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-–dictionary.com

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 (this.is.so.hard 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!


Mom’s Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin

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                                 


Paleo Challenge Recipes

My gym is starting a Paleo challenge on September 3rd.  Great timing right?  I got a week off from my Whole30 before diving back in!  I’ve had an ok week, but definitely have had some consequences after eating too many cookies one day (5?  6?  I lost count), and a big Coke another day.  Both indulgences weren’t worth the fatigue and stomach-ache, so next time it’ll be just one cookie and I’ll skip the Coke.

Anyway, at our nutrition night we had a few requests for more recipes, so I compiled a list of recipes/links for some breakfasts and dinners.   I didn’t list lunches because my lunches are almost always left-overs, or a lettuce wrap with deli turkey or home-made chicken salad.

Breakfasts:

Egg Cupcakes  (my kids don’t care for peppers so I omit them.  You can add grated carrot or sweet potato if you like)

Scrambled Eggs (I like mine with kale and onion)

Frittatas (Everyday Paleo has multiple recipes for these.  So easy to make and customize.  Make ahead and reheat throughout the week)

Sweet Potato Hash

Hardboiled Eggs

I am not a huge fan of breakfast foods, so sometimes I eat leftovers from dinner.  I know….weird.  But I need to eat an left-overs are easy and I like them.  If you’re getting tired of eggs, then give it a try.

Dinners:

Southwest Meatloaf

Garden Meatballs  (the peppers can take over these meatballs, so if your family doesn’t like them leave them out)

Chili Verde

Balsamic Pork Chops

Grilled Chicken Breasts, Thighs or Drumsticks (make extra to have on-hand for lunches)

Roasted Chicken Breast, Thighs or Drumsticks (see above….same idea, just roasted in the oven)

Crockpot Ropa Vieja (Cuban-style pot roast)

Chicken Tacos (slow cooker)

Steak Tacos (slow cooker)

Easy Chili (slow cooker, skip the cheese and fritos)

Burgers (skip the bun, wrap in lettuce, add lots of toppings:  tomato, onion, avocado, salsa, etc)

Roast Chicken/Crockpot Chicken (great for dinner, or make on the weekend, pull apart the meat and use for lettuce wraps or chicken salad for lunches)

Tacos (use ground beef, chicken or turkey and taco seasoning, wrap in Romaine or iceburg lettuce leaves and top with salsa and/or avocado)

Mexican Soup  (make this with ground beef, or add shredded, cooked chicken.)

 

Do you have a tried-and-true Paleo-friendly recipes?  Share them below in the comments!


It’s Time

We’ve been on a journey the past few years at our house, slowly but surely adding more and more fresh, whole, nutrient-dense foods to our family diet, and removing those food-products that are packaged, processed and nowhere near their natural beginnings (if they ever had a natural beginning).

During this time, I’ve done a lot of reading about nutrition, and by a lot I mean A LOT.  As in….I’ve neglected my kids while hopping from blogs to research studies and back again on more than one occasion.  One site I keep coming back to is Whole9, a health and wellness community focused on real food.  Their no-nonsense approach to nutrition appeals to me, and their new book, It Starts With Food, has the perfect balance of scientific information and real-life application.

At my local CrossFit gym I’ve often recommended Whole9 to other gym members when asked questions about nutrition, Paleo, Zone, supplements, improving strength and performance, etc. However, I’ve never completed a Whole30, their highly successful 30-day nutritional program to re-set your metabolism and relationship with food.

I’ve thought about it.  I’ve done a nutrition challenge with my fellow gym members, lasting just 2 weeks before caving.  My diet is pretty clean and doesn’t much resemble the SAD (standard American diet) so I never saw a reason to commit to such a strict program.  But there are a few strongholds in my eating choices, and in the past month or so I’ve started to experience some of those old nagging symptoms that caused me to clean up my diet in the first place:  fatigue, headaches, stomach pain and bloating, irritability, dull and acne-prone skin.

And I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of “needing” a Coke each day to ward off a headache and fatigue. I’m tired of relying on caffeine and sugar to feel alert.  I’m tired of having to change into my stretchy pants every afternoon because my stomach seems to have puffed up a size or two since I woke up.

I firmly believe that the answer lies with whole, real, nutrient-dense food.  I believe this from experience……I know that when I eat clean, sleep well, manage my stress appropriately and hit the gym regularly I feel amazing.  And I want that feeling back, and for good.

So, it’s time.  Time to do my first Whole30.  I start tomorrow, Friday, July 27, 2012.


Taco Seasoning

This is a great alternative to the pre-packaged taco seasoning packets.  You control the spicy-ness and don’t have to worry about any mystery ingredients.

1 tbsp chili powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp paprika

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients together in small bowl.  For tacos, brown ground beef and drain, then add spice mix to beef along with 1/4 to 1/2 cup water and simmer 5-10 minutes.


Well, Hello!

I just moved my tumblr site to WordPress.  My techie-husband tells me this will work better, and I tend to believe him since he’s the one with the computer science degree.  My fashion merchandising degree is much better suited to, ummmm, working at the Gap.

I’ll get my tumblr pages moved over and start adding new ones ASAP.