Athlete Profile: Andrea Signor

Meet Andrea Signor. Andrea is a recovering journalist, momma of two, Olympic weightlifter and founder of mamalifts.com. Andrea reached out to me as she was launching mamalifts. Like me when I first started out, I found there was very little research, which led me to documenting my own experiences. Andrea’s doing the same – primarily centered around Olympic lifting, but she did CrossFit for two years before she focused.

That focus is paying off – she competed in her first Oly competition just FOUR months after delivering baby #2. Talk about inspiring! Andrea’s always been active and loves to be outdoors. Living in Colorado makes it easy to rock climb, snowboard, and hike. And Andrea takes advantage, like most Coloradans.

A proud member of CrossFit Castle Rock Barbell Club, Andrea finds she’s feeling better than she did after her first mostly due to her tribe at the barbell club and lifting with other women — some of whom have had kids and some who haven’t. “Working out at the gym is “me” time and it’s nice to have a few hours a week where it’s just about me feeling good and not having to worry about anything else.”

Also doesn’t hurt that her husband also has her back. He is more enlightened than most and realizes not all women are created equal – so to tell all not to lift more than 10 pounds – is actually silly.

We agree. More from Andrea:

A funnier anecdote: When I told my (male) lifting coach that I was pregnant with my first child, he told me that I should continue lifting and not use my pregnancy as an excuse to not exercise. I believe his exact quote was, “Do you think when Running Deer got knocked up the tribe stopped migrating with the buffalo? No. So you shouldn’t stop training.”

My goal in CrossFitting while pregnant is: My goal was always to maintain strength and stay as healthy as possible. One thing I struggled with in both pregnancies was knowing the line between pushing myself and overdoing it. I think more often than not I went too easy, but I was working out by myself at a rec center and didn’t have a program or a support system to help guide my workouts. (My former coach was in Michigan and we had moved to Colorado during my first pregnancy).

What exercise advice did your doctor provide you? Did you follow it? Ugh. The nurses at my doctor’s office advised me to not lift more than 10 pounds and when I said I was lifting regularly they told me I could lift 25 pounds. To be honest, I just politely nodded and didn’t disclose what I was doing for workouts.

CrossFit and pregnant, where do you find inspiration? I love hearing other women’s stories of working out through their pregnancies. I have a good friend who is currently pregnant with her second child and she’s a yoga instructor. I have another friend who just competed in a power-lifting competition at 14 weeks. I knew women who climbed until they were seven months pregnant. Becoming a parent is such a jarring experience and I think moms especially struggle with wanting to go back to feeling like their old selves and embracing this new role. I think staying active and passionate with a sport is key to helping bridge that divide.

Since doing CrossFit while pregnant, I’ve learned: Your body is capable of so much and when you’re working out and carrying a child you are so much more in tune with your body.

Biggest CrossFit and pregnant challenge I’ve faced: Knowing when I should push more. I think I often played it safe and I probably sacrificed some strength as a result.

Do you follow a particular eating lifestyle? Not really. We cook 90% of our meals at home. We mostly eat meat and vegetables out of convenience; but I never denied myself if I wanted carbs or dessert — it just had to be homemade. So I totally ate cookies and brownies, but because it was kind of pain to bake everything from scratch, it wasn’t super often.

Best CrossFit and pregnant tip or secret you’ve discovered: I always loved feeling my babies go wild after my workouts. I think I lulled them to sleep while I worked out and about 30 minutes after I stopped they would just have a dance party. That was a cool feeling.

What have you found most valuable about CrossFit while pregnant?: It lets you retain a piece of  your old self when so much is changing and out of your control.

Deep squats at 34 weeks pregnant

Modifications you’d like to share with others: Widen your squat stance as your belly grows to adjust for a shifting center of gravity

Lessons learned: There’s a huge community of CrossFitters and lifters who are going through similar experiences. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these groups for support or advice. I wish I would have done this instead of kind of existing in my own bubble for so long.

If you could do it all again, you would: Come up with a programming plan and adjust as necessary instead of “seeing how I feel” when I get to the gym.

Favorite quote: The days are long, but the years are short.

