Pastures New!

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Hello all, sorry for the long silence. Rest assured I have been very busy working on my debut novel The Fire Fox and the Harvest Moon. With the novel nearing completion I have decided to start a new blog. I loved my Living Little and Fierce Blog but after much deliberation felt that I wanted to write about more than health and fitness.

You can find my new blog here, follow me on Facebook here, follow me on Twitter here, on Instagram here, and Pinterest here

Alternatively you can email me joskibyrne@gmail.com

Thanks so much for reading and for all your positive comments and messages, it was all very much appreciated.

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Ring that (PB) bell!

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I had a great day at the box today.  This week was 1 rep max week but I have only made it in once due to work commitments.  On Wednesday I had a 2.5 kilo gain on my back squat taking it up to 72.5 kilos.  I have to confess that I was a little disappointed in that as I have been working really hard on pause squats for the last four weeks and I felt like I should have improved more BUT a PB is a PB and I can’t allow negativity to creep in.  Today was great though.  I can’t remember the last time I did deadlifts – it has been months – and I got 77.5 kilos, which is a 7.5 kilo improvement on my 1 rep max.  I also gained an extra 2.5 kilos on my bench press taking it up to 37.5 kilos.  It is really interesting to me that even when focusing on one particular movement, in this case back squats, you can still see improvements in other lifts.  I also have to keep in mind that as the weights I lift are going up (even if it is by a very small percentage) my body weight is going down.  Here are some stats on my weight loss/ body changes since January:

  January Now
Weight 69.5 Kilos/  11 stone 63.8 Kilos/ 10 Stone 0.5 pounds
Body fat percentage 35.1 33.2
Waist measurement 35.5 31
BMI 29 26.6

This is no staggering weight loss (I have been to Slimming World before are lost a stone in a week) but to me it is better because it feels more permanent.  It feels as though I am going in the right direction and that this is a change that will stay with me for the rest of my life and if I can lose weight and body fat whilst also increasing the weight I am able lift then I am a very happy bunny indeed!

What is also really interesting to me is the continued effect that CrossFit has on the rest of my life – yesterday I spoke at a teachers conference at University of Sussex in front of a room full of highly educated and intelligent people.  I told them about the work that I do with the project I run and I know that before I began CrossFit there is absolutely no way I would have had the confidence to do that.  Today marks three months that my husband George has been away and again, without CrossFit I know that I would not have been able to cope without him for all this time.

It is a glorious day here in Brighton so I am now off out to enjoy the sunshine.

* Good luck to all of the Connect Crew who are taking part in the Pound for Pound competition this weekend.

Thanks for reading, I’m now blogging over at joskibyrne.wordpress.com come and join me!

Stranger Danger and other newbie CrossFit problems

Chris Spealler

Chris Spealler

  • Don’t be judgmental.  When I started CrossFit I had never done anything like it in my life.  I was terrified.  I was overweight, unfit and, if I am totally honest, had been hiding behind a place of judgement my whole life.  I am thoroughly ashamed to admit it but I had convinced myself that men and women who were really muscly and fit were shallow, vain and probably quite stupid.  I told myself they couldn’t be that smart or funny or interesting…they just looked good.  That made sense to me in my smoking, drinking, junk food eating bubble because I was afraid and I was jealous.  I have been astounded at how sweet, friendly, intelligent and kind the people I have met through CrossFit are.  Even the ones that look like gods are only human!
  • Give yourself some credit.  I remember really early on puffing and panting my way through a WOD, face like a raspberry about to explode, and noticing that someone was looking at me.  Straight away I made the assumption that this big, muscular hulk of a man was judging me as I had judged people like him.  I bet he’s thinking look at that fat bitch.  Ha ha look at the state of her!  I put it out of my mind but I could not have been more surprised when later he came to me and said how impressed he was with how hard I worked, with how much effort I put in.   If you are new to CrossFit you have to get used to the fact that people might be looking at you, especially if you are last in the WOD.  It is a CrossFit tradition to gather round and cheer on the last person and that is not going to change –  what you have to change is the voice in your head telling you what they are thinking because it is probably less like look at that fatty and more like check out that badass, giving it everything they’ve got.
  • Be okay with being beaten.  Unless you are super fit and healthy already you will have to accept the fact that you are going to get beaten by middle aged women on a regular basis.  They will run faster than you, they will lift heavier than you, they will be able to do things you can’t.  Just go with it.
Annie Sakamoto

