What Trainers Should I Wear for CrossFit?

The first time I ever tried CrossFit back in summer 2012 I just wore a pair of running shoes. I had no idea what to expect, and didn’t have trainers specific for lifting… all I did then was run and go to the gym. But by the time a box opened up near me and I started going more regularly I’d become the proud owner of a pair of Reebok CrossFit Nano 2 trainers through a Twitter competition. Since then, I’ve worn nothing but CrossFit-specific trainers, and I wouldn’t go back.

Most people think that the Nano was the first CrossFit-specific shoe to come out, but actually inov-8 beat Reebok to the mark with the first functional shoe designed for lifting, running, jumping and climbing. Reebok then struck up a partnership with CrossFit in 2011 and the first official CrossFit shoe was launched and dominated the scene right up until Nike came in to claim their piece of the pie in 2014.

Other functional footwear has entered the market, but these three remain to be the main stakeholders in the CrossFit world… and I’m going to compare them for you.

CrossFit Trainers – Compared

First up, I need to set some criteria to judge each of these shoes against. The criteria I’ve chosen are:

  • Stability (how the sole feels for lifting)
  • Comfort (how the shoe feels on my feet)
  • Grip (for rope climbs, running and jumping)
  • Durability (how they last against the elements)

I’ve chosen to leave style and price out of this. All of these shoes are in a similar price bracket and, let’s be honest… style is a pretty personal thing, and matters to people in varying degrees! Something to note on price, however, is that Reebok offer a pretty sweet 25% discount to fitness professionals through their Reebok One system – just sign up and you’ll get the discount online automatically. It can also be used in store by showing them your account info.

Inov-8 F-Lite 219

IMG_8530 (2)



I was lucky to win these in an Instagram competition through Active in Style back in 2013 and I wore them for the first time on a trip to Paris. I walked for more than three hours in them and my feet have honestly never felt more comfortable. The F-Lites are, by name, light weight and the fabric is so soft is barely feels like you’re wearing shoes.

Of the three, this shoe has the most minimal drop (the difference in height between the heel and the ball of the foot). In fact, it’s a 0mm drop, i.e. completely level. This is good for some things, like deadlifts for example, and not so good for others, i.e. squatting and the Olympic lifts, but it does make for a really “barefoot” feel.

The sole is flexible and fairly narrow, following the shape of your foot – a true minimal shoe. I personally find this great for almost everything about CrossFit, meaning my feet can move super-naturally, with the only exception being the heavy lifts. For these movements, I prefer to feel more stable with a more rigid sole. You can pick up an external heel for lifting, which you can strap on to the back of your inov-8 shoes, transforming them into pseudo lifters – I haven’t tested this myself, but for just over a tenner I’m willing to give it a shot.

The F-Lites have markings on the inner and outer foot for rope climbs, which are effective for grip, if a little narrow, and protect the shoe from damage. Bearing in mind these are the shoes I’ve owned for the longest*, I think they’ve lasted very well.

  • Stability: 3
  • Comfort: 5
  • Grip: 4
  • Durability: 4

Overall Score: 16

Where to buy: [KIT]BOX or Wiggle*

* It’s probably not wholly fair me reviewing an older model of the inov-8 functional range, but from what I’ve seen they’ve stuck to a similar style for their newer shoes.

Reebok CrossFit Nano 5.0




On to the Nanos. These have been extremely popular over the years, and with good reason – they are a very good all-rounder for CrossFit. The difference between the 4.0 and the 5.0 is quite significant, with Reebok moving away from the wider base and rubber outsole to a more narrow toe-box and Kevlar (aka “bullet proof”) fabric.

The sole is super flat and fairly rigid and, combined with the Kevlar, makes the shoe feel a bit stiff at first. This does ease off though, and the shoes start to feel a little more comfortable with wear. The heel drop is 3mm; still a minimal feel, but giving a very slight lift in the heel to help you keep your back a bit more upright in squats, for example. Because of the flat and relatively wide sole, I quite like these shoes for lifting and, unless you have mobility problems like I do, they are perfectly reasonable for WODs even with fairly heavy lifts in.

Another big change that Reebok made for the Nano 5.0 was in the tongue – it’s now thinner and attached to the shoe upper at the sides, reducing the “tongue creep” you used to get with the 3.0s and 4.0s. This makes for an all-round more comfortable feel to the shoe.

Again, the Nanos have markings for rope climbs, which are pretty functional. Though I have to admit that I’ve found these shoes to shoe wear and tear more than I’d have expected for a shoe with Kevlar – I think my 4.0s still look newer than my 5.0s, I think because of the old cage structure on the 4.0.

