Sunday, June 30, 2013

Let's Talk About Suicide

A friend of mine sent me this video a couple months ago after the MHWTC End the Stigma Workshop. I finally decided to watch it this weekend after a couple of tough days missing my dad. WOW! I can't believe all the similar themes between John's story and the story I shared at the workshop.

Please, please, please spend just four short minutes watching this video.

John's Story:

Here are a couple of quotes that really stood out to me.

John's Story:

"19 out of 20 people who attempt suicide will fail. But the people who fail are 37% more likely to succeed the second time. This truly is an at risk population with very few resources to support them. What happens when people try to assimilate themselves back into life, because of our taboos around suicide, we are not sure what to say; and so quite often we say nothing. This furthers the isolation people in this situation feel."

My Story: 
The last time I saw my dad I knew in my heart there was something seriously wrong. When I looked at him, looking at me, there was emptiness in his eyes where there usually was unconditional love. I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. That is something I regret. I was uncomfortable talking to my dad about depression, anxiety, and his thoughts of suicide.

John's Story:

People who have made the difficult choice to come back to life need more resources and our help! I want to encourage you if you are struggling, or know someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts to talk about it. Get help. It's a conversation worth having and an idea worth spreading. 

My Story:

My advice to people who are struggling to help a loved one that is depressed or suicidal is, speak up! Speak up about your feelings, even if it is just to say you are scared. Speak up to medical professionals by asking questions. Then ask more questions. Continue asking questions until you get a clear answer. There are so many people who devote their lives to helping others cope with mental illness. Did you know that the National Suicide Prevention hotline is not just for people in crisis? If you are concerned about a loved one they encourage you to call so that you can find out what resources are available in your area. Your call is routed to the Lifeline center closest to your area. I believe silence helps perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide. People do not want to talk about these topics because they are uncomfortable, but we need to. We need to so that we can learn, discover, heal, cope, and survive.

It is so important that people begin talking about these topics. I am so happy to be a part of the Bring Change 2 Mind foundation that is dedicated to ending the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide. When we eliminate the stigma people will feel more comfortable reaching out for help and talking about their struggles. Please share this video with anyone you think many benefit from it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

CrosssFit Community

One of my favorite things about CrossFit it is the mini-communitiy that it forms. There is a whole book published about this by Allison Belger, The Power of Community: Crossfit and the force of Human Community. Here is a powerful quote from the book:

“The power of community is about making lives better and helping people achieve their goals."

In the book she describes the importance of group affiliation–of having a network of mutual support and human connection in the midst of our hectic, technology-driven lives. She also describes the mind-body connection and how it can relate to all of us. Through her compelling narratives, each of which intersects with the CrossFit experience, she encourages us to examine our lives and relationships so that we may find meaning in a stressful world–if we are open to the power of community.
I am a big believer in the mind-body connection, and think health is necessary for happiness. Setting and achieving goals is something I have always done. It gives me purpose and a feeling of accomplishment. What CrossFit has changed in my life, is a strong community that supports you along your journey. In return, you get the chance to support others, and to me there is NO better feeling than this. 
Here are a couple of my personal examples that might better explain this. Keep in mind I have only been a member of CrossFit Solstice since January and all the people mentioned below are members. 
  • Two of my friends are getting married this month. In the winter one asked us to do the 100 Day Burpee Challenge to help him get back in shape. Three of us completed our 100th burpee together this past weekend. Read more about this long challenge
  • This weekend one of my friends mapped out a 5k run on his bike, then paced me as I set a 45 second 5K PR. I would have never been able to do this without him. He pushed me and encouraged me along the way!
  • When I organized a team for the Bring Change to Mind walk I had friends from CrossFit walking right beside me, and others who couldn't make it donate money. I definitely have extra motivation during a  workout when I see someone wearing their Team Conneen shirt. 
  • One friend of mine is having some health difficulties, and we have all been able to support her. I am so proud of her ability to stay positive. Check out her blog; you will certainly laugh!  
  • I email another friend of mine on average at least 6 times a day with questions that are always answered. I have changed my diet and exercise routine so much, and if you know me, you know I am extremely curious. 
These are just a few examples that stuck out in my head. On a daily basis you have people encouraging you to push yourself harder, spending extra time to show you a movement or exercise, and supporting you in your efforts to achieve personal goals. If I have not convinced you to check it out yet- I don't know what will!

Girls compete with each other. Women empower one another.

100 Day Burpee Challenge

This weekend I finished the 100 Day Burpee Challenge.
Let's start off with what a burpee is. If you are not sure check it out!

Now here is how the challenge works:
Do 1 burpee on day 1, 2 on day 2, 3 on day 3, etc. At the end of the challenge, you will have completed 5,050 burpees!

