Dry July may have turned into another campaign to raise funds for cancer sufferers, but fundraising was not behind the creation of this teetotaling month, and nor is it the prime motivation for most people signing up to this entire month without booze.
Kiwis are big drinkers, and that’s a fact. It’s a fact we’re usually quite proud of too, with it not being uncommon to hear people (even grown-up professionals) laughing about their weekend benders. Curiously, we’re not the only nation of people ready to stick their chests out and detail their drinking efforts – the Argentines will tell you how they love their beer, the Russians have vodka for breakfast and even the ever-healthy Norwegians will pull out their aquavit at the oddest of occasions. Ensuing debates about who actually does drink the most are as amusing as they are curious and pointless.
As published on the Tabata Times
I was in a job interview the other day, talking through my skills and strengths, doing my best to sell myself as a hard worker who would fit into the team. After going through various questions, the interviewer suddenly says, “And I see you do CrossFit?” “Oh, yes!” I beam, with that unbridled enthusiasm common to most CrossFitters. I’d forgotten that I’d slipped in “CrossFit L1 instructor” at the top of my list of qualifications (obviously where it belongs). As it turned out, my interviewer also did CrossFit, and he proceeded to tell me (also with that unbridled enthusiasm) about how it had changed his life. Ten minutes later, I walked out with a job and having promised them that we’d all be doing lunges down the hallways by the end of my first week. Of course, I wasn’t hired just because my new boss also did CrossFit, but because he knows that CrossFitters make good employees. Here’s why:
1. Doing CrossFit makes you generally awesome.
Ok, that one’s a joke. Kind of.
2. It helps you make connections in the office.
We’ve all heard the joke: “How do you know if someone does CrossFit? They’ll tell you.” Well, let’s be honest, this is quite true – I even got it on my CV, for Pete’s sake! Discovering that you have a hobby in common with someone at work, especially one as widespread and popular as CrossFit, makes it much easier to start conversations and create connections with colleagues. You’ll be regarded as a better employee because you’ll quickly integrate yourself in to your new team. Read the rest of this entry
Hola Madrid! Sangría consumed, historic buildings visited, it was time to see how the Spanish did CrossFit. In a city of 3.2 million people there are just 19 CrossFit boxes in Madrid. CrossFit is only just starting to grow here, in a country where sport and fitness are not at the top of most people’s priority list (especially the females’). In fact, I found it unsurprising that three of the four girls in my class at CrossFit Krig- Retiro weren’t Spanish.
I had no idea how long the subways and connections would take to get me to CrossFit Krig-Retiro (one of two boxes run by CrossFit Krig in Madrid) and ended up getting their quite early. I interrupted a personal training session and was quickly told to wait while the guys finished their session. Feeling a little awkward, I found a wooden pole and did some arm swings and other stretches while I watched my soon-to-be coaches perform some nice olympic lifting. Read the rest of this entry
I’d always wanted to “lose a little weight”: drop a size, get rid of my cankles, say I was at 64kg (141 pounds) instead of 66kg (145 pounds). Whatever that meant. But I couldn’t. I gymmed, ran, counted calories. But the weight never really moved much.
Then I found myself on a stressful, extended work trip, where meal sizes were restricted and I had nothing else to do but exercise every day. Over a six month period I progressively dropped two dress sizes, got rid of my cankles and could say I weighed 58kg (128 pounds). Whatever that meant. I had no ass, boobs or cellulite, and had achieved what I had thought was impossible. No matter that I looked border-line anorexic; if nothing else this was interesting.
Back home, I threw myself enthusiastically into my new-found CrossFit scene and ate quite Paleo; my weight remained stable. I was small. People commented, though: Mum said I was “too thin” while male mates noted my lack of curves. I still thought it was interesting and was pleased with my “achievements.”
Then I tried a 30-day Paleo challenge. What little grains and sugar I had in my diet were cut. The big test was getting rid of alcohol, but 100% Paleo gave me something else to obsess over rather than a recent break up. I dropped more weight and had to add meat to my breakfast to avoid getting even skinnier. I was proud of how I was able to manipulate my body, surprised that something that had always seemed impossible suddenly wasn’t.
And then it was Christmas, holiday time. I decided to quit my job and travel, and found myself totally out of my exercise and diet routines. I partied, went out for dinner with friends, stayed at friends’ houses and had easy access to all kinds of food. I was active but CrossFit sessions were infrequent.
I imagined the weight creeping on even before it had. I was consuming “prohibited” foods and felt guilty. I felt I’d lost control. I lost that pride I had so recently found.
A five month tour around Europe didn’t help. Tapas and beer in Spain; sweet, syrupy pastries in Morocco; sausages wrapped in pancakes, crisp bread and tubed caviar (seriously!) in Norway; cheese in Holland; sausages and mash in Germany; beer in Poland; sweet bread, meat and cream in the Czech Republic. If I hadn’t consumed it, I would have missed out on a massive cultural experience, but every day I thought about what I was eating and how much weight I was putting on.
The food was different, delicious and I couldn’t miss out on it. But my mind was driving me crazy; I was losing control. To stay sane I had to make a decision: since my travel was temporary and had an end date, I could be as healthy as possible on the road… but this wasn’t my time to be super trim or super fit. I would be home soon and surely back in an eating (not diet) and exercise routine which would have me back “in shape” in no time. I had to enjoy this while it lasted.
