On the road again

Do you ever look at people’s Instagram (IG) accounts or their blogs and think, what the hell does this person do for a living that they have all this time to do all this stuff? I feel like that ALL THE TIME. I follow some people on IG who have lost some weight or are amazing athletes and I swear they must be making enough money of their IG accounts via sponsorship and whatever else that they were able to quit their job because every time I see their account they’re in a new city, doing something new and exciting. My life is not like that. I’m incredibly normal (but fun). I work a Monday to Friday full time job. I also work a second job at a retail chain for extra money. I have a disgusting amount of student loan debt and some consumer debt too.

But I do travel quite a bit. Mostly, because I work as an international business consultant at my 8-5, also because all of my family is in Wisconsin and as I went to school near the WI/MN border, many of my friends live in the Twin Cities. In 2017, I have managed to travel to Orlando, Abu Dhabi, Los Angeles, Montreal, Milwaukee/Green Bay, Twin Cities and just got back from Washington DC, last Thursday. Today, I’m leaving for another trip to Milwaukee/Green Bay and later this month will be back to Minneapolis. I love to travel so I don’t mind, but my trips to Wisconsin are normally very short. I spend 10.5 hours in my car, one way to spend maybe 20 hours with my family to have to turn around and drive another 10.5 hours. But this time I’m super excited because I am using 6 days of vacation to not have to think about or worry about my job for 10 full days!

I have a few reasons for this trip. One is that my favorite nephew is turning 11, so I need to figure out what to do with him (if you have any ideas, please share). Also, since the Crossfit Games have moved from California to Madison, Wisconsin I bought tickets to go see Noah Casey (M 16-17 yr old division) compete! Noah is the son of one of the couples that own the gym I attend. He’s such a polite and wonderful kid. If you’re watching the games on ESPN or even at the games, look for him. He’s a red head, hard to miss :).

Okay, great. I’m traveling again and going to the games. Why am I rubbing this in? What does this have to do with being a fathlete? Well, the reason for this post is to tell you that the one thing I have not yet figured out is eating on the road. You’d think it would be easier when I go to see my family than when I travel for work (and in some ways it is) but let me tell you. o.0 My mom’s food scale never works and the town she lives in is the size of a pea. The last time I was in town the only grocery store for 10 miles, that closes at 8 pm on week days and 5 pm on Sundays, doesn’t even have rotisserie chickens for when I’m starving and have 0 desire to ruin a chicken by attempting to cook it because as I said I’m awful at it.

So last night, I spent my time at the grocery store stocking up on beef jerky and chicken, filling a cooler with chicken, protein drinks and fruit and getting ready to hit the road and be healthy about it. Wish me luck. I’ll let you know how it goes. I may even stop to pick up a $20 scale to travel with. May also help when camping for the games next week.

Perhaps if I can master this I’ll be one step closer to figuring out how to hit my macros while I’m traveling for work. Between the hotels without refrigerators, the crap carb filled breakfasts, and all the restaurant meals it’s a bit of a nightmare. If you all have any tips, please share. For now, it’s grapes, chicken, two dogs and a 7 hour drive up to Milwaukee.

You’ll hear from me next week!



Inspiration from Twitter

Twitter snap

I’ve had a Twitter account on and off over the years. I had one for years that I recently deactivated because I never used it. Generally when I want fitness inspiration I turn to Instagram or Pinterest. So, with the start of this new blog I decided to try Twitter again (@TheFathleteBlog) and this time focus on fitness. So, I’ve gone through and followed a bunch of fitness pages, about 20 and the other day I’m scrolling through the home page only to come across a quote that said “Instead of trying to be skinny, try to be healthy…your motivation will last longer.”

That struck all the right chords. That’s the entire purpose of not only this blog, but my personal journey in fitness. Do I hate being the only girl in my group of friends at the bar not getting hit on because I’m fat? Yes. Do I wish it was easier to shop for clothes that actually fit and look flattering? Yes. And that may be why I started, but it’s not why I continue. I continue because I don’t miss waking up everyday with indigestion. I continue because I like being able to breath walking up stairs (allergies permitting). I continue because I like how it feels to throw a barbell over my head, to tell people I can squat 200 lbs, to complete a workout faster than I did last year. I continue because sometimes the only thing that stops me from sobbing is absolutely killing myself in the gym. That release I feel listening to the weights hit the floor when I’ve had the shittiest day keeps me going. It’s my motivation. It’s lasted more than 1.5 years and continues to burn brightly. Sometimes my drive is strong and sometimes it fades, but it’s always there.

