Lessons Learned – A New Year Do-Over

Yes, I wussed out again. Remember when I told you about the girl that I work with who does CrossFit? And how excited I was about it? And how I was going to renew my focus on being able to do CrossFit in the new year? That was great, and a great feeling, but great feelings can’t get you through a workout. As some of you know, I have been doing CrossFit workouts at home for about six months now, although not all that consistently. The day after I posted that post, I looked up the workout for CrossFit Greensboro. It was a Saturday, and I was pumped.

Until I saw the workout: 800 m run? How far is 800 meters?

I pulled out Google and looked it up. And my heart sank: 800 meters is roughly half a mile.

Now, I’ve never been all that big into running. I have several family members who do the long distance running thing, and I have sat back in awe that anyone can do that, while secretly wishing that I could do it too. My second foray into a CrossFit gym had me walk out of the gym, completely worn out, after a half mile run. And that was just the warm up that day! I just don’t have the stamina and endurance to do it. Let’s face it – I’ve been sitting on the couch for seven years now. Stamina and endurance have a tendency to disappear when you do that.

Of course, there was more to the workout, and I considered dropping the running part and just doing the rest. 50 pull ups, 100 push ups, 150 squats. Oh, and then we were supposed to run another 800 m.

I debated dropping the running and doing the rest. I debated riding down the road to this gravel track nearby, doing the running, coming home to do the rest, and driving back out there to do the second run. I weighed it all. And then I stopped and got completely honest with myself. Do I really want to walk into a gym where they expect you to do these kind of runs every now and then, knowing full well that I simply can’t do it? One of the reasons why I walked out of the gym the last time was because I was so completely embarrassed by my performance. Do I want to put myself through that again? Is it worth it?

I weighed it all week, although not entirely seriously. I talked to the girl and told her that I planned on coming. I worked the cost into my budget. I stopped thinking about it. And then I talked to another friend of mine who I used to go to a different gym with. She told me how much I had inspired her to get busy in the gym. She’s been going all year. She hasn’t gotten hung up on what gym to go to and what workout to do. She has simply been going and getting it done.

I went to my old gym with her yesterday, and I have to say that I have missed it. I downloaded the “Couch to 5K” app on my phone so that I can work on my running, stamina, and endurance in a place where I won’t feel intimidated and embarrassed. I did my first workout with it yesterday, and it was really all that I needed. A structured running workout that I can restructure to my pace, because even that workout will get to be too much for me in about a week. And this morning I did some squats, and you know what? I realized that I don’t need a CrossFit gym to do this. I can tell that I am doing the squats right now. I am getting better at it. I have been working on my squats for an entire year on my own, and I am conquering them on my own. It took a while, but when I noticed that my center of gravity was different going down into the squat than it used to be and that I was getting lower into the squat than I used to, I was so proud of myself. Because I did that all by myself. Shoot, I’m getting choked up just writing about it, because that has been my goal for an entire year, and this morning I knew that I had reached it.

I told my friend yesterday that she ended up inspiring me just as much as I inspired her. I need to quit trying to make this so hard and just get out there and do what I can do. Every trip to the gym is a victory, and when a milestone is reached like the one I reached this morning, it is an even bigger victory. There are ways that I can identify goals that I want to reach, but I don’t need the name and the big, expensive gym to reach them. I just need patience and dedication. And I have shown myself that I really do have that. I told my fiancé yesterday about my friend saying how much I inspired her, and I asked him why it has been so hard for me to inspire myself. Well, now I see how that works, and I see the bigger picture.

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A New Year – And Remastered Chili

Well, I’m already slacking. I usually get in a year-end reflection before the new year begins, but I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Seriously, I plan on kicking 2013’s butt so I guess I was trying to get a head start. Hopefully this post will make up for it.

I’m not big on resolutions, but I feel like this is the year to make some commitments. After all, I am seriously beginning to connect with the knowledge that I am going to continue to be in bad shape if I don’t exercise, Paleo or not. Plus with what I do at my day job and my side business, I seriously need an outlet of some sort. That was made perfectly clear in 2012.

