Monday, December 7, 2009

A Radical Hateloss Q & A with Cindy Handler

I am delighted to share with you today’s post, which is a questions and answer session with a fellow blogger & crossfitter, Cindy Handler. There is nothing greater than finding other people with the same passion as yourself. Cindy clearly has committed herself to loving and accepting herself and helping other woman to do the same.

Why did you start writing your blog, “A Midlife Woman’s Journey from Couch to CrossFit”?

I began the blog as a way to capture what I felt was an incredible journey of self-discovery and change. My life, until about a year ago, was pretty standard stuff; work, home, moaning about my weight and lugging around a sense that I was not fulfilling my potential. I think there are a lot of women out there who are like I was and who have the same desire to be more. My blog is a way of reaching out them and letting them know that if I could make a change, anyone can!

On your blog profile you describe yourself as “a 49 year old woman who has discovered that life is full of boundless possibilities, thanks to CrossFit, and a new mindset.” Tell me more about this “new mindset.

Ahhh, my new mindset … simply that I am unique and special with something to offer to the world. That my worth cannot be found outside of my self and that success is defined by the legacy I create everyday, not by material things or the opinions of others. Now I try to live my life in the most authentic way possible, a life that is aligned with my values and is purpose-driven, not material-driven.

What role does self-love and acceptance, play into your new mindset?

Self-love and acceptance are the cornerstones of how I live my life now. If you don’t value yourself and what you bring to the world you will never find your true purpose!

What is your philosophy about food and eating?

It’s never about the food. How we eat is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. If I feel like crap about myself I am probably going to eat crap food. If I love and value myself I will be less likely to eat what I know is unhealthy. I have also gotten a lot more relaxed about how I eat. I don’t count calories or grams but I make conscious decisions about what I put in my mouth. If I decide I want some ice cream I’ll spend a few minutes thinking about why and if I feel that eating ice cream is the right thing to do, I’ll eat it. I don’t stress about it and I enjoy the experience.

How do you stay motivated to be healthy?

That’s easy … CrossFit! I love that I’ve gotten stronger, faster and fitter and I know that my nutrition plays a huge role in that. I’ve also gotten to know my body a lot better over the past year. I hate feeling stuffed and I can tell when I’ve overindulged because I don’t feel good afterwards. My body feels heavy and my mind is sluggish if I’ve eaten in a way that is inauthentic so I really try not to eat that way anymore. I’m also a big fan of the 80/20 rule. I shoot for living a healthy lifestyle 100% of the time but I’m realistic enough to know that life sometimes has other ideas. If I live healthfully 80% of the time the other 20% becomes no big deal.

Why CrossFit anyway?

It ‘s not just a workout, it’s empowerment, strength, focus and community.

What changes have you seen in your body and yourself because of CrossFit?

My body has changed quite a bit. I’ve lost somewhere between 20 and 25 pounds while building muscle. My husband says I’ve reshaped. My hips are narrower, my shoulders are broader, my ass has perked up and I can pop a bicep muscle like you wouldn’t believe! I think CrossFit has also made me stronger in other ways as well. Whenever I tried anything athletic in the past I would always quit, now I am mentally strong both inside and outside the box … I never give up!

What would you say to someone says, “CrossFit is too intense for me because of my age?”

I thought the same thing when I first saw people doing CrossFit! Actually I thought they were all insane!!! All that running, jumping, lifting and pushing looked like way too much for me. Then I found that everything could be scaled down to a level where I could reap the benefits of the activity without killing myself. The workouts were still intense, but manageable. I’ve now grown to love the intensity. Being a part of something where everyone works as hard as they can and gives everything they have is an inspiring thing. I feel very lucky to have that inspiration available on a daily basis.

What particular benefits do you think CrossFit has for women?

Huge benefits! Doing Olympic lifts is one of the most empowering things I’ve ever done. I love the feeling of putting heavy weight over my head; it’s a very cool thing. Additionally, when you are in the middle of a WOD there is no room for anything in your head except what’s going on in the moment. Women tend to live very fragmented lives and have very busy brains so it’s a great thing when you only have one thing to think about! I have also discovered that the feeling of accomplishment you get after a tough WOD carries over into other aspects of your life. Once you’ve put 100 pounds over your head or climbed a 15 foot rope or completed Eva you know there’s nothing you can’t do!!!

What message do you have for other middle aged ladies out there?

That midlife can be the best and worst of times. You’ve come to a place in your life when you know yourself pretty well; the question is what to do with that knowledge. It’s why I’ve launched my company, Boundless Possibilities; so I can empower midlife women to cultivate a purpose-driven life inspired by holistic nutrition and fitness. My role as a holistic health counselor is to facilitate the process of understanding the knowledge you have about yourself and then turning that knowledge into action. Midlife can be a time of great contentment and fulfillment but that doesn’t happen without understanding yourself, valuing yourself and being prepared to make changes. If you can do that, midlife is a pretty awesome place to be!