On days it’s 100 degrees in the gym, I still show up. On days I’m exhausted, I still show up. On days where the last thing I feel like I can do is lift up a barbell, KB, or jump on a box, I show up. On days my elbow hurts or my back or calf is tight, I still show up. Do I still dream about the day that I’m feel comfortable in a bikini? Absolutely. But who knows if I will ever reach that destination. For now my goals are to lift more, run faster, and jump higher. Because those are the things that give me confidence. The things I think I can’t do then accomplish propel me forward into wanting to be even better tomorrow than I was today. That’s why I can go to Crossfit at 270 lbs and jump on a 20″ box. That’s why I can do push ups, lunges, and finish a 5 mile run. It’s why I can look at myself in the mirror and maybe not like what I see, but still love my body.

If you shift your focus from being thin to being healthy your outlook and your journey will be so much more rewarding.

-The Fathlete

12 runs in 12 months

Last year my friend Becca asked me to be her running partner for 5ks. She wanted to a run every month, including a half marathon. I told her she was on her own for the half (hahaha), but I’d definitely do the shorter runs with her! So in January, we started with a 7k trail run in below freezing weather. It was FANTASTIC!

Let me tell you how nervous I was going into this race. I was thinking, man it’s a trail run in January it will only be serious runners. I can barely do a 5k how am I going to do 2 more kilos? But, the race was definitely not what I expected. Definitely some serious runners including a few from my Crossfit gym, but also some people who had walked it the year before and were just there to improve their time.

I finished the run. It was grueling with some serious hills and terrain, but I’ve never had more fun while running (because remember I hate running). Since January, Becca and I have completed runs every month including two in May. Unfortunately, as Mid Missouri is boiling hot during the month of July, we couldn’t find any local runs that we were really interested in, so we will skip July but we already have plans underway for August (literally named Hotter’n’Hell 5k) and I just found another 5 miler that sounds fun for September.

I don’t run often. In fact I still have not completed the c25k program because I’m just not disciplined enough to make myself run everyday (especially in the current weather) though going to Crossfit has helped. My slowest 5k this year was 51 minutes (at the time I had two of my fastest miles but the last mile was straight uphill with a 14 percent grade), my fastest was 46:00 even. So even from pre-injury last year I have shaved over a minute off my overall time. Considering I don’t practice running, I’d say that’s pretty damn good.

The best part about running is that it’s free. You don’t need a gym membership, you don’t need fancy equipment (in fact I hate running on treadmills). I used to run on a high school track, now I go out onto the paved or gravel flat trails in town. The 5ks do add up but they usually give out a free t-shirt and sometimes other sweet swag. Not only that but running will also translate into better metabolic conditioning overall. The best way to get better at metcon is to do more metcon (arrrrhhhhhh!!!!! This is my agony)!

I would definitely encourage anyone looking to start a low cost fitness regime to download Couch to 5k (c25k) app on their phone, put on some gangsta rap and handle it. C25k starts with 60 second intervals of running followed by 90 second intervals of rest and increases week by week. If you need to repeat a week you are able to repeat is as many times as you need. If you need to work up to running for 60 seconds, then turn on week 1 and run as long as you can and repeat week 1 until you can comfortably run all the 60 second intervals with just 90 seconds of break in between. You’ll improve faster than you think.

The truth about fat and exercise & tools to help

Why can fat people be athletes? Well, because body fat and athleticism are the children of your dad’s estranged wife’s cousin who had 5 wives and no one is really sure if the kids are even his. Meaning, barely related. I know what you’re thinking. Did I just read that right? Or you’re thinking this girl is an idiot my doctor says…. My point is you can’t out exercise a bad diet. Let me repeat, “You can’t out exercise a bad diet.”

I am 100% proof of that. I’ve been busting my ass in the gym for 1.5 years, I’ve lost about 28 pounds total and still have probably 130 pounds to go. You should be thinking, “But wait, you do Crossfit. How are you still overweight? Isn’t Crossfit like super intense?” Yes, it is intense! I am overweight because you cannot and will not ever out exercise a bad diet. As much as I want to go drink beer every weekend, eat pizza and burgers and all the cookies, I know I will end up back to where I started, pushing 300 lbs and being miserable. In addition, I won’t be able to perform in the gym because I’ll be a bloated sack of belching indigestion every time I move.

