Sunday, August 30, 2009

my first blog post is a doozy

Are any of you other ladies not sure what to make of this flap about oral contraceptives reducing gains in lean muscle? While the initial study came out sometime in mid-April, links to articles about it continue to crop up (I’ve seen it a lot recently, in places other than just and I’ve always struggled a bit to figure out the take home message. There is something about the whole business and the implications that some article authors are trying to make that really bugs me, so here comes a mini-rant complete with some dorking out. You’ve been warned.

The general gist of the study is as follows: Researchers took a small sample of “relatively healthy” 18-31 year old women and looked at how oral contraceptive users (OC) and non oral contraceptive users (non-OC) compared when exposed to a “whole body resistance program” (I’m thinking Nautilus machines here). After 10 weeks, OC users saw statistically significant smaller gains in lean muscle mass in comparison to non-OC users but overall strength gains weren’t significantly different.

There is something about the massive proliferation of these findings that is bugging me, though, and it is partly that I can’t find the full study online and there are some general research issues that aren’t addressed (I’ll list the 2 main ones for the sake of brevity):

  1. Sample selection (my impression is that the sample was NOT random assignment, e.g., “you go on OC, you do not go on OC” and that instead they found current users and non-users to test) – oral contraceptives are not for everyone. Many women try OC and find that, no matter the formulation, the hormones in OC and their bodies are just not friendly, so they switch to a different method of birth control. If there are underlying physiological differences that influence the decision to use a certain form of birth control, these might also influence how the body responds to exercise.

  2. Were they all on oral contraceptives with the same hormone composition? Again, something I haven’t seen anything about. Triphasic versus monophasic, the type of hormones in the pill – all of these could affect the outcomes.

Where I really start to get irked, however, is the generally implicit, but at times explicit*, message that women who are interested in improving their fitness performance might consider switching birth control methods…because nothing helps you meet your fitness goals like an unintended pregnancy. While this might ultimately be something to think about for women who are pursuing sport as a career, it's extreme for those of us who just want to improve our levels of fitness in general. When I think of “fitness” it is more than just “how big are my muscles?” – it is a general quality of life issue, and I know a lot of women who would take a little less muscle mass for the overall improvement in quality of life that they get from oral contraceptives (hormonal control that reduces mood swings, acne, pain, etc.).

From a Crossfit perspective in which strength is more important than body composition—we aren’t trying to win physique contests (or at least I’m not) but we ARE trying to lift heavy things—this suggests that maybe oral contraception doesn’t have a huge influence on overall performance, or at least not the type of performance we are measuring. And even if it does hinder performance slightly, those of us on OCs can at least take solace in research that finds that oral contraceptives significantly reduce exercise-induced delayed onset muscle soreness (aka DOMS).

* The best part of the summary that noted “…young women who are trying to build muscle mass may want to choose another form of contraception” was the accompanying photo:

Weightlifting: you're doing it wrong.

Friday, August 28, 2009

squishy makes you stronger

According to the Mayo clinic if you perform one legged squats (aka pistols) on a squishy surface, like a pillow, you will work up to 13 % harder.

The Overhead Squat Test

The Overhead Squat Test
When your body is in perfect balance, it stays aligned when you squat. But your workout, job, and poor posture can all cause you to develop weak or tight spots that restrict movement. To identify those areas and fix them quickly, take this test every 4 weeks.

How to Do It
Stand facing a full-length mirror with your feet shoulder-width apart and pointed straight ahead, and your arms raised overhead. Squat three times. Don't overthink this: Simply bend at the hips and knees to lower your body straight down. Hold the pose at the lowest point in your third squat and take note of your body position at the checkpoints highlighted on the next page. Repeat the test with your profile to the mirror.

If your arms move forward...then your chest and latissimus dorsi muscles are tight, which often leads to ailments of the neck and shoulders.

Fix yourself: Lie on the floor with a foam roll under your lats. Glide your body up and down, pausing at tender points for 30 seconds. Repeat for your chest. Stretch your lats and chest, and add the squat to row to your workout.

Cable Squat to Row

Stand at a low-row cable station, holding the handles with your palms facing each other. Take a few steps back. With your arms straight, squat down. Stand up as you pull the handles to the bottom of your rib cage. Do 10 repetitions.

If your knees move out...then your hips and lower back must compensate for that imbalance, which means they'll fatigue faster and may even strain during explosive sports movements.

Fix yourself: Use a foam roll behind your hips, pausing at tender points, and stretch your hips and hamstrings. Add the cable soccer kick to your workout.

Cable Soccer Kick

Attach a foot strap to the low-pulley cable of a cable station and stand with your right hip to the weight stack and the strap wrapped around your right ankle. Keeping your leg straight, sweep it across the front of your body as far as you can while rotating your foot inward, and then return to the starting position. Do 12 reps with each leg.

If your knees cave in...then your outer thighs are weak and your risk of injury to an ACL (knee ligament) may triple, say researchers at the Cincinnati Sports Medicine Research and Education Foundation.

Fix yourself: Roll your inner and outer thighs over a foam roll. Stretch your inner thighs and add the lateral tube walk to your workout.

Lateral Tube Walk

Loop resistance tubing around your ankles and slide it up your legs until it's above your knees. Stand with your knees slightly bent and your hands on your hips. Keeping your abs tight, sidestep 12 to 15 times to your right and then 12 to 15 times back to your left.

