Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Check your pockets...

This is going to be a quick post, but I'm going to write it from atop my soap box. **ahem** Can everybody hear me down there? Okay, good...

Despite the fact that I've been living the Paleo lifestyle for just under a year now, I still get all the questions of why, and the accusations of being on a diet. First of all, I'm proud of my hard work and find it insulting to be told I am on a diet. Child please! Second, why wouldn't I live a lifestyle that makes me feel great, perform better, and improve my blood work?

I suppose better than answering their questions, I could pose the same question to them: Why do you eat the way you do?

Why do you eat processed foods high in sodium and preservatives?

Why do you eat genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?

Why do you drink liquid filled with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and calories?

Why do you poison your body on a regular basis and inch closer towards modern, degenerative diseases which have been linked to your diet, such as obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, and even cancer?

Seriously, HFCS is the primary sweetener in a high percentage of processed foods in the United States, and multiple studies in 2009 determined that more than half of the samples of commercial HFCS contained mercury. You wouldn't willingly crack open an old mercury thermometer and chug it down would you? A mercury thermometer typically contains about .5 grams of mercury. The average American consumes about 12 teaspoons of HFCS. How much mercury, I wonder, is consumed over the course of a lifetime unknowingly?

Rather than trying to defend myself any longer, I am going to start turning this question around on the unsuspecting accuser. Perhaps some forced mindfulness would do these people some good.

**climbs down off soapbox**

Phew. Now that I got that out of the way, enjoy this YouTube video which epitomizes my home life. ;)



On second thought, now that I've come down from the upper atmosphere and had a good laugh, I think the better response is to be humble. And certainly not argumentative.

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. - Proverbs 29:11

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sweet Potato Linguine with Sage and Mushroom Chicken

Okay folks, here it is. The moment you've all been waiting for...


...it's recipe time!

Over the weekend I was experimenting with some new flavors. I have been trying to eat less red meat and more chicken and seafood to keep my triglycerides under control (I've determined red meat, egg yolks, and stress are the culprit of my higher-than-I-would-like triglycerides). But when you're accustomed to eating bacon every day, chicken is boring. There. I said it.

Live chickens would be much more fun, but I still haven't gotten hubby on board with letting me have a chicken coop in the backyard. Not sure how the neighbors or the HOA would feel about that either... but I digress...

I promise it tastes better than it looks.

Sweet Potato Linguine Topped with Grilled Chicken Smothered in Sage and Mushroom Sauce
(A working title)
Serves 4, or 2 with leftovers for lunch
Ingredients:
1 large Sweet Potato (or 2 medium), cleaned and peeled
4 tbsp organic Butter or Coconut Oil (1 tbsp separated)
1/2 cup chopped Onion
8-10 Mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 tsp chopped Parsley
2/3 cups Coconut Milk
2/3 cups Water
4 tbsp chopped Sage (1 tbsp separated)
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 and 1/2 pounds of Chicken Breast, thinly sliced (should be 4 cutlets or more)
Iodized Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. If you have a mandolin, I'm jealous, this recipe will take you less time than it took me. Slice the sweet potato thinly with the mandolin and slice those slices into 1/4 inch strips, much like linguine noodles. (I don't have a mandolin, so I sliced it into 1/2 inch strips and then used a potato peeler to slice it thinly like noodles.) Set aside.
  2. Melt 3 tbsp of butter in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute one minute before adding mushrooms and parsley. Saute until mushrooms brown (about 5 to 10 minutes).
  3. When your mushrooms are brown, add the coconut milk and water to the sauce pan. Bring the sauce to a boil and let it reduce (about 10 minutes). If you're in a hurry or the sauce isn't thickening, try stirring in 2 tsp of arrowroot powder, 1 tsp at a time.
  4. Meanwhile, add olive oil to a grill pan over medium heat. Add the chicken cutlets and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 3 minutes per side, depending on thickness.
  5. Melt the remaining 1 tbsp of butter in a large saute pan over medium-low heat. As it melts, add 1 tbsp of sage. Add sweet potato to the pan, tossing to coat with butter.
  6. Stir 2 to 3 minutes or until tender and warmed through, then prepare to plate.
  7. When the mushroom sauce has reduced to the desired thickness (should stick to a wooden spoon), add the remaining 3 tbsp of sage and blend it into the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. When the chicken is cooked through, place on top of the sweet potato linguine and smother with the sage and mushroom sauce. Viola!
So this recipe jumps around a bit. There's a lot going on at once, so I tried to place it in a timeline that would lead to a successful meal. Take care not to overcook the sauce as it will separate if you leave it on the heat for too long. And sorry about the photos. I'm not an artist or a photographer, and it was all I could do not to eat it. You're lucky you get to see what it looks like at all! ;)

Enjoy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Girls Rule and Boys Drool!

