Training Log: 1/31/11

Clean & Jerk 7×2

Progressively load the bar until you reach a new 2-rep max.

400m Run, then..

11,10,9…1 Push-ups
1,2,3…11 Sit-ups

then, 400m Run

I made 155 on the C&J and then went up to 175 and only made the first attempt, which tied my 1rm. I tried again twice on my final set and couldn't even get the clean. I was really trying to focusing on my shoulder positioning in the jerk portion and was able to lock it down and press without pain.

In the metcon I subbed rowing for the run and finished in 10:08. My chest and triceps were still sore from Saturday and the muscle fatigue set in early on the push-up portion. I thought my triceps might cramp up at some point and had to stop frequently to shake my arms out. 

Baked Kale Chips

My wife and I were in Whole Foods the other day and saw packaged raw kale chips for sale. They were a bit pricey and some of the ingredients didn't jive with my current allergy detox, so Kara thought she'd try her hand at making her own. As it turns out, they're really simple to make and taste a lot like potato chips, but without that pesky potato. Yeah, they look like dry leaves in the picture, but they're tasty dry leaves.

Baked Kale Chips
1 bunch of organic lacinato kale
1 tbsp organic virgin coconut oil
3 pinches of sea salt

Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Rinse and dry the kale. Remove the kale from the stem and thoroughly dry the leaves once more. You want it bone dry, or the leaves will be mushy instead of crisp when they bake. If you have a salad spinner (which we don't) it would be optimal, but otherwise you can slave away with paper towels like Kara did.

Tear the leaves up by hand into chip size pieces (however big or small you like). Place the torn up kale into a bowl, drizzle the coconut oil and mix by hand. Sprinkle the salt and mix by hand again.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lay the chips down in a single layer. You may need two baking sheets for this. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes or until the chips are crispy.

When the chips are done they're very brittle but really do taste like potato chips. If they're not salty enough for your liking, just add more. Since this was a first run for us, we made them simple, but you could get pretty creative with these and really spice them up. I think garlic and black pepper or Old Bay seasoning would be good for next time.

***UPDATE*** Enjoy these right away as they don't stay crispy for long. They'll still taste fine but they'll get soft and soggy after a few days.

Food Porn - Sunday Morning Steak & Eggs

After a long day and two hard back-to-back workouts at the Scott Paltos Strength Seminar yesterday, I'm a little sore in the chesticles this morning and in need of a big meal. Scott informed me that I'm not eating enough. So I felt I needed a big ass breakfast this morning. The steak is 0.80 lbs (pre-cooked weight) of top sirloin from Trader Joe's,

Training Log: 1/30/11

Rest Day
Borough Market - London, England - September 2010

Training Log: 1/29/11

Scott Paltos Strength Seminar
Scott Paltos, former NFL player and owner of Pump Crossfit & Performance, came down to Crossfit Delaware Valley today to put on a strength seminar. The day-long seminar provided a lot of great info on all matters of strength, a more efficient and effective means of warming up, proper mechanics and two killer workouts.

OH Press/Squat/Deadlift Combo: w/25min Work Capacity Teams of 3 or 4
OH Press : work in sets of 5-6
Squat: work in sets of 6-8
Deadlift: work in sets of 3-5
perform each movement as a series...w/progressive loading

About 5 minutes rest, then...

Metcon: For Time
Pull-Ups 20-15-10-5-1
Lunges 50-40-30-20
Push-Ups 50/30 - 40/20 - 30/10 - 20/5
Straight Leg Sit-ups 20-20-20-20 

I don't even remember what my time was on the metcon but it was rough. I realized that I hadn't done push ups in a while when I hit muscle failure in the second round (40 reps). Scott provided a lot of great information today but one that was very applicable in the short term was shoulder positioning and pressing mechanics. If I retract my shoulders back and then down, making a shelf on my lat, and then keep my elbows in on the press, there was no pain. This was huge for me. Although maintaining that corrected posture and technique for multiple reps is something I need to work on.

Training Log: 1/27/11

Wod 1

The local news this morning reported that a 10ft x 10ft area was the equivalent of about 768 lbs, given the amount of ice and moisture. We think we got around 16 inches overnight and I'm not sure how much I shoveled. Sidewalks, neighbors' sidewalks, our plowed-in cars (the joys of on-street parking), the neighbors' plowed-in cars. It was a lot.

Wod 2
Carry a 50lb bag of rock salt from the local hardware store to the house. Approximately .45 miles. Not for time.

This sucked. I have new found respect for the sand bag sprint at the '09 CF Games. At least this was a relatively flat walk home, although treacherous due to slush and ice. But I made it home without having to put the bag down once, so that's a personal victory.

