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I debated doing a post that was basically a plug for CrossFit. However, it has become a major part of my life these past 2 years and I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t devote as least a few paragraphs to my major extra-curricular.

Ever since I grew out of little pink dresses and white tights and saddle shoes (okay I still like pink dresses), I have been a girl who happily dons a coat of sweat while enjoying some sport or activity. In high school I was captain of the high school basketball and volleyball teams, I dabbled in softball, ran around like crazy (but slowly), in college I finally decided I liked tennis, I discovered boxing, MMA and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, I joined the crew team, I lived in the gym.

In college, I also rode that roller-coaster of weight gain/loss.  Of course I was at my healthiest when I was exercising regularly (and happily) and cutting back on the grains and sugars.

When I moved to Virginia I came with a new car: a Honda Fit (his name is Paolo). Fitting, right (pun intended).

When I moved to Virginia, I had fallen out of a regular gym routine, was not on a sports team, and ate pretty much vegetarian (the occasional chicken and tuna made its way into my belly every now and then). I wasn’t in the best shape I’ve seen, needless to say. I wore a 10/12 and had some ‘curves’ (aka pudge). Folks, I have to admit this: I power-walked. Yes, I did. Almost daily, in fact, for 3 miles. I was fast, too! Every now and then I would run a mile or use some free weights at the gym. Sometimes row, sometimes use the punching bags in the combat room and even do some shadow boxing. It was sporadic at best (except for the power walking). I did take a pole-dancing class for a couple months and that was tons of fun and really did make you use upper body strength. I kept up my salsa and Argentine tango dancing (cardio, skill, grace, balance — don’t knock it, folks!). But I needed more. My body was screaming at me.

Then I discovered CrossFit and a Paleo/Primal lifestyle. What is CrossFit? Well, this video asks and answers that exact question:  My very first introductory class consisted of a very modified workout of partner med-ball slams, partner med-ball sit-ups, and a lot of walking lunges. I couldn’t walk when this mini met-con was done. No joke, folks: I. Could. Not. Walk. After this first experience into the world of secret acronyms and workouts named after girls and everyone high-fiving after it’s all over, I immediately emailed the owner and said “sign me up”. I’ve never looked back since.

CrossFit is more than just a way of working out. It’s more than just ‘a gym’. It’s a community around the world of people with different fitness goals and backgrounds, all pushing through a tough workout together, all helping each other get their first pull-up, all encouraging you to get a new PR on a heavy lift. I’ve been to multiple CrossFit gyms around the USA and even in England, and I can’t say enough how welcome I felt at all of them. When you’re CrossFit, you’re family. It’s been the best gym experience I’ve had since leaving the world of competitive team sports (actually I just recently competed with my Affiliate TEAM at the CrossFit Mid-Atlantic Regional Competition, so I suppose I still do take part in competitive team sports). The best part is, in the gym, you’re most competitive with yourself. You’re constantly improving: strength, agility, speed, flexibility. It’s for all ages and levels of fitness, too. My parents have been CrossFitting for over a year now and I can’t even come close to describing what a difference I’ve seen in them. They’re more alive, somehow.

CrossFit usually comes with some nutritional preachery (yes I made up a word, it happens often).  Zone, Paleo, Primal… Well. I jumped on the Paleo bandwagon, quickly changed it to Primal (which is basically Paleo but allows for dairy) and I really can’t see me going back. What is Paleo? In short: lean meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, some starch. Absolutely no sugar. Stay away from processed foods. Stay away not just from gluten but pretty much all grains. Yes you can cheat every now and then.

I thought I ate healthy before since I generally stuck to the outsides of the supermarket and tried to limit any processed foods. But boy did I notice a change right away when I cut out the grains (yes pasta, pizza, bread — it all must go) and sugars (…except dark chocolate. This must always stay). I had more energy, I felt fuller faster (a nice side effect of eating much more protein and fat mostly by way of animal products but also nuts and avocados), I gained strength faster and leaned out pretty quickly. The only downside was that my boobs shrank a little (or was it my back fat?) and I had to buy new clothes since I had dropped about 2 sizes. I didn’t lose much weight overall, simply lowered my body fat percentage and gained a lot of muscle. I also became MUCH more creative in the kitchen, I gotta say. Some fabulous websites that helped get me going are: paleoblocks.blogspot.com, primal-palate-com, elanaspantry.com (dessert!!!), marianutrition.blogspot.com, marksdailyapple.com, whole9life.com, and many more.

