Friday, January 27, 2012

And I'm Not the Only One...

Chalk and Chi is reaching out and spreading it's branches wide! I intended it to be a blog chronicling my discoveries of how CrossFit and Yoga parallel each other. However, Chalk and Chi now has a bigger purpose, it's not just a blog of cutesy posts and fab pics (of myself...hahaha!) anymore.

Looking around the web, I found many people blogging about how yoga has helped them become better athletes. Balance, flexibility, mid-line stability and improved body awareness can all be developed through regular yoga practice and directly impact the quality and efficiency of your workouts. Even still, these hybrid blogs make up a paltry few compared to the majority of yoga sites. There's nothing wrong with yoga sites, don't get me wrong. I am a regular subscriber to many, however, I don't feel really at home at any of them. Why? I'm a paleo girl...most yoga sites push their vegan/vegetarian views at your through their articles, banners and product placements. Sometimes I just want to read an article and have the underlying theme NOT be a suggestion that I'm dirty and single-handedly destroying the world by my diet choice (especially when said diet choice has made me the healthiest and fittest and happiest I've ever been).
In the end we all have the same purpose; 
to live a happy and healthy life to the best of our abilities.
Me, I really want to read Yoga articles that don't PUSH a vegan lifestyle on me.
Paleo (meat eating) Yogis? Here you go!

Need to know that others are taking you seriously as an athlete?
Vegetarian CrossFitters? Got you covered.

How about athletes that would rather carry logs while barefoot than weight plates in Inov8s?
Paleo-style athletes? Oh yes, I want you too!

There is bad science (like The China Study) out there but now we're in a position to get the GOOD science into the right hands.

Starting back in high school I became and then was a vegetarian for about 8 years, a vegan eater for about a year after that and for roughly 3 months of that I was raw food vegan. Since then I've gone Paleo (with some grass-fed cow &/or goat dairy, raw when I can) and really feel this is where it's at for me and my health, all the way. I guess you could say that I know what it's like to be on the fringe. However, whenever someone implied that I was an a$$hole for being a vegetarian (at college in Maine, the land of meat and lobster tails) it never made me feel like "oh that guy is so passionate, he must be right." I thought, "oh that guy's a schmuck." Judging each other is not good for our souls. Let's step away from the water cooler, stop gossiping and start speaking truthfully...that is, start speaking from the heart. Sometimes we make less-than-stellar choices, but it's still our path and we need to walk it. That is how we learn and how we grow. 

 I am a new breed of human, and I'm not the only one.  

   We believe that sick-and-tired is NOT the price of the American Dream.  

We have (re)discovered our strength, our roots and we are
fitter, stronger, healthier and happier because of it.

Chalk and Chi is a place for the new breed to share information, thoughts, discoveries, recipes, workouts, successes, laughs...whatever is on your mind!

You are probably one of the new breed also. You know you are if you live each day in the pursuit of health and happiness, think that veggies and fruits are pretty darn amazing little things, you will not partake in the eat-sick-food-get-sick-get-shot-up-with-drugs cyclical drama, think trees and meadows are way flipping cooler than parking lots, do the best you can to live a more naturalistic lifestyle (one choice at a time), exercise with intent and purpose (no ellipticals here), and lift heavy $hit (REALLY heavy) because you can (and I REALLY like to)!

Do you blog about this stuff? I'm looking for bloggers that live this new strong and active lifestyle! Please drop me a line on Facebook and let me know you're out there! I'd like to feature you :-)


Monday, January 23, 2012

Sunshine In A Mug!

We all need a little love and a little sunshine...especially during this time of year. If you live in the Northeast you know what I mean. It's not even respectfully cold right now, it's wet, drippy, overcast and is an irritating not-cold-not-warm. It's the kind of weather that drips ice water off an eave and down your collar. *shudder*

A Yoga-friend just gave me this recipe last week and while she refers to it as "tea" I'd like to introduce it to you as a "sunshiney hug in a mug" (how many people did I just turn off with that?! hahaha). While simple, it includes some very powerful health-boosting ingredients like raw honey, organic ginger root, and organic lemon juice. I have made it every night since's just fantastic! Okay, without further ado, here it is:

Ginger Lemon "Tea"

4 cups water
Organic Ginger Root, 2" chunk; peeled, sliced and then an extra chop or two for good measure.
Organic Lemon, cut in half
Raw Honey

Put the 4 cups of water in a pot, add the ginger root. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for about 20minutes (the longer you let it go, the bigger the ginger flavor). *You may start to boil off water, which will just condense the ginger flavor. Add more water and reheat if you need to.

