broadway, 5th Ave., the food.

Oh, the food. We ate our way through that city faster than you can say “Vive la Crepe”. We had pre-determined that we weren’t going to hold back. Gluten. Get in our bellies. Grain. Goes in the mouth. Sugar. Sure thing. Nothing was off limits. It was an all out food fest. We had crepes, waffles, fried chicken fingers, sushi, ice cream, popcorn, and I even had an (organic) soda. Oh, my taste buds were tantalized! There was an amazing Paleo place we found that my husband loved. It was awesome – but not what I was in New York for!

(I do recommend Hu Kitchen to each and everyone of you who are more restrained than I and want to stay healthy on your next trip to NYC)

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Hu Kitchen – Paleo Perfection!
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Nutella & Strawberry Crepe for this Girl!
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Most decadent waffle ever. Syrup would have ruined this.
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Poconos Ice Cream!

Then…after a few days of this unbridled fun, the funniest things started to happen. Well, of course I coughed and coughed and coughed the entire trip. That’s my trademark reaction to gluten. But something else. My husband lost his six pack somewhere (I think it was at the crepe place). I lost the glow in my skin (I think it was the sugar). His skin started to flare up. I had a furious headache and terrible fatigue. All of these outward signs of what we were doing to our insides.

By the time Easter Sunday rolled around (we got home Saturday) I could not get off of the couch. We went to church but as soon as we got home – done. Down for the count. Terrible.

Well, it’s been exactly a week since we’ve been home. On Monday my husband went 100% Paleo. I did too. Until 4 p.m. that day. I HAD to have a Lara bar. Then some chips. And some sour cream on my taco.

Oh boy.

Not a good start. I am ALL or NOTHING in so many areas of my life. This is not one of them.

Tuesday. Paleo. All day. Until 4 p.m. I was STARVING.

Wednesday. Paleo. Until 5 p.m. Chocolate covered nuts. But Justin found his six pack. Good for him. Uggghhh.

Thursday. Paleo. Good job, me. Skin clear and glowing again…

Friday. Paleo. Until 6 p.m. Had to have sauce with my chicken.

That’s when I decided I had to get organized. I ordered a Paleo e-cookbook package and my husband and I sat down and listed all our meals and snacks for the week. I have to be prepared. If I don’t, I freak out and eat whatever is available at work.

I felt much better today. We went shopping at our favorite place – Nature’s Food Patch in Clearwater. We have a super full fridge and we prepped snacks to last us through Wednesday.

Paleo Corn Chips with Spicy Avocado Hummus and Raw Paleo Balls are going to get me through the first part of this week.

This is just the beginning for me. I know I’m going to mess it up again. Same as I did when we went gluten-free. But if I get a handle on it, make up my mind and get my act together I can do it.

Variety and preparation are going to be my best buddies.

Oh, and if you want the super cheap, informative and resourceful Paleo Package, click on the Raw Paleo Balls link above – you can order it from her Home page 🙂

 

Much Love

HJ

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Central Park
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Amusing Musical!

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