  • Stability: 4.5
  • Comfort: 4
  • Grip: 4.5
  • Durability: 4

Overall Score: 17

Where to buy: Reebok or Whatever it Takes

Nike Metcon 2




These are the newest addition to my CrossFit shoe haul. I’d been meaning to get hold of a pair of the first Metcon since they were first announced, but for one reason or another, never bought a pair and actually, I’m glad I waited. From what I’ve heard the Metcon 2 is definitely new and improved!

What surprised me is just how sturdy the sole was, as I’d heard the Metcon 1 was a bit… “squishy”. But, Nike have listened to their buyers and hardened the sole, making for a really good stable base for lifting. I’ve even found them to be much more stable for movements like wall balls and lunges too. And even with this sturdy sole, the shoe itself is really comfortable! If you have high arches, like me, then the Nike is a much more comfortable trainer than the Nano, though still just pipped to the post by the inov8 (purely because of the minimal feel).

I’ve worn these for heavy front squats, as well as Olympic lifting WODs, and have found them to be ideal for the job, second only to my dedicated lifting shoes. The 4mm heel drop is the highest of the three shoes, so good for those who have reduced ankle mobility.

The fabric seems super-robust, I think with a plastic element to it, and the upper of the shoe, as well as the laces and tongue, sit nice and flat. Nike have even added a ridge to the back of the heel, helping to reduce drag for handstand push ups. Nice! The Metcons also have markings for rope climbs, though I haven’t tested these yet.

  • Stability: 5
  • Comfort: 4.5
  • Grip: 4.5
  • Durability: 4.5

Overall Score: 18.5

Where to buy: Nike or Whatever it Takes

CrossFit Shoes In Summary

I think overall It’s pretty clear which of the three shoes is my favourite – the Nike Metcon 2 surprised me with its superior design over CrossFit professionals, Reebok. Of course, comfort is a personal feel, and some may prefer the more flat-footed nature of the Nano, but for me the Metcon has too many advantages over the Nano and inov8 offerings and could well be a favourite in the boxes, even if not at the Games*!

Have you tried these or any other CrossFit trainers? What are your favourites? Are there any other criteria you would like to see included? Comment below!

* Reebok banned the Nike Metcon from appearing at the CrossFit Games, with even Nike sponsored athletes having to wear Reebok shoes to compete. Nike hit back with this billboard. Reebok 1 – 1 Nike.

All photos taken using my Olympus PEN E-PL7* and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm 1:1.8 Lens*

* Affiliate link. Affiliate links do not affect the price that you pay, but any commission earned helps me to pay the costs of running this site. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page.

Barbelles Ladies Training Day

At the weekend a bus-load of us girls from CrossFit Raeda took a trip round to Reebok CrossFit Reading for a day of lifting, gymnastics and generally hanging around with ladies who like to lift! I was expecting to have a fun day working out with friends and learning some tips from the elite; I wasn’t expecting to come away with three new personal bests, improved skills and a whole load of new friends!

About Barbelles

Barbelles is a community set up by the super-strong and inspiring athletes Becky Pykett, Gina Yates and Aneta Saulichova. All three are top level CrossFit athletes in the UK – Becky and Gina have been to the CrossFit Games Meridian Regionals three times each, and Aneta reached her goal of qualifying for Regionals for the first time this year, placing 23rd in Europe.

Aneta Gina and Becky Barbelles

The Barbelles Ladies Training Days were set up to bring together ladies who like to try new things to keep fit and get strong. They are typically held at the boxes where the ladies coach, Reebok CrossFit Reading (where Becky is gym manager), In2 CrossFit Farnham (head Coach Aneta), and CrossFit Leyland (where Gina coaches and is a registered dietitian).

Suitable for all abilities, the days aim to teach new skills, or develop on existing ones, encourage and motivate… and oh my word did it deliver!

The Day

Arriving at the box in Reading, our group of 12 was clearly the exception – most people turned up in small groups of two to three, or even individually. We checked in and handed in our PAR-Q forms (to say we were healthy to train) before putting our existing personal bests for the three key lifts for the day: clean, deadlift and back squat. The purpose of this, we soon found, was to enable the ladies to allocate us to groups of similar abilities – these ranged from complete beginners and those with fairly light lifts, to experienced lifters with heavy one rep maxes.

The Lifts

After a warm-up, which Becky warned us she’s often told is more like a WOD, we started warming up for the clean with some lifting drills and technique work and then moved on to increasing the weight and doing single heavy lifts. There were some huge numbers flying around – my friend Jo got a new PB of 85kg, and had an attempt at 87.5kg, which she got into front rack but just couldn’t quite stand up with – she’ll get it next time!

