Posts Tagged by motivation

Amanda Allen – Proving Fitness and Well-Being Can Begin At Any Age

What things come to mind when you think of the fittest people in the world?  I would bet that a 43 woman would not be in that list and that’s because you haven’t met Amanda Allen.  Amanda has won the CrossFit Games Masters Division (40-44) for two consecutive years and is here to prove that fitness and well-being can begin at any age.

Amanda-Allen-CrossFit-Fitness

Amanda’s story isn’t that of a typical athlete.  After years of struggling with alcohol addiction and depression, she decided it was time to make a change at the age of 34. Amanda dove head first into a new adventure and became a World title triathlete.  From there, she took on the sport of Kneeling Canoeing which had recently become an Olympic event.  She devoted herself to the sport with the hopes of making the Olympic Team and turned CrossFit while training as a way to increase her strength.  She did not make the cut, but the story doesn’t end there.  At the age of 41 with only six months of training under her belt, Amanda qualified for the CrossFit Games and placed 19th among the fittest women in the world, some of which were half her age.  AMAZING.

Amanda-Allen-CrossFit-Masters-Box-Jump

Photo Source: Amanda Allen

Amanda has continued to get stronger and better at the sport.  Not only has she won the Women’s 40-44 Masters Division at the CrossFit Games in 2013 and 2014, she signed with the National Professional Grid League team the Philly Founders, which has brought her to the States from Australia for an extended stay.  Since the coach of the Founders is also the Owner and Head Coach at my gym, CrossFit Milford, we have been lucky enough to have had her training here for the past few months.  

Photo Source: Amanda Allen

Photo Source: Amanda Allen

Amanda was awesome enough to sit down with some of the female athletes at CFM to talk about training, nutrition, and overall mental health one Saturday afternoon and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear what she had to say.  She shared her journey to the CrossFit games, training techniques and nutrition regimens.  She talked about the “controlling the controllables” which are basically nutrition, hydration, sleep, recovery and perception.  We learned how to best fuel for workouts, new recovery techniques such as floating, how tracking your menstrual cycle can help improve performance and a ton of other useful information specific to women athletes.

While all of this information was wonderful and what I had expected out of the seminar, I found that what resonated with me the most was Amanda’s outlook on self empowerment and positivity.  We have 100% control over our mindset and how we choose to live our lives, so why not choose a positive outlook.  She reinforced that being selfish isn’t a bad thing and that in order to become successful and truly happy we need to empower ourselves.  We should strive to find inspiration everyday and in turn inspire others.  She has even begun her own “Positivity Project” by writing down 3 positive aspects of her life every morning to get her in the right mindset everyday.  

None of this would have been possible without CrossFit.  Amanda says that it is the most empowering thing she has ever done and sees how it changes lives around the world.  I know it has changed mine.  It has helped Amanda become mentally, emotionally, spiritually and overall physically stronger everyday, and I couldn’t agree more!  

Photo Source: Amanda Allen

Photo Source: Amanda Allen

What a privilege to chat with a professional athlete and feed off of her energy for an afternoon.  While much of her nutrition and competitive training advice was a bit extreme for my goals, her advice on self empowerment and positivity is something that I can start working on right away that will make a HUGE difference in my life.  I am making an effort to fill my life with positive people and to cut out all of the negative shit.  Coming to the realization that being selfish isn’t a bad thing can be difficult to embrace and for others to understand, but you can’t be there for others if you don’t take care of yourself first.  Setting priorities and goals are what got Amanda to the top of her game and if I can harness a fraction of that determination, who knows where I can go!         

To learn more about Amanda Allen, visit her website and her Facebook page.  She also has two books that are on my must read list for the near future: Eat, Perform, Win and The Time of My Life.  But right now, you should check out this great video of Amanda in action as she trains for the 2013 CrossFit Games…

Signature 100x75

My Two Year WODiversary!

CrossFit-Two-Year-WODiversary

I have never ever ever in my life kept up with a steady fitness routine for longer than maybe 6 months.  Even with all the races I have run and continue to put on my schedule for the next few months, I haven’t kept up with my training like I should’ve.  But CrossFit…well CrossFit has kept my interest.  And it has not only kept my interest, but I fall in love with it more and more everyday.  It’s challenging, it’s fun, it’s rewarding and the friendships I have formed from it are just the best.  What is not to love?!

