Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Little Victories are the BEST!



Little Victories - I'll Take 'em!!

I just had to share. I'm currently sitting on top of Cloud 9 as a result of a workout for the first time in a LONG TIME!

Tonight's WOD:

"Erin"
15 DB Split Cleans (Female RX 25 lb DBs)
21 Pullups

5 RFT

I know that I've done this WOD before, but I refuse to look at my previous time. I'm sure I finished much slower than before "It", but I'm only concerned with doing my best in the moment with what I've got to give right now.

Before the workout, I was just hoping to make it through the whole thing w/o having to go to a band. My pullup performance has decreased a lot recently and I've found that in workouts with more than about 50 pullups, I can only get about 1-2 in a row towards the end w/o having to fall off the bar in between. At that rate, I'd be better off using a band and stringing more together.

Tonight, I DID make it through the whole thing RX.

And the BEST part of it was that I was able to string between 5 - 8 pullups together all the way through the end of the workout! I never got less than 5 in a row - THAT is progress, and I'll take it. Official time was 21:16.

The Little Victories, after such a long time spent going down hill, feel pretty freakin good.

Thyroid Update



I've had several people ask me how I became aware that I had problems with my Thyroid. In short, there were several "warning signs" that I should have noticed (Fatigue, Muscle Weakness, Difficulty Concentrating, Cognition Problems), but the thing that really clued me in was the golf-ball sized knot on my neck. The picture above is not me, but the girl's neck looks very similar to the way that mine did.

As the knot began to grow, it started to hurt, and I knew I had to get it checked out. Long story short, My blood tests showed that my TSH #'s were so low that they barely registered (0.02), an ultrasound verified the existance of several large nodules, a Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy ruled out cancer (thank goodness!), and I underwent Radioactive Iodine Therapy to "kill" the nodules.

The hope was that the majority of the iodine would be "sucked up" by the nodule which was in overdrive mode, and that it would leave my Thyroid alone, but I was told that it was possible that my thyroid would absorb some of it, and as a result, it would reduce the ability of my Thyroid to function properly. Unfortunately, it appears as though this is what happened.

Fast Forward 6 months and I have gone from having "Hyperthyroidism" to having "Hypothyroidism". This has NOT been a fun roller coaster ride! It has significantly affected:
  • My emotions - think crazy mood swings and unexplainable sobbing episodes for no discernable reason whatsoever
  • My ability to concentrate -I feel like a teenager who desperately needs a ritalin prescription much of the time
  • My cognition - I feel just plain dumb a lot of the time lately - I'm having a hard time absorbing new information, and this is NOT like me at all - I'm usually a pretty smart cookie - really!
  • My Athletic Performance - My strength and endurance have both decreased significantly over the last several months, at an even faster rate than they were decreasing when I was "Hyper"
  • My Energy Levels - Some days it takes everything I have just to get out of bed, even after 8-9 hours of sleep. It doesn't make any logical sense and it's been very frustrating!
Apparently, that little teeny tiny butterfly-shaped organ controls just about EVERYTHING. . . who knew!?!

Sooo, when my Doc called me on Monday to tell me that my most recent blood tests showed
that my TSH levels have risen to 4.8 and I was officially "Hypo", I was not at all suprised, and actually rather relieved to have a firm scientific reason for the way I had been feeling (You mean I'm not really going crazy - that's GREAT news!).

According to some scales, a TSH level of 4.8 is just barely outside of the normal range, but by the way I've been feeling, I could tell that something was waaayyyy off. Thank goodness, I have a great Endocronologist who confirmed that we should be trying to get my TSH levels down below 3, and preferably in the 1-2 range, and a friend of mine who has been through a similar situation assured me that the symptoms that I've been experiencing are perfectly normal for someone w/ my TSH levels. (More affirmation that I'm not really going crazy is always a good thing!! - THANK YOU - you know who you are)

So I started a Syntroid dose on Monday and have hopes that I will soon notice a difference. We'll be checking my TSH levels monthly and adjusting my dosage accordingly until we've got me in the TSH "sweet spot" :) I'm already starting to notice little differences - my ability to concentrate seems to have improved dramatically already, and I couldn't be happier about that. I'll take every little improvement I can get!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ode to Guacamole



I L-O-V-E Guacamole.

Anyone that has been checking out my food blog can attest to this.

