Pizza and Pudding

 
 
I’m not a purist when it comes to eating. I eat less ice cream etc. cause it’s tri season and I want to bike faster than last year. 
Been through Banting and Paleo. The fat makes me gain weight and I lose my power on my bike. A non negotiable side effect. ✋ 😶

So calorie deficit is my game. I make sure I get enough protein according to my body weight and use myfitnesspal. 

Anyway so tips.  Just tips for when you need a fix.

Chocolate craving = Nomu skinny hot chocolate powder. With greek yoghurt or even cottage cheese makes chocolate mouse. 

Want Nutella? Make a paste with the hot chocolate powder and water. I kid you not. Add a teaspoon of nut butter if you want.

Fudge/caramel = Xylitol syrup (Dischem R69) and almond, macadamia or cashew butter. Paste consistency. Teaspoon of each. I add pink salt. Salted caramel. I kid you not.

Burgers. Banting bread mix with egg in a wider than a cup container. Add salt and mixed herbs to it. Circumference of a bun. Microwave till it’s cooked. Cut in half. Toast. Add your burger and other items to it.

Protein pudding = milk and whey powder. Beat together until unrunny consistency. Keeps nicely in a sealed container in the fridge. A dollop on your oats with above caramel makes breakfast beautiful.

Sweet omelette = I’m not good with pancakes. So eggwhite with xylitol and cinnamon. Make it like a normal omellete. Add fruit and nuts and the above pudding or caramel.

Pizza = Wraps as base. Blanched (hot water for 2min) Broccoli as added filler with chicken or ham or bacon. Cheese. Quick supper.

Brocolli salad = mayo (I use all Carbsmart’s range of sauces) and brocolli base. Add chicken, ham, bacon or if you really really have to, tuna. 

The point of all these is that it keeps the calories low when you treat. I eat oats most days. Just 20g. If it’s a swim and weights day then protein breakfast is king. Eggs. Bacon. Frittata. 

Lunch is vegetables and protein. I used to eat cracker bread and tuna. Remnant of my original eating plan. Tuna is on hold right now. Can’t deal! 

I make chicken in a casserole. Crockpot like the Americans calm it.  6 breasts with water, spices and herbs. Slow cook for 2 hours. It becomes pull-apart chicken. I make bags of 100g each. Easy lunch packing or dinner making aka pizza for example. 

I don’t want to tell people how to eat. I’m just sharing what I’m doing nuh! Enjoy! 

**There are those that will highlight that some these treats will give the same insulin spike as sugar. Besides for swimming, cycling and weight training I ran 38km this week. I think we’re good on the spike. 

Go Hard and Smile

  

After Ironman I gained weight. Less than 20 hours of training a week doesn’t sustain ice cream, wine and that new 5Star chocolate from Cadbury. 😂
I kept trying to get back on the horse cause I know now how to almost effortlessly keep getting leaner but every time I’d get sick. And in my mind when you’re sick, it’s no time to be serious about eating. So I’ve been trying and failing through winter.
My sport performance or how I feel about my sport performance and connection to my body image is something that stayed behind from the shame of being overweight. Simply put: When I feel heavy I run shit. 

Last week I did a sprint triathlon. It’s been a while and I wanted to have a smooth race. Weeks ago my coach asked me what kind of race I wanted. Go hard or smile and wave. I asked why can’t there be a middle ground? Go hard AND smile? ☺️

Just being given a choice of race meant so much. SupaCoach gave me a a bike plan: Big gear, low heart rate. The whole way. 

I love Big gear. I am made for strength and it fits me like a glove. Hardly out of T1 and I ramped it up, as my legs got warmer it got even better. Soon I was whooshing along. My bike split was just 5 min slower than I wanted it. I geared down on one hill and my chain fell off. What happens when you don’t listen to your coach! 😂

What this bike split taught me was that sure there is power to weight ratio but there is also heart and riding with honesty. Hard like SupaCoach said and no compromise, the whole way. How I feel about my body didn’t matter! 

