I realize it’s been a while since I’ve posted – mainly because I’ve been preoccupied and haven’t thought about any blog-worthy topics until now. I recently started coaching at CrossFit Cove. I’m enjoying it so much, I feel very connected to the athlete (also my friends) and coaching has always felt very natural. I still have a lot of learning to do, especially when it comes to large classes and perfecting technique among a variety of athletes, but I feel more comfortable each time I lead a class. The one downside to coaching is that since I lead the class, I don’t get to workout alongside the other athletes. I end up doing the WOD solo, or on occasion, another coach will jump in with me. I still find that I push myself when working out alone, but there is definitely something special about ‘shared suffering’.
Earlier this week, we re-tested our 1-rep max for split jerk. I had recently PR’d from my previous pre-pregnancy PR at 145#. That was a little over a month ago. That day I also attempted 150#, but didn’t get it completely overhead. I was sure of myself that come re-test, I would conquer 150#. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling that day. The bar just felt heavy and I ended up dropping 145# without a lock out and figured I would just slap the 2.5# plates on to see if I might end up getting 150#. Alas, I was left with 135# for the day. Which really isn’t bad at all. I had just hoped for something better. This morning, before my 9:30 class I completed a back squat strength WOD of 5/5/5/3/3. Earlier this year I was doing 135# @ 10 reps and 145# @ 8. Once again, the bar felt heavy. I ended up with 3 @ 145# and 1 @ 150#. I can’t say I’m disappointed, just curious – have I lost strength?
So, I’ll back up a little bit and say that over the past 2 months, I have drastically changed my diet; going from a mostly-Paleo approach to an all plant-based (dare I use the word, ‘vegan’) diet. I don’t feel as though I have to explain my reasoning for this diet change, but I will say a few things:
1. I ate a vegan diet for 2 years starting in 2010 and after I started training at P360 in San Diego, I re-introduced eggs, fish and eventually meat in to my diet – focusing on the best quality and ‘humanely-raised’ animal products.
2. Through various challenges such as Whole30, I learned that my body functions much better without gluten and dairy. I can tolerate it in that I don’t have an allergy, but I function much better without it.
3. When I first went vegan in 2010, it was purely personal – for health, mainly. I experimented with vegan cooking and found that I ate relatively clean, but due to my lifestyle and going out / drinking a lot, I found that I would end up eating a lot of vegan crap and not feeling my best.
4. Now that I’m a little older and dare I say, wiser? I feel like this time around as a plant-based eater has allowed me to see greater benefits in terms of my energy, performance at the gym (I will expand on this shortly…), and my body composition. Not to mention, I know my body a little better and am able to eat ‘smarter’ and cleaner.
Finally, I will say that this time around, my decision to go vegan is bigger than me. It’s for the planet. I’m not going to go in to detail, but if you’re interested you can read some facts that made an impression on me, ultimately causing me to make the change, here.
With all that said – since early February of this year, I have lost 7# (I am now 7# lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight). I wish I had a more accurate scale to determine how much was body fat and what percentage (if any) was muscle, but my scale is wonky and I think I’m using the incorrect setting – female vs. active female. Anyways, not really important… but what I am very curious about is how is my diet effecting my performance in the gym? I can tell that my body has changed since my diet shift, but I don’t know if it is a direct result of the diet or the intensity of my workouts, or what. My muscles are more defined all over. I have great energy. I feel strong in my MetCons / cardio, but now I’m really focused on building strength. I was talking to a fellow coach and we were talking about some of the things that are flawed in my lift technique – specifically, front squat, which plays a big role in other lifts. I tend to let my elbows drop while in the front rack position, I do a little bit of a butt wink and I round my back. No bueno. Especially as the weight gets heavy. He suggested that I dial back on the weight and really focus on quality reps with perfected technique. It’s hard for me to dial back when all I want to do is go heavy, but I know that going heavy isn’t worth shit if I can’t move the weight efficiently.
I called this post ‘An Experiment in Strength’, although I don’t even know if that is the appropriate title. I’m not actually changing anything about what I am doing, I just want to make observations about my performance. I will continue to eat plant based. I don’t count my macros or anything like that, I just try to stay balanced. I’m still nursing, so I think that might have something to do with my appetite, but I’m not really factoring that in so much. I’m not going to change my workout schedule, but I do plan to focus more on technique and less on weight. I’ll continue to do most of my workouts solo simply because that is what my schedule allows – if I coach 9:30 and a noon class, I can’t make it to another class, so working out in between is kind of what has to happen. I’m sure not having others around to support and motivate has something to do with performance, but I am hoping that I can be my own best motivator. Anyways, I will continue to track my ‘gains’ in the gym and will write a follow up post in 2 months.