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👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Anna Rose Bain, I am a 35-year-old wife, mother of two (5 ½ and 18 months), and professional fine art oil painter. My family and I live in Arvada, CO, about 45 minutes northwest of Denver.
One of the greatest surprises of my adult life has been my relatively new commitment and passion for fitness. I didn’t discover true health until two ½ years ago when I started CrossFit for the first time.
As a child, I grew up in rural Wisconsin where I was homeschooled and did not have the opportunity to participate in sports. I was fairly active but most of my “exercise” involved stacking firewood for heating our home in the winter, or mowing the lawn or raking leaves.
My primary interests were art and classical piano. I spent my college years and 20’s eating whatever I wanted, while fighting chronic hip and back pain that started when I was only 17. I used the unpredictable pain as an excuse to not work out. It was so bad at times that I couldn’t get up out of a chair, or go up or down stairs.
What I didn’t realize through all those years was that most likely the pain was from inflammation caused by my poor diet. I plodded along doing the bare minimum of cardio or light weight training, and on days when the pain flared up, I drowned my sorrows with chocolate ice cream.
After having my daughter in 2014, I spent an entire year with the worst back pain of my life. It became clear that if I wanted to keep up with my daughter as she grew up, I would need a total lifestyle change.
In June of 2017, I started CrossFit, and when I got pregnant with my second child just six months later, I made the commitment to continue with my training all the way through my pregnancy. It was incredibly difficult… pregnancy is already hard on the body and mind, and Crossfit takes a lot of grit. But I have absolutely no regrets about doing it.
As my belly got bigger, my muscles got stronger, and it’s a good thing too! My baby was born 9 lbs. 6 oz., a big boy! At 18 months old now, he is over 25 pounds and a lot of weight for this 5’ 4” momma to lug around.
I am more thankful than ever for my training, which serves as an incredible stress reliever, a mental break from the rigors of painting, and the one time of day I can set aside entirely just for me.
While my primary passion is fine art, I always find ways to include my other interests in my work. I have painted dancers and Crossfit athletes, and I am working on what I consider a lifelong project of depicting “strong women,” those who have risen above their struggles, learned from them, and grown stronger as a result.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
I work my training days and times around my husband’s and kids’ schedules, which means I’m usually hitting the gym first thing in the morning, four to five days per week, and I try not to cherry pick the workouts!
Each training session lasts an hour and consists of standard CrossFit programming, with the basic understanding that most (if not all) of us are not training for the games – but are there to be fit and have fun!
The environment at my gym is always incredibly upbeat and fun. We have a great fitness community, which motivates us to show up on the hardest days. Sometimes we go through intense several-month-long strength cycles, and other times we focus more on conditioning.
Each day has a mix of both, with lots of time at the beginning for a proper warm-up and focus on technique. Training is pointless if you don’t execute proper form!
While I love weightlifting (deadlifts are my favorite!), I try to show up on days when we do movements I know I need improvement on (things like wall balls, rowing, pull-ups… things that are generally hard for short people!).
Sometimes Crossfit makes me feel like a kid again (I always wanted to be a gymnast!), especially when we have rope climbs or handstand pushups in the program.
I have seen my strength and endurance improve dramatically with each new training cycle. But my best results (more energy, stamina, lifting PR’s, better sleep) have occurred when my consistency at the gym is paralleled by consistency in clean eating.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
If I could do CrossFit through nine months of pregnancy, then I can do anything. I remember being in my first trimester and feeling like my lungs had been ripped from my chest. I couldn’t breathe! But I continued to work out even through the worst of it, because ultimately, exercising gave me more energy, not less!
The hard part was having to modify a lot of the movements to work around my growing belly, but the coaches were always helpful and encouraging.
I try to remember that gym time is ME time… when else am I going to get that? I also know that no matter how hard my day is, I’m going to leave at the end of the workout feeling a million times better than I did when I walked in.
There are some days when I’m feeling lazy or unmotivated, but when I look to the right or to the left of me and see how hard everyone else is working, I am motivated to push through. Other times, it’s important to listen to my body and treat that day as a recovery day, but either way, I show up.
The key to success? Walk through that door, and don’t leave until you’ve completed your workout.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today I’m doing better than ever! I just finished a 21-day detox (no sugar of any kind, alcohol, or processed foods) and was able to prove to myself that I can stick to a program without cheating (!).
I lost 3 pounds and 2% body fat, while also gaining some lean muscle! My goal is to continue gaining lean muscle while maintaining my current level of body fat.
In the summer, I would like to do a cut to lose an additional 2%. Mostly I want to continue searching for the perfect “sweet spot” where I know exactly how much training, nutrition, sleep, and recovery I need for maximum energy levels.
I’m a pretty low-energy person to begin with, so energy is like the holy grail of fitness goals for me! This summer I also hope to complete my first Spartan race.
Fitness has taught me a lot about myself and how to listen to my body. I am very driven and sometimes need a reminder to rest and recover, but I’m gradually learning to trust that my body will tell me exactly what I need.
I am absolutely in love with CrossFit, because every day is different, and the coaches at my gym are amazing at giving the perfect advice at just the right time.
I love lifting weights and seeing myself grow stronger. It gives me confidence, not just when I look in the mirror, but in knowing that I can take on any kind of physical activity—hiking, skiing, rock climbing, biking, tennis, you name it.
One of my favorite things to do is take my painting pack—which weighs about 30 pounds—on long hikes into the mountains, so that I can paint on location. I want to try more things, knowing now that I can.
Over the next few years, I’ll be striving to live fully in the moment with my kids while they are still little. These years are so precious and formative, and it’s my job to not lose myself to a fog of sleep deprivation, stress, or negligence.
