Thursday, August 29, 2013

When Times are Tough

I don't usually post about negative things. It's part of the way I live my life - focus on the positive and you can get through anything. Well recently things have been tough. I usually drown my sorrows in wine and cannolis but since I'm on the Paleo Challenge, there's none of that going on. Well there is wine but not enough to drown in.

Here's what's going on. In my professional life, I don't feel challenged. I accepted that and became complacent. It's not an excuse. Recently I've decided to be more aggressive and give my all in order to hopefully obtain a promotion next year. Since the focus has switched, I feel a little better. But I did apply to one very exciting internal job and just found out, right now, that I didn't make the cut. I'm bummed. It was a work from home full time job which would allow Hubby and I to finally make our move. We are planning on moving out of the state and are focused on trying to get jobs near where we want to live. So that job would have been perfect. But woulda coulda shoulda, it didn't happen and I need to move on.

Now on to my personal life. One of my Chubbies, my pug Bruno has been having health issues and he's only 4 years old. He has permanent vision loss and it is very difficult for me to accept. I know animals don't feel pity and he's not completely blind so I should be thankful (and believe me I am!) but it's just hard to not be able to do something for him. We're taking him back to the vet in a week for a second checkup (he had an eye infection and his eyes are not making tears) so I am hoping for a little improvement. I'll keep you all posted.

Love this guy!
To top things off, Little Beast is sick and has a fever. He hasn't slept well which means Mama is exhausted. Because of my exhaustion, I have no energy to do anything and I haven't worked out since Monday. I am hoping to go to CrossFit tomorrow morning but it really depends on how Little Beast is doing. Poor little guy.

CrossFit is my Therapy

It's also been extremely difficult to stay on the Paleo Challenge. Yesterday was the start of week 3 and I'm getting cranky. My fellow crossfitters are extremely motivating and post amazing food pictures on facebook. I am getting my motivation back but it's a slow process. That said, I haven't strayed too much and I have subtracted points for every time I did cheat so it's not as bad as I make it out to be. This morning I made myself a Banana Cinnamon Muffin Bowl with a little raw maple syrup. It was delicious. I am also planning on making Paleo Pumpkin Cookies later. If I have acceptable "sweets", I won't get cranky when my sugar cravings kick in. At least I'm hoping so.

Here's to staying positive despite having a lot of things going on. I know this is all temporary and that it will pass. I'm looking forward to getting over the hump and going back to my usual active happy lifestyle.....biiitch. I had to do it, just had to!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Two Loves: CrossFit & Running

Of course this comes after my first loves - Hubby, Little Beast, Chubby Wubbies (my two other fat children).

I've been running on and off for almost a year now. I started at just under a mile last September. I've had good running days and bad ones, times when I'm not motivated to run at all, and others when I want to run twice a day. I used to think that in order to be a good runner, all you needed to do was run. Totally not true. If you run every day of the week, that doesn't guarantee you will be a faster runner. In fact, you risk injuring your knees or your ankles because of how much you hit the pavement. At my max, I was running 13 miles a week and that was all that was feasible for me. I can justify working out up to 4 times a week but anything beyond that I feel is time I could be spending with Little Beast.

Enter CrossFit. I was initially scared my running would suffer because of spending a couple days a week at the box. I actually lost motivation to run because of how fast I saw my body change with CrossFit. I certainly didn't see those changes when I was just running. After a month of not running, I had a 5K I signed up for with my local running mom group. I assumed my time would suffer and wondered if I would even break 30 minutes. I ended up coming in 3rd for my age group. So the more you run doesn't necessarily make you faster.

CrossFit has definitely helped my running. I have stronger legs and more endurance now. I also have a general feeling of being physically fit - hard to describe - but this has helped my confidence. And to be good at anything, you have to be confident.

Now that I am training for my first half, I do one long run a week (just hit 6 miles last weekend) and I go to CrossFit 2-3 times a week. Usually at least one of those WODs has a 400m run in it. I could probably run one more time during the week but unless it's a jogging stroller run, it probably won't happen. Little Beast is growing up way too fast and I don't want to feel like I missed it. He says at least 20 words now and one of them is "Outside". He is growing up to be just like Hubby and that is perfectly okay with me!

So back to running, I really enjoy my long runs on Sunday and I really enjoy CrossFit during the week, especially the crazy Friday classes. I love the combination of the two and am more than happy to be able to do them both.

