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Category: Weight and Whole30

CrossFit GBT, Newest Box in Ellisville, Proves CrossFit is For EveryBODY

My husband and I have been trying something new this year and the vocabulary of our new endeavor includes words like thrust, snatch and jerk.

Okay – minds out of the gutter. It’s CrossFit! And we were fortunate enough to discover Ellisville’s newest CrossFit Gym, CrossFit GBT (Got Better Today) and its owner Karla Bennett.

I had been hearing a lot about CrossFit for a couple of years, but I chose to ignore the chatter. I understand the importance of strength training, but I don’t like it. At all.

Plus, some of what I heard or saw regarding CrossFit (CrossFit myths) didn’t look fun. At all.

People:

  • lifting huge weights over their head
  • doing handstands
  • doing push-ups
  • doing squats with weights
  • getting yelled at
  • flipping over tires
  • and worst of all, doing pull-ups!!

CrossFit Is for EveryBODY

Then a friend told he how much CrossFit changed her life. I only met her a few months ago, but she said she used to be in terrible shape and poor health. She said her husband had to drop her off at the entrance to malls and department stores and then go park the car because she was unable to walk. She said she couldn’t even do one sit-up. And she changed all that with CrossFit GBT!

CrossFit
Karla working with a client

She talked about how she and her husband and several of her friends have improved their bodies, but more importantly, improved their quality of life because CrossFit addresses functional movement. I couldn’t believe this woman had ever been anything but the vibrant, energetic, healthy, beautiful person who was standing before me.

Honestly, I didn’t know that someone who couldn’t do a sit-up could or should do CrossFit. I didn’t think of CrossFit as a beginner’s workout. I was intrigued. And I was looking for two things:

  • A cross training program to compliment my marathon training.
  • An exercise program that my husband would enjoy.

This sounded like it might do both. I still didn’t think I would like it, because I don’t like strength training. But I have promised myself about a hundred times that THIS time when I’m training for my marathon, I’m going to do it right. I’m going to cross-train and not just run seven days a week, and I’m going to stretch.

Crossfit GBT is Like Having a Personal Trainer

And Karla has been helping me do just that. She keeps her class size fairly small, and she scales the workouts for each individual. It is not unusual for three or four people in a class to be doing different things based on ability and experience. And she is always right there, watching carefully, making sure your form is perfect and helping you make adjustments if it’s not.

I thought I’d feel intimidated doing this kind of workout, but the environment at CrossFit GBT couldn’t be more welcoming. There have been a few times when I’ve been anxious to do exactly what everyone else is doing, but Karla’s main goal has been to ensure that you are ready and have perfect form before moving to heavier weights and more complicated moves so that YOU DON’T GET HURT. It’s like having a personal trainer right beside you.

For those more competitive types, Karla’s gym is a certified CrossFit gym, which means that members will be able to eventually compete in CrossFit Open events. Although, Karla stresses that the competition factor will not be the main focus of her box (that’s what CrossFitters call their gym).

“It’s all about being the best YOU can be, working as hard as YOU can. Regardless of previous athletic skill or ability, CrossFit GBT can help you out,” Karla says.

Another thing I love about CrossFit GBT is that Karla is a wealth of information on so many other fitness and health-related topics. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with a Health and Wellness emphasis.  She is a CrossFit certified Level I instructor as well as a US certified Weightlifting Coach. Because of her background, she can assist with understanding the value of sound nutritional eating habits and how to fuel before, during and after workouts.

CrossFit GBT offers group CrossFit classes, individual lessons and nutrition counseling.

“CrossFit GBT is devoted to educating people on how to live a healthy lifestyle,” Karla says. “We want nothing more than to see you succeed at your goals. We will work to help you with whatever we can. We believe fitness is an ongoing process.”

Contact info:

More about Karla:

Karla holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a Health and Wellness emphasis.  She is a CrossFit certified Level I instructor as well as a US certified Weightlifting Coach. She assists athletes to understand the value of sound nutritional eating habits and how to fuel before, during and after workouts. She consults with a variety of professional trainers as well as athletic trainers. Karla has worked with all levels of athletes from children to older adults.

