21 Day Sugar Detox – an experiment in listening to your body

Google for information on any health topic and you’ll probably find the following piece of advice:

“Listen to your body.”

What does that mean? I’ll be honest with you – I don’t really know. But I’ve been working on trying to figure it out. When you start learning about Paleo and the benefits of real food you can’t help but get the sense that everyone must be riddled with food sensitivities and allergies. So after my Whole30, the nutrition nerd in me was really excited for the food reintroduction process. Not because I was craving a scoop of ice cream or a pile of corn chips (though I was), but because I thought: “This is it! I will finally see if I have any food sensitivities! I will have the answers!” Well, guess what happened when I reintroduced dairy, rice, corn, and legumes? Nothing. At least not that I could tell.

Fast forward to present time. The Whole30 was still great for me, because it allowed me to finally kick gluten to the curb. Again not for sensitivity reasons but because I tend to overeat all the things that contain it (baked goods, I’m looking at you). However, if I honestly look at the past 8 months, I was not doing a great job following the Paleo way of eating I was striving for. Instead of aiming for 100% and getting to 80% I was barely shooting for 50%. When I ate out, I didn’t even try to follow the template other than avoiding gluten. But I always still felt like the Paleo template was what I wanted to achieve.

During this year I’ve also stopped using the scale for my mental health, as I tend to obsess over it easily even though I think it’s one of least valuable ways to measure ourselves. However, a month ago I sensed I’d gotten too far off the rails. I felt heavy, large, bulky, and overall just blah. A step on the scale confirmed it. I realized my body was telling me something! And I decided to listen!

I had a feeling that the real culprit was sugar and carbs, and I wanted to return to the Paleo way of eating that I love conceptually but was not trying very hard to achieve in practice. I settled on doing a 21 Day Sugar Detox because it best addressed my problem areas. My experience was great! Some of the benefits I have experienced:

  • Higher quality sleep
  • Regulated appetite – I regained the metabolic flexibility to skip a meal or go a long time between meals
  • No more sugar cravings
  • Appreciation for less-sweet treats
  • 8lb weight loss

Most important of all – I now know conclusively that I don’t feel my best eating grains and beans. I may not have an obvious adverse reaction to these foods, but now I know I feel bloated and icky when I eat them. I’ve always felt this way so I assumed it was normal. Now I’ll have the fortitude to listen to my body and avoid grains and beans more often. The call of my taste buds isn’t worth the feeling after. Knowledge is power!

 

My first weightlifting meet

Running was my gateway into fitness, and it kept be motivated for a solid couple of years as I lost weight and saw my finish times improve over the course of 12 different races. I’ve since maintained a healthy body weight for a year and a half, and have been CrossFitting for a little over a year. Over the past few months I experienced a shift. The 10K I use to see a an enjoyable hour to myself suddenly felt like a tedious chore that I didn’t want to do under any circumstances. Then it dawned on me – I have officially grown bored of running.

Although I’m nowhere near top of class in CrossFit and I still scale every workout, I love how CrossFit is based on skills. In the fun and newness of my first few months of CrossFit I thought “hey, I should really try to get good at this stuff! maybe I can compete!” but I quickly realized that some of the movements, mainly the gymnastics, are just too foreign to me. I entered CrossFit July 2013 with 24 years of virtually zero athleticism up to that point. Do I think I can get an unassisted pull up some day? Definitely. What about a muscle up? Maybe. But I see it taking a few more years of consistent practice.

I digress. So what do I do to motivate myself  if I don’t want to run anymore and CrossFit is out of the question? Weightlifting. A few months back my fabulous gym Alliance Culver City posted a “Who’s interested?” sign up for a weightlifting meet. It was so obvious to me at that moment. Who was interested? ME. I even signed up for a USAW membership the same day.

Weightlifting has consistently been my favorite portion of each class, and I love WODs that include weightlifting movements. Why? Well, unlike gymnastics weightlifting seems like it’s in my realm of ability. It’s something I can work on and get better at right now.

1st weightlifting meet

Last weekend was the inaugural weightlifting meet at Alliance. The day was focused on learning and practicing what a meet is like. Most the participants were first timers. I had such a great time, learned a ton, and walked away with a medal! For those of you who don’t know, during a meet you get 3 attempts to snatch, and 3 attempts to clean & jerk. Your score is the sum of your heaviest successful lift of each. This is how I did:

Snatch

  1. 28kg – success
  2. 29kg – fail
  3. 29kg – success

Clean & Jerk

  1. 34kg – fail on a technicality (lowered the bar before instructed by the judge)
  2. 36kg – success
  3. 37kg – fail (press out on jerk)

Total – 65kg (143.3lb)

My favorite part about the meet was the rush of being the only one on the platform in front of spectators and judges. I was forced not to let failed lifts bother me, even though in class I often let them get the best of me. Overall I had a great time, and I definitely plan to compete again. My first immediate goal is to get my total to equal my body weight!

