Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cholesterol is NOT The Bad Guy!

You're officially off the hook if you love your coffee with grass-fed butter, hurrah!

Yes, you read that correctly. Whenever someone says to me, "I'm sure this is bad for me. It's so high in fat and cholesterol" I respond, "cholesterol is NOT the bad guy you know." Here's a short article explaining why...seriously it'll take you 3 minutes to read it!

Click here to read why Cholesterol is GOOD for you!

With fittest intentions,



Saturday, December 15, 2012

We Need Moments and Acts of Kindness

Along with everyone else in the nation, and I'm sure the world, I am horrified to think of the atrocity that occurred yesterday in Newtown, CT. I can hardly find words to even begin this post, I mean, what can I say that would even begin to describe how i feel about how the deaths of an entire Kindergarten class, their schoolmates, teachers and Principal? I guess I don't need to get detailed because I'm sure you, reader, feel just as saddened and horrified as I do.

My brother's girlfriend's birthday party came on the heels of this attack. Kind of a rough night to have a party, but it was for the best. After all, when something makes you keenly aware of the love you have for your friends and family I believe it best to go spend quality time with them. The party went well and it also allowed me some time to observe my 2.5 yr old nephew. While I was watching his sweet little face light up as he took in all the Christmas Lights on the gigantic tree, my heart broke to think of all the cold beds in the Newtown area that night.

Facebook blew up yesterday with updated statuses commenting on the news; prayers, best wishes, expressions of horror and so on. A lot of people were saying, "what is going on with the world? There are so many shootings lately, like in the last few years it seems to have become this gruesome trend!" Sadly they're right. Here's the thing though, if we want to see change in the world, we need to be that change. We can't just sit in our homes and be horrified at the news and then say, "gosh I hope I get home safely from the mall today." To act like victims-in-waiting is NOT a proactive mindset at all! If we want our world to be a friendly more loving place, we need to be friendly and more loving.

We all know about the butterfly effect, or the domino effect. The idea is that one small drop in the pond here will create a ripple which will expand and travel outwards effecting many other things, both foreseen and unforeseen. As the common phrase goes: A butterfly flaps its wings in Tampa and there's a storm in Taiwan. So why wait for a ripple of terror to hit us when we can CHOOSE to drop a boulder of kindness into that pond?

So I am taking action by pledging to do someone a kindness today. Two someones. I will buy a coffee for the next person in line. I will insist that the person behind me at the grocery store with a crying baby go before me even though I only have small basket. I will make an exchange genuine by taking it away from the superficial niceties, away from "how are you?" "Good, how are you?" "Good." Instead I will comment admiringly on his tattoo, or her hair, or earrings, or doesn't matter what as long as that person can feel that they were just recognized as another human being, not simply as a service person. If someone is surprised or shocked, then clearly my act of kindness found a needy home. We can't know what our affect on any one person will be, so dole out the kind acts without judgement. I will not limit my acts to people that look like they'll appreciate or understand.

If every one of us gives a moment of kindness to just two people today, I believe we can take back the affection that we felt for our communities. Going to the mall or store will become a happy opportunity to find someone that needs a moment of kindness instead of being laden with apprehension. Sure it may seem a little awkward at first, but change isn't always easy, but that certainly doesn't mean the change isn't worth having! Aren't you a CrossFitter by the way? Wasn't becoming a CrossFitter difficult? Days of being unable to take the stairs didn't stop you did it? Aren't you a yogi by the way? Wasn't finding the time to practice and learning to breathe into poses difficult? But that didn't stop you from seeing the value in what you were doing and therefore from quitting did it?

This is my pledge. What are you doing today?

With fittest intentions,



Friday, December 7, 2012

Seriously, Could You Laugh Occasionally?

Life is a serious business. Kids, work, house, car, taxes, workouts, food, world can all add up to stress! You may not even realize it but, as adults, we spend more time stressed and less time laughing or smiling. You're running errands or working to beat a deadline and so hours may elapse between the rare giggle or grin. You may not think this is you, but when you read the following you may be surprised.

"The average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day, a 40-year-old, only four." -Published on June 21, 2011 by Dr. Pamela Gerloff in The Possibility Paradigm

THREE HUNDRED vs FOUR!! Ok, so huge difference but why does it necessarily matter? It matters to your health! Some studies have shown that laughter can boost your immune system, lower and/or help regulate blood sugar and help relax people so they can then sleep better. Some doctors don't think the studies are conclusive enough, but I don't think anyone out there is going to say, "DON'T laugh, it'll make you worse." [Well, unless you've recently had some particular surgeries/ailments in which the shaking from laughter can aggravate an incision site or sore area.]

You can read one of the many articles (this one from Mayo Clinic) on this topic HERE.

Here is a fun Laughter Game you can play. (I never win this!)

  • Get two or more people to play.
  • First person says, "Ha" once. The next person says, "Ha" twice, and so on.
  • As long as you say your correct number of "Ha"s, there's no rule about HOW they need to be said. Loud, slow, deep, high, squeaky whatever.
  • Good luck!
  • P.S. Kids will kick your butt at this game, and they will love it!

With fittest intentions,


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Approach (& Move On) with Gratitude!

