Week 1: A Better Me… One Step At A Time.  By

Week 1: A Better Me… One Step At A Time.


And just like that… I can breathe again.

  Today began like any other day: get up, shower, take kids to school, make coffee, check emails and begin the mindless task I call a job. My soul is eerily quiet today. I know it won’t last long.  In fact, it keeps nudging me in my ribs to wake up. Halfway through my day I am forwarded an article from a  friend about how we look for the perfect job to define us, when in fact we should be looking into ourselves to define who we are. It’s not about WHAT we do; it’s about WHO we want to be. As I read the author’s experiences of living an authentic life, my eyes widened, my lungs screamed , and my head swirled with words. THIS is exactly what I’m supposed to do… LIVE. FEEL. WRITE. MOVE. EVOLVE. CRY. and BREAK out of my crabby little shell. And just like that, I can breathe again. My soul’s belly found its hunger pain and rumbled loudly. As a crossfitter,  it was a signal I was trained never to ignore. Plus, I’m 100% Italian. I never miss a meal.


I wrote this blog awhile ago but never posted it for some reason.  As I embark on a new journey to a better me, I can’t help but think I was meant to find this. It reminds me of how easily we can get caught up in the whirlwind of life and neglect ourselves. I decided I didn’t want to wait any longer for someone else or some “thing” to make my life more meaningful and authentic.  I have patience almost to a fault; today it was not a virtue but more like a road block.  One that I was going to pick up and move out of the way.


After what seemed like an eternity, my annoying shoulder injury is finally healing. Thanks mostly to my amazing chiropractor and fellow crossfitter, Dr. Todd Rodman of Sports Chiropractic and Natural Health Solutions, plus some overdue praying,  I am steadily regaining strength and mobility as well as a profound understanding of my aching anatomy. I had to learn the hard way to listen to my body even when my ego wanted to play the big bad bully. Slowly but steadily, I am able to add weight and intensity without feeling debilitating pain. The CrossFit Gods are smiling down on me: I know it’s time to jump back in the game. I’m better than yesterday. And smarter. So much smarter.


I’ve been crossfitting for over 3 years and following a strict Paleo diet for almost as long, and I have to tell you, it’s not always easy, but it is necessary. I am 100% Italian so giving up grains was like giving up breathing, but I did it,  as much as for the sport I love as my silently deteriorating health. What I didn’t know is that for 34 years, I was poisoning myself with all those good carbs. Pasta and cheese were staples on our dinner table and bullets in my stomach.

I always say Crossfit and Paleo literally saved my life. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with  Celiac’s disease, leaky gut syndrome, as well as severe Candida issues and Hashimoto’s. My doctor immediately ordered a gluten, dairy, and sugar free diet. I looked at her and said, “I’m already Paleo.  My coach wouldn’t have it any other way.”  She smiled. If only all her patients were so easy.

Today, my levels are near perfect. I never have stomach aches or feel like a flotation device and that dense mental fog is forever lifted. For me, eating clean and and putting my body through ridiculous obstacles isn’t a sacrifice; it’s a gift. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Right on!  I know I didn’t just stumble upon Crossfit and this way of life. It was meant to be, just like Romeo and Juliet, Charlie and his Angels, Superman and Lois Lane, and the original Paleo couple, Fred and Wilma.  We only get one body and one shot to make a difference. This is mine.

However, the road can be challenging. We go through peaks and valleys and hit plateaus. When my injury prevented me from getting to the top of that  mountain, my mind took that as a perfect opportunity to get comfortable and set up camp. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and soon that mountain looked really far away. I had overcome too many fears to turn around without staking my claim. I may never get to the top, but I knew I would die trying.


A good friend of mine who also happens to be a kick-ass crossfit chic (yes, Ashlee, that’s you!) has been hitting PRs left and right and turning out amazing times. Her progress is so unbelievable that even her coach joked with her, asking what she was taking. Those who have worked out with Ashlee know that the only thing she “takes”  is no shit, not from herself or the WOD she kicks all over the chalky floor. So, aside from being genetically blessed, what’s her secret? The only thing Ashlee says that’s different in her regimen is using Herbalife protein powder for the past 6 months. Many of our boxmates use the product and have had good success with it. They claim they are less sore and performance is elevated. Clearly, this is true for Ashlee.  I’ve used it as well but couldn’t properly gauge my progress due to the shoulder injury.

News Flash: No more injury. No more excuses. I’m in… so where do I sign up???