It’s Day 7 of giving it another shot at getting some semblance of an IronReadyBody as it’s almost time to enter again. And Lo and Behold I’ve sniffles and a sore throat. But this time I’m not going to give in to the plague. Somewhere in my head this morning something just said: One day at a time. One week at time. 

I started getting down on myself and thought I’ve been here already. There’s such a negative connotation to these expectations, real or imagined. 

I’ve already overcome these stupid feelings. When you’re connected to sport there’s almost double cross to bear when it comes to weight. Gaining weight is like a sin as if we’re not humans and life and shit happens.

Getting back into it can be either a struggle or it can be an adventure, along with the mission of becoming a superhero. So with less tuna (eeeeeew!) this time I’m excited to bake lovely low carb things, make pizza and pudding like treats and meal prep the loveliest stews and casseroles! 

Accountability

It’s been a while since I wrote. Perhaps my writing is going through a phase.

I burnt the boats, a long time ago. By this I mean my decision to do what it takes to become an Ironman was made a long time ago. I am lucky I suppose in the sense that I live existentially because it keeps me in a constant state of awe. To be alive. To be active. To have the privilege of living this life. To be able to see the heart wrenching parts in the bigger scheme of things.

Ironman teaches you to become selfish. Maybe there’s a better word. Ironman teaches you personal accountability. Week or so ago I talked to a tri friend about his Ironman experience and I relayed mine and we got the conclusion of why it needs to be that selfish. When you compromise in training for an Ironman you are really compromising yourself. The only thing that will suffer is you. 

My 2016 race experience, case and point. I didn’t compromise my time or my health for anyone during training but in my taper and pre-race travel I did. The more accommodating I became, allowing things I would never do in training in the days running up to my race, the more I compromised myself. 

The same can be applied to mindset and influences in training and I suppose life and beyond. Take work; I am self employed with a career I chose, I don’t have much to complain about, if I do, I only have myself to blame. I don’t spend time for long with people who complain about things constantly. I love some of my friends dearly but moaning about training isn’t my style, sometimes I get sucked into that trap cause people get annoyed when you’re always positive and enjoy shitty things like hardship. The hardship is what got me here, my hardest days have been the most precious days, cause each of them is me exploring this life enriching journey. 

If and when it rained during Irontime it wasn’t an opportunity to flake out, moan etc it was an opportunity to adjust, make another plan cause the session will get done. If I got home too late to run, the session got done on the street downstairs by the light of the street lamps with complex security checking up on me. Today those are the sessions I remember. The resilience it brought has benefited me in various ways.

Complaining means I put the accountability elsewhere. Complaining means becoming an Ironman isn’t important enough to step up for it mentally. Complaining means I waste mental energy that could have been used to push myself. Growing as an athlete isn’t just about getting faster and stronger, it’s almost like growing out of being a juvenile athlete. I chose this and I have to step into those shoes everyday, face myself everyday. Someone said to me after Ironman that she can commiserate and the hardest part was the people she let down. I got incredibly annoyed. It’s not about people, it’s about personal accountability. 

Because of compromise I allowed myself to abandon myself for most of my tri career because of other people’s opinions of my athleticism going from fat to fit. The mental energy I wasted attaching my worth as an athlete to my worth as a human I could have been an Ironman by now. 

It’s winter. What better opportunity to flex the accountability muscles. I am nearly emotionally recovered from April 10. I’m doing things for joy and the consistency is growing. It’s raining. It’s cold. It isn’t ideal but it’s things I cant control and this is the winter I am forfeit weightlifting to keep going with my tri disciplines. I chose this thus I better get cracking.

The thing about mornings

Mornings are the hardest. They say our hearts are most raw then. I cry after I open my eyes everyday now. I know soon it will stop but it feels like I am slowly walking downhill and must brake not to free fall. Free fall into self-doubt.

Every season I get better. But I am yet to finish strong. Part of me wonders if I’m just not good at racing. Just don’t have the skill to complete a task. I know that is absurd as I have finished many things with such pride. See how the downhill to free fall works?

Outcomes out of your control leave a different hole than those you know you could have done better. My dad passing. Ending my taper not feeling well. Huge silent work stresses days before my race. Are things I could not control. I tucked it in my pocket and soldiered on.