The annual Holiday season has officially begun! The first holiday we have, as you know was Thanksgiving. We ate heartily and gave thanks to family, friends, and God for all the love, joy, and abundance we have in this life.

Isn't it amusing if you consider that we enter this holiday with so much gratitude and joy, but many will look back on it with remorse? "Oh my gosh I ate so much!" "Oh my gosh, I gained 5 pounds already!" "Why did I eat and drink so much? I feel terrible!"

Never realized that huh?

Read the rest of the post here!


Monday, November 26, 2012

4 Steps to Damage Control

Did your Thanksgiving meal fall along the lines of "Not Exactly Paleo"? Oops. Now what?!

Thankfully, doing damage control when you eat Paleo is SO easy! Typically, a holiday meal weekend is very heavy in the carbohydrate department. The easiest way to get back to feeling like yourself is to regain your Paleo diet as soon as is humanly possible!

  1. Drink water. Wine, coffee, beer, amaretto sours, eggnog etc are not exactly Paleo and aren't exactly hydrating. Drop the liquid carbs and get back to purity.
  2. Increase your fat intake again. If you eat Paleo regularly, you are accustomed to eating higher amounts of fat than of carbohydrates. This pattern was switched during your holiday dinner (most likely); mashed potatoes or yams, alcohol, cookies, pies, and even Paleo baked goods are higher in carbs! This week get back to eating green veggies, quality meats and quality fats. Get back to normal!
  3. Drop the idea that you need to do a carb taper. I've heard this before, the idea that you should gradually get back into strict Paleo. This is a thinly veiled excuse to finish off the cookies. Just go cold turkey and do yourself a favor! Respect your body and your blood sugar, they SO want to return to normal!
  4. Exercise, but don't go crazy. They key word, have you noticed, is "normal"! Get back to normal with your routine this week. If you ate poorly this weekend then your body is likely fighting off a good amount of inflammation. Quiz: Do you think beating the ever loving out of yourself will improve or prolong the body's healing process? (Answer: prolong)
So you treated your tastebuds well this weekend, now give the rest of your body a treat and do what you can to help it heal! With fittest intentions,


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Real Food Gets Its Time In the Spotlight!

This is an exciting time to be living in! Let me give you a quick explanation as to why white bread and confined animal feedlot organizations are commonplace, but won't be for long! (Thanks Paleo-heads!)

The food that first got me thinking about all this was Wonder Bread; good ol' simple, wholesome white bread. Why was white bread "an essential"? Always portrayed in TV shows, always the taste and texture standard to which "healthy" breads were held, where did this come from? Bread is kind of a fascinating food to me. My modern head is saying, why not just eat a handful of seeds? Isn't that pretty similar, so what's the need for the extra work to make it into bread? I believe it was developed 1) for being an easily transportable dense calorie source and 2) for its "specialness", texture and variability. Making bread requires that many many seeds/grains be ground to a very fine texture, bound together in some way and baked. Consider this, you can carry a loose bag of seeds (consider what a pain it would be should you spill) or a portion of bread. If you can afford to have someone combine the seeds into an easy to carry cake, you may as well. The latter being far more convenient. Anyway...

Evolution of Food Technology

The first foods eaten by humans were those readily obtained directly from the earth; hunted meats, gathered plants, still water. Gradually we developed systems to process our foods to the small degree that our technology would allow. Mostly due to environmental pressures and the need to survive, cooking meat and plants then drying meats and storing food evolved in order to last through the barren seasons.

We humans are an innovative bunch that enjoy novelty. We're not so good at leaving well enough, or average, alone. Soon methods to gather and process more difficult foods were invented (ie collecting, soaking, grinding and baking seeds). These methods were only utilized however when the manpower needed could be spared from other more typical daily chores. This "specialty" processing made the resulting food special as well, maybe even unique and rare. Due to the fact that a specialty food needs a high number of resources yet yields a low amount, it is labelled a non-essential, luxury item. These were, and are, most often associated with special events, wealth, power and holidays.

As technology progressed, so did the variety of luxury foods. Methods that created the first specialty foods were also improved upon and in some cases improved so much that the food it created became common. A wonderful example of this are breads. What once required someone (or some many) to purchase and/ or gather grains enough to grind, then mix and knead and let rise and knead again and then bake in an oven carefully tended so that the proper temperature could be maintained has now become a staple in diets the world over regardless of hierarchy or class!

Food and Hierarchical Importance

There is always a way to outdo your neighbors, and food preparation technology continued to improve and increase. The first breads and seed cakes were very dense and labor intensive. When bread as we recognize it became common, it was more of what we would call whole-grain or whole-wheat. At some point someone decided they would make the bread they served much more expensive & difficult to make, so they increased the amount of processing that went into making their bread. Thus refined (white) flour was created and white bread was invented.

I'm going to use a fictional King to illustrate my point of food tech prowess and competition! The King decides to hold a ball. Without a disco ball, DJ, or fog machine, how is he to thrill his guests? With phenomenal offerings at his dinner table the likes of which no one has seen! Cakes taller and sweeter than anyone has seen or tasted and decorated with feathers from far off lands, meats cured for weeks and marinated in heavy amounts of exotic seasonings only the King could afford because he alone owns the ships that brought them and vegetables dressed with more butter and cheese than a typical family can get in a month! Bread that is whiter, lighter and fluffier than anyone has seen before also makes a grand impression! The event would be exciting, the food would be memorable and would have been an event unto itself. The food is a reflection of the King's power and status.

