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Lockdown Newsletter – Week 10

This week was mental health awareness week and we held a week of seminars, talks, workshops and relaxation that we hope you’ve found helpful. If you missed any, don’t worry there’s an email in your inbox with links to all the recordings.

We also held our very own hero WOD, Lesley in memory of Leila’s mun who sadly passes away last year. So many of you took part and it meant so much, so thank you!

This week, we’ve got a stunning poem, who wore it best throw back and Leila’s mental health story (warning it’s a bit of a tear jerker) and as always, if you’d like to contribute to the Newsletter…whether it be an article, something you’ve found useful or just want to let us know what you’ve been up to please do get in touch!


Blind auction

On Friday 15th May we ran our Blind Auction evening. Biding was open from the week running up to the event with the opportunity for members, friends and family to dial in and have a walk through of the lots and place any final bids.

It really was a fantastic evening of good laughs, drinks and nibbles and secret bidding. Incredibly every single lot was bid on and won and all winners have been contacted.

Thanks to the evening we raised a huge total of £2,312 which has been added to the crowdfunding page by the winners, increasing that burpee total quite significantly.

A massive thank you from the very bottom of our hearts for everyone who placed a bid, offered their services and continues to support Team Valesco and everything we stand for , in any way they can, in this unprecedented time.

We really do feel so lucky and proud to have such an amazing community.

Nutrition with Viki- Cracking Carbohydrates


On the back of Mental Health Awareness Week and this week’s Lockdown discussion, I wanted to put pen to paper (hypothetically) and discuss carbohydrate, blood sugars and the bridge between the two.

What do we mean by blood sugars?

Blood sugar is the sugar absorbed into our bloodstream from the food and drink we ingest. This is broken down into carbohydrate in its simplest form: blood glucose.

A normal blood glucose level is considered to be between 4 to 7 mmol/l before eating and under 9mmol/l 2 hours after a meal (NHS, 2018).

Our bodies use the hormone insulin to regulate blood sugar, ensuring they stay within these parameters. Hyperglycaemia is when levels of blood sugar are above these levels and most often affects people with diabetes (I, II, gestational). Hypoglycaemia is when levels drop below these parameters and occurs during periods of extreme fasting or in diabetics.
Our body depends on a steady and even blood sugar level between 80mg/dl and 120mg/dl. At this healthy level, our body is free to release and use stored fat, protect lean muscle, eliminate cravings and increase our general energy. Too many calories or carbohydrate can lead to spikes in our blood sugars. Sweet and refined foods are absorbed as instant energy. These are absorbed by the digestive system and cause blood sugars to rise rapidly. The body does not need this quantity of sugar so stores any excess as fat causing your blood sugar levels to plummet. This makes you feel sluggish, tired, irritable, nervous, headachy, and leads to weight gain and more sugar cravings.

So, if you are finding that at 4pm in the afternoon you are reaching for a pick-me-up, reflect on the above and consider adapting your diet to ensure correct blood sugar balance.
In order to achieve a stable blood sugar, try to eat fewer fast carbohydrate releasing foods (cakes, biscuits, white flour, sweets etc) and more foods which release carbohydrate slowly. Examples include whole food form carbohydrate such as wholegrains (spelt, barley, brown rice, bulgur, millet, whole-wheat bread and pasta, oats) and root vegetables: butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots, parsnips etc.

These are often referred to as high and low Glycemic load (GL) foods.

The Glycemic load is a ranking system for carbohydrate-rich food that measures the amount of carbohydrate in a serving of food. When ranked, anything under 10 is considered low-GL as they have little impact on your blood sugar. Between 10-20, they have a moderate impact on blood sugar and anything above 20 is considered a high-GL food that will tend to cause blood sugar spikes. These are generally refined or processed: white bread and pasta, white rice, refined cereals, sugary drinks ice-cream etc.

A bit of history…

In 1981 Dr Thomas Wolever and Dr David Jenkins invented the Glycaemic Index (GI) at the University of Toronto. This index is a measure of how quickly a food containing 25 or 50g of carbohydrate raises blood-glucose levels, indicating how rapidly a carbohydrate is digested and released as glucose into the blood sugar. Although useful, the glycemic index does not take into account the amount of carbohydrate in food. This could be considered more helpful, especially when looking to find the correct balance of macronutrients.