I eat Guacamole with everything. On top of Eggs, Chicken, Steak, and Salads. Mixed in with canned Wild Tuna or Ground GF Beef. Scooped onto Raw Jicama Strips, Carrots, and Celery. Spread on top of a Spinach Muffin. It is my firm belief that guacamole would make just about anything taste better!

So in an attempt to profess my undying love for this creamy, delicious, wonderfully chock-full-of-good-fat condiment, I have written a brief poem.

Ode To Guacamole

Guacamole is so Yummy
I love to put it in my Tummy
When I run out I feel just Crummy
My fingers start to get all Drummy!

Don’t have to share it with my Honey
Because he thinks that it tastes Scummy
(But I think he’s a big ‘ol Dummy!)
His taste buds must be wired Funny :)

That's right Folks - A Poet I am not!

Well, after all that talk of Guacamole, I figure it's only fair that I share my recipe. Please note that I rarely measure spices when making guacamole. I typically just sprinkle until it looks right, taste, and then sprinkle some more if neccesary. So the spice measurements below are estimates - adjust to your own tastes :)

Christie's Homemade Guacamole Recipe

Ingredients:
4 large Avocados (or 7-8 small)

Juice of 1 Lime (sometimes 1.5 - 2 limes if I'm in the mood for a more tangy guac -play with it to match your tastes)

3 Cloves Garlic, finely minced

2-3 tsp Ground Cumin

1.5 tsp Chili Powder (Substitute .5 tsp for Cayenne Pepper if you like it spicy)

Sea Salt & Pepper to taste

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped (I buy mine from the farmer's market, and it's really strong because it's picked w/in 12 hours of purchase. If you're using "grocery store" cilantro, you may need to adjust this amount up)

1/4 - 1/2 of a small red onion, finely diced

3 Serrano Peppers, seeded and finely diced (Omit if you don't like any spiciness at all - this just adds a little "kick")

1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered (Optional - I usually leave out b/c they seem to make it brown faster. Sometimes I'll stir them into a single serving)

Directions:

I start by chopping/prepping all of my veggies, peppers, and cilantro ahead of time so that I can just stir them in when I'm ready. You don't have to do this, but if you mash your avocados first, and then they sit out while you chop your veggies, they will have a greater chance of browning due to exposure to the air.

Peel and Remove Seeds from avocados. Mash together with lime juice in large plastic or glass bowl , using wooden spoon. Mash until desired consistency. I like to leave mine pretty chunky.

Stir in Cumin, Chili Powder, Cayenne Pepper (if using), Garlic, Cilantro, Sea Salt, & Pepper. Mix Well.

Taste. Add Spices as needed.

Stir in Red Onion & Serrano Peppers. Mix Well.

Fold in Tomatoes Gently (if using).

Chill and Serve.

On Everything.

Really!

Recipe: Grilled Broccoli




I LOVE vegetables :) But sometimes I get tired of eating "sauteed this" or "roasted that" and I want to do something a little bit different.


I recently discovered "Roasted Broccoli", and it is absolutely delicious, but it stinks up my house something aweful whenever I cook it. Enter Grilled Broccoli!


Grilled Broccoli tastes very similar to roasted broccoli, and it gets nice and crispy outside but soft inside, like roasted broccoli as well. The advantage is that the cooking is done outside, and my house doesn't smell like dirty socks for 3 hours after I'm done preparing it :)

I also like the fact that I can cook this alongside some steaks, chicken breasts, or turkey burgers on my grill, and not have to worry about monitoring both a grill and a stove simultaneously.


And Great News! This is yet another recipe that even Picky eaters will likely eat without complaints (Yes, I know this from experience . . . . )

Grilled Broccoli

Ingredients:

Several Heads of broccoli cut into florets (but leave about 1 - 2 inches of stem intact)

EVOO (the amount will depend on how much broccoli you are using. I'd guesstimate about 1 Tb per full head of broccoli)

Freshly Minced Garlic (1 clove per head of broccoli)

Sea Salt to taste

Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (1/2 lemon per head of broccoli)

Instructions:

Toss Broccoli in a big bowl with EVOO, Sea Salt, and Minced Garlic. Mix well (toss for at least 2-3 minutes to make sure that all florets are coated w/ Olive Oil. The longer you toss, the better the end results will be!

