Coach Lisa Bender Thiel has been in the fitness industry for over twenty years. When she moved to Austin in 2003 she became an avid Sprint and Olympic distance triathlete, and was introduced to CrossFit (and her husband, Jeremy Thiel!) in 2007. She has since earned four trips to the Reebok CrossFit Games.
In the 2018 CrossFit Games Open Lisa competed in the Masters 40-44 Division for the first time. She placed 33rd out of over 19,000 women in the world, earning her a chance to compete in the Masters Online Qualifier. The top 20 women from the Qualifier will advance to the 2018 CrossFit Games. The Masters Online Qualifier events will be released on Thursday, April 19th and Lisa will take them on beginning on Friday, April 20th. Be sure to send her some positive messages! Once we know the workout times we will publish them so you can show your support and come cheer her on!
But first, a little Q&A! Lisa is a wife, mother, coach, business owner and leader. She is a dedicated and passionate woman that has helped hundreds of people transform themselves and their lives through fitness and wellness! Read below to get some insight on her training, food prep, recovery and mindset.
In January you mentioned going to the CrossFit Games while keeping your “normal” training leading up to the Open and Regionals (vs a crazy training schedule). How has that played out? What has your training looked like over the last few months?
So far pretty well! I am excited about my finish in the Open and feel great about the Qualifier. “Normal” training for me is 3-4 days in the gym for about 1 hour – no more than 90 minutes. I follow a program that is similar to the workouts done in CrossFit Central classes with the addition of 1-2 skill or strength pieces.
I love to compete – I love to train – but I love balance and time with my kids and family more. Jeremy and I agreed that this season would be about the intention of my session not the time in the gym.
You are a busy wife, Mom, business owner, and coach AND you’re advancing to the CrossFit Games Regionals how do you prioritize? When it gets difficult, what do you do? How do you find peace or at least just make it work?
I believe if it’s important to you, you make time for it. I learned after having Jacob that I am a better wife, mom, coach, person if I make time to get to the gym without kids! I have an amazing support team in my husband and my mom – and my first priority for scheduling sitters is to keep my training schedule consistent.
It is not only important for me personally but staying fit is a cornerstone of what I do for work. I want to be the example for those I work with.
Our family sets goals and creates vision boards each year – these things make the difficult times worth it. I/we start with the end in mind!
What do you love most about your children being able to witness a fit lifestyle and competing in CrossFit?
They are witnessing and experiencing first hand that it is fun to stay healthy and challenge yourself both physically and mentally. My daughters favorite “game” when we go outside is “workout!”
Someone shared this image with me last week. I believe that my children witness the “blocks below” as they see me train.
I believe it is important that they see me “comfortable with being uncomfortable.” They are exposed to seeing me in positions of uncertainty, discomfort, overcoming fears, as well as a state of joy, play, and fulfillment.
Life is not always easy but it is always worth it. Training can be a metophor for so many things in life and my hope is that they learn discipline, focus, patience, etc from being a part of the process.
I have already seen this play out with our son, Jacob. He sees Jeremy train and participate in the Rogue Trail Runs. At first he kept asking “did Dad win?” and finally he began to understand that winning is not they goal for everything – that the process and being a part of the event is just as important. . The WIN is the process of dedication and commitment, regardless of the outcome.
How does recovery fit into your training?
More is not always better. I have learned to appreciate how much recovery can add to your #gainz.
I find that I recover fully and perform best when I practice the following:
- Limit my training to 3-4 days and listen to how I feel
- Focus on post workout nutrition and supplements specific to recovery
- See my acupuncturist regularly for maintenance and/or injury
- Do at least one “Fire and Ice” session a week
What do you love about this sport?
I have been competing for over 10 years and I am not bored yet! There is always something to improve or new to try.
Let’s talk about food. Do you meal prep? How do you organize your daily intake?
Food……if you know my story, you know that I spent over a decade with Eating Disorders. It has been a journey but now, I eat “clean”, no gluten, very little dairy and follow a system to ensure I am getting the macronutritients I need. I food log ALWAYS to help clear my head and keep me on track for competitions.
If I am nothing else, I am consistent and I have a green drink, multi, omega, and supplement routine that I never miss. This in combination with “The Zone” style of eating has given me a platform to look and feel better at 40 than I did in my 20s!
Nutrition is seriously 80% of how you look, feel, and perform. The following are non-negotiables for our household:
- Full fridge with meats, veggies (almost empty cabinets of packaged foods)
- Never leave the house without food to fuel you for the day
- Easy to grab shakes and snacks
- Water bottle in hand 90% of the time
What is the most important thing someone can do today that will immediately impact their life?
Make a DECISION to change ONE thing. The Slight Edge is real! Little changes will lead to big results when done consistently. Do not go down the rabbit hole of “all the things” – just pick one thing you can commit to changing and DO IT!
Look at your goals and your environment – are they conducive to one another? Is it time to change your environment so that you can meet your goals?
You’ve competed in CrossFit, the Open, Regionals, how has the sport evolved for you over the last decade?
In short – it has exploded both in size of participation and skill/strength of the athletes. Competitions like The Fittest Experience (a local TX comp) is now larger than what the CrossFit Games were 8 years ago. What once was unimaginable for athletes is now common place. I am excited to see how the sport evolves.
When you are pushing through a workout, say at the end when it’s heavy and your fatigued, how do you push through? What goes through your mind at these moments?
It is less about the push at the end or when it gets hard, for me it’s about how I go into the workout – my approach and belief before the workout starts. It will always get heavy, hard, fatigue will set in but what do I believe I can do?
I have learned that body language and the automatic voice in my head are crucial. You may see me nodding my head and saying “yes” when a workout gets tough. For me that changes the state of “hurt” to “go.”
My self talk mantra is “Let’s GO” and the theme song in my head is “Move B#*Tch” – both of these are on repeat in my mind during workouts!
This is your first year competing in the Masters 40-44 division. Clearly, the idea and notion of “age” is evolving dramatically thanks to people like yourself. What are your thoughts on age, longevity and CrossFit?
I think the biggest thing that is shifting is the expectation of what can be done at 40, 50, 60. Be it CrossFit or other activity, there is a vision and belief that age is a factor but not a mandate to slow down. Fear of doing, lifting, pushing is being removed and replaced by anticipation of what is possible with “age.”
Age is a factor however, mindset is an equal if not larger factor from my experience. I am blessed with a healthy body AND I work to keep it that way with nutrition, supplements, and activity/recovery! Maybe it’s my youth 😊 but I believe I will see 100 yrs and then some!
I am competing as an individual but this is a 100% a team effort. I am only the athlete I am today because of the support system I have in my life I am able to perform because of my family and friends who allow me time to train while they play with my kids! Training is social time for me, all of my training partners make me better. I am motivated, inspired, and appreciative of all the CrossFit Central family who sends messages or shows up to cheer. Your belief and support give me energy and drive! Carey is an inspiration in action and mindset – she pulls me to a new level. Jeremy is always 110% supportive and believes in me more than I ever will. #LETSGO
Lisa will begin taking on the Masters Qualifier events on Friday, April 20th. Be sure to send her some positive messages! Once we know the workout times we will publish them so you can show your support and come cheer her on.