Can a food have a high GI and low GL?

Ok so this is getting confusing so to translate…

Can a food be rapidly be digested releasing glucose quickly into the bloodstream but have a lower measure of carbohydrate…?

The answer is yes and you can check them out here:

Foods ranked high on the GI scale may represent a huge portion of food because the GI is not based on a standard serving size, it just has readily available carbohydrate. The same food can have a low GL because although readily available, there may not actually be much total carbohydrate in a serving of that of food.

A carrot is a good example of high GI (71) low GL (6) as unless you are going to eat a kilo in one sitting or start drinking litres of carrot juice, an average serving will have little impact on your blood glucose level. Thus, a medium carrot cut into crudités with 2 tbsp homemade hummus, makes a great snack.

If this all sounds confusing…which in my opinion it does, I would recommend having an idea what foods are considered low GL as they can help to ensure the correct balance of your blood sugars keeping you feeling happy, energetic and productive. Additionally, if you aim to always have some protein with your carbohydrate e.g. chicken breast and brown rice (meal) or 1 apple sliced with 1 tbsp almond butter (snack), this will reduce blood sugar absorption as protein takes longer to digest.

Next week we will discuss using carbohydrate to fuel for sport.

Feel free to get in touch with any questions about the above or any of my articles. Questions can also be asked in person at the weekly Lockdown Nutrition Programme meeting.

Leila's Mental Health Experiences

Leila & Lesley

As its mental health week, I just wanted to share my experience and challenges with my own mental health. Many of you may think I am tough on the outside (which I kind of am) however I am like a crème egg. Hard (ish) shell but super soft and gooey inside. (And I LOVE crème eggs!!!)

I would like to take you back to the year that changed my life for good/for bad. That made me address my own mental health and emotional demons. 2015 without a doubt was the most mind altering/crazy/distressing/exciting/emotionally tough year I think I may ever have.

I got dropped from the welsh rugby squad after dedicating 8 years of my life to the sport, due to injuries outside of my control. I bought a dilapidated (hell hole) of a house to completely renovate. I opened the greatest thing in my life to date …Valesco CrossFit. I had the worst summer of fatalities (6 drownings in 2 months all boys under 21yrs of age) in my job as a firefighter. And to trump it all my beautiful mum was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 61. This all happened within a 6-month period.

To say the world felt like it was collapsing around my ears is an understatement. I had up until this point lived a carefree albeit slightly fast paced existence. However, I soon felt like the world was about to end when my mum was given 6-18 months to live. With the prospect of total loss of control of all muscles, the inability to speak or swallow and the real possibility of being locked in a fully paralysed body without any way of communicating.

I was mad/sad/angry/bitter/devastated/distraught. Pretty much every emotion you could feel. I reached a low point and I felt so overwhelmed by everything around me. I was no use to myself let alone to my mum. I needed something to help my mind and to learn how to process the emotions I was feeling. I did not want to numb them or make them go away. I just wanted to be able to manage them and to understand why I felt a certain way. To then be able to choose how I wanted to react to this or not react as the case may be. I found a councillor through the Nhs and had 3 months of counselling. It was such a relief to get off my chest exactly how I was feeling, to have someone there to just listen and ask the right questions at the right time. Not changing the situation or saying everything would be ok. Just giving me the space to be and to process what I was going through. Asking for help was the biggest step and the most useful tool in my path to finding a healthier mind.

I started to read more mindful/spiritual books like A road less travelled, lots of Paulo Coelho, ego is the enemy, Celestine prophecy and my all-time favourite A New earth. I wanted to understand my mind, my emotions and how I was feeling.

I chose to be more present in the here and now. To cherish life. To cherish my friends and family more than ever. To try to always look for positives in any given situation (and there are always some no matter how bad the situation may at first appear be).

I chose to make plans to leave my job as a firefighter. A job that I no longer found fulfilling that was once my dream career but that I could no longer give 100% to. Going from a job I used to love to one that I resented was tough. I used to dread the bells going down and being tipped out to yet another fatality or tragic situation. This was playing heavily on my mental health coupled with the prospect of death much closer to home.

More importantly than anything I chose to spend more time with my gorgeous mum. To cherish the small amount of time we had left together. She looked after me so well it was my turn to repay the favour. Small tasks at first like helping her to open a jar to helping her up when she fell, washing and dressing her. Helping to feed her and try to find the words for her when her speech was faltering.

