Thursday, October 18, 2012

Where'd I go?

Hey folks -

If you're visiting this site for the first time, or are eagerly awaiting a new post...  I've now fully immersed myself over at

That's where you'll find my latest writing, coaching and contact.

Look forward to hearing from you over there!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Patience is a virtue (or: why sometimes you have to step back to move forward)

This past weekend marked the end of a long phase of training focused solely on adrenal recovery, structural foundations and lifestyle. I've managed to nearly fully get my adrenals back on line with 12 months of smart training, clever supplementation protocols and a huge focus on lifestylin'.

What has my training looked like over that time?
  • Light aerobic (lifestyle-based "move and breathe" work like swimming, hill walks etc),
  • CP work
  • Foundational structural balance & tendon strengthening
As you might expect, the stark contrast of 12 months of simple, low intensity training versus what was previously pretty high intensity, testing based training and competition took me through a few different phases:

1. Relief… it was so lovely to take a step back, take some pressure off, and focus on things that made me feel damn good.

2. Repetition… over and over. Move and breathe and move and breathe and lift and move and breathe and lift.

3. Rebellion… some frustration at the lack of 'hits', the lack of metabolic output I felt like I was getting from my training sessions (which was exactly what needed to happen).

4. Resigning... letting go of my need to train 'hard' and taking comfort in the experience of training "for health" as a goal in itself. Learning to enjoy the process for what it was.

5. Rebuilding… fortifying all my little foundational pieces - tendons, joints, aerobic base.

6. Reflection…Looking back over the last 12 months of intelligent training and what it's done for me, I can honestly say it's been a journey of learning about my body and how it works and responds, how it recovers. I had no athletic background prior to about 3 years ago, and I didn't know a thing about my body. Truly. You think you do, but I really didn't. Right now, I feel both physically and emotionally I am in a much, much better place than ever. I actually feel like I now have a base of something to work from, something to build and layer on top of now. 

I feel healthier, more stable, and generally more resilient. I can now identify what I feel during training, and can embrace all the little sensations… cells opening up to oxygen, blood flow to my limbs, muscular fatigue in my legs, when it feels like there's lead starting to course through the veins and capillaries… it's really quite cool when you can feel, identify and embrace all these things happening as you train.

Anyway, the end of this past phase was marked with a little tester on Saturday. Aptly done in a bit of a globo gym down the coast, funnily enough (though not intentionally) the very same place I did my first tester workout back in 2009… 

My coach (amongst other things), Ross, programmed this little tester for me to gauge where all of these newly built foundations are at, to let me experience where and how things are now different, and to inform the next phase of programming in the journey. It was pretty enlightening. A very cool experience after 12 months of such contrasting training. 

I thought I'd share with you my training notes:
Aerobic Power CF Style tester, CP bottle neck 

A. Hang power clean, quickly build to heavy single

Notes: didn't stick the landing under the bar as much as I would've liked, just too hasty to recover the lift (always been a bad habit of mine). Still feeling quick through pulls 2 & 3.  Stoked that after a couple of months of zero speed work I could still feel like that. Very reassuring that your essence stays with you... 

3 RFT: 
9 Hang power cleans @42.5kg 
21 Burpees


1st tester in probably about 12 months. The past year has focused only on adrenal recovery- 

Burpees all unbroken, just cycled through- move & breathe. Could feel a much more solid aerobic base compared to testing in the past. Didn't put the bar down through the cleans, though some pausing at the top of reps.

Recovery- quick- 1-2min max.

Overall, I was really able to focus on what my body was experiencing through the test- feeling my breathing changing, feeling the muscular fatigue creep in & enjoying working with that. Much more focus, so much less flapping about. Much more aware. 

Super rewarding & learning experience after a long time re-building... 

Turns out patience is a virtue. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012: THE leap year

Woah, what a hiatus between posts huh?! I know a couple of you look back here regularly for new posts, new nuggets, and I apologise for the long break between musings. (As I write this, I wonder how many bloggers across the world are writing that very same sentence. Or very similar, at least).

I have much news (though not so new)...

It being a leap year and all, I figured it was a pretty good opportunity to do just that: leap. 