Months later, one of the Dukes in attendance has a large gathering at his castle. In order to show his status and importance, he offers an impressive spread but makes sure to serve bread like that at the King's table. Months later a Count does the same, once the technique for refining flour has become a bit more common, that is. Eventually, someone starts selling refined flour (making it available to anyone) but at a premium (keeping it away from just anyone). Soon however everyone has access to some degree of refined flour. At this point, course-grained bread has become low-class while white breads are preferred as they are perceived to be finer & of higher quality. It does not take long before everyone is only purchasing refined flours and breads at market. Technology is employed to increase the refinement of the white flour until the pinnacle (in my opinion) of this was achieved with Wonder Bread in 1921.

Meats and plants being easily obtained and having been on this menu of ours forever, are not considered to be special on their own. Dressing up the essentials with expensive spices or difficult cooking techniques (can you say turducken?) that require hours of work all help to elevate the perceived status of both our basic food groups and of our selves. After all, no one wants to host a lame dinner party!

Common = Normal = Status Quo = Comfort

We live in an age that can find the answer to any processing question. We can make even difficult-to-make items available to everyone! Using my bread example, this would mean that white bread which was once rare and special is now the norm. Translation: normal people eat white bread. For example, lets imagine for a moment that we didn't have this food technology. Imagine that if a household made less than a combined $85,000/year then you could only afford plain meat and plain vegetables. If you wanted bread then you would have to make it, because a bag of flour is far more cost effective than is buying the pre-made bread. Imagine then coming home from work and finding that someone gifted you a loaf of warm crusty bread to go with your veggie stew! This special treat would elevate your mood, ease some stress and make you feel good. Dare I say, make you feel normal?

These miracles of processing bring specialty foods to anyone. It makes people feel special to eat certain foods and brings them comfort. Being able to have a "special occasion" whenever we also want gives people satisfaction. Don't believe me? Ghirardelli tells us to eat their "special" chocolate as a reward! Buitoni wants me to eat their tortellini and thereby have a romantic date night. These foods are by all definitions common, except that I cannot make them at home by myself very easily. Therefore they are still specialty foods and capable of being a reward or the center point of a special event like a date.

Food Has A Future

Thankfully, we have spent thousands of years inventing and improving on food technology so that now we are at a point of saturation. Of course the technology will continue, but right now meat and vegetables are again rising to the top! Complicated cooking techniques and heavily processed foods are falling by the way side. Now what is setting food apart is the way in which it was raised and harvested! Instead of a feast featuring foods that are extravagant BECAUSE of the processing they went through, fine meals now include steak from pasture-raised stress-free kills and organic heirloom vegetables grown locally. People today want small, handmade, artisanal foods and products because we have been drowned in processed uniformity.

I see this emerging in many fields (books, clothing, crafts, jewelry, business even) but I think the Paleo movement is a huge force in changing what is "normal" in food. As more and more people embrace Paleo, the louder our collective voice will be at the grocer, the restaurant and at the farm. We vote best with our dollars and when faced with a 16oz CAFO steak or an 8oz pasture raised steak, I know I (and thousands like me) would take the latter any day of the week.

Processed just won't do for us anymore, we want technology to support farming healthy animals and foods. C'mon, don't try to tell me we can't make enough food if all the CAFOs were turned into proper pasture land. We have thousands of years of technology and of imagining solutions under our belt. Does that suddenly mean nothing? We have discovered that unnatural feed lots were NOT the answer, but why would we ever think that we cannot do any better than this? What makes anyone think that we cannot go on creating? Creation through technology doesn't mean destroying to make way for a product or a thing, it is simply imagining a solution!

Our technology developed a way to send a man to the moon. I'm just daring to imagine that our cows and pigs can get some decent grass live on! Maybe this is what they mean by, "Eat Paleo, Save The World"!

A dream? I don't think so!

With fittest intentions,


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Spirulina: Update

Last week I started taking spirulina in a glass of apple cider each day. I'm not sure why exactly, but after doing a little research I found it does have some redeemable qualities: mostly in its vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient profile. My intentions of taking it everyday were slightly interrupted by this little matter of Hurricane Sandy. I will now continue taking it, but right now I can't give any testimonials.

Something else I read that you can do with spirulina was making into a face mask...

Yah, I thought it sounded scary too. So I had to try it.

Spirulina Face Mask

  1. Shot glass or small paper cup
  2. 1/2 Tsp spirulina
  3. 1 Tsp Water
Add spirulina to the glass/cup. Add water and mix until blended. Smear on your face, a little goes a long way! Wait 20 minutes (it will dry rather faster than that) and use a warm washcloth to remove gently.

BEWARE! The following image is frightening and may stay with you long after you read this post!

I warned you!

What I discovered was that this stuff IS a great face mask. It tightens up like crazy, so be ready for that. My stunned look in this picture attests to that, I couldn't blink! Afterwards though, your skin is super soft and silky and not with the slightest tinge of green!