If your upper body leans far forward...then your calves are tight. This may seem odd, but consider: Tight calves impede your ankles from bending, so your torso shifts forward in an attempt to maintain your base of support as you squat. But this throws off your center of gravity, making it harder for you to produce power during any activity.

Fix yourself: Glide your calves over a foam roll. Stretch your calves and hip flexors, and perform the Swiss-ball cobra.

Swiss-Ball Cobra
Lie facedown on a Swiss ball with your abs drawn in and your arms hanging down, holding light dumbbells. Raise your arms up and back until they're in line with your body, and pull your shoulder blades down and together. Return to the starting position and repeat for a set of 10 repetitions.

If your lower back arches excessively...then the fronts of your hips (your hip flexors) are tight and your abs are weak. Tight hip flexors shorten your stride, making you a slower, less efficient runner.

Fix yourself: Use a foam roll on your hip flexors and outer thighs. Stretch your hip flexors and shore up your core with the plank.

Assume a modified pushup position, with your forearms resting on the floor. Your elbows should be under your shoulders and bent 90 degrees. Keep your body straight and rigid for 10 seconds, rest for 20 to 30 seconds, and then repeat for a set of 10.

If your feet turn out...then your outer calves are tight. This reduces your ability to produce force when you're running and jumping.

Fix yourself
Lie with the outside of your calf on a foam roll and glide up and down, pausing at any tender points for 30 seconds. Stretch your calves twice a day, and add this twist on the standard calf raise to your workout.

Calf Raise with Inversion

Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and stand on your right foot with your toes angled slightly inward. Rest the instep of your left foot across the back of your right ankle. Rise on your toes as high as you can, then descend. Do 12 reps and repeat with the other leg.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Today is Monday. Monday usually means a two WOD day. I go to the regular WOD at 6 which is followed by the endurance WOD at 7. Today, however was different. Dave decided to make today a two for the price of one WOD. This ment I did 3 WODs today. I was not alone in this crazy endeavor. I had 6 other friends that did the same. I would love to say today was a special and that I am normally just fine after a work out; that making dinner is no big deal. Honestly, I always hate making dinner after a work out. This is easy to throw together and healthy to boot.
It is mixed greens with poppy seed dressing, rotisserie chicken, sliced peaches, and feta. When you are not being paleo, you should give it a shot.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Calcium: The "Miracle" Mineral

This is an article by Annette Kornblum. I found it on the Discovery website :

For years, women have been told to bone up on calcium to prevent osteoporosis, a gradual thinning of the bones, but now this so-called miracle mineral is also being touted for its potential to promote weight loss, relieve depression and anxiety associated with premenstrual syndrome, control high blood pressure, and ward off strokes.

As new evidence points to the elevated role of calcium in preventing disease, it makes sense to get enough of this vital nutrient each day, especially as mid-life approaches. Experts say there is literally no body system that doesn't benefit from a healthy dose. Here's how it stacks up:

Calcium and Weight Loss:
When Dr. Robert Heaney, a calcium expert at Creighton University in Omaha, recently examined the health records of 575 women, he was astonished at the results. "We were looking at mid-life weight gain and found that women with the highest calcium intakes didn't gain weight and those with the lowest did," Dr. Heaney said.

Similarly, at the University of Tennessee, Michael Zemel, Ph.D., reported that because calcium plays a key role in metabolic disorders linked to obesity and insulin resistance, a diet low in calcium literally stockpiles fat cells while higher calcium diets depletes them. Dr. Zemel discovered that a high calcium diet released a hormone which sends signals that are read by the body's fat cells to lose weight.

A two-year Purdue University study in West Lafayette, Ind. that involved 54 women ages 18 to 31, found that women with a daily intake of at least 780 milligrams of calcium showed no increase in body fat or lost body fat mass during a two-year period. Women who averaged less than 780 milligrams of calcium gained weight during the same period.

Both exercisers and couch potatoes seemed to benefit unless they consumed more than 1,900 calories daily. All researchers said that dining on calcium-rich dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt achieved greater weight loss than leafy green vegetables, nuts, beans and supplements.

Calcium and Premenstrual Syndrome:
Susan Thys-Jacobs, an endocrinologist at St. Luke-Roosevelt Hospital's, has found that calcium supplementation can relieve the physical and emotional toll of PMS by almost 50%. At least half of the 497 women she studied who took 1,200 mg. of calcium supplements experienced fewer mood swings, depression/sadness, anxiety/nervousness; breast tenderness, bloating and other aches and pains. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, N.D. reported similar results after studying 10 women with PMS who spent half the study period on a daily diet containing 600 mg. of calcium, the other half upped to1300 mg. Women on the high calcium diet were less irritable, weepy, and depressed and averted backaches, cramping, and bloating.

Calcium and Blood Pressure:
In some people, an increase in calcium consumption can help control blood pressure without anti-hypertensive medication. A 13-year study by James Dwyer at the University of Southern California School of Medicine found that consuming 1300 milligrams of calcium a day reduced hypertension risk by 12 percent compared to only 300 mg. a day, while subjects under age 40 reduced their risk by up to 25 percent. Dr. Lawrence Resnick, a professor of medicine at Cornell University Medical Center Hypertension Center, emphasizes that the benefits are most pronounced in hypertensives who are salt-sensitive, such as African Americans.

Calcium and Cholesterol:
Dr. Margo Denke, associate professor of internal medicine at the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas found that a high-calcium regimen reduced levels of total cholesterol by six percent and slashed "bad" LDL cholesterol by 11 percent. So-called "good" HDL cholesterol levels remained unchanged.

