Danielle has been a member at CFQS since Novemeber 2015, and has made incredible progress in all areas of her fitness since then. Danielle is an 8:30am class regular, puts in 2-3 hours of training outside of class time, and trains 5 days a week. Danielle originally started at the gym to improve her rowing (she was a Queen’s Rowing varsity athlete), but fell in love with the sport of CrossFit! Read below to find out if she eats anything other than Bear Paws, and what is on her mind in the middle of a tough workout.

How do you like to rest and recover? Although most people seem to think I never leave the gym, I usually take 2 days off a week (Thursday and Sunday). A perfect rest day to me involves sitting a lot, eating a lot, and sleeping a lot, with some mobility in between. In reality my rest day typically includes chores, preparing food, and working. On Sunday I do active recovery/stretching in the gym, but no extra workouts on this day. Occasionally I enjoy a good colouring book as well. I use rest days as an opportunity to prepare myself for the week ahead mentally and physically. I implement chiro and massage into my recovery to prevent injuries. I also make sure to eat something right after a workout to help recover faster.

What do you eat on a typical day? It is only a myth that I just eat Bear Paws. I usually keep my nutrition to simple "real food," and generally low in sugar. My favourite nutritional guideline I have learned is to eat mostly from the perimeter of the grocery store. I also eat about 5-6 times a day. My go-to ‘breakfast of champions’ before I workout is oatmeal, peanut butter, and an apple. The rest of my food I pre-make for the week, which I portion out for myself. This usually consists of a meat protein, a complex carb, and lots of vegetables. The amount of food and what I eat changes regularly based on the type of workout, how I feel I’m recovering, or what my goals are as an athlete. I have no special meal plan, or count calories/ macros. I believe that eating healthy should be done in a way that can be sustained long term. This is a process I have learned over time through trial and error as an athlete. However, like most people, I also enjoy Bear Paws, blizzards and other treats occasionally!

Have you changed the way you eat since you began CrossFit, If so, how? Before I started CrossFit I was incredibly underweight, unhealthy, and had constant injuries from rowing in the lightweight division, and I would also eat the same things every day to try and maintain my weight for competitions year round. As I got older it was harder to maintain a lower body weight and because of this I had to keep cutting out food, mostly carbs, and could not recover or perform properly with the high volume that I was training at anymore. When I first started at CrossFit, I progressively began eating more to aid in workout recovery, to put on weight, and help with injuries. Over time I gradually started portioning meals properly, increasing carbs, and expanding my variety of food choices. The biggest change for me when I started CrossFit was developing positive eating habits to use food to help with my performance, and learning to enjoy treat foods again. I also learned that it is a long process to change eating habits and does not happen overnight.

What reasons did you have to train when you started CrossFit? Have those reasons changed? If so, how? Since I stopped rowing my reasons for doing CrossFit have changed from trying to improve for one specific sport, to trying to improve my overall lifestyle inside and outside of the gym. At first, I did not realize the positive impact CrossFit could have on not only myself, but also on other people outside of the gym. At a competition, a lady came up to me and asked when the girls were lifting because she wanted her daughter to watch us, to see how strong the girls were. This was one of the first times since I joined CrossFit that I realized the importance of what I was a part of. Throughout my time at the gym I have also received messages from friends and former athletes asking me about CrossFit. Although my main reasons for doing CrossFit are still to constantly improve my own athletic abilities and health, I have now found external reasons for doing CrossFit. Hopefully as I progress, I can influence others get involved with fitness, and show other athletes that if even they leave the sport their identity was attached to, this does not have to be the end of their fitness journey.

What improvements have you made in the past 6 months that you are most proud of? Over the past 6 months I am most proud of my consistent effort in the gym to improving on my weaknesses, such as gymnastics abilities and squatting in a snatch. Also, my consistency in maintaining my overall health in and outside of the gym by doing ROMWOD, taking an extra few minutes before class for mobility, and making sure I have all external factors in place to help set me up for positive results. My nutrition has also improved which has helped me significantly in the gym.

Do you currently have a main focus or goal(s) with your training? The goal that I prioritize over everything else is to make sure I am staying healthy and not doing something that could lead to any injuries or that could prevent me from achieving any performance goals as an athlete. In other sports, I was trained to have a mindset of always pushing past injuries, which lead to worse injuries. This is why I constantly have to focus on my recovery as a priority.

What would you consider to be your greatest strength as an athlete? I think one of my greatest strengths as an athlete is understanding through experience that failure is part of the process, and knowing how to accept failure. I am not afraid to try new things even if I know I might fail at it, and I do not avoid movements I’m bad at, or skip workouts with these movements in them out of fear of failure or judgement. Failing does not always mean missing a max lift, but also attempting new skills, and then evaluating the reasons why I failed and taking steps backwards to fix it. I think it also helps that I am able to laugh at myself when I fail at something, like when I fall off the top of the peg board :)

What is one thing that you do every day that you feel is essential in contributing to your success in the gym?: I always smile when I come to the gym, and sometimes in the middle of a hard workout to remind myself how much fun I'm having!

If you could give yourself one piece of advice when you started CrossFit, what would it be? I think I would ask myself why I was afraid to start sooner, I would also tell myself to wear leg protection on rope climbs.

Do you have a favourite quotation or mantra related to training? If I gave you a million dollars would you go faster?

I would like to add that about a year and a half ago when I started my first week of CrossFit, I did Fran using the green band for pull ups, and it took me quite a while to finish. I like to remind myself of this and other moments from when I started that show how far I've come if my day of training does not go as planned.