On February 29 of this year (funnily enough I did not pick that date just to be clever, though I marvel at the novelty of it now, ha),  I officially jumped headlong into the world of trying to make a difference to people's lives, headlong into making a difference in my own life, too.

I officially gave up my very decent-paying, though not so rewarding career in strategic stakeholder management ("blegh" I hear you say… "no wonder you gave that up Joelle!"), and along with it, threw in the habit of wishing any of my time away. (Those of you who have spent any length of time chained to a desk in the corporate spanking know what a bleak habit that can be.) It was, at the time, a big decision for me to make, after a fairly significant investment in a full university education, a number of years playing the corporate game, and a pretty decent collection of designer shoes and dresses… Not to mention the fact it meant initially leaning on the amazing offers of support I've had from those close to me.. something which a fiercely independent character can find a little challenging. For those of you who have so greatly helped me (and continue to help me) in this transition, I am unspeakably grateful.

I have control of my job, my hours, my life. I am surrounded by inspiring and positive people who teach me new things every. single. day. And I get to craft and shape my direction in any way I choose. And that, is a very exciting prospect.

I am continually evolving the journey, and excitedly learning more than I ever did in my four years at university. I am going down the path of functional diagnostic nutrition coaching… of geeking out over people's lab results and hormonal profiles, then integrating that with smart nutrition, intelligent training prescriptions and a touch of life coaching. And man, that combination is potent. That's the kind of knowledge and info you want on your side if you truly care about your health, your performance (don't get me started… this post might go on for days, otherwise!)

All I can say is this: my life is magic. 

I live a life in which pretty well every afternoon, without exception, as I drive home from my last appointment, I marvel at how I managed to be so fortunate to have the lifestyle I have now. 

The thing is, it is not that this new career should be any different from any facet of life. We have control over all of it, all of the time. You can shape and tweak the direction you take at any point, every single day. It's just that sometimes it takes a bit of a risk-take, a bit of a leap year to jolt us back into that realisation. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Are you paleo-challenged?

Quite a few folks have jumped on the wagon with some pretty strict, eat
clean paleo for a month type-deals for January. That’s cool- we like your
renewed enthusiasm for this health gig. In fact, we love it! (Even if it is a
New Year’s resolution… I admit we love longstanding commitment to goals WAY
more than the ‘new-year, new-you’ scene… however, I digress…)

The other trends we’ve seen/heard include:

·         The
walking dead rocking up to training

·         Outbursts
of tears in the middle of sessions

·         Total
lack of motivation for training

·         Less
than optimal spousal relations

·         Digestion
you could put through a sieve, including bits of yesterday’s meals ending up in
the toilet the morning after

·         Cries
for help and any tips we can offer for just making it through the afternoon

So what is going on? If my nutrition is super clean
and I’m rockin’ the paleo train… why do I feel like ass?!

Ross and I often talk about nutritional and lifestyle practices to help
you guys work toward optimal health (or performance, if that’s your bang)… but
if you’ve had one of these discussions with us, I bet you never heard us say
“change your life in 30 days”. I bet you probably heard the words “individual”,
“cortisol”, “stress”, “adrenals” and perhaps even “smoked” in the same

You have a tolerance threshold for what your body (and mind) perceives
as stress. A cup, if you will. Stress comes in many forms, including everything
ranging from what we classically know as stress- relationships, work, money,
through to things like training, nutritional & digestive stress, lack of
sleep, environmental toxins etc. etc… the list goes on and on. When something
is added into your cup, your adrenals (a couple of little glands that sit just
above your kidneys) produce cortisol to help you deal with that instance of
stress, giving you the capacity to deal with the next bout that comes your way.
Let’s call this an acute bout of stress.

Given the characteristics of the modern life – too much work, not enough
sleep, a shitty diet full of known irritants and antinutrients, unintelligent
training methods – we’re rarely fortunate enough to only experience acute bouts
of stress. Instead of having only a few mils in them, our cups are kinda full.
We are in a state of chronic stress. Now your poor little
adrenals try really hard to get the level of the cup down, but they are
designed to deal with acute stress, and unfortunately, have trouble keeping up
the demand.  Many of our cups build to and are almost at overflow point.
Add to that a Christmas and New Year period of festive tipples and ‘just one
more serving of Chrissy pud’, and we’re getting pretty close to the edge!