Barbelles Clean Warm Up

As you may know if you read my blog frequently, it’s long been a goal of mine to get a bodyweight clean. I cleaned 67.5kg in November last year, but that’s still pretty far off bodyweight for me (I usually hover around 73kg, but am about 75kg at the moment). But, after three attempts, I finally managed to clean 75kg and I couldn’t be happier! It seems like such a big milestone for me and I’m so happy to have reached it! Now I just have to jerk it…

Next up was deadlift and, again after an introduction to the techniques, we got lifting. The weights went up pretty quickly as we’d already been pulling pretty heavy weights off the floor in the clean. I think the biggest lift of the day was somewhere around 140kg! Again, I got a new PB (it must have been the amazing atmosphere of people cheering and clapping!) of 130kg. My next milestone is 150kg (double bodyweight), but I think this will be a long way off as once you get near your max potential the increases come more slowly. Maybe something for year end…?

Georgina Deadlift

Kelly Squat

The last of the lifting section was back squats. We don’t do back squat often in the gym, usually training front squat instead, so I didn’t really have a 1RM to work from, but I’d put up 75kg, which is my current front squat PB. Again, the weights were getting crazy high – at least three of my Raeda friends (Jo, Amy and Kelly) went in for 100kg back squat attempts, with Jo finishing on 102.5kg! I got 85kg, which I was really pleased with. I tried 90kg twice, but just couldn’t stand up with it – I definitely know leg strength is something to work on!

The Challenge

After we’d all established back squat one rep maxes, the girls sprung a challenge on us… as many reps as possible with 60% of our new 1RM. Everyone groaned but quickly got to work setting the bars up. The reps were going up and up and the target a constantly moving scale.

I’ve never been that great at maximal lifts, but one thing I usually am quite good at is strength endurance but when I got to 35 reps I started to feel like I didn’t have much more in me. Amazingly though, I somehow managed to finish on double that! Everyone kept shouting out new targets for me to reach: “just get to 40”, “come on, get to 45” and I took the squats one rep at a time. After finally finishing at 70 reps my legs were done for and I wondered how I’d get through the afternoon! Luckily next up was a lunch break!


After a feast of a lunch (Kelly, our resident cake-maker, had kindly made us all wraps and cookies… we’ll pretend they were protein ones!) we split off into our groups again and tackled handstands, handstand push ups and rig work, focusing on bar muscle up progressions and toes to bar. Again, the coaches were fantastic. They talked us through mastering the basics – emphasising the importance of getting it right, no matter how advanced you are – and encouraged us to push ourselves when ready.

There were girls getting their first handstand walks, RX handstand push ups, and playing around on the rig like it was a breeze – all through a couple of hours’ training. I managed to string together four or five (I was excited so lost count!) toes to bar for the first time!

Georgina Arch Hold

Kirsty and Jo Handstand Practice


It wouldn’t have been a CrossFit training day without a WOD! In teams of three, we had to hold two objects (a 10kg disc and a 12kg kettlebell) off the floor while doing:

Run round the block

45 box jumps

45 cleans (30kg)

45 shoulder to overhead (30kg)

45 burpee over bar

The objects could not touch the ground the entire duration of the WOD, so only one person could work at a time and we had to pass the objects between us before switching. It was such a fun WOD and a great demonstration of teamwork, with people who had never met before having to communicate and work together. I worked with Jo and Kerry, both from Raeda as well, and we were first to finish in 7:40.

Barbelles WOD Run

Barbelles WOD STOH

Final Thoughts

What can I say? The whole drive home we were all absolutely buzzing. From people getting new personal bests, to getting their first rep of a new skill, or just meeting and chatting to other women who share the same interests and passions – it was just an incredible day. Becky, Gina and Aneta are lovely ladies, and SO inspiring. I can genuinely say they couldn’t have done more for us on the day – these girls know their sport, and are passionate to share it with as many people as possible!

The whole day cost just £50, which for expert coaching for six hours was brilliant value, and I would certainly go again. If you have any inclination to go, I’d definitely recommend signing up.

Keep up to date with past and future events on the Barbelles Ladies Only Training Facebook page.

Thank you to Becky, Gina and Aneta, and for hosting such a great day, and coach Annie from Raeda for organising our box trip up there!

Photos courtesy of Lucy Rakauskas Photography.

How to do Your First Pull Up

So if you follow my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter you might have seen me put up a video of my first pull up! Ok… maybe it was my second because I asked my coach to film it after I’d managed to get my first one… but that’s beside the point. I got my first pull up!

Since I put the video up I’ve had loads of you ask me how I did it and what progressions you might be able to do to be able to get your first pull up – so I thought I’d write a post!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of things you can do to work towards your first pull up, but it includes the exercises I would recommend along with guidance of how many reps and sets to do, and how to vary for your ability. The exercises go in a rough order of easiest to most challenging (though this may vary from person to person) – try them all to see where you need to work.