Wod 3

Weighted Pull-ups 5×5

10,9,8…1 Overhead Squats (95/65)
1,2,3…10 Burpees (jump over the bar)

The last time I did weighted pull-ups I got up to 30 lbs on the last set and only got 3 reps. I think I tired myself out going up by five pounds each set. This time I decided to start with 30 and see how far I can go with it. The first two sets were tough but I completed all 5 reps. The next three sets went like this: 3 reps, then two with 20 lbs; 2 reps, then one with 20 lbs and two with no weight; and finally 1 rep, then four with no weight.

On the metcon, I scaled the weight on this to 75 and the OHS felt much better than they did the other week in Grand Cayman. So, that's good. This wod still was a quad smoker. Jumping over the bar on the burpees just added a little extra bitch slap to the legs. I finished in 11:37, which wasn't too bad for the day.

Bonus: Our local hardware store is also a throwback 5&10. And they sell awesome clothes and masks for your next Eyes Wide Shut party.

Staying Paleo While Traveling

Having recently come off a week-long trip to a foreign country, I can say that eating Paleo while on vacation or traveling can be difficult, but not impossible.

Any time you go out to eat you're going to have to make some sort of compromise. Even if a restaurant says they're organic and the menu looks pretty clean, you still have little control over the ingredients and preparation that make up the entire meal. The meat may be grass-fed but it may have been cooked with an oxidative oil, or they may have added sugar to the meal along the way. The meal may come with grains or a starch that may look tasty as hell, but will most likely wreck your GI system. Do you order that meal anyway and try to eat around the offenders, or do you go in a different direction and get a salad and add protein to it?

When you're on vacation try to eat as clean as possible but don't shy away from small indulgences. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but when I'm on vacay, the mentality is that I'm taking a break. As long as you don't go overboard and completely hijack your blood sugar, you don't have to feel bad about having a few bites (or the whole thing) of some non-paleo treats. Taking these mini breaks from time-to-time keeps you sane.

When traveling for work, I usually get a room that has at least a mini fridge if not a kitchenette. I find a Trader Joe's, Whole Foods or other comparable store in the area and stock the fridge with the best choices possible. Trader Joe's has pre-packaged hard boiled eggs in the same section as the regular eggs, which are great to keep on hand for breakfast or snacks in the room.

Paleo Foods for Travel
Jerky: Hard boiled eggs are fine once you've reached your destination but are just too stinky to travel with. Opening a warm tupperware container of hard boiled eggs on a plane is probably a federal offense. Jerky is a much better option for travel. Jerky is probably the perfect traveling protein. If you can make your own, that would be ideal; But not always practical. Most store bought jerky has added sugar, soy, and additives that are less than optimal. Something like Steve's Original Paleo Kit is good when you're in a fix, and they even offer grass-fed kits now. The only thing I don't like about them is they're really messy. I like messy food, but the Paleo Kits have a lot moisture in the package which makes for a wet mess in your hands.

Single-serving almond butter packets: I like Justin's Classic Almond Butter packets. I get them from Whole Foods. They're small and portable and I've never had a problem taking them through airport security.

Larabars: There's quite a bit of sugar (albeit natural sugar) in these little bars. As good as Apple Pie and Banana Bread are (and apparently Blueberry Muffin as well, although I haven't tried it), don't crack out on them. Still, they're a good whole food snack on the road.

Water bottle: Hydration is critical, especially when traveling. Airplanes have low humidity, and dry, recycled air, so it's easy to get dehydrated on longer flights. You obviously can't go through security with a full water bottle, but you can go through with an empty one and then fill it up at a water fountain once you've passed through security. You may need to take your water bottle out of your bag at the x-ray machine. Side note: For any of you mobility fiends, you may have your bag searched if you're traveling with a lacrosse ball and an empty Nalgene bottle. This happened to me on my most recent trip out of the Philadelphia airport. The screener saw a solid mass (the lax ball) on her screen and didn't know what it was. Avoid the hassle. Take an extra five seconds and take the lax ball and water bottle out of your bag before sending it through the x-ray machine.

Paleo-Friendly Booze: If you plan on having any in-flight paleo cocktails, you can bring up to five 1-ounce mini bottles of booze (keep it paleo-friendly) with you through security and onto the plane without any problems. If you need a mixer, you'll have to get it on the plane. Happy paleo travels.

Training Log: 1/26/11

Rest Day
Snow Day?! Can we go sledding? Huh, can we?!!

My Paleo General Tso's Recipe Featured on The Foodee

Shameless self-promotion. The Foodee's Meal of the Day is featuring my paleo general tso's recipe today on their site and widget. Enjoy.

Training Log: 1/25/11

I'm ready for another vacation.
In 20 minutes, find your max Back Squat

120 second, 90 second, 60 second & 30 second rounds of Double Unders and Situps (alternate between the two for the prescribed time). Foot anchors are ok. Total WOD should take exactly 10 minutes.

