Getting Real About Nutrition and Exercise

Holy Donuts from the Holy Donut in Portland, ME. These are the bomb.

Holy Donuts from the Holy Donut in Portland, ME. These are the bomb. A treat for me a couple times a year!

It’s January 2016. The start of a brand new year. During the last week or two many of us have given some sort of thought to our health and weight. Maybe you’ve thought about getting healthier in general; eating better, sleeping more, stessing less. Or maybe you’ve thought about what it will take to lose some weight. These days there is a lot of conflicting information about how to do any of this. Additionally, nutritional needs can vary greatly from person to person. I’ve had many people ask me about weight loss and “getting lean” and I always try to give the most honest answer. The answer will also typically include the words, “It depends…”.

Over the last year or so more and more athletes have been seen indulging in donuts, pizza, and even beer. WAIT! I thought they only ate salads and steamed chicken!? Talk about confusing. The tides are changing and while a few years ago everyone was on the Paleo wagon, there is more and more evidence that performance athletes might needs more than meat, veggies, and healthy fats. There are two key words in the last few sentences: indulging and performance. 

So while Mat Fraser and Brooke Ence eat their pasta and donuts and Ben & Jerry’s, keep in mind the amount of work and energy output they have endured. Literally hours per day of training and movement. This means that they have earned the right to occasionally indulge in these foods and actually might need to eat these to get the amount of calories required the perform at such a high level. Additionally, their goal is performance which doesn’t necessarily translate to healthy! Junky food actually puts more stress on your body. This is why treats need to be occasional. Most of us cannot get away with eating treats all the time while still looking and feeling they way we want to.

Unless you are performing at a level similar to or near Mat or Brooke I suggest you go easy on the donuts, pasta, and Ben & Jerry’s and opt for the grilled chicken, sauteed broccoli and a sweet potato. If you are going to a CrossFit class three days per week but doing nothing else for activity outside of that and you want to lose weight, your nutrition must be on point. That means an occasional treat or small indulgence. I am a huge fan of this rule: Be active on most days each week. This means 4+, ideally 5 or 6 days. This doesn’t mean you have to go to CrossFit everyday. This means adding more activity to your daily life. A walk a lunch time instead of scrolling Facebook, a snow shoe hike, a day or half-day of skiing, ice skating, a dance party with your kids or a yoga class. Another way to get more activity is to arrive at the gym 30 minutes early for an extended warm up on the bike or rower.

If you’re consistently logging activity on most days of the week, you might be able to handle an indulgence each week. As in a cookie, beer, or glass of wine (or 2). If you’re working out more than this or are training for an athletic event or competition, your diet has to supply your body with all the nutrition and energy it needs to perform the best it can.  So if you’re training for 90 minutes to 2 hours or more each day it’s a good bet that you can have a donut or pizza now and then if you so choose.

HOWEVER…this all hinges on what your body can tolerate. It sometimes takes some experimentation and elimination to figure out what works for you! If you are lactose intolerant or have a gluten sensitivity, or if you have an autoimmune condition (celiac, Hashimotos, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc) there are probably foods that you must avoid in order to feel and function at your best, including donuts, pasta, and pizza and more. If you have special concerns your diet might need to be tailored to fit those concerns. Also, if you have a significant amount of weight to lose and that’s your goal, as I stated above, your nutrition must be on point most of the time (consistency!) – good quality protein, lots of veggies, some fruit, good starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, potatoes, butternut squash, and carrots.

If you’re not sure where you fit in, talk with one of your coaches or email me! I’d be happy to hep guide you in the right direction.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Thighs with Coconut Milk and Veggies

With the chilly fall weather upon us the slow-cooker has been making its way back onto the counter quite frequently. For my birthday I received a brand new Crock-pot that is

My awesome Crock-Pot

My awesome Crock-Pot

literally like the Cadillac of slow-cookers. Thank you, 9am ladies! I had a bunch of ingredients that I needed to use, so I thought I would just throw them all in to make a spicy-chicken-butternut-curry type dish. As I type this blog post I am eating a bowl and it is hitting the spot for sure. The texture is awesome. It’s almost like a creamy chicken stew with some heat, but it’s still very sweet from the coconut milk, carrots, and butternut. Sometimes experiments are the best meals. Enjoy!