So let’s go…

Pull Up Progressions

1. Ring Rows



One of the first progressions we do for pull ups at CrossFit is ring rows. This exercise works your back and biceps, just like a pull up does, but at a slightly different angle. The other thing this exercise does is encourage you to keep your body straight and strong – just as you should in a pull up.

  • Starting with your feet below the anchor point (where the rings are attached to) hold the rings and lean back – let your toes come off the floor so you’re anchored on just your heels.
  • Engage your back muscles by pulling your shoulders back and then slowly bend your arms to bring your chest up to the rings.
  • Straighten your arms to return to the start position.
  • To make this easier simply step back so your feet are further behind the anchor point, or to make it harder, step forwards so your feet are further in front of the anchor point.

How many?

3 x 8-12 reps at an angle that makes the last rep or two of each set a challenge.

2. Jumping Pull Ups

Another great pull up progression is jumping pull ups. These take some of the hardest part of the movement out (the initial shrug) and allow you to work on your pulling strength in the same angle that you would a pull up.

  • Place a box underneath the pull up bar that allows you to stand on it while holding on to the bar.
  • Bend your legs until you’re at a “dead hang”, i.e. your arms are fully straightened out.
  • From this position, take enough of a jump to get you to a point where you can pull yourself the rest of the way – too much of a jump and it will be too easy, not enough and you won’t get your chin above the bar.
  • To make this harder, either jump less, or pull yourself so your chest touches the bar.

How many?

You could quite easily do more reps as this is a less “strict” movement, but work within the range of 8-12 reps for building strength… for 3 sets.

3. Floor Assisted Pull Ups



These are another great variation to work on that pulling strength. It’s closer to a pull up than a row, and you can change the amount of weight you’re supporting yourself with just by changing your foot position.

  • Place a bar in the rack at a high enough height that you can hang from it without your butt touching the floor.
  • Slowly pull yourself up, starting by pulling your shoulders down, and then bending your arms rather than initiating the movement with your arms – you want your back to do the hard work!
  • Pause at the top, and then lower back down to the start position.
  • You can have your legs straight out in front (pictured), underneath you in a half-kneeling position, or elevated on a box so you’re in a V position – whatever gives you enough of a challenge.

How many?

3 x 8-12 reps at whichever variation you feel works you hard enough.

4. Band Assisted Pull Ups



These are probably the exercise that I feel helped me the most – to me, it’s the closest to a “proper” pull up that you can get. There are varying “weight” bands out there – I have four different coloured ones, all different thicknesses to allow me to change up how much of my body weight I am pulling.

  • Loop a band around the bar and step one foot in (you may need to step on a box to help you!). Cross the other foot over the top.
  • As always, start by pulling your shoulders down to initiate the movement, then bend your arms to take you the rest of the way.
  • Try to keep the movement as strict as possible, i.e. not swinging or hitching, then lower all the way back down to straight arms.
  • Try different thickness bands, or combinations of bands, to get to the right amount of assistance for you.

How many?

3 x 8-12 reps with a resistance band that makes the last one or two reps challenging.

5. Eccentric (or Negative) Pull Ups

In case you don’t know, eccentric is the lengthening phase of a movement (whereas concentric is the shortening phase). So an eccentric pull up is where you get to the top of a pull up with assistance and then lower back down under control. I always remember one of our coaches telling us that if you could do 7 x 7 second negatives, you were very likely to be able to do one pull up.

  • Place a box underneath the bar and hold on to the bar.
  • Jump up to the top of a pull up and pause, then lower yourself slowly and controlled until your arms are straight.
  • Start with 3 second lowers, then work up to 5 and then 7 seconds.

How many?

3 x 5-8 reps of whichever duration fits your level. I’ve put this at a lower rep-range because it’s the eccentric portion of a movement that gives you the most muscle tears and therefore aching the next day! You’ll thank me for it…

Your First Full Pull Up

When you feel ready, try your first full pull up. I tried on the off-chance and managed to do it, so keep checking in as often as you feel you can. Make sure you’re well warmed up to avoid straining your muscles, and don’t feel disheartened if you don’t get it – just go back to the progressions and keep working – it WILL come!

Here’s my first pull up below:

Hopefully this post has given you the confidence that you can work towards a full pull up – I didn’t think it was going to happen for me, but with a bit of consistency and effort it did! Keep trying, and work with the progressions that you can, either through equipment availability, or whatever you feel is bringing you the most gains in strength. If there’s one you find particularly hard, it’s probably the one worth working on the most as this can often highlight weak areas!

Let me know if you try any of the moves, or have any other progressions you feel helped, or are helping, you! And let me know when you get your first pull up! I’d love to share in the joy!

