Archive for Month: August 2016

High Jump Extravaganza

Good morning!

I’ll head to Bergen in a few minutes, but first I’ll tell you about yesterday’s attempt at picking up stones from the past.

As a tradition, I always meet up with some of my retired track mates for a reunion — at the track. This is the one day out of the year where we sacrifice kneecaps, Achilles tendons and all other sports injuries we’ve collected through the years for an extravagant jumping showdown.

This year, Ingrid and I decided to give the high jump a try. I sort of retired as a high jumper all the way back in 2009, when my ankle first started acting up, but I did a couple of jumps every year until four years ago. However, in between that last high jump and yesterday, I’d been an Olympic weightlifter, bodybuilder and a half marathon-runner, so to expect anything more than disaster would be rather… delusional.

Back in the day when I knew how it was supposed to be done.

But it went fine! I was able to hold back enough to save my kneecaps from too much pain, which I’m very proud of. You all know letting me loose on a track is like letting a kid watch the candy store without adult supervision. I don’t know when to stop.

We both cleared 1.40m (4’7.12″) without too much of a struggle, and then we called it a day.

Click on the pic below for video:

With the exception of the lack of height in yesterday’s jump, it looked pretty decent. Here: From 2009.
From the past
I actually used to jump over hurdles higher than 1.40m, heh.. well

The funny thing was that all the technical flaws we had as high jumpers seven years ago were still there. Had it not been for our lack of speed, power and springiness our form looked the exact same. Muscle memory is a cool thing.

So did this make me want to do a comeback?

No. Not at all. But it was a lot of fun catching up with old mates and Mr. High Jump.

Until next time,
Maria

My model friends

Good afternoon!

I want to thank you all for the positive feedback I got on my post about the dark side of fitness. The number of views reached an all-time high that day!

For a while I thought the one about the pervert who tried to sexually assault me would stand as my most-read entry for ever, but I guess not. I’m glad we got that one knocked down to a second place. Thank you!

Anyway, let’s get to the headline.

A little while back I had the pleasure of doing a photo shoot with two of my dear friends, Hanne and Cecilie. Hanne probably looks familiar to some of you, and that’s not strange at all. She was one of the stars of my documentary “More than a Number” last summer. Watch it HERE.

We actually started planning this photo shoot at a training camp in Portugal in 2014, but we’ve put it off until now because, you know, we live on different continents. The level of excitement was, therefore, rather high when it finally worked out.

The weather was pretty terrible, but we managed to squeeze in some shots despite the rain and thunder (and snail invasion on the lawn)

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Hanne Steinstø: Photo: Maria Lavelle 2016
Cecilie Udstuen 2016
Cecilie Udstuen. Photo: Maria Lavelle 2016

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t help but to think that this photo oozes of real model-vibes. That look.

Hanne Steinstø. Photo: Maria Lavelle 2016

Black and white always does the trick.

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Hanne Steinstø. Photo: Maria Lavelle 2016.
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Cecilie Udstuen. Photo: Maria Lavelle 2016
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Hanne Steinstø. Photo: Maria Lavelle 2016

Okay, okay. The photographer stepped in front of the lens for a second, as well.

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Maria Lavelle. Photo: Cecilie Udstuen 2016

I haven’t done much portrait photography in the past, but I’ve observed hundreds of portraits for hundreds of hours while drawing, so maybe it was about time to start shooting some myself.

Drawing 2012

I should write a post about that some other time, because right now I suddenly got an urge to start drawing again. It’s been a while.

Such photogenic creatures…

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Hanne Steinstø and Maria Lavelle. Photo: Cecilie Udstuen 2016

To see my earlier attempts at portrait photography, click HERE

Have a blessed day,
Maria

Instagram: Summer Storm

Why I don’t lift anymore

As a part of the post “This is what happened when I stopped working out” I published a before/after photo, and as a result, I got a lot of how’s and why’s from people. I also received some questions about it in the Q&A. Therefore, I’ll try to explain things a little.

So why did I stop “bodybuilding” when I’d put so much work into it?

Well, I did put in a tremendous amount of work, but I wasn’t happy — at all. I didn’t know where I was going in life, and I felt pretty lost, to honest. My future as a track athlete was going down the drain because of a nasty leg injury, and I thought training was the only thing I was good at.