Calcium and Stroke Prevention:
A 1999 Harvard study reported that calcium supplementation protects against stroke in middle-aged women. In the ongoing Nurses' Health Study, 85,764 women, ages 35 to 59, reported that the mineral was tied to a 32% lower risk of stroke among those with the highest intake of the mineral. Women taking at least 400 mg of calcium supplements had a 12% lower risk of ischemic stroke (the type caused by plaque buildup in blood vessel walls). Dietary calcium, especially in dairy foods, reportedly reduced stroke risk, as did potassium.

Calcium and Osteoporosis:
Osteoporosis strikes more than seven million Americans, mostly women, with another 17 million at serious risk of developing fragile bones that easily collapse, a crippling curving of the spine, and hip fractures. Research shows that boosting calcium intake can halt bone loss, especially when combined with vitamin D, which enhances its absorption.

Calcium and Colon Cancer:
Calcium may protect against growths that become malignant in those prone to colorectal cancer. Dr. Martin Lipkin, a professor of medicine at Cornell University, who first discovered the link between calcium and colorectal cancer, stresses that both calcium-rich foods and calcium supplements will produce the same beneficial effects.

Calcium and Pregnancy:
According to Barbara Levine, director of the human nutrition program at the Rockefeller University, calcium supplements can help ensure the health of the fetus and improve bone mass of the mother. In a study of hypertensive women, Levine found that adequate calcium levels and Vitamin D improved pregnancy outcomes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Paleo Recipes

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

So is it the kool aid?

So I humored you all and went to see the ortho about this hip. Xray was good. MRI was good. No cancer. No stress fracture. Maybe a labral tear.

Thats good news Melinda. Why yes, yes it is. But I still hurt. But that is not the point of this post. PT will take care of that perhaps.

The point of this post is to ask other crossfitters their opinion about people who dismiss the power of crossfit and its effectiveness over other training methods for people of all shapes and sizes - young and old.

My ortho basically said fat people shouldn't run. That maybe crossfit was not the right program for me. And have I tried the elliptical? Stationary bike? Swimming? Why don't I do spinning? He basically also said that old people should not run. And that what is good for the military may not be good for people over 21.

So I am sitting there fuming because after losing 85 pounds I'm still seen as fat and unable to train like an athlete. But again, that is not the point of this post.

I told him I would keep crossfitting thank you very much. And I will sub rowing.

I mean, this fat old crossfitter is doing just fine after 7 months. In fact, I'd venture to say this fat old girl might be more fit than skinny joann-blow from down the street who uses the elliptical to train.

And P.S. 35 is so not old!!!!

So is it the cfit kool aid that makes us think cfit is so wonderful? Or is it really wonderful? What do you say other than go google crossfit (which I totally did - told him it would help him with his triathlon training)?

Good Paleo/Zone Blog

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


A few weeks ago Rich fell victim to this. I maybe incorrect in assuming this, but I think we (Crossfitters) are especially susceptible to this. I say this because most of you seem to have the same attitude that I do. I personally am hard headed and driven. If I take a day or two off I feel like a slacker. Then heaven forbid someone tells me I can not do something, I will work harder to prove that person wrong. (Telling me to scale back Dave, will just make me more detemined and a little annoyed) All though I think this is a good quality, and can lead to injury.

After my marathon, it took me all of 24 hours to decide I was going to do it again. I was and still am determined to get a better time. You are suppose to take a month off of running after, I didn't. The result of my hard headed nature... stress fractures.

So, what are the signs of overtraining? They are:
  • Insomnia
  • Achiness or pain in the muscles and/or joints
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Elevated morning pulse
  • Sudden inability to complete workouts
  • Feeling unmotivated and lacking energy
  • Increased susceptibility to colds, sore throats and other illnesses
  • Loss in appetite
  • Decrease in performance
Rich had 7 of these. The final symptom being the increse susceptability to illness. I do not think I got sick because I was overtraining. I think I got sick because I live with him. I do have to say though, after taking a week off for a cold; I am better at pull-ups. I would not recomend it though. Yesterdays WODs were anything but easy.

The solution is simple... rest. You can check to see if you are overtraining by monatoring your heartrate. Take your pulse upon wakening before getting out of bed for several days to establish a baseline. Have a easy or short workout if your morning heart rate is greater than 5% of your baseline. Take the day off of training if your morning heart rate is greater than 10% above baseline.

Friday, August 14, 2009

frozen okra is on POINT.

Paleo/Zone Dinner:
1 c. cooked okra (seasoned to taste)
1/2 c. grapes
1/2 c. mashed butternut squash
3 oz. roasted chicken

awesome dinner! i've never made okra before...and i was surprised by how tasty it was. I just seasoned it with a tiny bit of olive oil, sea salt, pepper, garlic, and some random other spices and tossed it in the oven at 425 for 12 minutes (i shook the pan a couple times just to move it around). its awesome! and easy! and cheap!

yaaaaa day 5 of paleo/zone!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Barry Sears Speaks at CrossFit Seminar

Why I have issues with the Paleo hype

When ever any of my friends or family get excited about a subject, I want to learn as much as I can about it. So, let the research of Paleo begin.
First of all though, I will tell you the way I eat (most of the time). I do not eat Zone or Paleo. The approach I started to follow for the last few months is that laid out in the book "In Defense of Food". It is a simple set of rules to follow. Those rules are: Eat food, mostly green, not too much. What Pollan (the author) means by "eat food" is that we eat a lot of "food like substances," not real food. We as Americans consume things that are no longer the products of nature but the products of food science.