My last 1rm for a back squat was back in September and I got 230. I then floundered at the Mid-Atlantic Hopper on the second wod of max back squats in 3 minutes at 225 getting a measly 5 reps. This, along with the rest of my lackluster performance over that weekend, was my inspiration for starting this blog to track my strength progression. So, I was hoping that my 1rm tonight had shot up from 230 to something a bit more respectable. 

Sadly though, I only finished with a 15 lb PR at 245. I attempted 265 twice and failed both times. I probably should've been less stubborn and gone for 255. That would've been a nice 25 lb increase, far less than what I was hoping for but still decent. But hey, 15 lbs is still progress. 

I was only getting to parallel on my squats so they probably shouldn't have counted. I need to work on getting more comfortable squatting deeper, and work on some flexibility issues. But I'm definitely not making the strength gains in my squat that I thought I would. Back to square one.

The metcon was its usual shit show on double unders. I finished with a total of 28. Yeah, that's right. 28. Jealous? My situps were a little bit better at 135. Afterward, I went home and drowned my sorrows in some braised brisket that I made yesterday. 

Training Log: 1/24/11



5 rounds of:

12 Deadlifts
9 Hang Power Cleans
6 Push Jerks

Standard weights are 155/105 but can be scaled as needed.

I needed to scale this one. 4:30 am came way too quick this morning. I was tired and slow moving. The temperature on my phone and in the car read 9 degrees this morning. F' that.

I started the workout with 115 but by the end of round 2 my shoulder and the rest of my body wasn't feeling it, so I dropped down to 95 lbs to finish out this workout in 14:01. I guess my vacation is over. 

The Wisdom of Jack Lalanne

In memory of Jack Lalanne - the Godfather of Fitness - who passed away yesterday at the age of 96, I'd like to post a few short videos from his television show that aired from 1951 to 1984. Even back in the 50's he was preaching the dangers that sugar and lack of exercise can have on the body. And I'm gonna go out on a limb and say the slang term "Jacked" (referring to someone who is muscular) is a reference to Jack Lalanne, because look at him; the guy was Jacked.

And one final video because this is pretty bad ass.

If there's anyone out there crazy enough to try this (other than the folks at Crossfit Family), Jack Lalanne at the age of 45 did 1032 push ups in 23 minutes (as indicated in the video above). He also did 1000 push ups and 1000 pull ups (I'm sure without a kip either) in 1 hour and 22 minutes. Insane.

This insanity was also attempted by two members of Crossfit Family and Lalanne's grand nephew and CF affiliate owner Chris Lalanne. The two guys from CF Family broke it up into two 45 minute segments starting with pull ups and did max reps in that time frame. Their totals were 300 pull ups and 523 push ups and 215 pull ups and 360 pull ups. Chris Lalanne totaled 500 reps of each movement before he had to stop because his hands were torn to shreds. I'm not sure what the time was for that, but still it's a ridiculously impressive feat. Just completing 1000 pull ups and push ups is impressive let alone the time. This further goes to show how much of a bad ass Jack Lalanne was.

***UPDATE*** Also, check out this blog post from Seth Godin about Jack Lalanne.

Weighing and Measuring

I'm not a fan of weighing and measuring. I find it to be neurotic behavior. In my opinion, weighing and measuring everything you eat is an eating disorder. With that being said, I've been weighing and measuring my food since the start of the Paleo Challenge to see if I'm getting enough grams of protein each day as well as total calories.

I think weighing and measuring only works in the short term. It's good for teaching someone portion control, to fine tune your diet once you're at a desirable body composition, and you want to track how certain foods affect you.

Or, in my case, to shed some light on my undereating. But anymore than two weeks and I think it falls into that neurotic/compulsive behavior bucket.

I'm at the point now where I've got a good idea of what I need to eat each day to hit my minimum requirements and so I can retire the weighing and measuring, food journal be damned.

Food Porn - Ristorante Pappagallo - Grand Cayman

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie from Ristorante Pappagallo. I didn't order it per se, but I may have had a bite. And it may have been awesome.

A Challenge Within a Challenge

It seems fitting that my 100th post is another personal challenge.

For the past 7 weeks I've been going to a naturopathic doctor to treat a shoulder injury (I may have mentioned it in almost every Training Log). On my most recent visit (2 weeks ago), I asked if he could do anything for my allergies and congestion. I had noticed a dramatic improvement in my seasonal allergies over the years if I stuck to a paleo diet; however, I still wake up each morning congested and mucousy. Yum. In addition to that, I have exercise-induced asthma, which is more noticeable in cold weather.

