Paleo Challenge – Round 2

Let it be said before I start handing out advice that I have already failed Paleo challenge round two by conventional standards. I have “successfully” completed one whole30 challenge. I put successful in quotes because I was at the time a little lax with the “sugar” rule. Don’t get me wrong, I cut out a crap ton of sugar in that first challenge but I did allow almond butter, honey in my tea and a chai tea every now and then. Other then that it was no sugar and no dessert. I also did not incorporate as many vegetables as I would have liked. Regardless of these slight imperfections those thirty days were life changing for me!! I had increased energy, felt rested and just overall better.

After, the whole30 I kept many of the gains that I had a acquired. I was eating cleaner and with less sugar then I ever have, that was until I went to Hawaii. While I ate healthier in Hawaii then I would have in the past, the trip was still filled with frozen alcoholic drinks and desserts. After coming back from Hawaii despite my many efforts I kept slipping back into the jaws of the sugar monster. So naturally when my gym offered a Paleo challenge I jumped on board. I think that it is always easier to stick with something if there are other folks around you not only encouraging you but are “suffering” right along with you. I would have never it made it through the thirty days the first time around without my husband’s support. It also helped immensely that he did the thirty days with me. Every time, I wanted to sneak a piece of chocolate I would think of my husband. The same thing was true with the Paleo challenge at my gym. I actually didn’t even know which individuals from my gym were participating in the Paleo challenge. Just the fact that I knew other people were challenging themselves along side me was enough to increase both my motivation and discipline to myself.

If you are hell bent on making a change and sticking with it then I suggest finding someone else that wants to make a similar change as you. If not in person use the internet. Having someone else that you are accountable to will do wonders in moving you in the direction that you want.

When I embark on something new I always try to set goals for myself. My goals for this strict Paleo challenge was to in fact do absolutely no sugar and to incorporate as many vegetables as possible.

I was doing fantastic at first, I could tell by my crankiness for the first week without sugar…my husband could tell as well….haha. Everything was going as planned until I went out town and then I went out of town again and then again. This is where things fell apart for me. There were so many variables that were out of my control and I didn’t plan for any of them. Woops!!  Lesson learned. I know that in the future when I am traveling home that I need to bring health snacks. Rest stops have few if any Paleo friendly snacks. I also know that I have to have a meal plan when I get to my family in New Jersey especially if I arrive hungry after dinner hours and grocery store hours.  Failing to plan is planning to fail.

The ultimate down fall to this Paleo challenge was going to Portland. The town is know for being a foodie city. It was a conscious choice to break some rules….some not all. One of those was going to Voodoo Donuts.

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My husband holding the box of deliciousness!!

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Yum!!!

Apparently, you can not go to Portland without trying these donuts.  Also….I love hard cider and they just had so many choices that we don’t have on the east coast like cherry cider that I couldn’t resist!!! um amazing. I am not sure if I am ever going to be back to Portland so I wanted to make sure that I got the full experience. To be honest it was worth it!!! While I am out of the Paleo Challenge at my gym…..the weeks of clean eating up to the Portland trip have once again allowed me to easily pass up cupcakes and donuts. I am eating less sugary foods then I was eating before and more vegetables so I consider myself a winner. If you are searching for perfection you will always be sadly disappointed in yourself. Perfection is ever elusive. If you let your disappointment keep you from trying altogether then that is the only way you can really fail. If you celebrate your successes no matter how small then you will find over time you will achieve much more then you ever thought possible.

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Double Under Flailing

I am terrible at double unders!! (double unders are where the rope passes under your feet twice during a single jump) Every time I see them on the workout I cringe a little. I try to take a positive approach and see it as an opportunity to practice and become better but in my hearts of hearts I am always wishing that they weren’t part of the work out.

I find double unders incredibly frustrating. Unlike everything else in CrossFit…the “try harder” attitude gets you no-where.  To be successful at double unders you have to be relaxed and kind of go with the flow.  You have to find a rhythm.  Of course I want to continue to get better at CrossFit which means that I must get better at double unders.

About a month ago my mom who also does CrossFit offered me the opportunity to go to a double under workshop at her gym. Of course I jumped on this opportunity. The closer it got to the workshop the more excited I became. Over the course of the weeks leading up to the class I had come to the conclusion that the reason I had not mastered double unders is because I was missing some “special cue or step.”

