The Dog Days

Ahhh, good old summer time. The magic of summer was definitely a bit more apparent when I was a kid. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still the best time of year, but now I am an adult. So just because it’s 90 degrees with 1,000,000 percent humidity doesn’t mean I can waste the day away swimming and sunning, work duties are lurking. Good thing I have a great job that doesn’t require me to wear business suits and restricting clothing. Spandex, anyone?

Relaxing by the lake on 4th of July

Relaxing by the lake on 4th of July

These days I cherish my weekends. Mostly because it gives me a chance to regroup and prepare for my week. I have an easier time recharging my batteries while I am alone, I guess that’s the introvert side of me. It’s also probably why I feel so connected to nature and the quiet that comes along with it.

The plan for this coming weekend is to get a nice day-hike in on one of the days (weather-dependent) and enjoy some quiet time around the ‘hood. I’m starting to get anxiety over the fact that we’re already into week two of July. As a kid the summer seemed to drag on forever. Now it’s like a flash in the pan. You must make the weekends count. What about the week days though? Is summer the time to live a little? Should we disregard the 9:00pm bedtime to enjoy a cocktail by the water with friends, or go for a go for a jog at 8:00pm because it’s still light out and we can? For a creature of habit like myself this is a difficult thing to do. Getting up at 4:30am is also a deterrent. The jury is still out on this one. Gotta find a balance I suppose. See what I did there? ūüėČ

My wrist is starting to feel better and I am making progress which is a good thing. Some movements still really bother me but it’s significantly less painful. My chiropractor has been working his magic doing some soft tissue and trigger point work on my forearm from my elbow down to my hand. There’s a lot of gnarly stuff going on in there. I was recently thinking about how I tend to hold my iPhone with my left hand and scroll using my thumb. I am thinking that this has played a role in my wrist issues as well. Making a conscious effort to limit the mindless scrolling on the phone. It’s unnecessary for many reasons.

I began the German Body Comp program a few weeks ago. It’s been really nice to slow things down, but still be getting an amazing workout. In CrossFit I think we get caught up in speed and intensity. I mean, it’s very important to find that intensity to get an appropriate training response, but that doesn’t mean pedal to the metal all the time. The GBC requires every movement be done with tempo, so it’s actually very challenging to do that – for all kinds of reasons, haha. I am considering this summer my “off season” from the sport of fitness. I am getting the itch to get back in the game and my goal is to able to work with a barbell again by mid-August/September-ish. So, look out, I am coming back.

I hope you are having a fantastic summer and you’re living A LOT! Go out on a weeknight, stay up late now and then, drink a margarita on the weekends, and put down the phone. You’ll wish for this come January! Enjoy the photos…

My loon buddy on the 4th of July. He looks relaxed.

My loon buddy on the 4th of July. He looks relaxed.

We could be a Sperry Topsider advertisement.

We could be a Sperry Topsider advertisement.

Since working is not optional I use a combo of peppermint and orange essential oils in my diffuser to pick me up when I want to take a nap in the afternoon. You should get in on this!

Since working is not optional I use a combo of peppermint and orange essential oils in my diffuser to pick me up when I want to take a nap in the afternoon. You should get in on this!

Goal Updates and Injuries

My last post was about my goal to get outside in nature this summer. So far I’ve been doing well with that goal. We have already gone camping once this season and it was awesome. It was extremely relaxing and after only a couple days in the woods I felt like I had been on vacation. I was completely unplugged from the phone and computer which was the best part.

Our site at Covered Bridge Campground. So peaceful.

Our site at Covered Bridge Campground. So peaceful.

My in-the-gym training has not been going so well, however. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how desire for training goes through peaks and valleys. For me it’s very motivating to have some kind of event to train for. Last fall it was training to prepare for the Winter Throwdown at Champlain Valley in December. Although I didn’t do well at that competition, I became a much better CrossFitter while completing my training leading up to it. My focus was on fixing some issue and building more strength, particularly in my upper body pushing and pulling.

Then we transitioned to training for the CrossFit Open and I continued to progress. I drastically improved my ranking compared to last year. I finished in the top 700 of the North East Region this year; I finally got my muscle ups; I worked on my Olympic lifts consistently; and I got stronger mentally.