Spread Broccoli out on a Grill Pan (I use disposable grill pans like the one pictured below. If you don't have a grill pan, you can cook without, but you'll want your stalks to be a little bit longer so that you don't have to worry about them falling through the grates)


Grill Pan

Place Grill Pan with broccoli on Grill over low heat, and cook for about 5* minutes, or until underside begins to brown/crisp.

Using Thongs, flip each piece of broccoli over, and cook for another 2-3 minutes**

Remove from the Grill, Sprinkle with Lemon Juice, and Serve!

*If you like crisper (less cooked / al dente) broccoli, turn after about 3 minutes. I like my broccoli pretty "well done"

**You don't absolutely have to cook both sides if you're in a hurry - grilling just one side is fine - that side will just be a little crispier while the other side will be a bit softer.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Middle Eastern Chicken




I've continued to have fun playing with food and my new toy, the Pressure Cooker over the last week, and have come up with another winner!

I'm by no means a Pressure Cooker Expert yet, but I'm definitely getting the hang of this thing, and I really love the fact that foods cooked in it seem to be so much more flavorful - I think that Jamie (my hubby) has actually licked his plate after every single pressure cooker meal that I've prepared - and that's saying something considering he typically is not a huge fan of any "Paleo Meals" that I prepare for him.

The following recipe took a lot of modification from the original, which called for yogurt, flour, potato starch, and rice - so I knew I was taking a "risk", but it turned out great - so good that I felt it was "share-worthy".

I was a little hesitant to add the mint because it just really seemed like an odd combination, and I've never used mint in a recipe before, but it was very good and I don't think the dish would have been the same without it.

Pressure Cooker Middle Eastern Chicken (Paleo Version)

Ingredients:

3 lbs Chicken Breasts or Tenders
1/4 cup Olive Oil
6 Green Onions, Minced
5 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
1/2 cup Parsley, Minced
1 Tb Dried Mint
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 cup Organic Free Range Chicken Broth (read label to avoid sugar/soy/gluten/etc)
3 Tb Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Juice
3/4 Cup Full Fat Coconut Milk (Divided into 1/2 cup & 1/4 cup portions)
Sea Salt to taste
1/2 tsp White Pepper (ground black pepper would work if you don't have white)
2 Egg Yolks
1.5 Tb Arrowroot Powder

Instructions:

Heat Olive Oil in bottom of pressure cooker, and then briefly brown chicken on both sides (in batches).

Remove chicken to a plate, and set to the side.

Add Green Onions, Garlic, & Parsley, and saute in hot oil for 2 minutes, then add Chicken & Stir.

Sprinkle with Mint & Cumin.

Add Broth, Lemon Juice, 1/2 cup Coconut Milk, Salt, & Pepper, and stir well.

Secure lid and bring to pressure over high heat (will take approx 10-12 minutes).

Reduce heat to medium (but maintain pressure), and cook 10 minutes.

Remove Pressure Cooker from heat and let pressure release naturally (natural-release method).
Remove lid, Remove Chicken, and set on a plate (leaving sauce in pressure cooker).

Ladel out 1/2 cup of the broth, add remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk, and whisk into egg yolks.

Whisk ArrowRoot Powder into the egg yolk mixture, and then stir back into cooking liquid in Pressure Cooker.

Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until thickened (about 10 minutes?)

Spoon over chicken, and serve.

This dish is tangy, savory, and creamy all at the same time!

I served mine with grilled broccoli and Mel's Creamy Spicy Greens, and this was a great combination.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Chicken Cacciatore



Another Pressure Cooker Success!!

I am absolutely in love with my Pressure Cooker, and wondering why in the world I waited so long to break down and buy one! I have never in my life had chicken breasts and tough cuts of meat (like stew meat) come out so tender, and with so little effort, and in such a short amount of time! If you've never used a Pressure Cooker - Warning - there is a small learning curve, but I highly reccomend purchasing one. I don't know that I'll ever cook chicken or roasts any other way again!

One of the first meals that I made in my Pressure Cooker was Chicken Cacciatore. I was craving Italian and Olives, and this meal fit the bill. I searched a ton of websites, pulled multiple recipes, and used a little bit from here and a little bit from there to come up with my own creation.

The result was absolutely phenominal (If I do say so myself!). I literally shredded the chicken w/ a fork when it was done - it was that tender!

