My 1st Post on CrossFit

CrossFit taught me that I can do anything.

I dig the gym enough and it helped me to lose a good chunk of that post-baby weight, but now that I’ve had a taste of the magic formula that is CrossFit, I don’t think I could ever go back. In fact, Santa hooked me up with the essentials for Christmas so I can work at home when I can’t make it into the Box (aka, CrossFit gym). Let’s put it this way: Would you rather drag yourself into a crowded building with rows of machines in front of televisions where you’ll barely look into another person’s eyes …OR… would you rather circle-up with a dozen other athletes in a brightened warehouse ready to rock a serious workout, cheer each other on, while practicing form and strength? I AGREE!

Disclaimer: the first description did sound good as I read this back, I can tend to keep to myself or become anxious in group settings, but trust me, the later is so much better. Exhilarating. 

The Box is a place filled with positivity. Camaraderie. Support. The Coaches at CrossFit717 probably just rolled their eyes thinking of all the bitching and complaining they hear, but that’s part of the fun! (no seriously, quit complaining – just do it.) We’re excited to be there, or we wouldn’t be. We know we’re going to push through whatever fears or walls we meet, give our all, and we’re going to do it together. There’s no half-assing it when you’re one of many committed to accomplishing a similar goal. I’m not only my own worst critic, I’m my only critic at the Box. Everyone else believes in me. And that’s not surprising, since I believe in them.

October 2011

There’s something to be said when your able to fill your schedule with positivity throughout all avenues of support. It’s so easy and often you hear of other’s negative impacts. They seem to be everywhere for some people. CrossFit has become another constant for me. A section of my day, 3 times a week, that is filled with something intense, empowering and satisfying. Each and every visit.

Now that I’m over the initial shock: the fear of every WOD because I didn’t understand the agents or finding a reason not to make it in just because wall balls were on that morning’s menu; the workouts don’t make me nervous. I’ve learned there are two definites: I will finish and I will be proud of myself. How can you beat that? It’s a thrill to have such an uplifting start to my day.

Don’t get me wrong. CrossFit is a lot of other things too, like an excuse to wear your Vibrams and yell from the gut or swing a sledge-hammer. And no one cares what you do outside the box because inside it we’re all the same: sweaty and stronger than we were a year ago.

 

 


Sundays are Cookdays

I love Sundays!

First thing this morning, I emptied a large package of chicken legs into the crock pot, poured a smaller bottle of Franks Hot Sauce over, turned on high and then made a cup of coffee. While I made the girls breakfast, emptied the dishwasher, caught up on world events, social media and then took a shower, I planned my attack for the day. We hit the grocery store and wah-lah! 5 hours later, the chicken was off the bone and ready to separate. From the drumsticks (which are a super cheap meat option) I will make Buffalo Chicken, as well as a not-so-paleo BUT as-okay-as-I-can-make-it Buffalo Chicken Dip for my husband’s football watching enjoyment (Go Niners?).

Buffalo Chicken Dip

After removing the bones and sifting through for skin, I made 2 containers of chicken. The first, I added a bit more hot sauce to and after cooling, put into the fridge. I will use this to top salads and celery as needed for meal or snack options. I love a spicy chicken salad!

The other dish is reserved for the dip. Instead of following the recipes I’ve seen involving LOADS of cheese and dressing, I decided to see how little I could get away with, as I typically steer clear of dairy but love this dip. In a small pot on the stove top (low heat), I put a quarter block of cream cheese and a small handful of crumbled blue cheese, whisking occasionally. When melted, I let the mixture sit till the oil collected on the surface then poured off into the sink. I added the mixture to the shredded chicken, along with a load of hot sauce and stirred. I had my husband taste test to make sure the consistency was satisfactory for his non-Paleo palate because the lack of cheese was OKAY by me! It was perfect. Enjoy with cut celery.

While I sorted the chicken, I made a dozen Hardboiled Eggs to be used for salads, snacks and, if I find the time today, deviled eggs! (I didn’t find the time before cookday burnout set in and two little girls needed more direct attention.)

Next up: APPLE SAUCE! We love applesauce. I like to dip my meat in it (you read me!) pork, chicken, jerky, WHATEVER. Core, slice, dice and add to the crock pot on low with about a half cup of water for 3lbs of apples, then sprinkled cinnamon on top. I am loosely following a recipe for Homemade Applesauce that has recommendations on the types of apples to use for sauce. Our market had bags of Granny Smith and so it was decided. I stirred every 10-15 minutes until soft enough to throw in the blender, about an hour and a half today.