I was sure that I would learn the secret to double unders at the workshop. The cost of the class also came with a jump rope. This also further convinced me that my lack of double under proficiency was not my fault but rather I lacked the proper equipment. (mind you I had already spent money to get a customized speed rope) I  was convinced that this workshop was going to be a magical experience and that by the end I would be a double under master.

When arriving at the workshop we were handed a pink plastic jump rope. Although the jump rope was pretty it looked like I could have bought it at the dollar store. My optimism for the class was not swayed. At this point I was convinced that I was a double under flail because of some special step that I was missing. To my grave disappointment there was no special step, hint or cue. Over the course of two hours we went through a series of drills, techniques and skills to be practiced in order to get better a double unders.

Through out the class my frustration and the frustrations of others (they must have had the same thoughts about magically obtaining double under mastery in less the two hours) increased. At the end of the two hours I was no closer to obtaining double under mastery then before the class.

This class unfortunately or fortunately confirmed what I inherently knew.  The only way I am going to get better at double unders is by practicing double unders. This is really the secret of life. If you really want to excel at anything you have to be willing to put in the work. I think in society now-a-days we are too quick to think that there is somehow a quick fix to everything, be it weight loss, business success or what not. The truth is success only comes to those who not only work hard but work smart.

So until the double under fairy blesses me with magical double under skills I am left with taking some extra time at the end of each class to practice. After all practice makes perfect.

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Yes…yes I am…when it actually happens.

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Um definitely….

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The goal!!

Nourished!!

So my husband and I often fall into a cooking rut after finding a couple of new recipes that we love. This happens every couple of months mainly due to our schedules. Sometimes it is just easier to cook what you know then to try something new. I love all of the Paleo style websites that are out there and I have often searched them for a fun, new and tasty meals. To be honest there are so many awesome websites out there that I often find myself overwhelmed.  More then going online for recipes, I love to hold a cookbook in my hand. I like it better for picking out recipes as well as when Im cooking which is evident by the multitude of stains in the pages of my cookbooks.

I am not all old school though. When I grocery shop I put my grocery store list in my cell phone so that I dont have to carry any extra paper. This has been key to my cooking success because before this I would lose my list half way through my grocery store excursion thus requiring me to shop for ingredients from memory.

In an effort to make my life easier I am constantly looking for ways to cut corners and I think that I have found one. It is a Paleo app called “Nourished”.  The application is a conglomeration of Paleo recipes from multiple blogs. It was about $1.99 I believe to download. I love it because it is easy to use. I am pretty much technologically illiterate so if I say that it is easy to use anyone can do it.  I like it because it provides pretty pictures with every recipe!!! This makes it easy for me to find what I think looks tasty.  The pictures also helps me to determine if the recipe is going according to plan when cooking.

I like the fact that you can browse through the recipes and put them in your “cooking queue.” This allows me to quickly find the recipes that looked good in a snap. On each recipe page you have the option to add it to  your “cooked history” or “favorites”. You also have the option to share the recipe on facebook or twitter. Again, each of these features makes it easy to find the recipes that you like quickly so that when you are planning a meal you are not wasting time looking for recipes.

Each recipe provides you with a summary of the recipe such as length of time to cook, prepare, number of servings and if it contains eggs, nuts, etc. Every recipe that I have made has had easy to follow cooking steps. My favorite part about the application is that it has an ingredient list that can easily turn into a shopping list with a click of the button. This feature also allows you to free text additional ingredients that are not part of the recipe.

Another benefit to the application is that it comes with a list of resources that are “Paleo” friendly such as where one can buy prepared foods to grassfed “meat”. It also gives you the names of the bloggers that have contributed to the application. Each of them has a blog that you can explore for more recipes.

The only thing that I do not like about the application is that about half of the recipes are paleo treats. While these treats are obviously better for you then the sugar laden treats you find on the shelves of the grocery store I try my best to cook these treats as infrequently as possible. The application is updated routinely and I have noticed on these updates that more entrees and sides have been added.

So far I have made four recipes from this application and I have to tell you that they are my new favorites. They look good, taste delicious and are easy to make. In fact they look so scrumptious that many folks at work have asked me where I bought my meal. It was moment full of pride for someone that before this year cooked maybe twice a month to say…”I didnt buy it….I made it!!! ”

One of the recipes that I made and love is Chicken and Vegetable Lo Mein!! It is super easy and delicious. Be sure to get the “coconut aminos”. It is the soy substitute. It is an absolute must for any stir fry type meal. It can easily be found at Whole Foods in the oil or international aisle.