The doctor (who looks like Donald Sutherland) says to me, "No problem. Allergies are my thing." Ok, you seem pretty confident. What is this going to entail? He then asks me if I'd mind doing a cleanse. The first thing that came to mind was a colon cleanse or one of those crazy Hollywood fads where you drink nothing but cabbage juice for two weeks, so I asked for clarification.

The cleanse he prescribed, after testing me for different types of allergies using some voodoo methods, is basically the Whole30, except I'd only need to do it for 3 weeks and then get retested for my allergies. He said that 80% of his patients have no allergy problems after 3 weeks. The other 20% have to stay on the cleanse for a few more weeks until their system is cleaned out.

On this allergy cleanse I cannot eat any of the following: Sugar (in any form, this includes fruit, juice and other paleo sweets), Nightshades (tomato, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and any spice derived from a nightshade), Alcohol, Fermented foods (vinegar, even apple cider vinegar), Dairy, Grains, Legumes, and any processed foods containing any of these ingredients listed above. So it's a pretty strict paleo diet, and in addition I'll have to take a supplement he gave me three times a day.

Being on such a low carb diet I will inevitably lean out, which is fine as long as I'm not losing weight. He didn't mention anything about reintroducing these foods after the cleanse is over, so I'll have to follow up on that. I already limit nightshades in my diet because I know that when I eat too many of them my bones ache and crack. But I should probably avoid them all together even after the cleanse is over. I'm fine with keeping sugar (in any form) out of my diet as much as possible. After reading Why We Gat Fat by Gary Taubes, I'm a little scared of sugar and refined carbs. Sugar is evil incarnate, and that's why we want it so bad.

So for those keeping score: I'm coming into week 3 of the CFDV Paleo Challenge, week 4 of a self-induced No Caffeine Challenge (confession: I had one slip on Thursday and had a small cup of coffee because of a post-scuba headache), and now starting The Witch Doctor Challenge. Imma bout to get real cranky.

Training Log: 1/19/11

7 Mile Beach - Grand Cayman

21-15-9 Reps for time of:
Overhead Squats (95/65 lbs)
Pull Ups

Back at Crossfit 7 Mile, this time for a mid-morning class. I scaled the OHS to 75 lbs and still struggled a little. The gym was so hot, I was sweating before I finished my warm up. The Rogue Infinity system is a nice squat rack/pull up system but the bars get really slippery. I finished this wod in 8:58.

In the afternoon I did a one hour wreck and reef dive. This was my first dive in an ocean and it was pretty damn cool. Tomorrow I'm doing two dives, one of which is a wall dive that goes down to 100 feet and sounds pretty intimidating. 

Food Porn - The Reef Grill - Grand Cayman

Lobster with basmati rice, string beans and carrots from The Reef Grill. And yes, that's a big cup of butter. Delicious.

Training Log: 1/18/11

Rest Day
Rum Point - Grand Cayman

Training Log: 1/17/11

Thanks to Chris and Carl of CF 7 Mile for their hospitality.


Morning session at Crossfit 7 Mile. It was PR town for Kara and me. I pulled a new 1rm of 400 lbs - a 25 lb PR, no big deal. Kara pulled 175 and probably could've gotten more. It must be this warm weather.

Off to the beach. We've got a big day of relaxing in hammocks at Rum Point.

Training Log: 1/16/11

How's my form?

Death by 10 meters

Did this in the deep sand this morning. Got up to 9 rounds + 9 before running out of time.

This paleo challenge is really cramping the vacation. I held out as long as I could yesterday but ended up having to take a big fat zero for the day once the drinks at sunset started flowing. Fun supersedes the challenge, and everyone knows that Fun rules.

Training Log: 1/14/11


In teams of 2-5 athletes, complete the following:

7500m Row
225 Burpees
225 KB Swings (53/35)
225 Push Presses (75/55)

The exercises and rowing can be partitioned any way the team sees fit. One rower per team, two KBs and two bars. Mixed gender teams are fine, as well as scaled teams.

I partnered up with Brian and Julie on this one. We gamed it by each person rowing 500 meters at a time while the other two chipped away at the other movements and just kept cycling through that way. We thought this was a good strategy and used the row as an active recovery rather than another grueling task. I thought this worked for us and kept us from getting burned out on one movement. 

With my recovering shoulder I found the push press the most difficult but still did a decent chunk of the work. There was some pain with the push press but I found a comfortable positioning on the fly and tried to keep moving the same way. 

I thought we had it in the bag at the end, but we ended up losing by six seconds to Rob, Jackie and Anthony with our time of 38:32.

This workout was all volume, and I was feeling woozy at the end. I had a banana bread Larabar afterwards, which is the food equivalent of crack. The same goes for the apple pie flavor. I haven't had Larabars in a while so it was extra good. 

I gave myself a good 10-15 minutes after the metcon to do some foam rolling, stretching and general recovery before attacking my squats. I've been slacking lately and only squatting one day per week. The squat was definitely challenging given the level of fatigue going into it. My depth was iffy on the first set, but the next two I mentally focused on getting lower and grunted my way through it. 