Family-size package of boneless chicken thighs, ~10 thighs
1 butternut squash (I am lazy and buy the halves that are already peeled)
1 can full-fat coconut milk
5-6 Carrots
1 Lime
Salt & Pepper
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Ground Ginger

Optional Spices to add some HEAT:
Red pepper flakes
Cayenne pepper


  1. Process chicken thighs, trimming off excess fat. I take the big hunks off. Place in slow cooker.
  2. Pour coconut milk over chicken.
  3. Add spices: 1 tsp each of salt, garlic powder, onion powder. Black pepper to taste. Dash of ground ginger.
  4. If you want spicy…sprinkle of red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper.
  5. Add the juice of one lime.
  6. Add about 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or whole leaves. They wilt down well.
  7. Chop butternut into uniform sized pieces and toss in the pot.
  8. Peel and slice carrots and add those.
  9. Turn your slow-cooker on high for about 4 hours, or on low for 6+ hours. Mix everything up a couple of times throughout if able. Chicken should shred and some of the butternut should melt into the coconut milk to form a creamy broth.

It’s Not About the Silly Number!

In the fitness industry there are so many misconceptions. There’s the “women will get bulky if they lift weights”, the “I need to get rid of this little patch of fat”, and the “fat will make you fat” – just to name a few. These misconceptions somehow evolve throughout time and make their way into our conventional wisdom. Anyone who actually knows something about human physiology, anatomy  and the science of exercise and nutrition can easily disprove these beliefs and support their reasoning with sound science, but it takes someone with an open mind to actually listen and heed advice. As a fitness professional it’s frustrating to constantly see this misinformation permeate society; we see it on the covers of magazines, in the news, and, unfortunately, coming out of fitness institutions and from the mouths of so-called “experts”.

These myths confuse the hell out of us; the ones trying to fight the good fight; exercising and eating all the right things. But are we really eating the right things? Are we really getting the most out of our time at the gym?

This post is intended for everyone; guys and ladies. Most of the time when I hear “I’m afraid I will look like a freak if I lift heavy weights” it’s coming from the mouth of a female. If I ever hear a guy say that he thinks women should not lift or that they look “manly” if they are well-muscled, then he is just not worth my time and I will stop listening. I’m not kidding. Being muscular and strong is how we keep our bodies functioning like they should; preventing injury, decrepitude, and frailty.

I’ve now been on my CrossFit/Paleo journey for over three years. It’s been an amazing and rewarding journey and a huge learning process. I want to share a little bit about the journey, in order to help change your minds about some of these misconceptions and distorted ideas that float around in the fitness business. I hope you enjoy the photos as well.

Scale weight: About 150lbs

This picture was taken at the beginning of a 30-day Paleo Challenge in 2011. Before the challenge I was eating about 75-80% Paleo; I couldn’t commit 100%. I was still drinking alcohol on a consistent basis and eating Paleo baked goods often. Partying on the weekends takes a huge toll on the body composition and training schedule. That November challenge set me up for totally committing to this way of eating; the absence of grains, dairy, legumes, and added sugar became my “normal”. I’ve never looked back.

These photos were taken at the beginning of a Spring 2012 Paleo Challenge. The differences in my body composition after a winter of CrossFit and clean eating are apparent. During this challenge I leaned out a lot. I don’t have an after photo unfortunately. There was a problem, though. I wasn’t eating enough carbohydrate to support my activity level. I was getting all of my carbs from vegetables like kale, broccoli and asparagus, which isn’t a bad thing, but it just wasn’t enough for the amount of work I was doing in the gym and for my active job as a trainer. I found myself becoming annoyed really easily and I felt fatigued a lot of the time. In the mirror I saw the results I wanted, but I knew it wasn’t sustainable because I was miserable. You can read about my food intake back then HERE.

I thought it might just be sugar withdrawal that was making me feel so shitty, but when I began reading more about carb intake and read Sweet Potato Power, I saw the light. I tracked my daily carb intake and it was not nearly enough. I added a sweet potato to my daily food intake and it was amazing. I was hesitant because I though the dense, starchy carb source wouldn’t allow me to stay as lean as I wanted, but then the opposite happened. I actually leaned out more! The best part was that I was also a lot happier. Sweet potatoes and squash are now essential to my life, haha. Sweet potato is definitely the food that I could never live without.