L.A. Reign Inaugural Home Match

When I first heard about the National Pro Grid League (NPGL), I though it was a great idea! I love the CrossFit Games and all that goes along with it, but there are hundreds of people who train like it’s a full-time job and never have the chance to make it on the big stage in Carson.. Now those people can have a chance to get compensated for all their work by getting drafted in a brand new professional sports league. This is not a CrossFit sports league, it’s a league of its own!

Match Recap

Yesterday I attend the first home match of the L.A. Reign and had an awesome time. The races for all matches of the inaugural NPGL season have already been announced in advance. Yesterday, the L.A. Reign competed against the Phoenix Rise in the McKinley Match consisting of  11 different races. NPGL promises to be spectator friendly, but I was skeptical considering it’s brand new sport and people are not familiar with the rules. Not to worry! A program listing the elements (ie skills or movements) and rules of each race, and a team roster was provided at the door and definitely came in handy throughout the match. Demos of each element in the race were also shown prior to every race.

NPGL allows for player substitutions, so specializing in specific skills is encouraged. It was interesting to see how teams implemented this strategy, and it was easy to see which athletes were strong in gymnastics vs. weightlifting, etc.

Two crazy moments stood out yesterday:

  • In Race 8, Noah Olsen strung together several of the “backwards roll to support” moves in order to get Reign the victory. What a crazy element!
  • The Reign went in to the last race only two points ahead of Phoenix, and just barely lost Race 11. However, the Reign challenged a call on the deficit handstand push ups and won the challenge. The teams had to redo the last 4 elements of Race 11. Unfortunately, the Reign still ended up losing Race 11 a second time by the same close margin, and lost the overall match by one point.
Race 2

A scene from McKinley Race 2, a front squat “mirror.” The barbell could not touch the ground.

Overall Impressions

NPGL definitely delivered on its promise to be spectator friendly and entertaining. The whole match lasted two hours and was easy to follow. Being in an intimate basketball arena allowed for some fun crowd involvement activities like a Flex Cam (a refreshing change from the typical Kiss Cam…), free shirts, and an awesome gymnastics/break dancing routine performed on the pull up rig during half time. There was even an athlete meet and greet at the end!

Tommy Hackenbruck

With Tommy Hackenbruck at the athlete meet and greet.

If you have a chance to check out a NPGL match in your area, do it! It’s a great opportunity to be a part of a brand new sport and get inspired by all the amazing feats our human bodies can accomplish. All matches are also streamed live online on the NPGL website.

HARD Summer 2014

Ever since HARD Summer 2009 got shut down early, I’ve been unnecessarily hesitant to check out another HARD festival. That, and the lineups don’t usually appeal to me. However, when I saw this year’s Day 2 lineup included Rudimental, Disclosure, and Tiesto I had to be there!

Getting ready for the festival, I knew I needed a cute up-do because it was going to be hot, but I’m pretty challenged when it comes to hair styling. Cue the hair bow! This style was extremely easy to do – I used this YouTube tutorial to figure it out. Since the rules said no kandi (of course they ended up allowing it in…), I rocked some Flash Tattoos as jewelry. I rounded out the look with a fun crop top I found at a random boutique a few years ago, and I ended up getting a ton of compliments on it.

Outfit selfie

Outfit selfie

My friends Chris and Rose picked me up, and we got to the festival pretty quickly. I liked the location being fairly close to Los Angeles, versus having the schlep myself all the way to San Bernardino or Vegas. Entry was also super easy. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to see Rudimental. We had several hours to kill before my next must see, Disclosure, so we explored the grounds. I liked the park venue with all the trees, but it was super dusty and hot at times. Once the sun set, the temperature was perfect.

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My friend Rose & I at the Pink Stage

All the stages were very simple and production was minimal, which is what I expected from HARD since they try to emphasize a concert vibe over a rave vibe. We really enjoyed the Pink Stage, which was focused around straight house music. Gorgon City was my new discovery for the weekend thanks to the Pink Stage. Disclosure was awesome too! Once Tiesto came on, I actually ended up going back to the Pink Stage. I think my music taste is evolving to focus more on chill music and less on mainstream EDM.

What was the best part about the evening? I was home and in bed by midnight! I really don’t like staying out late anymore as I find it hard to rally my energy, so the daytime nature of this event was perfect. Overall it was a good time, and I’d definitely consider going again next year.

Let the 2014 Games begin!

A few weeks ago I hit by 1 year CrossFit anniversary! In case I’ve ever been unclear, I LOVE CrossFit. I drink the “kool-aid.” In gallons.