I feel badly that I've ruined your eyes with that last picture, so here's a kitten picture to make it up to you :)

With fittest intentions,



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spirulina: Why take it? And HOW to take it!

Every now and then my body comes through with some craving that is so loud and oddball that I just have to listen. I'm not talking Ben& Jerry's cravings, brownie cravings, French fry cravings or anything like that. I mean, I'm driving down the road and feeling kinda dreary when, WHAM "I need fish oil right now, I need O-3 NOW!" Couple weeks ago I was sitting on my couch (apparently sitting helps my brain think) and I thought, "arugula!" So I put every lunch and dinner for several days over a bed of arugula.

I'm not sure of the trigger for this one, but spirulina came over the loud speaker quite clearly the other day. So I went, bought some Hawaiian spirulina and then did my research on what exactly it would do for me. Wrong order of events, but at least I bought the right kind to best avoid having it taste of "swampy fish ass," as one reviewer so eloquently wrote. Whew, dodged that bullet!

I copied the following from the Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica website about the supposed wonders of this stuff:

As one of the most nutritious, concentrated whole food known to humankind, one 3 gram serving of Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica provides:
• 60% protein and an excellent source of Vitamins A, K1, K2, B12 and Iron, Manganese, Chromium*
• Rich source of health giving-phytonutrients such as carotenoids, GLA, SOD, and phycocyanin*
• More nutrition gram per gram than any other Spirulina on the market*
The Nutritional Benefits
• Strengthens the immune system*
• Boosts energy levels*
• Supports cellular health*
• Supports cardiovascular, eye and brain health*

I also read that it "cures" acne. I guess if you have a nutritional deficiency that causes acne, then I can see how this spirulina could help that. I did also read that you can use spirulina as a face mask (make paste with water, leave on 20 minutes, towel off for glowing skin). I haven't tried that yet, haha, but I WILL post those pictures if I do!

The most difficult part for me is taking the stuff. The suggested dosage of 1 tsp (yes, I purchased powder instead of pills, because it was a better deal) feels kind of hefty if you dive right into it in a simple 8oz glass of water. It floats, coats the bubbles and looks like a Halloween gag. Thank goodness mine doesn't taste like swampy fish ass to boot!

HOW to take it

Google it and you'll find studs that just take it straight in water, those that mix it into smoothies, and recipes for date-nut-spirulina snack balls. Well great. I don't want to put that much effort into my spirulina thanks, and I don't drink smoothies. So what's a girl to do? Two words.

Apple. Cider.

8 oz cider (or 4oz cider, 4oz water if you're watching fruit/carb intake),

1 tsp spirulina

Mix, drink, done. Easy!


OMG, why isn't this information out there? Brilliant ;-)

Now I will go forth and drink spirulina cider! I will follow up if I have any news at all!


With fittest intentions,



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Top 2 Tips to Baking with Coconut

Just two. Why? Because I've only come across two major issues that'll mess up your final product and cause you baking aggravation!

Coconut Flour: Fluffy magic stuff...if used wisely! I just made fantastic blueberry muffins and they came out so light and fluffy, not at all dense or crumbly. The primary complaint I hear from folks on Paleo is how their various baked recipes came out crumbly or weird. So here we go with...

Coconut Tip #1

SIFT, SIFT, SIFT! Whatever amount the recipe calls for, let's say 1/3 cup, I will measure a scant 1/3 cup and then sift the flour. If you skip this step and just break the clumps with a fork, or whisk the flour and say, "that's good enough" it never will come out right. Take the extra 30 seconds and get out the mesh sieve/strainer. Place it over the mixing bowl for the dry ingredients, dump in the coconut flour and run a spoon through it. Voila! Light and fluffy baked goods!

Next major baking with coconut issue involves temperature discrepancies. Usually a recipe will call for dry ingredients and then wet, which you typically mix in a separate bowl and then you incorporate the wet into the dry. A sample recipe of wet ingredients will read thusly:

4 eggs

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 tsp Vanilla

1Tbsp orange zest

Trouble is that three of the four kids will play in the pool nicely together. The fourth (melted coconut oil) is a misunderstood child ESPECIALLY if confronted with chilly eggs fresh from the fridge! The coconut oil will seize up into aggravating clumpies that you will desperately try to whisk out. Joke's on you if you go this way. You can drive yourself crazy & ruin your eggs by whisking OR you'll get clever and put the metal mixing bowl in the heated oven and warm it just enough to melt your oil. You risk cooking your eggs though. If you haven't noticed by now, this is all a GINORMOUS pain in the rear. So this leads us to:

Coconut Tip #2

Melted coconut oil is last but not least. Mix your dry. Mix your wet. Mix the wet into the dry THEN drizzle your melted coconut oil in. If you're following a recipe by someone that has their act together they WILL specify this. Wether or not we actually read this instructional part is a different story. We're all old dogs used to using butter or canola oil which isn't as temperature sensitive. So now that everyone is playing nice in the pool together, you are saved from separated or cooked eggs and a whole lot of feeling like, "F*#¥ it I'm just going to buy Betty Crocker!"

I hope this helps you out next time you decide to do some Paleo style baking. Good luck!

