Athlete Profile (update): Leslie Spector

Hiking

Hiking with her babies (photo courtesy of Leslie)

A year ago, we featured Phoenix, Ariz., native Leslie Spector, who was pregnant with baby #2, and an advocate for CrossFitting while pregnant. Today, Leslie is rocking a hot bod thanks to hard work and participating in a Back Alley CrossFit paleo challenge. “I had hit a plateau with my weight loss after Sean,” said Leslie. “The paleo challenge was the nudge of motivation I needed.”

Her results speak volumes:

  • 15lbs gone forever
  • 16 inches gone forever
  • Reduced performance times by at least a minute

Leslie advises that it’s more than just the box and paleo (or any diet tweaks) to get that weight off. “If the kiddos are losing their minds and you can’t make it in, you need to have a back-up plan.” She recommends having a list of at-home WODs, DVDs, or getting outside. “Anything is better than nothing!”

Balance is a struggle for this full time working mom of two. Now having two kiddos to manage and a husband with a fire fighter’s schedule, getting into the box can be tricky, but making the commitment is key.

Double unders! (photo courtesy of Back Alley CF)

Double unders! (photo courtesy of Back Alley CF)

“My best advice is to have a solid routine and stick with it,” said Leslie. “On days when your heart is tugging more toward baby than the box, listen! Those feelings happen for a reason. I love Elizabeth Akinwale’s quote about always having inches to lose and gains to make, but our babies are only babies once. That got me through last week having two sick babies and only working out twice. I really try to be in tune with my needs. If it’s respite, I find someone else to love my babies for the hour I’m working out. If I miss my babes, but know for my own well-being my butt needs to be at the gym, they come along and I work out with the annoying interruptions because that’s better than not seeing them.”

Team WOD (photo courtesy of Back Alley CF)

Team WOD (photo courtesy of Back Alley CF)

When her kiddos do join her in the box, she leverages technology and food. For her toddler, some tablet time is key, since WOD time is some of the only time she sees technology. Her baby’s distractions shift from food, to other people, to his big sissy, to the various toys in the box. “To be honest, the awesome community at Back Alley is what gets me through if he is there,” Leslie said.

Leslie’s focus on a paleo lifestyle helped with the weight loss, but she suggests finding something that works for you and your family. “Dial in the diet, but make it realistic so it works for you instead of being destined to fail. If it’s not realistic, you’ll fail. If you fail, it’s an excuse to go off the rails. At least it is for me.” Having the support of a spouse/partner or the entire family definitely helps. For other moms considering paleo, she offers this advice, “It seems more complicated than it is. Once you know the basics, and carve out prep time, it’s easy.” She turns to Paleo Grubs for recipe inspiration. “I make a spicy chicken recipe at least once a week. I also, have bacon and steak wrapped asparagus in the weekly rotation.” YUM!

Leslie didn’t CrossFit during her first pregnancy, but was a huge advocate for it when she became pregnant with her second baby. Leslie isn’t only focused on her physical health through CrossFit; she uses it for full mind, body, and spiritual health.

Endurance training with Coach Melissa (photo courtesy of Leslie)

Endurance training with Coach Melissa (photo courtesy of Leslie)

“CrossFit is my medicine! Literally, I use it to naturally treat my bipolar disorder,” said Leslie. “Chemicals freak me out and Back Alley makes it possible for me to maintain balance without having to pop pills. If I go more than a couple days without my daily dose of BACF, it’s obvious. I love being dependent on exercise and friends…the support and friendships I have built are priceless!”

How’s that for CrossFit and pregnant success?

More on Leslie:

Biggest CrossFit challenge she’s faced: Front rack lifts, due to a nagging wrist injury that won’t go away.

Greatest CrossFit accomplishment: I can see back muscles after a super successful paleo challenge!

Favorite girl WOD: I like Fran for the challenge. My best time 4:47, but that is a light and scaled version. I did it in 5:53 a little heavier, still a bit scaled too.

Biggest value in CrossFitting while pregnant?: My mental well being and there is less work on the back-end. During my first pregnancy, I gained 70# (sans CrossFit). With number two, it was only about 26# – enough said!

Favorite mom resources? (book, blog, website, toy for baby, etc.): Friends are number one. Support group is number two. I joined one specific to Nursing. Google is another favorite. When my babies were tiny, ‘Baby Wise’ was my go to book. Now I frequently delve into ‘Love and Logic.’