So I get in touch with another good buddy, crossfit addict and Herbalife master, Shai Pritz.  Although equally inspiring, Ashlee and Shai’s stories are quite different. Over the course of 2 years, Shai has shed 67 lbs and a lifetime of bad habits A self-proclaimed “foodie” Shai took his passion for food and put it where it really counts: his heart.  Through his own weight loss journey, Shai has helped hundreds of people change their lives and find their true worth. Today, at 41, Shai’s list of accomplishments is long:

Level 1 Crossfit Instructor; Tough Mudder , Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash survivor; Herbalife Fit Camp instructor, educator and believer; great athlete, friend and inspiration to many.


Shai and I got together for the initial weigh in and measurements. We figured out how much protein I need in a day for my weight (about 115 g) and my caloric intake for the amount of weight I want to lose and devised a plan. It took a couple of days to figure out the right food combinations but I think I finally got it.

The Plan: 

Post WOD AM Breakfast:  Herbalife 24 Rebuild Strength protein powder w/ some ice and water, 1/4 cup frozen blueberries or strawberries and blend like a smoothie… I love it!

(If it’s a Rest Day, I just have the normal meal replacement shake and not the protein powder.)

Snacks:  An Herbalife Protein bar or some jerky keeps the hunger pains at bay . My favorite is the lemon bar and Perky Jerky from Target is the bomb! I buy 5 bags at a time. It’s so good that Ashlee and I actually discussed buying it in bulk.

Lunch:  I like the Allergen Free Meal Replacement plus some extra protein mix/ ice /water/ berries/and a little bit of coco powder and it’s milkshake time. I use more ice than water so it’s thicker. Sometimes, I even eat it with a spoon so it feels more like a meal. Hey, whatever works, right?

Dinner: Same as it always was… Protein of choice and lots of veggies. Simple and easy. My coach always told me to keep meals simple and clean. Don’t “Paleo-ize” foods. I still follow his advice three years later. As a working mom of two, easy is always better.

I’m hungry when I should be and I eat when I’m hungry.  I log all my meals and exercise so I know exactly where I’m at.

So, any Results yet???

Week 1:

Although the scale hasn’t dropped yet (and I have crossfitted long enough to not obsess over this) I did lose inches: 1/2 around my arm, waist, and hips and 1 whole inch around my thigh. Maybe those jeans will finally start to fit again without losing all my hard-earned muscle. My legs and I have a love/hate relationship that stems all the way back to childhood when my older brother scarred me for life by nicknaming me “Thunder Thighs.” Little did he know that those thunderous legs would someday be my best asset, at least in the crossfit arena.  I love gaining strength and look at my body like a major accomplishment. I can’t compare myself to anyone else and have come to terms that I will never weigh 100 lbs. or be a size 2. And that’s ok. I just want to be healthy, strong and as efficient as possible.

Ok, so I have the food covered. Now comes the CrossFit…

 I have finally rejoined the living after working out solo in my makeshift garage for the past two months and it feels great to be part of a motivating community again. The best part is that my shoulder feels good even after completing a brutal WOD. Whether it’s time, Dr. Rodman’s magic touch, my new diet or a crazy combination of all three, I am not going to question it. I feel good. I feel strong. And I’m all in.


I’m not implying that you have to be a BEAST every time you step foot in the box, but I do love the weight aspect of crossfit. I get to use my mental strength as much as my physical. It reminds me of how far I’ve come and lets me know where I need to go.

Yesterday’s WOD was one of my favorites: Deadlifts for strength and some heavy squat cleans. Short, sweet, and yes, I saw stars.  I know something is working in my favor because I haven’t been able to clean past 95 lbs. since the injury, but yesterday, I hit 115 with no fear and no problem. It was an awesome day! I am hopeful and thankful. Maybe it was the Rebuild Strength, maybe I actually got some good sleep the night before… who knows? I’ll take the heavy weight any day.

WOD Courtesy of Crossfit Athletic Co Lake Worth:

Strength Deadlifts: 12 sets x 2 reps @ 60%

(Warm up then do 2 reps every 30 seconds for 6 minutes)

WOD 2 rounds: 1 minute work/30 seconds rest of each. Score = Total Reps. Cleans: 185/115 lbs Pull-ups Shoulder to overheads: 155/95 lbs Butterfly sit ups

Stay tuned for results of Week 2 weigh-in and measure. I will be praying… 


  1. Thunder Master

    Great article Ali, your an inspiration to me, yourself and many others…..I love the “don’t keep doing what your doing” attitude….because if you keep doing what you have been doing, you will keep getting the results you have been getting!!!! With much Luv and regret of tagging you with that horrible nickname….what was I thinking!!!!! : )

  2. Jessica Walker

    So impressive. Thank you for sharing your story.

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