2015 Storybook – My Year in Review

I’ve read quite a few fellow bloggers’ “Year in Review” posts, and I’ve really enjoyed them. Some reflect on their favourite races and running accomplishments, some highlight their favourite blog posts of the year, giving an interesting round up of experiences. Most include the good and the bad. I’m going to call mine my “2015 Storybook” – a summary of my highlights, and the not-so-good bits. I feel as though it’s an opportunity to look back, reflect and learn.

2015 Goals

I started off with best intentions, setting myself a big ol’ list of things I wanted to work on in 2015. I chose things from each area of my life, whether that was work, blogging, social or family, and many people told me I’d taken on a lot… they were right. Fast forward to now and I haven’t kept up with my goals. Yes, things went wrong along the way, which didn’t help, but I now realise that I didn’t plan well enough – I was trying to focus on too many different areas at once, rather than tackling one thing at a time, then moving on to the next.

My Storybook

Family and Friends

My family grew quite considerably in 2015. There were two big weddings in my life this year – the first was my dad’s, giving me a step-mum and four step-sisters, and the second was my own, giving me a husband and a mother- and father-in-law.

After my parents’ divorce in 2012 it seemed a challenge to keep my time balanced between mother and father. I didn’t want either to think that I was spending more time with the other. And I don’t see my friends as much as I like. I know the answer is making time, and not just hoping for it, so I’m actively looking for ways to see my family and friends more in 2016.

Keeping up with everyone all of the time is just not possible, but I hope they can see how much of my life goes into making something of myself, not just for me – but to make them proud.




I married the love of my life in October. Yes, wedding planning was stressful at times, but we made an effort to keep calm and not let the planning take over.

Now I can honestly say that things just couldn’t be better. Perhaps we’re still in the honeymoon period, quite literally, but I don’t think that’s it – I genuinely think marriage has made our relationship stronger and we are more in love than ever (sorry for the soppiness!).

Work and Blog




I’ve put these together as I see them both as the “professional” elements of my life. Work is going really well – the team I work in is great to be a part of, and I feel I get a good balance of being given direction, while still working somewhat independently.

The blog has been, like many things, up and down. I’ve been fairly consistent in posting, but had two to three months in the year where I dropped off the radar a little. Sometimes I question whether I still enjoy it or not, other times I wonder why I ever thought that. What it has brought me, though, is some fantastic opportunities.

This year I’ve been proud to write for various different publications, including big websites and print and digital magazines. I took part in a photoshoot for an active wear company, and was shortlisted for top fitness blogger lists and awards. I was also featured and interviewed as a top fitness blogger for a national magazine.


As you may already know, I’ve gone “back to school” this year, picking up degree study with the Open University. I’m working towards a BSC Hons in Sport, Fitness and Coaching, with my current module on Sports Psychology, and it’s so interesting! I’m also part way through my Personal Training qualification with HFE, which I’m loving, and I hope to complete this early in 2016.

Studying on top of a full time job, keeping up a house, blog, relationship and social life is not easy. But I think education will always factor in my life – I love to learn and take in new information. If I never had to work again, I would probably be a full time student!


This has been where most of my ups and downs have come from. I seem to have a continual love-hate relationship with fitness. Working out can make me feel both on top of the world (when I achieve a new skill, or get a personal best) and at rock bottom (when I get injured, or struggle with something I should be able to do). I’ll split my fitness storybook into four main sections – what makes up my fitness DNA.






I had races booked up throughout the year, from 10k to Half Marathon and everything in-between. With a fun start of the year of the London Winter Run and a last-minute appearance at the Brighton Half Marathon, I started to rack up the medals on my new medal rails. I then tackled Reading Half – achieving an almost PB – took on yet another obstacle race, the Warrior Adrenaline Race (something I may have to make more time for!), the Colour Run, and ran the very novel Wings for Life race (chased by David Coulthard in a catcher car!). I ran my fastest 10k for years, again narrowly missing out on a PB time, and then my mid-point race became my last race of the year with an injury sustained half-way round. My second stress fracture.

From there, running ceased. I’ve now run a total of twice since – though one of these times was at a really fun adidas event ending in a rooftop photoshoot! I don’t know if I’ll pick up running to the same extent again. I’m considering sticking to obstacle races because, despite them theoretically being more risky when it comes to injury, I think they’re perhaps better for me with the broken up sections of running interspersed with stuff to climb over/crawl through/jump off. I’m undecided.





Ahhh, my one true fitness love. CrossFit has been a constant for me over the last couple of years, and is still the place where I feel the strongest sense of community. I took part in the CrossFit Games Open for the second time, finishing 808th in my category in the UK. I also did my first Weightlifting Competition – something which definitely gave me an ego-check. I started looking more scientifically at CrossFit, and have been working hard to try and position myself as a point of trust in the UK community, helped by my articles for PT Magazine, Breaking Muscle, MyProtein and more. I hope this continues into 2016 as I have big plans for my blog in this area.