When the Open was over, I took a week off from training and going hard. Getting back into it after that week was tough, like the week after you get back to reality from vacation. I’d been strict with my eating leading up to the Open so I could stay lean and feel my best. I loosened up the reigns with that a little bit with that too. I try not to let myself stress about food anymore – maybe you noticed the Coronas in the photo above! After all, it’s just food. It doesn’t control me and it’s one of life’s necessities.

So after lots of hard training through the winter and push through many aches and pains, my wrist tendonitis has finally come to a tipping point. A few weeks ago I pushed it beyond its limits. If wrists could talk it would have told me, “Please, no more.” I listened. I got three different opinions: an MD, a Chiropractor, and a Massage Therapist. Combining all three opinions I have developed a plan for resting, healing, and rehabilitating my wrist. Oye!

arm cast 2015

The wrist splint I wear when I sleep.

 

It’s a huge bummer, but it’s also a wake up call that I truly needed. It’s something you read and hear all the time, “Keep your body maintained”, “Do your mobility”, “Have body work done”, “Make modifications if something’s bothering you”… but sometimes we just don’t listen. I didn’t listen. I just kept pushing it and pushing it.

It will take a little while for me to be back in action, but I will get there. For now I am just trying to accept it for what it is and enjoy what I can do. Lots of squats, running, sled dragging, and hiking are in my summer training plans. I am focusing on the positives of slowing down a little bit, but don’t get me wrong, it’s super-tough and I often feel the itch to pick up a barbell. All in due time I suppose!

chocura 2015

Representing OPEX at the summit of Mt. Chocura

Summer Plans and Goals

My goal for the summer is to be outside and active in nature more often. I really love nature and it’s where I feel the most alive and joyful. I’ve not been feeling alive or joyful over the past couple days of being sick. There is nothing joyful about the stomach bug. Clearly, I need to be in nature more. The dirt would do me some good, I think!

Hiking 2007

Hiking 2007

The plan is to hike on Sundays as much as possible. My goal for the end of summer or early fall is to hike Mt. Washington. I haven’t hiked that mountain since 2008, so I think it’s a good goal. Jameson and I hope to get a few camping/hiking weekends in as well too! Since about 2004 I’ve been slowly checking off all the 4,000 ft mountains in NH. I would like to cross a few more off the list between now and the fall.

Best fish of my life

Best fish of my life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it’s really important to find hobbies and goals for myself that are not related to CrossFit. As much as I love training, working toward my¬†goals in the gym, and the atmosphere of The Fort, I’ve been missing other forms of activity like biking and hiking. In the past, those kinds of things were my main sources of physical activity. It’s time to get back in the game. I am kind of scared of setting this goal and not following through. It’s really easy to let the time go by or let other “stuff” get in the way. So, if I decide to do something I must follow through with it. Decide and do!

What are your goals for being outside this summer? Let’s hold each other accountable!

Huge tree in Oregon

Huge tree in Oregon

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”¬†–¬†Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

April Showers Bring May Flowers

This post is a bit of a ramble. I apologize for the lack of organization in my writing. I have allergy-brain today. That or I am dehydrated, but I’m working on that. Everything seems a little fuzzy.

spring

Last week was pretty cool. Kyle, my brother, was out of town so I felt a little more responsibility at the gym. It was an awesome week. I work with the best people and our members are just incredible. Anyway, I thought it would be hard and I would be tired, but I ended up feeling really good. I will admit I started feeling tired on Thursday into Friday, but it was nothing a 30 minute power nap couldn’t fix. I was definitely ready for a bit of R&R by Saturday. Something that definitely helped to keep me going last week were my essential oils. I have recently started getting into oils and I am really becoming a believer. The number one reason I like the oils so much is that they provide a natural, non-toxic alternative to chemicals, medications, and potentially harmful household products.

Diffusing oils makes your home smell amazing, but  you also get the aromatherapy benefits. Here I diffused an oil blend called Stress Away with Peppermint for unwinding and uplifting after a long day.

