Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Week in Food Photos

So I am obsessed with food. No surprise there.

It nourishes the body. It comforts you when you feel low. It gives you the fuel you need to get through a long run or a tough workout.

Food. Is. Awesome.

As such, I figured I would show you a little of what I have been eating this week, the second week of the Paleo challenge, with a few recipes sprinkled in.

Please remember, I am not a photographer. But I hope these photos make your mouth water anyway.

I started my week with these beauties: Dairy Free Almond Flour Pancakes (with blueberries)

Photo Credit to The Urban Poser

These pancakes freeze and reheat later in the week marvelously, so prepare generous portions!

Sunday evening's dinner left me with leftovers to reheat for lunch. Hubby prepared the stuffed peppers from the book Paleo Comfort Foods.

Photo Credit to Paleo Comfort Foods

I also sampled a crust-less quiche from the same book.

Feel free to get creative with the vegetables you include.

Cut into 12 servings and serve or freeze.

It, too, freezes and reheats nicely throughout the week. Pair it with a few strips of Sunday Bacon or some sliced ham.

While I was preparing the quiche, I had some scallops sizzling in a pan and I steamed some green beans, topped with Paprika, garlic powder and a touch of sea salt.

Those of you who know me well, know that scallops are a staple in my diet. It just so happens that Giant has the best wild caught sea scallops to sustain my Paleo lifestyle.

And finally, the grand finale...

Gulf Shrimp grilled in Coconut Oil.

Served over a bed of greens and tomatoes.

Topped with avocado and squeezed lime juice.

I am considering changing my blog name to "An Ode to the Avocado." I visited a friend in San Diego a few years ago and caused a scene over the fact that every restaurant we went to ruined my favorite dishes by adding Avocado to them.

Seriously, if you wanted a BLT, you had to request a BLTA without the A.

Obviously, my taste buds have become much more sophisticated evolved since then.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Run for Trophies!

Every year since we moved down to our little corner of the earth, Hubby and I have run the Leatherneck 5K to benefit the Semper Fi Fund to support injured Marines. If you have the time to click that link, you will learn that the Semper Fi Fund is an amazing foundation and you will see why we run each year.

This year, I made it a goal to set a new personal record on the course. I also privately set the goal of placing in this race; Not necessarily this year, but at some point in my lifetime. Going into this weekend, I had no idea, and even doubted, that this year I would achieve both goals.

The Leatherneck 5K is a smaller race; nothing compared to the tens of thousands of people I ran with at the Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon series back in March. The draw for the race is the cause and the beautiful scenery.

The 3.1 mile course begins at one of the finest Naval golf courses in the nation and wraps down and back along the Chesapeake Bay. Many of the runners are active duty or retired military, which makes the run humbling to say the least.

My time last year was a solid 30:32. Not too shabby, considering this was well before I decided to train for a half-marathon. This was back when I considered myself a graduate of the Couch to 5K Running Plan.

Since then, I have obviously added to my mileage significantly, having trained for and run a half-marathon and other races. Following the half in March, I began training for the Sole of the City 10K, which unfortunately we were unable to race due to a death in the family.

During this time, Hubby and I also joined a CrossFit gym. Between running and training at the gym, my body was going through the most intense physical training it has seen since climbing out of the womb. Furreals.

As I grew to love CrossFit, I began to focus less on my running training. I was still getting my interval sessions in on Wednesdays, but the rest of my planned training nights were dominated by CrossFit. Eventually, I fell off the running wagon all together. Our gym recently began a Paleo Challenge where you are rewarded extra points for extra workouts. Seemed like a no-brainer! Ditch the treadmill for some heavy weight-lifting aerobics.

It wasn't until Friday night before the race did I begin to doubt my ability. It had been a couple weeks since my last run greater than 1 mile. Was I even capable of completing the race without stopping at this point? (Yeah, seriously. I asked myself that.)

We arrived at the course Saturday morning to the most beautiful day a runner could ask for. Sun shining as it climbed into the sky. A cool breeze coming off the bay. It was perfect. Hubby and I did a lap around the parking lot to get warmed up after collecting our race numbers and souvenir t-shirts. We chatted with a friend from the gym, then took our places at the starting line.

The officials counted us down and we were off. I mean really off. Hubby and I shot across the start at a pace of 7:30. Slowly, I started trying to pull us back. It wasn't until about a half mile in that we settled at a comfortable 8:45 pace.

I cannot say how proud of the hubster I am for keeping pace with me as long as he did. It wasn't until a quarter mile after the second mile marker that he had to pull back his pace.

On my final mile, I was starting to struggle a bit. But my CrossFit training has taught me not to stop until it's done.

On the turn, I was the 10th female in line. Yes, I counted.

On my final stretch, I passed one of those women, making me the ninth female finisher overall. I was trying desperately to catch any other female runner, hoping it would be enough to get a taste of running glory. Unfortunately, the only other people I passed on my way to the finish line were men. That's right. I was passing men on the final stretch. Grown, military-trained men. I can live with that.