Tomorrow we leave for a week in Grand Cayman with Kara's family and some friends. There are two Crossfit gyms down there, and I plan on checking out both. One is within walking distance of where we're staying, so I'll be at that gym more than once. We're still in the beginning of a paleo challenge. I can't speak for Kara but I'm not going to completely scrap all of my days there. I can't give the team we're up against next week a free ride. There will be some gaming involved, but still lots of fun and relaxation to be had. 

I'll try and keep a daily post next week, but they'll probably be on the short side. My beach read is Gary Taubes' new book: Why We Get Fat, And What To Do About It. I know, it's the perfect trashy lit for the beach. I'm a dork. 

Food Porn - Meat, Meat, and More Meat

Kara was out of town tonight for work so I had myself a man-tastic meal. I grilled up three grass-fed steaks that totaled over a pound, three pieces of roasted beef bone marrow, garlic mashed cauliflower (one full head of cauliflower), and a spring mix salad (the least interesting item for dinner). It was too much awesome for one plate so the cauliflower and salad were relegated to bowls.

I think I'm a little drunk off steak, but this was a great meal. I took my time with it and savored every bite, but I think it took me close to an hour to eat.

I seasoned the steaks with Penzey's Shallot-Pepper seasoning. I scraped the roasted bone marrow out and put it on top of the steaks. This was my first experience eating bone marrow and it was pretty damn tasty. I was inspired to try it after reading an article about Anthony Bourdain's favorite comfort food/what he wants to eat for his last meal (If he has the choice). His preference is veal bone marrow but Whole Foods only had beef, so I thought I'd give it a try. It was a little over $4 for the three pieces of marrow shown, and cooking them was easy: roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until the outside turns golden brown. 

Now, me and the dog are going to watch The Expendables, which I fully expect to be awesomely bad.

Training Log: 1/13/11

Rest Day

Swarthmore College - Swarthmore, PA - January 2011

Training Log: 1/12/11


These boots were made for woding. 
Snowy Playground WOD
5 rounds of:
Run 1 lap around the jungle gym, climb up the ladder, run through the jungle gym and slide down the sliding board
Burpee Pull ups in the snow
Squat-clean-thruster-med-ball-toss over the swing set (15 lbs)

Three person rotation. Person A starts with the run. Person B at the med ball toss. Person C at the burpee pull ups. Once Person A has slid down the sliding board they run over to Person B at the med ball toss and begin that movement. Person C continues doing burpee pull ups until Person B has run over to tag them so that they can start the run. 5 rounds, not timed.  Count total reps of burpee pull ups and med ball tosses.

I did this wod tonight with Kerry from our gym and Nikki, my neighbor and coach at Crossfit King of Prussia. I wish I had a pair of snow pants and had brought my phone to take a picture of the playground to give a better visual, but regardless, this was a lot of fun. It's been a long time since I played in the snow.

We originally decided on 10 rounds for this wod, but after the first round we changed that to 5. It was dark and slippery out and 10 rounds would have really sucked. I ended up getting 63 total reps. I'm not sure if the other two even kept count.

Braised Buffalo Roast with Citrus Kale Salad

Damn this was good. And easy too. I need to braise more things in a crock pot. Braising rules!

Braised Buffalo Roast
1.5 lbs of buffalo roast
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup organic beef broth (Trader Joe's)

Sear the meat on high on all sides in a pan just long enough to brown it; about 1-2 minutes per side. Place the meat in a crock-pot and add one cup of beef broth. Set it to low and leave it for 8-10 hours. I cooked mine for just over 8. If you want to cook it longer than 8 hours, I would suggest very carefully turning the meat over around the 7 hour point.

This turned out better than expected. The meat had a nice crust on the exterior and tender and juicy on the inside. You could almost cut it with a fork. The only thing that would have made this better would be a killer red wine reduction sauce. But I don't know if I could make one that would
adhere to the paleo challenge standards.

The citrus kale salad recipe comes from PureWellnessAmy, who just so happens to be our friend's sister-in-law. She's also a holistic health counselor in Massachusetts.

Citrus Kale Salad
A good-sized bunch of kale (thoroughly rinsed)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 avocado (diced)
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 clementines, peeled and segmented (I used blood oranges instead and chopped them up into small pieces)
Juice from two oranges

Roll the kale up like a newspaper and slice it into small pieces. Add all of the kale to a large bowl and sprinkle the sea salt over it. Next, soften the kale by massaging and kneading it like dough for two minutes. The salt makes the kale more tender and releases some of the bitterness. Finally, add all of the other ingredients and mix by hand.

