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Got fitness?

Those ladies aren’t too shabby, are they? They are Crossfitters, and I have this exact picture on my vision board to remind me about health and fitness and strong women!

I figured it was about time for me to do a post on Crossfit.  This post will be LONG but I think it will be worth it, and may even change your view fitness as you know it!  Last month was the 2010 Crossfit Games and I had planned on writing about it then, but I didn’t, because, well, I’m a lazy blogger.  Looks pretty awesome, yes?  Well, I think so.

Now, I will admit, I didn’t know anything about this Crossfit until I met for the first time with a personal trainer back in February 2009.  And I still don’t know that much about it and I’ve been doing it for a year and a half now! Haha. I had been doing strength training classes and running and spinning and yoga.  But, I told my personal trainer at the time that I was looking to try something different and something that would push me beyond capacity.  He said he had just the thing for me.  Little did I know that he was right.   We started one on one training with CrossFit exercises and then eventually I moved to my first CrossFit class back on May 11, 2009 and I haven’t looked back.

I’m a CrossFitter, tried and true.  It’s my primary form of exercise, and still, to this day, I have not found a single type of exercise that pushes me harder and is more dominant than CrossFit.  Perhaps I’m biased, but the winner of the CrossFit games is deemed,“the fittest man or woman on the planet.” That speaks volumes to me.

So, what is CrossFit?  “CrossFit is a strength and conditioning fitness methodology that promotes broad and general overall physical fitness. CrossFit combines weightlifting, sprinting, and gymnastics. CrossFit says that proficiency is required in each of ten fitness domains: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.

That’s right.  There are TEN fitness domains.  How many do you cover with your workouts?

And this is to the ladies out there skeptical of strength training: it is not going to make you look like a dude. It’s impossible. Women simply do not have the testosterone to bulk up.  Look at this video of CrossFit women.  They are strong and HEALTHY.  They don’t look like body builders! They are strong and fit.  This is the epitome of health and fitness to me.

Here’s what I love about CrossFit.  The absolute diversity involved.  No two days are EVER the same. EVER.  And CrossFit works all elements of fitness.  I love the camaraderie of group classes.  I love the family environment.  I love how at CrossFit, I want to work to my fullest capacity.  No, I may not be as strong as the person next to me, but the workouts can be scaled FOR EVERYONE. I’m working JUST AS HARD as the strongest person in the class, because I’m working to MY fullest capability.  And that’s what matters. Everyone is supportive and they want to make sure you’re working at your fullest capacity!  You work as hard as you can at YOUR level.  And then you progress…

For example, when I first started, I had to modify my pull ups because I couldn’t do any.  I used a rubber band that helped me pull up (the thickest one they had at my gym).  And as I got stronger, I used a thinner rubber band, until well, now I can do pull ups on my own!  It’s all about progress!

So, we work all elements of fitness.  “CrossFit athletes run, row, jump rope, climb rope and carry odd objects. They frequently move large loads quickly over long distances, using powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting techniques. CrossFit athletes also use dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettlebells, and many bodyweight exercises.”

It’s intense and I love it.

Here’s where I’m going to get on my soap box.  I apologize if this will offend some people, but this has been on my mind and I have to get it off my chest.

While I appreciate the HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of health and fitness blogs out there, I am willing to bet that a good 80 to 90% of those blogs are simply about running.  Sorry peeps, running alone isn’t going to do it for you.  Running is GREAT.  If you can run, you’re in darn good shape, don’t get me wrong.  And I can assure you that you are a faster runner than I am.  However, there’s more to fitness than just running.  You need to be well rounded.  And adding strength training in to your fitness regime will do wonders for you.  I can run AND I’m strong.  REALLY strong.  And that’s all because of CrossFit.

There  is research out there that suggests that women who ONLY run are at a higher rate of osteoporosis than their strength training/cardio counterparts.  Strength training works…and works a heck of a lot better than cardio alone.  There are so many benefits to strength training.  Increased muscle mass = increased calorie burn.  You’ll lose weight faster.  You’ll be stronger.  You’ll look toned.  Training your muscles helps combat osteoporosis by strengthening your bones.  It helps your cardiovascular endurance. You’re going to age better. Wait, just read this list of the benefits of strength training.

Can running alone do that?  No sir or ma’am.  It cannot.

