Cherry Picking

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Cherry pick: verb, to choose or take the best or most profitable of (a number of things) especially for one’s own benefit or gain:  cherry pick the best routes-–

The point of the programming at my gym is to keep your body guessing to a certain extent. To not focus only on your strengths, nor only on your weaknesses. To work every part of your body, making gains in all areas of fitness.

To cherry pick your wods (workout of the day) is to choose to go the gym only on the days that you like the wod, for whatever reason that might be.  Maybe it’s a wod you love because you’re good at it. Maybe it’s a wod you want to try, knowing it will be especially challenging. Maybe the wod focuses on a weakness that you’re working to improve. In any case, you choose to attend class that day because it’s for what you’ve determined is “your own benefit or gain.”

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing…..unless you find yourself consistently cherry picking wods that cater to your strengths.  In my opinion, that is taking the easy way out and not at all for your over-all sense of benefit or gain.

Today was a wod that looked especially tough……not one that I wanted to try at all. However, in an effort to get back to some semblance of a routine I have decided to be at the gym Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, rain or shine, come hell or high water, wod that I love, wod that I hate.  Today was a day to work…..and to choose to skip the wod would be the worst kind of cherry picking.  It might have been for my immediate sense of benefit, but not at all good for the long term.

So I headed to the gym, making bargains along the way about how I would scale or alter the wod to my liking.  But when the clock started I made a difficult choice…….use heavier weight than my cherry picking self wanted to lift, not enough to cause injury of course, but enough to really slow me down, challenge me, and make me focus on my form…..and put me further behind on the leader board than my ego likes.

And you know what?  It was awful….but in a good way.  I did the right thing, and I have more respect for myself for doing the right thing than I would have had I cherry picked.

This applies to other parts of my life.  Cooking a healthy meal when the drive-through would be so much faster.  Drinking water when that icy-cold Coke looks so very good.  Thoroughly cleaning the kitchen instead of cruising through quickly and delaying the inevitable scrubbing it needs.  Having a difficult conversation in person rather than sending the seemingly-better, yet ultimately-worse email or text.  Doing what I can to set something right (again, in person) with someone with whom I’m in conflict, rather than sweep it under the rug and let the resentment build.  Remaining silent in response to an offense, rather than be quick with a snappy comeback ( for me!).

I do not want to be someone who consistently avoids challenges, going out of my way to avoid conflict, or taking the easy way out when I know that the harder way is the best way.

The hard way is well,  hard.  But so much more rewarding in the long run isn’t it?

I don’t much like cherries anyway!

Menu Monday: 7/22/13


Here’s the plan for this week:

Monday:  Sautéed chicken and brussels sprouts with bacon

Tuesday:  Taco Salad

Wednesday:  Sirloin Dijon, steamed broccoli, roasted sweet potato

Thursday:  Balsamic Pork Chops, mashed cauliflower, salad

Friday:  Mexican Soup (sub chicken for beef), cilantro-lime cauliflower rice

Grilled Flank Steak


This dinner could not have been easier, and was finished start-to-finish in less than 30 minutes (after marinating).

Grilled Flank Steak:

  • enough flank steak to feed your family, mine was maybe 2 lbs?
  • your favorite salsa

Pour some salsa in a large dish, add steak, toss to coat with salsa and stick in the fridge to marinate 4-6 hours.

Heat grill to high heat and grill steak 3-4 minutes each side for rare, longer on each side if you prefer your steak more well-done.  Remove from the grill and let rest on a platter 10 minutes.  Slice on the diagonal in thin slices.

If you don’t have a grill, heat the broiler in your oven, place steak on a rack over a cookie sheet, and place under the broiler, 3-4 minutes each side for rare, longer on each side for more well-done.

I served this with roasted cauliflower and a salad of spring greens, sunflower seeds and sliced carrots, topped with balsamic vinaigrette.

Menu Monday: 7/15/13


My two youngest kids are in a summer day-camp this week, and though I have car-pool help, my afternoons and evenings are going to be a bit challenging.  So as I made my menu plan for the week I searched for either quick and easy recipes, or those that can be tossed in the slow-cooker in the morning and ready to be enjoyed when my tired and hungry kids get home each night.