My final tenth of a mile was an all out sprint. I must have looked like a gazelle coming across the finish line because a lot of people started cheering really loudly when I began my sprint.

If only I looked this majestic.

I wish I could say it was a beautiful moment when I crossed the finish line, but I was handed a Popsicle stick and told to go stand in line to record my time as I was choking back vomit. It happens.

Thankfully, I was able to hold my composure and grab a water bottle on the way to the judge's table. No Gatorade for this cavegirl. 

We hung around for a while to hear the results at the awards ceremony. I was sizing myself up against the other runners who placed before me guessing at who was in my age group, shaking with anticipation while I waited. When they called the third place runner's time in my division, I was thrilled! I was a full 3 minutes faster than the person who placed third in the women's 19-29 year old division.

My time of 26 minutes and 53 seconds won me this little beauty right here. My first running trophy! And I couldn't be more proud.

Who cares that there were only about 300 people who ran the race... =)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Slow Cooker Wednesday is Back!

So for a while, when I was planning our weekly meals, Wednesday became known as "Slow Cooker Wednesday" in our house. Since living a Paleo lifestyle is kind of a full time job and takes oober amounts of food prep (at least for me anyhow), I decided to bring Slow Cooker Wednesday back, Paleo style!

Holy delicious pork loin!

I don't have a picture because, well, I ate it already. My plate anyway. (The food that was on it, not the plate itself) And it's not amazingly attractive in the slow cooker itself.

So, just, I don't know... use your imagination!

I found the original recipe here. Sounds yummy, right?

Too bad I really, really, really, was not in the mood for more tomato based foods.

The meatballs we had earlier this week were delicious, but I did not want that acidity three days in a row. P.S. Those meatballs have some heat to them! Hubby made them earlier this week and I questioned his ability to follow the recipe, but apparently it really called for all that spice. Yowza! Super yummy though.

Back to that pork loin...

I adapted that recipe a little bit to make something a little milder for our mid-week meal.

Here's what I came up with...

Kelly's Paleo Crock Pot Pork Loin
Pork Loin (obviously)((less obviously, I used about 1.75 pounds and it fed Hubby and I and we have plenty for leftovers)
1 large zucchini, sliced
4 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cups of Chicken Stock
Dried basil, garlic, pepper and salt to taste

And here is what I love about slow cooker Wednesday...

1. Throw all ingredients in the crock pot. Set that bad boy to high for 7 hours, and sit back and enjoy the magic. 

I served this meal, errr, rather hubby served this meal because I was at the gym this afternoon, with a side of green beans. I'm already looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Make sure you put some of those zucchini and celery on your plate as well! If you don't, you're missing out!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Kickin' It Old School

Monday starts the new challenge of kickin' it old school. 2 million years-ish old school to be more exact descriptive.

I'm talking about the 30 day Paleo Challenge that just began at my CrossFit gym.

"What is paleo," you might be wondering. The word Paleo is short for Paleolithic, as in the paleolithic era.Think cavemen.

The Paleo diet is more than just a fad diet (it has to be, it's been around for more than 2 million years). It's a way of living.

Man, as he has evolved today, has survived for millions of years (I know, I know, I'm repeating myself, but seriously if it's been around this long it can't be bad) on a diet of food items that can be hunted or gathered. Basically, if you can kill it, pick it off a tree or pick it up out of the ground, you can eat it.

The video below does a pretty good job of describing what foods are Paleo friendly.

Another part of the Paleo diet is exercise. Cavemen didn't run 26.2 miles a day to get their exercise (unless being chased by a predator). More likely, they got their exercise in short spurts by hunting their foods, climbing through perilous terrain, lifting rocks, etc. I am not recommending you go out to a local rock quarry and start throwing rocks and granite slabs around. I like to think we have evolved a little over the last two million years...

CrossFit is perfect for the Paleo lifestyle because exercise is based on high intensity, functional movements. In short, you get a bad@$$ workout in a short period of time.

The 30 Day Paleo Challenge is based on a point system. Meals, exercise and sleeping habits all have an impact on the outcome of the challenge. Additionally, there are three baseline workouts that are performed to compare your level of fitness before and after the challenge.

Max Deadlift: 163 lbs (Current)
Mile Run: Completing on Wednesday
Helen: 15:01;.75 pood Kettlebell, #4 & #1 Band on the Pull-ups

To prepare for the challenge, I've purchased two cookbooks (Paleo Comfort Foods and The Paleo Solution); a boat load of raw nuts; grass-fed, organic beef, pork and chicken; cage free eggs (which I already ate, anyway); and a bunch of organic fruit. It actually wasn't as difficult as I thought it was going to be!

Then today on my way home from the gym, I stopped by the Good Earth Natural Foods Company and grabbed some more organic, farm fresh vegetables that I couldn't find at BJ's or Giant. How awesome is that? I get to eat healthy and support the local farmers. I love it!

