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How did you get started in fitness?
I’ve been an athlete in some form or another my whole life. Ever since I was a young child I played sports like soccer and softball and did horse back riding. Then in high school and college I competed in field hockey, track and cross country. Since college I’ve competed in figure, and now in CrossFit. I cannot remember a time in my life when athletics was not at the forefront of who I am.
Why did you decide to make the jump to CrossFit after years as a figure competitor?
First- I’d like to say that I am not “not” doing figure anymore. I think that’s one of the major barriers I’d like to break down- this separation between the bodybuilding/figure/fitness industry and CrossFit. You CAN do CrossFit training and compete in figure. Look at Erin Stern- while she may not “crossfit” aspects of what she does in the gym and on the track are 100% CrossFit related. So I don’t necessarily think of myself as being one or the other- but both a CrossFit athlete AND a figure competitor.
That being said, I think what initially appealed to me the most about CrossFit is that, in essence, it’s the opposite of what I had been doing. Figure is about body shaping- the training, the diet, it’s all about aesthetics and the sport (if you want to call it that) is judged subjectively. The subjective nature of figure makes it hard to get a handle on whether or not you’re “progressing” or “moving forward” with your daily gym and dietary efforts and it’s hard, at some point to not feel defeated by that fact.
I was aware of CrossFit, and had seen YouTube videos, and certainly the games, and I was fascinated, but was also intimidated. Everything about it- the socks, the barbells, the strange pull-ups and playing with hammers and rope climbs and jumping on boxes- everything about it was so anti-mainstream and so drastically different from the way I had been training that it was an uncomfortable thought for me-considering trying CrossFit.
Figure is set/rep training and long cardio and I was just fascinated by the sheer intensity of the short duration 120% effort workouts I was seeing done by CrossFitters. Having been an athlete my whole life, prior to figure, I just wanted to try it. I wanted in. I wanted to see what that type of training felt like, I wanted the experience, I wanted to see what it did for me. By July of 2012, in prep for IFBB North Americans, I was ready to try CrossFit. I was burnt out on what I had been doing- and frankly, it was ruining my physique. I was catabolic and losing muscle and I figured at this point, I had nothing to lose. I was literally dying to try it. I was hungry for a change, ready to evolve, and looking for a different athletic outlet.
What is your favorite thing about CrossFit VS traditional training?
I really love that CrossFit encompasses total fitness across all tenants. It forces you to work harder at the thing you suck at the most- which is a very humbling experience. It forces you to grow, to change, to evolve, to be better. With traditional training you can avoid training specific exercises or body parts you don’t care for, but with CrossFit there is no avoiding certain movements- even ones you don’t care for or are not good at.
Do you do just CrossFit training now or do you still do traditional bodybuilding exercises as well?
Right now, at this moment in time CrossFit is the foundation of my training. I accessorize with some set/rep training when and where it’s needed but ultimately I am doing conditioning work daily, and spending the majority of my weight training time with a barbell
Do you ever do more than one CrossFit workout per day?
Yes, and nearly all of my workouts, even if not straight “WODs” have some form of metcon or CrossFit piece involved. CrossFit is a marriage of so many disciplines, it’s not just the typical “WOD” you see on the games or in competition. CrossFit involves max efforts, and barbell training, Olympic lifts, gymnastics, plyometrics, conditioning, running, rowing- you name it. There are so many tools at your disposal with CrossFit.
What is the biggest misconception about CrossFit?
I think the biggest misconception about CrossFit is that you have to ONLY do CrossFit, to CrossFit. CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program, applicable not only to elite level CrossFitters (obviously) but to football players, to soccer players, to grandmothers and mothers, and fathers, and endurance runners. It’s applicable to everyone in some way shape or form and it’s amazing to me how many people are turned off from CrossFit because they assume CrossFit is only what they see on the Games. It’s not. CrossFit is about being intense of course- but that intensity is relative to YOU. My version of intense may not be the same as the next persons, but that’s irrelevant. CrossFit is about being as intense as YOU can be on your path towards becoming better- a better runner, better cyclist, better mother, better father- whatever. CrossFit is about the constant drive towards self improvement. Towards your potential.
What does your diet look?