Favorite girl WOD: I don’t remember these, but my favorite lifts are squats and deadlifts – my bread and butter

Three words that describe me: Stubborn, spunky, determined

Postpartum

How was your delivery? Both of my deliveries were textbook. My water broke at 37 weeks and 2 days (for both girls), I labored without drugs (I have scoliosis and wanted to avoid an epidural at all costs), and pushed for about 10 minutes and they were out. My first was born in Frisco, Colorado, at an elevation of 9,000+ feet and, despite being on the earlier side, she didn’t need oxygen (about 50% of babies who are born up there do).

Anything noteworthy your first six weeks? I was cleared to workout with my first two weeks after giving birth. I was cleared at six weeks with my second, although I began doing easy workouts (walking, Turkish get-ups, light squats) sooner.

Are you back to working out? How’s it going? Yes! This recovery has been so much better than my first. I think a lot has to do with hormones, but I’m way more motivated to be at the gym this time around and I’m training for my first Olympic lifting competition, which will take place June 17 (at almost 5 months post-partum).

Any advice you want to share? Do not beat yourself up if the desire to return to the gym isn’t there. I phoned it in for months after my first was born and it wasn’t until I was done breastfeeding that my hormones leveled out and I felt a true desire to get back to it.

Be sure to follow mamalifts:

 

 

 

Thanks for sharing your story, Andrea! xoxo

Introducing the Newest Team Member

Nothing beats July 4th in the Midwest

Nothing beats July 4th in the Midwest. Lake DeNeveu, 2014.

Our favorite place to celebrate Independence Day is in Wisconsin. The weather is perfect, the beer is cold, and the family and friends are in abundance. We’ve been spoiled spending many a July 4th at the lake where I grew up vacationing with family.

This year, we celebrated in the second best place ….

LABOR and DELIVERY!

Smiling between contractions

Smiling between contractions

We joyfully welcomed bebe #2 in the early morning hours of July 3. A little firecracker from conception … it’s just fitting his arrival landed the celebratory weekend! Hard to believe he’s already a month old and we can’t imagine life without him. Meet Micah James:

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Big sis | already so much in love

Big sis | already so much in love

Happy One Month!

Happy One Month!

Micah was late and his delivery was fairly quick, just like his big sister. My labor started in the afternoon with contractions that quickly progressed. We were admitted into the hospital at 10:30 p.m. and that epidural couldn’t come fast enough!

Special shout-out to our OBGYN team. Not only did the same doctor deliver both our babies (unheard of in our practice), but, once he was multiple days late, they also worked with us to make sure we had a holiday-weekend delivery, which is exactly what we wanted.

We love Dr. Mayer!

We love Dr. Mayer!

I did manage a CrossFit workout on Saturday, July 2 at Chuckwalla CrossFit. It was a good one with lots of jumping, running, and lifting. I think Coach John’s programming did the trick – THANKS JOHN!

And, don’t hate me for saying this, but my recovery has been simple. I’ve been up and about … doing my mom/consultant thing. And last week, I started some at-home conditioning; nothing crazy, even simple push-ups are making me sore.

We’re so thankful to the CrossFit communities of CrossFit Full Strength and Chuckwalla CrossFit in Phoenix. While I was nowhere near as dedicated or setting PRs like I did the first go-around, it felt amazing to lift some weights when I could.

Coach Luz coaching me through one of the CrossFit Open WODs at Full Strength.

Coach Luz coaching me through one of the CrossFit Open WODs at Full Strength. March, 2016.

As I’ve recently written, working out at Full Strength with Coach Luz, a two-time Olympic contender, has been inspiring and educating. I’ve been able to focus on improving the mechanics of my lifts – especially the snatch (which I was never comfortable with prior to pregnancies!) – instead of focusing on setting PRs. While setting PRs can give you a natural high, there’s also so much to be said for working through the details of complicated lifts and the feeling of success that comes with nailing it.

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Coach John is the best!

Coach John Hazdovac is the best … even if his WOD didn’t get my water to break during the WOD! ha!

This girl loves to test herself.

This girl loves to test herself.

More rings!

Different Day. More rings!

The few Saturdays before our delivery, we spent at Chuckwalla as a family. Chad and I worked out and FG played in the supervised kiddo area. It was awesome to do that together. We’re so appreciative to the Hazdovac family for making it work for us!!!

So, not our typical July 4th and subsequent weeks, but full of fireworks all the same. Welcome to the team, Micah. We love you so much already!

xoxo,

Team Leatherman

Both babies at one month.

