SARAH GETS STRONG *

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Themed by Monique Tendencia.

4

It all started with the reuban from NYC..

Oy vey.

This is embarrassing to admit, but.. Paleo has sorta been kicking my ass lately.

And I know that it all started with that damn reuben from NYC.

Thankfully, however, this was a successful Paleo week, where I indulged not even a little bit into my apartment’s pseudo-sinful treats such as the imported dark chocolate. Sure, it was hard to resist the sweetness… especially that of the homemade cheesecake sitting in my fridge (saved for cheat-days, of course)..


                                                   Today’s lunch.. because its time to get it together.


But it’s time to get it together and keep it together! I’ll have to continue with my work-week sugar weaning as to get it under control. Yes, this coming from the girl who has a Paleo blog and writes about how sugar will kill you. Because it will, and now I can feel it!

So, although dietary perfection often times feels unattainable, just learn to recognize the actions you can control and get a damn hold of yourself— your body (and life) will thank you for it.

Who needs cheesecake, anyway…..



9

Which do you want to hear first: the good news or the bad news?

The Good News: It’s 100% fixable.
The Bad News: I’m a freakin’ mess.

Before I continue, I want to first point out that this blog is meant to illustrate my journey into optimum health, strength, and wellness, the majority of which includes CrossFit training and Paleo nutrition; however, with that being said, I also believe it’s pertinent to include all outside experiences which aid in this achievement of strength, health, and overall awesomeness.

OK, what I’m about to share with you is very personal and scary for me. When I found out about this, I considered whether or not to publicly display it as it may make me vulnerable and, subsequently, uncomfortable (who knew?)—- but I feel that its important for an example to be made and that this sort of thing be known.

Now, without further ado… I would like to introduce the following:




  • Looking above, the x-ray on the left shows a lower-back with increased curvature, and the right is a spine showing signs of scoliosis (as depicted by the red and black lines; black indicates whats actually happening, and red is where it should be).

  • Looking below, the x-ray on the left shows the side view of a neck bent too far forward (as illustrated by the red and black lines), with the space in between the cervical vertebrae (“neck bones”) decreasing as it moves down (when it should stay the same). The X-ray to the right shows a neck shifted too far the right.



Unfortunately.. all of these X-rays belong to me.

This is scary for many reasons. Firstly, scoliosis can lead to a variety of negative health outcomes, such as spinal cord or nerve damage (HELLO!), low back arthritis, respiratory problems due to severe, uncorrected spinal curvature, and an overall poorer quality of life. Second, my neck is bent too far forward, meaning I have less space between my cervical vertebra, and thus more potential for nerve damage.
Not only that, but, as you can see, this misalignment is causing my atlas (i.e., the topmost vertebra, which, along with the Axis, forms the joint connecting the skull and spine) is actually projecting upwards, putting more pressure on, oh I don’t know, my brain.

Can you believe I’ve gone my entire life without knowing any of this?— scary.

Thankfully, Caleb has been going to a chiropractor (Dr. Bianca Treski), and suggested that I finally take a peek. Sure, why not? My posture has always been crappy and my neck always hunched (although I thought this was normal and not so big of a deal, because, hey, I am a vision of health, right?).

…Right?!?

Anyway, I’ve had, now, my initial assessment (x-rays, symptom questionarre, medical history, etc) and second appointment, which involved going over the x-rays as well as an overview of the appropriate steps (an array of tractions and adjustments) needed to remedy my problems.

The good news?  I’m on my way to greatness because I’ve already had my first adjustment and tractions (holler!)! I’ve decided to “chronicle” each week’s experience through discussion of changes in my posture, wellness etc., and will post my x-rays from “report appointments” to show if any physical improvements have taken place.

Still with me? Fabulous. Stay tuned!



4

I know I always push this, but…

We have to remember look at both the pro’s AND con’s of our athletic performance. Only looking at the negative will NOT get us to a better, con-free place (because this con-free place does not actually exist).