When it all finally spills over, we’re talking about things like adrenal
fatigue, chronic fatigue and a host of other nasty health issues. You don’t
want to be there.

Why all this talk of adrenals and stress? I thought
I was taking a step in the right direction!?

If you’re one of those folks sitting on the edge, any sudden and
dramatic changes can be perceived as just another stress, and have disastrous
effects. That includes moving from a diet of Christmas pudding, champagne, beer
and chocolate to strict paleo in a matter of 24 hours.

And before you say, “but I’m NOT one of those people”,
unless you already eat super super clean, sleep like a Trojan, have immaculate
type 3 or 4 poo on a Bristol stool chart, have cortisol skinfold sites of less
than 10 (that means very little  belly fat), wake up
horny, really happy and hungry, have 110% excitement for life and smart training
and/or have a HUGE cup (i.e. tolerance for stress)… then sorry, but you
likely ARE one of those people.

So in fact, your move to strict paleo may actually be doing you more
harm than good at this point. That just might be contributing to why you feel
like ass. You might be losing some kgs on the scale, but if you’re health is
declining faster than your bowel evacuations in the morning, well, I’d say it’s
probably not a great strategy in the long run.

So why does everyone get so excited about 30 day
paleo challenges?

Competition is fun. It goes hand in hand with things like CrossFit
workouts and communities. And let’s face it, the thought of changing your life
in just 30 days is a pretty exciting prospect that ignites a motivational chord
in the best of us. And for those folks who have all their ducks in a row and a
big cup- can bring some great results. For
the great majority- we struggle and feel like ass for 30 days, fall off the
wagon, performance goes down the loo and we just can’t quite make it all in one
whole, emotionally stable piece. And if we do, sometimes our bodies and minds
start to try to mediate the shock- letting our old habits slip back in, bit by
bit. Before you know it, in another 6 months you’re trying out another paleo
challenge to get things seemingly ‘back under control’. You've become one of those people who 'diet'... You know, the ones you love to hate?!

So how do I get down to eating strict paleo?

Remember here the goal is longstanding and lasting change. Good
nutrition should be a lifestyle, not a diet for with a fixed end date. With
that in mind, ideally go with small steps at a time. No big shocks to the
system. Take the easy wins first. Take out known digestive irritants like
gluten, then work on the dairy, then work on eliminating the other grains,
reducing nuts and fruit. Know that diet is so very individual, what works for
some folks may not work for you.  If you feel
like (severe) crap, step back and review. Notice how different things you eat
make you feel- energised, hungry, sleepy, foggy, clear-headed & creative or
suicidal. Notice how different things affect you digestion- if it’s not a type 3 or 4 on the Bristol chart or you’re seeing stuff show up in the bowl, something’s
up. Find the right mix of fuel for YOU. If you’re confused go see a coach for
some objective advice.

So what?! I’m still gonna do it. What are your hot

If you really feel this is the only way, things to look out for:

  1.  Sleep. As much as possible.

  2.  Fish oil.

  3. Up your fat intake if you’re feeling flat.
    Think avocado, coconut, olives and associated oils. Be wary of too many nuts-
    remember if you see it in the toilet bowel, cut it out.

  4.  Be prepared for emotional instability. Prepare
    those around you.

  5. Consider taking the month off training. Yep, I
    said it. Stay away from the gym and anything that is just going to add more
    stress to your cup. Let your body focus on adapting to one thing at a time.

  6.  If you continue to train, consider the following:

  •           If you’re feeling like ass when you wake up-
    you have zero mojo and you’re struggling to open your eyes- don’t go and smash
    yourself at training. Stay in bed, or stick to a strength-based session or easy
    walk only. Hard CrossFit metcons and adrenal fatigue don’t mix. Don’t do it.

  •            Remember you will still need to fuel yourself
    post-workout. Decent whole food (paleo-approved) options include meat, eggs, fish,
    chicken as your protein source, and something like banana, sweet potato or
    coconut water as your carbohydrate.

The last thing I would ever want to do is discourage anyone from
eating better quality food and living a healthier lifestyle. The biggest thing
I want for you all is sustainable, long lasting health and vitality. Hopefully
this post goes some ways to giving you some tools to help achieve that.



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