Unfortunately my injury mid-way through the year put a bit of a halt to my fitness goals for this year. I was getting really close to achieving my first full strict pull up, but when I stopped training for five weeks, and then only went back once a week for a further six or seven, this regressed considerably. I have also been pretty down on myself for not achieving skills that, in my opinion, I should have nailed by now. I started having Personal Training at the end of October, for precisely this reason, and I had a little whinge to my coach the other day about my lack of skills. He’s given me some advice which I aim to put into practice from now, and I WILL be nailing those skills this year.



Having finally found a class that was both convenient and enjoyable towards the end of 2014, I was sure that yoga was going to be a regular in my life. But, unfortunately, the class was cancelled in early 2015 through lack of attendance. The instructor, Paul, is brilliant, and still teaches loads of other classes around the area in which I live, but unfortunately they aren’t as easy to fit into my schedule and so I’m not sure how consistently I’ll keep going.

I have, however, found Yoga Gym – the yoga training book written by Nicola Jane Hobbs, complete with home training programme – which I will be tackling to try and make yoga a more consistent part of my training.

New Fitness Concepts

I always say how much I love to try new classes and ways of working out, and this little section is devoted to that. I have tried an eclectic mix of classes and fitness venues/concepts, including:

And that’s to name a few! I will continue to try as many new and interesting ways to work out as I can – you never know what you might enjoy doing, or when what you currently enjoy might not be so much fun anymore.

Body Image

I thought I’d end on this topic, as it’s probably where most of my insecurities come from. This year I feel as though I have truly said goodbye to diets. I opened up massively in June about my body hang-ups and my troubled history of dieting and a minor eating disorder. Honestly, I received the most overwhelming response to this post – and I can’t thank you enough for every kind word I got. I’ve yo-yo dieted for years, and tried everything from intermittent fasting and detoxes, to meticulously counting calories. And quite honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy as when I HAVEN’T been on a diet.

Finally now I’m starting to accept my body for the way it is: cumbersome (because I’m quite tall!), slightly squidgy, but strong and capable of almost anything I throw at it. What I’ve learned the most is that we all have “fat days”, it’s just learning not to beat yourself up about them that is the important part. As soon as we can learn to love our bodies for the things they allow us to do, the better. And I have an exciting project I’d like to get off the ground in 2016 in that respect too… watch this space.

Looking Forward to 2016

I haven’t settled on my goals for 2016, but I think I’m going to learn from this past year and take them as they come. Things change – goals change. And that’s ok.

First up? Pull ups… it’s time to really devote some effort and focus and get shit done!

Happy New Year!

Have you written a year in review post? Or decided on your goals for 2016? What have your biggest achievements been? Please feel free to post them in the comments below so I can have a read!

2015 Training Diary – Week 50

Christmas is now fully underway and I had two Christmas parties this week to prove it! Unfortunately exercise kind of fell by the wayside and I had more hangover related pain than I did DOMS, but it’s only Christmas once a year! I try to alternate alcoholic drinks with water to lessen the effects, as well as making sure I eat enough to sustain me without going overboard, but it’s fine to indulge every now and then, don’t you think?!

Week 50 – 7th – 13th December 2015

Monday – CrossFit 9:30am. I had the day off work so went along to the 9:30 class. Because I only usually go to 6am classes I hardly ever get to see other members of the box so it was nice to catch up with some of the other members. We started with a 10 minute EMOM of handstand push ups. Next up was wide grip press behind neck for 10-8-6-4-4-4. I worked at 35kg, and (as always) ended up with a nice bruise across the back of my neck! The WOD was the next Athlete Games competition WOD (#2):

21 pullups

9 GTOH (80/55kg)

15 pullups

6 GTOH (80/55kg)

9 pullups

3 GTOH (80/55kg)

I scaled to 40kg for the ground to overhead and jumping chest to bar pull ups for a time of 5:40. I really wish my kipping pullups were up to scratch enough for me to be able to RX WODs like this.

Tuesday – Rest day. Another day off work and I had a hair cut booked for the morning. I looked around town for a bit then went home to get ready for a journey into London for dinner for my brother’s birthday. We ate at Gaucho’s in Piccadilly and I had the most amazing steak!

Wednesday – Yoga 7pm. After eating so much last night I literally burst out of the zip on my jacket, I thought I should take it a little easy on the food tonight so yoga was sans dessert (unlike our yoga dessert combo a couple of weeks ago)!