Pressure Cooker Chicken Cacciatore:


Ingredients:

Olive Oil
3 Shallots, Chopped
4 Garlic Cloves, Crushed
1 Green Bell Pepper, seeded & diced
1/2 cup Organic Chicken or Vegetable Broth (be careful of sneaky sugars/soy/gluten/etc)
1 8-10 oz package mushrooms, sliced
5-6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (good sized ones, not midgets - you'll want leftovers!)
2 Cans Organic Crushed Tomatoes
2 Tb Organic Tomato Paste
1 Can Pitted Black Olives (I used Whole Foods Brand - just olives, water, salt)
Fresh Parsley
Red Pepper to taste (I used a healthy 1/2 tsp, but I like spicy!)
Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat the oil in a 4-quart or larger cooker. Add the shallots and bell pepper and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the shallots soften slightly, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the broth and boil for 2-3 minutes. Scrape up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the cooker.

Stir in the mushrooms and garlic. Set the chicken on top. Cover the chicken with crushed tomatoes. Do not stir. Plop the tomato paste on top.

Lock the lid in place.

Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 8 minutes.

Turn off the heat.

Allow the pressure to come down naturally. Remove the lid.

Stir in the olives, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

I served mine over a heaping serving of shredded cabbage, and it was AWESOME!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Pot Roast



I am FINALLY getting the chance to really put my pressure cooker to work, and loving every minute of it! The new Pressure Cooker works like charm. The very first time I used it, I started to freak out just a little b/c it seemed to take FOREVER for the regulator to start to rock, and steam was coming out of the lid lock/air vent even though it was in the "up" postion. . . but after a few minutes of this it rattled into place, and then the regulator started rocking a few minutes later - YAY- Pressure Cooker Success #1!

I've cooked several meals in my pressure cooker over the last week or so, and every single one has turned out AWESOME!:

~Paleo-ized Chicken Cacciatori - A-Freaking-Mazing! (recipe coming in the next week :)

~Paleo-ized Chili (Mel's recipe w/ some revisions to cooking method and meat type)

~"Salsa Dancing Chicken" (stolen from the Everyday Paleo Website - YUM!!)

~Sweet Potatoes

~Beets

~. . .and lastly - a Pot Roast-esque Dish that turned out so good I had to force myself to stop eating it after one serving - I totally wanted to go back for more!

I can't keep this amazing discovery to myself - so here it is!

The backstory: I promised my hubby I'd cook him pot roast this weekend, but when I opened my box freezer to pull out one of my GF Roasts . .**Gasp!** . . .there were none to be found! I dug to the very bottom because I swear I still had at least one roast in there. . . but no such luck. So what's a girl to do? I couldn't bring myself to go a buy sub-par grain-fed roast, but I don't live in an area where you can just drive to a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's and pick up a piece of GF Meat!

So I improvised - it's funny - I've noticed that some of my best creations have come out of improvisation when I'm out of something that I thought I had! I used 3 packages of GF Stew Meat instead of a roast (approx 3 lbs)

Then, as I was getting the veggies out to prep, I realized that I didn't have any sweet potatoes either! **Palm-Face** So I scoured my fridge to try to figure out something I could sub for the Sweet Potatoes. . .Brussel Sprouts to the rescue! So I ended up making an "odd" Pot Roast-esque dish with Stew Meat, Farmer's Market Carrots, Brussel Sprouts, Onions, & Celery - and I swear that it is the BEST "PotRoast" I have ever had in my entire life!

Please forgive me - I tend not to measure spices and such when I'm "creating". . .so the measurements below are my best estimates!

Pressure Cooker "Pot Roast-Esque Dish"

Ingredients:

3 lbs Grass Fed Stew Meat
2 Cups Organic Beef Broth (Read Label - make sure no "sneaky" sugar or gluten or soy)
1 Bunch Carrots (5-6 medium), cut into chunks
1 bag Fresh Brussel Sprouts (15-20?)
3-4 Stalks Celery
1 Large Vidalia Onion
6 Cloves Garlic (or less if you're not a big garlic fan
Cumin
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
2 Bay Leaves
Coconut Aminos (2 Tb?)
Olive Oil

Directions:

Prep Veggies - Cut Carrots, Celery, & Onions into good-sized chunks, mince garlic, halve brussel sprouts.

Pour Olive Oil in a large skillet, add Stew Meat, and sprinkle meat with Cumin, Sea Salt, and Pepper. Mix around really well so that spices cover all of the meat, and then lightly brown it (approx 3-4 minutes, stirring regularly).