Homemade Apple Sauce

In the meantime, I dumped a pound of ground beef into a bowl, followed by salt, black pepper, pressed garlic, diced onions and celery along with a snip of countertop chives for good measure. Mixed, smooshed and mashed into Sliders for my husband, and (even mini’er) Mini Sliders for my girls. I packaged them in twos and threw them in the freezer. I have sliders scheduled for dinner on Wednesday. Incidentally, ground beef is another cheap, and filling, meat option.

Now for the luxury item, Almond Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon. This is an amazing hors d’oeuvre, side or snack and one that I haven’t made since 2003, until recently. Let’s just say, the last time I attempted these delicious little buggers the fire department showed up. I apparently gained some sort of culinary sense over the last 8 year, though, since there were no flames when I made them last week, or today. Just keep an eye on them at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon looks done, flipping once. Use pitted dates and stuff as many almonds as you can in them, typically 1 or 2 depending on the size of the date.

Almond Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon

 

Somewhere along the way, I also put together a few Chicken Kabobs. I used tenders (another cheap option) and sewed them on the skewers (remember to soak in water for fire prevention, see, I’m learning) surrounding them with onions and green peppers. I salt and peppered them, added some Wildtree garlic seasoning and wrapped them up for dinner this week. The remaining tenders were tossed in a freezer storage bag with some herbs and spices and thrown in the freezer for another easy option.

My week’s dinners look like this:

  • Sunday – Buffalo Chicken Dip & Celery, Almond Stuffed Dates/Bacon (what, it’s Football season!)
  • Monday – Steaks and salads (already marinating in the fridge)
  • Tuesday – Chicken Kabobs and baked sweet potatoes
  • Wednesday – Sliders with sweet potato fries and salad, or just salad, we’ll see what I’m feeling
  • Thursday – Pork loin and steamed veggies
  • Friday – Leftovers!
  • Saturday – Chicken Salads

What’s on your menu?

 

 


My Farm(s) – Buy Local

Last night, as the pork loin had just reached perfection and salads were almost complete, I realized it was 5:58pm! I turned off the oven, grabbed my keys, shouted “I have a farm pickup!” and ran out of the house to the car. I pulled up to another house, about 10 blocks from my own, where Brooks Miller was well bundled in front of a truck filled with coolers containing packages of pasture-raised meats and eggs as well as raw, grass-fed dairy products and more. Beside him stood a man I wasn’t familiar with yet, but am presuming was Emanuel Smucker.

North Mountain Pastures is spread across 84 acres in Perry County, Pennsylvania

Brooks and Emanuel, along with their wives, are local farmers. Their families’ own and operate North Mountain Pastures and Sunset Valley Farm respectively. Specializing in complimentary products, they recently teamed up by offering the North Mountain Pastures Buyer’s Club new items like raw, pastured milk, cheese, yogurt and honey as well as a super delicious grade b syrup (seriously, I had my first taste this morning). I’ve participated in both the Meat CSA and the Buyer’s Club with North Mountain and can’t emphasize enough how humble, generous and inspiring the Miller’s have been during our brief interactions or email exchanges.

We first participated with a medium ‘everything’ share which includes cuts of beef, poultry, lamb and pork. The packaging was by portion and sometimes offered a new challenge by introducing us to a cut of meat that I would not have otherwise chosen. Cooking was fun and interesting and the Millers offered recipes in their newsletter and on their website to help with culinary inspiration. Our family, however, is not a huge fan of the pastured pork. Next time we join the CSA, we’ll elect a pork free share instead. The medium-sized meat share fed our family of two adults and two small children almost an entire month.

More recently, I’ve chosen the Buyer’s Club option with North Mountain Pastures, which allows anyone to purchase as little or as much from their store as they’d like. I enjoy the ground beef, roasts, ribs, whole chickens and parts the most. The lamb has always been delicious, but more of a treat and less of a monthly staple. Their once monthly deliveries to Harrisburg and Camp Hill always include eggs for us, as well.

Sunset Valley Farm is operated by Emanuel and Barbie Smucker

Of their newest offerings through Sunset Valley, I was most excited to see pastured butter and grade b syrup, which I have a hard time finding in the average grocery market. Another exciting purchase was local, raw honey. I first learned of the benefits of local honey from the Fredricksen Library’s Bee Local Festival last September. The immune boosting qualities of local honey alone had me hooked before I even found a source. I typically use honey as a sweetener in place of refined sugar, but may start adding a bit to tea for more frequent exposure. Sunset Valley Farm products are also available in the same building as Nino’s Bistro and Italian Market at 18th and Market Streets in Camp Hill, PA every saturday from 9am-2pm.