Example:

Wednesday’s WOD required heavy thrusters and pullups, with the RX’d sequence as follows:

  • 15 95lb thruster
  • 15 weighted kipping pullup (20lb)
  • 21 65lb thruster
  • 21 weighted kipping pullup (10lb)
  • 36 45lb thruster
  • 36 weightless kipping pullups

    15min time cap

As an individual not “good” at thrusters, I had to scale the first weight, 95lb, to 80lbs. In retrospect, I may have been able to do 85lb.. maybe. But let’s not think about what “could have been” and focus on what actually happened.

  • CON:
    I had to scale the first thruster weight. Ugh. Definitely a time to toss the ego aside and just accept what I’m physically capable of. And, so.. I did.




  • PRO:
    I was able to do the weighted pullups as RX’d— holler! OK, and maybe that I finished a thruster WOD in 15min. This is a big deal because thrusters are almost always the dark cloud that rains on my parade and/or the wet blanket that envelopes me in hell. Time to feel good about myself!

                          



4

The first step to looking good naked..

(this was also today’s post for AlbanyCrossFit.com- check it out!) 


Is to actually feel good about yourself.
 

Duh.

We can train 5 days a week, have a sub 2 “Fran” time, lift 3 billion pounds (because that can be possible, kind of), be 100% strict Paleo, and have a sweet rockin’ bod, but… without the support from yourself, your bod aint so great. In fact, this mindset has the potential to stunt your growth as an athlete, not to mention destroy the confidence which makes us all feel capable of doing something, anything… 

Wait a minute, the potential? I mean it will.

We need this confidence. The greatest consequence of what we do here (besides living longer and being harder to kill) is the emotional and physical strength it provides, which, in turn, gives us confidence in our capabilities (and, of course, our hot bods). This confidence, without a doubt, pours into our everyday non-CrossFit lives, making everything seem just a little bit… better. 

Right?

OK, maybe I’m going off the deep end a bit (you all know I’m a fanatic…). Or, maybe it’s the post-WOD endorphins, or the fact that I live with a wonderfully offensive mobility man. All possibilities. 

However, what I know is this: 

We all want to be somewhere farther than where we are now, someplace stronger, fitter, better. Maybe we just want to look good naked. Nevertheless, the only way we’re going to get there is to know we are able to.

I know you got this.



8
I know it hurts. Oh, God. It hurts.  And I know that  grip strength is not one of my strengths, but.. I need to do  it  anyway. Just suck it up and do it anyway. I will remember this moment,  and I will recall the time my weakness did not overpower my ability to   succeed. And I will succeed again.

I know it hurts. Oh, God. It hurts.

And I know that grip strength is not one of my strengths, but.. I need to do it anyway. Just suck it up and do it anyway. I will remember this moment, and I will recall the time my weakness did not overpower my ability to succeed.

And I will succeed again.



4

CONFESSION: Sarah gets… gross.

After the deed is done, a whirlwind of guilt nearly drops me to my knees.

"WHY? WHY WOULD I EVER DO THIS TO MYSELF?" …REALLY, WHY!!?, I cry. "But… it feels so good…".

You would think I were referring to heroine for christ’s sake. I can imagine, however, that as a CrossFitting Paleo enthusiast, doing this would produce an effect similar to an intravenous drug.

Doing.. what?

Oh, you know.. eating… rubens, alcohol, cheesecake, pizza, cupcakes, bagels…. in, oh I don’t know, a 2 DAY WINDOW.

Take out all of the mirrors in the house. I can’t face myself.

 I got.. gross.

It hasn’t been since I visited France this past summer that I’ve consumed bread and dairy during a meal, consecutively, on more than one occasion. It was on a much needed weekend get-away, nonetheless, so I thought it would be OK.

..OK? My body is definitely not OK. (Cue sudden couch potato-like symptoms. Gross)

Now I remember why I wait months in between each major cheat. Just thought I’d throw myself under the Paleo bus and share..