With fittest intentions,



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The "Power" of the Scale

Its taken over 30 years to realize that I don't care what the number on the scale says. My day won't be ruined if I weigh in one pound up. I won't entertain any thoughts that my worth has been compromised should my weight increase and likewise, I will not feel like I am a better person should my weight decrease.

To clarify, with this post I don't intend to imply that my weight doesn't concern me. Nor do I mean to say that I've given up and that I wouldn't care if I weighed 300#! I mean to say that I don't have a particular number in my head that I believe is my "best" weight. I do not believe that there is a single magic weight for me at which all my performance and health goals will come true. So whether it's 135# or 155#, I do not care so long as my health and performance is getting better daily! I will not sacrifice either in order to achieve a "magic number".

Use the number on the scale as a single data point in an ongoing "study". Too often is a sudden weight change due to the gain or loss of water, so it's not worth getting all worried about being up four pounds the day after a wicked food and booze bender. [Actually, wtf are you doing weighing yourself the day after that? I mean come on, if you haven't pooed yet all that food is still in you. The scale doesn't lie but it can't un-weigh your dinner, it sure isn't magic!] What does concern me are trends like a steady and significant increase in weight or a change in weight along with a simultaneous increase in exhaustion or malaise. Using the number on the scale in conjunction with other information such as how I feel, how my clothes fit, how my digestion is doing and how I'm recovering from workouts, is more appropriate and can better assist in learning more about how your own body responds to its environment. 

Do not imbue your scale with supernatural powers! It isn't a deity, just a battery-operated tool!

Trust me though, it hasn't always been this way for me. I used to weigh in each day or two with the sole purpose of seeing if my current diet plan was working. I'd also weigh in after a cheat to see how much damage I had done. Using the scale was either rewarding or punishing; never just retrieving data, free from emotion.

So what changed my mind? It was my body that changed my mind for me. All I had to do was LISTEN to my body, eat, allow my body to tell me what it needed, eat clean and train right. And eat.

Four years later,150#. "OMG I'm huge!"
This second picture is just four years later (2012) when I weigh 150#.

OMG I'm huge right? In those four years I should have beaten my self up emotionally every time my weight went up right? I mean, this is obvious proof that all weight gain is bad...right? [For all of you that miss out on sarcasm, the answers to the above questions are all 'no'.]

All joking aside, I sometimes think about all the things I would have missed out on if I had allowed the scale to decide for me how skimpy my dinner would be that night. It's staggering. I can say that I am pretty dag-gone happy (and SO thankful) to have gained those 20#! I wouldn't be the person I am today because I wouldn't have enjoyed the experiences I have had.

More important than the black and white number on the scale is your health and happiness, now AND in the long run. Let your GOALS be your guide!

With fittest intentions,


I'm "That Girl" Yet Again!

(*these are not my actual confused baristas)
I spend a good amount of time at my local Starbucks doing work (and writing to you) in between classes, and am most thankful to Starbucks for their hospitality. I am here often enough to now know certain people and what to expect from them (as my Facebook status updates regarding the "smoking penis" can attest to). So I wondered today if the roles are reversed: do people here know me and know what to/what not to expect from me?

Ha, I don't think so.

If you've been following along at home, I recently discovered the joys of buttered coffee. Yes, i discovered that adding a tablespoon of my smooth and creamy Organic Valley pastured butter to my morning coffee practically GUARANTEED a fantastic day. It's astounding ;) I love having good days, so I naturally got to wondering what would my friendly neighborhood Starbucks barista do if I asked for butter with my coffee?

Me: "Hi there! I'd like a grande Komodo please. Also, can you tell me if I ordered a bagel with butter, do you butter the bagel for me or would you give me a couple packets of butter?"

Barista: blank stare

Me: patient stare back

Barista: "Um. Like, to put butter on the bagel?"

Me: ...

Barista: "Oh, well I...I don't think we can do it for you because of sanitation rules."

Me: "haha don't worry I'm not asking you to put it on for me. I just want to know if you have individually wrapped packets of butter."

Barista: "haha, oh okay. Yes, we give you individually wrapped pieces of butter."

Me: "Great! Can I have a couple packets, please?"

Barista: "Sure, what kind of bagel do you want?"

Me: "No bagel, just the coffee and the butter please."

Barista: ".......okay."

As I stood there dropping the butter pats into my coffee this is what was happening across the counter...

Yea, I'm pretty sure I'm just another perfectly normal regular that is known for her keen fashion sense and winning personality!

It kind of feels good to be "that girl" again.


With fittest intentions,


Monday, October 15, 2012

The Kettlebell Beast Recap

Just wrapped up the second year at the Kettlebell Beast at the Durham Fairgrounds in Connecticut. I'm a relative outsider to this group of kettlebell enthusiasts, as my focus is primarily CrossFit and OLY lifting up to this point. Despite my lack of know-how with the bells, this kind group pats me on the head and politely corrects me if I get a term wrong or get carried away and issue a time "warning". We do that in a CrossFit metcon, but I learned that a "warning" wasn't exactly appropriate. Oopsie hee hee.