Are there two sports/hobbies that you couldn't live without? Do you favor one over the other?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I.N.T.E.G.R.I.T.Y that's a Integrity

Let's play a game. If you grew up in the 90's, you'll know the answer to this. The artist who sang U.N.I.T.Y that's a Unity. Do do do do do do do du du du du do do do. Who is Queen Latifah? That's right! 90's musicians for $100 Alex. Okay let's move on.

Integrity is important in work, in your personal life and for working out. You can't cheat yourself and expect to see results. Let's take CrossFit as an example. Surprised? Yea I know I have OCD - Obsessive CrossFit Disorder. Anyways, in CrossFit, you're constantly counting - counting your rounds, counting your reps and counting how much you lift. It's easy to forget where you are in a WOD. In that case, I normally back track to where I remember leaving off and start from there. That means I occasionally do more than I need to. I'd rather that than cheat. But I have seen people who say Time before they complete a workout and I honestly have no idea why someone would do that. Are they really winning? Though we compete in time, the real competition is with yourself. I don't want to be last, but I'm completely okay with not being first. My focus is on doing the WOD properly. If that means I'm slower when it comes to time, I'm okay with that. The few times I actually did the WOD quickly, I was concerned I cheated, either I scaled too much or I miscounted. Learning how to scale workouts for yourself takes time and I have learned not to think I cheated because I have to scale some WODs. That said, I am a person of integrity and that's why I think this way. Those who cheat, need to realize they are just cheating themselves. Now that I am beginning to sound like my mother, I'll stop.

Yesterday's strength element was back squats. I haven't done back squats since my last day with Trainer and I wasn't able to beat my 1 rep max of 125. Well, yesterday, we were doing 5 reps so my max was 85. And that was extremely tough for me. Hubby mentioned the other day I'm quad dominant and I'm beginning to realize I am. Wall balls leave me sore for days because of my weak hamstrings. I also can front squat 90 pounds. Since front squats require more quad strength, that completely makes sense. Now that I've realized my weakness, I'm going to work on building my hamstring strength. This article details exercises that help weak hamstrings.

Today marks the completion of Week 1 of the Paleo Challenge and I am happy to report that I have lost 4 pounds! You all know my journey is not about weight loss and that's not the reason for participating in the challenge but it is really nice to see the added benefits of eating clean. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Trouble with Paleo

I'm on Day 6 of the 8 week Paleo Challenge and doing relatively well. I start off with 10 points a day and then subtract points depending on what non-Paleo foods I eat and how much alcohol I drink. Weekdays are much easier than weekends and I have learned that sticking to Paleo, while tough, is much easier than not drinking wine. I refuse to not drink wine for 8 weeks when I'm not pregnant. You may think that's an excuse or a cop out and it may as well be but I just won't do it. Hubby and I frequent wineries often on the weekends as a reward to how much we push ourselves during the week. That's one reward I won't live without - unless of course I'm preg with Baby #2 - which I'm not.

Saturday Hubby, Little Beast and I went on a hike at Jenny Jump. The trail was a little overgrown so it wasn't too long of a hike but it was absolutely beautiful.

My Men
Hiking Mama

Before the hike, we went to a pizzeria for lunch. Little Beast had pizza, Hubby had some cheesesteak pizza that looked absolutely wonderful and I had a cheesesteak - without the cheese and without the bread. Yes, I was that person. I basically had steak with mushrooms, peppers and onions. And you know what? It was pretty damn good. I think I found my paleo pizzeria meal.

Paleo at a Pizzeria
Pretty content with myself for staying paleo during the weekend, I enjoyed the hike as well. After the hike, we weren't ready to go home just yet and I was dreaming about this Chocolate Cabernet I had a winery on my birthday. Yes you heard correctly - Chocolate Cab! So we drove about 45 minutes to go to 2 wineries - Vynecrest (their Blush and Summertime Red are great in the summer!) and Clover Hill (amazing Riesling and Chocolate Cab). At Vynecrest, Hubby ordered a cheese, grape and cracker plate. I tried to resist the cheese but ended up having a tiny bit. Lost 2 points there. I also had a total of 3 glasses of wine at 2 wineries (not too bad considering) and I lost 4 points a glass or 12 points for that. I ended up being negative on Saturday. The Trouble with Paleo is that I can't drink wine. There's a grey area when it comes to red wine but my box rules say no alcohol so I will most likely be negative every Saturday. I accept that.