Annie Sakamoto

  • You are going to sweat.  Unlike globo-gyms, where perfectly coiffured women complete workouts with full makeup intact, CrossFit is a dirty, messy affair!  You are going to sweat so much it feels like even your eyeballs are sweating and in winter you will see steam rising from your sticky carcass as you stretch after a WOD.  Try and just view it in a positive light – as evidence of how hard you worked.  Take a hand towel and make sure you clean up that trail and wipe down your equipment.
  •  There will be strange things afoot.   This is not like a gym you have ever been to so when there are children and dogs running around, naked people (hopefully not at the same time as the children) and general oddness – embrace it – it’s fun!  CrossFit boxes are loud places full of the myriad sounds of grunting, shouting, sometimes crying, and very often laughter.
  • Don’t be a stranger.  It is really difficult going to a new place where relationships seem so secure and people are very familiar with one another but you have to dive in head first.  Introduce yourself, ask questions, speak to people, pair up with someone you’ve never met before.  It will enhance your experience and you will probably learn a great deal from them.
  • Etiquette.  There are definitely a lot of rules of CrossFit that you need to adhere to to ensure that the box is a happy little microcosm of humanity.  Read this article…its a good un’.
  • Learn the lingo.  There is a whole other language that comes with CrossFit and it will help you immensely if you learn it.  Ask coaches and fellow box goers by all means but here is a list from CrossFit HQ.
  • Be a social butterfly.  If there are events and socials make sure you go.  You might not want your entire social life to centre around the box but it will make your sessions better if you have chatted to people outside of a class environment.
  • Do your research.  This one is not a necessity but it will be helpful to you.  When we started CrossFit my husband did a lot of research on the origins of the sport of fitness.  I found it really inspirational finding out about the CrossFit Games and athletes like Chris Spealler and Annie Sakamoto (I love them because they are small like me).  Also when the 2014 Games come around and everyone at the box is talking about it, you will know what the hell they are going on about!  Watching the Games is SO much fun.  I have never in my life enjoyed watching sports until I started CrossFit and now I love it.

Thanks for reading, I’m now blogging over at joskibyrne.wordpress.com come and join me!

Ten things I love about my new, CrossFitting, life

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I don’t really have any pressing things on my mind this week.  There are no big issues that are bothering me, no concerns I want to rant about, so I just thought I’d share some little things I have been noticing more and more lately that mean a lot to me.

  1. I spend most of my time smiling.  Whether I am at work, at the box or anywhere else I spend a lot of my life smiling and laughing.  It feels so much better than crying.
  2. Yesterday I ran, I mean really ran, for the bus.  I caught it and I wanted a chufty badge right there and then.
  3. I am happy to swan about with my thighs out and I could not give a shit who (if anyone) is judging me.
  4. I am 95% pain free in relation to my IBS and that is SUCH a relief.
  5. I get to hang out with really interesting and diverse people from all over the world and extremely varied walks of life.
  6. I am no longer afraid.  I have spent a lot of my life absolutely terrified of everything.  Not anymore.  CrossFit has taught me so much more than just how to move my body.  It has taught me patience, grit, determination, perseverance and the true meaning of strength.
  7. I am no longer angry.  I was doing a WOD today which included hitting a tyre with a hammer and I thought ‘this would be really good to get out anger and frustration,’ but I realised I don’t have any.
  8. I don’t see my body as my enemy any more.  I used to feel like my body hated me.  To be honest it probably did because I abused it.  Now I feel like me and my body are on the same team.
  9. I sleep really well.  And take naps.  Its lovely.
  10. I am absolutely certain that my life is going to just keep getting better and better.