Until next time. (but, hopefully there won’t be a next time)

Jamby



7

Recognizing accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem.

I mentioned this in last week’s post for Albany CrossFit.com and have recently experienced an example of my own.

As embarrassing as this is, yesterday was my first time climbing the 20 ft rope. I’ve been scared sh*tless since our first introducion (which was in, um… June 2009’s elements class) and I was certain that, if I did somehow make it to the top, I would probably have to stay there. Why?

Because, the only obvious route down is to fall. And, you know. Die.

Really, Sarah?



Really. Thankfully, however, this unnecessary fear subsided and my climb subsequently took place (Thanks Kevin). Of course, once making it to the top, Caleb says “Don’t panic!” and, of course, it kind of made me want to. But I didn’t.

Thanks Caleb.

This, among other things, has really illustrated the reality of my training and has given me some perspective. I have an infinite list of movements and weights to master yet— because, this is CrossFit after-all— but, sometimes the easiest way of getting through it is knowing what you’ve already accomplished.

Plus I also enjoy getting my ass kicked once in a while.

Until next time.



11

Are you BORED with Paleo? OK: lets start with Turkey Burgers..

Listen, I’m no grill master— so much so that I am probably still unable to fire it up correctly (if at all). However, I have now successfully cooked turkey burgers on the skillet (its winter, ok?!) that aren’t dry or bland, and would thus like to give HOPE to those individuals who are BORED with their current Paleo menu.

Just because you want to live a healthy, clean, non-inflammatory lifestyle, DOES NOT MEAN you are stuck with a grilled chicken salad. Got it?

I’ve included a few recipes on this blog, but since my last food post (I can’t even remember when.. yikes!), I have undoubtedly semi-mastered a few dishes that are easy, quick, and absolutely foolproof.

  

Let’s start with the Turkey Burgers:

You will need

  • 3-5lbs ground turkey (depending on how many people you’re feeding)
  • 2 medium yellow onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 cups baby bella mushrooms (finely chopped)
  • garlic salt
  • garlic powder
  • parsley
  • extra virgin olive oil

STEP 1: Pour a generous amount of olive oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat. In about a minute, add onions and mushrooms.

STEP 2: Saute the onions and mushrooms until lightly caramelized. While sauteing, add garlic salt, garlic powder and parsley to taste (make sure NOT TO over salt!).

STEP 3: Remove ground turkey meat from package and place into a large bowl. Begin mashing/squishing the meat with your hands as to create uniform texture. Add ALL contents of the skillet into the meat bowl (mushroom, onion, and olive oil) and mix it well into the meat.

STEP 4: Using your hands, begin rolling the meat into the form of a burger. The best way is to first create a meatball shape, and then, using your index and middle finger, push down the middle of the ball lightly as to create a slight concave.

STEP 5: Cook burgers on medium-high heat until no longer pink inside. Cover if necessary.

Once cooked, I usually add ripe avocado and hot sauce to the burgers and then serve it with a side of cucumber tomato salad semi-soaked in a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Enjoy :)



3

                                                    The Women of Albany CrossFitStrong is Beautiful



3

First Individual CrossFit Competition: COMPLETE!

And without an anxiety attack, meltdown, or total disfigurement of self-confidence?

Huge PR.

Sure, the WODs were tough, the day was long, and the competition was stiff— but, I have to admit— the hardest part of competing was not physically competing. Controlling my thoughts, keeping motivation and positive overall mindset is what I found to be the most difficult. And, not even during the competition, but rather… the week leading up to it. 

After hearing 3, 2, 1… everything but the WOD disappeared. For once, I felt alone and focused, without letting my insecurities take over my ability to perform. It was really beautiful.

                   
                                                       My fortune cookie at the post-competition dinner… :)


WOD 1: 

  • 3 rounds for time: 10 overhead squat @ 75lbs, 50 double-unders. 10 min time-cap.