I’m sure you’ve heard or made the argument, “Strength training doesn’t get my heart rate up.”  Yeah, if you’re standing in the gym curling 8 pound weights.  But, CrossFit is FUNCTIONAL movement.  Believe me, when you’re swinging a 53 lb kettlebell up in the air 50 times or doing 25 pushups after running 800 meters, you’re not only working your muscles but your cardiovascular endurance is THROUGH the roof. Again, that’s why I love CrossFit.  I’m simultaneously working my strength and cardio fitness.

I like this quote: “The notion that holding a heart rate of 180 bpm for twenty minutes on a bike is good cardio whereas holding 180 bpm for twenty minutes in a circuit of weightlifting is of lesser cardiovascular value is widespread yet ludicrous.” —Founder of Crossfit, Coach Glassman

That’s my point.  CrossFit makes you an overall well rounded athlete.  You will excel in running.  Your mile times will decrease because your muscles are stronger and your cardiovascular endurance is greater.  CrossFit athletes are conditioned to be good at all aspects of fitness.  NOT just running.

In fact, one of my favorite quotes about CrossFit athletes over other athletes is also from the founder of Crossfit, Coach Glassman.  “We do your stuff nearly as well as you do, you can’t do ours very well at all, and we can do everything we both don’t do better than you can. Not very humble, I know, but true.”   Yes, harsh words.  But so true.

And, while this post IS about CrossFit…I know it’s not for everyone.  I guess I want to make a point that more people need to strength train in general.  I fully admit I drank the CrossFit kool-aid and sometimes I have complete BLINDERS when it comes to anything else.  But, yes, I firmly believe that CrossFit is THE best form of exercise out there, hands down.  They don’t call the winner of the CrossFit games the fittest person on the planet for nothing.  There is a reason.

But, I am imploring people out there to do more than just cardio training.  Yes, of course, I want you to do CrossFit, but I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.  But, just work your muscles.  Work your FITNESS. Work your confidence!

I train with CrossFit at Headhunters CrossFit and MMA.  They’re amazing people and it’s an AWESOME gym (the best in town, but I’m biased)!   I started there in September 2009 and  they have been nothing but supportive (they were a GREAT help for me after my tummy tuck by scaling the workouts for me until I was back to full capacity…I firmly believed I recovered so quickly from surgery because CrossFit got me in the greatest shape of my life).

If you want to start CrossFit, go to this website and find your closest affiliate gym.  But, keep in mind, you can do CrossFit on your own simply by following the main website workouts of the day (WODs).  But, I love group classes and I like personalized coaching on form.  Try it!

I will leave you with this video that I love…This basically summarizes all of the things I love about CrossFit.

Update: Just the other day, I did a fantastic workout at CrossFit where I ended up deadlifting 200 pounds (15 times), doing 50 atomic TRX push ups, and THEN running a 7:35 mile. I think it’s important that women understand you can be strong and fast (well, fast for me) and you SHOULD be strong AND fast. We should not lack in one or the other but work hard in both areas! So, get out there and pick up those heavy weights!!

And if you want to read more about my health/weight loss (120+ pounds down)/CrossFit experience, visit my CrossFit blog at Fit Effy! Woot!

I’d like to now take this time to discuss my two favorite appliances in my kitchen.

First, I’m a relatively new health blogger (though I’ve been personally blogging on livejournal for 10 years now), and from what I’ve ascertained in the food blogging community the MUST HAVE appliance for any of us die hard health nut bloggers is the Vitamix. But, I don’t have an extra $450 just sitting around (and if I did, it’d go toward my “road bike” fund…or massages, lots of massages).

But, but, but…wanna know what I do have folks? And that’s a MAGIC BULLET. No, not the Silver Bullet, pervs. MAGIC BULLET. And, it is indeed magical. A client of my boss got me one about a year and a half ago and I’ve been in love with it since. I started making my yummy green smoothies in them about a year ago and the Magic Bullet works wonders for them. I keep one at the office and I have one at home as well. It blends and grinds just as good as any other blender (save The Vitamix). The Magic Bullet runs about $50, which is a steal if you ask me. I’ve not had ANY trouble with either of my Magic Bullets.
So, yeah. Get one.

