Oh, hello there

Oh hi. Yes, this blog gets neglected from time-to-time. Chalk it up to life.

We're melting

We’re melting

Since I last wrote, the temps have soared here in Phoenix. I’m talking Excessive Heat Warnings (i.e. 115+ temps and it’s 100 degrees or above before 10 a.m.), less than 10 minute burn rates, which makes you feel like you’re walking on the sun, and terrible air quality. We have been spending LOTS of time inside!

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Nothing better than shorts, sweatshirts and a fire!

Nothing better than shorts, sweatshirts and a fire!

He's happiest at the beach.

He’s happiest at the beach.

Finding sand crabs. The beach is in her blood.

Finding sand crabs. The beach is in her blood.

Last week, we were in glorious San Diego enjoying June Gloom and all that comes with it … sweatshirts & shorts combos (my favorite), time at the beach, visiting family and friends, a trip to the zoo, boat cruise around the harbor to celebrate our three year wedding anniversary, and a drive to Fort Rosecrans to pay our respects to U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Charlie Keating (C4).

C4 at Fort Rosecrans. We're thankful for his service and ultimate sacrifice.

C4 at Fort Rosecrans. We’re thankful for his service and ultimate sacrifice.

I’m wondering now why I returned to the Valley … oh yes, work!

FG & AuntRaRa at the Gardens

FG & AuntRaRa at the Gardens

Team Leatherman & Sarah post-MURPH at Chuckwalla CrossFit in Central Phoenix.

Team Leatherman & Sarah post-MURPH at Chuckwalla CrossFit in Central Phoenix.

Prior to that, my friend Sarah, lovingly deemed AuntRARA from FG, visited us. Pedicures, pool time, a trip to the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens (at dusk), and MURPH at Chuckwalla CrossFit occupied our time. It was Sarah’s first CrossFit WOD and she did amazing! I did some mods, but the run felt great – even pushing FG in the stroller!

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My EDR partner, Margie Newman, of Intesa Communications

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Some tasty treats!

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Liberty Station

I was in San Diego in mid-May for the annual Eat.Drink.Read. “A Culinary Event for Literacy” hosted by the San Diego Council on Literacy. It’s probably one of my favorite client events and this year, I happened upon this California Regional superstars:

Garret Fisher, Lauren Fisher, Rasmus Anderson

Garret Fisher, Lauren Fisher, Rasmus Anderson

Been an exciting few weeks! Stay cool and active!

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I have some athlete profiles in the queue. Stay tuned to read about some awesome #crossfitandpregnant mommas!

And Happy Father’s Day to our #1 fella … Couldn’t do this crazy adventure without our team captain!

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Athlete Profile: Alessandra Wall

When I began my CrossFit journey three years ago in San Diego, there were two woman who stood out to me. Not only are they incredibly strong and agile, but they are also moms. Knowing I wanted to stand in their oly shoes someday, I watched them closely to see how they balanced fitness and family.

Today, I am excited to feature one of those women – Dr. Alessandra Wall, owner of Life in Focus Coaching. A wife of a successful anesthesiologist and co-owner of CrossFit Elysium, mother of two wildly energetic boys, small business owner, champion of Empower Charter School, CrossFitter, gardener, friend … yes, like most of us, Alessandra wears many hats. Yet, in the insanity of it all, Alessandra finds balance. It’s what she preaches and provides her clients. I know because I benefitted from her coaching after I delivered FG.

Chang Family  credit: Lot116 photography

Chang Family
credit: Lot116 photography

Alessandra finds balance in her CrossFit pursuits by managing what she eats, how much she sleeps and the time she devotes in the box. She acknowledges the recipe is more than just what happens during a WOD. It’s ultimately everything else.