Here’s the plan:

Monday:  Chicken Bites, salad, cauliflower brains

Tuesday:  Chili, roasted zucchini, salad

Wednesday:  Barbacoa tacos, cabbage slaw

Thursday:  Chicken soup, salad, steamed broccoli

Friday:  Spaghetti (pasta and squash) with tomato sauce and roasted brussels sprouts

What’s for dinner at your house?

Chicken Bites

This recipe is based on a recipe for steak bites, another family favorite.  It is easy, quick, and requires few ingredients.

Chicken Bites:

  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs-enough to feed your family (I use 1-2 lbs)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • olive oil, coconut oil, butter or ghee

Cut up your chicken in bite sized pieces.  Season to taste with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  My family likes a lot of flavor on these, so I usually use quite a bit of my favorite seasoning on them.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the chicken to the skillet, making sure not to crowd the pan.  A crowded pan will steam the chicken, rather than brown it.  I usually do at least two batches, keeping the first batch warm on a foil-covered plate while the second batch cooks.

Cook 3-5 minutes or until browned, then toss to brown the other side.  Cook another 3-5 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove from skillet and serve with roasted veggies, add to a stir fry, toss with a salad or along side spaghetti squash and tomato sauce.

Refrigerates well to have on hand for lunches through the week.

Favorite Seasoning


I keep this seasoning on hand and use it regularly…’s so much easier than getting out the salt, pepper and garlic powder every time I need it.  I use it for grilled chicken, steak, burgers, chicken bites, pot roast and I’m sure other things I’ve forgotten.

This is the ratio I like to use, which is pretty pepper-y.  If you aren’t a big fan of pepper then back off a bit.  Play around with it until it’s your own personal favorite seasoning!  I don’t measure it, just pour it in layers until it looks about right.  You could certainly measure it out if that’s more your style.

Favorite Seasoning:

  • 1 part sea salt
  • 2 parts ground black pepper
  • 2 parts garlic powder

Give it a good shake or stir to mix well and you’re all set!

Mom’s Pumpkin Bread


Every fall, my mom would make pumpkin bread.  Lots and lots of pumpkin bread.  We always had a loaf in the fridge, ready for a smear of margarine for a quick snack. I lost count when I tried to make a list of how many of her friends received a mini-loaf of her almost-famous pumpkin bread each year. Many of my childhood friends remember her pumpkin bread…….I always had a few pieces in my lunch at school, or even a whole loaf to share with my friends at the lunch table.

I continued the tradition when I went away to college, making pumpkin bread every fall for my roommates, then making it for my husband, eventually making it for my kids.

Mom was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia (corticobasal ganglionic degeneration…..try saying that 3 times fast!) in 2008, though her symptoms began several years before that.  Her handwriting was one of the first signs of change, as it began to look like someone else’s, her brain slowly but surely losing it’s connection to the rest of her body.   It wasn’t long before she lost the ability to write anything at all.

Mom passed away in June, 2011.  When the weather started turning that fall, my kids began to ask for pumpkin bread, but I could not bring myself to make it.  It was just too hard to gaze at the recipe card, the one filled with her distinctive cursive, the one with her name written clearly at the top.

I thought I would try in the fall of 2012, but again, I wasn’t ready.  A sweet friend offered to make it for me, but I didn’t even feel ready to eat it.  Fall moved into winter, and winter into spring.

And now it’s Mother’s Day 2013, and early last week I found myself ready to make pumpkin bread.   I had expected to be sad and crying while following the receipe, but instead I felt very calm and peaceful, making something that I had made so many times before, thinking about my mom, what a great mom and friend she was, how much she enjoyed baking for her family and friends, how she had passed on this tradition to her children, and I would be passing it along to mine.

I shared the first piece with Reese…..she said, “Mom….this is so good!”

Yep, everything about it is good.

“Praise the Lord!  Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”      

Psalm 106:1