Week of December workouts

There are only a few days left until my week of rest. Yay!

I am very much looking forward to some time off from training. I’m taking advantage of the time off from Crossfit and Olympic Lifting with a full week of recovery. It starts Tuesday and goes through Christmas. I’ll be doing mobility and the exercises the guys at Next level Chiropractic want me to do for my hip, but other than that — I’m off!

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been adjusting to breaking up my meals via protein, fat and carbs. It’s been a struggle, to say the least, since I make so many soups and complex meals. Next step is to weigh and measure. Ugh.

Monday December 12
Sleep: 6 ½ hours
Activity: Olympic Lifting
Back squats w/ 5sec pause 65% 5×4 → 95
Hip power snatch + OHS 3+3×3 → 45/45/50
Hip snatch + snatch pull + snatch 1+1+1x2x3 → 50/55/55
Snatch power jerk w/ OHS 3×2, 2×3 → 55/65
GHD Hip extension w/ 10# plate 10×3

Nutrition:
6:30am – 2 ½ scrambled eggs / 2 oz leftover garlic-tamari beef / 2 ½ strips bacon / coffee, black
9pm – 2 slices frittata: eggs, sausage, peppers, onion, cheese / 1 wedge steamed cabbage / 1 cup carrots / 1 ½ cups mustard greens braised in coconut oil / 1 tbsp habanero sauce

Tuesday December 13
Sleep: 6 hours
Activity: Crossfit Class
“Annie”
50-40-30-20-10
Double unders
Sit ups
Time: 11:54 RX

Nutrition:
7:30am – 4 scrambled eggs / 2 ½ strips bacon / coffee
6pm – 1 chicken thigh (4oz) in 1 ½ cups stew: fennel, onion, mushrooms, kale & chicken stock / ¾ cup brussels sprouts / 1 ½ roasted beets / 1 cup raw carrots

Wednesday December 14
Sleep: 6 ½ -7 hours
Activity: Olympic Lifting
Front squats w/ 5sec pause 65% 5×4 → 85
Hip power snatch + BN Push Press + OHS 3+3+3×3 → 45/55/65
Snatch pull + Hang snatch 2+2×2, 1+2×2 → 6555/55/55/55
Snatch balance 3×3 → 45/45/55
Hang clean 3×3 → 55/55/65

Nutrition:

Protein Fat Carb
6:30am 4 scrambled eggs 2 ½ strips bacon 1 tsp habanero sauce /
coffee, black
6pm 6-7oz beef skirt steak /
1 oz chicken (in soup)
1 tbsp olive oil /
1 tbsp chimichurri sauce
2 cups carrots /
4 cups salad greens /
1 cup steamed carrots, zucchini, broccoli /
1 cup Mexican lime soup

Thursday December 15
Sleep: 6 ½ – 7 hours
Activity: Crossfit Class
Sumo Deadlift 2×5
115-135-155-165-(no time)
——
12-10-8-6-4
Games standard box jumps
Pullups
Barbell push press

Completed 3 rounds + 2 strict pullups in 10mins

Nutrition:

Protein Fat Carb
7:30am
(prepared by hubby: “Your gonna eat carbs”)
4-5oz beef steak tips ½ cup avocado 1 ½ cups sauteed zucchini, poblanos, onions /
coffee, black
7pm chorizo in 2 ½ -3 cups caldo verde (made w/ chicken stock) 1tbsp olive oil /
1tbsp walnuts
caldo verde: kale, red potatoes /
salad w/ carrots, cucumber, greens /
2 cups steamed broccoli

Friday December 16
Sleep: 6 ½ – 7 hours
Activity: Rest Day

Nutrition:

Protein Fat Carb
6:30am 2 scrambled eggs /
2.5 oz pork pan sausage
12 walnuts coffee, black
12pm (work luncheon) chicken
ground turkey
chicken broth
in 2 ½-3 cups soup
⅓ cup sour cream Chicken stew: potatoes, peas & carrots /
Turkey chili: tomatoes /
Chicken tortilla soup: tomatoes, beans, corn /
corn tortilla chips /
1 cup tomato salsa /
3 slices gluten-free corn bread / ½ cup regular corn bread /
chopped onions
6pm 3 slices egg frittata w/ sausage & cheese ¼ cup ranch dressing Frittata: peppers & onions /
1 ½ green bell peppers, ½ cup cucumber slices, 1 cup raw carrots /
1 slice gluten-free cornbread /
10oz white whine