Today was a magical day. I woke up to find the weather predictor live background of my phone snowing. I thought for sure I was still dreaming. But no. Snow was falling when I began my trek to work this morning.

I wish I would have snagged a picture of it, because now it looks like this:

Blehhhh.
A rainy Monday afternoon meant no outdoor activities for the Running Club. Four coaches and 20 some odd kids took over the school gymnasium for stretching, push-ups, crunches, and burpees! By choice, mind you. One of the young boys led the warm-up. I knew then he was a child after my own heart.

My future baby.
After the warm-up exercises, we moved onto some core exercises to include high knees and planks. The kids did NOT. Like. Planks. There was so much moaning and groaning I thought I was in a pregnancy ward. After our abs were burning, we decided to attack the thighs.

The kids lined up on the wall for wall sits. Yup. These little nine to eleven-year-old children do wall sits. They are that awesome. But here's the best part...

The only way to get the kids to focus on a single exercise for an extended period of time is to make it a competition. The schoolyard classic: Boys vs. girls.

Last Monday, the girls beat the boys in a relay when the girls overcame a major deficit in the second half of the race. The boys were in this one to win it.

I lined up on the wall alongside the kids to join the girls' team. That young boy, the one from above with the burpees, is to my left. He turns and looks up at me, and with the most eager eyes says to me, "But you can't be on the girls team. You like working out too much and you're too good at it!"

I think all the ice outside melted when he said it. I gave him a big smile and told him, "that just means you're going to have to work harder to win it for the boys!"

Flash forward 45 seconds. One of the coaches starts counting down the last 15 seconds of the wall sit. Students were dropping left and right. There were just a handful of us left against the wall. My legs were shaking. He turns to me again, "your legs are shaking." Thank you, Captain Obvious!

I just smiled and told him I was not going to give up.

5...4...3...2...1... time!

Everyone stands up. Everyone, that is, except for the boy to my left. Everyone else steps away from the wall and he jumps up victoriously, "I WIN! BOYS WIN" He was the last one in a wall sit. Well played, my boy. Well played.

I am not certain who is getting more out of these Monday afternoons with the Running Club, the kids or me. I am in love with them. I am glad I decided to sacrifice an evening at the gym to volunteer for this great group. I am only sad I waited so late in the season to join them.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Is this the real life?

Holy cow! It's been nearly two months since I've made a blog post. That really shouldn't be allowed.

February, being the short month that it was, flew by. Then March came in like a lion.

Here are the highlights:

  • Began attending Academic Lectures for the Instructor Training Program (more on that here)
  • Registered for the CrossFit Games Open.
  • Celebrated Valentine's Day with Bacon-Covered Roses from my hubby
Which required a purchase from US Wellness Meats
  • Entertained a weekend with the in-laws and managed to stay WLC compliant
  • Dominated the CrossFit Games Open WOD 13.1 with a new PR
  • Experimented with new recipes...
How to poach the perfect egg
  • Started volunteering at a local elementary school's running club
  • Signed up to mentor an at-risk youth at a local high school
  • Dominated the CrossFit Games Open WOD 13.2

As of this posting, I'm currently sitting at 2240th place in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Not impressive, you say? Then go away. This blog isn't for you. I'm here to learn about personal growth and inspire others.

13.2 was a 10 minute AMRAP of five shoulder to overhead at 75 pounds, followed by 10 deadlifts at the same weight, and 15 box jumps on a 20-inch box.

For the elite athletes, this is considered a moderately light weight. Going in, I knew I would have to move the loads as quickly as possible. My strategy was two-fold: 1) don't rest in the overhead position (sounds obvious, I know, but I have a tendency to lock out overhead and rest there) 2) don't let go of the bar between the shoulder to overhead and the deadlifts. 