How much time did you take off after your pregnancy before you got back to CF?: I took the recommended six weeks and then I went really slow. CrossFitting while pregnant was much easier than after baby.

A Pro’s Perspective

Hello friend. I've missed you.

Hello friend. I’ve missed you.

Eight and a half months post natal and I am within 10# of my original weight. Ten pounds won’t be easy, but I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. As I’ve shared, it’s been a struggle – most likely because my number one priority is the sweet baby I love fiercely.

CrossFit Baby

CrossFit Baby

The weather is at the height of perfection in Phoenix. I’ve been taking advantage of being outdoors – long walks with my babies and a run squeezed in when I can muster motivation. I CrossFit once or twice a week and do a lot of conditioning (burpees, sit ups, supermans, push ups, leg lifts, etc.) at home while playing with the babe.

Best running buddy ever!

Best running buddy ever!

Knowing my struggle to accept the new me and also knowing how extremely hard I am on myself, my sweet husband shared a blog post from CrossFit Elite Athlete Elizabeth Akinwale. Titled “All Due Respect,” Akinwale shares her thoughts on getting her own body back post babies. My favorite line:

“Priorities will change and that’s ok because you know what? If you put your fitness on the back burner, it will come back! You have an entire lifetime to continue to pursue the fittest version of yourself, but your babies are only little for a short time.”

Photo credit: elizabethakinwale.com

Photo credit: elizabethakinwale.com

How so very true. Thanks, Elizabeth, for the fantastic reminder.

Now, off to snuggle my sweet baby.

xoxo

Six Months

photo 1

Six months of motherhood. I blinked and we’re already at the half-year point. I have no idea how that happened. In honor of those six months, I would like to expose some of my truths:

I was slovenly all summer. It’s no secret: I’m not a desert heat kinda gal. I hibernate like it’s nobody’s business. So the extra 20 (yes, 20!) pounds have stuck around at six months. All those statements about nursing and losing the weight? Lies. Pre-pregnancy clothes have yet to fit (can I get an AMEN for yoga pants?). I’m awkwardly wide. Spanx don’t do shit. This is probably my greatest struggle with pregnancy and motherhood. I miss my wardrobe and the body I worked so hard for prior to baby.

Monkey Swings at Back Alley CrossFit

Monkey Swings at Back Alley CrossFit

CrossFit definitely helps, but I have been at a weight-loss plateau for quite some time. Have I CrossFitted five days a week? No. But it’s more than just working out. Recently, I started keeping a food journal. The minute I put what I consumed on paper, I shredded some inches and pounds (no lie). Through my week of food journaling, Coach Melissa helped me realize my sugar addiction and is currently helping me get my blood sugar back in check. Melissa has me eating so much, which seems counter-intuitive, but I am also not crashing or experiencing extreme starvation post-nursing. Huge wins – mentally, emotionally, and physically!

iPhones let you take selfies!

iPhones let you take selfies!

My iPhone and social media saved me from the long stretches of boredom and isolation and kept me engaged during the early days of hours-upon-hours of nursing. Sometimes I feel guilty about this (Should I be talking, singing, praying to her? How can I be more present? Will she be addicted to technology at a young age from seeing me like this?). But to my fellow online mommas, thank you for being there; for responding at crazy hours. It’s nice knowing there’s a village out there googling the same crazy questions, posting hilarious parenthood articles, and sharing pics of the cutie-patooties.

Courtesy of ecardforum

Courtesy of ecardforum

And when I wasn’t scrolling through my phone, TV was my best friend. I watched every season of Lost. I started Pretty Little Liars (terrible, but addicting). Chad and I watched The Office and Friday Night Lights (this was the second time we’ve watched every episode). People, that’s four series consumed from May to August. My word, that’s a lot of TV! But in the dead of summer (aka 116 degrees), there’s not much else to do with a newborn, but hole away in the air conditioning.

For the first five months, Florie refused to sleep during the day. Until we bought a swing for nap time. Yes, judge away; my child naps in the swing. But there are days (like today) where she fights a nap, even in the swing, (and wins). She just doesn’t want to miss anything. My Type-A personality struggles with the reality that I get little accomplished everyday. It’s one I’m overcoming as she becomes more independent, but those early days were hard! And I thank God everyday that she has slept through the night from a very young age.