This philosophy is not too far from the Zone diet. It just isn't measured out. Paleo also follows the rule of eating natural, which is good. I credit this way of eating with my increased energy and my lack of tummy issues. If I had not greatly reduced my grain intake I would have never figured out that I have an intolerance to barley. I definitely needed to up my protein intake. I would go days with out eating any meat at all. I could eat nothing but side items and be happy. Hell, I could live off of mashed potatoes and soft rolls and be content. I would be sickly and would eventually die of scurvy but it would be a happy death.

So, why don't I buy the Paleo diet? First of all, I ave issues with anything that claims to solve all of our ailments in a single bound. web site claims that it can help:
Arthritis and Joint Pain
Autoimmune Diseases
Cholesterol and Blood Chemistry
Fitness and Athletic Performance
Headaches and Migraines
Inflammation, Arthritis, and Joints
Intestinal Disease and IBS
Menstrual Cramps
Multiple Sclerosis
Prader-Willi Syndros

Then there is the contradiction with its claim that we need to eat more meat and to stay away from grain (like rice) entirely to be healthy and all of Asia. The Asian approach is to use meat more as a garnish then the main event. In fact the Japanese have often been sited as having the healthiest diets on earth. Japan’s population has the lowest level of obesity in the developed world and people tend to live longer than any other country.

Then there is the latest study to come out in the Archives of Internal Medicine. They found that "the consumption of red and processed meat is associated with a modest increase in overall mortality, as well as cancer and cardiovascular mortality in both men and women," says study researcher Rashmi Sinha, PhD, a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute. These were not people who ate all red meat. These were average American ages 50 to 70. The study advises an average daily limit of about 19 grams (0.7 ounces) of red meat for women, or 25 grams (almost an ounce) for men. Why do I bring this up you ask, because they tend to dismiss vegetarians and vegans.

Most vegetarians, as Dori said, do it for moral reasons. I know that I do not eat cows, sheep, pigs, octopus, etc. for that reason. It is just an added perk that it appears to help my health.

So, what do I take away from my research? Just eat smart. You know what you should and should not eat and a box of Kraft macaroni and (pretend) cheese with a Big Mac isn't it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Barry Sears is Paleo

Interesting article by Robb Wolf about the Zone and the Paleo diet. Robb Wolf kind of pisses me off sometimes because he can't seem to write an article without attacking vegans. I just don't get his beef with vegans since they're generally vegans for moral reasons not nutritional reasons, and as an ex-vegan who still feels guilty eating meat, I kind of take offense, BUT other than that his articles are pretty good.

Barry Sears IS Paleo!!

I receive a lot of email from folks asking a variety of questions. Two questions tend to about send me over the brink: “How many blocks should I eat?” and “should I eat Paleo or Zone?” Both questions are troubling for several reasons but it’s actually the later question that just slays me and, is in fact, the causative factor FOR question number 1. You see, Barry Sears, The Zone, everything the man and the diet represent, are steeped in evolutionary biology. That folks, (Level 1 Cert crew teaching nutrition…) is paleo. For some damn reason CrossFit HQ (or elements so of it) can not wrap their minds around the concept that the basic premise of the paleo diet, that nice bit of writing from World Class Fitness in 100 Words: “…Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Some fruit, little starch, no sugar…” is in fact everything that Barry Sears talks about in the Zone! Sometime ago I received confused emails from people who attended a closed to the public gig in which the HQ lecturer, when asked “What about paleo?” responded “Paleo is pseudo science and the individuals who purport it’s methods are pseudo scientists…”

WOW! Better than half of my Crossfit Nutrition Certification is pseudo science! That’s a bummer. Strike one for CrossFit Nutritional offerings. Strike two was delivered this past weekend when Dr. Barry Sears gave a seminar to a large group of avid CrossFitters. Kelly Frankson attended the seminar and was kind enough to allow me to link to her notes. What we find is that Sears is practicing Pseudo Science just like other scientists like Cordain, Eaton, Eades and, well, me. Sears talked at length about genetics that are mismatched for our current environment, the need to return carbohydrate and essential fats BACK to Paleolithic levels. It’s a pretty serious situation if myself, Loren Cordain and Barry Sears are all practicing pseudo science! How long until Dean Ornish or John McDougal will lead the vegan charge for HQ. Those guys are definitely NOT paleo, so they must be of credible scientific pedigree…

Of Weights and Measures

There is a common bit of “wisdom” that is shot around the CrossFit world that goes something like this: “No one will ever reach elite athletic performance without weighing and measuring food…”. Interestingly however, few of the top finishers the CrossFit Games weighed and measured. Would they do better WITH weighing and measuring? Sure, I think you need to keep track of your chow at some point if you are going to affect some additional changes above what a food quality (paleo) approach will provide. But THAT is not the statement, nor the sentiment. Despite defying logic AND the actual stated nutritional hierarchy within Crossfit (don’t piss in your gas tank) the order of operations out of HQ is NOT food quality first (paleo), weighing and measuring second. It’s weigh and measure, whatever you have on hand and THAT will guarantee your ultimate success. It’s an interesting proposition that is proving itself to be completely false. Laura Demarco was an ardent Zoner (weighing and measuring) using VEGAN foods. She had ass-kicking performance but she did one simple thing (always nice in science) she shifted her food from grains to paleo carbs and her proteins all became animal based (paleo). You know what happened? She saw remarkable IMPROVEMENT in her performance. For her it mainly focused on strength (former 1RM DL was 275, current 5RM DL 285!!), but the results are stunning. The only change was a shift in food quality. I have dozens of stories like this. Apparently, food quality DOES matter.