I went in with a goal of seven complete rounds. Had it not been for the two times I tripped on the box jumps, I might have had it! I was two box jumps shy of my goal. I'm super proud of my performance though. I gave it my all and left everything I had in the gym.

So far, I have successfully predicted more than 50% of the workout for each Open WOD. I had predicted burpees for 13.1 (burpees and snatch ladder) and deadlifts and box jumps for 13.2 (described above). For 13.3, I'm predicting rowing and wall balls or thrusters. We'll see if I can continue my prediction streak when the WOD is announced Wednesday.

In the meantime, I think I will be sharing some more recipes very soon. I made one this weekend of which I was particularly proud... grilled chicken smothered in mushroom and sage gravy over a bed of sweet potato linguine. Sound delicious? It was. Check back later this week for the recipe and photo.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Fish Fry

A Fish Fry is a meal which typically consists of a battered or breaded fish, french fries, coleslaw, hush puppies and dessert. Seeing as how I haven't tried any paleo hush puppy recipes yet (although now I'm determined to find one), my Sunday Fish Fry consisted of only the fish and fries with a side of sugar snap peas! Aw, snap!


The Fried Fish recipe is fairly similar to my fried chicken recipe, but with a few tweaks.

Fried Fish
Serves 4
Ingredients:
1 pound cold water, wild caught fish (In this instance, I used Flounder)
1.5 cups of Blanched Almond Flour
2 tbsp Ground Lemon Pepper
2 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Parsley Flakes
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Iodized Sea Salt
1 Egg
Coconut Oil for frying
  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk the egg in a separate bowl.
  3. Melt coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan).
  4. Dip the fish fillet in the egg, coating the fish.
  5. Lay the fish in the dry ingredients and toss to coat, flipping to ensure both sides are coated.
  6. Place the fish in the frying pan. Cook on each side about 4 minutes until brown and the fish is cooked through.
  7. Remove from the pan and serve hot!
Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 4
Ingredients:
4 Sweet Potatoes, sliced in 1/4 inch thick strips
Pork Fat for coating
2 tbsp Cinnamon
4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
4 tsp Ground Pepper
2 tsp Iodized Sea Salt

  1. Toss potato strips in melted pork fat, just enough to coat.
  2. Sprinkle spices on potatoes and continue to toss to coat.
  3. Use pork fat to grease foil on a baking sheet.
  4. Spread the potatoes evenly on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees, keeping an eye on them to retrieve them at the desired crispiness.
As far as the sugar snap peas, I just boil those for about 5 minutes. Voila! You've got yourself a paleo-friendly fish fry!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Holisticly Speaking...

A lot more goes into maintaining a healthy lifestyle than working out regularly and eating your fruits and veggies, although that certainly helps.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women. The Mayo Clinic presents five reasonably practical and predictable measures to prevent heart disease:
  1. Don't smoke or use tobacco. (check)
  2. Exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week. (check)
  3. Eat a heart-healthy diet. (check)
  4. Maintain a healthy weight. (check)
  5. Get regular health screenings. (check)
I prefer to take a more holistic approach to the issue.

More progressive resources recommend reducing or managing stress to prevent heart disease. Gaiam lists managing stress levels as one of the top ten ways to prevent heart disease for both men and women, recommending meditation, breathing exercises and yoga as methods to achieve less stress.

Here's a few of my favorite ways to reduce stress:

  • First and foremost, identify your sources of stress and eliminate them. If there is a person in your life who is poisonous and causes you nothing but trouble, cut them out. If your job causes undue stress, talk to your boss openly about the subject; let them know they are expecting too much of you or that you need to change your hours to better fit your activities outside of work. If worse comes to worse, change careers. A lifetime full of stress at a job you dislike will only shorten the time you spend doing things you enjoy. Finally, reduce visual clutter. Clutter can cause unnecessary stress. Live simply.
  • Get enough rest. Aim for eight hours of sleep a night. I know this isn't easy. I rarely get that much sleep myself. But try to make it a priority. Make it a goal to be in bed an hour before you need to be to get your eight hours. Read until you start to fall asleep. Talk to your companions (husband or fury ones) about your day. If you aim to be in bed well before it's time, you'll almost certainly achieve that goal.
  • Spend time with your furry loved ones. Speaking of furry companions, they are great stress reducers on their own. Try being sad when a ball of fluff cuddles up in your lap on the couch or greets you at the front door after a long, hard day at the office. Pets also make great listeners and they don't judge you, so go ahead and vent about the woman at work who thinks Zumba is the equivalent of an intense workout and thinks diet Coke is part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Be social and have fun. There's a certain truth to the old saying, "laughter is the best medicine." Laughter reduces stress. Having fun and being social with friends and family allows you to forget about the factors that cause stress. Live. Laugh. Love. A LOT.
  • Seek out alternative wellness options that focus on you. Taking time for yourself is important for achieving total health and wellness. Spending an hour a month on a massage table or with a reflexologist is a great way to focus on your qi. Detoxing your body, muscles and mind can do wonders to lift your mood and allow you to forget about stress.
I have always enjoyed a good massage and have talked to the hubster about making them regular occurrences. Thus far, massages have only happened regularly on my birthday or special occasions, including our honeymoon.

This weekend, however, I had my first ever reflexology appointment with essential oils. It was ah-maze-ing. As I laid on the table and rest my eyes, I could feel my entire being tingling. I felt radiant when I left, from my head to my peppermint and lavender-scented feet.

Some benefits of the practice of reflexology include enhanced sleep quality, greater energy, improved concentration,  and **ding ding ding** reduced stress!

Living a healthy lifestyle may require work, but you cannot forget about the end goal: a healthy, happy you. Remember to take time out for yourself and reduce stress.

You're too blessed to be stressed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I've Seen Better Days

Very rarely do I ever leave the gym NOT smiling, laughing, teasing, looking forward to returning the next day, skipping holding hands and singing while birds fly out of my butt...

Unfortunately, today was one of those days...

You know, that day that you leave feeling like you didn't give it everything you've got? Where you feel like if you tried just a bit harder you might have achieved the goal you were aiming for?

No? Haven't ever felt that way? Good for you, you over achiever. Pat yourself on the back and sleep easy tonight knowing you have mastered the universe.

For the rest of us average Josephines, these things happen.

I'm pretty sure even Disney princesses have bad days... or they would, if they were real.
The important thing that I've learned is not to beat yourself up over it. Throw a Tinkerbell-tantrum, get it out of your system, and get back to work.

As a flawed people, we aren't judged by our failures, but by how we react to them.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Revealing our weaknesses teaches us to be humble, not prideful. It is an important part of our spiritual growth. Don't dwell on your weakness or your failure. Learn from it. Be humbled. And grow.

Today's WOD:
Push Press 3 rep max
3-3-3-3-3

Result:
65-75-85-95x1-90x2

Monday, January 14, 2013

Very Big Things

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.
Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking.
Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Everything else is secondary.”  - Steve Jobs

This weekend was a weekend of firsts. My first CrossFit competition. The gym's first year anniversary party. And my first step on a new journey.

CrossFit Lakas participated in the Garage Games' World Wide WOD - Gym Resolution -- a one day national event held in gyms world wide. Thousands of athletes all competing in the same three WODs. And wouldn't you know, CrossFit Lakas was holding down the event's Facebook page for a few hours, with two of our athletes holding down the fourth and fifth spot overall before the west coast started reporting results. Not half bad for a tiny garage gym!


The three WODs were Helena, Karena and Grace. There were three divisions: Rx'd (Prescribed), Scaled and Beginner. I competed in the Scaled division.

Helena
2 Rounds for Time: 21 KBS @ 1 pood; 12 pull-ups; 200 jump-ropes (singles)
Result: 5:12

Karena
5 min time cap:
60 situp buy-in
Wall Balls until the time runs out
Result: 67 @16lbs = 1072 pts

Grace
30 Clean and Jerks @ 65lbs for time
Result: 3:58 (23 sec PR)

I was proud of my performance, but look forward to destroying those scores next year and moving up the Leaderboard. One of my favorite things about CrossFit, besides the community aspect, is seeing measurable improvements, not only in myself but in others too.

Following the World Wide WOD, CrossFit Lakas had its one year anniversary party to celebrate the conclusion of its first year as an affiliate and the beginning of what the owners called "AMRAP forever."