She designs workouts based on personal fitness level, time of season for athletes and personal strength level.  She has each participant undergo a Functional Movement Screen before beginning training to determine movement patterns that are key to normal function and identify areas of weakness to individualize each athletes goals and workouts.

Karla first started doing CrossFit in 2009, her favorite WOD’s are AMRAP’s and her least favorite WOD’s are those that involve any form of wall balls or Overhead Squats. However, she still programs them anyways because she knows that you will never be able to get better if you do not practice.

 

Marathon Training — Trust the Process

My family is harassing me – in a loving way, of course — because I announced my plans to run another marathon this spring.

Their reactions?

“But you said . . . . “ and “I specifically remember you stating . . . “ and “What about your hip?” and . . . “Are you crazy?”

I swore off this 26.2-mile event in October 2011 as I crossed the finish line of my third marathon. I was running Chicago, hoping to get a personal record, hoping to maybe even hit that 4-hour marathon goal. Instead, I added time, going 4:38:35. And I was miserable for the entire second half of that race. I said a lot of things, and one of them was “I am never doing this again.”

I kept my promise and haven’t done a full marathon since that time. But I love running, and I’ve done shorter distances – a half, a few 5k’s. I even took 3rd place in my age group in a Make Tracks for the Zoo 5k in 2012. Mostly, though, I’ve gotten slower and my running distance has decreased. Those are hard words for a proud runner to type.

Lately, I have begun to feel the marathon bug again — that itch to go further; do more; challenge myself again. I’m growing bored with my current exercise routine.

When I run errands on a Saturday morning and see someone running, I fondly remember my marathon training days.

marathon trainingI remember the feeling I get in my chest when I’m breathing hard but steady for a long period of time. I remember how much I like the feelings that follow a long run – mentally, a sense of accomplishment and overall well-being; physically, a general heightening of the senses, expanded lungs, strong heart, fatigued muscles that have enabled your body to thoroughly expend all its energy. The mental and physical combine to create a buzz.

I don’t miss the pain, however – the limp when I get up in the morning; the pain in my hip while I drive; the ache that radiates from my glute, down my hamstring and sometimes around to the front of my knee.

I was having doubts about whether I could do it.

Then I happened across Fleet Feet’s training program.

I’ve never had a professional running coach. I ran my first marathon with a charity and trained myself for my second and third. I’ve run most of my life, but never with a coach.

Professional Marathon Coaching

Fleet Feet has professional coaches. And scientific V02 Max assessment “takes the guesswork out of training by analyzing an athlete’s oxygen consumption while they run . . . The collected data defines their heart rate training zones so they can maximize their training efficiency and minimize their risk of overtraining.”

And they have a functional movement test that identifies tightness and weaknesses.

And a training program that includes individualized training, twice-weekly runs with pace groups and speed work, a professional head coach, mentors, classes, support.

So I’m doing it. But this time, I’m going to do it with support. I am over-the-moon excited because I’ve got a program! Being a goal-oriented, project-focused individual, having a program is perfect for me. And having a program backed up with science is even better.

Brandi Barbre, Fleet Feet’s training director, conducted my V02 Max test and went over my results with me. She’s designing a plan that will include a recommendation for the pace group I should start in for my marathon training, which begins in January. She identified my anaerobic threshold and is going to have me train under that threshold. More on that later. It’s all very “science-y.”

Tim Cary, Fleet Feet’s head coach, did my functional movement assessment. Then, he showed me some individualized exercises and foam rolling techniques to improve my movement, reduce my tightness and improve my running. My favorite line from him: “The best foam roller is the one you’ll use.’’

