This week we talk about how we live a fit life with a host of other shit to do on a daily basis. We also talk about fitness plateaus- both physical and mental- and working through them with a little bit of grace and style.
Because we zip through a lot of subjects really quickly, and because I know that some of you will want little reminders after listening to the podcast, I thought it wise to type up a sort of cliff notes version of what we said to keep you both informed and linked up. I hope you enjoy!
First and foremost, neither Holly nor I are immune to stalls in our progress. In the past couple of weeks I have been dealing with some mental battles around my fitness, and it’s definitely shown up in my attitude from time to time. My training has been fun, yet aimless (The Barbell WOD is really a training program for the Crossfit Games, which I’m going to be honest, I don’t give a shit about competing in) and physically I have had moments of working my ass off but not being able to feel or see what I consider to be “enough” change. HUGE BUMMER.
BUT! Somewhere in the past week or so I had this thought: My eyes are fucking broken sometimes. When I feel down on my body that probably has more to do with my stress levels than my physicality. I both lift and look pretty fucking great, even without cheese grater abs. I can like myself no matter my fitness, and I can also redouble my efforts around finding a program that meets my needs in terms of goals if I want to. OR I can accept that I enjoy 90 minutes of cleans, jerks, and snatches three times a week and that my form has DRASTICALLY improved since starting the program that I’m on. MY HEART WILL GO ON. Done and done.
Holly has been dealing with her own stalls in training, and it was awesome to volley some ideas back and forth around how one might soothe the beast that is the little asshole inside your brain that says you suck. A few things we came up with were:
– Joining a gratitude list google group for community around the process (feel free to ask to join mine or start your own!)
After verbally high fiving one another Holly and I moved on to the question we get asked more than any other thing: “How do you manage to live that fitness life?”
Both of us agree that there is no greater tool than a calendar in the game of time prioritization. I use a giant paper calendar and map out my day by the hour, and Holly uses a google calendar doc. We both log our food, our exercise, our social time, our work, and our rest and meditation pretty much religiously. There isn’t a lot of room for spontaneity when one is running a business, prioritizing a training schedule, and cooking most of their own meals, which is both unfortunate and honest- but never fear! Both Holly and I write in our calendar one essentially blank day to hang with our loved ones and relax around our food and training. That one day a week is a sanity-saver and a game changer and reminds both of us that we are humans that exist in the real live open cool world.
In terms of food specifically, we both agree that a food prep day is basically vital for keeping to a healthy eating plan. Holly cooks all of her meals on one day of the week, divides them into tupperwares, and color codes those bad-boys with post-its. (!!!) I tend to either comb through my Pinterest bulletin board and make 3-4 recipes on a Sunday to enjoy throughout the week, or compartment cook (chop veggies, marinade tempeh, make a crockpot of beans, roast sweet potatoes etc.) and mix and match my meals day to day. Both of us tend to plan out our entire food week and eat similarly day-to-day with weekly changes to mix things up.
Making space for the actual lifting is not always the easiest thing to do, but for me it is one of the most positive aspects of my life, so I clear space for it like my happiness depends on it. I set alarms to make it happen, I recruit friends to lift with me, I work with a coach, I pop on a podcast that I have been dying to clear space to listen to and I get to it. There is no easy way to climb over a mountain of fear, fatigue, and general business and behind a barbell but I do it for my peace of mind. Maintaining peace of mind is a primary job of mine, and I believe that it should be for you, too. (Also P-fucking-S, lifting weights totally might not be the way YOU maintain peace of mind, and that’s completely 100% okay. I’m just saying, if you have an interest in fitness, getting involved in it can change your entire perception of self. It’s worth an early wake up!)
Holly said something really powerful to me about this subject that I keep replaying in my head: “We make reasons why we can’t and it is time to start making reasons why we can.” Fitness to me starts entirely with the attitude that I am worthwhile, and every time I feel stuck or sad PRing a lift reminds me that I am one that perserveres. I am a person that overcomes obstacles. Wellness is a gift I absolutely deserve.
I think you deserve it, too.
Last but not least, this week debuted a new section of the podcast, called One Rep Snax.
One Rep Snax are foods that fuel our body to build muscle, achieve ultimate bad-ass status, and revel in a little bit of flavor. Holly’s choice was Beyond Meat Grilled Chicken Strips, which she likes to dip in hummus and wrap in spinach leaves for a cook bit of fuel. Mine was Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein in Creamy Strawberry flavor, which I like to mix with ice and peanut butter in my Vitamix to make a PB&J flavored protein ice cream.