The day got started not-so-brightly but certainly early on Saturday by loading the car with mats and bells in the frosty air. My workout for the day was quite primal, as it really just consisted of walking around carrying heavy or awkward objects. Mats, bells, benches, tables. At least I had started the day right with hot buttered coffee! (om nom nom nom)

This year the Powerlifters' event was next to us with the OLY lifting not too far away either. Throughout the day I could just glance over to see what was happening at each event. The guy benching 500#, the woman doing 176 kettlebell snatches in her set and achieving a new rank of Master of Sport, the woman hitting 171 on her clean and jerk. Overall, it was an awesome show of skill, strength and endurance!

Despite the cold, everyone remained in good spirits and turned out some great performances. I'm thankful for the kindness of the athletes: the powerlifter that succinctly answered my newb bench press questions, the kettlebell instructor that showed me how to practically plaster-cast the handle with chalk. Thank you everyone, because I had a great time mingling and learning!

If you've never done a kettlebell competition, but are interested, then let me recommend this one. Everyone's supportive, helpful and want to see the others succeed! Stay in contact with The Kettlebell Beast next year by writing to Also you can keep an eye on The Beast of The East updates online or on Facebook.

With fittest intentions,

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Worst Part of the Race

(This is you. This is you punching fear in the face.)
I was talking with some classmates about long distance runs when one said, "the most difficult distance of that whole race is the six inches between your ears." Boy, that says it all doesnt it? That is also true for ANY race, competition, event, problem, project, endeavor, dream, lift and pose. So while you may consider yourself a weightlifter, a CrossFitter, a runner, a yogi, a dancer or what have you we are always wrestling with that six inches between our ears.

What is the number one reason I have found for attempted, but failed, lifts? Fear. Fear keeps us from dropping under the snatch. Doubt nags at us and makes your brain freeze mid-pull. How many times have you seen someone, or yourself, go for a clean only drop the bar from the top of the triple? That's just that six inches messing with you. Sometimes it's justified and rational but there are times that it's just fear. JUST fear.

A lift is just a lift. Trikonasana is just a yoga pose. But we LOAD these things with meaning. I can't begin to list all the times that I've thrown or wanted to throw the jump rope across the room because I was screwing up on double-unders, judging myself (wrongly) for it, getting emotional and allowing the Thing to become shameful judgement of Me. It's just not right! Here's a quote from Swami Karmanada Saraswati about approaching your practice with fairness and without fear. He's specifically discussing yoga, but oh how this applies to any of our crafts!

"Do not fight your body. Do not carry the world on your shoulders like Atlas. Drop that heavy load of unnecessary baggage and you will feel better. Do not kill the instinct of the body for the glory of the pose. Do not look at your body like a stranger, but adopt a friendly approach toward it. Watch it, listen to it, observe its needs, its requests, and even have fun." -Swami Karmanada Saraswati

Oh the things we could accomplish if we had no fear or doubt, if we could access our body and will's full potential! If we weren't carrying the weight of judgement on our shoulders maybe we wouldn't drop our shoulders on the dip-drive. Maybe that bar would feel lighter at the lockout if we weren't inhibited by imposed responsibilities. Maybe you could kick up into a handstand if you weren't afraid you'd crumble, literally and figuratively.

Remember that your craft, your practice, is yours. When you're in the moment BE. IN. THE. MOMENT. Because the six inches between your ears doesn't just give you fear and doubt. A tremendous source of power lies there waiting to be spoken to. The power though wants to feel loved, it needs to be inspired to come out. Power needs a muse.

Interact with power; be power's muse!


With fittest intentions,


Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Paleo Mattress: A Pain In The Tookus?

I came across an article, and thereby a series of them, about the ergonomics of sleeping which I found intriguing. The originating question is, when did we adopt mattresses as we know them today? Mattresses have evolved greatly since sleeping on sacks stuffed with horsehair. But still, who is the regulating body that says that they can improve our quality of life or our health as the manufacturers claim they do?

Today mattresses are bigger, fatter, fluffier and gimmickier than ever. Mattresses move and bend at the touch of a button. They are made of space material, or inflate to your "ideal" firmness, or come with pad covers to improve softness or to improve circulation while you sleep.

So I guess the underlying question is, have these so-called improvements actually improved our health? Or have they harmed us: is that possible? After reading Patrick Clark's article on The Ergonomics Of Sleep, I thought I too might try sleeping on the floor and see what would happen.

Now first off, I have been camping plenty in my lifetime. I have laid on soft forest floors, packed desert sand, soft desert sand, frozen tundra, hard linoleum floors and uneven dirt speckled with roots. But I had never slept on my back on the ground and thought about how I felt in the morning. So I had to redo the experiment :)

So on Friday I decided that I would take my afternoon nap on the floor, pseudo-futon style. I took the fluffiest comforter I have and folded it once and laid it on the floor, it was about 3" thick. I laid down under another comforter and first found it comfortable. But just like Clark points out in his article, I felt not physical discomfort but mental discomfort due to lack of familiarity. I usually crawl into bed and immediately curl up on my side, but the floor is not so forgiving as the mattress, making side sleeping less desirable.

An hour later I woke up still on my back. I was refreshed and completely cozy and comfortable. So much so that I repeated the experiment that night. Even with the extended time I was on the floor this second time I again woke up refreshed and comfortable without so much as a single kink.