 Scale Weight: 155lbs

The above photo was taken at the beginning of my January Whole30. Since September 17th, 2012 when I embarked on a 60-day challenge I have eaten very strict Paleo; the cleanest I’ve ever been, with the exception of Christmas. I ate a lot of Paleo cookies over the holidays and enjoyed a few adult beverages. It tasted good but I felt like crap and felt bloated and swollen from the sugar and booze. I felt slow in the gym. It took me about a week and a half to completely recover from this mini-bender.

I included my weight in each of these photos to show that the number on the scale is kind of a silly thing to pay a lot of attention to. I weigh more now than I did two years ago, but I look much different; better, in my humble opinion. I am smaller now than I was back then, when I weighed less. Isn’t that strange?! I think it’s awesome. But how does this happen? Muscle is denser than body fat. So if you look at a five-pound piece of muscle it will take up less space than a five-pound piece of fat. As a result of training and clean eating, I have built muscle and reduced the amount of fat on my body. So my scale weight has increased because of the muscle, but I am smaller because I lost fat. Don’t fret if the number on the scale isn’t moving like you thought it would. In fact, put the scale in the basement or dark closet and use it sparingly, if at all. A much better way to track progress is to take measurements with a tape measure (hips, waist, chest, legs, arms) and to take before and after photos like I’ve done here. Also, gauge changes in your body by how your clothes feel. Tight jeans don’t lie!

Same weight, fat vs. muscle. Ever notice how sweet potatoes kind of look like muscles?


The next series of photos are a few of my lady CrossFit friends. They all train hard and eat clean. To me they are beautiful, fit, strong women. They are nowhere near “bulky” or “manly”.

Dana drags the 135# sled. She works part-time and is a full-time wife and the mom of two little cuties.

Brittany does shoulder taps. She works full-time and is also a part-time fashionista.


Ilda with a gorgeous clean and beautiful smile. She is a full-time student, studying medicine at Dartmouth.

My hope is that post is enlightening for my readers. If you already knew all of this, then it serves as reinforcement. If you’re still skeptical I would be happy to have a chat with you. Experiment with the food you are putting into your body; change it up if it’s not working for you. Ask a good coach for some advice if you’re not performing, looking, or feeling as good as you know you could. Most of all, give your body the time it needs to change. Change does not happen overnight. We must be patient and remain focused on our goals in the gym and outside of the gym.

Special thanks to Dana, Brittany, and Ilda for graciously agreeing to let me use their photos for this post. Thank you to my amazing chiropractors, Drs. Matt and Whitney Swiesz for repairing my posture over the past year and half. It’s very noticeable in those photos! Finally, thank you to my coaches and mentors who have helped me along this path – the entire way: My little(BIG) bro, Ky-Guy, Mike Molloy, and Rob Austin.

Please let me know what you’re thinking about this. Go forth and lift big!


Call It What You Will

Nutrition. It’s a very touchy subject. It’s one of those topics, like politics or religion, that you try to avoid on holidays. I don’t really love getting into how bad wheat is for you while everyone is huddled around the mountain of Christmas cookies, lovingly baked by some lovely person. I’m just not a fan of those awkward conversations. I try to be as non-judgmental as possible. People are allowed their opinions and I am okay with that. It doesn’t mean I agree, but I don’t lose sleep. People get pretty defensive if you tread on their food choices, especially if it’s not the “best” food choice one could be making. In general, people know what’s “good” for them and what’s “not-so-good” for them. But that’s about where the knowledge ends.

What really irks me is when others pass judgement about they way that I eat, without really knowing how I eat or why I do it. In the past two weeks that have been two examples of this. I don’t want to get into gory details, but the gist went something like this…

One does not need to go to the extreme of a Paleo Diet. I recommend a diet of fruits and vegetables and lean meats, low in processed foods. 