What’s fueling your body and mind lately? How are you getting through your plateaus?
I had just finished up graduate school with a Masters in Fine Art, I was totally sick to death of the art industry, I had no inspiration, I didn’t know where I wanted to be geographically. I was throwing up because I was fucking terrified and because when it seemed that there was nothing left to do, my eating disorder (in all the shifty ways that it appeared) was extremely appealing. It was a focus, a drive. It was what I was sure of when I was unsure.
I started lifting weights, which rules, and I stopped puking in order to keep doing it, which also rules. I am not saying that the day a barbell entered my hands I got right with myself mentally, but I am saying that when I started strength training I completely ceased to purposefully spend time with my face in the toilet. That is a miracle for which I will forever be grateful.
So I lifted, and I was hungry. Like, really hungry. The kind of hungry a person is when they have been starving and binging and purging for years. I ate, kind of unabashedly, for the first time in as long as I could remember. It stressed me out, it disgusted me, it annoyed me, but I did it. I ate food, I lifted heavy, and I gained weight. A lot of weight.
I look at pictures of me from my first year in crossfit, and it’s a little surprising. Lifting and eating changed my body really slowly and non-linearly, and even now, I see myself in that first year and I notice that I had significantly more weight on my frame than is really natural for my body type. I have compassion for myself then, that person really eating for the first time in forever, but I also understand why I felt deeply uncomfortable.
When I started lifting, I could no longer scrimp on even one bite, because although my will to be whisper thin had sustained me for years, once the dam broke I was flooded with desire. Desire to taste, desire to participate in social events, desire to take my fill for all the days that I had not.
It is with great care that I say that that year was one of the most pivotal, important, terribly difficult years of my life in terms of my self-esteem. It was the year I noticed that my will to be smaller was not in line with my desire to be powerful. It was the year I didn’t trust the process but I went through it anyway. It was the year I sadly watched my body change and showed up again and again to help that change happen despite my uncertainty.
Willpower is finite. It was what I ran on for years while I struggled on the elliptical, while I avoided various food groups, while I lost weight without care or regard for my health. Innate desire is something different. It’s passion, and for me it was also honesty about what is good for both myself and other people in the world. Innate desire is survival and instinct.
I considered quitting the heavy lifts multiple times, but the idea of letting go of something I loved so that I may control my body once again sickened me. I showed up to my workouts reticent, but I showed up. This was the first time I chose what felt right over what I had decided would look right.
It was a big step.
The post script of this story is that eventually, my body evened out. I had stopped weighing myself a year before I started lifting, but I am willing to wager that I gained 30 pounds in that first year. With minor tweaks (more rest days, most notably) and a big dash of patience, my metabolism noticed that I was no longer starving and kicked in. I am still much bigger than when I started Crossfit, but its not in a way that feels uncomfortable. I lift heavy three times a week instead of six, which feels natural, and my body is great. Like, sometimes I look in the mirror with surprise, because I look strong, confident, buff, and yes- pretty lean. I’m a work in progress, in both body and mind, but showing up to the barbell taught me that if nothing else, willpower is bullshit.
My will may have been to be tiny, but my desire is to be well.
Some people are able to do both. I am not one of those people.
And that’s okay with me.
I have had a fantastic couple of weeks.
I went to Disneyland, I got engaged, I got home, I returned to work with a job that I love, I wrote, I swam, I lifted, I ate food that was fucking awesome. This time last year I was working a job that was slowly killing me, and I was sick- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I had IBS that made me feel somewhere on the scale of uncomfortable to terrible all the time. I grinded my teeth at night and rarely slept well. I was well on the road to loving my body and treating myself right, but it wasn’t consistently clicking.
When I work, I try to keep these facts in mind. I often get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of effort that I put into Super Strength Health, not because I don’t want to do the work or find it to be a chore, but because most tasks simply take me about three times the amount of time than I think they well, and thus my to-do list is perpetually long.
But the truth is, this work has both changed and saved my life in a number of ways. It gave me something to look forward to waking up to- day in and day out. It gave me huge amounts of self-esteem and a ton of incentive to KEEP doing my best, KEEP talking to myself kindly, KEEP loving the shit out of myself no matter what. Super Strength Health for me is freedom. The freedom to love my body. The freedom to be publicly open and imperfect and raw. The freedom to offer my listening ear most hours of the day, the freedom to let myself be supported financially by something I am extremely passionate about. It helps me as much as anyone else, and to keep it going I have to remember where I came from, and where I am now.