Paleo Breakfast Casserole

Here's a great make-ahead recipe that can get you through breakfast for most of the week, or if you're a beast make for one monstrous meal.

Paleo Breakfast Casserole 
24 eggs
8 strips of cooked bacon cut into small pieces 
2 full strips of cooked bacon (set aside)
½ red onion (diced)
1 large yellow squash (chopped)
2 small or 1 large zucchini (chopped)
2 cups of frozen chopped spinach
1 tbsp rosemary
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 350. Whisk all of the eggs together in a large bowl. Add the chopped veggies, bacon and spices. Stir everything together. Thoroughly grease the entire 9x13 baking dish (sides too) with coconut oil. Add the egg mixture to the baking dish and evenly distribute it throughout. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the center has set and is firm. Crumble the remaining two pieces of bacon. Once it is finished baking, remove from the oven and sprinkle the bacon on top.

Training Log: 1/11/11

Oh, blow it out your old wazoo!

50-40-30-20-10 rep rounds of:
Double Unders
Sit ups

Yaaaaaay double unders. I say that the way most people say "Yaaaaay burpees," with sarcasm and resentment. I will take burpees any day over double unders. Some day I will be competent in double unders but that day has not happened yet. I did myself a favor this time and wore calf sleeves to prevent the whipping, but I still came away with a few on my ankles. I used three different jump ropes during this wod, like the Goldilocks of Crossfit, trying to find the one that was just right. The search continues...

My time for this wod was a pathetic 22:23. Damn you, double unders. Damn you to hell.

Training Log: 1/10/11

Squat 3×5 - 205 lbs

4 rounds of:
10 Chest-to-Bar Pull ups
15 Box Jumps (20″/16″)

The squat is moving along nicely. The weight felt good on this one. I hope I can maintain these 5 lb increases each session for at least the next month. The metcon wasn't too bad. The lower box jump was nice, especially after squatting, and I was able to cycle through them fairly quickly. The CTB pull ups slowed me down some. I was getting them in threes for the most part, and taking short breaks to shake out my arms. I finished in 6:03.

Beef, Veal & Chorizo Chili

Yesterday, I got cracking on some meals for the week. I try to front load our weekly cooking on the weekends. Typically Sunday is the day where we'll get most of the meals made for that week. It doesn't always work out that way, but when we have the time available it makes sticking to good eating habits that much easier. It takes just as long to grill one chicken breast as it does eight, so you might as well cook eight at one time and put them in tupperware to have throughout the week.

We have yet to make chili this winter, so it was about time. Ground veal patties were on sale at Whole Foods when I was out buying meat, so I thought I'd throw that in there too.

Beef, Veal & Chorizo Chili

1.75 lbs of ground beef 90/10 lean
1.25 lbs of ground veal
2 chorizo sausages (chopped)
4 tbsp of crushed garlic (Trader Joe’s)
1 can (28 oz) of organic diced tomatoes w/ juice (Trader Joe’s)
1 bag of Fire Roasted Peppers & Onions (Trader Joe's)
1/2 white onion (diced)
1 tbsp oregano
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming spice
2 cups chicken broth
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp organic tomato paste (Trader Joe’s)

Training Log: 1/8 - 1/9/11

Cayman Islands - December 2008
Rest Days

Lots of stretching, foam rolling and bulk cooking.

Food Porn - Hymie's Merion Deli - Merion, PA

Schmoozer combo
Just in time for the start of the Paleo Challenge, let's pour one out for the sandwiches that ain't here.

Last week, Kara and I went to Hymie's Merion Deli for lunch. It's a Jewish deli, so everything had bread with it. Sandwiches, bagels, crackers, it was grain overload. I had been sick most of the prior week and didn't have much of an appetite. When we checked out the menu though, everything looked good and I was going with a sandwich, bread included.

I rarely eat grains. The few exceptions are thin crust pizza, my on-going quest to find the best burger in the Philly area (currently it's the Village Burger at Village Whiskey, with the additions of smoked bacon and a fried egg), or a really good sandwich.

Much like Joey Tribiani, my favorite food is sandwiches, which made it hard initially to transition into Paleo eating. I tried
flourless bread for a while, which was a little bit better than
eating cardboard. But nowadays, I look at bread and it does
nothing for me. Hallelujah! I've been Saved!
"T.K." sandwich

Which brings me to our lunch time selections. I went with the Schmoozer Combo: corned beef and pastrami with cole slaw (on the sandwich) and russian dressing. I'm not even sure what kind of bread it was on but it was not memorable, and in hindsight not worth it. If I'm going to eat bread it should be awesome, and somewhat worth the damage. But the sandwich overall was still pretty tasty.

I think Kara ordered better than me one on this one. She went with the "T.K" Sandwich: hot brisket between two potato pancakes, topped with brown gravy and a side of chunky homemade applesauce. That's good stuff.