The pendulum of emotions and weird things your body does postpartum sucks. There’s no better word. I’m tired of the hair loss, the irritability, the feelings of starvation that follow long periods of nursing (see point above; no wonder I can’t lose the extra 20 pounds), the brain fog…

Then there’s the challenge of balancing my professional self with my new role as a momma. This isn’t easy for me. My friend, and subsequently my life coach, Dr. Alessandra Wall, of Life in Focus, has helped me in this time of re-definition. We’re working on a variety of things, but, most importantly, she’s definitely my voice of reason when I’m battling the “how do I do it?” questions.

My friend Margie’s very honest blog about her first year as a mom has been a point of salvation. She suffered a rough first year with her first-born and was brave enough to share her truths with the world. I applaud her for bucking the norm and for making me feel OK with some of my own challenges. And let me tell you, she’s on baby #2, kicking ass and taking names, all while running her own business. Major props!

I wouldn’t change any of this if it meant I didn’t have my sweet, strong, fierce Little Miss. Life with her is so much brighter and better. I’m fascinated by her daily developments – what’s instinctive and what she’s picking up from us. I’ve loved getting us involved in all the fun (FREE!) activities around town. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to deepen some friendships with other (new) mommas. And I’m so thankful for my supportive, patient husband, who has risen to his fatherhood duties without hesitation. For that, I’m truly thankful and lucky.

What are your truths? Where did you turn on bad days? Any wise sages have advice for new moms?

Barbells for Boobs a Success

Courtesy of Barbells For Boobs

Courtesy of Barbells For Boobs

The Barbells for Boobs event was a huge success. I surpassed my fundraising goal; thanks to my many friends and family for helping me make a difference.

And I was 10 seconds shy of completing my “Grace” goal. I took 4:10 instead of under 4 min. Still really pleased since it’s been quite awhile since I’ve thrown that much weight around consecutively 30 times. When I was struggling to get that weight overhead and I had jiggly arms, I thought of the brave battle my Aunt committed to and won. Definitely easier to push through that way!

I had the best cheerleading section, too.

My cheerleaders

My cheerleaders

What inspires you to push harder?

Barbells for Boobs

b4b

More than 20 years ago, my Aunt Mary “Mimi” was diagnosed with breast cancer. With the support of her family and friends, she beat it and has had a successful remission. Not everyone is as lucky.

Meghan & Mimi

Meghan & Mimi

To honor her brave fight and the fight of so many women and men, I’m raising money for early detection education and participating in the CrossFit Barbells for Boobs WOD (Workout of the Day) on Oct. 17 at Back Alley CrossFit. The WOD is called “Grace,” which is 30 clean and jerks for time. My attempted weight and time will be announced this week.

Please help me support Barbells for Boobs by making a donation through my page. Even a small donation will help me achieve my goal. The process is fast, easy, and secure. If you donate and would like your donation to honor someone, I’ll gladly temporarily tattoo their name or favorite saying on my legs or arms … so let’s get my skin covered!

Thanks so much for your support.

Meghan

Post Partum: Weeks 12 and 13

Awesome week and finally made it to Back Alley in addition to yoga and walking. Feeling excellent! I’m attending the 101 classes twice a week. This is allowing me to ease back into it and minimize any scaling. I’m also still wearing my heart rate monitor to now gauge my capabilities without a baby.

Some things I’ve learned in my short three months as a momma:

1. CrossFit is the best way to start shedding that baby weight. Shouldn’t come as a surprise, I know, but after just two days, I can see and feel a difference.

2. The minute you don’t have clothing back-up, the baby will have a blow-out. Thanks little miss for christening my come back to the box with a blow-out mid-WOD. Glad you’re comfortable in just a diaper!

3. That being said, less really is more! All of the sudden my car is full of stuff – bags of returns, swimming gear, workout gear, library books, a stroller, dog gear – and our baby is only three months! We love the Skip Hop pronto changing station. We now have three because they are totally genius. I keep mine stocked with diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, Advil, first aid kit, extra outfit. When out and about, I can easily just grab it to change her – in the car, in a random bathroom, at the box, etc. We have three because we keep one in each car and one with the stroller.

4. Drive-throughs are a mom’s best friend (and I don’t mean the McDonalds!). Thanks Starbucks for keeping me caffeinated and hydrated while I keep my baby sleeping in the back seat.

I’m sure it’s old news by now, but love that CrossFit HQ is finally giving some attention to all the awesome women out there who CrossFit while pregnant. Be sure to watch the latest video, if you haven’t already.

For a quick snack pre- or post-WOD, I recently made these no bake protein bites from HeandSheEatClean. Super simple to make and who can beat the no bake part?! I also made mine lactation friendly by adding in a tablespooon of brewer’s yeast. You can easily sub the peanut butter for almond butter for a more paleo-friendly option. YUM!