The reason why I do not like making resolutions is because I do not enjoy feeling like a failure. If I resolve to do something, and then it doesn’t happen, what progress have I really made? If I feel like a failure, how much harder is it going to be to try again later?

So I am just going to say that I am going to try to give CrossFit another shot. A do-over. And I have a buddy to do it with, so that may help me be more successful and not feel so intimidated by the big gym with all the strong people. Maybe I will stick with it for more than a week. Maybe I will hang for two this time! That was a joke – I’d really like to stick with it longer than that. I really want to chronicle the journey as well, and see where my mindset has gone.

On another note, I received my end-of-year summary from WordPress, and it seems that you people really like recipes. In fact, I would almost dare to say that one of the only reasons you visit me is for my food. I was holding out hope that it was for my incredible writing skills or my unbelievable wit, but I’m starting to take the hint. So I will give you what you want. At least today. You know how inconsistent I am when it comes to this blog.

You may remember a few weeks ago when I said that I was retooling the Best Chili Ever recipe, trying to find a way to make the chili without so many tomatoes. When I said that, the chili was actually cooking, and I did not feel right about posting a recipe before I knew what it tasted like.

It was Awesome! So here it is:

The Best Chili Ever: Remastered

2 pounds ground beef
1pound ground pork (or bulk Italian sausage for more flavor)
1.5 pounds stew beef
1 large onion, minced
1 can diced tomatoes and green chilis
2 poblano peppers, minced
4 Anaheim peppers, minced
1 small can Herdez salsa verde
2 cups beef broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
3tbsp ground cumin
3 – 4 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp oregano

Brown the stew meat in a couple of tsp of coconut oil on very high heat. Remove the meat from the pan and put the diced onion into the pan, and cook until opaque. Add the beef broth and let cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the ground beef and pork (or sausage) and cook until the meat is browned. Place all of the meat (including the stew meat), spices, peppers, salsa verde, garlic, and tomatoes and chilies, into a pot and simmer over medium-low heat for no less than three hours. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes!

So Much To Tell You!

I really should post more, so that way I don’t have to tell you, my two loyal readers, a bunch of news all at the same time! I mean, it can get overwhelming, and I have a tendency toward forgetfulness about things that I want to remember to do or talk about.

But not this time.

Remember that end-of-the-year post I did that mentioned how certain food studies make more sense in the context of a Paleo lifestyle? Like drinking eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day. Impossible, right? Not on Paleo – I can’t get enough water when I’m eating clean! Well, on the Sunday before Christmas my family was opening presents with my fiancé’s dad and his family. His stepmother had gone through great pains to make deviled eggs for me that were Paleo (and they turned out quite good, actually), and she had some other Paleo-friendly foods available. She also cracked open a bottle of red wine.

Now, I’m not a big wine drinker. I’ve only had a couple of glasses in my entire life, but I have been curious to taste wine since starting Paleo to see if the flavor of it was any better than I remember it. I had a chance a month or so ago at another family function, but I passed it by. It doesn’t take much alcohol for me to start feeling it, and there were a lot more people there that I didn’t know very well. But at Christmas the atmosphere was a little more laid back, so I decided to try the wine. I wasn’t even sure if wine was Paleo or not, but I distinctly remember not caring too much at the time. (According to Rob Wolfe, red wine is Paleo if taken in moderation.) The wine was good, and I thought about having a second glass a couple of times, but decided against it. Now, I had heard before that red wine is an aphrodisiac, but I didn’t put too much stock in it. I mean, this is one of those stupid studies that we wonder why people spend money on, right? Well, without giving out TMI, I am here to say that it is true. So I guess the study was right after all.

Enough said about that. So how was your Christmas?

On a completely different note, I went in to work late today and I found a bunch of different kids of different ages napping in my room – a mostly unheard-of occurrence. One of the teachers of the older children was in my room, also, and she asked me about my diet. When she heard that I was doing Paleo, she got very excited because ….