One of the biggest “ah ha” moments of my work with Tim was this: my quads, rather than my hamstrings, are tight. I’ve been stretching my hamstrings for a couple of years now, trying to reduce the pain I feel in them when I run. Tim showed me that my tight quads are pulling my hips forward, putting an arch in my lower back and keeping my hamstrings in constant state of extension. I didn’t really believe him until he had me use the foam roller on my quads – yowza. That lit me up. They are tight, indeed!

Trust the Process

Now the hard part – I have to trust the process. Isn’t that always the hard part!!? Whether it’s a move toward healthier eating like the Whole30, or embarking on a journey to write a novel, or re-learning how to run, it’s hard to let go of what you’ve always done and trust something else.

Brandi wants me to do a couple of “field tests” where I stay within a heart rate zone that is below my anaerobic threshold, and then report back to her what my pace on one of the runs and my distance on another. Staying in this heart rate zone means I have to run really slow. REALLY. SLOW.

I’m not fast, but I’m proud. I’m going to have to ask my ego to get out of the way here and trust that Brandi knows what she’s doing. She explained it all to me and like I said, it’s very “science-y.” When I’m comfortable that I completely understand it myself, I’ll write about it in more detail.

For now, I am going to do what she says. And I’m going to train with the pace group that she recommends. And I’m going to try to find my foam roller, because I think the best foam roller is the one that you pull out of storage and use.

I’m super excited about this training program. If you are looking to start running, return to running or improve your running, Fleet Feet offers a bunch of training programs including:

  • Marathon
  • Half-marathon
  • 5k
  • Boston
  • Trail running
  • Speed School
  • Youth Running

They also offer lots of free running opportunities. You can find out more about those here.

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Done Waiting on My Weight – My Whole30 Success Story

I threw away my scales. I’m finally free to the life God intended me to live, unencumbered by a number.

whole30 success
I am no longer a slave to these devices.

That is the priceless, immeasurable result of my Whole30.

For the first time in 34 years, my relationship with gravity and the device used to scientifically measure that relationship no longer determine my mood, dictate my happiness or demean my sense of self worth.

I put two of my scales in the trashcan, on trash day, and let the trash man haul them away. I meant it literally when I said I threw away my scales. And I asked my husband to take the third that we use to weigh luggage before we travel to his office and store it there.

Background

The chains binding me to those scales stretch over three decades. I’ve had self-esteem and body image issues since age 14. When I hit puberty, my previously thin body and raging metabolism turned against me. I gained weight and was subjected to sometimes-weekly weigh-ins in front of my family because my mother thought that would motivate me and help me adhere to a diet and stay trim for pageants, dating and cheerleading tryouts. It didn’t – it had the opposite effect.

As a teen, I did Weight Watchers (which was horribly humiliating), Elaine Powers, jogged, fasted, started smoking, took diet pills and did any number of other things to attempt to lose weight.

I went away to college weighing 180 pounds on a 5’5” frame and was wearing a tight size 14/16. Then I got sick with an ulcer and experienced what seemed like and overnight return to my size 8 pants — because it hurt like hell to eat. Very. Effective. Diet.

I vowed to never get “fat” again, and I pretty much kept that promise to myself, but only through a lot of self denial, severe diets, tons of exercise and a scale obsession.

I stepped on my scale everyday. Sometimes several times a day. Sometimes on different scales to try to get a different, lower, better number.

I almost starved myself in the nine months preceding my wedding, wreaking havoc on my metabolism and blood sugar but getting thinner than I had been in high school.

I ate salads for the first two years of my marriage, except when I couldn’t stand it anymore and then I’d eat everything chocolate and “non-salady” in sight. Then I’d feel lousy and return to salads with no cheese and barely any dressing. I started running regularly and eventually ran half marathons and three full marathons.

I went on severe restricted calorie diets after my first two pregnancies to lose the baby weight and went back to Weight Watchers after my third baby, who I had at age 40. This time, I wasn’t humiliated because I wasn’t 16 years old. This time, I achieved my goal weight and lifetime member status.