With so many fad diets out there, it’s easy to get lost. The saddest part is even doctors fall for the gimmicks (by the way Dr. Oz is a quack, stop taking dieting advice from him). Truth be told is doctors have very little nutritional training, if any. Even within the world of nutrition, there is controversy. Why? Because different things work for different people.

If you’re lost in the dieting world, there are a lot of tools out there to help you.

MyFitnessPal-The first tool I’m going to recommend is of course MFP. Free to use and accessible online and from any and all smart phones. I’ve been using MFP on and off for years. One of the things I like the most about MFP is the community. As the majority of my friends don’t make their diary public or even log in daily it’s helpful for me to find people in similar circumstances as myself and be friends with them. Currently, I’m friends with a lot of Crossfitters. I like to see what they eat because I never have enough ideas. In the past I found friends in the area I lived who were able to recommend stores for good running shoes, various events, etc.

If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)- I am a big proponent of macro nutrient (fats, carbs, protein) counting. It’s not enough to say eat 1500 calories every day and come to find out you get all 1500 calories from gummy bears and brownies (mmmm brownies). How you fuel your body is just as important as how much you eat. IIFYM can be free if you understand how to calculate your Macros, however, I would recommend hiring someone to do it. I’ve had people do it in the past for about $30. You should have them recalculated every 10 lbs or so which means this can get expensive (but to be honest I would probably cheat and just keep my nutrient percentages the same and lower overall calories because I’m a cheap bastard). The great thing about IIFYM is that it keeps your Macro count constant everyday. So once you plan a few days in food that fit your macro profile you can repeat those days as needed to ensure you’re hitting your goal. This diet style allows you to fit in your favorite junk foods once in a while, though you generally will struggle hitting your macro targets if you don’t eat healthier foods.

Eat to Perform (ETP)- ETP is the program that I currently utilize and am having some great success with. It’s costly. Plan rates vary and once you choose a plan you cannot change it until a lifetime membership opportunity comes around, and even then you’re either stuck with the plan you chose or the lifetime membership rates. I personally think their website is terrible! It literally looks like a spam site, but I promise it is not. Currently there is a waiting list to join as it’s really trending in the Crossfit crowd. An additional negative (just to get them out of the way all at once) is that they don’t yet have an app for Android (Android for lyfe)! ETP is a carb cycling program and they review your progress every couple of days. If you really like food (especially carbs), this is the plan for you because every time they want you to lose more weight they give you more food. I don’t know why or how it works, but it does.

I know there are many other tools out there such as Weight Watchers, Renaissance Periodization, etc that I unfortunately cannot speak to as I have zero experience with these programs. Please know I do not promote fad diets of any kind. These are programs that help manage portion control. You still choose what you eat. You will not see me promote things such as Keto, Adkins, Herbalife, Shakeology, Advocare, etc. I don’t believe in the sustainability or corporate intentions of these diets and do not follow them.

Non-controversial Disclaimer:

I made this blog to represent and encourage fathletes everywhere. But part of being an athlete is performance and a key to performance is fuel. While I’m happy being a fathlete and showing the world what I can do I am also aware that having a high body fat percentage does impact my overall health. The reason I started working out was to optimize my health and it’s the reason I will constantly seek a diet that complements my healthier lifestyle choices.

In order to make these choices, I had to choose to love my body. I may not love what it looks like all the time and there are definitely things about it I don’t like, but I love my body for what it can do. I love my body because it’s my home. I love my body because it’s the only body I will ever have and despite the social norms and stereotypes, people with body fat are worthy of confidence, self love and self worth. Once you find those things you will be able to make the healthiest choices for your body. After all, we all make sacrifices for those we love and if you want to make sacrifices (like putting the brownie down) for yourself you need to love yourself.

Inspiration of the Fathlete

I received inspiration to start this blog from a my first ever Crossfit Competition. That’s right, I’m one of those annoying Crossfitters who talks about Crossfit because, of course, the first rule of Crossfit is you must tell everyone you Crossfit. But that is irrelevant to this post. I competed in my first ever Crossfit competition, the 5th Annual Crossfit Believe Summer Throwdown, in the women’s scaled division.