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It may not be restaurant worthy presentation but it sure was tasty. I added the eggplant to the recipe because I wanted to use it before it went bad. I always try to pack as much vegetables into a recipe as possible. Often times I run out of pan space for all the veggies that I want to incorporate. In that case when I go to reheat the left overs I will just sauté a little more of whatever vegetable the recipe calls for and then add it to the reheated meal. Not only am I getting more vegetables into my diet but it is more economical in such that I am using in this case the whole head of cabbage before it goes bad.

Lesson Learned

Everybody makes mistakes. The goal is not to be free of making mistakes but to try not to make the same ones twice. Each time in life when we come up short of our expectations there is a valuable lesson. I have often felt that the most gains that I have made as an individual both personally and professionally have not been when my life has been going well but rather when it was going anything but. In my experiences, individuals rarely chose self-reflections or make drastic changes when life is going well. Why would you?? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!!

This past two months I have chosen to work extra hours at my job.  Mind you this not a job that I love. I do not hate it but I do not love it. The reason that I chose to work these extra hours is in the hope that I may make a little extra money so that I can some day turn my focus fully to figuring out what I love and making that my career.

While the extra hours looked great on paper, living them has been anything but. Not only have I not saved any extra money but I have been miserable in the process. Due to the fact that I have been working extra hours I have not had as much time to cook so I have been eating out more. (There goes all the money that I thought I was going to save). No food that you buy at a restaurant is going to be as healthy as the food you cook.   I am tired all the time. I have not been able to do the things that I enjoy doing: cooking, spending time with my husband, catching up with friends, working out and so on and so forth.  A job that I normally feel neutral about has become more then a chore. Lastly, I am no close to reaching my goals then I was before this decision.

I think that there is a time and a place for working your butt off. Hard work is definitely one of the keys to success but I think that you just have to be careful that what you are working so hard for is what you really want and that you are enjoying the process. If you are dreading every minute of it…is it worth it???

It has been almost like an epiphany that if I want to change the course of my life then I am going to have to take some risks. There was a quote that my dad loved to tell me as a kid. “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got”. I am ready for something different. At the end of this month I will go back to working my normal hours and mid-november I decided to cut my hours. I have done this so that I can take more opportunities to do the things I enjoy and take some risks in hopes of finding what it is that I love to do!!

This has been a hard lesson learned and one that is still being etched into my memory as I continue to work through my schedule this next month. Hopefully, I have learned this lesson for good!!

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Coconut Chicken with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

So August is turning out to be a super busy month for me. I am working some extra hours and I started doing some shadowing for a new adventure that I am contemplating. Hence, I have had no days off and will have minimal time off until labor day weekend. I am alright with being busy but would love to have a couple days where I could sleep in an hour or two. I didn’t realize how busy I was until one day I found myself getting excited to “sleep-in” till 6:30am. Epic Fail. With that said I have noticed that I started to fall into a “meal rut.” You know where all your weekly meals look the same week after week. Monday night is burger night, Tuesday night is taco salad night and so on and so forth. Rut’s are for one boring. For two, that is when I feel less then optimal foods sneak up on you. You can’t stand to have another night of grilled chicken and vegetables so you come up with an excuse to eat out.  Robert (my husband) and I have found a couple of Paleo recipes  like stuffed peppers, chicken salad and so forth that we have become used to making and now make all the time.

So I thought this week might be a good week to change it up so I found a new recipe in “The Box” Magazine . P.S.: I don’t make up new recipes. I just find them. In the world of cooking I am just trying to survive. If I post a recipe it means that it was good enough that my husband went back for seconds. Meaning if I can make it, so can you. Trust me. I have set the kitchen on fire multiple times. The smoke detector alarms so many times that I start singing along to it like a song.  I looked for a copy of the recipe on the The Box website but couldn’t find it…so here is the recipe below. It is well worth trying. The recipe is for Coconut Chicken With Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce. It is like fried chicken but baked!! It is gluten free and definitely yummy.

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (surprisingly sweet and tasty)

12 chicken drumsticks

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

(not sure why this particular salt was so important to use other then starting an argument between my husband and I over why pink salt is better then regular salt for the recipe. Finding pink salt in the grocery store is like being on a scavenger hunt.   Also when you grind the salt it loses its pretty pink color)

1/4 cup organic coconut flour

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

1 gallon size zip lock bag

Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup Dijon Mustard

1/4 cup raw honey

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees

– Beat Eggs and milk into small bowl.