Basically, this “day in the life” is brought to you by a feeling of gratitude. My life is fun and cool and I love it, despite the kinks. (Also, as I’ve said before: I think we need as many feminist, body positive, health at every size advocating, health and wellness practitioners as possible. If you want to talk further about starting a business in this realm, email me! Let’s build an alliance.)
6:30AM Wake up.
When I first started my journey to self-employment, I felt scarred from 5am wakeups and 3 hour a day commutes. I relished in never EVER using an alarm to wake up. I am naturally an early riser, so most of the time I wake up with the sun anyway. It seemed reasonable to allow myself time to get into my natural rhythm. That was awesome for about a year, but these days I find myself using my alarm again, because there is a 7:30AM class at my gym that I genuinely enjoy taking. Although rising to do something I love is much much different than rising to sit in traffic, it is still not exactly easy to wake up to darkness. I never regret it once I am at the barbell, though, so I keep that in mind as I stumble around in the dark.
For those curious: my breakfast is consistently oats with almond milk, banana, raisins, and peanut butter and I always eat before I lift. I know some folks are all about fasted AM cardio, but that feels like shit to me, so I don’t do it. Huzzah for bio-individuality and meeting my own needs.
7:30 AM Barbell WOD
Today’s workout was a warm up, a complex of squat cleans, front squats, thrusters, and push presses, some backsquat sets, some deadlift sets, a superset of push ups and pull ups, and a 7 minute AMRAP of overhead squats and toes to bars. I was thoroughly worked when I was finished and straight chugged my recovery smoothie of Vega Sport, maca, chlorella, pineapple, banana and almond milk as soon as I was done. It tasted heavenly.
For those curious: I consider my workouts and my food to be a serious part of my business. It is my job to practice what I preach and my workouts are scheduled into my life like work hours (barring illness or exhaustion or injury)
9:00AM Prep for my meal prep-clients.
A new (and fun!) part of Super Strength Health is vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar free meal delivery.
It is important for me to offer my clients the freshest local and organic ingredients possible, so first I hit up the farmer’s market. I get the things I can’t get there (beans, coconut milk, etc.) from my local whole foods.
Today’s clients got vegan taco salad (romaine, lettuce, tomato, grilled scallions and green peppers, salsa, homemade bell pepper cilantro vinaigrette, black beans, and walnut taco “meat”) and coconut, kale, kidney bean and chickpea chana saag with wild rice. It took me about three hours to shop, prep, make, and package up enough for everyone and they picked up the goods from my house later that day. (I do delivery too, its just much cheaper for folks to come to me if they can!)
I ate some of the food I made for others for lunch, and it ruled.
12:00 Computer time
This is the moment of reckoning for me, because my email inbox is kiiiiinda cray. I tried to approach it calmly with intermittent deep breaths. I don’t know what it is about the time I have to spend on logistics that tends to give me anxiety, but it’s definitely a thing that I have to be gentle with myself about. I spent three hours computer-ing and it was totally fine. A lesson to Lacy of the future: do not fear the inbox!
3:00 Cofee with this babe.
This is my friend Jaiye. She is most often seen biking anywhere and everywhere, but sometimes we both slow down and get to have coffee with one another, which always feels much needed. I stole this picture from her social media, as it was taken mid-bike tour, which is when I am pretty sure Jaiye is the most stoked.
I caught up with Jaiye at Timeless Coffee while the sun peeked through for the first time in days. Life was good. Oh yeah! I also ate some collard green chips with my Americano ’cause I was feelin’ snacky.
It’s amazing, because my title is health and wellness coach, but much of what I do in a day is not actual session time. Tonight I met with a client that manages to seriously move me every single time we speak. I am amazed at the people that I get to work with! It is humbling to spend time with those who are demanding self-love in a world that doesn’t necessarily promote it, and I am honored to bare witness.
7:00PM Dinner and band practice
After my session, I dove into some food (wild rice, tempeh, romanesco, kale, tahini and nutritional yeast in case you couldn’t tell!), and hopped in my car. Due to some flooding issues of our practice space, we didn’t have a full practice, so one of my greatest homies (oh, and our bassist) and I went over some lyric placement so that I am extra prepared to shred when the space dries out.
9:00PM Shower, dudefriend snuggle, 1 episode of Gilmore Girls, and sleep.
In roughly that order, I relaxed into my off time, mentally high fived myself for a very fulfilling day, and got some shut eye. I am an eight-hours-of-sleep-or-bust type of babe, so I have a strict 10:00PM lights out policy if I plan on having another early morning the next day (which I do!)
See you guys tomorrow with a brand new recipe!