Hmmmm. That sounds an awful lot like the Paleo Diet to me! And by the way, a cardiologist said this. Call it what you will; clean eating, Paleo, Caveman, whatever…for the most part we are all on the same page. The main goal is to not eat the crap with ingredients that you can’t pronounce! Reducing or eliminating processed grains and sugar is important whether you eat Paleo or not. Eat some white rice here and there? Sure. Go out and have some chips and salsa? Go for it. The goal is to make the best choices we can, most of the time. If you’re a grown-ass person, you can choose what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat. But if you completely disregard the importance of nutrition and diet, there will eventually be consequences. You are not a genetic anomaly, it will catch up with you.

As someone who is concerned with what you eat, here are my tips for getting through the holidays:

  • Enjoy yourself. If you know that you will be a complete Grinch unless you get one of your grandmother’s famous cookies, eat one! Conversely, if you know that sugar makes you depressed and gluten makes you achy, avoid them!

  • Beware the slippery slope. If you know that eating cookies will derail you completely and cause you to do more damage than good, it’s probably best to avoid the cookies.

  • Bring something. If you are going to a holiday party or gathering, bring something you know you can eat, guilt-free.

  • Make a plan. Go into events and gatherings with a game plan. Whether it’s a 2-drink limit, or a 3-cookie limit, create boundaries for yourself and stick to them.

  • Water rule. Drink a glass of water or seltzer water between each alcoholic drink. This will keep you hydrated and feeling full.

  • Don’t feel compelled to justify why you eat the way you do. If someone asks you why you aren’t eating something, throw it back to them and ask them why they are eating it.

  • Avoid debating food choices with friends and family. It’s the holidays, let it go. Take comfort and pride in knowing that you are doing the very best you can.

  • Attempt to focus on the experience and not the eating. Although holiday gatherings tend to revolve around food, and food is an important part of tradition, make it a goal to focus on the people there. Make it a point to check in with everyone you’re with; spend more time flapping your lips and less time chewing.
  • Note: There’s lots of debate about what a “clean” diet really is. In my opinion, these debates are a waste of time. Try this: eat filet minion, asparagus, and sweet potato one night. The next night eat a bowl of pasta with alfredo sauce with some breadsticks on the side. Compare how you felt when you woke up in the morning, and how you slept during the night? 

60 Days

My experience this year…
I was on the fence about signing up for the Lurong Paleo Challenge this year. I honestly didn’t really think I needed it. But, then I took some more time to think about things and realized that the small changes the challenge would force me to me were the ones I needed the most. 
#1) I needed to stop drinking margaritas on the weekends
#2) I needed to stop with the dark chocolate and paleo treats every day
#3) I need to feel better and detox 
#4) I needed to do this with others for support 
Ding, ding, ding, I signed up once again. 

My results were not as dramatic as last year, but I was kind of expecting that. I trained harder than ever over the last year and have put on muscle which I was determined NOT to lose. I ate more than I was eating last year which allowed for a more demanding training schedule. I even set some PRs during this time. 

I am happy that I participated in the challenge again this year. It really helped to reinforce that small changes make a big difference. It helped me to evaluate my goals as a CrossFit athlete and allowed me to once again feel healthy; like a machine running on optimal fuel. I feel great at the end of 60 days. It went by really fast. 

My favorite part of the challenge this year was no about me, though. I had a much better time watching others make changes and succeed and helping them along the way if they needed it. If you participated in the challenge, and saw it through until the very end, you should be proud of yourself. There were some amazing accomplishments at The Fort CrossFit which were a result of people eating better. No doubt in my mind.

My plan for the weeks to come is to continue to eat clean and train hard. I had a little bit of chocolate and it was delicious, of course. I have been reminded of how much better life is when I run on clean fuel and I will try to remember that at the holiday gatherings where I am faced with the cookie buffets and seemingly endless stash of wine bottles.

Here are the pictures from this year.

Beginning to the halfway point…


Day 1 – Day 30: My face was so puffy!
Day 1 – Day 30
Day 1 – Day 30: This one just about says it all.
Final Results…
Day 1 – Day 60: I can finally wear my pink PR shorts again. YES!
Day 1 – Day 60
Day 1 – Day 60
Let’s keep going.
Do the shopping and prep….…Create the meals…
…and see the results.