Thursday – Rest day. Tonight was our work Christmas party so I hauled a bag of makeup and change of clothes into the London office – I had a meeting there in the day and our Christmas party was in London so it made sense to go straight from work. Our party was held at Temple Place, an amazing architectural delight! We drank and ate and danced (more of all of those than I had planned) and I caught the last train home.

Friday – Rest day. Usually I’d book the day after Christmas party day off work, but I had to be more careful with my holiday this year, and I had a client meeting, so I dragged my slightly hungover butt to work and ate my way through! The client meeting went well and I was lucky to be able to go home a little early so took advantage of the sofa time!

Saturday – Rest day/Ikea workout! I had to take a trip to Ikea at Lakeside to pick up a desk for our spare room – I really dislike going to Ikea and having to wonder around the whole store, but luckily I’d looked up exactly what I wanted in advance so managed to just go straight into the warehouse section, though it was a workout in itself lugging the desk in and out of the car!

In the evening was our CrossFit Christmas party so I got myself ready (short hair quiffed up for the first time!) and headed over to my friend’s for pre-party drinks. Yet another night of drinking, eating and dancing… what a combination! My feet were killing by the end of the night, and especially after two nights in heels this week… if only I could wear Nanos all the time!

Sunday – Rest day. Hangover number two of this week was short lived as I got myself ready for a family Christmas lunch. Every year we meet up with my mum and her sister and family for a Christmas meal and this year the celebrations fell on my mum’s birthday too. We had a lovely (festive!) Mexican meal and chatted for hours before heading home to prepare for another week!

How do you tackle evenings out? Do you pace yourself with drinks, or avoid them completely? Am I alone in wanting to wear Nanos for every occasion?! You can dress them up… right?!

Mileage Tracker

Weekly Miles: 0 miles

Running Total: 198.3 miles

2015 Fitness Goals Progress

Goal Target/Date Progress
Running Twice per week 15 out of 50 weeks
Inversions Unsupported hand/handstand (end Q1) Need to work on confidence away from a wall.
Pullups 5 strict (end Q2) Regressed since injury and infrequent training.
Squat Depth Below parallel (end Q4) Air squat 3/4 depth
Clean & Jerk Body weight (end Q4) Clean and jerk 60kg, clean 67.5kg. BW ~72.5kg.
Snatch 2/3 body weight 40/47.5kg

The Zone Diet Goes Mediterranean

The Mediterranean diet has long been put on a pedestal as the ideal way to eat if you want a long and healthy life, and for good reason – Italian, Greek, Spanish, wherever you look the cuisine is colourful, varied and full of nutrient packing ingredients. But, Dr Barry Sears, author of the Mediterranean Zone (follow-on to the very successful The Zone), argues that this may not be enough.

The typical Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet typically revolves around eating mostly plant-based foods, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, opting for lean meat choices, and using healthy fats, herbs and spices to add flavour. This usually equates to a macronutrient split of roughly 55% carbohydrate, 15% protein and 30% fat. Shown in many studies to lead to a longer, healthier life, including lower incidence of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, like stroke and heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, this sounds like a pretty good deal.

What could be better than the Mediterranean Diet? The Mediterranean Zone Diet... Click To Tweet

However, while Sears agrees with the majority of this way of eating, he also challenges certain elements of the Mediterranean diet. Namely our beloved starchy carbohydrates. He claims that these are a big part of why our modern lives are so threatened by obesity, illness and disease. Read on to find out why…

The concept of The Zone

Having written at least 8 books on the topic, Sears clearly is passionate about The Zone. So just what is “The Zone” and how do you get in it?

The Zone Diet Mediterranean Review

What is The Zone?

The Zone is a state of balance, where levels of three key markers are within a certain range – believed to be the ideal state for avoiding chronic inflammation, the suspected cause of obesity and many of life’s dreaded diseases. These markers give you a quantifiable measure of your health. Sears suggests getting blood tests to determine your position relative to The Zone, though this sounds a little clinical to me.

How do you get in The Zone?

How you get in The Zone is a little less black and white. According to Sears, chronic inflammation is so prevalent because of two main factors, both related to diet. We now eat in such a way that:

  1. encourages a pro-inflammatory response
  2. limits our anti-inflammatory response

Pro-inflammatory response

What encourages this pro-inflammatory response is, apparently, a double whammy combination of excess insulin and omega 6 fatty acids in the blood. Insulin, along with glucagon, is a vital hormone for the regulation of blood sugar levels, but in excess is a major cause of inflammation. Teamed with omega 6 fatty acids, the inflammation response is accelerated.

Our western diet is the fuel to this fire, with high sugar and foods high in omega 6 fatty acids, such as fried foods, cakes, pastries and corn and vegetable oil, but according to Sears, also white carbohydrates such as potatoes, bread, pasta and rice.