Now, a bit of background on my Crossfit experience. I’ve been doing Crossfit for a little over a year and a half so ideally you’d think I’d be good at it. But for me, that is definitely not the case. While I have improved in strength and stamina, I have improved very little. What are the things that people expect to happen when they start working out? Lose weight, be able to actually run a mile, lift heavier objects with greater ease. All of those things happened. My weight varies. I’ve stayed constant between 18-30 lbs lost but I’m still 130-150 lbs more than the average female Crossfitter and hold steady at around 45 percent body fat. I can run further and last longer in metabolic conditioning exercises but not by much and my strength has increased, but that in itself is a slow process.  (As a side note, I’ve only ever run a mile once in my life without stopping. I’m convinced I have the capacity to do it, I just lack the discipline. Running is so boring for me!)

So I went to this competition on Saturday and for those of you who don’t know how Crossfit competitions work they go something like this. You have between 4 & 5 short, miserable workouts that you compete in. Based on when you finish and your times you are given a point score. The person with the most points at the end of the day is in first place, the person with the least points is in last place. (I’m purposely not differentiating between winners and losers because if you have any idea on how much work these competitions are you know that no one really loses).

Working up to this competition I’m fully convinced that with no reasonable metabolic stamina I would surely come in last place. I was fine with that until Saturday. I arrived at the competition and low and behold I was by far the fattest competitor. Knowing how preconceived notions work and that the stereotypes with body fat are generally rather negative, I knew every single person watching this competition expected me to be last, including myself and . probably even including the trainer who attended from my own gym.

The first event definitely reinforced my demise as it was cardio intense and 10 minutes long. I barely made it into the third round while every other girl in my heat, including the ones with abs had either finished or almost finished the workout by the 10 minute time cap. It was frustrating. I wanted to prove people wrong about fat people. I wanted the people in that gym to know that body fat does not equate to athletic ability, but in the cardio department I’m failing miserably.

As the day went on I took last in another event, 800 m run with a 20 lb ball. No surprise there, I am world’s slowest runner and again running is relatively boring to me, so I lack discipline in that area. I took 2nd to last in the Air Force WOD which was definitely disappointing as I had an advantage that the weight was low. So, in total 3/5 events I ranked 12th and 13th out of 13.

However, there was some saving grace. A strength workout! I can lift some shit so I figured this would be my area to shine. I knew I likely wouldn’t take first, but it was something I knew I wouldn’t come last or 2nd to last in. Low and behold I took 4th. Then, a short sprint workout. I have power and in some cases can have speed (running excluded), but no stamina. My power and speed is short lived. Apparently short lived to 3:05 for a 6th place finished and with that I did not take last place in the competition, I finished 11/13.

I don’t want you all to think I’m a sore loser (but if you do, oh well I probably won’t change your mind). I have no problem with finishing last or coming in last place. As I said before, everyone who finished won. They burned a ton of calories, had fun, supported each other, made connections. But I really wanted to show people that fat people can be athletes. We can compete. Because even in a community as supportive as Crossfit there are stereotypes from small athletic people, but also from fat people themselves regarding their strength and capabilities.

Crossfit is scary for normal people, but extremely intimidating when you have been made to feel fat, lazy and useless all your life. I want to show fat people, hey you can do this and you can be good at it, even if you’re 150 lbs overweight. I want to show elite athletes that maybe I’m not at your level now, but I can get there and this is where I’m starting. I love it when new people, especially women, at my gym come and ask how long I’ve been doing Crossfit and respond, “So if I keep at this I can be as good at this as you are?”

I respond “Yes” while thinking to myself, you can surpass me.

After the Crossfit competition I got home and looked at my Eat To Perform Facebook group to find a post from a woman who does Crossfit and weighs 350 lbs, 200 lbs more than the average Crossfit athlete. She spoke with the trainer at her box earlier that day who reassured her, through her frustration, that she was doing great. He told her that she needed to remember that she is essentially doing the same movements as a lot of the 150 lb athletes with a 200lb weight vest on. If you put a 200 lb weight vest on 150lb Crossfit athlete (or any athlete for that matter), that person probably wouldn’t be able to perform as well as they’d like either.

So that is why I created this blog. To help challenge the stereotypes that body fat=lazy and unable. These stereotypes held by athletes, trainers and most importantly fathletes (fat athletes) themselves. You are far more capable than you think you are. I will show you, just keep reading.