The last 4 ½ years have been the most upsetting/distressing/wonderful and exciting years all rolled into one. Super highs and equal lows.To watch my mum, dwindle away before my eyes and then on the other hand being part of truly the best gym and community I could wish for. Full of wonderful people, full of life, health and positivity.
I would wish my mum back in a heartbeat, but I would not change any of the lessons the last few years have taught me.

Do not underestimate the affect you may have on somebody else. Your experiences shared may offer the light that someone else needs. You can give hope and to strength to others. This Is so true for so many of you that helped me over the last year. Your shared experiences, kind words, hugs, shoulders to cry on for some of you have helped me incredibly.Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making me smile even through the most rubbish days.

Always be kind, you never know what other people are going through.

Make the most of every single day. It can be changed in a heartbeat.

Find your fix. What helps you to feel better. This varies hugely from person to person. For me, it is talking to people, hugs and sharing in experiences. For others this maybe quiet alone time, exercise, walks in the fresh air, reading. Find your go to thing that makes you feel better and never lose sight of this.

Lastly if any of you are reading this and would like to talk about anything I am here, always ready to listen and I give fantastic hugs.

Be kind to yourself and others and do not stress the small stuff. In fact, try not to stress at all. If you are in a stressful situation that can be changed, then change it. If it can be changed then what is the point in stressing about it in the first place?

I will leave you with two of my favourite quotes by two amazing authors:
“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you always wanted. Do it now.” (Paulo Coelho)
“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
(Eckhart Tolle)

Stay Safe and stay kind.

Big big hugs and Valesco love Leila xx

A Murph For Everyone


May 25th, is traditionally when the CrossFit community come together to complete Murph. However, this year will be a bit different. Nat has sent us this great article that is full of different scaling options, depending on what kit you have at home.. so you have no excuses not to give it a go!

Check it out here and let us know if you complete it this week!


To love

We’ve featured Julia’s blog before (check it out here) but this week she published the most beautiful poem and we absoltuley had to share it with you all.  Enjoy….

Sometimes, hope is a struggle to find

It’s hidden in the vines of injustice, war and disunity

We fight to negotiate the shadows cast and to discover the light

Let us stop. Let us breathe.


We wrestle with each other, with ourselves

This is us being fully human

But we must recognise those differences, face those conflicts

And always, invite the stranger to dinner


We must invite them over invisible, but existing thresholds

Actively feeling the ruptures and scars, listening to the pain

In order to prioritise relationships, pursue justice and practice peace

All the while untying the knots of others


We must give love to those who persecute us

Being sensitive in our curiosity and generous in our responses

Let us be somewhere to turn to, bringing down walls

And re-humanising what we find on the other side


We need to move, we need to rise

We need to speak when we can

And do enough of the right things

Because it is there


It is in the music, it is in the laughter

It is in the light, it is in the humanity

And it is in the grace and the compassion

It is there when we think of ourselves less


It is there, in our beings, in our core

In the soles of our feet and the rise and fall of our breath

We are the epicentre, and the ripples are starting

We are the relentless presence and we are the ambassadors of reconciliation


We are stopping. We are breathing. And we are moving forward.



Charlie's Corner - Being kind to yourself, and the power of acceptance (RE-FEATURE)

This was such a great article we wanted to repost and its super relevant today!

Hi everyone, this month is about the life changing power of accepting things beyond your control and being truly kind to yourself rather than hard on yourself. And this does not mean not achieving or facing things, nor does it mean being a push over. In fact far from it.

Some of the strongest and most successful people I know are mega sensitive and they all have their own internal battles, in fact everyone does. It’s part of being human and its OK. We are all beautifully different. When I’m annoyed or frustrated about something or someone that is beyond my control or not my place to fix, I tell myself I need to find acceptance and I ask the universe to help me find acceptance and the understanding that not everything will go the way you think you I want it too, but there is acceptance which makes life a lot easier and happier and also less stressful which is a part of being healthy.