Diffusing oils makes my home smell amazing, but I also get the aromatherapy benefits. Here I diffused an oil blend called Stress Away with Peppermint for unwinding and uplifting after a long day. I am very sensitive to scents so traditional scented candles and sprays give me headaches and make me feel nauseous. My oils are a refreshing ( and much healthier) alternative. 

This weather is just absolutely rockin’. We have waited a long time for it. The only problem is that during Spring the flowers and leaves are blooming, the windows are open, the dust us kicking up and my allergies are kicking in! I’ve been waking up feeling like a zombie. The allergy trio oil blend of lavender, peppermint, and lemon has really been helping me to stay on top of my symptoms. I carry a roller bottle around with me and also diffuse the trio when I am home.

It’s been so nice to have the doors open at the gym. It makes the space feel larger and we have the option of going outside. Plus…running! I am struggling to get back into running shape, but I know that with time it will come. It always does. My work over the last 6+ months has really paid off. Last year I completed “DT” in 12:48. Last week I did the workout in 8:46. I am psyched about that.

allergies

 

 

I am excited for what May has to offer. Each of my weekends is already pretty full which makes me feel blessed, but also kind of overwhelmed. I can do it – it’s going to be awesome. Do you have anything fun and interesting planned for the month of May? Let’s hear it!

Personal Stuff and Grey’s Spoiler

I don’t really follow too many TV shows regularly. I mostly watch NH Chronicle and HGTV. Nerd alert. But there is ONE show that I have watched since it premiered when I was a freshman at Plymouth State in 2004. Grey’s Anatomy. I own almost every season on DVD, I sometimes catch myself watching re-runs on Lifetime TV, I have sacrificed sleep to watch, and I have looked forward to Sunday and then Thursday nights for over 10 years.

This television show has literally helped me through some of the toughest times of my life. I know it seems kind of ridiculous, but I think that sometimes acting, subject matter, and music bring out emotions that we need to feel. I am really really good at keeping my emotions inside me, but over the years these characters sometimes helped me to feel when I needed to feel.

There have been many deaths on Grey’s. Denny, Izzy, George, Lexi, Mark. There have been near deaths; the drowning, the gun shot, the plane crash, the electrocution. But none of this compares to last night’s episode: The Death of Derek Shepherd. If you haven’t seen it and you’re a fan, I apologize for ruining it. If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter I’m sure you already heard the news though. Derek is dead. And I was¬†completely unprepared for that.¬†

Derek

 

With a long week under my belt by Thursday night, I felt the sadness wash over me and cried as I watched the episode unfold. I couldn’t hold back the tears. They just flowed. It felt really good.

This loss certainly feels like the end of en era. I have to say, Ellen Pompeo’s performance was mesmerizing and I truly enjoyed watching her act, as hard as it was. I am preparing myself to watch the episode again to enjoy all the good parts.

As much as I am not a fan of excessive television watching, a little goes a long way in helping me to relax, escape, and be entertained. After 11 seasons of watching Grey’s the characters feel more like friends. We’ve learned about their lives and they have helped us to learn about our own. I will sincerely miss the interactions of Meredith and Derek, the true love they had for each other, and I will be sad to see how their family and friends will suffer this loss. I know it’s only TV, but it feels deeper.

Hug your loved ones. Be thankful you have them. Be with those who bring out the best in you. Say yes. Live every chance you can. 

The Beauty of Mexican Food!

taco

Mexican-style food is a staple in my house. It’s easy and the flavors are so fresh and bright. At least one to two times a week we have tacos, Mexican bowls, or some variation. It’s something I find myself craving quite frequently. Here I will give you some tips and variations on the basics.

DIY Taco Seasoning (per 1lb ground meat)

РAbout 1 tsp. of the following: Sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin
– 1 TBSP Chili Powder
– Dash of cayenne pepper – more for more heat
– Black pepper optional

Choose Your Protein:

– 2lbs of 94% lean ground turkey
– A mixture of 1lb 85% lean grassfed beef + 1lb turkey
– Classic, 2lbs ground beef (try for grassfed)
– Shredded chicken (made previously in the slow-cooker)
– About 2 lbs white fish

Add-Ins:

Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
Avocados or guacamole
White Rice
Romaine lettuce, chopped
Fresh tomato
Salsa
Pico de gallo (I buy Hannaford’s pre-made)
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Squeeze of fresh lime juice

My favorite salsa!