Paleo-Friendly Chicken Parm

I think it’s really important to learn how to cook. We should all know how to prepare basic meals that can feed us and the ones we love. I good recipe will provide you with the instruction you need to put something yummy on the table. Many people ask me where I find my recipes. Most of the time I don’t have a good answer because I don’t really use recipes. I mostly use Google, Pinterest, or the few cookbooks I own to gain inspiration for something I am wanting to eat.

This week I was in the mood for comfort food. Chicken parm! I knew that this dish would be more labor intensive than others, so I must warn you about that. I had a good 2 hours on my hands, which is rare, but was plenty of time to prepare this meal. The ingredients aren’t complicated, it’s really just the chicken that takes time. I usually do not document the ingredients or process, but I did it this time. The finished product was too damn good to not share. I apologize for the lack of photos. I was too busy eating. If you have questions, please ask!

          Recipe feeds 2 adults, with some leftovers
          A bit labor intensive, so plan accordingly. Perhaps do some prep ahead. Prepping the chicken cutlets and roasting the spaghetti squash ahead would save time.
2.      2 EGGS
5.      1 ½ TEASPOON SALT
9.      OLIVE OIL
Roast Spaghetti Squash
1.      Preheat oven to get your spaghetti squash roasting. 375 degrees.
2.      Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for ~30 minutes, flesh-side down on baking sheet.
Prepare Chicken Cutlets
3.      Begin heating a large sauté pan at medium heat. Add cooking oil of choice. I used olive oil.
4.      Trim chicken of visible fat and other undesirable parts.
5.      Cut into smaller pieces, pound them out with mallet. If you don’t have a mallet you can use a rolling pin, or you can butterfly the chicken. The idea is to have thin cutlets.
6.      Crack 2 eggs into a shallow dish and beat with a fork.
7.      Pour 2 cups of almond meal onto a plate, add about 1TBSP garlic powder and 1 ½ tsp salt. Mix.
8.      Make an “assembly line” next to the heated sauté pan: almond meal, egg, chicken cutlets. Grab another plate for cooked chicken.
Pan Fry the Chicken Cutlets
9.      Dip cutlets into the egg and let the excess drip off, coat both sides in the almond meals, place in pan. The cutlets should sizzle. If they don’t your pan is not hot enough.
10.  Saute the cutlets for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip.  Chicken should feel firm to the touch, not squishy – that’s how you know it’s cooked. You can also do the slice test.
11.  Once cooked, remove spaghetti squash from the oven. You should be able to pull the strands easily with a fork.
12.  Scrape out the spaghetti stands into a large casserole dish. Pour some of the jarred sauce over the squash.
13.  Place your chicken cutlets over the squash and scrape crispy almond meal from the sauté pan and add to dish. Pour remaining sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle dried (or fresh) parsley over top.

14.  Return entire casserole dish to a 200 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

LuRong Living Paleo Challenge 2013

I can’t believe it’s been a year already! It’s amazing how quickly times goes. Last year, I blogged about my LuRong Journey in this post. Last year’s experience was one of the coolest things I have ever done and felt an amazing sense of accomplishment when I finished. If you’ve decided to do the challenge again this year, or are participating for the first time, I commend you and I am here to support you all the way!

My guess is that many of you enjoyed some treats and cheats over the weekend leading up to the challenge kickoff. I know I did. From Thursday until Sunday night I indulged in some things that I will not be consuming for the next 8 weeks. I took some pictures so I can remember these goodies…

 Pumpkin espresso martini. Homemade.
 German Chocolate Cake. Masterpiece. Homemade.
 Nachos and Margaritas at Agave in Newburyport.
 Put a hurtin’ on those.
 Oysters at Brine in Newburyport. Totally Paleo.
My partner in food crimes…Enjoying his last beer.
I am ready for this challenge, and excited, just like last year. I actually wasn’t going to participate this year but I decided to join the wagon again because it seems like a really good time of year for some good detoxing. After a summer of treats and drinking it’s nice to be held accountable. One of my favorite parts of this challenge is that it gives me a head start going into the holiday season. Thanksgiving through New Years can be a challenge. I remember feeling so good at Thanksgiving and Christmas last year, and not really having a desire for lots of the sugary goodies. I also think that folks who eat paleo most of the time benefit from a longer challenge like this one. Sometimes 30 days just isn’t enough. So I wish you all the best on this journey. Set goals, work hard, and always remember…Without challenge, there is no change.