Into a mug squeeze half of the lemon. Use a regular spoon (not measuring) to scoop out a spoonful of raw honey and put the spoon in your mug. When the ginger water is ready, pour over the spoon. Stir until honey is dissolved.
*My only warning is that ginger is a known stimulant to the digestive system . A mug of this should be no trouble, but if anything is already "stirring" down there you have been warned. Just don't start with drinking all 4 cups of tea right before you turn in for the'll hate me for days! Again: start with one mug and increase to find your level of tolerance!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Darkest Before the Dawn...

I watched a little bit of The Biggest Loser last night and, lo and behold, a Reebok-CrossFit commercial pops up telling me that the "sport of fitness has arrived." I'm pretty excited! I would love to see a snowball effect of everyone getting more serious about their workouts, then eating better, then eating even cleaner (organic and grassfed), then Kellogg's will turn to making un-grain cereals in order to stay afloat fiscally. The world will be a better and healthier place! Oh what beauty!

But it's always darkest before the dawn. Due to the awesome nature of CrossFit everyone will jump on the band wagon this year. It will be very easy for it to become a buzzword meaning "workouts that will kill you." Let me say this though, CrossFit is NOT a BOOTCAMP. Your coach needs to know how to arrange movement types, speeds, and loads in order to elicit a very particular response from YOUR cardio-respiratory, neurological, physical and mental systems.

CrossFit is NOT a Bootcamp:
  • It's not just any ol' hard workout of 20 of these, 20 of those and some tire flips. 
  • It's not doing 5 days in a row of 45minute painstorms involving hundreds of reps.
  • It's not a full hour of activity for activity's sake without focus on specific form and someone just yelling "GO! FASTER!" at you.
  • It's not lifting a million pounds any way possible just because it's hard.
  • It's not numbing out and forgetting what you did by the time you get home.
CrossFit is brilliant and scientific:
  • It IS hard: the workout will reveal your weaknesses instead of just being an onslaught of $hit to do.
  • It IS a method in which you take the time to find the current holes in your training and FIX them before moving on...this does NOT make the workouts easier!
  • It IS intelligently programming your week, your month and your year of workouts to create a positive training stimulus by varying loads, intensity, and tasks.
  • It IS learning. Learning how to do work safely and correctly because strength will only get you so far. FORM and determination will take you over the moon.
All this was highlighted in a video that circulated on Facebook in which an IFBB Physique pro does a so-called CrossFit workout. Her workout consisted of:
3-5 Rounds
20 reps of bench press (bodyweight),
20 reps of back squats (bodyweight),
20 reps of clean and press (half-bodyweight)
I hate to say this but it's stupid. It's a stupid workout. This is a great example of a hard workout but NOT a CrossFit workout. *You can see how NOT to CrossFit by watching this video. Using these same 3 movements, a CrossFit workout would be MORE likely to look like this:
3 Rounds
9 reps bench (half bodyweight)
12 reps clean and jerk (bodyweight)
15 reps back squat (one and a half times bodyweight)
Look at the two versions again and see if you can't see why the latter would be a more effective strength training stimulus. Even still, the rep scheme in combination with the weights makes this an advanced strength-endurance workout for an advanced CROSSFIT ATHLETE. The latter version has a rhythm and a pattern. The movement that uses the smallest muscle groups gets the lightest weight (respectively) and the least amount of reps to enable the athlete to keep moving and effectively tire the shoulders for the next movement. The next movement is an Olympic lift that, when performed correctly, will engage the legs in an explosive movement in order to help the arms get the weight safely overhead and locked out. The third movement then uses the heaviest weight which will again tire the core and legs making the second round of clean and jerks (heavily reliant on core strength and explosive power through legs/hips) more difficult.

YOUR safety and health is paramount as we head into this bright new world of CrossFitting popularity. I urge to please please please...continue to be picky about who you let coach you!

CrossFit boxes will be opening everywhere and many towns already have several. Go try them all out and see which one makes you feel like:

1) you're learning something
2) you're a valued part of a team
3) you're effectively getting work done
4) you're getting better each week!
If you feel that your workouts are constantly crushing you and/or you aren't able to describe the movements to a family member or friend (ie you aren't learning anything) then please find another place or trainer to visit! While workouts will be hard, you should not feel like you've been hit by a bus repeatedly for weeks. Don't get me wrong, maybe your coach is super nice or is really cute. But if they don't know how to safely and effectively get you from Point A to Point B you can keep them on your Christmas card mailing list but break free and find another place to go!

Best wishes!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

As You Rise...