As I look forward to our next meal, provided by local farm(s) I also look forward to the expansion of North Mountain Pastures’ facilities. Check out their video in the link below (since I can’t figure out how to embed it, yes I pasted to HTML) for more information about their background, the work they do and their plans that will impact our community. You could help.

 

North Mountain Pastures’ proposed expansion project – CHECK OUT THE VIDEO!


Why I am Committed…

I have collected a few mental health diagnoses over the years including, but not limited to: chronic depression, generalized anxiety, and bipolar disorder, all of which have overlapping symptoms and similar effects on my daily life. This is not a woe-is-me post. I have been successfully managing a business for ten years, building a marriage for 6 and co-raising 2 healthy children for 5, while out doing myself on extracurricular projects and events. All the while, there have always been periods of severe lowness, sadness, extreme anxiety and I’ve never done well in unfamiliar situations. In fact, I run and hide as often as possible. On the other hand, I have often found it hard to stay calm, focused and even-keeled regardless of the setting. I have been unable to control myself from going from one extreme to the other for nearly half my life. It has been exhausting, frustrating and embarrassing.

In retrospect, I ate the standard American diet for nearly 30 years. I have never been obese and only experienced weight issues after having children. I was never a particularly sick person, enjoying the standard twice yearly cold or flu, occasional then frequent headaches (which we all battle, right?) and paid minimal attention as family members discussed things like Diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis and the like. I battled my own problems in silence mostly, terrified of walking through the door to my own office most days. After researching Paleo eating and reading how a cleaner diet can soothe and/or prevent symptoms of modern disease, like those I mentioned above, PLUS the fact that it would probably help me lose the stubborn leftover baby-weight, it seemed too good to be true, but I was up for the challenge.

In my 1st month of eating Paleo, I broke out like a teenager coming into their own. In a similar fashion, my mental health seemed to go haywire about 3 months into eating clean. I was all over the place and sought the help of my therapist and medications for a short time. After recovering from this severe low and hyper-manic episode, I began to hypothesize on why this would have happened when I was living so healthy. My theory being continued detox: different parts of your system and body are refueling and repairing themselves at different lengths and so I continued on my Paleo journey, excited to see improvement – scratch that – stability in my mental health, if my hypothesis was correct and my body continued to heal itself.

Which brings me to yesterday. I read an article posted by Julianne Taylor, a Paleo nutritionist, that pulled it all together for me: Depression V. Inflammation – Chicken or Egg, which basically relates the symptoms of depression to inflammation in the body. Inflammation is caused by what you eat and how your body digests it as well as environmental factors and stress. I had never heard inflammation and depression specifically related to one another, but of course it makes sense! Inflammation causes a stir in the body and creates many of the standard ill-ness in today’s society, much of which my family is suffering from.

A similar culprit of modern disease is a leaky gut. Many people are unaware of their own gut health since we have a medication for every ailment, as well as many symptoms being silent predators, like in my case. I’ve seen over a dozen different therapists and doctors related to my mental health and no one has ever mentioned my diet, gut or referenced hereditary inflammatory disease. The gut (including the esophagus, stomach and intestines) is considered a single digestive organ with its own nervous system that functions separately from the brain. The gut has more neurons then the entire spinal cord and the brain receives more information from the gut then it provides. Did your head just explode?

I’d like to take it a step further and play chicken or egg with Inflammation V. Leaky Gut because I’ve now read articles stating you can have inflammation before the other. I’m inclined to think a porous gut is there before you can tell that it’s ‘leaking’ therefore causing inflammation, however I’ve read inflammation can cause a gut to leak toxins into the body. If any of my scientifically savvy friends would like to chime in on this train of thought through comments, I would be happy to learn more.

Do you have inflammation in your body or a leaky gut? Well, here are a list of symptoms: susceptibility to viral infections, acid reflux, acne, mood instability, arthritis, bronchitis, diabetes, chronic pain, high blood pressure, urinary tract infections; chronic fatigue, depression, asthma, allergies, headaches/migraines, joint pain, IBS, Fibromyalgia, arthritis, just to name a few of each.

To bring it full circle, both of these disorders are caused by digestive health. What is making our digestive tracts sick? You guessed it, OUR DIET, more specifically: A diet high in refined sugar and flour, processed foods, and chemical food additives. You can read the many articles I’ve linked for all the science and information you can handle, in the meantime, I will continue to eat Paleo plants and protein as often as possible and continue to cure my gut, which takes time, lots and lots of time, considering I have 30 years of damage to undo.


What Did You Eat Today?