Our western diet creates a pro-inflammatory response. Find out how to reverse it... Click To Tweet

Anti-inflammatory response

Meanwhile, we now supposedly don’t eat enough of the foods that encourage the anti-inflammatory response – foods rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are a chemical compound found in plants, and are thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect, helping to prevent disease. Foods such as colourful vegetables, fruit, and even wine (and yes… chocolate!) contain polyphenols. But apparently these magical anti-inflammatories are only effective in vast amounts, and unfortunately vast amounts of wine and chocolate are not the answer!

The Mediterranean Zone Diet Book Review

The Mediterranean Zone

So just what is Sears’s advice? The answer is how you proportion your plate. Whereas in the original Enter The Zone book, Sears talks about calculating “blocks” to ensure you have the correctly balanced meal, the catchy reference he makes throughout The Mediterranean Zone is that “all you need is a hand, an eye and a watch”.


  • A hand – to measure the size of your protein portion.
  • An eye – to visually check the rest of your plate for bright colours, two-thirds of vegetables, a small amount of fruit and a dash of fat.
  • A watch – because, according to Sears, if your meal properly gets you in The Zone, you shouldn’t need to eat again for 5 hours.

Now I have to admit to only ever making it 5 hours without eating when I’m asleep… but apparently it’s do-able with the right balance of carbs, protein and fat. The idea is that this will result in a macronutrient split more like 40:30:30, or in block currency, three x 9g blocks of carbohydrate, three x 7g blocks of protein, and three x 1.5g blocks of fat (four of each for men!). Luckily Sears also includes a whole section of recipes, pre-calculated to the macronutrient split required.

Follow the Mediterranean Zone plate portions and you won't need to eat again for 5 hours! Click To Tweet

And just in case you do get hungry again within the 5 hours? There’s even a The Zone compatible range of snacks and supplements you can tuck into, courtesy of Enerzona. I was kindly given a selection of snacks, and some omega 3 capsules, along with the book. Personally I found the snack bars a little artificial-tasting, but the minirocks are lovely for a nibble! Though I doubt they contain any polyphenols…

The Mediterranean Zone Diet Book Review

The Mediterranean Zone Diet Book Review

My Thoughts

I won’t claim to be a nutrition expert – I’ve only done two short courses with the Open University on nutrition, and studied it as part of my Personal Training course with HFE – but I have got experience of my own eating patterns, what works for me and what doesn’t.

I think the idea of a decent serving of protein, and balanced carbs and fat is a good one. The macronutrient split that Sears proposes also looks pretty good for someone wanting to lose fat, however he makes it very clear when you dig into some of the detail of the book that you would probably end up eating only around 1200-1500 calories, which in my eyes is just not enough for someone who exercises 4-5 times per week.

Not only that, but I don’t really understand where the anti-starchy-carbs movement has come from. White rice, potatoes and pasta are on the naughty list, and even the brown alternatives have been given a yellow card. Sears states that this is because of the high glycaemic index (the amount of available sugar compared to glucose in its purest form) causing a spike in insulin, but my understanding has always been that combining carbohydrate with protein slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream, meaning a steadier rise in insulin. Perhaps I need to do more reading in this area? Regardless of that, without starchy carbs there’s no way I’d function for training sessions. 

What I’ll take from The Zone

The evidence Sears pulls together on the benefits of polyphenols, and the damage caused by too much sugar and omega 6 fatty acids, has definitely changed my outlook on food. I think my body takes care of me quite well on its own, in that if I have a particularly carb-and-fat-rich meal I’ll always crave fruits and vegetables later in the day or the next day… it must be my body’s way of trying to reduce inflammation naturally.

Interested in following the Mediterranean Zone? Check out my take-away tips: Click To Tweet

I won’t be cutting out starchy carbs any time soon, though perhaps I’ll look to lower consumption where I can. But, I will pay more attention to:

  • Choosing omega 3 fatty acids, from sources such as oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and supplementing where necessary.
  • Going for a range of different coloured vegetables, rather than sticking to just my trusty greens.
  • Consuming omega 6 fatty acids (from cakes, biscuits, vegetable oil, etc.) less frequently.
  • Looking to control my blood sugar with low glycaemic load foods, and combining protein with my carbs (which I almost always do anyway).

What do you think of The Zone? How does your diet compare? The Zone has been particularly popular in the CrossFit community, with it being heavily recommended in the CrossFit Journal – if you’re a CrossFitter who’s tried it I’d especially love to hear from you!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Mediterranean Zone, and some Enerzona samples, for free. As always, my opinion is my own and not affected by items gifted to me. This post contains Amazon Affiliate links – if you make a purchase through clicking this link I will receive a small commission, but the price you pay is not affected. Affiliate links help contribute towards the cost of running this website. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page.