There are many different versions out there, but here are some rules we followed:
1. You can complete each day's burpees all at once, or broken up and done at different times throughout the day.
2. If you miss a day, you have to make up all the missed burpees within the week.
3. Burpees scheduled during daily workouts do not count toward the burpee challenge.

It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. After day 60 I did sets of ten throughout the day which felt like a part time job at times. The worst feeling was getting ready to go to bed and remembering I had twenty burpees left. I am really not sure if the challenge helped me become faster or stronger at burpees. However, there is something to be said for sticking with something difficult for 100 days! I realllllly considered quitting on day 50, but I am glad I was able to hang in there. This weekend my two friends and I did our final burpee of the challenge together! Afterwards we got awesome shirts and had a celebratory cheat breakfast.

Turkey and Spinach Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Turkey and Spinach Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, B vitamins, potassium and even iron. Whole Foods considers sweet potatoes one of the healthiest vegetables we eat. These turned out really good. I even made extra and had some the next day. 

  • 2 sweet potatoes or yam, holes poked throughout with a fork
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • ½ pound ground turkey (or more, if you would like)
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 5-6 cups fresh spinach
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Poke holes in sweet potatoes and wrap in foil. Place in oven and bake for 45-50 minutes.
  3. Once the sweet potatoes have about 10 minutes left to cook, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil bacon fat to a large pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add minced garlic cloves to the pan then add the onions.
  5. Once onions are translucent, add ground turkey and break up with a wooden spoon.
  6. While the turkey is cooking, add hot sauce, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper to the meat and mix.
  7. When turkey is pretty much done cooking, add spinach and cover to help the spinach steam, then mix with the meat.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat.
  9. When the sweet potatoes are done cooking, cut open and mash insides up with a fork. Then add the turkey mixture to the inside.
  10. And eat!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Escape the Cape Triathlon

Last weekend I competed in my first triathlon of the season. It was amazing, and I am nervous that my other triathlons this season will not be able to compare! When I first heard that the Escape the Cape triathlon would start with a jump off the Cape May-Lewes ferry I knew I could not miss this one. I love trying new and exciting things, and this was definitely both.

Waking up at 4:30 Sunday morning I asked myself a question I'm sure many others do, why am I doing this? After reminding myself the answer to that question and how thankful I am to be able to compete, I had my new and improved pre-race breakfast. When we got to the ferry terminal you could feel the energy in the air. Everyone was so excited to be apart of this first time event! I set up my transition area and did my normal pre-race routine. When it was time, we all boarded the ferry with our wetsuits on, rode out .35 miles, and got ready to JUMP!  I only had a split second to look out and appreciate how amazing this experience was, before my friend jumped in. I couldn't let her get too far ahead of me! I loved the swim and felt comfortable in my first race wearing a wetsuit. After exiting the water, we had a long run to the transition. I was able to get my wetsuit off quickly using the advice my friend at ETA coach gave me (check out his website if you are in need of any help related to swimming, biking, or running). Then we had a beautiful ten mile bike ride around Cape May. Parts of the bike ride I felt really strong and fast, but this is still the area I need to improve the most! The run was challenging, the first half mile was on the soft sand. The last half mile was also on the sand along the shoreline. Even though it was hard, how can you not love running beside the ocean?! However, I also loved arriving at the finish line! I got to cheer on my best friend as she completed her very first triathlon. She did amazing, and has some road rash to prove it! Overall, I was happy with my race, and proud that I came in 2nd place in my age group. Like every other type a athlete though, it didn't take long for me to start thinking about my next race, and what I need to do to improve. BIKE! BIKE! BIKE!

Here is a video of the event!

If you are thinking of doing a triathlon this season I highly recommend DelMo Sports. I did the Wildwood and Atlantic City triathlon last year and had a great experience. They think of everything; and carry out not only a great race, but a great experience overall.

Practice swim the day before
My MHWTC jump buddies

Twin Capes
 My best friend Milena's first triathlon
2nd place!

Lydia and I. She is head of our charity committee 

MHWTC Escape the Cape 2013
We even got to do a little CrossFit

Pre-Race Meal

I have had stomach issues my whole life. That is what pushed me to do the three month elimination diet, where I found out I was sensitive to gluten and allergic to dairy! I  am always trying to figure out the perfect pre-race meal. I have tried everything! A friend of mine recommend trying a liquid breakfast, so I blended together my usual pre-workout favorites:

The search is over! This tastes so good I almost counted it as a cheat meal. It also gave me the perfect balance of calories and carbohydrates!

Chunky Monkey Protein Shake

1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats
1 tbs. peanut butter
1 banana
1 cup chocolate almond milk (or vanilla)
handful of ice/ water to get the consistency you like

Mix all ingredients together in blender.

I played around with the recipe the week before the race. It is never a good idea to try something new the day of a race.