In May I went to Day 2 of the CrossFit SoCal Regionals, and I had a fantastic time! Watching the individual women competitors was extremely inspiring. Tomorrow morning, the 2014 CrossFit Games begin for the individual competitors, and I am so excited. It’s hard for me to contain my enthusiasm! My goal is to watch as many individual women’s events as I can. And next year, since the Games happen in my backyard, hopefully I’ll be a live spectator!

Book Review: Eat the Yolks

Eat the YolksI’ve been listening to the Balanced Bites podcast for a few months now, and I really love Liz Wolfe’s sense of humor. The minute I heard about her book Eat the Yolks, I got my library to buy it (which Liz appreciated!). Now, I’ve had the chance to read it and overall, I loved this book.

The word Paleo simple represents the foods eaten before feedlots, global commerce, the refinement of sugar and grains, and the hydrogenation of fat changes our food landscape from one of nutritious, natural food to one of easy, cheap, and shelf-stable products.

In the beginning there was a lot recapping what was just said to drive a point home, which was a little overkill, but it teetered off as Liz seemed to find her writing groove. Also, this book has the tone throughout that everything we know is wrong. Generally, I don’t love that tone because it can over sensationalize and devalue the message. In this case, I agree with the content in this book and it does go against the grain (pun intended?) so it works.

The one thing I loved learning about is now our current diet dogma came to be. This topic was also covered in Fed Up, which I saw last month. It’s not a pretty story – so much of what we think is true when it comes to nutrition was developed as part of marketing or political ploys and is not backed in legitimate science (sigh). Processed foods are not food. They are industrial products! It is so crazy how those of us trying to eat real foods have to defend that choices to others because it goes again conventional diet wisdom.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants more information about food myths, diet dogma, and how we ended up in this weird place we are (as obsessed with diet as ever, but also increasingly unhealthy). This book is not for learning about the basic guidelines of the Paleo framework, it’s more about why Paleo is a great way to eat, and it provides great ammo for those awkward conversations that start with comments like “doesn’t eating all that meat increase your heart attack risk?” Or “what’s wrong with whole grains, they’re healthy!”

Now go forth, and eat those yolks!

CrossFit SoCal Regionals – Day 2

When I learned of the CrossFit Regionals schedule, I knew I couldn’t miss attending in SoCal. Even though I live close to the Games venue, tickets are expensive. Regionals provide a more affordable option to see the athletes in action. And since they were happening in Del Mar, close to my hometown, I decided to make a weekend of it and stay at my parents’ place afterwards for Memorial Day.

The Competition

I only really cared about watching the individual women competitors so I planned to watch those 2 events in their entirely. There is just something about seeing strong ladies kick ass that really inspires me! I was especially excited to see Lauren Fisher and Lindsey Valenzuela. On Friday I found out Jamie Hagiya, former USC basketball player, was in the running too so I added her to my cheer list (have to support fellow Trojans!).

Lauren Fisher killed it as I expected. She just blows my mind considering she is only 20 years old! I’m really looking forward to following her as she progresses. Lindsey didn’t do as well as I expected, and ultimately she didn’t get a spot in the Games. It’s crazy that 2 of the 3 women who won the Games last year aren’t going back!

Women – Event 5, Heat 3 Lindsey approaching the end of a sprint in the foreground, Lauren Fisher towards the back left.

Everything Else

Besides the competition, I was excited to see what food and vendors were going to be there. I needed lunch pretty soon after arrival. There were a lot traditional fair food options but also a few Paleo & Whole Life Challenge compliant ones. I opted for Pete’s Paleo over the Burger Lounge because Pete’s Paleo is a sponsor for the Balanced Bites podcast that I listen to and I wanted to try it. I got slow cooked lamb, sweet potato and roasted veggies. The lamb was fantastic, sweet potato good, and roasted veggies pretty plain/standard.

Lunch - Pete's Paleo

Lunch – Pete’s Paleo

Vendor wise, I knew I wanted a shirt of some kind and I was pretty sure I’d get suckered into a jump rope if they had them. I ended up getting a commemorative SoCal Regionals tank from Reebok, and an Rx Smart Gear custom jump rope! I got to pick my colors and length, and an hour later they had it made for me. I tested it out the next day and finally nailed double unders!

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My new custom jump rope!

The last thing I bought was some snacks from Steve’s PaleoGoods. I was happy to learn 15% of proceeds go towards a CrossFit for kids non-profit Steve’s Club, and I got a free reusable bag with it!

Honorable Mention

On my way back to Los Angeles on Monday, I ended up going to Burger Lounge and having a Paleo burger. It was FANTASTIC. So tasty! Highly recommend checking this place out if you live in San Diego or Los Angeles county.

Paleo burger from Burger Lounge

Paleo burger from Burger Lounge

Overall, I had a fantastic time. Attending Regionals really emphasized the CrossFit community for me. I loved being around so many like-minded people all in one place.