What message do you have for young women, just starting out in self-discovery?

That the journey is so worth it! Learning to silence the voices in order to find your authentic self pays off big dividends. If you can figure out what your authentic self is you have a core that life in all it’s exigencies can’t shake. You’ll make better decisions because your decisions will be aligned with your values, not on what you think other people will think. It’s exhausting to always be seeking someone else’s approval and the approbation of others. Loving yourself means that the opinions of others are meaningless and that’s a very freeing thing indeed.

Anything else you want to share?

There’s a great book that helped me get started on my journey called The Four Agreements: a Toltec Wisdom Book, by don Miguel Ruiz. This book “reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering.” It really helped me understand how I came to be the person I am and how to define the person I want to be. If nothing else, read the first chapter called Domestication and the Dream of the Planet … I promise it will change your life.

Thank you Cindy for being a part of Radical Hateloss!  You are an inspiration to me and to women in general.  Keep doing the work you are doing...not only will you continue to change yourself, you WILL change the world!  So glad you are now a part of my world.


This is a MUST read!
Welcome to the Sacred Land of "It's-Ville"

This is the best "What is CrossFit?" Video I have seen so far!

It’s never about the food. How we eat is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. If I feel like crap about myself I am probably going to eat crap food. If I love and value myself
I will be less likely to eat what I know is unhealthy.
-Cindy Handler

Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive--the risk to be alive and express what we really are. Just being ourself is the biggest fear of humans.
-Don Miguel Ruiz from The Four Agreements

Powerful Woman's Motto:
Live your life in sunch a way,
that when your feet hit the floor in the morning,
Satan shudders and says,


On Saturday I participated in the Lumberjack 20 WOD, at CrossFit KoP.  The WOD was a joint effort by CrossFit KoP and CrossFit Tribe, in honor of the four members of CrossFit Lumberjack that died in the Fort Hood Shooting.  I was proud to be participating but very nervous about the 7- 400 meter runs involved (in between sets of 20 of other exersizes).  It was only a few weeeks ago thatI  was able to get through 1- 400 meter run with out walking for the first time in my LIFE.   I am proud to say, Thanks to my WONDERFUL husband, who in the rain and cold, was  jogging by my side each and every meter (even though he wasn't doing the WOD), I jogged most of the 2,800 meters, and did not stop to walk at all on the first and last runs!   On the last run, the athlete with the quickest time (tied with Steve!) for the Men's RX, joined me for support as the true spirit of CrossFit!

After the WOD, I got a chance to talk to some of CrossFit Tribe's members about Steve's Club.    Steve's Club was started by the owner of CrossFit Tribe, Steve Liberati.  Steve's Club takes kids off the streets of Camdem, and gives them the CrossFit training for free.   What Steve is giving to these kids is more than someting physical, like Cindy so eloquently said, "It ‘s not just a workout, it’s empowerment, strength, focus and community."  I spoke with the first Steve's Club member, about the impact on his life and I was truly impressed.  Every adult that takes the time to help a young person find their sence of purpose, should be celebrated. 

CrossFit KoP & CrossFit KoP after the Lumberjack 20 WOD. 
That's me on the end (Cindy is in there too!)


Aimee Lyons said...

Awesome Q&A...from two very inspirational ladies! Keep up the hard work!

donkey said...

i love this entry...and i completely agree, cindy with what you said about how a WOD literally crowds out everything else you have in your head. i am the queen of multitasking. right now i have two computers in front of me, one with 8 tabs up and the other with my work email and no fewer than five spreadsheets and 2 powerpoint presentations. and i'm also working with two cell phones at all time. i am NEVER unplugged--except when i'm in the box. and then the ONLY think i can think of is what's in front of me---the next set, the next rep, the next breath. it's liberating and frankly, important.

thanks for a great're both awesome.

Unknown said...

Great stuff!

and your before and after pics are beyond inspiring....great job and great meeting you this past weekend. Hopefully we'll to hang out again.

See ya around,


Anonymous said...

@ Donkey- When i learned how to meditate, I was taught to focus on the begginning, middle and end of each brearth. This process brought you more centered and present. In the WOD you can clearly feel the begginning middle and end as well. I think crossfit can be a practice, like meditation for the present moment. Becuase in life all things have a beginning, middle and end. Its all our preception that causes all the suffering. If we stay in the moment, like we are forced to in a WOD...the process becomes effortless.

@ Aimee & Steve...thanks! :-)

Erin said...

Great stuff, Steph! And incredible effort on the day... Will be following!

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TPEndurance1 said...

Steph- Sweet write up, you are a great reporter. It's amazing to hear such passionate goals and listen to not just Cindy talk about them, but you yourself divulge and liberate these ideas into realities. Stay the course- as you're only on a path to discover more and more as the months turn.

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