Both babies at one month.

Five Weeks Off …

Five weeks off from CrossFit is five weeks too long. Finally made it back to CrossFit Full Strength this week {despite being told the ligaments in my foot needed at least 12 weeks}. I’m not running or jumping to reduce impact; it did feel really good to have a bar between my hands again.

CFFS added weightlifting classes to its early-morning line-up on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Coach Luz. As I’ve mentioned before, Coach Luz is a multi-attendee at the Olympics for weightlifting, so any opportunity to learn and train with her is only time well-spent.

Coach Luz - total bad a**

Coach Luz – total bad a**

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She’s done a really good job of pushing my comfort with doing snatches. For whatever reason in my 3+ years of CrossFit, this lift was never really an emphasis {and one I flat out avoided when I was pregnant with FG}. Even after such a short time under Luz’s guidance, the lift hold and movements are becoming second nature. Now it’s time to start increasing my weight!

WODs:

Tuesday

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Warm up: 400m row and tabata planks

Snatch: 55# – definitely could have added. Squat clean + split jerk: 85# again add more. Back squat: 105#.

Thursday

Tuesday

Thursday was a lot!

Snatch 65# x2
Hang power clean 90# X1 – was struggling to get my elbows up!
Front squat + back squat (1/2) 90#
Romanian Deadlift 90# (3×8)
Weighted planks 10#. 1.55 mile walk

Definitely sore today!

Six-week Challenge: Week 5

Another great week at CrossFit Full Strength!

Lots of {much needed} focus on the core. Many of the movements are great for pregnancy. Twice this week we did tabata sit-ups and planks. And Thursday, during the strength training between sets, we did oblique side bends with plates. Really feeling it all!

CFFS has placed a lot of emphasis on the power and full snatch during this challenge. This is honestly a lift that I wasn’t comfortable with prior to this challenge. I’m gaining confidence and ease every time we work on it. It’s pretty exciting considering I’ve been an on-again / off-again CrossFitter for 4+ years. That’s something I love about CrossFit, it’s an opportunity to constantly learn and improve. The sky is really the limit.

I’ve also refined my rowing ability. I was explosive out of the gate and would easily wear myself out. Coach Emily took a few minutes a few weeks and taught me how to slow down to actually gain more power and speed. It worked! Every day, we start with a 400m row and I can see and feel the difference of slowing down to gain power.

***

Monday: ran another two miles with my Frankie boy. Great way to get some extra vitamin d and exhaust our pooch!

Tuti was my workout buddy this week!

Tuti was my workout buddy this week!

Tuti is one of many mascot dogs at CrossFit Full Strength. Love that the community includes four-legged friends, too! #WODDogs are the best.

Thirteenth WOD: warm up: tabata sit ups + planks; strength: power clean + split and push jerk – 7 rounds / last round 100#; metcon: 3min AMRAP for 3 rounds / 1 minute rest in between rounds – 3 hang power clean (65#) + 5 push ups + 7 sit ups: 15 rounds + 13 reps

Day 14's WOD

Day 14’s WOD

Fourteenth WOD: warm up: med ball partner core work; strength: Started with power snatch 3×3 at 65#; then back squat 5×5 – last round was 125# / in between sets we did the oblique work using 15# plates; metcon: 21-15-9 overhead squats (35# bar) + hand release push ups + step ups: 8:02

Day 15

Day 15

Fifteenth WOD: warm up: tabata sit ups + planks then 2rds 5 pulls ups + 10 squat jumps + 15 wall balls; strength: deadlift 5×5 115# each round; metcon: mini Helen: 200m run + 21 KBS + 12 pull ups (green band): 4:07

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Athlete profile updates: I’m in a holding pattern, waiting on news of baby arrivals + people filling out the questionnaire. If you or someone you know is interested in being profiled, please contact me. I would love to feature some more #crossfitandpregnant mommas!

Six-week Challenge: Week 4

It was a good week of workouts and weather in Phoenix! We spent a lot of time outdoors, enjoying the 80+ degree weather.

My favorite running buddy

My favorite running buddy

This handsome, furry fella and I managed a two mile run to kick off the week. I haven’t hit the pavement for a run since October and it felt great! Frankie was in heaven. Really, anytime he gets some solo time with Chad or me, he’s in heaven. He’ll always be the first “born!”