Being fit and working hard had been my life for as long as I could remember, so going to the gym became my way of dealing with things. But you all know I like to go “all in,” when I start something, so before I knew it, I was on my way to the stage as a fitness athlete. In this case “going all in” meant hitting the gym nine times a week, eating clean and weighing every single meal for a year. I want to clearify that I NEVER used steroids — people tend to assume the weirdest things, so I just want to make sure you don’t get any ideas.

This is what lifting 9 times a week and eating clean does to you.

However, I knew I wanted to move to the US, and at some point I realized that having big muscles and no body fat wouldn’t get me anywhere — it was all emptiness. So I set my eyes on a sports scholarship and gave track one last try. I started lifting less and running/jumping more, and a year later I got recruited to Augustana University’s track team. Then, after another year, I felt it was time to let go of track as well. It was scary leaving behind the one thing I’d always mastered, but where one door closes, God opens another. And I knew it was the right thing to do.

Once I stepped outside the cage I’d built for myself as a fitness-freak, I became more and more confident that God put me on this earth to do other things than to pump iron inside a gym. I was tired of letting workouts, diets, calorie-counting and grams of protein control my life, and I wanted to let God use me for the things that actually mattered.

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2013 / 2016

In the picture to the left, I spent all my time chasing a body I didn’t actually want. I loved working out, but I never truly felt comfortable with myself. The fact that my efforts inside the gym didn’t make a single difference to anyone but myself, also started to bother me. And even if I looked “big,” my body fat percentage was so low it messed up my hormones — something I’ve struggled with until recently.

Fit isn’t necessarily healthy.

I’ve realized I’d rather be a little less ripped and happy, instead of walking around in a superfit body that keeps me from enjoying life.

I know the whole fitness lifestyle can seem alluring, but at what cost?

Please understand that I’m not condemning it altogether, I’m just trying to explain why I let go of it.

Bless you,
Maria Lavelle

This is what happened when I stopped working out

Good afternoon!

About six weeks ago I announced my official vacation from working out. I promised myself to avoid all kinds of exercise for at least a month. The reason: I suddenly realized I’d had less than ten weeks off from training, in the past ten years, and my body had started telling me I’d been pushing too hard for too long.

So how did it go?

I did it! I fought through six weeks of no running, lifting or ab-workouts. Needless to say, I’m very proud of myself.

I had one tiny relapse, where I sprinted 100m out of pure frustration. I felt so crappy, stressed and restless I just had to blow off some steam. (Yup, I’m that weird.)
But other than that, I’ve tried to enjoy the sedentary life of a journalist.

I did indulge in a little jumping at the beach though.

What did you gain from it?

Other than weight, you mean? Just kidding. I had more time to spend with my family and friends. I slept in until past 5:45 a.m. every morning instead of hitting the gym before work, and I could direct all my attention towards work and other projects, which was kinda nice.

Any physical changes?

Well, six weeks is a short time in the big picture, but most of the ache and pain in my feet, ankles and knees improved a little week by week. I lost a little weight, probably muscle mass, and I’ve been asked if I’ve had a boob job — twice. Lol! Must’ve been all the cake I’ve been eating lately, because I’ve certainly not had any work done. But thanks… I guess?

The picture to the left is from 2013 and the one to the right is now. So don’t let yourself be too deceived, ok? 😉

What’s next?

If you quit something, smoking for example, you’re probably supposed to stay away from it for ever. But working out isn’t smoking, so I’ll ease back into a moderate training schedule.

This morning I ran a few minutes on the treadmill, before I did a couple of rotations on the stationary bike.

As I let my eyes drift off the treadmill-screen, I observed some people moaning under bent barbells in the squat rack, and all the other veiny creatures pushing themselves to their physical limit. Their callused hands wiping sweat off their wrinkled training programs, the endorphins rushing through their brain — the exercise addicts.

2013. I used to be one of those people myself.
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Three years ago.

Then, as I slowed down the speed on the treadmill, I thought to myself: Man, I’ve gotten far. I’m not one of them anymore.

Not today anyway.

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