As a 30 day Better Body Challenge gets underway at Crossfit717, I thought it would be a good idea to catalogue what I’m eating to help others as they become accustom to a new way of thinking about food. Whether you decided to eat based on Paleo or Zone, you can’t go wrong with the ideas you’ll find below.

Remember, don’t over think Paleo. Prepare food ahead of time so you’re not left starving without a quick snack while you cook dinner. Cook an extra piece of protein with each meal so you’ll have leftovers for breakfast, lunch or snack the next day. Utilize a crock pot on hectic days to make soup, stew or chili that can last all week.

Protein. Plants.

BREAKFAST: Today I enjoyed leftover pancakes that I made for my daughters yesterday. This is a rarity for two reasons, 1, I don’t typically eat breakfast because I’m not hungry in the morning and 2, I don’t actually like pancakes. But Paleo pancakes I can get down with. I warmed them up for 15 seconds and enjoyed their delight with a little butter and coffee. I then tossed back a few pieces of sirloin from last night’s dinner for a boost of energy and protein. And because I love steak.

Hardboiled eggs are great to have on hand for a snack or to add protein to a side or dinner salad.

After our meeting at the Box, I stopped by the grocery to pick up a few items that we eat daily: tub of greens, cucumbers, peppers, fruit for the kids as well as a few items for this week’s food prep: eggplant and yams. I also checked out the meats and picked up a great deal on Nature’s Promise whole chickens, uncured bacon, store brand pork loin and nitrate free lunch meat for my kids and husband.

COOK DAY: Typically Sundays and Thursdays end up being “cook days” in my house to maintain fresh options for quick meals and snacks or sides. Today I have a roasted chicken, hardboiled eggs, mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato chips to go with the roasted eggplant dip I’m prepping, cantaloupe and pineapple. Incidentally, did you know you can grow a pineapple by simply lopping off the top, soaking in water and replanting after it begins to root? In a mere 24-36 months your plant will produce it’s very own pineapple from the middle of its leaves. This also works with celery and chives, both of which I have growing in my playroom and both of which grow at a much more rapid pace than the pineapple. Once I cut the pineapple, I will not hesitate to begin growing my own.

Roast a chicken for snacks, salads or breakfast options, then use the carcass to make your own broth and soup.

LUNCH: I had cole slaw, 2 drumsticks and chicken breast from the roasted chicken.

DINNER: We will be having the pork loin I just bought, mashed sweet potatoes and a large side salad including mixed greens (the greener the more nutritious), cucumbers, onions, carrots, egg.
If this is a helpful idea, I’ll be happy to update this post occasionally with more menu items from our household. It would be fantastic if you shared what you are enjoying today as well. Please post a comment with your day’s menu by clicking the ‘comment’ link at the top of this post. Inspire and motivate others!

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January 16

LUNCH: Tuna on greens with carrot slices, celery and hardboiled eggs. A dribble of raspberry vinaigrette.

DINNER:  Chicken with sautéed onions and peppers. Side salad with cucumbers, carrots, radishes, celery, onions, red peppers. A little too much variety for my taste, but I ate it because I didn’t have to cook it.

January 17

LUNCH: Leftover sirloin with sauerkraut (source of probiotics which seems to keep my skin clear). I actually shelled and ate a hardboiled egg while I heated up my lunch too. Yum.

Not sure what we’ll have for dinner tonight but a girlfriend emailed me that she’s found relief in scheduling 2 days a week with the same meal. She says it’s taken the ‘pressure’ off coming up with new and exciting dinners every night. Whatever works!

(We ended up having meatloaf, roasted onions peppers and celery, and almond stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. YUM!)

January 18

LUNCH: Shrimp and bacon.

DINNER: I hate to say it, but we’re making pork again (hey, it was on sale AND it’s delish) so I may resort to my favorite dish in the whole word: Sweet potatoes and sauerkraut with apple sauce. Delightful. However, I know my family will not entertain this meal again so they will probably have noodles and salad. *sigh* Paleo is MY choice. I can not force another to adhere.

Paleo is a new way of eating and you may find yourself questioning new habits. It’s going to be okay. What did you eat today?


Never Quit

I’ve never had a serious injury, so when I sprained my kneecap and patellar tendon on November 26th, I took it like a death in the family. Mind you, I fall a lot. But this time I couldn’t get up. I needed crutches, I needed rest, I still require a brace with light activity (but it’s getting better). I wasn’t able to work out my frustrations in the gym or catch the high off my adrenaline, all of a sudden it was a sad, slow existence. The exact opposite of my typical day.