I know I said ten but I have to include this one as an added bonus…

  • I like checking out my guns when I’m wearing short sleeves!

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Thanks for reading, I’m now blogging over at joskibyrne.wordpress.com come and join me!

Perspective

food

It’s very tempting to only blog when good things happen.  To edit out the bad days, low moods, rough times and pretend that everything is all hearts and flowers and rainbows and sunshine.  I’ve talked before about how life is not a show reel and in the interests of honesty I don’t want to pretend to be something, or someone, I’m not.  I have been really, really struggling over the last week and finding life hard to deal with.  A week of extremely long days with work (students from my school performed at the finale of the Brighton Festival and I could not be more proud) coupled with a horrible bout of PMT have knocked me for six and I have been struggling to make the right choices for my health.  Sometimes I have failed to do that and I have beaten myself up about it and felt guilt and shame for eating things I shouldn’t.  Aside from work and hormones I have also been really missing my husband.  I am extremely blessed to be married to someone who has seemingly never ending patience and understanding with me and without his support, sometimes it is really tough.  In these times of instant communication it has been hard to deal with the fact that I have been unable to even speak to him for a week and it is amazing how long a week can feel.

The best laid plans of mice and men

The best laid plans of mice and men

I tried really hard to be well prepared and take healthy food with me on set (see above), but I think it was the lack of exercise that broke me.  For almost a week I didn’t go to the box and I can see now that had huge effect on my mental state.  For some of that time I wasn’t physically able to go (if you are working 15 or 16 hour days and you can find the motivation to go to the gym before or after work you are a better person than I).  This week I have been three times and it has been hard.  I feel as though my body is made of rock, that I am running through treacle, that I am weak.  But even though it is hard, it is better than sitting at home weeping into a box of chocolates whilst my cats look at me indignantly for not stroking them.  Even if when I am there I am so hormonal that I can’t stop sweating just from the warm up, or I’m so grumpy I can’t even bring myself to talk to the lovely people I am surrounded by, it’s the right place to be (for me, maybe not for everyone else!).

This month I was Member of the Month at Reebok CrossFit Connect and when I read the newsletter I felt like a fraud because I know there are so many other people who are fitter, stronger and more committed than me.  Today a fellow box goer and truly lovely lady got frustrated with herself for finishing the WOD last.  She was using the same weight as the male coaches.  When people were looking at her as she finished those last few reps they were thinking’what an absolute bad ass.’  I know because that was what I was thinking and she has been a constant source of inspiration to me since I joined.  CrossFit encourages us to strive to be better, work harder, achieve more and we do, but sometimes we just need to get a little perspective.  We set enormously high standards for ourselves but we have to remember that we are only human.  Today I may not be exactly where I want to be, but I am on the right path and I am closer than I have ever been.

My 30th Birthday.  Drink in one hand, cigarette in the other.  Standard.

My 30th Birthday. Drink in one hand, cigarette in the other. Standard.

* Fellow CrossFitter Kay has written a lovely blog about how important CrossFit has been to her and her husband recently, whilst they have been dealing with some difficult health related issues.

Thanks for reading, I’m now blogging over at joskibyrne.wordpress.com come and join me!

Movement!

After a few weeks of stagnating I have actually lost some weight/ fat/ body mass!  I have seriously monitored my food intake, reducing how many nuts I eat, limited dried fruit and swapped red meat for fish and chicken.  The best thing about this is I have still eaten plenty of food, I haven’t been really hungry and I have had enough energy to exercise.   I have been following the paleo/ zone way of eating and at the moment it seems to be working for me.  I have been making sure I get carbohydrates such as sweet potato early in the day (this has caused some raised eye brows at work as I munched on my breakfast in the staff room!)  So far, so good.