She does CrossFit! At the first CrossFit gym that I tried! We had so much fun talking about CrossFit and talking about doing it together and…

I might start going to a box again – maybe even as early as next week!

I was so excited to hear that someone I knew was doing CrossFit, and so aggravated that I hadn’t learned this before, but I am extremely excited that I may have a CrossFit workout buddy! I just have to see if I have to do those introductory classes again, and then I will be good to go!

And in other news, I think that I owe you a recipe, but I am going to have to post that another time. Hey, I have to do an end-of-the-year post, so you’ll probably get it before the end of the year!

Paleo Shepards Pie

It has been amazing how much things have changed just in the past month. I am taking a much-needed break from business planning to pursue other interests that I have been neglecting in the process. One of those interests is this blog. I am also trying to be more consistent with my CrossFit workouts. And I have started taking classes in Gracie Jiu Jitsu with my fiance.

Listen to me! I talk a great game, but I promise you – the last CrossFit workout that I did was last weekend, and I was so sore ALL WEEK that I could barely walk. I was lucky to be able to get through my Jiu Jitsu class last night! Actually, it feels great to be active and not sitting on my butt so much. I guess that needs to be the next step in my journey. After a year of cooking and eating Paleo, I am very comfortable with it – even under stress. Getting myself off of the couch is the logical next step.

One thing that I am nervous about is overdoing it. It seems that every time that I start a new exercise program I overdo it and get sick. I did my CrossFit workout last weekend and was super tired and sore all week. I was okay through the week, trying to take it easy so that I could recover. It wasn’t until the end of  the week that I felt like I might be getting sick. In fact, this morning I feel it even more, and I had a Jiu Jitsu class last night. I guess I should just make sure that I get some rest this weekend.

On another note, I developed a Paleo modification of one of my favorite comfort foods: Shepards Pie. And boy, is it good! The only problem that I have had recently with it is getting the ratio of filling to mashed cauliflower correct. I’ve only made it twice so far and I haven’t quite gotten it right either time. But it is so good that I can’t keep from sharing it any more!

Paleo Shepards Pie

1 lb ground beef

One head cauliflower

butter or other oil (for mashed cauliflower)

1 yellow onion, diced

1 bell pepper, any color you want

1 yellow squash, diced

1/2 c mushrooms, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp oregano

salt & pepper to taste

3 bunches of fresh basil (I use the basil in the tube, about a quarter to a half of the tube)

Preheat the oven to 350.

First, chop up the cauliflower and steam it. You don’t want to steam the cauliflower for too long because if it is too wet it will not cover the pie effectively. Keep it firm but not too firm.

Next, cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. When it is almost browned, add the garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano. When it is completely browned, add the vegetables and the basil and cook until the vegetables are tender. While the vegetables are cooking, mash the cauliflower.

After the vegetables are done cooking, pour the meat and vegetables into a pie plate and spread the mashed cauliflower evenly on top. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Take it out and enjoy!

Getting the Family Involved

Today is a proud day in our Paleo household. First of all, my fiance has been eating cleaner for a couple of weeks now. He has already talked about how much better he feels, and his blood sugar has stabilized. Second, my teenage daughter went with me to CrossFit on Friday and Saturday. She seems to really enjoy it, because when my fiance asked me when we were going back and I said Monday or Tuesday, she said, “Oh please, Monday!” But the greatest shocker to me came as we were leaving the gym on Friday and she said that she wanted to start my diet.

It took nine months, and I never thought it would happen, but it happened.

She has been rather disappointed about some of the items that she has found out that she will have to give up, but I am working with her to try to find substitutes for those things. After all, when your teenager tells you that she wants to eat healthier, you had better try hard to move heaven and earth to help her be successful! She eats barbecue sauce on everything, so that is probably the first thing I am going to try to figure out. She even tried a piece of sauteed onion with her dinner this evening!

