I am really excited for today’s feature! I have been following Alexa (@alexa_georgoulis) on Instagram since I was pregnant with my son. I found it inspirational that she was safely doing Crossfit while pregnant, and was excited when I learned she had an impressive running background. I found that many of our thoughts align: no off limit or “bad” foods, don’t eat until you are sick, and look for the vitamins or micronutrients your food has to offer you most of the time. She has an almost two year old who attends many of her workouts, and she is training to qualify for the Crossfit Team Regionals. Her running background is so impressive and I know you will love learning about her training and nutrition as much as I did!
Can you tell us a little bit about your running background. When did you start running and how did you make the jump to ultra marathons?
I started out running track and cross country in high school. In college, I still ran to stay in shape and during my junior year, I decided to run my first marathon. As I was training for that I had met a group to train with and several of them ran ultras. It sounded pretty cool and different so I signed up for my first one, which was a mountain 50k a couple months after I finished my marathon. After complete a few 50k races, I decided I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could run a little further and so I ran a few 50 milers and then I tried to attempt a 100 miler. I ended up dropping at my first attempt due to injury, but then finished my first one a few months later. From there, I qualified and was picked to run the Western States 100 (which is a lottery based 100 and probably as prestigious as the Boston Marathon in the Ultra community). After running one more 100, I then applied and was accepted to run the Badwater Ultramarathon, which is 135 miles from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney in July when temperatures can get into the 120s. It’s ranked as one of the toughest foot races in the world. I ended up doing that race 2x and also ran its sister race, the Brazil 135 (which I think may have actually been harder). In 2014, I was accepted to run Badwater for a third time, however found out that I had the beginnings of another stress fracture in my foot and so had to withdraw myself from the race a couple months prior, which turned out to be a good thing because I got pregnant with my daughter shortly after.
When did you make the crossover from running to Crossfit?
I started Crossfit in 2010 a few months after finishing my first 100 miler and had found out that I was accepted into Western States 100. I really wanted to become a stronger runner and add in some cross training. Once I joined CF, I fell in love immediately. During the years I ran, I would do CF a few times a week to supplement my running, but was very competitive with it. However, during my pregnancy with my daughter was probably when I started to CF a bit more. I had to modify a bit as I got later into my pregnancy, however overall, the movements felt much better for me than running or even walking did. I had planned to start training for more marathons and ultras after I had my daughter, I just ended up being pretty burnt out. In 2013, I ended up having two surgeries in my foot, one to repair about 6 torn tendons and ligaments in my foot and then another to repair a torn plantar fascia and my foot just never felt the same after. Always running through injury had wore me out. On top of that, to train for more ultras would mean so much time away from my daughter, which I didn’t want to do. I had grown to love CF more than running and even though it was kind of a sad realization for me at first, I’m so glad I decided to make the switch over.
I remember you were doing Crossfit while pregnant. Did you receive much criticism for making that choice?
Not really. My mom was definitely the most concerned out of anyone though. Like I mentioned though, CF actually felt better on my body than running or even walking did and I feel like those are “pregnancy safe” exercises in most people’s minds. Even my doctor was fine with my doing CF. I think her only “rule” for me was that I shouldn’t lift anything more than 70 pounds over my head.. but I think she just probably made that number up lol. She was a pretty petite lady and so 70# is probably a lot for her. One of my best friends, who use to be highly competitive in CF and is also an EMT, was also pregnant with her first daughter at the same time and so we would workout a lot together and keep each other in check as well.
What measures did you take to maintain your milk supply while also training with Crossfit?
I make sure that I’m taking in enough calories and also that enough of those calories come from fat. Once I had my daughter I started doing flexible dieting and so keeping track of what I’m eating to make sure I hit my calorie/fat needs so I can keep up with breastfeeding has really helped. When we were exclusively breastfeeding I was taking in as much as 95g of fat per day and now I’m down to about 65-70g. Also, breastfeeding also has a lot to do with supply and demand so just nursing a lot in itself I think has helped a lot. Emelie will be two next month and we are still going at it. I’m trying to actually wean her to at least only night feedings, but she doesn’t really seem to be into cutting back.
Now you are training for the Crossfit Team Regionals this year! Can you tell us a little about what that training looks like?
Well, first we have to qualify for Regionals. The Crossfit Open starts at the end of February and will consist of 1 workout that everyone has to submit a score for for 5 weeks. The top 15 teams (which consists of 3 men and 3 women) in Southern California and top 15 in Northern California will then move on to compete in the California Regionals.
Training usually consists of 5 days a week and normally about 1.5-2 hours a day. Those of us training to try and make team at our gym will still do our gym’s WODs that the regular clases will do, but we will add a couple extra strength, gymnastics still work and/or interval work on top of it. On most days my best friend and I will get to the gym about an hour before the normal class starts so that we can fit in our extra work and then will jump in with the class for the WOD. On Saturdays we also have a L2/competitor class and that will usually consist of some sort of team or partner workout.
What about the nutrition for that? Do you follow a set plan or do you have enough of an understanding of nutrition to fuel without a plan?
I do flexible dieting and so I weigh/measure all my food and track it into My Fitness Pal and I love it. I have done the Paleo thing and its great because it gets people to eat more whole or unprocessed foods, but honestly I feel so much better mentally and physically with flexible dieting. I like that there are no “bad” or “off limit” foods. I’m not gonna lie, I have a huge sweet tooth and if you were to look in my food diary, I probably have at least 2 servings of chocolate chips a day along with probably some cookies or ice cream, but I also eat a lot of fruits, veggies, fish, lean meats, etc… stuff with higher micronutrient values. I’m also really luck that my best friend, Amanda, helps me a lot with the amount of macros I should be eating. She works with Jason Phillips, who is the creator of Mission 6, and she is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to nutrition. I’ve definitely seen a big difference in my performance since she has started helping me.
I know you offer remote training. What kind of training do you offer (running, weight loss, etc)?
All my clients have somewhat different goals. I do have quite a few endurance athletes that I train. I also have some clients who like to do CF, but maybe are working out of a home gym or need some extra supplemental work and then I have clients who just want to be fit and healthy or maybe lose a few pounds. I’m down to help someone no matter what their goal is and it doesn’t matter whether they workout at home or in a gym.
What final words of wisdom can you offer to readers?
Attitude is everything. I think this past year I have become a better athlete because I stopped comparing myself to others and thinking maybe I couldn’t hang with certain people in workouts. I try and go into workouts with more confidence and just give it everything I have for that day. Have a positive attitude and it will take you far.