While browning meat, saute onions and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes (until onions start to soften) in bottom of pressure cooker. Once the meat is slightly browned, toss it with the onions an the garlic in the pressure cooker. Add 2 Cups Beef Broth, 2 Tb Coconut Aminos, and 2 Bay Leaves.

Secure Lid and bring to pressure. Once Cooker builds pressure, start your timer, and cook for 17 minutes.

Release the pressure under running water, remove Pressure Cooker lid, Dump in veggies, stir, and replace lid.

Return Pressure Cooker to heat, & bring back up to pressure. Once Pressure is built, reduce heat to low (but make sure regulator is still rocking). Cook for an additional 7 Minutes.

Use the Quick Release Method once again, remove lid, and serve. If you're a softy like me, reserv the broth to sprinkle over your dog's food ;) If not, I recommend draining it - The meat and veggies wil be fall-apart tender with no need for additional "juice" :)

And yes - this one even managed to past the "picky hubby test" with a request for seconds!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Starting Over after "IT"



Many of you out there in the "Internet Realm" who follow my blog don't know me personally, so I feel that it's necessary to give a bit of background before diving into the "heart" of this post.

Background

I started CrossFit about 3 years ago, and progressed on about an "average" level. I was instantly addicted due to the constant improvement across a wide range of movements, and I aspired to one day reach the "Competition" level. I've been competitive and athletic my entire life, so this gave me a new outlet for my competitive spirit to fly free.

I started Weightlifting (in addition to CF) about 2 years ago, and quickly fell in love with it. I'm very flexible and this gave me an advantage in movements like the Snatch. I made "okay" progress over the next year and a half. Nothing spectacular, but steady and consistent progress - so I was happy and content.

My strengths are Weightlifting (Single Reps w/ recovery in between - very different from most CF Weightlifting Conditioning WODS) and lengthy-but-light-weight-MetCons, while my weaknesses are gymnastics movements and lifting heavy weights for more than 1 or 2 reps. (I can lift MUCH more for 1 - 2 reps, or if given time to recover between reps than I can if I were asked to lift a weight multiple times without rest.)

Okay, now for the "meat and potatoes" of this post -

Up until about 8 months ago, I was making steady progress and thriving both mentally and physically on the consistent improvement in most areas. Then "IT" Happened.

"IT" will be different for everyone, but in all cases it's something that happens in your life that sets you back (a little or sometimes a LOT), and you have little to no control over whatever this thing may be.

The "IT" in my life was thyroid problems. My energy levels started to fall, I could no longer go as long or as hard, and some days it took everything I had just to get out of bed. Then, my strength started to decrease, and that was the last straw for me - I marched my butt to the Dr. to find out what in the heck was going on. The diagnosis was an Autonomically functioning Thyroid Nodule. I had a "hyper-thyroid" condition, and the options to fix it were to nuke the nodule w/ radiation or have surgery to remove the nodule along with (at least) half of my thyroid. I opted for the "nuke it" option because there was a better chance that my thyroid would recover long-term and that I wouldn't have to go on Synthroid. I was warned that when they "nuked" the nodule, it would likely also affect my thyroid function for several months, up to a year, and that I would probably become "Hypo" until my thyroid regulated itself. If it failed to regulate itself in an acceptable amount of time, I would have to go on medication to get my Thyroid levels where they needed to be. Sooo, at the end of August, I had my Thyroid "nuked".

Since then, my performance in the gym has continued to decline, but at an even faster rate. I now officially have "hypo-thyroidism", and my levels are getting worse every month (not better).

Initially, I kept a positive attitude. I knew that this was a temporary setback, and as soon as I got "IT" straightened out, everything would return to normal. I suffered through discouraging workout after discouraging workout, but did my best to keep plugging away.

Over the last two months, however, my workout frequency has decreased significantly more. It got so hard (mentally!) to drag myself to the gym when I was no longer seeing steady progress, but was instead seeing a steady decline in my performance and strength. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, I wanted to throw myself down on the floor and have a temper tantrum. I just wanted to feel better and perform better, and get back to where I was. I felt like I was being forcibly pushed backwards in time to the level I was at when I first started CrossFit and Weightlifting. And I had worked SO HARD for the progress that it was really hard to see it ripped away by "IT".

Every workout, I would compare my results to my previous PR's (set before "IT" happened), and got more and more discouraged - because numbers just don't lie - I was getting worse, not better. My Fran is much slower, I can't string even half the pullups together that I used to be able to, I can't Snatch or C&J my max anymore for even 1 rep, I get winded and have to rest after just a few thrusters or box jumps or burpees.

