Hey there guys! My name is Heather, and I am one of the newest coaches at Purgatory. I hope we have had a chance to meet, and if we haven’t, I cannot wait to get to know you. Uti talked with you guys about your “why” a couple weeks ago. I hope it gave you some time to reflect and find your reasons for being a CrossFitter. Today, I want to talk to a specific group of you: all you CrossFit Moms!
Many of you are moms. If you aren’t, you either know one, or have one. When you entered the wonderful world of mommy-hood, there were probably a lot of surprises. One being that your body had undergone some pretty dramatic changes. If you’re like me (and many other moms out there), this might still be a big challenge for you to overcome. I hope to give you some good tips to stay the course, and encourage you to take care of you.
There a few things that are super important for all of us, but especially as mamas, we sometimes have a difficult time taking care of ourselves. Nutrition and recovery are two areas which are so important to take time for during your journey. Please note: I am not a medical professional, these are all suggestions based on my personal life experience as a mom and crossfitter. As always, consult with your healthcare professional before modifying or changing your routine.
Let’s talk about: FOOD.
If you eat well, you will recover well. And so will your family. A happy wife is a happy life, so they say. And if you’re not a wife, insert the word: MOM.
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.
–Greg Glassman, “What is Fitness?,” CrossFit Journal (Oct. 2002) pg. 1
Food prep is at the top of my list for seeing results. For me personally, I follow a program called Whole30. It has completely transformed my life. And I don’t mean by pounds on the scale. Sure I have lost a few, but more than that. It showed me that REAL food matters. All calories are not created equal; and darn it, my mom WAS right. I am what I eat. Every 2 years your body replaces all of your cells. What that means, is that we plan for the now, but also for the future. If you have a weight loss goal, don’t be discouraged. It takes time to teach our bodies how to be whole.
When my son had his first birthday, I knew something needed to change. I was deep in language training at DLI, Monterey, CA. Not exercising or sleeping, and sitting/studying 12+ hours a day. Sure, I was eating an 80% clean diet, but I didn’t feel like it or look like it. I had gained back the 20 lbs of post baby weight I had lost, and just didn’t feel like myself. So first, I got my mind on track. I realized and admitted I needed to be at the gym. Not just for the workout, but because of the amazing community of people I knew were there to help me on my journey. Whatever your “why” is – you get there by immersing yourself with the community that looks like where you want to be. I also admitted that 3 days a week was for maintaining, and 5 days a week was for improving. I committed to twice a week for that month, and worked my way back up to 5 by the end of the 3rd month.
What does this have to do with nutrition? At month 3, I had lost 10 pounds. Enough to fit into my bridesmaid dress. I was pleased, but not really. Why couldn’t I lose the other 10 pounds? Over the next year I had to realize that food journaling and compromises were two things I needed to get real about.
Today’s food: Oatmeal with blueberries and honey. Bulletproof coffee. Protein shake. An apple. Some peanuts. Rice and veggies, and sauerkraut. What’s missing guys? That’s right: protein. Confession: I have weaknesses, but I couldn’t see it. I love to eat healthy fats, but I struggle with my protein and carbohydrate macronutrients being balanced. There was no way for me to see that without food journaling. Find an app or a journal, and write down your food. You won’t know where you stand, until you know where you are.
Also, please note: your body is 100% different than anyone else’s. Please don’t fall prey to the “calorie in, calorie out” mantra. Find a nutrition plan that is customized to your specific needs. Are you B vitamin deficient? Do you have hormone imbalances? Thyroid issues? Family history of diabetes? Do you live or work in a high toxin environment? All of these factors are critical. I encourage you to read a book called, “Wired to Eat: Turn off cravings, rewire your appetite for weight loss, and determine the foods that work for you” by Rob Wolf. I also encourage you to get in touch with CrossFit Purgatory’s in-house Nutritionist Nyki Harrington. She does amazing job of working with individuals to determine their specific nutritional needs, and having lost over 100 pounds herself, she knows the struggle is real (plus she’s a mom too!)
I forgot to mention the chocolate chip cookie I had, don’t worry, it was paleo. These and other small compromises can keep you from achieving your goals. Make sure that you know your “why” and how you’re going to get there. Failing to plan is planning to fail. That was what I realized when I saw how all my little “paleo” treats added up. I needed to plan start to finish. I am super awesome at initiating, I am terrible at finishing the task. (If you don’t believe me, take a trip to my craft closet. It’s full of unfinished projects!) If you have a slice of pizza here and there, plus a few cookies, plus a beer, and a few goldfish along the way, it adds up. Soon that 500 calories you died burning, doing the 9/11 challenge wod --- yep, you just ate them. And it wasn’t in the form of a salad.
Nutrients are EVERYTHING in the exercise/be fit/be well/lose weight world. Get to journaling, stop the compromises and last, get on a good supplement. Eating well is awesome, but sometimes we still don’t get the nutrients we need. Supplements won’t replace eating well, but it can help you with energy and recovery. Look into a high quality supplement for your mama’s body.
Now that we’ve talked a little about the foundations of food and a good nutrition plan, let’s chat about recovery. This includes both post WOD and postpartum.