Fall Drink | Pumpkin Spice Latte

It’s getting to be that time of year. As much as I love summer and all the fun times it brings, it feels good to bust out the boots, jeans, and sweaters. If I had a dollar for every time I heard about pumpkin-this or pumpkin-spice-that this week, I would be able to afford some new Lulu! It seems that pumpkin spice is the hashtag of the week…#pumpkinspice. Fall is certainly in the air; the leaves are tired; and I am cold in the morning.

I found a recipe for a pumpkin spice latte on Pinterest and adapted it based on ingredients I had. You could always buy one of these treats from Starbucks or Dunkins, but I assure you, if you eat clean/Paleo you will not feel good after you drink one of those dairy/sugar bombs. This recipe is actually fairly nutritious and gives you the caffeine that you crave (if you’re like me). It will also keep your bank account full.

Pumpkin Spice Latte
1. Approx. 1 cup of strong coffee of espresso.
2. 1 tablespoon canned pumpkin (not pumpkin-pie filling)
3. 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
4. 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
5. 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
6. 1/2 cup coconut milk or almond milk (I’m a fan of unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
7. Sweetener of choice (optional). (I like 1 tsp. maple syrup)

1. Brew coffee. I double brew so it’s strong. 
2. Heat coconut or almond milk in the microwave so it doesn’t cool the coffee too much.
3. Add both liquids into blender or Ninja.
4. Add all other ingredients.
5. Blend and serve. 

Living Paleo in a Not-So-Paleo Time

When it comes to eating there are many barriers to making healthy choices. First we much acknowledge how fortunate we are to be able to choose what we feed ourselves; have access to, and can afford to eat clean, whole foods. There are many people who are not as privileged. Recognizing that you have power over the choices you make and the foods you eat is liberating. 

Our Food Environment

When we think about how our far-away ancestors lived, it’s vastly different than how we live in this modern day and age. We are fortunate to have running water, electricity, refrigerators, cars, and iPhones. Many of these conveniences make our lives easier, but can also make us less healthy. Advances in science and innovation have allowed for the engineering of thousands upon thousands of food-like products which are displayed in grocery stores, purchased and consumed by millions. For most of us, in any direction, not too far away, there is a food source. We can drive to Hannaford if we forget ingredients. No need to forage the earth for hours for a few nuts and berries; or hunt for days for one animal that might feed our family. We’re expending much less energy, but consuming much more. In the USA this issue is compounded by the major discrepancies in socioeconomic status and can be much different in rural versus urban versus suburban areas.

People around you
When I started eating paleo, the people I was closest to were not doing the same. I was surrounded by pizza, beer, bread, and other gluten-filled things. I did my best to stick to my plan, but it was hard with peer pressure. When the three other people at your table order a pitcher of beer you say, “f*ck it, I’m having beer.” This is completely normal. It’s hard to fight the tide, so don’t beat yourself up if you feel influenced by your buddies. If you feel like the slip-ups are truly getting in the way of your progress, then it’s time to find new friends. I’m totally kidding, of course. There are a few things you can do. #1 – Explain to your friends that you have some goals that you really want to achieve, so your food choices are going to reflect that. #2 – If you’re going out, eat something before you go out so you’re not hungry and tempted to eat things you don’t want to eat. #3 – Check out menus before your decide on a destination/restaurant. Make sure there are paleo-approved items and options so that you’re not in a tough spot when it’s time to order. If your friends are truly giving you a hard time and they are not willing to support you, then it might be time to hang out with some different, more supportive people for a while. There are instances when others are not supportive of your goals and choices simply because of their own insecurities. 

The willpower myth
I have heard this so many times…”I just wish I had more willpower”. While focus and effort are necessary for staying on track, you can’t fight your body. When first transitioning to a whole-foods diet and eliminating sugar it’s tough to resist cravings. We are naturally drawn to sweet and fatty foods because they are energy-dense. A helpful strategy is to replace processed foods with a whole-food alternative. If you have ice cream after dinner, have some frozen berries with almond or coconut milk over top. If you like chips and dips, try bite sized veggies and guacamole or salsa instead. Another helpful tactic is to plan when you are going to “let loose”. If you know you’re getting together with friends on Saturday night, that’s when you have those cheats. You know that when Saturday night is over, it’s time to get back in the clean-food wagon. 