In addition to all of this, I had FINALLY conquered the HUGE milestones of HS Pushups (off of an abmat) and RX Ring Dips prior to "IT". These are things that I had struggled with and worked on religiously for months and months to get, and was overjoyed when I finally "got" them. I realized about a month ago that I can no longer do either movement. And trust me, it's NOT for lack of giving it everything I had just to try to get 1 single solitary rep. I just am THAT much weaker.

So for the last two months, I've gradually been getting more and more discouraged and it's been harder and harder to force myself to workout because I'm fighting with my own head. I'll tell myself that "I feel GREAT today, and I'm going to kick this workout's butt!" and then 5 minutes into it I realize that I have no energy at all left, and I finish it, look up my previous time, and realize that I got nowhere close to kicking that workout's butt, regardless of my good intentions.

I FINALLY realized just today that I've been my own worst enemy. I've been de-moralizing myself and setting myself up for failure by comparing my Current Performance/Strength Level to my Performance/Strength Level from before "IT". I'm basically comparing apples to oranges, whether I want to admit it or not. I am NOT the same athlete that I was 6 months ago, through no fault of my own - but I need to accept that, re-assess where I am NOW, and try to improve from my current position. That means setting new goals, focusing on the here and now, and forgetting about what I may or may not have been capable of 6 months ago.

What brought on this realization? I was reminded of the Serenity Prayer:

"God, Grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference."

The realization of what I had been doing hit me like a lightning bolt. I need to trust that I will never be burdened with more than I've been given the ability to handle, and know that everything really does happen for a reason, even if I never figure out just what that reason is.

So I am going to do my best to simply accept that I am where I am in terms of strength and conditioning, and there is absolutely nothing that I can do to change where I am right now at this moment. It's out of my hands.

And while I won't be able to change my performance & strength levels overnight, or return them instantaneously to where they used to be, I do have the ability to change my the way that I look at the situation, my focus, and my goals.

So over the next month, I am going to update my "Current 1RM" and all of my performance measurement metrics so that they reflect where I am right now. I will no longer refer to any of my previous benchmarks in my training logs or on my website because that was the past, and this is the present, and I need to stop dwelling on the past if I ever want to be able to move forward.

Going forward, I will measure my progress against these current numbers, rather than where I was when I was at my "peak" 6 months ago. I hope that this shift in the way that I look at things will help me to be less discouraged at the end of my workouts, and to appreciate that I still have the ability to do the things that I love, even if I may not be able to (presently) do them as well as I used to. And that's okay with me!

So if you have recently faced a setback as a result of an "IT" in your life, it may help if you stop dwelling on the past, re-evaluate where you are in the present, and make goals & plans for the future based on your current situation. Whatever the "IT" is in your life that may have sidelined or de-railed you - You can overcome it if you are able to stop focusing on how things were before "IT", accept how things are now, and move forward from your current position.

I'll end this post with one of my favorite quotes:

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude,
to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the
education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than
what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance,
giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The
remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will
embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact
that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only
thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I
am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.
And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
~Charles R.
Swindoll

And now, after that HEAVY post, here's a little something to make you Smile before you leave! (Cause who doesn't love cute puppies?!?)


Friday, January 07, 2011

What a difference a day makes!



















Wow - it really is amazing to me how much things can "turn around" within a single day!

I've had a few really rough days with super duper low energy/motivation levels, & insane cravings, but today I feel like I'm on top of the world. . . I'm hoping that this means that I have FINALLY turned that corner and that the worst is behind me for this Whole30. Only time will tell, but I'm going to ride this energy high for as long as it lasts!

I got up this morning, got my Fran on, and it's been onwards and upwards ever since. Granted I didn't even get close to PR'ing my Fran, but that's okay. I'm just happy I was finally able to drag my booty out of bed and to the gym for a morning workout!

I think that increasing my FAT intake yesterday really helped, and although the results were not instantaneous, it seems that after a good night's sleep they are finally showing themselves. I'm trying to take in a little more fat today to see if it continutes to help with my energy. . . . We'll See.

