Posts Tagged by positivity

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.

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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.

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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…

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Welcome to My Pity Party…

I’ve been quiet for the past week….obviously.  I’ve had to face some realities that frankly have bummed me out a bit and I haven’t been inspired to write.  I know that’s probably the opposite of what I should do, but I tend to be one of those people that needs to reflect on things a bit before expressing how I feel, even hiding it from my family and closest friends.  It might not be the best thing anxiety wise, but it’s what I do.

Last Monday, I met with my GI doctor to talk about my Ulcerative Colitis (UC).  You see UC is one of those diseases that just gets worse over time.  Logic would tell you that with the proper medications and diet, it would be kept in remission.  Sadly this is not the case.  My current cocktail of medications hasn’t been as effective lately and I knew it was time to have that talk with my doctor about switching things up.  Having had Pancreatitis back in 2007 from medication used for my UC (or so we think…there was never a definitive answer on that) I obviously have a healthy fear of these meds, so I had been putting this off for a while.  

The visit went well and I left with the fun tasks of getting a bagillion viles of  blood taken and scheduling a colonoscopy in the near future.  Oh joy!  Most people don’t get to have a colonoscopy until they are 50…this will be my 4th and I’m 33.  Oh and did I mention I tend to pass out when I get blood taken?  Yeah, that happens.  

So as I waited for the results of the blood tests to come back  the festering began…what would they show?  I of course was scouring the Internets to diagnose all of the other issues I’ve been having, dizzy spells, low energy, etc… which is probably the WORST thing you can do.  I was convinced I was B12 deficient, maybe anemic from the UC, or worse would the cancer markers appear showing what I have been dreading since this disease reared it’s ugly head 10 years ago.  Can you say hot mess and a ball of nerves?

Well guess what?  Everything came back normal…yep…normal.  All that worry, all that seclusion, what for?  Nothing.  And the worst part is stress and worry like that actually make my UC worse!  Way to go Sarah.  So what did we learn from this?  I need to tell my head to shut the fuck up and go on with my life.  Life is WAY to short to worry about the what ifs.  It is out of my control.  If I keep spending all my time on dwelling on that, I will miss out on all the positive and fun things life has to offer…like dancing with zombie monkey things…

Sarah-Monkey

Yep…that was me throwing caution to the wind this past weekend and immersing myself in the Halloween season at one of my favorite events, the Trail of Terror.  Poor health be damned, I’m going to get chased by chainsaws and crawl through tunnels!  OK maybe that’s a ridiculous example, but it really is a metaphor for me to stop trying to control everything in my life.  It just leads to stress and  more health issues…a vicious cycle.  

Will this be cured overnight?  NOPE.  But at least it’s something I can work on.  My colonoscopy will be coming up in the next few weeks (date still TBD) so until then I’m just not going to think about this crap and stop throwing pity parties!

 What do you worry about?  Do you throw pity parties for yourself?

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