Saturday December 17
Sleep: 8 ½ hours
Activity: Explosive Strength
A) 2-DB split snatch 3×5 @ 20# (45 sec rest between sets)
B) 2-DB push press 3×5 @ 25# (45 sec rest between sets)
4 sets:
C)5 x 1-arm DB bench press @ 25# / 8 x full depth toe pushups
D) 60 sec wall squat at maximum tension / 10 jumping squats
(60 sec rest between complex pairs)
Finisher: KB swings 15×3 @ 35#

Nutrition:

Protein Fat Carb
8am 4 scrambled eggs 2 ½ strips bacon coffee, black
12:30pm 3oz steak /
1 cup pork pan sausage /
1 fried egg
ranch dressing ¾ cup cauliflower rice /
½ cup carrots /
½ cup spinach /
6oz white wine /
3oz peppermint bark /
carrots & green peppers
6:30pm 5-6oz meatza (beef & pork)
.5oz cheese
2tbsp walnuts /
1tbsp olive oil
½ cup peppers & tomato sauce /
1 cup broccoli w/ garlic /
3 cups salad: greens, cucumber, carrots, peppers, vinegar

Love in the kitchen

3 jars of pear-ginger preserves
Fruit of my Sunday efforts: 3 jars of pear-ginger preserves.

Despite my best efforts for the past 29+ years… I have found love in my kitchen.

It turns out, I really do love to cook. Andy and I have seemingly switched places. He’s the gardener now, and I cook what he grows.

In fact, I spent just about my entire Sunday in the kitchen.

I guess I was itching for something to do since I haven’t been able to work out. Sunday was my third rest day in a row. Not only am I trying to give my ankle a rest, but I’m also recovering from a nasty cold that left me feeling just awful on Saturday.

It’s kind of nutty how much I cooked Sunday. Here’s all I did:

  • Started out making pear-ginger preserves. The recipe was supposed to make 7 jars, but I cooked it down so much the batch only made 3.
  • Steamed 3 pumpkins and made 2 1/2 quarts of pumpkin puree.
  • Put the pumpkin in the crockpot with sugar and spices and slow-cooked it all day to make pumpkin butter, which I will freeze.
  • Made chicken stock and froze it into 1/2 cup servings.
  • Prepped the bacon wrapped dates I’m taking to the office Thanksgiving feast and froze them for later this week.
  • Roasted the pumpkin seeds in the oven so Luke can take them to share with his class.
  • Made a beef pot roast in the pressure cooker and a reduction sauce. I served it with braised turnip greens, baked sweet potatoes and salad. Andy said it was awesome and Luke and mads ate their servings all up!
Plastic containers of pumpkin butter
This is the finished pumpkin butter, cooling on the counter in plastic containers.

Whew!  Busy day. Andy said after dinner that I must be hating it that I spent all day in the kitchen, but I feel productive. It was a free day, and I got to spend it playing with one of my passions — food. Plus, one of these days I’ll actually put up some preserves I can give away as Christmas gifts. Next weekend — watch out!

Eat your greens!

There has been a major push at our house lately to add more greens to every meal — even breakfast.

In fact, we’ve been trying all sorts of greens lately, thanks to a plentiful supply from our favorite local farm — Blackland Prairie.  They’ve introduced us to turnip greens and kohlrabi ( which are delicious!).

Breakfast was the last bastion for greens in our house.  Breakfast was already the toughest for me to make that transition away from grains over a year ago. (I used to make oatmeal every day.  What the heck do you eat for breakfast?!)

Prepping veggies isn’t fast  and easy with kids and school and work when you don’t plan ahead. That’s why it’s so important.  Here are my breakfast prep tips:

  1. Wash your greens when they come in the door.  This works really well for the tougher ones like kale.
  2. Chop them up the night before.  We’re usually runnin’ and gunnin’ in the morning.  This is a real time saver, and all but the most delicate vegetables will stand up to a night in the fridge after being chopped.
  3. Make more than enough vegetables at dinner and serve leftovers.  They’re awesome re-heated — especially cauliflower rice and sweet potatoes!

What’s my favorite?  I was just recently turned onto greens (like spinach) served over scrambled eggs and topped with a hot pepper sauce.  The other morning, just such a heavenly creation was accompanied by bacon, Andy’s gluten-free pancakes and berries.  Delish!

No guilty pleasures

What is your relationship with food?

Think about it.

Does eating give you pleasure? Do you feel guilty afterward?  Do you struggle to make choices?

I indulged Saturday, and I have no regrets.

That’s huge for me, because I’ve long struggled with food.  People are often surprised to learn that when I was in college, I was a lot heavier than I am now.  I was always on the heavier side growing up, and my weight shot up when I went to college.  I was always aware of my weight, but I figured I couldn’t change it — that is, until some frat boys in a pickup truck heckled me as I was standing at the corner of 21st and Guadalupe.  My feelings were hurt, and I knew I didn’t want to feel like that ever again.