Here's a quick collage to my love of HEALTHY FAT and all of it's energy-providing goodness:



Adding to my GREAT mood is the excitement I feel over attending the Foundations of Nutrition Workshop and the Trainer's Workshop this weekend in Houston! AND if that weren't enough, I'm finally going to get the chance to meet Whole9's Mellisa & Dallas, and Melissa "Melicious" Joulwan (whose recipes I would SURELY DIE without!) in person **happy dance**


AAANND I'm going to get to shop at WHOLE FOODS while in Houston this weekend - does life get any better than that?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Ever just have one of those days?


**Illustration by Clay Sneller**


Meh.

Ugh.

Siiiggghhhh.

Ever have one of those days? Well excuse me for just a moment while I throw a really brief pity party. . .

I'm usually a REALLY upbeat, optomistic, look-on-the-bright-side, pick-a-friend-up kind of person. You'll rarely see me without a smile on my face. But every now and then, I just have one of those days . . .or weeks. . . . !

I am tired & grumpy, have absolutely zero energy, and am craving the hell out of every single sugary abomination known to man. I have only worked out one time this week because my energy levels have been soooo low, and the lack of exercise makes me feel even worse!

I KNOW that I will pull through this shortly. I KNOW that it's just my thyroid levels screwing with me combined with turning the "strict" dial up on my food choices - but MAN - something has got to give!

Having no energy combined with being tired and grumpy is bad enough - but when you add to that the intense cravings that I'm fighting off at every turn, I swear I'm a walking Mood Swing!



So now it's time to turn on my Optomism switch! What do I need to do to fix this funk?

I'm drinking lots of water and eating extra fat (to help with the cravings), getting to bed super early and making sure I get a minumum of 8 hours of sleep a night (even if that means that I miss a workout. . .), and trying to convince my neurotic Type A brain that missing a few workouts while trying to get my sleep/clean eating habits/meal timing back on track is not going to kill me.

I'm on Day 6 of my Whole102, and I know that this is the "rough patch" - especially considering the fact that I really overdid the sugar on New Year's Eve. . . meaning that there's even more crap trying to clear out of my system then usual. So I'm going to "Suck it up, Buttercup", Push onward and upward, and hopefully be back to my normal up-beat sane self that's not plagued by sugar demons w/in the next day or so :)

You may be asking yourself WHY I'm sharing this pity party with the world - well I guess it's because I want those who follow my blog to see that I struggle too! If every single one of my posts were about sunshine and rainbows and puppydogs (Paleo is Great! CrossFit is Great! Weightlifting ROCKS!. . . I got a PR! . . . you get the point), it would be a little bit unrealistic. If I'm going to maintain an open an honest blog, I figured I should probably be sharing the "down's", few and far between as they are, as well as all of the "UP'S" that go along with a Whole30 stint, CrossFit Workouts, etc!

So what do YOU do to pick yourself up out of a funk? I know we all have them from time to time - I'm open to any and all suggestions!

Pressure Cooker Adventures #1



Yes, my initial Pressure Cooker adventures were an Epic Fail!

I attribute this to the fact that I bought a $19.95 Pressure Cooker at HEB. . . I tried several times to use it, but it never seemed to build up pressure correctly.

According to the instructions, I was supposed to put it on the stove on high heat until the regulator began to rock, and then reduce the heat to medium or low so that the regulator continued to rock gently. The instructions also said that I shouldn't start timing the cooking until the regulator began to rock (meaning that the pressure had built up enough to do it's job).

Well, my regulator never rocked, but tons of steam leaked out from around the handle each time that I tried to use it, and water dripped down the side of the Cooker - so I'm pretty sure that it never built up the proper amount of pressure because so much steam was leaking out.

I tried steaming cauliflower, but because the regulator never rocked, I didn't know when to start timing it. I ended up WAAY overcooking it and ended up with a soggy mess!

So, you live and learn I guess! I refuse to quit on my attempts at pressure cooking because it looks like such a healthy alternative and the convenience and speed of it is really appealing to me also.

So I upgraded to a $40 Presto 8 Qt Pressure Cooker over the weekend, and am very much looking forward to trying it out next week - I only hope that I have better luck this time, and that the previous Pressure Cooker really was faulty and that it wasn't just "user error"!

I'm going to start scouring the web this evening for some yummy Paleo Pressure Cooker Recipes, but if anyone out there reading this has some "winners", (Or Pressure Cooking Tips!) please share!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Recipe: Prawn Cakes



I found this recipe in an old cookbook from my Figure Competition days - I tried it out tonight with a few minor revsions, and it turned out GREAT! My picky hubby even asked for seconds :) That makes it a keeper in my book!