But as my 40s progressed, I was having a harder and harder time keeping weight off and was feeling worse and worse about myself. I ran more. And I weighed more. And I hated the scale and my body more.

I decided to become a Beachbody coach, because surely leading other people through fitness and nutrition challenges would hold me accountable and help me lose weight and keep it off.

Then I became a certified personal trainer and certified group exercise instructor and began teaching classes.

During 2013 and 2014, I did the 21-Day Fix. I did the Ultimate Reset. I did the 3-Day Refresh I did P90X3. I did PiYo and got certified to teach it. I did Insanity and got certified to teach it.

Everything worked and nothing worked.

Because I didn’t fix my head and I didn’t fix my heart. I didn’t like me. The goal was weight loss. When I achieved it, I was happy. For a time.

But I was unhappy when I gained weight. Or when I didn’t lose it fast enough. Or when I returned to my candy and chocolate habit or my Diet Coke or sugar-free French Vanilla creamer in my coffee or flavored Stevia in my carbonated water or spoonfuls of peanut butter just before bed to satisfy my sugar dragon and because I deserved it — I needed it — after a day of skipping meals or skimping on calories.

The Beginning of the End

My Whole30 calendar countdown.
My Whole30 calendar countdown.

I saw a powerful video several months ago (link below). It sparked something in my soul and I knew I needed a paradigm shift, but that shift didn’t happen until I found the Whole30.

I completed my first Whole30 on September 4, 2015. I complied with the program 100 percent, including the part about not stepping on the scale. But from the beginning, I planned to step on it the instant my 30 days were up. In fact, I was discouraged when I read some of the information that kept repeating how this was not a weight loss program. I was just certain it was a weight loss program and I focused on the testimonials of all the people who had lost weight.

I wanted to be thinner. I wanted to wear a smaller size. I wanted to lose these 10 pounds that I have always wanted to lose and then I was certain I would be satisfied and happy with my body. Finally.

But something happened. Within a week, my husband commented that I was eating more food than he’d ever seen me eat in 22 years of marriage. I was sitting down to meals with my family with a full plate of real food – not a shake, not a plate full of lettuce, not portions measured out in containers or weighed on scales, no calculator to count calories or points or grams of fat, protein or carbs. My little girl noticed too.

I wasn’t hungry or feeling deprived. I missed sugar at first, but eliminating artificial sweetener for my coffee, diet soda and all the other sugar-free fixes I’ve used during previous “diets” set me up for success. The sugar cravings disappeared in a few days.

Within two weeks, I noticed that my stomach was flatter and my clothes felt better. I was feeling GREAT – mentally and physically — and was tempted to step on my scale. I wanted a tangible measurement of my success. My best friend who is doing the program with me encouraged me to stay off of it. We both talked about how we were feeling better and how our clothes were fitting better. She said, “Do you want to let the scale steal your joy?” And she was right. So I resisted the temptation.

I started to think that my mood might be a factor in how I was feeling when I looked in the mirror. And maybe it wasn’t weight loss afterall. Again, I was briefly — VERY BRIEFLY — tempted to step on the scale. But I stopped. Because if I like what I’m seeing, and I like what I’m feeling, then I don’t want a number to change my mind.

And so I rid my house of the scales. These habits and beliefs connected to the scale took decades to form. I don’t want a bad day or a moment of temporary Whole30 (and now Whole9) weakness to tempt me into believing the lies the scale tells me anymore.

Success & Whole30 Reintroduction

This photo gallery shows me enjoying life — what you can’t know but what I will tell you is that the number on the scale used to determine the level of enjoyment I had, regardless of the event. Not anymore.

And I am now in the “reintroduction” stage and I’m taking it super slow. I don’t plan to reintroduce everything. Sugar is a dragon and one that I will have to be very careful and cautious about keeping on a short, fireproof leash. I added it back in first because of a special event. I had a treat and then left it at that — no binging on chocolate and all other things sugar afterward. Then I had a treat a days later with the same self control and intentional enjoyment. I LOVE this.