Sometimes you just need to play dominoes, wear a fedora, and drink whiskey out of a wine glass.
It becomes your new normal, but it takes time
It’s easy to talk about these strategies because these are the things that I have done along the way. I always tell people though, “This is a journey and a process.” Changing behavior is hard. “Normal” is what you are used to, day in and day out. To change those patterns takes time and conscious effort. If you are willing to give it time and forgive yourself for slip-ups along the way, eventually your normal will shift. It will no longer feel right to eat pizza, it might not even taste good anymore. You’ll recognize the foods that you can get away with and the ones that make you feel like crap. You’ll stay away from the ones that give you negative feedback once it happens enough times.

This is what happens when I eat gluten. It’s happened too many time. I no longer eat gluten.

Be Realistic
Since going Paleo back in 2010, I have gone through periods of time when I am super-strict about my eating and then more lenient with the choices I make. I try to eat based on what my body is telling me. I used to stress a lot over “eating this and not eating that” which set me up for a very black/white-good/bad view of food. Those of you who read my blog know that I am NOT a proponent of “Everything in Moderation” and I don’t operate that way, but I have realized that if I am hyper-focused on something, it adds unnecessary stress. We should not be stressed over food, we already have enough going on! Always keep your goals in mind and try to connect the dots between food, emotional feelings, and how you’re physically feeling. 

Thursday Night Dinner

How long does it take you to cook dinner? An hour; half hour; 2 hours; all day? Is cooking a barrier to eating healthy food? When I host nutrition talks one theme that always emerges is the amount of time it takes to eat healthy. Additionally, it seems that being prepared and having healthy foods on hand is one of the keys to success. So how do we prepare ourselves, cook quick meals, but still stay on track? 

Thursday Night Fish and Veggies
Fish is super easy to prepare, tastes delicious, and is a great source of protein. I don’t know why more people don’t eat fish more often. It literally takes 12 minutes or less to cook. On Thursday nights Jameson and I make dinner together. It’s usually fish. We don’t usually get out of the gym until about 7:30, sometimes 8, so spending an hour cooking after that doesn’t seem like much fun. One night we were talking about how the meal we were eating was so quick and easy to make, but still so delicious and “paleo-approved”. 

Here’s what was on the menu last week:
During the day I had some time to prepare a quick mango avocado salsa and brought it with me. Jameson picked up some fresh wild-caught swordfish steaks, some zucchini and summer squash.

I chopped the zucchini and squash, tossed it all in a big saute pan with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sauteed the veggies until they were cooked, but still a bit crunchy, probably about 10 minutes.

While that was happening the fish was on the grill pan. The “grillmaster” concluded that 3-3-2-2 would be the perfect amount of cooking time for the 1.5 inch steaks. Flip after 3 minutes, cook the other side for 3 minutes, then flip again for another 2 minutes of cooking per side. Perfect grill marks and all! If you don’t have a grill pan or a grill, swordfish cooks up easily in the oven; 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.

By the time the fish is cooked through, the veggies should be done. Top the fish with mango avocado salsa and serve the veggies on the side.

Not swordfish, but salmon, from another Thursday night. 
About 15 minutes to prepare.

Quick Sweet Potatoes
CrossFitters need sweet potatoes. My day is not complete without them. Do yourself a favor and always have them ready. But if you need them in a pinch here’s the easiest way. Peel them and slice them into rounds. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and toss those bad boys on there with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake them for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. They will be soft. You can eat them that way or mash them up. Add some cinnamon for a delicious twist.

If he can do it, so can you. Have your sweet potatoes ready to go!

I guess the main point of this post is to give you hope. Cooking awesome, healthy, nutritious meals can be done with limited time. It does require some planning and a trip or two to the grocery store. Make a list each week of the things you enjoy eating and need. Once you get in the routine you should be all set. Commit to your health and eating well, you know what you need to do. 

Please be on the lookout for a Crock-pot recipe coming soon!