  • Neither were a strength of mine and, in fact, wasn’t able to finish under 10 min. But still, somehow, someway… I had a really great time throughout. The OHS felt strong and double-unders not.. err, awful.
     
  • Completed: 2 full rounds + 5 overhead squats

                              

WOD 2: 

  • Find 7-rep-max squat clean in 7min, with each attempt done in 40 sec. No re-grip or rest on floor allowed.
     
  • First attempt at 95lb with time to spare; next at 105lb, but ran out of time with 1 rep to go.
  • Shoulda coulda woulda hit 105lb as my first attempt, but.. better safe than  sorry, right? 

                           

WOD 3:

  • 20 handstand-pushup buy-in (scaled with 1 abmat and 10lb bumper plate), followed by 3 rounds of: 6 running laps, 20 burpee. 7 min time-cap. 

  • The handstand pushups were not nearly as bad as I expected (given that it is a “suck” of mine), and was actually able to get 18 unbroken. The last 2, however, took me around 20 sec to finish because I did not strategize appropriately.. (i.e., went to failure). 
  • Burpees should have been easier. Usually a strength, but was unable to throw myself down as I usually do.

  • Time completed: 6:06

                       

WOD 4:

  • A chipper of: 20 pullups, 30 24” box jumps, 40 kb swing at 35lbs, 50 toes-to-bar, 40 kb swing at 35lbs, 30 24” box jumps, 20 pullups.
    20min time-cap.

  • As the final WOD, this truly tested motivation and mental fortitude. Thinking about the total rep count for each movement was intimidating enough.
  • Overall, it was my grip strength that held me back. It didn’t even occur to me that swinging a kettlebell, hitting 50 toes-to-bar and 40 pullups would effect my grip. But, let me tell you… it certainly did.

  • Time completed: 17:41
       


4

At a loss for words.. except for, “I love you”

This has to be the one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. I wanted to share this in my blog to illustrate what a CrossFit community is truly capable of, as well as to personally remember one of the most touching moments of my CrossFit career. 

I am at a loss for words.. except for, I love you”.

(below is my Member of the Month post taken from AlbanyCrossFit.com)

From Jason:

Where to begin…

I can honestly say, Sarah has matured on more levels than anyone else at Albany CrossFit.  Not just as an athlete but as a person.  From someone that was intimidated to “push their knees” apart on Day 1 of elements to competing in a flashy outfit at our Fall Face-Off.

We always say how great our community here is Albany CrossFit and Sarah is an integral part.  She will support anything we do, from weekly blog posts, to stalking our Facebook, to cheering on everyone around, Sarah IS Albany CrossFit.

Her improvements as an athlete are profound.  From skinny to athletic, Sarah has transformed into a CrossFitter.  Her athletic acheivements alone could have earned her Member of the Month.

Sarah’s confidence gained at Albany CrossFit has transfered to her real life as well.  From finally getting her driver’s license, to going back to graduate school, to getting a full-time job…Sarah has stepped it up in all aspects of life, and I couldn’t be more proud!

Who’s the big girl now?

From KeHo:

As the Albany CrossFit community grows, deciding which athlete most deserves Member of the Month becomes increasingly more difficult. This month Sarah has earned the honors, and let me emphasize…EARNED! I have certainly seen Jamby grow as a crossfitter over the past year. Her blog is consistently informative and entertaining. Her willingness to work her “sucks” is something I would like to bottle up and force feed some of you. She can sometimes be a difficult athlete to coach, but lets be honest, so can each of us. Sarah has worked her butt off, and is one our most improved athletes. Look out for her competing in the very near future! She will be the one pouring her heart and soul into each WOD.


From Leb:

I am proud to say this month’s MOM honors goes to a very special person in my life, Sarah “Jamby” Johnson.  As most of you know, this beautiful girl just so happens to be my girlfriend of almost 5 years, and looking back on how far she’s come in her CrossFit career is astonishing.  I first introduced Sarah to CrossFit back at SUNY Cortland when we were still undergrads.  Let me tell you that I very quickly learned that training your girlfriend is probably the worst idea ever.  I was almost certain that my CrossFit life and her’s were doomed to stay apart forever.  Thankfully, she realized the amazing possibilities that CrossFit has to offer when we came to watch the Sectional Qualifiers two years ago. She said she wanted to be “strong and sexy” like the women competing, so the next week she started Elements alongside her father. 