While Alessandra isn’t currently CrossFitting pregnant, she is one of those women who paved the way for me to feel confident and comfortable maintaining my regime when I got pregnant. Here’s her story:

Muscle Up during a competition Credit: Karen Gallagher

Muscle Up during a competition
Credit: Karen Gallagher

A seasoned CrossFitter, Alessandra began her journey more than six years ago when a personal trainer friend invited her to participate in a Saturday community WOD conducted by a box he recently collaborated with in a neighborhood park. Alessandra was impressed with the group setting and found that it pushed her to work harder. Her competitive and enthusiastic spirit convinced her husband, Leon Chang, to join her.

Leon & Alessandra credit: CrossFit Elysium

Leon & Alessandra
Credit: CrossFit Elysium

Fast forward to 2010. Leon partnered with highly respected trainer Paul Estrada to open CrossFit Elysium. This opening happened a year after Alessandra and Leon welcomed their first son.

During her first pregnancy courtesy of Alessandra Wall

During her first pregnancy
Courtesy: Alessandra Wall

“During my first pregnancy I didn’t CrossFit at all,” Alessandra reflected. “I had been CrossFitting for three to four months at the time and was just too worried about the impact on my growing child. Forty pounds later, I realized avoiding CrossFit was a huge mistake.”

Starting them young in the Chang/Wall family Credit: CrossFit Elysium

Starting them young in the Chang/Wall family
Credit: CrossFit Elysium

A mistake Alessandra didn’t make twice.

Pregnancy two Courtesy: Alessandra Wall

Pregnancy two
Courtesy: Alessandra Wall

Three years later, she was pregnant with their second son. “I was better versed in CrossFit, but I also had a better understanding of my body and what it was capable of,” said Alessandra. “My plan was to move along, to keep on working out hard until my body let me know I needed to slow down.”

Early in the pregnancy, she was told her son’s umbilical cord only had one artery. An umbilical cord normally has two arteries that remove waste from the uterus and a vein that brings in clean blood. “With only one artery, I had to do stress tests twice a week and my son was just not thriving in the womb,” Alessandra said. “Uncertain of how best to approach this, I chose to keep moving, and working out, but replaced heavy and dynamic workouts with light explosive weight lifting and reduced the intensity of my metcons.”

This was effective for Alessandra and her son. They welcomed their full-spirited boy in an uneventful delivery in August 2011.

Alessandra and Stacie with their first borns. Courtesy: Stacie Beal

Alessandra and Stacie with their first born.
Courtesy: Stacie Beal

Alessandra credits the community at CrossFit Elysium for remaining active during her pregnancy, but admits she and Coach Stacie Beal were the gym’s guinea pigs. Now Elysium has coached a number of women through successful pregnancies. “Since 2011, we have had a lot of members CrossFit while pregnant,” Alessandra said. “Our advice is always the same: CrossFitting while pregnant is safe, but it is also your body, no one can tell you what you can and can’t do. You have to listen to your body, your gut and your brain on this one.”

Born in Iran and raised in France, Alessandra wholeheartedly believes that advice. Her worldly perspective provided her the reality that women around the world continue strenuous activity during pregnancies. “In the States, we treat pregnant women (and honestly most people) as though they are fragile and frail,” she reflects. “There are women all over the world who carry heavy loads, move long distances and put their bodies under strain and have happy, healthy pregnancies. The human body is designed to work hard and survive; CrossFitting in a safe environment is nothing in comparison!”

Comparing her two pregnancies. Alessandra had very different experiences. The differences led her to two truths she found during and after recovering from her second pregnancy:

  1. It’s not about what is right, but what is right for you. Expert advice, whether it be with diet, exercise or life means NOTHING if you don’t adjust it to your own needs, values and lifestyle.
  2. As humans, we continue to evolve and develop even into adulthood. Big changes, like motherhood, can precipitate huge shifts in our needs and values. It can be tough to negotiate those shifts, and the transition in roles that come with motherhood.

Experiencing her own shifts led Alessandra to create her business, Life in Focus Coaching. Today, Alessandra works with woman [and men] inside and outside the box as a lifestyle and nutrition coach.