I plan to live mostly compliant to a Whole30 lifetsyle – I’m still meal-planning, cooking recipes from the book and all the other resources  suggested throughout the program – I subscribed to the daily emails and I highly recommend them. They were a big part of my success, as was TheClothesMakeTheGirl website, which gave a lot of variety to my program. I am reading everything I can about the Whole9 Life. I’m shopping differently and cooking differently and eating more and sharing more meals with my family. My friend (who has had great success, as well) and I plan to do some joint cooking sessions to share food. It. Feels. Good.

I am no longer “waiting to be fully alive” because of “weight.” Watch this amazing video by Emily Timmer (excerpt below) if you want to see what gave me the motivation to make this shift:

We speak of weight in pounds, in kilograms… measurements of guilt and shame… The ideal of “thinness” our singular aim, and hit or miss we’re so bound up in blame… Blame for that five pound gain, that indulgent meal, that failure on the scale. Again and again. And again. There’s pain… And it sits in our bellies – too deep to be carved away by calorie cutting, calisthenics, or cardio … We almost feel insane – cycling ceaselessly through the same closed loop of self-abuse. Why can’t I be thinner? Why can’t I look like her? … Then there’s the mirror… We use it like a whip… staring into it and abusing ourselves for our thighs, our arms, our hips. We look, we see our reflection, and curses fall from our lips. One thing controls us. And this is it…

 Our body size, our Weight… Wait. We wait to be fully alive, feeling disallowed from joy, unable to REALLY live… until our size can be something other than “big.”

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Last Chapter: Aging Gracefully

My friend called me this week to tell me she is officially done with menopause — as in scientifically DONE, as in she has lab results with real numbers indicating that that she has completed this phase of her life.

I wanted to say something clever or quote a song lyric. But nothing came to mind as I watched the kaleidoscope of memories flashing like a flipbook in my brain. We’ve shared so many milestones, some in person, some on the phone.

Flash: She’s relaxing poolside and she spots the man she would eventually marry. “Do you know him? Can you introduce me?”

Flash: My phone rings and she’s telling me she had sex for the first time.

Flash: She’s chasing me into the bathroom at a wedding reception, telling me he popped the question.

Flash: We’re at her wedding reception.

Flash: We’re on the phone and she’s telling me the pregnancy test was positive. She’s going to be a mom.

Flash: Another positive pregnancy test. And another. And another.

Now this. Menopause. I’m doing it, too, although I don’t have any lab results to prove it. Not sure I’m on the other side of the fence yet, but those details don’t really matter. What’s important is HOW we’ve decided to do it.

We have both arrived at a milestone, a crossroads  of sorts — our coordinates are not exactly the same. We are in slightly different spots, coming to the crossing from slightly different angles. But our theme song is same. Jeremiah 6:16 says “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

Our theme song, our chorus, is that “We are going to walk in it and we are going to OWN this last chapter.”  We are aging gracefully but with panache. That was how we ended the phone call announcing her post-menopausal news.

“Last chapter” sounds macabre. But it’s not. It simply means we are trying to:

Love the skin we’re in, and the bodies with which we have been blessed. We began a Whole30 journey together and we are both really excited about the program. It’s not a diet. It’s not a weight loss program. We are both embracing those aspects and we are both feeling great. For me, it has provided freedom from the scale, something I have not had since I was in middle school. MIDDLE SCHOOL! That’s 35 years. I didn’t know that I could ever feel good, really good, about myself unless a certain number showed up on the scale. But I do. And my scale is hidden away, collecting dust. I honestly don’t know if I’ve lost a pound. This article explains part of my victory. And this is a beautiful video which explains why I’m done “waiting” — “Our body size, our Weight… Wait. We wait to be fully alive, feeling disallowed from joy, unable to REALLY live… until our size can be something other than “big.” Waiting. weighing.  withdrawing.” — I’m not going to “wait” anymore.