I work with John Meadows on my diet (www.mountaindogdiet.com), and my diet varies depending upon my training volume for the day. I typically train 2x a day, and on Tues/Thurs I do 3x a day total so my dietary intake is adjusted to accommodate that, to fuel my training without causing excess body fat retention. An example of my 3x a day would be:
Get up around 4 a.m have a cup of coffee with 10g AST Nutrition’s VP2
6:00 a.m Metcon (short and intense) or fasted row/run (short, intense)
4 egg whites
2 pieces uncured turkey bacon
1 TBSP sprouted almond butter
Shake: 1 cup pure green tea, 95g peeled chopped cucumber, D-Ribose, L-Glutamine, 50g fresh pineapple, 32g kiwi, 2 TBSP coconut water, stevia, ice **sometimes I do strawberries and blueberries instead of kiwi and pineapple, macros remain the same**
65g chicken breast or turkey tenderloin
88g parsnips or equivalent of yam (I omit this on my lower volume days and sub in spaghetti squash)
¼ cup sauerkraut
If I have another MetCon, I’ll do my second workout sometime after Meal 2, and then IMMEDIATELY after I have 15g AST Nutrition’s VP2 in a shot of espresso with a splash of my homemade almond milk and ½ tsp L-Glutamine and sometimes if I really am gased I add in some sweet potato powder
86g acorn squash (or butternut squash equivalent)
85g Trader Joes 96% lean ground beef
½ TBSP Bulletproof MCT Oil
½ TBSP Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
I work out (my main weight workout) after Meal 3
Meal 4 (first meal after my 3rd workout):
85g bison filet
170g yam/sweet potato
(This meal changes on rest days, or lower volume days, I don’t consume my yam and typically have some more spaghetti squash or green veggie)
85g cod, flounder, shrimp, sometimes wild caught chunk light tuna or wild caught canned Alaskan pink salmon
HUGE salad with chopped celery, onion, tomato and balsamic
57g butternut squash (I omit this on my lower volume days)
4 cage free egg whites
½ cup pure canned pumpkin
1 tsp sprouted almond butter
Again, this is an EXAMPLE. My carbs rotate depending upon my training. While my calories remain approximately the same AND the portion of the calories from protein remain the same, the portion of the calories that come from fat versus carbs changes depending on my activity level.
What are the top 10 foods we would find in your kitchen?
- Bison filet
- Free range chicken breast and free range turkey tenderloin
- Cage free egg whites
- Wild caught Cod or Flounder
- Squash (butternut, acorn, spaghetti) and organic pure canned pumpkin
- Bubbies Sauerkraut
- Greens like asparagus, brussel sprouts, leafy lettuce, green beans
- Coconut Oil and Bulletproof MCT Oil
- My homemade almond milk and homemade sprouted almonds
What are your favorite and least favorite CrossFit exercises?
This sounds sadistic, but I LOVE burpees. I really do. I feel like it’s a “gut check” exercise, you can’t really use momentum to assist you like you can with some other movements. As soon as your chest hits the ground that’s it, no momentum. It’s an exercise where I think you KNOW you’re going to have to suffer- it’s just a monotonous, grinding, repetitive move. I like that about it- it just wears on you mentally and physically and I am always up for that type of challenge.
I also love box jumps. I see them in a WOD and I get smiles.
I detest double unders- mainly because I completely suck at jumping rope altogether, and I’m not a fan of kettlebell swings. It’s the one CrossFit staple I’m just not on board with. They gas me-10 or 15 swings in I’m cursing, 25+ and I’m just mad, and anything after that I’m talking to Jesus.
If you could give somebody starting in CrossFit some advice what would it be?
I’d just say to go with an open mind and an open heart. Leave everything you think you know about training behind you and be open to what’s to come. Leave your ego at the door and be prepared to give 120%.
Tell us about your biggest CrossFit influence?
I think Christmas Abbott is my main CrossFit inspiration. I know she’s not a top performer at the games or the strongest athlete, but that’s part of what inspires me about her- she’s well known despite not being “the best performer.”
I love that she is PROOF that strength and size are not necessarily synonomous. She is strong, despite being small and maintaining a lean physique. I also admire the balance in her life- that CrossFit is a huge part of her life but is not her WHOLE life. She’s used CrossFit as a launching pad to make herself better as a person, not just an athlete. She has allowed CrossFit to improve her ability to express fitness in all arenas- including her foray into Nascar.
Favorite cheat food?
I’m a staunch Paleo athlete- 100%. I don’t really believe in “Cheats”. Even with regards to figure I don’t- I try to eat to fuel my body, my performance, my workouts, and my physique goals. A delicious meal for me would be a huge salad (and I do mean HUGE) a big bison filet, and a yam with some coconut oil.
Do you take any supplements?
Yes I do. I utilize Sweet Potato Powder, NOW Pure Egg White Protein Powder, AST Nutrition’s VP2, and a host of products from the Integrative Therapeutics line including their Pure EFA supplement for fish oil. I also take L Glutamine and D-Ribose to help with recovery and Melatonin & ZMA before bed to help with restful sleep and sports recovery.
What does the future hold for you?
I would love for my future to hold an IFBB Pro Card in Figure. I would love for it to hold competition as a CrossFit athlete. I am running my first Spartan race in July which I’m excited for! I also hope that I continue to be a successful fitness model and a successful business owner with Alli-Fitness Systems LLC.
I recently obtained my L1 CrossFit certification and eventually would love the chance (once I become more well versed in CrossFit) to coach. Ultimately I want to continue to grow, evolve and expand my potential, as a woman, as an athlete, as a model, as a coach.
Photo Credits: Andrew Nicholson of Nicholson Studios