And, speaking from experience, she’s damn good at helping people emerge directed and confident from those life shifts.

More on Alessandra:

Since doing CrossFit while pregnant, I’ve learned: I can do anything I want with my body; there is no reason to worry if I put on weight or lose strength because I have to take a break. It will take time, effort, and a bit of mental fortitude, while I negotiate the loss of skill and strength, but I can get back to a place where I feel/am strong, agile, capable and fit.

Biggest CrossFit and pregnant challenge I’ve faced: Arguing with others that I am strong and not foolish or neglectful.

Do you follow a particular eating lifestyle? Paleo/Primal since May 2009 (I needed it to get my body back from giving birth to my first baby).

Best CrossFit and pregnant tip or secret you’ve discovered: Rest > diet > exercise. Rest has been the hardest thing to allow myself, especially as a mother and during my second pregnancy. I have done very well with diet, but that is because I understood very early on the importance of making lifestyle changes rather than reactively dieting or trying to follow “expert” advice that doesn’t meet my personal needs.

What have you found most valuable about CrossFit while pregnant?: The point of view! I love being able to see other real women’s experience in negotiating what is both an incredibly inspiring and trying time for a woman.

If you could do it all again, you would: Absolutely, except I would work out through my first pregnancy.

Favorite girl WOD: Grace, although I also have a soft spot in my heart and my very scarred tailbone for Annie.

Three words that describe me: Assertive, stubborn, and loyal

When I’m not in the box, you can find me: at work, at home working, running around doing errands and taking the kids to the playground and trying to change my world in a meaningful way

Twitter handle: @lifenfocus

Facebook profile: Life in Focus

Pregnancy: Week 18

What a crazy, fun week of thanks! We are thankful for this journey and the opportunity to share our experiences. Thank you for joining in on the fun!

Early in the week, we drove to San Diego to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends. We manged to get some great workouts in along the way.

Coronado Dog Beach with the Darrells, who sent us my awesome belly stickers

Coronado Dog Beach with the Darrells, who sent us my awesome belly stickers

I’m definitely getting bigger and the bump is even more obvious. Everyone thought that I grew during our time in San Diego (perhaps it was from all the yummy food we consumed!).

Team Leatherman on Thanksgiving

Team Leatherman on Thanksgiving

Highlights from our trip: CrossFitting at my old box, CrossFit Elyisum, running Fr. Joe’s Turkey Trot 5K, and spending time at Coronado dog beach.

Week 18 WODs:

Nov. 25 warm up 500m row (152 heart rate) + pull up progression

Strength/skill: deadlift 5×5 at 80%; 175# (went beyond 80% because it felt good!)

Metcon: Ran 1.25mi with Frankie (165 heart rate)

CrossFit Elysium's Coach Paul

CrossFit Elysium’s Coach Paul

Nov. 27 (CrossFit Elysium) warm up CFx1 + hip/ankle mobility

Strength/skill: Back squat 6×2 at 80%; 130# (went beyond 80% because it felt good!)

Metcon: “Karen” – 150 wall balls for time; 12:30 with 10# ball (heart rate 168)

Team Leatherman prior to Fr. Joe's Turkey Trot in Balboa Park

Team Leatherman prior to Fr. Joe’s Turkey Trot in Balboa Park

Nov. 28 Fr. Joe’s Turkey Trot (5K). Felt great to run with my boys! We opted not to do it timed, but managed to finish in 38:54 (which included a potty break!). Heart rate to 165.

Took an afternoon walk (~1.25 miles) with the family after dinner, taking in a lot of hills.

Nov. 29 Walked Coronado Dog Beach

Nov. 30 Walked 5 miles around Miramar Lake in 75 minutes. My quads were shot from the first part of the week, so felt great to just walk on a flat surface for a long distance.

18 weeks

18 weeks