Aside from my love of wine and the fact that I will continue to drink it during the challenge, I am not having as much trouble with eating Paleo. Hubby ate a hot dog in front of me (if you knew me, you'd know of my love of hot dogs) and I had no desire to eat it.

I have been experimenting with cooking paleo and have a couple recipes of my own. I'm debating adding a recipes section to this blog but since I'm not very good with taking pictures of food, I may hold off of that - not trying to gross any of you out!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Paleo in the Morning, Paleo in the Evening, Paleo at Suppertime

When Paleo's on a bagel, you can eat Paleo anytime! Sorry I had to say it. Anyways, today is the start of my CrossFit box's Paleo Challenge. The challenge is effective from August 14 to October 9, roughly 8 weeks of eating paleo, counting points if I cheat, and working out. Challenge accepted.

So as part 1 of the challenge, today's WOD was a benchmarking WOD that I will repeat in 8 weeks. Here's how I did today:

Benchmark 1: Front squats - 90 lbs (prior to today, 70 was my max)
Benchmark 2: Ring Rows - 13
Benchmark 3:
               15 AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
               400 m run
               15 kettlebell swings (26 lb)
               15 box jumps

I did 3 complete rounds and nearly finished the fourth, I was at box jump #6. Let's see how those stats compare to what I do in 8 weeks. I am definitely looking forward to being stronger and leaner.

My fear of box jumps returned today and I actually had my first box jump accident. It was my second box jump of the first set. I had no choice but to overcome my fear and keep on moving and that's exactly what I did. My shins are all messed up anyways from rubbing the bar against them so what's another dent?

Box Jump Fail
With all the bruises I have (you should see my caloused hands), people must think Hubby beats me. I seriously need to wear this sign around my neck!

Because is spelled wrong the second time :)

I will keep blogging about the Paleo challenge and how I'm doing. At the end of the challenge, which is a couple days after my 1st half marathon, I will post before and after pictures so stay tuned and wish me luck!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Are 30's the new 20's?

I just turned 32 a couple days ago (yes I realize my About Me section still says 31, let's just leave it like that for now, mmkay?). Anyways, I'm in my 30's. I just finished a Hero WOD at CrossFit and was high fived by a fellow mom in her 30's. She is in unbelievable shape and does not look like she's in her 30's at all. When I first saw her, I actually thought she was in her 20's. But she's 35 and has two children. It just goes to show that if you work hard and keep yourself in shape, you'll look and feel a lot younger! With CrossFit, 30's are definitely the new 20's.

So let's backtrack to yesterday's WOD:

Strength - Overhead Squats 7x1

800m run
3 rounds:
   20 knees to chest
   30 push ups
   40 air squats
800m run

Sounds tough right? Well get this, Coach decided to do something special for my birthday. So for my class he added another WOD to the one we were already doing. Yesterday's WOD turned out to be this:

32 burpees
32 lunges
32 box jumps
32 KB swings

10 minutes rest

800m run
3 rounds:
   20 knees to chest
   30 push ups
   40 air squats
800m run

Absolutely insanity. I apologized to everyone in my class multiple times. We braved through it though and on that last run, my legs were butter. Yet I still signed up for this morning's class and here's what we did today:

10 rounds:
3 hand stand push ups (I did them off the box, can't do the hand stand ones yet)
6 deadlifts (I did 95lbs)
12 pull ups (I used 3 bands, hoping to go down to 2 next time)
24 double unders or 72 regular jump rope (I did regular)

It was tough but easier than yesterday. You actually have to work through the workout to know what's easy for you and what isn't. Next time there's a deadlift in a WOD, I can probably add another 10 pounds. And next time there are pull ups, I'm going to try my best to use 2 bands instead of 3. Hand stand push ups and double unders are on my list as well.

Deadlifts and pull ups result in man hands. Here's a picture of my hand post workout.

Very lady like huh? Oh well blisters and callouses make strong hands and I would rather strong hands than weak ones!