Maybe I will lose all credability when I quote Taylor Swift in a minute, but one of her lyrics makes alot of sense! If you have ever found people in your life trying to sabotage your New Year's Resolutions or workout or eating plan then this will make sense to you.

"People throw rocks at things that shine."

One day you looked inside yourself and you said, "you know what? I'm better than this. I'm not happy and I want to follow my heart." That gives you empowerment, so you go workout or you go grocery shopping and bring home better foods. Whatever it is, you're empowered to make changes. So your life starts to swing UP and your internal light starts to shine brighter and steadier. Like all good things though, you have to work for the results that you want. In this case, the success is IN the journey instead of being placed like a pot of gold at the end.  Your upswing requires time, effort, patience and oftentimes help from others.

Here's where a problem may worm it's way in. Some people out there are threatened by those who are empowered. If you find yourself glowing with positivity and striving for a better life it is akin to holding a mirror up to those who are NOT doing either of those. Suddenly they see that YOU have the courage to follow your heart. YOU have the courage to take on life and do what is required to achieve your dreams. So everytime they see you glow, it's a stinging reminder that they haven't yet begun their journey to Happy. Some people are not in the right place emotionally to begin their own journey let alone to be strong enough to be your support. Anger is easier. When you follow your heart and your dreams, I believe that you are living a true life. Regardless of any momentary hardships, staying your true life path will sustain you. You cannot fall back into negative patterns, you cannot fail.

Haven't you heard that faith can move mountains? Here's something for you to ponder:
"So you can walk on water? You are no better than a twig floating on a puddle.
You can fly through the air? You are no better than this gnat buzzing around my head.
Master your own heart then maybe you can be somebody." Arabic wisdom from 500BC
"When you lose, don’t lose the lesson
Remember that not getting what you want in life can be a wonderful stroke of luck
Judge your success by what you had to give in order to get it
Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon ." Dalai Lama 
If you choose to eat more healthfully, do it! Don't let a spouse or child convince you NOT to do what is right for you! If you need to get to the gym four days a week, then do not let anyone convince you that you are wasting your time or that you are being selfish. Being a better person yourself will only make your relationships better! Some people will throw rocks at those who choose to shine. Your job is to go out there and shine!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Beautiful Wonderful Faith

Recently I read an article by Ben Bergeron in the CrossFit Journal about training mentality. What he said rang so true for me that I decided it was something I needed to share with all of you. So this is a recap in case you don't get the Journal, in case you missed it, or in case you didn't think it was a worthwhile read.

When it comes to training, Ben says to "think like a bumblebee. Train like a racehorse."

It's brilliant. When I do this I have my best training days. Bad training days usually result from a lack in either or both of these instructions. The idea behind this is that despite numerous studies and calculations, scientists have postulated that the Bumblebee is physically and aerodynamically incapable of flight. However, no one speaks "bee" and so the Bumblebee is blissfully unaware of his apparent limitation. He simply knows he can fly, so he just goes on flying!

Oh if only we all had such confident in ourselves right? How often have you caught yourself thinking you weren't able to do a particular task, even though you had already done it at least once before? "Yes, but THIS time I won't be able to." Haven't you heard? Nothing happens just once?

As for the Racehorse, she has faith in herself of course, but has complete unwaivering faith in her coach. When the trainer sets a task, small or big, long or short, the Racehorse gives 100% of that which is asked. The Racehorse doesn't finish a workout and wonder if it was good enough;, a good enough workout, long enough, intense enough, complete enough. The Racehorse also doesn't expend energy stressing about what or how anyone else is doing. The Racehorse doesn't stand in her stall wondering what kind of grain and which supplements others are taking. She gives herself over to the coach. Gives 100% of what is asked, no more and no less.

I've always heard tales of people going for a 3mile run only twenty minutes after their workout, adding extra workouts to their workouts and more. Whenever I hear that, I know that these folks are failing in either the Bumblebee or the Racehorse rule. If they weren't, they would have left everything they had on the floor of the gym after their workout and they would have faith enough in their coach to know that day was planned and placed there for a particular reason.

The next time you start to feel too round to do Toe-to-Bars, too slow to run the 400m laps or too tall to do burpees remember to fly like the Bumblebee (without regard to what others think you can or can' do). The next time you start wanting to add to your regimen, or concerning yourself with what/when others are eating, or thinking the workout is beyond you remember to sting like the Racehorse (giving 100% of yourself to the task which your coach has set for you).

Now if only I can remember to yell "BUMBLEBEE" at myself mid-WOD I'll be fine!
Happy WOD-ing!