Now, back to reality.

Spices Are Paleo Too

Crushing workouts day in and day out, as I pretend that I do, can really tax the body. Proper hydration and fish oil can help speed recovery, but so can common everyday spices. These spices, added to your food or taken in supplement form, have vast beneficial properties in helping you recover.

Spices That Heal

Garlic - Lowers the risk of oxidative stress and is a natural anti-inflammatory

Turmeric (Curcumin) - Anti-inflammatory, treatment for IBD, rheumatoid arthritis and cystic fibrosis

Cinnamon - Helps to regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol, boosts brain function, and anti-microbial

Cloves - Anti-inflammatory, improve insulin function and nutrient dense

Ginger - Anti-inflammatory and reduces muscle soreness, as well as aids in digestion

Training Log: 1/7/11

Squat Clean 7×3

150 Low Box Jumps (16″/12″)
150 Double Unders

I ended my squat clean with 155 for three, and I believe that was only my sixth set. I could've filled an hour with just the cleans. I like to take my time between sets and give myself a few minutes to recover. But since the strength component was not intended to be a 3rm, I guess I should've moved my ass a little faster. I wanted to do more but given the volume of the metcon, it was probably better that I didn't. 

We were allowed to partition the metcon however we wanted. Given my troubles with double unders I decided to get all of them out of the way first.  I got my lashings for the week, as my arms, calves and probably ears show whip marks from the jump rope. I think I spent 75% of the workout on double unders and double under attempts (getting one rep at a time), which I counted because I was getting close to slinging the jump rope across the gym again. The box jumps were easy in comparison. My time for this wod was 22:51. 

Training Log: 1/6/11

Couch Stretch: 2 minutes per leg
Bottom Squat Hold: 4 minutes
10 minutes of stretching (post workout)

Squat 3x5 - 200lbs

This was short and sweet. The first set felt heavy. Splinter by Sevendust helped me through the last two sets. The intro to that song is badass.  The last set was the easiest, probably due to a slightly wider stance.

Surviving the Paleo Challenge

In preparing for a paleo challenge, the biggest factors for success are discipline and preparation. Knowing how to cook a few things helps too. Having a clear purpose in mind will help you stay on track and focused. So you have to ask yourself, "Why exactly am I doing this?"

If I can get up on my Paleo-Evangelist pulpit for a second, paleo eating is not a "diet," it is a lifestyle change. If you stick with it you will feel better, look better, perform better, recover faster, and kick major ass. It will change your life. Who wouldn't want that? Your friends and family may not get it, or their eyes will glaze over if you try to explain how and why you eat the way you do. The simplest answer (other than "I am doing a nutrition challenge at my gym") is to say, "I'm cutting out certain foods that don't agree with me, and eating this way makes me feel a lot better overall." It's simple, the word paleo isn't mentioned once, and you don't have to field any questions about hunting and gathering, intermittent fasting, or why you're incapable of growing a full beard. 

Getting Started
Step 1: The Purge - The first thing you need to do is purge your kitchen of all the crap. It's much easier to eat junk food when you keep it in the house. But don't just throw the unwanted items away; donate any unopened canned or boxed food items to a local food drive.

Step 2: Keep it Simple - Meat (beef, chicken, fish, pork, eggs), veggies (mostly the dark, leafy kind), nuts (minimal), seeds (minimal), fruit (limited and preferably post workout), and some starch (e.g., sweet potato, also in the post workout window). Meat and veggies should comprise most of your meals. Simple. Nuts and seeds are fine in small amounts, but coconut, olive oil and avocado are far superior fat sources.

Step 3: Pack a Lunch - Don't leave the house without food. Ever. Keep a bag of nuts in the car. Carry small snacks on you (see Paleo Snack Ideas below). Cook in bulk. Prepare your own lunch every day. You'll save money and have complete control over what you consume.

Step 4: Make Smart Choices - No one is forcing you to eat that cupcake or cheesesteak. You choose to either eat crap or eat real food. However, every item you consume does not necessarily need to be organic or raw for it to be good for you. Whole9 has a great reference chart for buying produce. It details when certain foods are in season, when you should buy organic (if possible) and when the conventional kind will suffice. 

Buying grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, pork, eggs, and wild-caught fish is ideal but not always available, practical or economical. Another good source of information from Whole9 is their article Paleo Poor: Your guide to the grocery store, and all related articles in their Conscientious Omnivore series.

Paleo Cooking Substitutions
Avocado has the same creamy texture (it feels like softened butter) and can be substituted for it in a 1:1 conversion ratio for cooking and baking.

Coconut milk (full fat) is great in smoothies or to sip on by itself. Although, I have found that drinking the entire can at one time gives me a headache. Some may also suggest almond milk as an alternative but I've yet to find a brand that doesn't have some form of added sugar or sweetener and/or soy. If you can find one without sugar or soy, give it a try and let me know.