The real comparison came LAST night when I went back to sleep again on my mattress. It's a pretty average mattress, more firm than soft without any gimmicks. Even still, I laid down on my back under the covers and immediately noticed how my hips had sunk into the mattress and I could feel a slight muscular tension in my low back as my body absorbed the misalignment. This morning I woke up, not with the immediate *ta-da! that I had when I slept on the floor but with the same slow and bleary wake-up I'm accustomed to.

Okay, so one nap and two nights sleep does not a conclusive scientific study make, but it does make an interesting point wouldn't you say? So what I'm thinking is that sleeping on the floor just may be beneficial for those of us that are front-loaded from sitting all day long and then want to exacerbate the postural problem by curling up at night. Now that I know that sleeping on the floor is not an uncomfortable thing to do, I am certainly going to take advantage of that. Bonus that it may have substantial health benefits including improved spinal alignment and circulation! I don't know about you but I could use a bit more of both!

Everyone's favorite part of a yoga practice is doing Savasana at the end. The favorite part is letting your muscles melting into the floor, the difficult part is staying awake and present and focused. So sleeping on the floor is the ultimate way to get the structural benefits of Savasana (Corpse pose) without needing to stay awake. Just let go and let your muscles melt off your bones into the floor for eight whole hours!

Sounds pretty, pretty sweet to me! Try floor sleeping as a nap first to see what you think, and then email me and let me know how it went!

With Fittest Intentions,


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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

GPS says We're At the End of the Road!

"Living each day in a similar way can have its benefits, but sometimes an escape is exactly what you need! Having a rhythm, a routine, can be comforting and can be an effective way to make sure you’re getting all your bills paid and chores done. Unfortunately, lines can blur, edges get soft and after too long without a self-review and we can find ourselves in a rut. Here’s where a temporary escape can be a life line!"

Read the rest of the post here.

With fittest intentions,

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Braised Cucumbers...Who Knew?

Ever seen the film Julie & Julia? I was intrigued by one line, "braised cucumbers, who knew?" Now for someone that prefers slightly grilled lettuce to completely cold, the concept of cooked cucumbers definitely piqued my interest.

Let me remove the mystery. These are essentially cucumbers sautéed in butter. Sounds weird but promising doesn't it? Once I looked up the recipe and saw how simple it was I had to try it.

Braised Cucumber

1 huge cucumber (or 2 regular sized)

1 tablespoon butter

1 dash salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 pinch dried mint

Peel cucumber. Cut into quarters and remove seeds. Cut into 1 inch pieces.

Melt butter in a pan and add cucumber. Cover and cook about 5 minutes on medium heat.

Stir in salt, lemon, and mint. Cover and cook another 2 minutes.

The recipe is Julia Child's, so how bad could it be?! She knows a few things about cooking. So next time I'll try this out with coconut oil just to see what happens, but as I happen to love butter as much as our dearest Julia, I can't see that it'd come out any better by substituting OUT the butter. I mean, that's crazy talk!

Recipe Review

First off, it is delicious. However, if you are one that doesn't like avocados, bananas or melon due to textural issues this is NOT for you. Stick to raw cukes in that case.

The cooking softens the cucumbers just slightly, so be careful not to over cook or this could get ugly. The sweetness is certainly highlighted, the lemon & salt brighten the flavors so that this dish can stand alone. I dare say that it makes the cucumber taste almost complicated!

Typically cucumbers are relegated to the supporting role of just adding crunch & bulk to a salad. It's amazing how this simple little recipe will remind me to grab these at the farmers stand more often. I just may be more inclined now to buy a cucumber to cook! Weird :)

With fittest intentions,



Friday, September 7, 2012

Avoid Overload

I posted on my Chalk & Chi Facebook page today an image of an article I grabbed from a magazine (sorry mag, can't recall which one you were). The article is entitled "This Is Your Brain On Nature." It reminds us to get outdoors, not just for exercise but because our brains and hormone levels depend on nature's ability to regulate them.

This goes along well with the message I received in a newsletter this morning that addresses overload. Now, I'm not talking overload as in "overload the muscles or body to elicit positive gains." I'm talking overload as in being over worked, over stressed, over taxed, over tired, under nourished, and yes, even over trained.

"If you overload a circuit, it blows.

If you overload a boat, it will sink.

If you overload a truck, it won't roll.

If you overload a plane, it won't fly.

If you overload a train, it won't stop.

If you overload a bridge it will

If you overload a flash drive, you get
an error.

These simple laws of physics are easy
enough for children to understand.
What's not so easy to understand is
why -- as grown adults -- we think our
bodies and minds are any different.

Your personal overload is increasing
your risk of getting sick, whether you
feel the weight or not.

A 2011 report from the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development
found that "stress has become the most
common reason for a worker being signed
off long-term sick."

The "21st century equivalent of the
Black Death" they said.

So today, it might be a good idea to
put some distance between you and the
Black Death.

Take a breath.

Take a break.

Take a walk.

When you do, please remind yourself
that when you do feel the pressure,
you have the right to say no, hit
delete, or hang up -- guilt-free.

You're the only one who can lighten
your own load." -Kevin Gianni of Renegade Health

So do what you can today to release a bit of the stress and mania. If you can at some point, get outside and go for a walk. Even if it's simply around the parking lot at the office. Even if it's hot out, feel the warmth on your body without being grossed out. Just feel it for a moment. Look up at the sky and notice the color. Take a deep breath and release it with an audible, "ah."