While I’m not exactly where I would’ve hoped to be two years into this journey, the improvements to my fitness, strength and confidence are unparalleled.  Here are some of those improvements compared to the first time I attempted a certain movement and then from a year ago.

  • Dead Lift: 63# >> 220# >> 225#
  • Back Squat: 53# >> 145# >> 155#
  • Front Squat: 58# >> 128# >> 145#
  • Overhead Squat: 43# >> 73# >> 85#
  • Squat Clean: 45# >> 73# >> 98#
  • Power Clean: 63# >> 103# >> 128#
  • Power Snatch: 53# >> 73# >> 78#
  • Thruster: 33# >> 75# >> 93#
  • Close Grip Bench: 48# >> 90# >> 95#
  • Shoulder to Overhead: 33# >> 85# >> 110# (split jerk)

Never in my life did I think I could lift over 100 pounds over my head…that’s insane to me! And the funny thing is, the clean & jerk is now my favorite movement.  I could do them all day!

CrossFit-Clean-and-Jerk-98-Pounds-July-2013

I still need to improve on the gymnastic movements like handstands and pull ups.  Hell, I still need to get an actual pull up!  Oh and double unders…I am ready to master those things.  But while those are not my strong suit, I have improved my box jumps and burpee efficiency by leaps and bounds.  

Other highlights in my CrossFit life this past year have included participating in Barbells for Boobs and raising money for breast cancer early detection screenings.  I can’t wait to do this again this year and I’m hoping to complete it in under 5 minutes this time!

Barbells-for-Boobs-October-2013

Also, attending the both the CrossFit Games Northeast Regional Competition and the actual CrossFit Games were probably the most inspirational and motivating ways to keep me moving forward with my training.  To see those dedicated athletes complete movements that I’m familiar with is simply amazing.

2014-CrossFit-Games-Sarah

My goals for the next year are to…

  • Get a pull up…I’d be happy with just a kipping pull up!
  • Master double unders
  • Get over 100 pounds in all of the movements above
  • Complete Grace in under 5 minutes
  • Get comfortable upside-down (aka doing handstands)
  • Get over my fear of box jumps!  

Totally doable!!  

CrossFit-Power-Snatch-73-pounds-April-2014

Coming up in just 7 weeks I will be competing in my first CrossFit competition…yikes!!  It’s the Disney Fit Challenge at Walt Disney World (of course it is at Disney!) and I’m going down with my lifting partner and life twin, Kat.  I’m beyond nervous excited!

So here’s to another year of lifting heavy things, getting faster, getting stronger, and just feeling RAD.  Big thanks to my coaches at CrossFit Milford, especially Jay, Colin, Ryan, Gina, Cesar, Dan and Amanda for always pushing me to be better and always believing that I can do the impossible.

Signature 100x75

Daylight Savings Time, You Arrived JUST In Time

For the past 4 months I have been in complete hibernation mode.  I hate the cold, the short days, the snow…basically all things winter.  I prefer to spend the winter months like this… 

Covered-in-Cats

Every year seems to get worse and it’s becoming pretty clear that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, appropriately named SAD.  My motivation to do everything begins to diminish…exercise, cooking, staying awake, you know all the things you do to function as a human.  My health goes downhill, my energy is gone…it’s bad.  So the arrival of Daylight Savings Time this past weekend was exactly what I needed!

Yesterday, it was like a switch had been flipped.  Even with only 5 hours of sleep, I woke up energized and inspired.  I could feel my motivation coming back and all of my ideas that I have just pushed to the wayside these past few months were starting to take shape in my head.  When I left work, it was still light out!  I forgot how wonderful that is!  I went to Ikea, then to the grocery store, and when I got home…I did a load of laundry and I grilled!  It was about 45 degrees out, still light and damn it I was grilling some chicken.  I didn’t even care that there was still snow on the ground…

Winter-Grill

Maybe all of this comes from my birthday being on the first day of spring.  The light and the warm just make me feel SO. MUCH. BETTER!  I was really starting to derail there…not good!  I am so looking forward to the spring and summer months.  Not only will this be great for my mental well being, but physically I will put so much more effort into my training.  BRING IT!