Exercise (but not abuse). For me, this means less pounding. Less running. Less is more. Again, a new concept for me. My friend and I have been meeting to walk and do some strength training. But for once in my life, I’m not worried about achieving the burn. I am simply enjoying the time. Soaking in the early morning hours with the very best woman I know. I am honored to spend the time with her. I put it on my calendar because it nourishes my soul.

Parent and Let Go. We both have daughters who are the same age now as we were when we met. We have teens who are navigating the tricky waters of high school. I have a 7-year-old who is giving me the opportunity to enjoy all of it again but with the wisdom of an older Mom. During this last chapter, we hope to parent with wisdom and serenity, owning the pieces for which we are responsible, and gracefully (or not so gracefully at times) letting go of the pieces that belong to God. My friend reminds me not to arm-wrestle Him. Her skills are better developed in this area than mine.

Wear the Damn Hat (or boots or jeans or . . . ). This is as simple as it sounds. I am leaving the land of “cares what other people think.” I love hats, boots and bell bottom jeans. And in the last seven days, I’ve worn all three (Yes, boots in August. And bell bottom jeans that my son thinks are just awful. And a J-Lo-looking cap with a blinged out cross on it). I also love big earrings, and lots of mascara. And bohemian-flowy tops with macrame. My friend loves frosty orange lipstick and she seriously looks hot when she is wearing it.

Embrace our Strengths/Gifts. Several years ago, my friend attempted a career change and eventually found her way back to her original field. She reflects on the journey as God’s way of showing her that he bestowed her with certain gifts and talents, and today she embraces those gifts, not only in her work life, but in her approach to people and circumstances. I’ve spent the last couple of years floundering in an attempt to build success in a professional arena outside of writing. I abandoned those efforts recently, initially feeling like a failure, unable to move outside my comfort zone in order to make more money and be more successful. Then my friend reminded me of her journey, and encouraged me to embrace my gifts. I am a writer. I like that label. It feels comfortable – because it is my strength and my gift. But I will venture outside my comfort zone because I’m going to finally, finally, finally follow my dream to write fiction. So I’m keeping my work life in writing and communications, and I’m adding fiction to spice things up.

And I just might wear bell-bottoms and a sleeveless flowy top while I’m doing it (sleeveless in case of hot flashes!)

 

Whole30 Day 15

The Whole30 rocks! I honestly cannot believe how good I feel.

I thought I was a healthy eater prior to this journey. I knew I had sugar issues — a love affair with chocolate defined me, but I also love all candy. I love it like a little kid loves candy.

On all previous attempts to change my eating habits, (I will not say or type the D word because this is not a “diet”) I continued to feed my sugar dragon, not realizing how that was sabotaging my efforts. I’d use sugar-free sweetener in my coffee, eat “light” yogurt, make “healthy” desserts at night with fruit, drink diet soda. And I couldn’t sustain the eating plan. I’d always go back to my bad habits.

The book, It Starts with Food, helped me understand why. For the past 15 days, I haven’t had any food with added sugar or artificial sweetener. And you know what? I’m not craving sugar. And guess what else? When I eat fruit with my meal twice a day, it taste AMAZING, but, I don’t feel the need AFTER that meal to open the pantry and dig for something sweet.

I haven’t stepped on the scale and I don’t even know if I’ve lost weight. And I don’t care. I am eating more than I’ve eaten in ages, and I feel great. And my clothes are looking better. And I’m in a good mood. And I don’t feel the need to nap in the afternoon. And best of all, my little girl has noticed how much more I am eating and what I’m eating and what I’m saying “no” to — more on this important revelation later.

I feel like I’m really achieving food  and scale and body image freedom.

Whole30 Day 6

It’s day 6 of my first Whole30. I’m sick of vegetables, but I feel great otherwise. So far the sugar cravings have been manageable.

I really believe this program might be the answer to freedom from the scale and obsessions about dieting, calorie counting, etc., for me. That makes me smile.

Now, to go force myself to eat (I’m actually not hungry this morning at all.)