And then I got thinking about people I’d met on my journey and the attitudes they had towards their bodies:
- A girl in Spain whose goal was to lose enough weight to have “that little gap at the top of (her) thighs.”
- Another who complained about being bloated after every meal and restricted calories as a result. She was already so thin she severely lacked strength in her arms but wanted to keep going.
- A Polish girl who had (probably) been affected by the Spanish mentality and restricted her calories where possible, wanting to lose weight but without working out.
- Both a girl and a guy in Italy who patted their tummies and said they needed to lose a bump, despite both being quite slim.
All of these people were wonderful and beautiful, but all spent a lot of energy just wanting to be “skinny.”
And then I read blogs. Blogs written by people, like me, who thought they were fat, constantly trying and failing to lose weight, and hating themselves for their failures. And finally it clicked… We are all freakin’ crazy!
None of the people mentioned above were actually overweight, yet they all obsessed over their size, worried what others thought of them and probably would never be entirely satisfied no matter how much they actually lost (humans seem to have this bad habit of always wanting more and more). The thing is that all of these people were focussing on superficialities. And for what? You’re not going to get a prize when you lose those extra 500g because those 500g probably aren’t the difference between being healthy and unhealthy, and a decent person won’t love you more just for being skinny.
I looked at these people and realized that I didn’t want to be like that and needed to find a balance. I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t truly enjoying my travels. Obsessing over every 100g of my weight was detracting from the wonderful things I was living. I thought, If I die tomorrow, I’d kick myself for being so concerned that my pants were a smidgen tighter, rather than fully enjoying a wonderful moment or a marvelous view. This was all temporary, anyway.
What is important, rather than your actual size, is your health. If you need to lose weight for your actual health, make solid changes and do it, but reach a healthy balance. All of those people above need to shift their focus to their health and all need to actually do exercise to achieve this – to improve bone and muscle strength, to improve cardiovascular fitness, to ensure they reach the age of 70 as a healthy, mobile human being.
And so I found myself in Italy, finally with a new approach, on the last leg of my trip.
Day 1: soft white bread wrapped around tuna and olives for breakfast – a typical Venetian food. Homemade pizza for dinner.
Day 2: homemade pasta with homemade pesto for lunch. More homemade pizza for dinner.
Day 5: pasta with tomatoes for dinner and the same on day 7.
By normal standards, my diet was horrendous – it was every shade of yellow and had little nutritional value. But for once I wasn’t worried about gaining weight with every bite. Rather, I enjoyed the cultural experience for what it was. I felt better. Happier. Lighter – as a result of my mood or body I don’t know. I’d been eating but I’d also been to CrossFit, run through a forest, cycled part of Lake Como and walked up, down and around Florence for 8 hours. I was active and still healthy. I could still power up a hill, squat my body weight and prove a solid contender at beach tennis.
And now I’ve left Italy. That experience is over and I may never have it again. But man did I enjoy it.
Back home, I will stick to my new balance. I like the Paleo lifestyle of eating fresh foods with high nutritional value. But I’m healthy and active enough to not have to be pedantic or obsessive – enjoying the odd pizza, ice cream or toast with peanut butter and honey (oh-so-good) won’t kill me.
Imagine that you are like a straight line that is always moving forward in life. Things will happen around you, but you will always be you. This is the best advice that my mother ever gave me. Your weight might go up, but it will also go down again, and so long as you’re healthy, this is ok. No matter what, you are — and always will be — wonderful you.
There is no one-size-fits-all template for health. Consider your own needs and goals, find your balance and then love yourself — for all of your curves, each bit of cellulite, every weird mole, your strong legs, and the getting-stronger arms that you have. Because you really don’t know how for long you’ll be walking around this world, so you may as well have as much fun as you can while you’re here.
As published on the Tabata Times.
I was confused. CrossFit HPU was colocated in central Auckland with Les Mills, one of New Zealand’s largest commercial gym chains. Was Les Mills suddenly offering CrossFit? Would the classes be legitimate? And why was the CrossFit HPU website so different and separate to that of Les Mills? Read the rest of this entry
The first time I ever heard of Rapid CrossFit was when I saw a sleek, sign-written Rapid CrossFit vehicle cruising around the North Shore, nowhere near the actual location of the box. It stuck in my mind as I hadn’t yet seen many sign-written CrossFit vehicles around, and I was excited by the expansion of the sport in New Zealand. I then happened to be temping in a new office and found out that one of the guys did CrossFit and ate paleo. I quickly sought him out and we were soon sharing stories on work outs, diets and expectations of the upcoming CrossFit Games Open work outs. Coincidentally, he worked out at Rapid CrossFit and managed to convince me to join him for a 6am session. Read the rest of this entry
I was walking through an historic street in Granada, southern Spain, with a friend the other day and asked her what she thought of the bodies of the Spanish girls (yeah, I should’ve been admiring the 16th century cathedral but mine is a CrossFit experience as well as a travel one!). “They’re all really skinny”, she replied, with admiration.
Skinny. Hmmmm. I saw skinny-fat. Little girls. “Skinny” for sure, but with arms incapable of carrying a child for long, legs that would tire quickly when climbing a hill and saggy bums.
Later, I was giving my spiel on the benefits of CrossFit to a girl in Mallorca (Ibiza’s less crazy and potentially more beautiful neighbour) and she asked if CrossFit would help her lose weight because she wanted that “little gap at the top of (her) thighs”. Sigh. Yes, it will help you lose weight, but it will also make you healthier overall. Read the rest of this entry