Now for my MOST FAVORITE and HIGHLY recommended appliance for your kitchen…

FOODSAVER VACUUM!

This appliance is more than worth its price (which I got mine for $100 as a Christmas present to myself). Look, let’s face it. Salads and greens spoil super fast and bagged lettuces aren’t cheap. I simply empty my salad greens into my Foodsaver containers and vacuum those puppies shut! And voila! My greens last at least a week, if not more! I pretty much vacuum seal EVERYTHING I have in my kitchen, no joke. Veggies stay fresher, longer. Lately I’ve been taking to even vacuum sealing my vegan raw energy cookie bars from Oh She Glows, just because I don’t want to freeze them and want them readily available whenever I want them!

Not a lot of people seem to talk about the Foodsaver Vacuum, but I’m definitely a fan.

So, there you have it. My two favorite and most used appliances in my newly semi “veganized” kitchen! Haha

In my quest to make the ultimate green monster nutritional smoothie, I have come up with the following deliciousness. This smoothie is amazing and really tides me over most of the morning at work. It’s basically my breakfast, but occasionally I’ll have it for my snack. And I know Brendan Brazier is a big advocate of smoothies. He advocates that we drink good sound nutrition to help with digestion so our body doesn’t have to work as hard to convert our food to energy, so bonus. Here’s what I have so far. Please feel free to suggest changes.

2 handfuls of spinach
6 to 7 frozen cherries
3/4 banana (I always end up eating 1/4 of it, don’t ask)
2 teaspoons organic chia seeds
2 teaspoons organic ground flaxseed
2 teaspoons L-Glutamine (love this stuff and really helps with my Crossfit training)
1 tablespoon dark chocolate peanut butter (nectar of the gods, I swear)
2 tablespoons rice protein powder
1 scoop Amazing Grass chocolate green superfood (love love love)

Here it is. Taken with my cell phone at work, so not the best quality. Yummy in my tummy.

What do you put in your smoothies?

Farrell’s Week 6

After my Saturday class at Farrell’s, Amanda from Vegacious and I headed down to Des Moines for the Downtown Farmer’s Market!  I wanted to go this weekend since July is a busy month for me and I’m not sure when I’ll get down there next.  It stormed pretty severely overnight but fortunately it cleared off just in time for us to enjoy some nice weather before the afternoon heat wave hit.  Unfortunately, this is the only photo I took the entire time:

Which happened to be just as they were trying to clear the street for the firetruck and ambulance to come down and help someone who had collapsed in the middle of the Market!  I never heard what happened but I hope the person was okay.  I ended up getting some kale, zucchini, strawberries, this awesome salsa (two jars) and some jam (mulberry rhubarb) for my dad.

After the Farmer’s Market we also checked out Gateway Market (Amanda had never been) where I got some Barney Butter (amazing stuff –  very dangerous for me to have an open jar of this in my cupboard!) and a few other things.  Then we proceeded to get lost several times while looking for the Penzey’s store.  We did find it eventually and I was able to stock up on their awesome cocoa powder (which I use in my smoothies).  We also checked out World Market before heading home.

It got really hot later in the day, and at one point our power blacked out for a few seconds.  When it came back on, the air conditioner appeared to not be working!  That would be bad news, it just broke over Memorial Day weekend when my mom was here visiting and we had to replace a $180 part.  Fortunately we turned it off for a few minutes and when we turned it back on it worked fine.  I do love the warm weather but I like to be comfortably cool at home – I don’t know how people without central air do it!

My next FXB video will be about the “free day” and a Week 3 recap – let me know if you have any questions or things you’d like me to talk about!

I filmed this video last night, which is why I say it’s the beginning of Week Three.  I tried to keep it short but failed, sorry!

This weekend marked my first go at vegan cupcakes, believe it or not.  I figured, with the cupcake craze finally catching up in Ames, I should get with the program.

These are the Crimson Velveteeen Cupcakes (aka Red Velvet) from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I paired them with the Vegan Cream Cheese Icing from the book too. I won’t repost the recipe here, but I will tell you that you can find it if you do a little googling. They turned out more brown than red, for sure. I even used gel food coloring! They are pretty dark though, so I’m not sure what I could do to make the red pop more. Any ideas?

They are tasty, nonetheless, and I’m sending the rest to work with my husband so I don’t eat them all!