Back to the Barry Sears seminar, Dr. Sears, the developer of the Zone…DOES NOT RECOMMEND WEIGHING AND MEASURING. HE RECOMMENDS FOOD QUALITY FIRST. He makes the point that WAM may be more trouble than it’s worth. For the vast majority of folks I work with that is absolutely the case. When we shifted AWAY from weighing and measuring in our clinical practice our clients got far better and more consistent results. Wacky things like reversing autoimmune disease, something that weighing and measuring beer, Pringles and beef jerky will not accomplish. Which reminds me, I’ve received quite a number of emails about the nutrition lecture at given Level 1 cert. The gist of the lecture is that a well-known athlete weighs and measures his beer, Pringles and beef jerky. He kicks ass (he is about 23…wait till 10 more years are on the odometer), so this is what you should do too. The best spin on this I can provide is this is a method of portion control. Being less diplomatic, I’d say people paid good money to attend that cert and the nutrition portion was a failure. We can and should do a hell of a lot better than that. As a Fitness company I cannot figure out why a general policy on eating is not “Eat the best food you possibly can, as often as you can. Slice it and dice it into the proportions that help you to reach YOUR goals”.

I’m NOT trying to make a paleo cult, I am encouraging people to TRY things and then report back what works. In the mean time I’ll be developing a t-shirt that says “Paleo Diet: Pseudo Science Since 5-million BC”.

breakfast/lunch: paleo/zone style

So...paleo/zone is pretty tasty in the morning.

2 eggs (fried up in 1 tsp olive oil)
1 slice turkey bacon
1 1/2 c. strawberries
3/4 c. blueberries

That is one bangin' 3 block breakfast.

ps- this applegate farm turkey bacon that I bought talks about using bacon as THAT is my kind of relaxation... :)

AND for lunch:

3 oz. baked chicken thigh
1 c. carrots
1 1/4 c. snow peas (or whatever they are called)
1 peach

3 block lunch-- easy.

With meals like this, I might just stick to this whole paleo-zone thing for the next 5 weeks. Happy eating!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A few interesting findings

I found a few articles siting scientific studies that I thought were interesting.

Good news for Sarah; British researchers found that milk does a better job than water or sports drinks at rehydrating the body after exercise. This is because milk has more electrolytes and potassium. If you add chocolate, it gives the milk a perfect balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat for speedy muscle recovery.

If you are having muscle soreness after a work out (and who isn't) you might want to drink some coffee. University of Georgia scientists revealed that consuming caffeine (equal to two cups of coffee) after exercise reduces muscle soreness more than pain relievers can. Caffeine blocks a chemical that activates pain receptors.

For all of you in the endurance class (myself included) might be interested to know that drinking cold water before and during exercise can help improve your endurance. The consumption of cold water may be the most direct way to reduce core body temperature, so it takes you longer to heat up and slow down. In a British study, cyclists who drank about 30 ounces of a chilled drink in the half hour before riding in a hot, humid environment, and smaller amounts as they rode, were able to bike 23 percent longer than riders who downed lukewarm liquids.

Although they might not be viewed as favorable carbs by the Zone people, these are two fruits that you will want to eat. Papaya and pineapple are loaded with bromelain and papain. These enzymes not only help break down proteins for digestion but also have anti-inflammatory properties to speed up your post-workout recovery.

Then finallly a study from Mandy's favorite place; Australian researchers found that cyclists who took fish oil for 8 weeks had lower heart rates and consumed less oxygen during intense bicycling than a control group did. The fatty acids in fish oil need to become incorporated into muscle and heart cells to have an effect, and that takes weeks of consumption. So, either take fish oil pills each day, or try to eat fish rich in fatty acids multiple times a week to see similar results.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


The founders of this blog were spending some quality time together today and Mandy said she was worried about her last post. I personally think she is being silly worrying about this, but just in case, let me clarify what she meant. She (or any of us really) by no means thinks it is bad or lame to scale your WOD. If you can not do a movement because you do not have the strength to do it or you are injured in some way, DO NOT DO IT. If you need to modify what the WOD is for your fitness level; do not be ashamed to do so. We all have to start out some where. Your fitness level will improve with work and time. I actually, just learned yesterday that in the past 4 months I have upped my bench press by quite a bit. Bea/Kiddo you say, but we don't do that at Crossfit. That is true and why I think it is so awesome. For a year and a half I worked on the bench press and never got above the bar. Four months at Crossfit and I have more than doubled the weight I can press and I have not done that lift once. In my mind this proves that the functional movement approach is far superior to isolation. The point of that tangent is: keep at it and you will improve. You will get stronger but you need to take the steps to get there. I started at jumping pull-ups and have moved through the bands. I still can not do kipping pull-ups yet; but I know they will come. Now that we have cleared that up, if you can do the movement and you take short cuts to improve your time, you are an ass.

Recipe for Swordfish

This is a nice recipe and pretty "Zone" friendly. It is from the Cooking light magazine.