Mmmmmmmm….grilled meats….

Grilled-Chicken

Do you suffer from SAD?  What is your favorite season?

Signature 100x75   

Not Taking the Easy Road

It’s called the easy road for a reason…because it’s easy to navigate.  I find myself on this road far too often.  Not challenging myself and going with what I know I can accomplish instead of pushing myself to try something new or be uncomfortable.  

Easy Road

These past few months have been tough for me.  My health hasn’t been great and it’s been hard to stay positive.  My nutrition has gone downhill and I’ve struggled with motivation in just getting off the couch, let alone pushing myself at the gym.  Basically I’ve been taking the easy road to “just get by” everyday and it has turned into an evil cycle of depression which in turn does NOT help my health issues.  Blech.

After fighting a fever for a few days last week, I decided that I can’t keep going with this cycle.  Not only is it bad for me, but it’s not good for the people around me either.  I’m no use to my husband just lying around like a lump on the couch.  I’m not supporting my friends when they need me at the gym, during a race, or when facing difficult situations at home.  I’m just pushing people away as I continue to not deal with my issues…that easy road sure is detrimental.  

So this past weekend I forced myself to get up and tackle a few things around the house that I’ve been avoiding.  That mountain of papers that has been piling up in the kitchen and the office…GONE.  The guest room that looked like an explosion of clothes and suitcases…CLEANED.  Both feel like a giant weight that has been lifted.

At the gym this week, I decided it’s finally time to get out of my comfort zone.  I can’t do pull ups and I even avoid doing the band assisted ones during WODs because I have trouble with those.  But on Monday, I decided to go for it.  I’m not going to get better if I don’t practice.  It’s going to suck and probably take me twice as long to finish, but I have to at least get off the easy road and TRY.  So I attached a thick band to the bar and got ready for 3 sets of 20 pull ups.  Surprisingly I got through the first 10 unbroken which gave me the confidence that I might be able to do this.  It was HARD and by the last set I was only doing one at a time.  I got through 15 on the last set and just couldn’t get another, but look at that…55 pull ups!  I was one of the last people to finish the WOD, but my friends were cheering me on and I got through it.  I could have taken the easy road and finished in half the time, but I’m SO glad I didn’t.  I was huffing and puffing and my arms felt like jelly, but I felt AWESOME!  

The rough and rocky road has clearly been hard to navigate, but it always makes me feel better than just plodding along on the easy road.  It’s a constant battle for me, a constant reminder to get up and challenge myself.  But I have to be stronger than my illness, I have to keep living my life and not let it get the best of me.  Today I ordered this bracelet from Endorphin Warrior to wear as a constant reminder to never get back in that place and to get off the easy road…

PersevereDo you find yourself often taking the easy road?  How do you PERSEVERE?  

Signature 100x75           

 

Hibernation Central!

Brrrrrr…it’s getting chilly up here in the Northeast!  I’m completely convinced that I was a cat in a past life because when it’s cold all I want to do is sit in front of the fire, under a blanket and take a nap.  Well what’s wrong with that, huh??

When the cold weather comes, B and I hibernate during the weekends.  This means turning the pellet stove on, watching movies and cuddling with cats.  

Pellet Stove

But even though it seems unproductive, it’s my favorite time of year!  This is when I can go through all the paper (yes I’m a paper hoarder!), when I get to reflect on my life, when I try to get my priorities in order.  And believe me…I REALLY need that right now.

I’m not sure what’s been going on with me lately, but I’ve felt very unmotivated.  It think it’s a combination of my health, recent stress at work and this cold weather.  I miss blogging, I miss the community, I miss those relationships, but I’ve found myself shying away from it all…becoming reclusive.  And you know what??  I don’t like it!

So I took the weekend to regroup a bit and I’m looking forward to the long Thanksgiving weekend where I can hopefully put some of my plans in to motion, set some attainable goals and basically get my ass back in gear!  I’m sure there will be lots of time with these guys as well…

Cats

Do you hibernate in the winter?  What do you like to get accomplished?

Signature 100x75