My favorite salsa!

Putting it All Together:

I personally like everything mixed together in a bowl. It’s nice to have control over the amount of each ingredient you add in, especially if you are paying attention to your macronutrient ratios. If you need more carbs in your diet, you can wrap everything up in soft corn tortillas (gluten free) or add some extra rice. If you’re going to indulge in corn chips, make them organic and non-GMO.

It’s so much better when it’s homemade!

 salsa

 

The 2015 Open

My goals for the 2015 CrossFit Open were to 1) Finish in the top 1,000 in the North East Region and 2) feel more confident in my abilities as an athlete. Back in October I asked Kyle for a better plan for my training. Until then I was jumping in with class 4-5 times each week. I was fit, but I knew I wasn’t spending as much time on weaknesses as I needed to. So he started writing my programming. In 2014 I finished somewhere in the 1400s in the Region and I wanted to improve that position. I knew that muscle ups would hold me back in a huge way if I couldn’t get any this year. Tackled that goal and got my first one back in December, and was able to get 11 in 15.3, but it’s definitely still a work in progress. I really wanted to have fun, work the hardest I could, and know that my training made me better. I finished around 600ish.¬†Mission accomplished.

15.1 AMRAP 9 – 15TTB/10DL/5SN
This was a fun workout. I actually enjoyed doing it. I have been training toes-to-bar and power snatches for the last 3 months so this was wheel house stuff. The barbell was super light for me which was an advantage. I was able to get through 3 rounds of toes to bar in sets of 5. After that they were pretty sporadic since my abs and grip were fatigued. I tried to keep moving on this. I found myself taking too many breaths during the transitions to the barbell. I tried to hustle it up at the end. I finished my 5th found right on the 9 minute mark. Final score: 150 reps

15.1a 1RM C&J
Bending over to change out plates was super hard because my abs were cramping up. I stood up and took my time. My opening lift was 135 which I hit easily. I squat cleaned it but should have just power cleaned it. My next lift was 145 – power clean, easy jerk. My plan was to go to 155 but I made the decision to try 160. I power cleaned 160 no problem, but then missed the jerk behind me. I wasn’t confident. I went back down to 155 and made the lift. Final score: 155lbs

IMG_1814

 

15.2 C2B/OHS
Angry and bummed. From the moment this workout was announced I was intimidated. I have never been great at chest to bar pull ups. In fact a couple months ago was the first time I had ever been able to string them together using a prone grip. Last year my score was 78 reps. I was confident that I could beat that score, and the thought of getting into the 6:00-9:00 round had me excited. My score this time was 87 reps, one shy of getting to where I wanted to be. I made a mistake counting on my first set of 12 overhead squats and ended up doing an extra rep. I got off track mentally after that which is ultimately what caused me to miss that last rep. It’s a hard thing to swallow. I guess these are the times you consider doing a workout over. Not sure if I will have enough time to recover by Monday, or if it’s even worth it.

I ended up repeating the workout on Monday afternoon. I finished the second round with :30 seconds to spare. I ended up a score of 132 which was what I was expecting. Holy forearms! I am really glad I repeated this workout.

15.3 MU/WB/DU
This is where I thought the Open was over for me. Having only done strict muscle ups successfully and sporadically, I set my sights on 14 minutes of muscle up attempts. When Friday afternoon rolled around I figured I’d give it a try. I surprisingly was able to kip all of my muscle ups and made it 4 reps into the second round. This was one of the most awesome accomplishments of my CrossFit career. I’ve only done muscle ups like that in my dreams – not even kidding. ¬†My score was 161 reps. Pumped.

15.4 HSPU/CLEAN
I had mixed feelings about this workout. Handstand Push Ups are not one of my strongest movements, but I am good at cleans and 125# is fairly light for me. The HSPU standard was fine with me, but I made the mistake of using just a yoga mat under my hands and head. I should have used plates and an abmat because I wasn’t able to move as quickly through my reps and I think my shoulders fatigued a little sooner than they would have otherwise. Not making excuses, just observing what I could have done differently and possibly had a better outcome. I got 33 reps. I considered re-doing the workout, but didn’t feel like I would have gotten a ton more reps, so I didn’t. Currently 573 in the North East region.