Although imported swordfish is endangered, the population for North American species is healthy.So make sure you buy Swordfish from the coast of North America


4 servings (serving size: 2 skewers and about 2 tablespoons pesto)


  • Pesto:
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • Skewers:
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime rind
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds swordfish fillets, cut into (1 1/4-inch) cubes
  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray


1. To prepare pesto, combine first 8 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Let stand 30 minutes.

2. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

3. To prepare skewers, combine lime rind and next 5 ingredients (through 2 garlic cloves) in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add fish to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes, turning bag once. Remove fish from bag; discard marinade. Thread fish and tomatoes alternately onto each of 8 (8-inch) skewers; sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

4. Place skewers on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 6 minutes or until desired degree of doneness, turning every 2 minutes. Serve with pesto.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 206
Fat: 7.5g (sat 1.7g,mono 3.6g,poly 1.5g)
Protein: 25g
Carbohydrate: 9.5g
Fiber: 1.8g
Cholesterol: 47mg
Iron: 1.8mg
Sodium: 416mg
Calcium: 31mg

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Go Down or Go Home.

Seriously, people, all joking aside, go down. All the way. To the med ball, to full extension on your pull-ups, to the bottom of the squat…go down. CrossFit is competitive. We race the clock, we race our friends, we race people we hate, we race the HQ people we watch in the videos from the main site, and we race our own previous times. There is no denying that after the “3-2-1-GO!” we are moving for time. BUT… we should be moving for something else too. Equally important we are moving to complete each WOD with the integrity with which it was meant to be completed.

CrossFit is based around benchmarks: Fran, Helen, Karen, Diane…you know and love them all. But what does it mean to be a benchmark? Are these workouts just a clusterfuck of exercises thrown together haphazardly to act as an avenue for shit talking on No. These workouts were designed by people who know what they are doing… for a specific purpose… and to elicit a particular response from your body. And how is it that we are able to use these benchmarks with any sort of certainty to gauge ourselves against others? Standards.

Every movement that we do in CrossFit has a proper way to be performed. For those of us who are visual learners, there are even videos on the main site conveniently organized by…yep, you guessed it…the name of the movement. These aren’t just nitpicky requirements posted to make your life more difficult. They give meaning to our benchmarks. These standards make it possible to compare a 3:52 Fran in Durham, NC to a 1:52 Fran in Sydney, Australia.

Why does it matter if you’re completing the movements properly? First of all, if you’re asking this question, you’re an asshole. And I hope you don’t work out at my gym. Second, it should matter because, as mentioned above, we abide by standards as a way to gauge our fitness and progress with other CrossFitters in our gym around the world. And third, it matters because if you’re not completing the movements properly, you might as well not show up. I say this with confidence because insufficient movement completion means that you’re not getting what you’re supposed to out of the WOD and you sure as shit aren’t doing it as Rx’d. So it’s all fine and dandy if Bob Joe writes 3:02 Rx next to his name on the white board, but if his hiney never broke parallel on his air squats, and his med ball never hit the target on his wall balls, and his arms never dropped to full range of motion on his pull-ups….Bob Joe didn’t do shit.

Now to illustrate another point, lets keep rolling with Bob Joe the douche bag. If Bob Joe isn’t breaking parallel on his air squats, he is not only continuing on his path of douche baggery, but he is also engaging improper muscle groups and risking injury. When you don’t go below parallel on a squat, only your quads are engaged, and this creates sheer force on your kneecap in one direction. Once you break parallel, your hammies are engaged, and this balances out the pressure on your knees, and also engages a much stronger posterior chain to pull your ass back up. In the long run this makes you stronger, allows you to move faster, and keeps you at a safe distance from Bob Joe and the douche bag gang.

We, as CrossFitters, should understand that there is an intrinsic value to doing the movements properly. If we don’t, we are all wasting a lot of time, money, and energy. We can achieve this standard by having coaches take reps away from people that may or may not know that they aren’t hitting full ROM, by going over proper technique before the WODs, and most importantly by demanding from ourselves that we do things right. After all, if we aren’t interested in doing things right…why are we here?


Local Eats - Eden

So, there's a new restaurant called "Eden" that just opened up near my work on Shannon Road. It is billed as simple, local fare. They are open for lunch and dinner and Jack and I went there today for lunch. It was really good and easy to get zone friendly meals. I ordered the seared scallops over wild mushroom risotto and asked them if I could get vegetables instead of problem. They served me a bed of mixed local vegetables...squash, zucchini, asparagus, green beans, tomatoes and garlic topped with seared scallops...delicious! The serving size was small but I'm pretty sure it was the correct zone serving size. I'm assuming that the veggies were cooked in some form of fat. Jack ordered the salmon burrito which was also small enough that I think it was zone, plus he eats 4 block meals so the tortilla is probably okay for him. He subbed a salad for fries. So, anyways, just wanted to let you guys know. If you eat at any restaurants that are zone friendly, post them...we're always looking for new places to eat!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Michael Pollan

I personally love Michael Pollan. I find his writings to be fascinating. He is responsible for my views on what I should or should not eat. Here are a few excerpts from his recent article in the New York Times:

"Today the average American spends a mere 27 minutes a day on food preparation (another four minutes cleaning up); that’s less than half the time that we spent cooking and cleaning up when Julia arrived on our television screens. It’s also less than half the time it takes to watch a single episode of “Top Chef” or “Chopped” or “The Next Food Network Star.” What this suggests is that a great many Americans are spending considerably more time watching images of cooking on television than they are cooking themselves — an increasingly archaic activity they will tell you they no longer have the time for."