The more I can take care of myself, the more I’ll be able to take care of and enjoy my family. I’ll be continually checking in with myself to see if I need a break, or a massage, or whatever it takes, to do this. And the training will continue. Consistency is key!
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I’m a mom of two young children, right. So… sleep, rest, recovery? Sometimes those are off the table. But I make a concerted effort to get them, because when I’m rested, I’m a better mom, wife, artist, athlete—a better everything.
Recently I started seeing a naturopath doctor to help with my fatigue, and in addition to acupuncture treatments, he recommended I take a whole foods supplement called “Drenamin” to help treat it.
Amazingly, my energy levels went from something like 25% to over 80% in just a matter of weeks. I also took a four-day solo trip to Death Valley National Park in an effort to completely remove myself from the everyday grind that was starting to affect me in some very negative ways.
I was able to sleep 10-12 hours per night, hike and paint during the day, and not be needed by ANYONE! I think silence and solitude are integral to maintaining overall health, especially if you are a parent or caregiver.
As I am in my mid-30’s, I’m starting to realize that even a small “tweak” can last for weeks or months if I don’t take the proper time to rest the affected muscle or muscle group.
For example, I injured my shoulder doing battle-ropes during a warm-up, and found out that any kind of overhead arm movements where my hands faced forward (kipping pull-ups, overhead squats) made the injury worse. So I backed off from those movements, while continuing to train everything else regularly.
My overhead strength didn’t really suffer; I just needed to listen to my body, keep showing up, and make sure I didn’t push hard if something was hurting.
Also, because of CrossFit training and proper nutrition, my hip and back pain are completely GONE.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I follow a paleo diet with some modifications, allowing myself some full fat, grass-fed dairy, as well as potatoes and rice. I also have a weakness for blue corn tortilla chips with guacamole!
But in general, I’ve found that I just feel better overall when I’m eating a good variety of whole foods carbohydrates in addition to healthy fats and protein. I loosely keep my macros to a ratio of 35% protein (with a goal of 150 grams per day), 40% fat, and 25% carbohydrates and I use the MyFitnessPal app to keep track of things.
I try to limit my sugar intake to 25 grams per day. Of course, I think it’s important and even healthy to allow myself the occasional splurge of ice cream or buttered popcorn, but the more I stick with my diet, the less I want those things. When I say no to sugar and processed foods, it becomes a habit that continually fosters better choices each day.
I should mention that I had a lot of help in finding a nutrition plan that works for me. After my son was born and I was subjected to the five-week postpartum recovery period of being confined to a rocking chair to nurse him 24/7… my diet went out the window.
So I reached out to my gym owner and coach, Jeremy Strawn, about helping me with a long-term nutrition plan that would give me more energy, sustain my workouts while breastfeeding, and keep inflammation at bay.
We met up every two weeks to discuss my progress and make small changes to my macros based on how I was feeling and responding to the program. Even though it was impossible to be “perfect” especially during the holidays, his program allowed for enough flexibility that I was able to live a little (we all need that!) and still see results.
I knew from the start that it wouldn’t be a six-week cleanse or crash diet, especially since any kind of rapid weight loss would be too hard on a body that had already been through a lot. Instead, I was looking for a steady, sustainable life change that would eventually become my new normal.
Jeremy customized my macros in such a way that I would not be depriving myself of necessary calories for breastfeeding my son. I was shocked at how much food I was encouraged to eat, especially on workout days!
It certainly didn’t feel like I was “dieting,” because I was never hungry and the meals rich in protein and fat kept me satisfied all day, without a mid-afternoon crash.
Now I pretty much stick to the plan—although I’m no longer breastfeeding—and limit myself to about 1500 calories a day, plus 200-300 extra on training days.
As soon as I come home from the gym I make up a protein shake, and add some unsweetened sweet potato powder, as well as additional protein with collagen peptides. This helps speed up my recovery and gives me plenty of energy to take on the rest of the day.
I supplement with magnesium, vitamin D, B-12, and Omega-3s.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
I felt truly empowered when, as a brand-new, baby Crossfitter, my coaches referred to me as “one of their athletes.” I had never seen myself this way before, and to give myself that new label was motivating. It also led me to take my training more seriously because…if my coaches were seeing me this way, than why shouldn’t I?
The best advice I’ve received was from the sign on the gym door that said, “Leave your ego at the door.” It’s very easy to let pride creep in when you are starting to make one PR after another… but this leads to carelessness and ignoring your body’s limitations. And of course, no one likes a show-off. Check your ego, for your own safety and for the sake of everyone else.
I’m constantly inspired by the strong men and women I get to work out with every day, who are always getting better times or lifting heavier than I could ever imagine doing. I prefer to be in a room where everyone else is better than me, because I can see what’s possible, and I’m inspired to just keep working towards it.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
I’m not a bodybuilder, a trainer, or a fitness “influencer,” but for the first time in my life, I can say with confidence that I am an ATHLETE.
My advice to other aspiring gym rats like me is to give yourself the label you want NOW. Even if you don’t “feel” strong, or athletic, or lean, or whatever it is you’re going for… tell yourself who/what you want to be, and work each day to GET THERE.
Before you know it, you’ll believe it for yourself, and you’ll feel immense joy and satisfaction in knowing that every day you are working at becoming a better ________ (fill in the blank).
Also, if we want to be healthy, strong, thriving parents or partners, we need to first be taking care of ourselves—and that starts with solid nutrition. I would encourage everyone to find out how they can be changing your diet to optimize their overall health and performance. I’m so glad I did.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
Not at the moment.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
My official website is artworkbyannarose.com, and I’m very active on social media. My personal Instagram account where you can follow my fitness journey, is @annarosebain, and my art account is @annarose_artist.