These are kind of like a healthy non-fried, non-breaded version of Crab Cakes.

I also made roasted garlic for the very first time tonight (Yay Me!), and made some sauteed spinach w/ caramalized onion and roasted garlic - This was the perfect compliment to the Prawn Cakes!

Prawn Cakes - From Gourmet Nutrition: The Cookbook for the Fit Food Lover by Dr. John M. Berardi, Michael Williams, & Kristna Andres (with minor revisions by your's truly)

Ingredients:

12 oz Raw & Peeled Chilled Prawn (I used HEB Wild Gulf Shrimp - Frozen, but thawed them)
1 T Olive Oil
1/4 cup Leeks, sliced
1/2 cups Mushrooms, sliced
2 Tb Coconut Milk
2 Whites
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
Handfull of Fresh Cilantro, choped
Sea Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Directions:
Dry any moisture from the prawns with a paper towel and return to fridge.

Saute Leeks & Mushrooms in 1 tsp of olive oil until leeks are lightly browned.

Remove mixture from pan and completely chill in fridge.

Add All ingredients, including the raw prawns, to a food processor and puree until combined but not smooth.

Preheat oven to 350. Preheat a cast iron skillet on medium heat w/ remaining olive oil.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of the mixture into your hands and form into round cakes approximately 2 inch diameter by 3/4 inch thick.

Add to Pan, leaving a little room in between each cake.

Sautee until lightly browned, flip and then brown the other side (2-3 mintues per side).

Transfer to a baking sheet and place in the oven.

Bake until cooked through (8-10 Minutes).

Saturday, January 01, 2011

My "Whole102" Starts Today!

The Whole30 Program, created by Whole9

That's Right! I'm officially re-starting today and making my intentions public. I'll be eating squeaky-clean-love-my-body-Whole-30-Compliant foods for the next 102 days. No, that's not a typo - that does indeed say One Hundred and Two!

My "Whole102" will run from today (January 1st) through April 12th. My Birthday is on April 13th, and I'm looking forward to celebrating this one feeling the healthiest that I've ever felt, both inside and out!

As I mentioned in the previous post - I will be keeping a Pictorial Food Log at http://www.christiesfoodlog.posterous.com/, and will be posing snapshots of every single bite that goes into my mouth. There's a Link to my food log in the top right-hand corner of this page, so feel free to check it out if you're ever curious what I'm eating on a day-to-day basis while on the "Whole30". There are a few reasons for my decision to keep this pictorial food log on a separate site:
  • Perhaps the most obvious reason - it will help to keep me accountable
  • I find myself "grazing" a LOT lately with a little bite here or there in between meals. While those little bites may be Paleo Compliant, they still add up, and I need to get out of the habit of mindless grazing due to boredom or stress. Additionally, these "little bites" are usually carb-dense snacks (like lara bars or sweet potatoes or fruit) that I really don't need to be munching on mindlessly anyway! If I have to take a picture and upload it to my food log of every single one of these bites, I'm guessing that it will help me to be much more mindful of when I'm mindlessly grazing, and will reduce the frequency that I do it.
  • I'm want to give any "newbies" a glance inside the "real world" of Paleolithic eating so that they can see that it's REALLY not that hard! It's usually just meat, veggies, and fat thrown together in a stir-fry and tossed on a plate, or a salad, or something super easy and quick. I do get "fancy" every now and then to keep things interesting, but it's not necessary - hopefully by seeing the simplistic meals that I eat and enjoy "newbies" will be a little less hesitant to give it a try.
  • I'm pretty sure that my friends and family are getting a bit sick of seeing all of the food pics that I've been obsessively posting on Facebook lately! By maintaining a separate Pictorial Food Log, no one will have to be forced to view pictures of my food if they don't want to :) Only those people who actually want to see what I'm eating will click through to the link (Your Welcome Facebook Friends!! LOL)
I'm also very excited to be attending the Whole9's Foundations of Nutrition Workshop and Trainers Workshop January 8th & 9th in Houston!!! I'm sure I'll learn all kinds of great stuff and I can't wait.
So my blog posts in the upcoming days/weeks will most likely document some struggles as I work to lock up my sugar demons again, and also the small victories that I notice along my Whole102 journey. I'll still be posting Weightlifting and CrossFitting stuff of course, and any new recipes that I come up with as I'm "Playing with my Food"!