A part of me wanted a redemption race. At one point in training a dip came and I thought if I don’t make it this time I’m done with Ironman. Getting off the boat on Sunday, shell-shocked I went to get my Streetwear bag and then to find my family who were waiting for me to come out of the ocean.  I found them with their backs to me and tapped my mom on the shoulder. When she turned I started crying and through the tears said: I’m coming back, I am going to be an Ironman and then fell apart.

Now its days after. I am yet to make sense and see the bigger picture. I was coming down with a cold. In PE I woke up groggy with a blocked nose every night. Heart rate elevated every morning. I thought I was just tired and that it was allergies. I got nauseous and disoriented in my swim, after vomiting kept going, until I didn’t and my race was over.

I want to go swim. I want to run. I want to make plans to ride my bike. I want to give myself time. I don’t want to put a plaster on a bullet hole.

Some things have become clearer in the last few days.

I am not going back to CrossFit. Freedom as an athlete and unrelenting pursuit of my fitness greatness is something I covet. Doing my sport being me with all my heart and spirit. When I find a CrossFit environment near my home that supports that, I’ll consider it but for now it’s off the table.

I don’t want to lose my cycling gains. I got addicted to the speed this season. Flying on my bike for the first time made me excited for the 2017 tri season while training for the 2016 A-race. I planned to eat all the pizza and sushi but instead dialled my nutrition back in. Maybe this is the year I try crit racing. Probably be stone last again (have you seen those girls fly?) but cycling isn’t just about triathlon and learning to climb hills (sorry not sorry Hells) better. Individual stage road racing has been playing in my head for over a year now too.

I am free. I am sad. But I am free. There isn’t a single individual in my circle who doesn’t want the best for me. Not a single person drilling holes. For a long time I kept energies around that belittled my ambitions. That wanted to make my lion heart weak. That fed my insecurities. 2015 had me re-evaluate a lot of things and interactions across different realms of my life; socially, politically and personally with what resonated with my values and how I want to live. Authentically and unapologetically.  Now I am free.

The last thing and most important is what a gift it is to be alive. To be alive and even have this huge dream even more so. My dad didn’t look after his health. Since his passing I’ve heard of many people who went too soon for the same reason. In the last week triathletes passed away who did look after themselves and lived their best lives. To be alive and live this thing is what I’ve always tried to do. I am a bit of an existentialist. I’ve been close to my own demise a few times in my life and learned what a precious gift life is a long long time ago.

So for a little while I’ll cry in the morning and miss my burning spirit but at some point I will do what I always do. I will rise.

Jailbreak Tri 2015

  

 How you define yourself is the most important influence on what you can achieve and how far you will go. A few months ago I was added to the South African chapter of Fatties in the back (not sure that actual name) on Facebook. I left it 3 times.  Apparently there are such groups across the world. After the 3rd time I messaged the organiser to stop it. While I appreciated the gesture and know very well how much encouragement is needed out there, love having Lane 6 memories with my transition tjommmies progress is important. There a very fine line that needs to be treaded here. Staying attached to being a “fatty in the back” is not how I see myself. Never have, never will. I think at some point it was a novelty but when I wanted to go farther the weight of being the slowest athlete and being defined by it became unbearable.

In 2015, approaching Ironman I took my environment in my own hands. And started training by myself on the fringes of my tri group. I didn’t want to have a role anymore. I didn’t want to be the person that gets patted on the back, chapperunned on time trials and races, given unsolicited advice, I didn’t want to see the pity in the eyes at the end of rides and races. I wanted to accept where I was without the shame of just not being good enough. I was where was. My pace was my pace. My weight was my weight. And I was going to do my absolute best with what I had.

During the 8 weeks to Ironman I rediscovered myself.  I accepted where I was. Not one day during that period was there a comparison of being too slow. Every day I worked. Every bike ride I did according to my program instructions. I crawled into bed every night tired but strong. What I regained during that 8 weeks and the months since then have made me even stronger. During the off season I entered a few weightlifting meets. The experience added to my ability to stand alone, get quiet inside myself and execute.