So the journey began.

What started off as a fun hobby (the nightly calls I used to receive about what WOD she hit became quite the ritual), has now turned in to a full-blown obsession.  The girl that was once terrified to step up on a Gravitron machine for fear that other people in the school gym would judge her on her modified pull-ups, now relishes in the opportunity to hit pull-up intensive workouts.  She adopted the Paleo ways, dabbled in Zone, even posting her musings and journey in her blog.  Jamby has looked to take her commitment to the next level, having already attended 2 certs and now aiming to test herself in competition.  She even writes a weekly post for the Albany CrossFit website. 

Though there has been struggles along the way (I’m sure that comes as no surprise to those of you that know us), it only has made her growth to this point all that more special.

You have earned this on your merit alone, Jamby, not your relationship to me.  Your hard work and dedication has made you in to an integral part of the communal fabric of Albany CrossFit.  Sarah, I am proud of you, of your accomplishments and your maturity as an athlete, and more so as a person.  And above all, I love you.  I know you will continue to impress us all.



2

This may offend some…

…but first, I would like to welcome 2011 with a “my bad!” for not writing in a week— Oy! My apologies. I have been adapting to my new work schedule and, thus, a new laundry and cooking schedule. You know how it goes.. 

BUT, I’m back! Now onto the offender: Today I stumbled upon a rather moving article taken from the Chicago Tribune | Food section (moving… as in, my insides traveling up and potentially out of my mouth). OK, maybe disturbing would have been the less graphic adjective to use..

Here we go:

  • First, lets look at the title, "The veggie cook: Ways to eat better in 2011- Adding more vegetarian options is one step". I applaud the effort of trying to incorporate more vegetables & fruits as part of one’s diet, because, as Paleo enthusiasts, we know that these are the carbohydrate sources we need, but.. removing meat from a meal as a means of promoting health, wellness and balance (i.e., “Meatless Mondays”), should never be an option. Plain and simple. 

The two scariest excerpts are as follows:

  • "Here is a recipe to try for the New Year: Louisiana red beans and rice, remade with meatless “sausage.” The sausage is made of wheat meat, or seitan, a wheat protein vegetarians have been using for a long time. Seitan comes ready-made and is easy to use.”

    …I’m sorry. This is just foul. One should NEVER substitute a meat source with a (1, 2 ,3.. deep breath) GRAIN!



    Paleo Sunday brunch with scrambled eggs, bacon, hamsteak, turkey tomato & lettuce salad, fresh fruit,
                                                                 and
Banana-Nut “bread” with shredded coconut
 

  • "Experiment once a week with a protein that’s from plants rather than from animals, such as tofu, seitan, lentils or beans. And with one new whole grain, such as brown rice, quinoa or whole-wheat pasta. As you find options you like, try to cut down on animal products. Add more fruit and vegetables to your diet and enjoy more of them raw. Also make raw salads and fruit servings a first course so that the desire for proteins and fat in entrees will decrease.”

    …Add more fruits and veggies, great! But.. experiment with tofo (i.e., soy)? Not OK (see:
    "Oy, the Soy!"). The last sentence also ADVOCATES a lessened desire (and thus, need) for proteins and fats through INCREASING carbohydrate consumption. This couldn’t be more ass-backwards. And offensive. 


**DISCLAIMER: I wanted to include this in a blog post because a lot of seemingly helpful articles claim they have the magic to losing weight and/or becoming a healthier individual. I don’t doubt that becoming a vegetarian is healthier then eating McDonald’s hamburgers on a daily basis, but as Paleo enthusiasts, we know better.

Embrace it!