Sometimes I forget just how addicted to endorphins I am. I am the first to admit that I become a total crazy person if I go more than a few days without doing something active. And each new thing I try, I quickly become obsessed with. First was running, an activity that I will never give up. Yes, sometimes I can run 13 miles, and sometimes my mileage is a measly 3, but I will always get back out there. Next was cycling – Mer got me into adult cycling when we lived in DC. We started commuting to work along the Capital Crescent trail and taking spin classes at the Y. She helped me buy my first and current road bicycle (Bumblebee!) I paid it forward, sort of, and made MDK buy a bicycle this summer.
In the last year I’ve gotten really into climbing – indoors at the rock gym and outdoors when it’s warm. Though I know it takes strength and muscles to run a half-marathon, I’ve never felt as strong as I do now. Plus, I just love it: the chalk on my hands; the bouncy floors; the way my wrists tremble while I hold on to a sloper; managing a really difficult route with a lot of crimps; and challenging myself to keep pushing for harder and harder routes. I like that when I don’t give up, I generally succeed.
In hopes of becoming stronger for climbing, I’ve started doing hot yoga, inspired by my brother. Yoga is something I’ve done on and off since college, but hot yoga is something I think I’ll stick with, and not just because it has helped me with balance when I’m climbing, but also because it centers me. But the balance thing IS pretty awesome: I now find it easier to turn awkward and unbalanced reaches into mid-air yoga. Yoga definitely makes me a better climber. And since I want to keep that train chugging along, I decided to give crossfit a try, because the stronger I am, the better a climber I can be. Plus if I ever truly want to climb El Capitan, which has become sort of a secret dream of mine, I need to be much stronger.
So I started Crossfit five days ago. It is HARD. But it is so rewarding. My first class, I thought I’d fall over from wall ball squats and air squats. Then I looked to my right and the girl next to me was clearly exhausted but still killing it, which encouraged me to keep going. I could hardly walk Sunday, but there I was again, Monday night ready for more. I was frustrated we were doing more squats, and burpees had my arms aching before I even got home that night. I hated the bar choking me during front squats. But I already felt stronger climbing on Tuesday. My legs were bricks when I went for a run Wednesday, but worked out all the soreness, and by this morning, my legs felt fine.
Tonight I went to class, even though I was so tired. There is just something so enticing about a varied workout. I love that we start with jump rope because I rule at jump rope. And we learn how to stretch our hips and our instructor goes, “See, look at her, this is what you want to strive for, perfect hips,” because I can put my shin flat against the wall whilst flattening my butt and lower back along it (THANKS YOGA!). The guy next to me is wincing, laughing “Trying to show me up, huh!” But really, all of the ladies kill it. Then we do pushups and I can’t even do one! And the same guy shows me how to correct my form and modify so that I can at least start building up to a regular one. I even suck at the modified one. And then for 8 minutes we do 8 burpees, 8 air squats, and 8 kettle bell swings. Some people go through them fast, with perfect form. I struggle, just trying to finish the burpees each time without throwing up.
I’m getting carried away. I love Crossfit. I love how hard it is. I love that I excel at certain things, but can barely do others. I love that I was exhausted going in there tonight, but energetic leaving at 10 pm on a Thursday. I love that I have already made friends.
The problem I’m having is my diet. I am currently 70% vegetarian. I eat meat, but only the happy, free-run free-range, no hormone no antibiotic types, which are expensive. Plus, I don’t think it’s healthy to eat meat every single day. I know myself, and it just doesn’t work for my body. I try to eat a lot of protein, but it isn’t as easy when you’re not consuming meat. This is an issue. Crossfit makes me incredibly sore, and the way to battle sore muscles is hydration, protein, and potassium. My solution? Find a way to get way more protein into my diet without compromising my commitment to free-range ‘happy’ meats. For starters? A lean green banana machine smoothie, after evening workouts. Soy milk, almond milk, non-fat plain greek yogurt, frozen banana slices, spinach, and peanut butter, all blended up, provides me with about 13 grams of protein and 40 mg of potassium (nanas and spinach). Unfortunately, it’s also got a lot of sugar, but I’m working these things out as I go along!
I’ve also flirted with protein pancakes this week. I resisted at first, because I actually really dislike pancakes. I could probably give you a two-thousand word essay on why I find pancakes so awful, but it is truly not important. With a lot of crepe mix experience under my belt, I pulled some things from the refrigerator that I’ve seen in recipes for ‘healthy pancakes’ and set to work blending them up. Oats, red quinoa, cottage cheese, yogurt, egg whites, and the tiniest bit of whole wheat flour. And you know what? These are pretty delicious. Nothing like traditional pancakes, these are dense, moist, and chewy. They are really filling and have something like 20g of protein! Which is the other thing about crossfit – it makes me HUNGRY, and I’m already a pretty hungry gal. So the protein aspect is really important.
Smoothies I think everyone gets the gist of, but I’ll put my ‘recipe’ for the pancakes below. Try them. Yes they are a bit weird if you are not the type of person to use applesauce instead of oil in a cookie recipe. Yes, I think you can get over it. I’m excited for MDK to try them because he has the lock-down on scrambled eggs/omelets. Hopefully I can corner the market on protein pancakes.
1/2 c. cooked red quinoa (or white, the red is just what we normally have)
1/3 c. oats, old fashioned (dry)
3 tbsp. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. cottage cheese, low-fat
1/4 c. plain greek yogurt, non-fat
3 egg whites
Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until mixture reaches a ‘batter’ consistency. It’s ok, and for me preferable, if some of the quinoa and oats are still whole. Heat a non-stick skillet and lightly grease with cooking oil (spray, or butter, whichever). Pour batter onto hot skillet in small circles, like you would with regular pancake batter. The batter can be a bit thick so make sure it spreads and is less than a cm thick. These take longer to cook than regular pancakes, but the same principles apply for flipping. When the edges start to brown, flip them. When both sides are done, serve! I actually made a whole batch one night, then let them cool and packed them in an air tight container so I could reheat them for breakfast for a few days.
I like them with peanut butter, chopped fruit, honey, cottage cheese, yogurt, jam, etc. Next time I’ll try them with a savory twist – turmeric, garlic, onion in the batter and perhaps just a drizzle of olive oil for serving.
Anyway, my apologies to anyone hoping for another Costa Rica post. I’m just too pumped on Crossfit. Next time I promise a bit more eloquence :).