– Add dry ingredients to a large gallon-size zip lock bag (of course I didnt have a gallon size zip lock back because I never read directions all the way through before I start. This was supposed to be like a shake and bake deal but I had to improvise. So I used a glass pie pan and rolled the drum sticks in the dry ingredients

– Dip drumsticks in egg mixture and then place in bag with dry ingredients. Shake until drumstick is covered evenly

– Bake in oven 40 – 45 min or until chicken is no longer pink inside

– For the dipping sauce mix the honey and mustard together and then stir till well blended. From here add more honey or mustard to taste.

There are no personal pictures because I was so hungry by the time that the meal finished my main concern was eating. So here is a poor picture of the chicken from my magazine

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Chicken Close up.

Its good…its relatively healthy….give it a try

I hate running…..

I hate running….always have and probably always will.  I also don’t care for the rower or double unders. I mostly dislike double unders because I am not any good at them. I like to call them my personal whipping. Without fail every encounter that I have had with double unders has left numerous red welts on either side of my shins.  For those of you who do not know what double unders are,  it is a form of torture where you try to pass the rope under your feet twice with each single jump.

I know those of you out there that “run for fun” are saying to yourself that I just have not given running a chance. Not so my friends not so. To my credit I have many running events under my belt to include both 10-milers and a single marathon. The marathon was the worst birthday present I ever gave myself. The marathon that I ran was on my birthday and I literally spent the whole day doing something that I often dread doing!!

Of course I was thrilled when I learned that most CrossFit workout’s consist of 200m or 400m runs with the longest that I have ever run in CrossFit is a mile!! What what!! This does not mean the God of Aerobic torture has not visited me at CrossFit. I struggle with workouts that are strict cardio meaning that they do not include a weightlifting or bodyweight component. Just thinking of an all cardio workout makes my lungs burn!!! I love going to CrossFit but the motivation lacks just slightly when I see an all running, rowing or god forbid running and double under combination!!  One thing that keeps me going is that I want to get better at CrossFit all around. Sometimes this means pushing through things that we prefer not to do. While I do not look forward to these cardio workouts I relish in any gains that I make, be it one or two seconds faster then before.

One of things that always motivates me to go to these WOD’s is a blog post by CrossFit Rook. The full post is the Ten CrossFit Truths but what really struck home with me is truth number 8:

“8) The WODS you hate are the WODS you should not miss. Yesterday was a perfect example for me. Nicole. 20 min AMRAP of 400 meter runs and AMRAP pull ups. I hate both, hence I hate Nicole. Don’t skip the stuff at which we suck, as we would never get any better. ” 

While I never want to run a marathon again I do want to get better at CrossFit!! This means going to those all running, rowing and double under filled WOD’s. Who knows maybe these WODs will become my favorite one day. Hahaha………..or maybe I just won’t dread them. One step at a time 😉

nike-running-sucks-tshirt_thumbClearly I need to own this shirt!!!

quote-nike-suckLove it!!!

Oh Hawaii…I miss you already!!

I had a blast in Hawaii!! I was worried that over the years I had built up the trip to Hawaii to unrealistic proportions and that I may in fact end up disappointed by the trip. I am happy to announce that not only did my trip to the big island meet my expectations but it exceeded them. This was the first real vacation that we have taken since adopting the Paleo lifestyle. One thing we learned from this experience is that we would prefer to stay in a place that has a kitchen for future vacations. While we both loosen the reins on what we eat while on  vacation, eating out for almost two weeks straight took both a toll on our bodies and wallets!! We thoroughly enjoyed drinking the fruity drinks and sugary foods at first, but we noticed as the vacation went on we felt more sluggish and that we both had “rumbly tummies” at points throughout the trip.  Eating at home for one or two meals a day would allow us to still feel close 100% to explore as well as allow for us to try the local cuisine!!

With that said I am glad to be back. I have found that I am a creature of routine. I am ready to get back to eating clean, CrossFit and working towards my goals. In the meantime here are some more pictures of my amazing trip.

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In front of lava rock. It was every where on the Kona side!

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Black sand beach!!

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Green Sand Beach!! It was a two hour drive and a 2.5 mile hike to this beach but it was well worth it!!

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This was an amazing white sand beach that we went to where the water was clear as day.  Oh yeah the sign above made me a little nervous!

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 There was plenty of wind on the island to run these wind mills!!

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I am used to deer crossing signs!! Donkey crossing signs were new to me. I was disappointed that I didn’t actually see a donkey crossing the road. I guess I am just going to have to go back. Oh darn 😉