With the teenager on board, and with our new focus on fitness and being healthy, I have also started taking steps to wean my younger daughter off of the constant cereal, granola bars, sandwiches, and chicken nuggets that she has been consuming. I already know that the hardest thing to deal with will be the cereal – I am hoping to get her to try some eggs later in the week. We found some frozen rotisserie chicken wings at Sam’s Club. They aren’t totally Paleo, but they are a gigantic step toward getting away from the breaded chicken nuggets that she has been eating. She had some for dinner this evening and she really liked them. She has been snacking on more fruit, and is eating more salads with her meals instead of the sides that she was eating before.

I am one proud mama right now. I really didn’t think that this day would come, but here it is, and I am loving every minute of it. I love sharing CrossFit with my daughter, and I am really going to enjoy teaching her how to eat healthier. I think that the experience has already brought us closer together, and I am very glad of that.

Onward Toward My Goal

So last weekend I posted about my new fitness-related goal, and after the post, I worked really hard to do some research into what I need to do to correct my squats. Inevitably I ended up on a CrossFit website and discovered that there is a CrossFit gym not far from where I live. Their website was phenomenal, and I was able to link to the CrossFit journal from the website. The journal has a lot of great information about beginning CrossFit, how to improve squats, and recommendations related to CrossFit. After reading and reading and reading, mostly about beginners in CrossFit, I asked myself: “Why am I holding myself back? Why can’t I do the CrossFit thing now?”

Before my shopping adventure last weekend, I swung by CrossFit Decree – the gym not far from where I live. There was no one there because it was early afternoon on Saturday, but it was tiny. I got excited. After the frustration that I felt after my first CrossFit experience,  I felt like a smaller gym was just what I probably needed. And I was right. After talking to a wonderful coach named Renee on the phone on Thursday (haven’t met her yet, but I can’t wait to!), I went to CrossFit Decree and participated in their 6:00 class.

It was amazing. It was everything I had dreamed CrossFit would be.

I had explained to Renee my experience with the other CrossFit gym, and she said that they would work with me to make sure that I didn’t overdo it and burn myself out too quick. They did a great job. I have been to two classes so far and am about to hit my third in an hour. Then I will have two days off, during which I will probably not be able to walk from being so sore (I have been fighting soreness like crazy today!) before I do it all again next week.

The coaches at CrossFit Decree have been awesome with showing me how to modify the exercises so that I will be able to do them, and working with me to make sure that I don’t overdo it. And the other people there are just as awesome. I can’t wait until I don’t feel like a newbie any more!

So, I need to go get ready for my workout. I will probably post again this weekend!

Changing It Up

Okay, squats are NO JOKE! Especially when you realize that you have been doing them wrong ALL YOUR LIFE.

Thank goodness for CrossFit Winston Salem. I have already gleaned quite a bit of information from their website, including the CrossFit Journal, which has a training guide which includes… The Squat Clinic. I can already tell that this handy gem is going to be invaluable to me as I work on strength, technique, and form on my squats. Because I have none. Definitely no strength. My technique and form? What are those?

So tonight I did my first EPLifeFit workout since whenever I did the last one that I did. I can tell that my form has improved somewhat, just from what I learned from the EPLifeFit site. The information that I got from the training guide was priceless. I actually felt for the first time that I would be able to work up to a squat the correct way. And when my workout was done, I was jelly. My legs, my abs, and my arms were straight jelly. It kind of reminded me of how I felt after my first CrossFit workout. And it was great.

So I went shopping today and got food for the week. I was going to make the pork chili, but I am so scared that I am still burnt out on it. Plus the Wal-Mart that I live near now sucks! They didn’t have any poblano peppers. So I modified that recipe, but I can’t tell you about it until I know whether it came out well or not. I used the ingredients that I ended up getting for the chili that I didn’t make to put together a meatloaf – Southwest style:

2 lbs. ground beef
1 egg
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 (4 oz.) cans green chilis
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

So you put all of the ingredients in a bowl, mix it up, and form it into a loaf in a baking dish. Then y bake it at 375 degrees for an hour. Serve it with guacamole and cilantro!