Happy Valentine's Day + Getting a jump start on St. Paddy's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day + Getting a jump start on St. Paddy’s Day!

Thursday, the hubs had an early morning and I couldn’t stand to wake this hamball to make the Thursday CFFS Challenge WOD. I had every intention to make the evening session and then LIFE. So glad I got that run in earlier in the week!

I was solo in the Friday morning class – as in no other ladies showed up – boo! Selfishly, it was nice to have some very personal attention from CrossFit Full Strength’s Olympic Weightlifting pro {She’s been the the Olympics three times!}. Can you say, badass?!

***

Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning

Tenth WOD: worked on hang power snatch (65#) for two rounds / 3 sets; metcon: 3 rounds 5 hang power snatches (55#) + 10 lunges each leg + 30 singles jumping rope + 1 minute rest between rounds: 7:29

Eleventh WOD: skipped!

Front squat. 100#

Front squat. 100#

Twelfth WOD:  snatch – full and power snatch. My equilibrium was off for the full power snatches. Stuck to 55# to work on form. Front squat – ended with 100# for 5. metcon: 21-15-9 thrusters (55#) + ring rows: 7:15

***

Valentine’s Day:

All you need is love ... and CrossFit.

All you need is love … and CrossFit.

Pregnancy: Week 39

Another week under our belts and no signs of Baby L.

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Team Leatherman. Easter Sunday. 39 weeks.

Team Leatherman. Easter Sunday. 39 weeks.

It was fairly low key in our household. We enjoyed a quiet Easter and a quiet week. I finished work last Thursday, so I’ve been taking care of odds and ends, cooking and prepping paleo food for post-baby arrival, CrossFitting, and enjoying some pampering.

Breakfast bread, paleo style

Breakfast bread, paleo style

Food prep – one of the easiest things I can do, especially for the hubs, is whip up some paleo breakfast breads and freeze them to use once our parents leave. I made the following: carrot, zucchini, cinnamon strudel and lemon poppy seed. YUM! I also made two meatloafs (I seriously make a mean and flavorful meatloaf), three containers of spaghetti sauce, and marinated some pork tenderloin to freeze. Plus, I stocked the freezer with lots of grilling meat so we can easily whip up dinners.

As the temps in Phoenix have increased, sadly, so have my feet. I’m experiencing swelling, bruising and aching in my feet and ankles. No bueno. To help, on Monday, I had an awesome adjustment from the chiropractor. She applied some heat ultrasound therapy to my swollen feet and that helped to reduce the swelling. Tuesday, I treated myself to an amazing massage. He worked me from head-to-toe, but paid extra attention to my feet. I melted on the table it felt so good!

Wednesday was our weekly doctor appointment. While there’s no change in dilation, she said I was “loose” and she could feel the baby’s head. She told me to stay active, hydrated, and pampered. No problem following those instructions! As for my feet, it’s the time of year and point in my pregnancy, so she wasn’t surprised.

Aunties2 (1) Aunties2 (2)

39 weeks with Aunties and Momma

39 weeks with Aunties and Momma

My mom arrived on Tuesday and we hosted my aunts for a yummy dinner. Wednesday, we ventured to their house to enjoy the pool and another family dinner together. So fun having family around. Since babykins is staying put, they ventured north to enjoy Sedona and the Grand Canyon. Love that they are getting a mini-sisters trip out of this visit, too.

Week 39 WODs: It was a freakishly awesome week in the box. I set two impressive PRs – one in push press and one in deadlifts. My mom also joined me for her first CrossFit WOD.

Monday, April 21: warm up – 200m row

110# Push Press

110# Push Press

strength: Push Press 6-6-5-5-4-4 – 110# x3 PR (Last week I got a PR of 95# x1)

metcon: 3 rounds – 14:44

  • 500m row 200m run
  • 15 pull ups ring rows
  • 15 push press – 75#

Plus 2.5 mile walk with Frankie

Tuesday, April 22: warm up

strength: Back Squat 4×6: 125#

Step ups!

Step ups!

metcon:Instead of three rounds each set, I did two rounds. There was a 25 min time cap. I finished in 23:15. This was definitely a heart rate raiser!