Like Kevin rightly said, only you have the ability to lighten your load. You can start right now.


With fittest intentions,



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Life Isn't a Valid Excuse to Miss Out!

Good old' Michael Port strikes again, writing this short & sweet post reminding us that life doesn't get in the way because it IS the way. He basically says, how can we use living life as an excuse to be excused for missing life? Like, "sorry I couldn't be there but life got in the way." I know I've said that before and having to take a good look at the phrasing I totally get how this makes no sense.

Another place I see this happen is in my business of coaching & personal training.

"Sorry I missed my session, life got in the way."

"Yea, I stopped going to the gym. Life got in the way and I couldn't make it."

Seems like life may be the Grand Interrupter! But that sounds terribly negative doesn't it, like life gets in the way of fun and is something you're forced to deal and contend with on a daily basis. How about we stop that and instead choose to respect and revere life by giving it attention? What if life was this amazingly positive and beautifully creative event (hint: it IS an amazingly positive and beautifully creative event) and all things fell into it. Anything negative was simply a catalyst for positive change or to create an opportunity you may not have seen otherwise? Kind of like how you can't see the stars at noon.

What if?

Nuh uh. It IS!


With fittest intentions,



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fail Please: Improve By Leaving Your Comfort Zone

We're all admittedly trying to get better, in everything it seems. Every day someone posts in FaceBook an update that they're cleaning up their Paleo diet...again. Every day someone posts how they can't wait to get back to the gym, or how they PR'ed...again. It's great! But sometime I'm going to need you to fail. On purpose. Let me explain.

I'll never forget coaching a WOD and mid-way through I stopped at one woman & quickly reminded her to drop under the power cleans she was doing (instead of struggling to muscle it up to her shoulders). Even though she knew I was trying to help, she yelled, "But I can't DO them if i do them RIGHT!" I laughed pretty hard but haven't forgotten that.

The Trouble

We've got some strong people in this community and we all get excited to see how much we can lift. Sometimes we can muscle (ie force) more weight than we can finesse. You know, you see someone that can pull and wrench a heavily weighted bar up their shoulders for a "clean" but they can't properly squat clean the same bar because they lack the form and balance to move and receive the bar correctly at the bottom of the squat.

Left: slight early arm bend, hips open. Right: no triple and early arm bend. Both got job done, but not ideal! It's nice to be strong eh?
Next you'll see the same person adding weight to the bar because, well, they "got" the last one so it isn't their max right? Um, wrong. This is where I'll be asking you to fail. On purpose. For the sake of all your future lifts.

What happens is we see the workout of the day on the board and get stoked, "I can so do this sub 10min...those power cleans will get tough but I just have to get it done." And so "just getting it done" becomes our primary goal. If your body knows it can get the work done, when you're exhausted, form is likely to revert back to the old incorrect "adrenaline only" method. So all the pointers you'd learned and have been drilling, because they aren't habitual yet, drop to the wayside in favor of "just getting the work done". Truthfully, you can't turn off the Lizard brain that controls this type of fight-or-flight approach to lifts in WODs. What you DO need though is the awareness and humility to remain in control and not allow Lizard to take over.

What To Do

Yeah, I asked you to fail a lift. What I mean is that we are so well trained now to get the work done that I'm re-phrasing the assignment. Find the weak spot in your lift, whether it's lack of speed under the bar, inability to stick the bottom of the squat clean, or not hitting triple extension. Do some lighter lifts focusing on HITTING whatever it is you need to. DARE to fail in order to progress!

*check the pic, correct individual start positions. Due to varying body proportions they look quite different on first glance, but look at the angle of their femurs!
So if I'm working to stick the bottom of a squat clean let's say, I'll start light and make sure that I STICK each rep. If I don't, maybe catch it a little high or lose balance at the bottom, the the rep doesn't count. Do it again. If I have a tendency to short change the triple extension and pull under the bar without opening my hips, I'll put some lightish weight on the bar and start drilling making sure to HIT that triple. I will likely screw up & miss it many times. Sometimes I'll hit the triple but miss the lift because my timings all off (because trying something new). Sometimes I'll get so excited about getting under that I'll forget the triple again. Do it again. This is why we call it practice :)

We all come together at the gym with different backgrounds (football, track, dance, gymnastics, channel surfing), different muscle imbalances, different body proportions, different favored learning techniques and so on. So we all learn and translate our lessons slightly differently and we all end up doing our lifts a little differently. In each class then, we end up with a ton of shades of each lift or movement. My job (our job as coaches) is to get you to YOUR most ideal form, taking into consideration limb length and flexibility etc etc. What YOU need to do is dare to have a worse time today so that you don't continue to add glass bricks to your ceiling with each incorrect lift you engrain into your being.

An Olympian Olympic lifter once told me that form is everything because "your muscles will NEVER lift these weights you want to lift." You have to exploit lever angles and technique. If you insist on doing the lifts wrong (ie just muscling weights) there will always be someone that was willing to develop form that will pass you.

So please, I'm asking you to fail. Dare to fail so that you may learn and learn so that you may kick ass!

With fittest intentions,