"Consider some recent research on the links between cooking and dietary health. A 2003 study by a group of Harvard economists led by David Cutler found that the rise of food preparation outside the home could explain most of the increase in obesity in America. Mass production has driven down the cost of many foods, not only in terms of price but also in the amount of time required to obtain them. The French fry did not become the most popular “vegetable” in America until industry relieved us of the considerable effort needed to prepare French fries ourselves. Similarly, the mass production of cream-filled cakes, fried chicken wings and taquitos, exotically flavored chips or cheesy puffs of refined flour, has transformed all these hard-to-make-at-home foods into the sort of everyday fare you can pick up at the gas station on a whim and for less than a dollar. The fact that we no longer have to plan or even wait to enjoy these items, as we would if we were making them ourselves, makes us that much more likely to indulge impulsively."

"This demonstrate that as the “time cost” of food preparation has fallen, calorie consumption has gone up, particularly consumption of the sort of snack and convenience foods that are typically cooked outside the home. They found that when we don’t have to cook meals, we eat more of them: as the amount of time Americans spend cooking has dropped by about half, the number of meals Americans eat in a day has climbed; since 1977, we’ve added approximately half a meal to our daily intake."

"So cooking matters — a lot. Which when you think about it, should come as no surprise. When we let corporations do the cooking, they’re bound to go heavy on sugar, fat and salt; these are three tastes we’re hard-wired to like, which happen to be dirt cheap to add and do a good job masking the shortcomings of processed food. And if you make special-occasion foods cheap and easy enough to eat every day, we will eat them every day. The time and work involved in cooking, as well as the delay in gratification built into the process, served as an important check on our appetite. Now that check is gone, and we’re struggling to deal with the consequences."

Published: July 29, 2009, New York Times Magazine

The Weight Dilemma

I have struggled with my weight for the past 10 years. I went through a difficult time and like so many people I used food to comfort myself. At my fattest I weighed 143 lbs. For someone that is 5'2" with very little by way of muscles, that is a lot. It is funny how a photograph can motivate you. When I looked at the photographs from my sisters wedding I was horrified. I started working on it immediately. It took me around 6 months but I dropped back down to 111. Fast forward to our move to North Carolina. Once we moved here I started eating more bad food because it was easy and fell out of a work out routine and then gained weight. Thankfully, I stopped it before it got anywhere close to what it was before. Now I am at Crossfit and gaining way more muscle than I have ever had before. I am not really sure what kind of comparison you can make between Romanian dead lifts and the regular dead lifts we do. I can tell you this, my one rep max for a dead lift as of yesterday is 173lbs. The most I could do of the Romanian dead lift when I was in Tallahassee, was 55lbs. Now here comes the question: What should be my target weight? I know I will or should weigh more because I want to be strong like Sarah and Mandy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Question for the runners

So several months ago during a run I heard a snap and a crackle in my hip area. Then there was pain. A lot of it.

I layed off the running then tried again for Helen I think. No snap and crackle but lots of pain. In both hips now.

So the advice I was given was stop running.

I've been thinking how sucky I feel in there on the rowers while everyone is running. I hate running, but I need to do it. Don't I?

So last night we ran before the WOD. Just a little. And here is the pain again.

My questions are: 1) I need to run, don't I? 2) Why do I have this pain only when I run? 3) Should I just run through the pain?

What do you do besides CrossFit?

After reading Landy's post, I'm just wondering if anyone does any workouts outside of CrossFit. I feel like I should be doing more cardio outside of CrossFit but I don't know how to fit it in. I do CrossFit 5 times a week and I've just started adding the endurance WOD also so that's actually 6 WODs a week. I can do cardio on one of my days off, but I feel like I need at least one full rest day. I've tried doing two a days also to fit in cardio, but I find that makes me tired all the time and I don't perform as well on the WODs.

So, if you're doing a workout other than crossfit I'd love to hear what you're doing and when you're doing it, or if you're just doing CrossFit and you think that's enough, I'd like to hear that too.


Monday, August 3, 2009

I Miss Running

So before I started this whole Crossfit "thing," my go-to workout was going for a 3-5 mile run. On days I felt like taking it easy, I'd jog at a reasonable pace the whole time. On days where I felt like stepping it up a bit, I'd add some sprints, hills, and other forms of punishment. But regardless of the intensity of a run, the post-workout euphoria (the "runner's high" if you will) was always the same - and is what I crave most from a workout.

While Crossfit workouts CERTAINLY have the power to bitchslap my lungs into overdrive, my post-workout mood just isn't the same as after a good run. I totally understand that Crossfit is helping me round out my physical fitness in ways I haven't experienced in many years, but still, I miss running.

Unfortunately, however, I'm finding that the days I'm away from CF, my arms/shoulders/legs/back are too smoked to run the way I want to (yes my arms - I never realized how much I use my arms running!), and/or I'm falling into this "I worked out hard yesterday, how about I just walk the dog today instead" mentality.

So, to the point of this post: I think I'm just being a big baby about all of this and need some extra motivation to get back into running. A couple of the ways I'm considering doing this are a) changing up my routine to make it interesting again and b) finding some people to run with to hold me accountable. I'm usually a late afternooner, but I'd like to see how I fare in the a.m....anyone out there interested in meeting up for some morning runs? Or, if I can't find any takers, does anyone have good advice for how to get my rear back into gear?


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Recovery Shake Question

Sorry Bea, I had the crazy zone meal post. I thought the computer automatically signed my name. Anyways, I don't recommend my crazy zone meal b/c I was so hungry the rest of the day...but you were close with the guess of Sarah b/c her protein and chocolate milk combination is what had me suddenly craving chocolate milk. Anyways, that leads to my question...