  • 3 rounds
  • 25 wall balls (20/14)
  • 1 min max row (totaled 200m)
  • 2 min rest
  • 3 rounds
  • 25 box jumps (24/20) – step ups
  • 1 min max burpees – I did on wall (20 total)
  • 2 min rest
  • 3 rounds
  • Ground to overhead (45/25)
  • 1 min max toes to sky

Plus 2.5 mile walk with Frankie

Wednesday, April 23: Momma joined me!

Momma working on shoulder mobility

Momma working on shoulder mobility

warm up: 300m row

Romanian Deadlift 165#

Romanian Deadlift 165#

strength: Romanian deadlifts from 45# plates 5×6 – 165#

Kettlebell swinging

Kettlebell swinging

metcon: Did a modified WOD from what was programmed because my legs were bothering me.

  • 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
  • KB swings (1 pood)
  • Romanian deadlift from 12″ box with 45# bar

Friday, April 25: warm up: 200m walk + 300m row

strength: deadlift 8-8-5-5-3-3: 215# PR (Previous PR was 205# x 1 rep in Sept.)

metcon: 15min amrap – 5 rounds

  • 20 knees to elbow from ground from box
  • 10 medball deadlift shrugs (20/14)
  • 10 medball front squats (20/14)
  • 50m dash

Food: paleo + ice cream (and anything to keep me cool, really). Icees, iced tea and water are favorite choices.

Pregnancy: Week Ten

This week took me on another adventure to see family and friends in Wisconsin. I was able to share our joy in person with a handful of family and friends … and even bump bellies with another dear friend who’s just a few weeks ahead of us. So fun!

The first thing out of many people’s mouths in the great state of Wisco was, “I hope you’ve stopped lifting weights.” “Um, NOPE!” Most of my cousins haven’t had a baby in 10+ years, so times are probably a bit different.

One cousin, who is an occupational therapist, told me when she was pregnant her three times, she continued lifting pediatric patients during therapy, but now the women she works with who are currently pregnant won’t lift the kids at all. I said to her, “that’s just weak women trying to shirk responsibility.” I couldn’t believe it; I understand wanting to be cautious, but to avoid things your job requires seems over the top.

The best conversation was with a close family friend who is a retired OB-GYN. When I mentioned the fuss I was receiving about CrossFitting, he said he recalled sitting in a training class years ago that told the doctors to tell their patients to stop any sort of physical exercise/strain throughout the nine months. After that class, he returned home to his patients, who by majority were farming women, “working seven days a week shoveling sh*t, hauling grain bags, driving tractors, dealing with cattle, and I was supposed to tell them to stop?! Those were my healthiest patients.” After that realization, he stopped telling women what they couldn’t do and instead advised them to “listen to their bodies as maternal instinct kicks in early and often.” He was glad I was working closely with my coach and monitoring my heart rate, but told me to otherwise keep it up.

Being able to CrossFit and workout has kept me feeling normal. I know my body is no longer mine, but by exercising, I am maintaining strength and health for myself and our baby. Taking that away from me could be much worse.

Week Ten WODS:

Oct. 1 Warm up

Strength/skill: 5 rounds (not for time) – 5 deadlift, 1 hang squat clean, 3 front squat, 1 thruster Rx: 135/95 5 burpee penalty for dropping the bar Heart rate: 155; rpm the thruster didn’t feel right so I omitted that.

Metcon: Three rounds – 1 min. max rep push ups, rest 30 seconds, 1 min max rep wall balls (20/14) rest 30 seconds – total reps 133 Killer after the strength portion!

Oct. 2 Warm up – 3min row

Strength/skill: Front squats 10×5, build up weight to fail. Made it to 105#, failed after 5 reps Heart rate around 150 rpm

Metcon: Partner WOD, 15 min AMRAP, alternate every 5 reps – 10 shoulder to overhead (115/75), 25 deadlifts (115/75), 50 box jumps (24/20) – we managed 3 rounds + 73 reps. I felt great during lifts, but do step-ups instead of jumps on the box.

Food: About the same, but fruits and veggies are much more appealing this week. Enjoyed some raw veggies with Greek yogurt dip one day, lots of honeycrisp apples and veggie soups. Still not paleo, but trying not to beat myself up. My body is definitely craving carbs of all kinds and dairy (preferably ice cream!).