Coffee Creamer 
Try drinking your coffee black. People will respect and fear you. Plus, it's not really coffee if you're adding things to it. But if you must have something sweet and creamy in your coffee, coconut milk (full fat) makes for a nice treat. Wholes Foods' store brand is the best value. 

Photo: Paleo Brands
You can make a very tasty paleo version of angel hair pasta using a spaghetti squash. It has a very similar texture to pasta and tastes great by itself. Here's an example recipe from Crossfit Santa Cruz Central Presents: Eat This!

Almond meal or coconut flour can both be substituted for traditional flour. Trader Joe's makes a great and affordable almond meal. 

A little while back, I posted a Paleo Pecan Pancake recipe. Use unsweetened applesauce in place of honey, and feel free to substitute (or add) blueberries, strawberries or bananas. Or, just leave them plain. For the sake of the CFDV Paleo Challenge, however, maple syrup (even 100% pure organic) is not allowed. So keep that in mind. 

You can still have pizza, minus the cheese, using this great pizza crust recipe from Everyday Paleo. Having a pizza stone is key. I've had many failed attempts on baking sheets. One try with a pizza stone and it came out perfect.

You can rice cauliflower, either by chopping it very fine or using a potato ricer. See my Paleo General Tso's recipe for directions. 

Paleo Condiment Substitutions
Soy sauce - Coconut Aminos. This can be found at Whole Foods. It's pricey, but unless you use soy sauce daily, this will last you a while.

Salad dressing - Bragg Organic Healthy Vinaigrette and Bragg Organic Sesame and Ginger Dressing. Both can be found at Whole Foods and are probably your best option for salad dressing on the market. Most salad dressings have high fructose corn syrup, soy, and sugar, but the only sugar in the Bragg brand is a little bit of organic honey.

Ketchup contains sugar and white vinegar. You could try your hand at making your own Paleo Ketchup, or skip it altogether and make some paleo salsa instead. Here are two recipe options from Everyday Paleo and Mark's Daily Apple

I've never attempted this recipe but Everyday Paleo has an olive oil mayo that sounds interesting. The recipe is toward the bottom of the post.

Drink that damn water. Staying properly hydrated is key to athletic performance, recovery and weight management. The current rule of thumb for hydration is to take your body weight and divide by two. That number is the minimum number of ounces of water you need to consume each day. I shoot for a minimum of a gallon per day, but I really like water.

Paleo Snack Ideas
Celery sticks with almond butter
Baby carrots
Small handful of walnuts and an apple

Paleo Recipe Resources

Foul Temptress

Just as I'm beginning a 30-day purge of caffeine, there's a knock on the door this evening and a big Amazon box is left on our steps. My first reaction when we opened the box was, "Motherf*cker!" What we found inside was a sweet new Keurig coffee maker sent to us from Kara's generous parents as an anniversary present.


The device came with a sample pack of different coffee pods, two of which were decaf. We popped one in to sample it, and the end product was good, but I don't think I'll be making myself a cup any time soon. Like Britney Spears, I'm stronger than yesterday (Whoa, what just happened there? I've gotta stop watching Glee.) and I'll be fine without caffeine for a month.

Training Log: 1/5/11


3 rounds of:
Run 400m
21 KB Swings (53/35)
12 Pull ups

Today's workout is the benchmark for the Paleo Challenge that will start on Monday. At the end of the challenge, everyone competing will do this workout again to compare their times and see the progress they've made. 

I scaled the weight on the kb swing to 44 lbs to give my shoulder a little break. Although I don't know if 53lbs would've really made much of a difference since I don't have any pain in the swing. I think it saved my low back a little as there's still some residual soreness from the deadlifts on Monday. 

With 44lbs I did all of my swings unbroken. My pull ups were decent the first round, stringing together the first 7 in a row. In the later two rounds my kip was inconsistent and leaving me doing doubles or singles because I couldn't keep a rhythm and fatigue set in. The run was better than anticipated but my wheeze was prevalent from the first 400 meters. I  believe this is my first time doing this workout and I finished in 13:52, so I hopefully I do it RX'd next time and take a minute or more off my time. 

I may switch up some of my training in the near future if I decide to run a half-marathon that my wife and sister-in-law are doing at the beginning of April. We all ran one together last May and I didn't have the best experience, especially afterwards. I learned the hard way that you never make any changes (especially dietary) on game day. The training leading up to the race was not my first choice, so I am a little curious to see how I would do this time by sticking with what I'm doing and adding in two Crossfit Endurance running wods per week. 

Couch stretch: 5 minutes each leg
Pigeon: 2 minutes each leg
20 minutes active stretching/foam rolling/lax ball
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