Two days ago I did Jailbreak Max, a daunting long course race at the end of the calender year but also the last before the long haul to Ironman. I forego doing any of the smaller tris in the start of the season so I had to get out there. During the months training before I spent much time in the paincave by myself.  I didn’t talk about it much as there was really nothing to say. I knew it was going to be a hard day out and that was that.  At the start of the season I didn’t wear my watch, I didn’t want to know my pace, I didn’t want to be preoccupied with that this time around. I just wanted to work and guage my effort on honesty.

And that’s how I approached Jailbreak Max. After the race I thought: “Damn what a shitty experience, we shan’t being doing that again”. But it’s been 2 days. My resting heart rate is low, just a few muscles still aching I think I’m certainly entering it again next year. Go heart or go home!

I started my day sleepy, Leo picked me up at 4.30am. I was packed and ready. I ate my porridge in the car as we lightly chatted all the way to Brandvlei. The nerves hadn’t taken hold of me yet. Entering the prison finding a spot to park ticked that over. Leo unloaded me, my bike and my stuff and went to park the car in the boendoes. I put my earphones in, loaded my arms with bags, bucket and bike to transition to rack. Music loud, in and by myself, carefully laying out what I needed for the day. Then the Tri-Yoda tapped on my shoulder, teased me about something as is customary. Was calming to see him there also about to take on this race and looked forward to see him course throughout the day. Dieter’s (Tri-yoda) been a friend since the start of triathlon. Few people spoke to me the first few months but this motormouth was always chirping something or telling a story.  From early on I started listening when he speaks, some wisdom always escapes through the kak praat.

Bike racked, I went to find Leo. This time the ritual included a warm up run with some surges. I was a tad annoyed at my hamstring. Our new outside pool at squad doesn’t have steps so I had to hoist myself out and pulled it 2 days before the race. So it was tender as I did my little run before donning the wetsuit. Then time started rolling faster, within what felt like mere minutes race briefing at the water’s edge was announced and I wasn’t  zipped up yet.  Vernon from Sailfish SA appeared and started helping without me even asking. Phew!

I made my way down over the gravel and listened to race briefing, checking where the buoys are and the details of the rest of the race. I kept my eyes closed by this time. Feeling nerves is okay but every openwater swim till then it has translated to shortening my swim stroke and I was gonna keep control of those emotions come what may. When I opened my eyes after a half a minute I sighted a human in beautiful blue and yellow with a tinge of ginger. The SupaCoach at the water’s edge. A hug and whisper of well wishes and the puzzle was complete and I was ready to go.

I paddled out to the bouy for the wetstart. The announcer said 30 seconds to go and I realized I’m right infront and thought: ‘Poplap you better get out the way of these racing snakes’. I’m not scared of being swum over or knocked but it would not be pleasant so as the whistle went I swam a tad skew to clear the way. They were off and I set off. It was one of my best openwater swims under race conditions. Most have been survival driven, with stroke shortage, getting tired, silent panic (my superpower….urghh) etc. This time I kept my threshold, didn’t get tired, stayed positive. Took longer than I wanted and it was a sprint to last buoy as I over power on the stroke still. Next while I want to work on gliding, I have lots of power and strength in my shoulders but I apply it ungracefully in the water.

Wading out of the water (hearing the shouting from the hele Wingman crew), I wanted to get the wetsuit half down by the time I exit the water. I don’t want anymore uniboob photos of my swim exit on the internet. Plus I hear it helps with faster transition.

Transition. With Leo on the other side of the fench. Last year that’s exactly where we were chatting getting ready for the bike eyeing the water for Esther before setting off for her to come catch us. Esther aced non-wetsuit swim this year, such a rockstar!

I ate and put all my food in my tri-suit pockets. What a pleasure to not have to wonder where on my person I can stash my eats. Being a busty girl tri-tops are like straight-jackets so I’ve been racing in t-shirts and then store fuel in my boobs. They are ample but can take only so many Racefood bars. So my first race in my awesome new pink tri-suit was magic! Even on the run my boobs didn’t move AT ALL. That’s a brand win for shizzle!