Weight: 65.8 kilos/ 10 stone 4 pounds

Body fat percentage: 33.8%

BMI: 27.2

Dress size: 12/14

Bust Size: 34 DD

Waist measurement: 80.1 centimeters/ 31.5

Height: 154.94 centimeters/ 5 foot 1 inch (same!)

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Thighs, thighs, thighs

sam briggs

I have always had an issue with my thighs.  Even as a small child they were a source of great embarrassment and shame to me.  I’m really short so my thighs should be perfectly petite like Kylie Minogue’s, right?  Except they’re not.  They are large and chunky.  Solid.  My body image has improved dramatically over the last year and a half, I am very happy to be able to say that, but there is still the thigh issue looming in the back ground.  My good friends went to America recently and brought me back a very cool top from CrossFit Brick City in New York and some long, purple socks.  I took a picture of myself in my new gear, with very short shorts, but I could never imagine actually going to the box in them.  I would be too self conscious.  I am a reasonably intelligent human being, I know this is ludicrous, but still I have this crushing fear of people looking at me and judging me.

This bothers me.  It bothers me that even at this stage in my life I allow myself to be governed by these ridiculous ideals of beauty and that I continue to feel ‘less than’ others because my thighs are thicker.  I don’t want to be bullied into believing that I am not good enough because I don’t have perfect thighs (this could easily be substituted for boobs, bum, tummy, face), and when I have children I certainly don’t want to pass on these worries and concerns to them.  It infuriates me that we live in a society where the worst possible insult you can give someone is fat.  Surely it would be worse to say I was mean or cruel or selfish?  A British comedian was recently heavily critisized on twitter for the dress she wore at the Baftas award ceremony.  She wrote this fabulous, but very sad response, here.  The critics, in my opinion, don’t care about the dress she is wearing.  The message is not ‘buy a nicer dress and fancier shoes,’ the message is ‘who are you to be a successful woman if you are not skinny and pretty?’  It is a message that we have forced down our throats day after day and I’m sick of it.

camille

It is the same message we get when we support CrossFit and people like Camille, Annie and Julie Foucher are the darlings, whilst the actual reigning champ, Sam Briggs, is sidelined.  Don’t get me wrong I adore those women, I think they are fantastic, but if you really pay attention t0 the media coverage and the language used by the commentators there is a marked difference.  Why?  Because Sam Briggs is a total effing bad ass and she does not fit in to the prescribed view of what a woman should be.  Because Annie, Camille and Julie are strong, with big muscles, but they are also very pretty, very feminine, and they smile a lot.  I had an interview with the youngest member of our box, Madi Farley, on BoxRox website recently (you can read it here).  She is 12, almost 13 and she is incredible.  Her mum and dad (and extended family, who are all super human CrossFitters too) are doing a great job of raising her but I think its sad that these young girls are being raised in a world where if you are a woman it matters more what you look like, and less what you do or say.   That’s the world I was raised in and it didn’t do me any good.

Beast mode

I have been inspired of late by the awesome, hard working, dedicated women competing in the Regionals, many of whom are very well endowed in the thigh department themselves.  So today I tested myself.  I decided that I would go out in public wearing what I like to call my booty shorts (they are just normal adidas shorts really) and see what happened.  So I got on my bike and went for a ride and a few things happened.  First of all the world did not stop.  Nobody crashed their car or dropped their small child out of shock at the offending hunks of meat.  In fact, I was just cycling along wondering how many people were silently judging me and my thighs, when a man called out to me ‘hey baby how ya doing?’  Obviously I blushed furiously and looked away but inside this made me laugh because I realised that its all about perspective.  If someone is looking at you, you don’t have to assume they are thinking the worse.  Try assuming they are thinking the best.  If they aren’t its their problem, not yours.  And me?  I will try assuming that nobody else gives a crap about the size of my thighs but me.

*  I have been loving watching the Regionals and I am really excited to catch up with the action today.  Go Sam and Will, Go Go Go!

Thanks for reading, I’m now blogging over at joskibyrne.wordpress.com come and join me!