I’ve been on this CrossFit/Paleo kick for almost a full 2 years now. I am a trainer at my local Affiliate, I’ve competed in numerous competitions (so much fun, and the people! Oh the people!), I’ve turned my nutrition onto a steady path of a healthy me, and I’m still reaching for goals in the gym. I like to think the changes and growth I’ve seen in the gym and my diet can be a nice metaphor for the rest of my life. It certainly can show dedication to self-improvement — a dedication I will do my best to apply towards my dissertation!!!

Current stats, you ask?
Back Squat: 243#
Shoulder Press: 105#
Deadlift: 270#
Bench Press: 131#
Overhead Squat: 155#
Front Squat: 195#
Clean & Jerk: 165#; Snatch: 130#
2k row: 8:07;
1k row: 3:54;
500m row: 1:46
5k run: 23:02

But enough of that. I still have many things to improve upon and more strength to gain. More skills to learn. There is always something yet new to learn.  This applies everywhere.

So ask your doctor if getting off your ass is good for you. Chances are she’ll say ‘yes’.  Feed your brain, feed your body, feed your soul, and above all else: find time for laughter and joy. …And maybe pick up a barbell next time you go to the gym.

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It all comes full circle, you see

If you study or practice archaeology, as I do, you probably get this a lot:

“Ahhh Indiana Jones, eh?”

Actually…. yes. I’ll proudly admit that I was highly influenced by those fantastic flicks (wellll not so much the 2nd one and let’s just pretend the 4th never happened mmmkay?).

“Lost Ark”: I am Jewish. The Ark has significance to my religion. Indiana Jones saved it from the Nazis. WIN.

“Temple of Doom”: …. yeah.

“Last Crusade”:  ‘Nuff said.

Okay so then people might ask “who is the sexiest man alive” or “who is your celebrity man-crush” and without a beat I’d respond “Sean Connery”. Yes, even as he is now. I mean, he was stunning when he competed for the Mr. Universe title and he was foxy when he was James Bond (thanks, Daddy, for instilling in me an undying love for that franchise!), but he was — IS — just simply exquisite in the above picture and thereafter. Paired with his voice… huminah huminah.

Did you know that Sir Sean (that’s right SIR) dances? Well, he did and does.

Fabulous, no? Don’t even think of disputing that. Well, it’s no secret that I, too, enjoy dancing. Getting my groove on. Shakin’ my thang. Letting the music instruct my body how to move. I also enjoy Halloween and dressing up. I most especially enjoy when I get to combine Halloween, dressing up, and dancing — in short, the trifecta of all that is rad:

Now I’d like to point out that I look pretty much EXACTLY like the real deal, and that’s me being modest:

Uncanny, right?

And now we’re back to my love of all things fabulous and ancient, and the wonderful 6-seasons series “Xena: Warrior Princess” embodied it all. In fact, when I do end up creating my own courses you can certainly be sure that I will incorporate clips from this show on a regular basis. No, really, imagine this as a quiz: (shows class an episode of Xena from, oh season 2) “Now class, I want you to write down everything that was right, everything that was wrong, the actual sources that influenced the story, names, and locations seen in this episode.” Pretty good quiz, yeah? YEAH.

Well, I suppose I’ve finally come full circle.

…and now I know that I can successfully embed photos and video clips in a blog post.

Hola mis amigos

Well here I am. Just another wordpress blog, right? WRONG. This blog is … well it’s me. Hineni.

Why start a blog again after the dismal failure and neglect of my college livejournal? Simple: I am about to embark on a 5-month adventure of a lifetime and what better way to share, document, and remember than the powerful medium of the internet?

Bit about me. I am currently a Ph.D. student (ABD actually) at UVA in Classical Archaeology with a focus on Archaic Greek hero cult iconography (specifically Athenian vase-painting).  As of July, I will be a wandering academic soul exploring the hallways and basements of museums and libraries across Europe. Every now and then I may even get to act like a real tourist and enjoy the cities I visit.

Itinerary:

July 11-31: Oxford                                                                                                                   August 1-14: Paris                                                                                                                     August 15-22: Berlin                                                                                                               August 23-26: Vienna                                                                                                            August 27-September 11: Italy (Florence, a weekend at the Villa di Monte           Solare, then another week in Rome)                                                                                September 11-December 7: Athens/Attica

I intend to update this blog at least once a week, hopefully with pictures to feed the aesthetic.  It won’t be all business. I’ll post thoughts, anecdotes (hopefully amusing ones), experiences, food reviews, and general things (including reviews of Crossfit boxes I visit). If I see any bulldogs I will be sure to post in bold and all caps. If I see Sean Connery then I may just have to convince him I’m his one and only and IT WILL WORK.

Until my next post… boom shaka laka