And we have been meeting the newest CrossFit babies! Both Katie and Sara delivered healthy, precious babes. Aren’t they darling?

With Katie and Baby Rounds at Back Alley

With Katie and Baby Rounds at Back Alley

Meeting Baby Hillman at the hospital.

Meeting Baby Hillman at the hospital.

Postpartum Weeks 10 and 11

As I mentioned in my previous post, my number one goal is to preserve my ability to make milk. However, I am equally eager to shed some of these added pounds in the next few months. This balance is a huge mental challenge, especially because I don’t like what I see in the mirror. I read a blog post by Blonde Ponytail on “Body after Baby,” which provides great tips, number five being the most important for me: BE PATIENT.

In the spirit of CrossFit’s constantly varied mentality, I have been working out slowly and strategically OUTSIDE the box. Yoga. Barre. Running. At home weight training. Easing my body back into it before I hit the big weights. Week 10 I managed some running and yoga. This week, I worked in a Barre class and managed to do something Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Not too shabby. Here’s hoping I can keep up the momentum and work in some higher intensity.

In the meantime, I’ve received some great questions from readers about my experiences while pregnant.

Did you increase [weight] during your pregnancy? My doctor said to stop lifting at seven months. I see you did not do that. I am no where near the weight you lift but did you decrease your weight the last few months? Yes, but I understand I’m an anomaly. My coach and I worked closely together to monitor this. But my body craved and thrived with bigger weights. I hit a number of PRs on a number of Olympic lift in my third trimester. As always, work closely with your doctor and coach before attempting this and LISTEN to your body.

After having your baby have you lifted weights? While traveling recently, I visited two boxes and did some Olympic lifts, but I haven’t been to my home box yet. I have done some free weights at home. I’m trying to balance a lot and I hurt myself around weeks 5/6 postpartum with a kettlebell workout, so I’m hypersensitive because of that.

I want to try to keep my core as strong as possible so it isn’t as rough getting my mid-line back in shape after the baby. I do a lot of planks, but do you have any other suggestions? During my pregnancy, my core modification was v-sits on the box. It was amazing for my mid-line post-baby and something I plan to do daily next baby. Planks are also great, especially if you can vary with side planks and leg or arm raises.

What things did you stay away from in the second and third trimesters? Again, do what makes you feel good and work with your coaches to determine modifications. What worked for me, might not work for you. With that said, here are the modifications I used:

  • Once I started to put on weight, I couldn’t do pull-ups (that isn’t a strength of mine and something I was working on prior to my pregnancy). I subbed with ring rows.
  • I avoided inversions, but I know previously featured athletes Sara and Katie had no problems with handstand walks and push-ups. Coach & I subbed in something else entirely for me here.
  • Sit-ups became v-sits on the box (though I did sit-ups longer than some of the other athletes thought I should have. I probably could have gone longer, but I let them get in my head.
  • Push-ups became problematic third trimester because of my protruding belly, so I worked on push-ups on the wall.
  • I slam my body during burpees; in the first and second trimester, I subbed with push-ups and jumping jacks; third trimester it was wall push-ups and air squats.
  • Box jumps became step ups.
  • I didn’t do any bench press and in the second trimester stopped snatching. Usually, I just did another lift. I did a lot of shoulder work my entire pregnancy, which was to my advantage because it’s a weakness of mine.
  • Running was uncomfortable in the third trimester so I walked or rowed.
  • I stopped yoga at week 35 or 36 because the positions got too uncomfortable.

Any lessons learned? I wish I would have eaten cleaner/more paleo so I wouldn’t have gained as much weight. Ironic I know because I was poo-pooing the doctors for scolding me. Live and learn. But the reality is that losing these extra pounds is a tricky physical and mental challenge for me because I’m up against a low milk supply + a strong desire to nurse for 12 months.

I also wish I had known my heart rate prior to becoming pregnant. Any readers out there who are trying to get pregnant: I highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor now and learn what your body is capable of before you get pregnant. That way you can better modify and understand your limits.

All-in-all, I was blessed with an easy pregnancy, delivery, and first two and a half months. I appreciate my support system and all my readers.

And nothing like getting major inspiration watching the CrossFit Games, which are live on ESPN 3 this weekend. Be sure to tune in and watch some of the best. Wish we were there again this year! Such an awesome weekend, celebrating the sport we love.

Any words of wisdom or modifications to add?