There is a crazy amount of science on this, so I encourage you to do some digging on your own. Most of this has to do with nutrition. Personally, I feel that real food post workout is the best way to fuel your body. If you aren’t competing, there’s little reason besides convenience to use gels, recovery drinks, or shakes. I do use them occasionally, but try to eat real food as much as possible. The CrossFit Journal (or your coaches) have some great suggestions for real food recovery options. Milk and coconut water are definitely better choices than Gatorade.
Give yourself a BREAK
If you’re a mom you’re, doing awesome! Can I say this again? You. Are. Awesome. And you really need to tell yourself this every day. Please let me share three things that I love to help me stay healthy, and three top tips from a good friend. They start with the heart and mind.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to get religious on this one. It simply means taking time out of your day to let your mind rest and dwell on something positive. It could be your WHY, or nothing at all. Meditation is one of my favorite parts of my day, because it makes time for my mind to just rest. We spend a lot of time talking about resting our bodies, but what about that muscle upstairs that does everything else for us? It’s time for some TLC. Try this simple exercise: get in a quiet place. Use some relaxing music with headphones if necessary. Spend 5 minutes (preferably in the morning) thinking these words: I breath in peace, and breath out love. Initially I laughed a lot trying to do this. It seemed so absurd! After a couple weeks, though, I realized meditation is simply a way to quiet the other thoughts in your mind so you can let it rest. You can use other words that fit YOU better. Just make sure they are positive. There are lots of free apps/youtubes to help with meditation. One of my favorites is https://youtu.be/taxs_vhlxgs. If you have any little minions in your home, this 5 minutes might change your life. Centering your mind kickstarts your day to fabulous. Try it.
Your body did a lot to grow a baby. It needs time to recover. Even if has been YEARS, like it has with my 3 year old, you could have some lasting effects that need to be addressed. I urge you to chat with your doctor about postpartum recovery, and even attend a workshop on strengthening your pelvic floor. As mamas we are so hard on ourselves and our post baby body. You could be killing yourself at the gym, but still unhappy with yourself. So much of getting healthy is making sure that you are kind to yourself, but also having a fair assessment of how to do so. I urge you to think about giving yourself some extra love and focus on what your post baby body needs, whether you are out 6 months or 10 years. Who cares. Find a friend or a support group and let’s do this together. So much of our life experiences are initially for us, but down our road we find they help others in ways we didn’t imagine. Self care is something you will never regret.
I’ll say it again, You need to EAT. Yep. I hope you’ve had time to talk with our awesome nutritionist, Nyki! If not, find someone that you can trust, or do your research on your own. Having fuel within 30 minutes of exercise is crucial for that flab to become fab! Whole foods should be part of your gym bag routine, or if in a pinch, a clean post workout shake. If you’re a mama, this is especially important, as I’m sure you’re rushing to your next soccer game, date night, or a hungry family that needs dinner. If you don’t bring your food with you, 30 minutes turns into 2 hours quickly. Soon all that work you did at the gym is for naught. Food prep is a huge part of being successful. Let us know how we can help you with this. There are 101+ ways to food prep, find what works for YOU. Bring your food and EAT. You deserve a break 😊
In closing I’d like to share some tips from my friend Kristen Lanker Arnold, from Spokane, WA. Kristen is one of those people that I have admired for a long time. She has been to the games a few times herself, but she isn’t Annie Thorisdottir. She’s just an average girl doing amazing things. In 2014 while we were both pregnant and doing the CrossFit Open, she placed top 50 for the Asia region at 39 weeks, for the first 3 workouts. Say what?! Now while most of us aren’t doing these types of feats, one thing we can do is learn from something so crucial to her success: consistency and positivity. Through her first son’s newborn medical struggles, overseas moves, military life, and now getting ready for her second babe, she has stayed consistent and positive. If you don’t know her story I encourage you to take the time to learn what an amazing journey she and her little family have had, and what she's accomplished along the way. She’s one of the strongest Moms I know. https://www.facebook.com/kristen.lanker
- Make time to meal prep on Sundays! I need food I can grab out of the fridge, eat standing up, and go. Plus, I don’t enjoy doing three piles of dishes everyday, so food containers are a great way to go. It is easy to scarf down your kid’s leftover goldfish and string cheese and call it “lunch.” This doesn’t help us fuel our bodies!
- Do simple things to recover when you have many demands on your life: a 15 minute bath, yogurt and chocolate protein for a bedtime snack, recovery walk with your kids, morning mobility and stretch session before the kids wake up and you hit the coffee pot!
- Take time to recharge mentally. As CF moms, we know how to grind out a workout when we don’t feel optimal, or sleep doesn’t happen, so mental toughness is already woven into our day. Take time out from being so tough, even it is only 10 minutes, and do what you can within your schedule to rest your mind. Nap when/if you can, break from technology to reconstitute without distractions, get outside, call a good friend, read a favorite book etc.!
P.S. This is advice that I need to take in myself…it is not something I do perfectly! Always a work in progress. 😊
Ditto on the P.S. Kristen, we are all there with you.
Love and good lifts mamas. I am your biggest fan.
Here are some great posts from other crossfit moms and links that I love. Please share your favorites!
Postpartum/pelvic floor workshop (Goodyear, AZ)