My bike was lovely, I would have liked my heart rate a little lower but I didn’t over bike like my recent cycle tour. I felt human and strong when I got off the bike in the knick of time. There was no one at dismount. A lady came over and started the line I know so well: “I’m sorry to inform you but I’m going to have to end your…..”

Oh helllllllll no! I asked her where the marshall was, told her what time I came in, when I came out the swim. Told her to go inform him, while I put on my running shoes, I’ll be right over. I changed and by then the deciding marshall was there, I think he took one look at my determined face and said: Go run!  (Inside I thought: Guh, you better!)

I knew it was late in the day but cut-off for the race is at least 2h45 minutes away and everyone needs to calm the hell down. I started my run as Jenny Nel won the Max and I though it quite fitting. I saw the blue and yellow people of my tribe but they didn’t see me, I tried to see the SupaCoach to show him I’m on the run but couldn’t locate the beard. Then I assume someone saw me and shouted my name with a few cheers trailing behind as I gave them thumbs up and slogged my tight ass onto the run course.

“Oi! What a bad idea!” I thought for the first bit. This is shite! Then I saw Marna with her big smile, we high 5’d. On and on. When I saw Adri I shouted: ”Can someone please just hold me this isn’t very nice”. We supahugged and she called me crazy and I was off again. Tried running, yoh, it hurt. At about 3km a young man came up behind and said to me: “I saw you walking and I thought I’m going to talk to this lady”. His name is Scott from ATC, said I looked fresh and that maybe we must run a bit, so we did. Then powerwalk a bit, all the while chatting. At the water point he said he’s gonna be on his way. I was so appreciative of that, set the tone and then I was on my own. I started counting to 100, then walk counting to 20 then 100 again. Worked like magic to get all the thoughts and feelings out of my head.

At some point I saw a Blu Smooth logo and it was Diets, been wondering where he was. When he saw me his grin was large (I knew he was as proud to see me on the run as I was). He did however shout: “Bennii as jou snot rockets op jou skoene val hardloop jy te stadig, ek gaan later jou skoene check”. Good friends keep you grounded. Doos! J

I fuelled when I need and looked forward to every water station for sponges and 2 sachets. Over and over. I so badly wanted to run my new found speed but the legs were a mess and wanted nothing more so I just kept going. Over and over. I was super proud of myself for getting onto the run course, got teary for a second and then tucked it away again. At the end of the first loop Leo was there and I said I’m going to keep going till its run cut off time not a minute before. That’ll mean a 2h30 long run after bike, a solid training session in the very least.

Turned and set off again. Over and over. Then there were just a few stragglers left on course. The odd part is by this time I knew full well that I was the very last person on course and somewhere in the delirium I thought: I might tri forever and ever. This is hard, but there is no fucking way I am quitting!

Starting the 2nd loop was harder and I got slower, stuff was hurting and time started catching up as I stopped and stretched on and off. There was 45 minutes to race cut off time of day and I wasn’t gonna get the 3rd loop done.  A  marshall drove past and I said I’ll just finish the 2nd loop. She said could I jump in then and there, I said: “I want to finish the 2nd loop I’ll meet you down there”.

So I walked the rest of the way to where Leo was, got my other lastic and called it a day. What looks like struggling to others is overcoming to the person doing it. I may not be the fasest runner, I may not be the fastest swimmer but my mental game and my bike stubbornness are becoming  my strengths.

I’ve redefined who I am as a triathlete. People around us process things different. The weakness in my struggle some view as a weakness in my character. But that’s got nothing to do with me, it’s their life view. Achievement isn’t just calculated being on top and beating others, it just means your achievement is hinged on external circumstances.

My achievement is hinged on me, what’s in my heart and my spirit. I can’t wait to see where it takes me next! My body isn’t as excited at the prospect but what’s new!

The letter day

  
The letter came. The letter saying “Congratulations you have been selected to go to South African Senior Weightlifting Championship”. It’s been on my list of BHAG’s for after I become an Ironman. It’s premature, unplanned, unexpected but I’m going. 

My bottom dropped out though. I didn’t anticipate the reaction inside me. Feelings of shame and not good enough and the word ‘imposter’ kept coming up. 