Fast forward 3 weeks and I finally got back to the Box for my first ‘workout’ in 21 long, painful days. I couldn’t “do” anything. In fact, Coach Dan was there that morning and I remember him actually laughing when I said “No lower body.” In a world centered around the squat, I understood his chuckle but I had to get back into my fitness routine or I’d lose my mind. The abmat became my bff, I kipped a few pull-ups a day but it rattled my knee too much to do more, strict and push presses wore my arms out – but I was doing something and that made me happy.

Then came week 5. After 2 weeks of putzing around with upper body exercises and limited mobility, I was frustrated and envious of my friends who were reaching goals and setting new ones, as I watched. I once again scaled the day’s WOD (workout of the day) to suit my injury and was ready to GO. Things started off well. 1 armed push-ups were also 1 legged, as I sat my injured leg atop my good leg so my knee didn’t touch the ground. I believe ring rows, sit-ups and possibly kettle cleans were other agents in the workout. I felt good, tired, almost strong when… my injured leg fell and BAM! pain shot through my body. My eyes swelled with tears and I almost let them fall. I was pissed. Then I did something I never expected of myself: I left.

I walked out on my workout, on my team, my friends. I just left. I couldn’t see anything but my own self pity and forgot that I had support. I could have asked for help, or rested while rooting on others. I should have finished, stretched, anything other than walk out.

Like magic, CrossFit 717 reposted a blog from Rogue Fitness the next day that presented the message: NEVER QUIT. Keep going. It was the reminder that I needed. “Break through the wall”. FOCUS. We must remember to think outside ourselves. Who wants to be a quitter? Or a whiner? Not I.

I took a few days to re-gather my gumption while I prioritized my fitness goals based on my current status. Much like my diet, I stopped thinking about what I “can’t” do and focused on what I can do. I realized I wasn’t able to keep up with the other athletes (these chicks are fierce!), I wouldn’t be able to complete every move or hit the goals I was working toward pre-injury. That had to be okay before I could move forward, and all of a sudden it was. The next few workouts were thoughtful. I focused on form, not speed or weight. I checked in with the regulars at my morning workouts and while I paused due to soreness during the WOD, I watched them perform. I was mindful of their technique and how I could tweak my own. I was finally growing as an athlete again.

2011 WOD for a Cure

Today I did a snatch balance of 60lbs. Don’t laugh. That’s huge – FOR ME. If I’m going to break through any walls, they will be MY walls. I can’t compare myself to others and I will not disappoint myself again.


Welcome to Detox

So you’ve decided to eat Paleo, CONGRATS. How are you feeling?  You have now entered the detox phase. Yes friends, you are detoxing from your grain and sugar addictions and it can get rough at times. That’s not a guarantee, however, just a warning. 

I started eating Paleo and I felt like a wild horse. Energy was shooting from my fingertips! My eyes seemed to be open wider, the world seemed brighter and happier. Birds chirped everywhere I went, I swear, until I hit a wall around week 3. I began to feel sluggish, withdrawn and underwhelmed. An over-all ‘ick’ is how I would describe it. I was disappointed to hear this was part of the detoxing period of Paleo. I wasn’t even hungry enough to eat all the delicious food I just bought. The good news is: it doesn’t last forever. The even better news is: it usually passes within a few days.

Eat real food.

Detoxification begins almost immediately, as your liver and other organs finally have a chance to breathe again. They are not actively being bombarded with toxins found in grain, legumes and processed foods. Although we’ve been eating these foods our entire lives, it does not mean our bodies enjoy them. Especially dairy, which is more toxic to some people than others. Of course you’d never know this without first eliminating it from your diet for several weeks then thoughtfully re-introducing it. This is a good way to learn how your body truly handles the milk of another species.

During the dreaded detox period you may experience irritability, increased or loss of appetite (eat when hungry, don’t when not – pig out Paleo), headaches, nausea, dizziness, brain fog or flu-like symptoms. You may even break-out before your skin clears up. I did, it was horrible. Diarrhea (I said it) before your bowels regulate. Sinus pressure before you never get sick again! Okay, that was a bit of a reach, but I haven’t been sick in 12 months.

Everyone is different therefore everyone’s detox period varies from the length of time to the symptoms you experience. Some people don’t experience any symptoms. The day I went Paleo was the last time I had a headache that was unrelated to clenching my teeth during a workout. I was getting headaches twice daily at that point, migraines monthly or more often. 12 months and nothing. AMAZING. This type of change may not happen overnight for everyone. You may need a few weeks or months before major changes are noticed. My Reverend was diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, after 10 months Paleo, he received word that his blood work came back in the normal range. Imagine the well oiled machine you’ll be rolling around in if you keep it up indefinitely. 

Push through and your results will reward you a thousand times over. It’s your choice.

Every choice you make impacts your life.