I cannot wait to share some of my favorite recipes with you and my progress and how amazing I feel on this new part of my healthy journey.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Your Body is Your Temple

It takes a lot of energy and hard work to follow a healthy diet and exercise routine. Aside from making decisions that impact your daily routine, sometimes your diet affects those around you.

Sometimes it means offering up a new healthy dinner item that a family member or friend had never previously tasted and rocking their world at the possibilities of healthier food. Or sometimes it means putting off spending time with the puppy to put in more time at the gym. Or it can even mean asking your family to change their choice of restaurant for dinner so you have healthier options.

It is not hard to imagine that spending all this time and energy on yourself can make you feel a little selfish, and even a burden on others, but it is important to remember why you expend these efforts.

My reason? Aside from wanting to be healthy and stick around to love on my hubby for a long, long time and produce beautiful babies to love and care for...

"Do you not know that you are a temple of God 
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"
- 1 Corinthians 3:16

If you cannot find the motivation or dedication to workout and be healthy for yourself or your family, do it for God and the holy Spirit that dwells within you. Just sayin'.
Now isn't that just a divine reason?

In the book of Romans 12:1, Paul encourages us to think of our bodies as a "living sacrifice," that is "holy and pleasing to God." When God asked His believers to sacrifice a goat, did they offer up the weakest goat in their flock? I think not.

All too often, the question is asked, "How do you stay motivated?" The best answer is to make it a priority. Make it a priority to take care of yourself and to put God first, and your actions will follow.

Now that I've shared my motivation, share with me what motivates you?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

TOS - Thoracic Outlet Syndrome or The Only Snag?

When I was about 14 years old, I was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), a condition wherein excessive pressure is placed on a bundle of nerves that pass into the arm from the neck causing pain and weakness in the arm.

I was a fast pitch softball pitcher and first noticed symptoms of TOS after pitching at an all day tournament. My arm swelled to the point that I could not bend my wrist, and although it's my favorite color, it turned a very unpleasant shade of purple.

My parents took me to a specialist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, but little was known about TOS or its treatment at the time. They simply told me to remedy the situation by quitting sports. I played softball for another year after that, relinquishing the position of pitcher and taking on second base so I wouldn't have as much strain on my arm, but eventually I gave up softball all together.

Three years ago, my younger sister found she had the same problem while playing softball in high school. Unfortunately, having seen that I had to give up softball, she didn't vocalize that she was having pain, and ended up in the hospital with blood clots.

Knowing more about TOS now than they did over ten years ago, and taking into account the severity of her situation, the doctors recommended surgery to remove the top rib on both her left and right sides to reduce the obstruction of blood flow. She spent quite some time in the hospital first to eliminate the blood clots, then for her surgery. She was restricted from certain activities after her surgery, softball included. She has since recovered; she has two less bones and is all the more cheerful for it. For every ounce of bone she lost, she gained an ounce of sunshine and inspiration.

When my sister was diagnosed, I went back to Hopkins and had a sonogram of my right shoulder to revisit my own TOS. They found I still had restricted blood flow, but not to the extent of my sister's prior to her surgery. The doctor recommended Physical Therapy and wrote me a script.

I did physical therapy for about three months to build up my upper body strength and regain some range of motion in my arm. I am always playing it safe cautious in my workouts so as not to agitate the problem.

I have not had any pain or difficulty with it since my physical therapy... until today.

I was so excited for today's WOD (Shoulder Press, Push Press, Press Jerk),  I didn't even begin to consider whether or not my shoulder was capable. The thought never even crossed my mind until my trainer pointed out that my left arm was carrying most of the weight and I was not locking my right arm.

The little Kelly I used to be would have made excuses and would have quit right then and there. I would have cited pain in my shoulder and headed for the car. Somewhere along the way, whether watching my sister go through surgery for the same condition that plagued me, whether through pushing myself to run further than I ever thought possible, pushing myself passed all reasonable exhaustion in CrossFit, or if it was just a natural progression, I can't say, but somewhere I grew up.

I put on my big girl panties and I got mad. I got mad at my shoulder for having held me back from pursuing my favorite sport in college. I got mad at the doctors for not knowing how to help me sooner. I got mad at myself for not pushing to do more sooner. And I pushed. And better still, I failed.

That's right, I failed. And I'm proud of it.

I maxed out at 58 pounds on the press, 78 pounds on the push press, and 88 pounds on the push jerk. I failed at 63 pounds on the press,  88 pounds on the push press, and 93 pounds on the push jerk.

So why am I so proud that I failed? Because it means I tried.

I cannot know what my limits are without pushing them. Sometimes that means I have to fail. But I cannot tell you how good it felt to throw down that 93 pound bar knowing that I had given it all I have got. After all these years of being too afraid to push myself, I have finally accepted myself for who I am and have become comfortable with where I am, and comfortable with pushing myself further. And I'm going to keep at it.

This is the sexy face my husband gets to come home to everyday.
Isn't he a lucky guy?