15.5 ROW/THRUSTER
I was psyched when this workout was announced. I’m a decent rower and thrusters are a what I would consider a wheel house movement. I finished in 11:35. I wast thinking I would be somewhere between 10 and 11 minutes. I did the workout on Friday. Honestly, I was ready for the Open to be over. Feeling tired and sick of being anxious about the workouts every week. I might have done better if I waited a day or two. I would have been better rested and recovered. My whole left back side ended up cramping up pretty bad which definitely added some time. I tired to keep a decent pace, despite the cramping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deconstructed Cottage Pie for the Slow-cooker

My awesome Crock-Pot

My awesome Crock-Pot

Last weekend I ordered gluten-free Cottage Pie at The Common Man. That was where I found the inspiration for this article. It was really yummy, hearty, and warm. I wanted to try my own interpretation of it, but didn’t have a ton of time on my hands, so I thew all the ingredients in the crockpot. Voila! It was awesome.

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:

2-3 lbs of ground meat. I used 2lbs 85% lean grass-fed beef + 1lb 94% lean ground turkey
6-8 small red potatoes, chopped into even, bite-size pieces
6+ carrots, sliced into rounds or chunks
6+ stalks celery, sliced into chunks
1 package baby bella mushrooms
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomato paste
1 cup beef or veggie stock (not absolutely necessary, but made for a nice broth at the bottom)
4 TBSP Kerry Gold garlic & herb butter
Pinch dried rosemary and thyme
1 tsp each garlic and onion powder
salt & pepper to taste

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:

  1. Add all the veggies plus garlic to your crockpot first.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all meat with spices and salt and pepper and tomato paste. (This is optional. You can just throw it all into the crockpot if you want, but this way will lead to better-incorporated ingredients).
  3. Add a couple table spoons (slices) or butter into your veggies.
  4. Add meat on top of veggies.
  5. Add remaining butter to the top over your overflowing crockpot.
  6. Cook on high for about 5 hours or until veggies are soft.

NOTES:

  • Use a large crockpot. If you have a smaller one, cut back on the meat by 1 lb and use a few less potatoes
  • The meal was very rich. If you’re sensitive to a lot of fat, use leaner meats. Don’t omit the garlic and herb butter unless you absolutely have to because it adds a richness and depth of flavor.
  • I served this over rice for some added carbs.
  • Great for leftovers!

Food Hygiene

Huh? Food hygiene? Does that mean to wash my veggies and fruits and be careful when handling raw meats? Well, yes, I suppose it could mean that. But that would be more like food safety in my opinion.

Food hygiene is essentially having and showing love and value for our food. It’s creating practices around preparing, cooking, and eating our food to allow us to have the most positive food experience we can have. Paying attention to our food hygiene leads to better digestion and absorption of the foods we eat, therefore leading to happier bellies and better health. It also helps create more value and understanding around our food choices and helps us appreciate what food does for our bodies. It can also help us to slow down for a moment in our busy and over-scheduled days.

A meal cooked with LOVE. Fish tacos.

A meal cooked with LOVE. Fish tacos.

Some examples of good food hygiene practices are:

  • Putting your fork down and chewing thoroughly after each bite.
  • Not drinking water immediately before, during, or immediately after eating. Wait 20 minutes. Drinking too much liquid while eating can disrupt digestion.
  • Preparing a meal with a loved one and enjoying the process.
  • Eating without external stimulants like your phone, the TV, or a tablet in front of you.
  • Heating up your lunch in a pan on the stove and serving it on a plate instead of microwaving it and eating out of Tupperware.
  • Eating your larger meals of the day during times when you are more relaxed and not rushed and saving your snacks for the times you are on the go or working.

I know the list can seem challenging, especially with a busy lifestyle. If you can pick one of these points and try it three times this week you will be making progress. Gradually add in more of these habits as you go. You might also find that you feel better after you’ve eaten. Consistent food hygiene practices can keep us feeling satisfied, develop healthy relationships with our food, and help us to get the most nutrition from the foods we eat.