I am doing 11 blocks. Three, three block meals, one, one block snack and one protein shake w/skim milk after wods. The protein shake is actually 4 blocks protein and one block carb. Sarah says the best recovery shake is protein and carbs and I love her chocolate milk combination but if I add chocolate milk then that's 4 blocks protein and 3 blocks carbs (no fat). Does that have to be my dinner? Since I do the six pm wod most of the time, if I have the shake, I'm not super hungry for dinner anyways, but I feel like I should eat something. Maybe a two block dinner? Any zone experts out there that can tell me the right way to work the recovery shake into my meal plan?


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Crazy Zone Meals

We've all had them. The crazy combinations you throw together when you're too tired to come up with a real meal that actually goes together, but you still want to stay "in the zone" My lunch today was built around my desire for a glass of chocolate milk. So I had the following:

1 cup chocolate milk (3 carbs, 1 protein)
2 oz chicken breast (2 protein)
1 tbsp cream cheese (combined with the little bit of fat in the milk was about two blocks of fat)
3 walnut halves (1 fat)

If you have your own crazy zone meals, post them here.

August - my first post

So I thought I would share my crossfit journey with everyone - August is sort of an anniversary.

In August 2008 I walked into my first experience with crossfit. I think I found it on I thought the concept of crossfit sounded pretty cool.

So to set the stage, August 2008 was about 50 lbs ago. I had not been doing much exercise except Pilates. I pretty much used food as my drug of choice to block out some pretty crappy life stuff. I was pretty insecure and obviously didn't feel great about myself.

So back to crossfit, I still can't believe I showed up to this meetup by myself. I'm not sure I have ever gone to meetup event by myself since - I hate it (still kind of insecure I guess). I guess I was determined (and pretty excited if I recall).

I walk in and see Greg. I'm thinking to myself holy shit, this guy is hard core. I think it was all dudes too. I had no idea where I was supposed to go or what I was supposed to do, but Greg welcomed me and was pretty cool. My first WOD was a partner WOD. DAMN! I thought it was going to be just like elementary where the fat kid gets picked last. But it wasn't. Greg hooked me up with one of the dudes and it was fine. I never say dude - but am enjoying using this word. I digress.

I don't remember what the WOD was, but it was something where it wasn't completely obvious that I was so out of shape. I had good form, which Greg commented on and he was impressed with whatever score I got. It would be really cool if I could remember what that WOD was and the score and do it again. Hmmm...perhaps there are old archives...

I left feeling so completely awesome about myself.

So I show up for another one. This time there were burpees. I mean, do I really need to say anything else? Yeah, in this case I do.

Let me explain. Burpees for an out of shape very overweight person who feels bad about herself already... totally suck. And I mean REALLY suck. More than just in a physical way of sucking. The sucking is physical, mental and emotional. Think about you doing a burpee holding a 52lb kettle bell. Not so pleasant, eh?

The WOD was some pyramid I think- of like 21-15-9 maybe - we were outside and there were lunges and barbell something or others, it really doesn't matter because it is really about the burpees. I'd never done a burpee and my first one was SOOOOO freaking hard. Luckily, or not, my friend Melissa was there and she helped me through it. I think it took me like 20 minutes. The burpees made me feel like complete shit. I'm sorry for the expletive, but I don't know how else to put it. I wanted to cry and go home after maybe 5 burpees. I said so many f bombs that day. Dave was there - I think I told him to f off. He was patient and helped me through too. Although I still hated him. And Melissa. But I finished.

I left feeling like ass. Worthless. Defeated. Embarrassed. Pissed that something that was awesome before sucked so bad.

So I didn't go back.

Then, I found out from Melissa that there was a group of bigger crossfitters forming for a 6 week bootcamp. Perfect. I would be among others who are feeling the same way I do.

So I show up in January 2009 for that. Did it suck? Yes. I don't think I talked to anyone for at least a month. I was so pissed that I had to be in a group of bigger crossfitters. How did I let this happen? But I kept coming. And coming. And getting stronger. And feeling better about myself. And talking to others. My partner in crime Christie was there all along too. We started to kick ass together.

So do I join the real deal or no? I'd say after 3 sessions of bootcamp, I was probably physically ready - but not mentally. The big kids, as I like to call the "regular" crossfitters, were very intimidating. And I didn't want to leave my comfort zone and support either. Then I blew out a hip. Running always sucked, but I wanted to do it and now I couldn't. I thought for sure that I would never be able to do any WODs. But Dave helped me do other stuff - we worked around it. And still do.

In May 2009, I stepped over to the dark side and joined the big kids group. Did it suck? Yes, it sucked. It was uncomfortable. I didn't know anyone. I didn't talk to anyone for about a month. I felt crappy about myself again. I was not the fastest anymore, I was one of the slowest.

But I kept coming. And then I started talking. Well, I should say Bea started talking to me. Thanks Bea. Then Mandy. Then Sarah, and Becky and on and on...

Then there was badger. Dave said I could do half. No - I did all of it. And finished. I'm not sure I have ever felt as great about myself as I did after finishing that.

Then there were pull ups. On the bands.

Then I started staying after class. Lingering. WANTING to do more stuff.

And here we are in August 2009. I occasionally now think I am a bad ass. And I like that others see potential in me. I believe in myself now and have crossfit to thank for that. And the exceptional crossfit community. Thanks to everyone who has touched me during my crossfit journey. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to explain how grateful I am.

Wow - this is really long.