With the cutting of the cake came more big announcements for the gym. Starting this spring, the gym is beginning its Instructor Training Program (ITP). The ITP will promote and train athletes from within to become the future coaches of the box. It will be a 12-15 month intensive program to prepare the trainees for their level 1 CrossFit certifications, but also prepare them for the level of training that is expected from a CrossFit Lakas Coach.

When I received the call for entries for the ITP, I didn't hesitate to submit my letter of intent. I would liken it to a moth to a flame. My hubby wrote three paragraphs for his letter of intent, while I wrote three pages. I was more anxious waiting to hear if I was accepted than I was to hear about my college applications.

So there they are, getting ready to cut the cake, and the owners announce their first class of inductees for the ITP, and wouldn't you know, the hubster and I have been accepted!

**Happy Dance**

And thus begins the newest chapter in our lives. Neither one of us is quitting our day job and there's no guarantee that we'll survive become coaches at the box, but I'm so excited to pursue something that excites me. Something I can look forward to every day. Something that I feel so passionately about. I am taking a step towards effecting positive change in others.

This is the first time in a long time I've taken a chance and followed my heart. I've had hair-brained ideas before about quitting my job and pursuing a baking career, about taking on printing and design as a side project, and even about running a full marathon. All of those ideas I was mildly-passionate about, but never took the steps to get there.

This is the first step in a new journey that I hope will be a continuing one. I'm following my heart and intuition. I've set my goal and I'm asking the Lord to show me the steps to get there. I've prayed to be able to do something to make a positive impact on the world, and I'm feeling positive about the path He has put me on and the CrossFit family he has surrounded me with. I am surrounded by strong and good people. I thank God every day for every one of them.

I'm looking forward to sharing this new journey with you.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Call Me the Wok Genius!

It can be difficult to prepare meals during the week. I get that. Working full time, going to the gym daily, and trying to eat cleanly is something you have to be dedicated to and make time for (yes, make time for; I'm sure you can find it somewhere), but it doesn't have to be a chore.

What follows is a recipe that I have modified to make an easy meal that can be quickly whipped together during the week (with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen) with enough leftovers to take to lunch the next day: cabbage "lo mein" prepared two ways.

Shrimp Lo Mein
Cabbage "Lo Mein" - 2 Ways
Ingredients:
4 Tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1 Tbsp Minced Ginger
2 lbs Chicken, Cubed (Or Shrimp)
2 Cups Broccoli (Or Sugar Snap Peas)
1/4 Cup Celery, Chopped
1/2 Cup Mushrooms, Sliced
2 Cups Shredded Cabbage
1/3 Cup Green Onion, Chopped
1/4 Cup Coconut Aminos

Variations:
Chicken Lo Mein
This recipe has been adapted from 
Make it Paleo.
If you haven't been doing Paleo for long, you probably haven't heard of the coconut aminos. This is a healthy alternative to soy sauce. If you aren't strictly paleo, feel free to use a gluten free variation.

One way to make this meal easier is to buy the pre-shredded, bagged cabbage rather than chop cabbage yourself. I bought an organic, family size bag of the "coleslaw" mix from the grocery store. Half a bag worked perfectly, and had enough leftover to make the second variation later in the week.

Also, I have swapped out the chicken for shrimp and found it to be very enjoyable. No need to change the process.

And lastly, I am not the biggest fan of broccoli. I much preferred my variation with sugar snap peas to the broccoli. Yeck. If given my choice, I'd cover broccoli in Easy Cheese and eat it that way. Since that's no longer a viable option in my diet, broccoli is a rarity here.


  1. Heat wok or skillet over high heat.
  2. Add sesame oil, ginger and garlic to the wok and saute for 1 minute to infuse the oil with flavor.
  3. Add the protein (chicken or shrimp) to the wok and stir frequently until mostly cooked.
  4. Add in the greens (broccoli or sugar snap peas), celery, and mushrooms; saute for 2 minutes.
  5. Add in cabbage and green onion.
  6. Pour coconut aminos over the lo mein.
  7. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes for the cabbage to soften.
  8. Remove from heat and serve hot!
And now you have a delicious, HEALTHY comfort meal that is perfectly Paleo! Share with your family and brag to your friends. This dish is a winner.