If you have questions, let me know!
Coach Ash

Enjoy a treat now and then too!

Enjoy a treat now and then too!

Please Eat Your Protein

Do you know what protein is? Protein is one of the three macronutrients. The other two are fat and carbohydrate. Consuming enough protein is extremely important, especially for people who are athletic or lead an active lifestyle. Essentially protein is the building blocks of muscle. You need protein to repair muscle, maintain muscle, and grow more muscle. If you want to change your body composition and be lean and muscular you need to eat protein. Protein has other crucial functions in our bodies, but we won’t get too scientific right now.

PROTEIN!

PROTEIN!

How much protein should you eat? It depends. It depends on your height, weight, body composition and goals, so everyone’s protein needs will be different. However, no matter what that number is for you, you need to eat it. If you are relatively lean your protein intake should be somewhere around 1g per pound of body weight. You shouldn’t need to eat¬†over 1g/lb BW unless you want to bulk up. Another way to estimate protein intake is to figure out your body weight in kilograms by dividing your body weight by 2.2. If you’re unsure, I can help you figure this out. Here’s an example.

Example: 150lb Female 150lbs/2.2 = 68kg
68kg x 2 = 136g of protein per day

Once you know how much protein you need to eat, you have to figure out how much protein is in the foods you love. Here is a list of some popular foods and their protein content:

Boneless skinless chicken breast (4oz.): 26g
94% Lean ground turkey (4oz): 22g
Filet mignon steak (5oz): 40g
Salmon filet (4oz): 22g
Eggs (3whole eggs): 21g
Liquid egg whites (1/2 cup): 15g
Canned tuna (1 can): 41g
Al Freso chicken sausage (2 sausages): 30g
Natural Peanut butter (2 Tbsp): 8g (PB is mostly fat though, with 16g per 2 Tbsp)
Greek Yogurt (Plain, 8oz): 22g
Whey protein powder (Game Plan, 1 scoop): 24g

Getting in your daily protein can be challenging for some, especially if you’re a bigger person who needs a lot more. If you’ve discovered that you’re not eating as much protein as you should be, I would not advise you to go out and eat alllll the protein the next day. You’d likely feel extremely full and even sick. But I would tell you to work your way up over the course of a few weeks. Protein helps to keep you feeling full and that’s another reason why it’s so important to be eating it with every meal and snack.

Example: Here’s what the 150lb woman in the example above would eat on a daily basis in order to get all of her protein in. She’s very active and does strength and conditioning type workouts 5 days a week.¬†

Breakfast: 2 whole eggs plus 1/2 cup eggs white scrambled (36g protein)
Snack: 5oz Greek yogurt (12g protein)
Lunch: 5oz ground turkey (28g protein)
Post-workout shake: 1 scoop whey protein (24g)
Dinner: 6oz pan sauteed chicken breast (40g protein)
GRAND TOTAL = 140g protein

**A great website for nutritional information is http://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition

How do you know what 4, 6, or 8 ounces looks like? The most accurate way to figure this out is to actually weigh your portions before you cook them. That way you’re not guessing. You can buy a food scale for about $20. Weighing protein doesn’t mean you have to do it forever, but it’s a great way to learn about portioning. After you do it for a while eyeballing your portions becomes easy. Use it as a learning tool, but don’t be a slave to your food scale.

If weighing and measuring isn’t your thing there are some general guidelines for protein portions. A decent serving for a female is about the size and thickness of her palm, or a palm and a half she’s active or an athlete. For men a serving size is about the size and thickness of two palms. Since people are all shapes and sizes, it’s sometimes difficult to accurately prescribe based on hand size.

When I help people with their nutrition the number one thing I encounter is people not eating enough protein. If your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, put on weight, lean out, get stronger, get toned, look better naked, recover better, get huge, make gainzzz…(the list could go on), you MUST eat enough protein.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!
See you around the gym,
Coach Ash

There's a big hunk of steak on my fork.

There’s a big hunk of steak on my fork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This information is for educational purposes and not meant to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.