Hi everyone! I wanted to introduce you all to a friend of mine. Laura and I worked together for many years and we still keep in touch through Facebook and the like. She is super encouraging and motivational, plus Laura has done something so many of you are doing – changing her lifestyle and becoming the healthiest she’s been in YEARS. Laura eats clean and now kicks butt at her CrossFit box. She’s even gotten into running. Laura is a frequent face on the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans and Run with the Sisterhood Facebook pages so you’ve maybe already had a chance to “chat” with Laura. I’m so proud of her and I wanted to give her the chance to tell her story and give us a little information about Paleo/clean eating and CrossFit.
Take it away…Your Monday inspiration – Laura
Name: Laura B
Family: married to my husband Steve for 7 years, 1 son Dylan (21), 2 step sons Andrew (23) and Nick (21), adorable granddaughter Ava (1 1/2).
Lives in: Michigan
Laura doesn’t tweet much or blog but you can find her on Instagram: http://instagram.com/laurasue44
In 3-5 sentences, introduce yourself: Hi my name is Laura. I work as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant in inpatient rehab with adult Brain Injury patients. (editor’s note – this is how Laura and I met, we worked at the same hospital on the Brain Injury team.)
What was your ‘ah-ha’ moment in regards to changing your diet/fitness lifestyle? I would say my rock-bottom moment was stepping on the scale and having it read 212 pounds. My ah-ha moment would be during a challenge at the WWW YMCA called March Madness. It was so intense and competitive AND I got to do it with my son Dylan as my partner (I basically forced him and dictated what he had to do the whole 6 weeks). :) There were so many things I learned. The first lesson was how much more my body was capable of than I gave it credit for. No matter how hard I pushed it, it always kept going and never quit on me. The second thing was my first experience with clean eating. We got a point for every 5 servings of fruits and veggies. I was blending them up and drinking them all day long! Not only did I feel great from all the good stuff I didn’t really have any room for any of the bad stuff and supplemented only with things my body needed like good sources of protein. The third thing that happened was my first session with my trainer, Mike. He set up my first real strength training program and it was a definite game changer. The benefits of losing weight are obvious but the strength training made a clear functional difference. The final way the challenge changed me was getting to meet and compete against 4 amazingly strong and wonderful women the last two weeks. The camaraderie of meeting them and friendly competition taught me the mental and emotional benefits of health and fitness as community.
It seems many CrossFitters are Paleo or eat clean, why is this? Clean eating is mostly about using food as fuel. CrossFit is quite intense physically and causes quite a bit of tissue break down. The Paleo diet goes a step further to eliminate more foods that normally would be considered ‘clean’ because of their inflammatory response in the body. The main differences between clean eating and Paleo would be the avoidance of grains and legumes.
What was the hardest food to eliminate from your diet? A tie between sugar and flour!! I was raised in a typical West Michigan Dutch household and pretty much every thing we eat is loaded with simple carbs and starches. Not surprising that diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and strokes are so prevalent in my family circle!!
How does clean eating affect your social life? (ie, is it hard to eat out, go to parties, etc) Surprisingly it has very little effect for me. I’ve grown so accustomed to only eating the foods that I know will benefit me that things I used to enjoy really don’t even look like food to me. For example, if I look at a carton of cookies I have about as much desire to eat them as I would to eat a pencil. Eating out is not hard most of the time. I tend to stick to 1 of 3 things: order a meat entree, skip the potato, and get a double portion of veggies, OR order a big salad, OR order a burger without the bun and get sweet potato fries on the side. (Yes, I tend to sound like Sally Albright when I’m ordering.) :) If I go to a party I’ll usually offer to bring something that I know will be satisfying and that I can eat. That way if it’s the only thing there, I know I won’t go hungry. Also, I don’t follow anything 100% so I might choose at that time to indulge in a small portion of something less than optimal.
How does your family support your crossfit activities? Ha Ha! Most of the time Steve just humors me. He’s not really into fitness at all so he thinks I’m pretty crazy. However, he is always supportive and when I reach a milestone he’s my biggest fan. I appreciate the fact that if it’s important to me it’s important to him (even if it’s not).
What’s the hardest WOD you’ve done? Definitely the most frustrating was one that alternated double unders (jumping rope with two turns under each jump) and hand stand push-ups. I can do double unders but only one at a time so they take forever and I end up just timing them instead of doing the reps. I also still can’t do a handstand so I did pike push-ups which are really hard in themselves. I was so mad about not being able to do a handstand that I used so much force doing the pike push-ups and ended up with tiny little purple pin-point bruises all over my face when I got done!! (I also admit that I might have thrown my rope with a little extra emphasis between sets.)
What’s been your greatest CrossFit accomplishment? At the end of my first month they had an ‘eval week’ where there were a lot of benchmark WODs used to measure progress. One of the benchmarks is the mile run. I was so dreading it because I’m a slow runner, I never run without music, and it was raining outside. My previous 1 mile run PR was 10:44 set just a week before during a 5K race. When I entered the gym at the end of my run the clock read 8:40-something (I was told it was 8:42). At first I assumed it was counting down from 20:00 or something. I stared at it for what seemed like forever before I realized that I had actually run a mile that fast!! Also, any day that handstand push-up practice is on the agenda and I show up. :)
I know you are new to running and have set some big race goals for next year. What are your biggest fitness goals for 2014? So far training for and completing the Riverbank Run 25K (editor’s note – this is THE race to run around West Michigan) is my only formal goal. I’ve committed to my weekly Saturday long, snowy, cold outside runs and will probably be signing up for the Gazelle Girl 1/2 marathon as practice. I would love to hit my CrossFit goals of unassisted hand stands/hand stand push-ups, consecutive double-unders, and unassisted pull-ups. I would love to run a sub-30 min 5K. I also thought about trying a mud run or Warrior Dash or something like that. (With Laura’s commitment and determination, I have no doubt she’ll complete all of these and if she wants a partner for Warrior Dash, she better call me!)
What is your best advice for someone interested in beginning Crossfit and/or clean eating? The biggest thing I hear from people who are interested in CrossFit is that they think they have to be “fit enough” to start. That is totally untrue!! CrossFit is scalable to absolutely any age, weight, or fitness ability. Yes, it is intense but it produces results that are just as intense, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. The community aspect of CrossFit is something I’ve never experienced with such an intensity before. It’s truly a family. As far as clean eating goes the thing I would emphasize is how fantastic you will feel all the time when you start eating this way. I used to think it was normal to get that sluggish, tired, worn-out feeling. I thought it was because I was working too hard or too stressed. I was wrong, it was my diet. I am amazed and aware daily how I just feel ‘normal’. I used to be sick several times a year. This past year I have been sick once, for a total of 36 hours to be exact. I used to have (almost) daily headaches. This past year I have had 1 headache.
Laura (and her husband Steve) post absolutely AMAZING food pictures on Facebook and Instagram, so I asked her for her easiest “clean eating” recipe. I recently made a Chipotle Sweet Potato soup recipe that was awesome! I baked 3 sweet potatoes in the oven, let them cool, remove the skins, and place in a soup pot. Add a can of coconut milk, and a can of chicken broth. Heat to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add salt, pepper, zest of one orange, and about 1/2-1 tsp of chipotle chile powder. Puree it all with an immersion blender. Serve with diced avocado on top. I had it with a grilled turkey burger. I do burgers without the bun and put the toppings on top like a salad. (this sounds incredible!)
Thank you so much, Laura, for sharing your story with the Shrinking Jeans readers!