I am also very excited to announce my new purchase. I recently bought Reebok CrossFit Nano 3.0's. I heard they are awesome for box jumps as well as lifting so I'm excited to try them out at my next class. I'll also write a review and let you all know how much I like them!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Guest Post: Paleo Must-Haves for the Pantry

You may think keeping a stocked pantry is not possible when living a Paleo lifestyle and while there aren't many non perishable things you can keep, Becky Reece (founder of Sexy Mom's Running Club) does have some great ideas. Here's what she has to say about Paleo Must-Haves for the Pantry.

As a busy mom of five, I know how important it is to keep a properly stocked kitchen!  With kids who have diet issues (my 6’2” son is 40 pounds underweight due to his previous diet of white foods and my oldest daughter has IBS and misc. allergies), you could say I learned my lesson with the first two kids and the rest I have introduced to a much cleaner, back to basics diet.

My first suggestion is to ALWAYS have fresh fruit.  I keep a fruit bowl on the counter and in the fridge I always keep single serving washed fruits and vegetables.  It’s easy and healthy for them to grab berries, carrot sticks, or even hard-boiled eggs from the refrigerator. This way, when the kids come home from school and open the fridge or put their bag on the counter, fresh fruit or veggies is the first thing they see!

I also suggest keeping zip lock baggies with nuts in the pantry.  By having individual snack packs of nuts available they get some protein to help fill them up before dinner.

Simple treats like the power bar recipe listed below are also great alternatives to keep your pantry not only healthy, but satisfying.

Here’s a Power Bar recipe courtesy of

.      2 cups almonds (raw)
.      ½ cup golden flaxmeal
.      ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
.      ½ cup creamy roasted almond butter
.      ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
.      ½ cup coconut oil
.      4 drops stevia
.      1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
.      1 tablespoon vanilla extract
.      1 cup chocolate chunks (optional)

1.      Place almonds, flax meal, shredded coconut, almond butter and salt in a food processor
2.      Pulse briefly, about 10 seconds
3.      In a small sauce pan, melt coconut oil over very low heat
4.      Remove coconut oil from stove, stir stevia, agave and vanilla into oil
5.      Add coconut oil mixture to food processor and pulse until ingredients form a coarse paste
6.      Press mixture into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish
7.      Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour, until mixture hardens
8.      In a small saucepan, melt chocolate over very low heat, stirring continuously
9.      Spread melted chocolate over bars; return to refrigerator for 30 minutes, until chocolate hardens
10.  Remove from refrigerator, cut into bars and serve

Makes 20 bars

Armed with a mission to empower moms across the country to feel beautiful no matter what their size, mother-of-five Becky Reece founded Sexy Mom's Running Club to help busy women make themselves a priority again, while still balancing career and family.

Many thanks to Becky for writing this post! Feel free to leave a comment with any questions you may have for her.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Stats and Challenges

I finished July strong with working out a total of 14/31 days (6 of those days in the last week and a half!). I slacked somewhere in the middle but I got right back on track. So here are the workout totals for the last couple of months -

April 2013: 9/30 days
May 2013: 21/31 days
June 2013: 14/30 days
July 2013: 14/31 days

May was by far my best month and I'm hoping August will come close to that. I will have to incorporate more running because I signed up for my first half marathon! Woohoo! I will be running the Jersey Shore Half Marathon on October 6. I have also signed up for another challenge in August - the Smoothie challenge - one smoothie a day for the month of August. I figured it was a good idea since I have been on such a smoothie kick lately. What's better than a cold refreshing smoothie on a hot day? Okay you got me - a cold refreshing beer on a hot day. But I can't do a beer challenge. I did enough of those in college!

So here's the link to the Smoothie Challenge.

We're already a couple days into August so go ahead and get your smoothie on. This morning's smoothie was a banana, frozen berries, a little bit of almond milk, 1/2 scoop of protein powder and spinach and kale. Yes, spinach and kale. You can't even taste them in the smoothie!

Regarding half marathon training, I ran 4 miles last Sunday and my knee started hurting a little bit. I'm taking a couple days off and then tomorrow I will go back to CrossFit. I'm hoping to go tomorrow, Thursday and Friday and then take Saturday off and go for a 5 mile run on Sunday. I feel really good about my training plan and I'm excited to meet my goals for the week. 

I'll be 32 tomorrow and whenever I get older, I ask myself if I am where I want to be in life. I'm married to an amazing husband, have an adorable son, two cuddly dogs and I am getting stronger everyday. So yes, I am definitely where I want to be and I'm looking forward to all that 32 has to bring!