Here’s an example: I recently booked myself onto a course to better myself as a coach and to face my fear, it was quite expensive. I had booked and paid for a hotel for a weekend and flights to. They then changed the dates of the course which they can do as it’s written into the agreement. This was annoying as I had to spend more money on changing flights and my hotel. It was beyond my control, but I can control how I react to it and I decided it was OK. I’m lucky to have my health and a job I love that will pay for these things, and and I want to be kind to myself so I will not be getting angry or stressed about it as i don’t need or want to, and It really won’t help or change anything.

This mindset is also amazing helpful when nursing or rehabing an injury or weakness. You can do this with anything and asking for help from the universe or your understanding or belief of a higher power is incredibly powerful. Try it. The more you do this the easier it gets. And remember, there are some things which with courage you can change or face. The hard bit is knowing the difference and this is where friends can help. Feel free to Dm me and ask me the question if you’re in a dilemma and ill try and help.

Be kind to yourself whenever possible including on your Crossfit journey, as we all have good and bad days and if your in the gym that’s more than enough to give yourself some kindness, if your on a weightloss journey like myself then you must celebrate every little success and don’t sweat it if you Have a bad day or week, as beating yourself up won’t change it. It will just make it harder and also delay you turning it into a positive and moving toward your goals. Practice being kind, it gets easier, and if your trying to achieve something, thats worth kindness. Accept things you can’t change, find courage for things you can and ask for help if not which it is. Remember life is short so be careful not to waste to much of it by being annoyed or angry as its your choice. Stuff will happen and you can control how you deal with it.

Keep smiling, Lots of love Coach C xxx



LOW FAT (if you swap sauce) 

Whole meal including 3 burgers (yeah, I ate the third not photographed), veggies and satay sauce was 600 cals.

500g mince – I used 5% pork
2 large cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 inch ginger – finely chopped
1 red chilli – finely chopped
Zest of 1 lime (save juice for satay)
Handful of coriander – finely chopped
Half red onion – finely chopped
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
Pepper to taste
1 egg yolk

Mix all ingredients together and combine well. Leave for half an hour for flavours to mingle. Divide into 6 portions, shape into to patties and fry / oven cook. I fried mine in a little sesame oil for flavour and finished in the oven.

EASY: Mix ingredients and cook…doesn’t get much easier!

QUICK: 20 mins prep and cooking (1.59 seconds to eat).

 MAKE IN BULK: double or triple quantities and do the same! You could cook and keep in the fridge for lunches or freeze the mix (raw) and you have ready made burgers ready to cook whenever you need them.

 HIGH PROTEIN: low fat mince is a great way to get protein in. You can do lots with it and it absorbs flavours really well.

LOW FAT / FAT REDUCTION: If you swapped pork for turkey, satay sauce for sweet chilli (will add carbs) and didn’t use sesame oil you could take 12-15g fat out of this meal

For peanut lovers… my satay sauce is:
1.5 tbsp dark roast crunchy peanut butter
10g PB powder
Juice of 1 lime
0.5-1 tbsp dark soy sauce*
Almond milk to mix to desired consistency

* traditional recipes use fish sauce but I don’t eat from the sea so dark soy ads depth and that salty kick you get with satay


Until Next Time, Big Love Team Valesco xxx

Save The Date

Save The Date

Save the date- Isolation Style

We’ve got lots more up our sleeves to keep you guys connected and beat the boredom. Some of the things we have coming up are:
-Book Club – Tuesdays @ 5.30pm
-Paint your pet COMPETITION coming soon!
-Lockdown bake-off – Weekly challenges from around the world for the Nutrition programme members
-NEAT UP challenge – W/C 04/05/2020
-The ‘school science’ project challenge
-Specialist classes – Weightlifting technique @ 5.30pm on Wednesdays, Banded Bro sesh @ 12pm on Fridays, HSPU 4 week workshop at 8am Tuesday starting 12/05/2020
-Bi- weekly Quiz with Johno – next one 13/05/2020
-Weekly ‘Ready Steady cook’ with Charlie @ 6.30pm on Thursdays

Who Wore It Best


Catching members in the same kit on Zoom is pretty hard so here’s a throw back to Lauren, Fi and Penny rocking the fake fur! If you find yourself twinning with your house mate, kids, or goldfish don’t forget to send it in to us!


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Valesco goes ONLINE!

Now, more than ever, is the time to move! So we are taking Valesco online to enable our current community and anyone wanting to join us to do just that. In a fun and inclusive environment, we bring you the very best of our training methodologies and community...ONLINE!