I recognize and process emotion at the speed of light. And this was one of those times. I hold onto my failures and stresses for longer than I celebrate my successes. There have been successes more than I can rememberer. 

Running 10km as a twice weekly training run with longer in the weekend. Being able to sit on a bike for 4hours plus. Deadlifting more that 100kg. Bouncing back higher after every set back. Swimming in the deep blue sea for hours. Mental strength of a vice grip.

Yet, for example all I remember is that I am not an Ironman. Just the other day I cried over it again, forgetting the context in which I am operating. 

It’s as if I have given myself a role. Struggling fatty. Thoughts like: “Who do you think you are?” comes up. They came up after Ironman. Resurfaced yesterday.

Then I remembered that I promised myself that I wasn’t going to obsess about this one. Reason I am not interested in CrossFit competitions is because I don’t want another sport chasing times, movement standards etc. I just want to be a strong as fuck little hobbit! And have fun doing it.

Then I headed off to the box. There are 2 types of weightlifting. Olympic Lifting and Powerlifting. The WP and SA champs and what we’ve been training is Olympic. One of the lifts is the Snatch, technical lifting with 3 pulls. Off the floor. Past the shoulders. Under the bar. I’ve been struggling somewhere between shoulder and under the bar. If you do it with squatting down you can lift much more. And I struggle with that part so it’s been low. So low that at WP champs this past weekend some of the lifting buddies chirped: B, put some more weight on that damn bar!

Last night I lifted upfront sharing a bar with the girls. I watched them and then did one. They added weight and I did more. I GOT UNDER THE DAMN BAR! Apparently monkey see monkey do. Next up was cleans and I lifted what I maxed recently 3 times. And moved onto a 20kg kettlebell. 

There is more evidence to prove that I belong. That I’m strong. That I’m not shit. That I’m not an imposter. I’m going to be proud to represent my province. I’m going to enjoy the experience. In going to use it as gain competition experience to one day be a strong as fuck South African Weightlifter by pouring love into my efforts (now that I GET UNDER THE DAMN BAR) and doing all I can do give myself the best chance, same like Ironman.

Resolve

  
The latest addition to the arsenal of tricks has been resolve. There are lots to be said for allowing ourselves to be governed by gut feelings, passion and other ‘fairy’ stuff but there is also resolve.

I’m back at CrossFit on a program that involves Olympic lifting to a large extent. It includes a slow process of doing the same lifts and variations thereof day in and day out. It take patience and a long view focus. It doesn’t have the flamboyance of conventional CrossFit.

Every few weeks we are tested to see the progress of athletes as well as assess the program. We are halfway though the latest round of tests. One of them are front squats. I’ve been getting stronger between them as we do heavy sets during training and most have been close to my previous max lifts.

There is a format to test do the tests in terms of percentage and reps:

50% – 5 reps

60 % – 3 reps

80 % – 1 rep

97.5% – 1 rep

103% – 1 rep

And this can go until you fail the lift or it is done with bad technique. 

I decided with resolve that I want to get 70kg front squat. A 10kg increase from last test phase.

I lifted by myself on a stand alone squat track. I had a hard day dealing with some life stuff and looked forward to just leave it on the weight floor. When I reached 67.5 and added the last 2.5 in silver plates I knew I needed to fight the bar for 70kg as the rep before nearly pulled my elbows down, that would mean bad technique and no lift. 

I lifted it from the rack, as it hit my clavicle and shoulders at the same time I said the usual words in my head: it feels light. I squatted down and then the important part of the squat started, as with life. I had to get back up stronger than I was before. I got up, somewhere above parallel I felt the pressure of the weight, I held out and the resolve I decided on took hold, frozen in a second. I kept my elbows up, dug my heels in, put the pressure in my glutes and pushed with all the strength in my legs to standing up proudly with 70kg successfully lifted. 

Going into a max lift test can’t be a thing based on feelings. Somedays sure the body does what it does and this must be considered in the context of our own goals. Things don’t happen or get better without effort, but what comes before effort is that decision. That resolve. It’s like that with life I suppose, heartaches can push us down, but the resolve must be there to dig our heels in and get back up stronger than before.