So began my slow road to where I am now.

I’ll spare you the boring details, but suffice it to say I followed conventional diet and exercise wisdom for a long time.  It worked for me to an extent, but I had the fastest and best results when I started eating primally last year.  Now, my diet is what I call “mostly primal.” My activity level is high, and before the baby, I was the lightest and strongest I have ever been.

Why mostly?  Because I don’t want to be obsessive about food.  It just isn’t worth it.

Yes, it’s important to be aware of what you eat, but being obsessive makes food less enjoyable.  I did that schtick for too many years.  I’d eat — and feel guilty about it.  Well, not anymore.

I recently read a wonderful post on Primal Eating Modern Table about eating with no regrets.  It echoed several other blog posts I read last fall on the same subject.  It’s OK to indulge, as long as it’s every once in a while.

I use the word treat — not cheat — when I go out of the bounds I have set for my nutrition.  Recently, I’ve been “treating” myself a little too often.  I recognize that, but I won’t dwell on the past.  I’m all about moving on.  Because we can’t change the past.  We can only change ourselves from this moment on.

Grow your food, eat well

(This post is the fourth in a series on eating, inspired by the movie Food Inc.  You can read “The Way We Eat” here.  Read “Meet your Farmers” here.  And read “Your Own Personal Victory Garden” here.)

strawberry plant with two blooms
Annual strawberries grown in Texas should be planted in November from crown. This variety has been growing all winter, and now it has blooms and fruit!

Let me stop you there.

Yes, you can grow a garden — even if you live in an apartment.  You may not be able to grow everything, but you can grow something, and that’s better than nothing.

You don’t have time?  Well, if you’re reading my blog, you probably already invest a lot of time looking for the best quality food at local markets or grocery stores.  You already spend a good bulk of time at a gym or running or whatever.  I have a full-time job, a home-based business, a 3-year-old and another on the way.  I don’t have a lot of time either.  But if I can do it, you can do it.

seedlings on heat mat
Starting seeds inside is a great way to save money once you've had a little practice.

Here are some ideas to help you get started, based on what I have learned over the years:

  1. Start small
    A garden can be as small and manageable as you need it to be.  I started off growing herbs in a pot on my apartment balcony when I got my first job out of college.  Fresh basil, thyme and oregano are amazing additions to any food, especially paleo concoctions.
  2. Utilize the space you have
    I was lucky in Nashville.  Our landlord didn’t mind us digging up a huge plot in our front yard as long as we shared with him.  All we had to do was ask for permission.  Renting a house with a landlord that isn’t as nice?  I have friends who have created a garden almost entirely out of containers.  All you need is something to put potting soil in and some seeds.  Even garbage bags and buckets work!
  3. Find a good local nursery
    I can’t emphasize this enough.  The people who work there have knowledge, and they love answering questions!  The gardening community is not competitive!  They share, and every one of us has stories to tell about our failures.  Plus, the nursery folks can give you advice on what materials you need to get started and when to plant certain veggies.  They also know what grows best in your area.  My favorite happens to be the Natural Gardener, but Austin has a bunch of really nice nurseries (and I don’t mean Lowes or Home Depot — I don’t recommend either place.)  Visit them!
  4. Read up
    There are a number of great resources for gardeners — new and experienced.  I have a ton of J. Howard Garrett books, which deal with organic gardening in Texas.  This year we added Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening to our collection.  The Travis County Master Gardeners and Travis County Extension Office can also recommend excellent resources and give advice.
    (Believe it or not, I became a certified Master Gardener in Nashville!  Too much time commitment for me here in Texas… but maybe one day!)
  5. Don’t be afraid of failure
    It can be easy to get frustrated when things don’t work out, but sometimes you have to just experiment and try again.  I’ve been trying to start seeds inside during the winter for YEARS.  It wasn’t until this year that I FINALLY got a bunch of good seedlings to put in the garden — but I still make tons of mistakes.
broccoli growing in a front yard bed
This broccoli plant has been growing since last fall. It's an example of how you can garden through the winter.

OK, so that’s it in a nutshell.  That’s pretty much what I’ve learned over the years.  The result for me has been a ton of failures, but also JOY when I succeed.

Andy and I have worked for the past 5 years to create an edible landscape.  Our front yard has an expanding vegetable garden, plus a strawberry patch, a persimmon tree, three olive trees, Texas native perennials and shrubs, and wildflowers.  In our backyard, we have a huge pecan, two brand new plum trees that will hopefully produce in a few years, a loquat and a blackberry patch — not to mention a bunch of small ornamental trees and shrubs.

One of the biggest satisfactions from my garden is not just knowing that I grew it, but that my son — now 3 1/2 — eats it.  He walks right over to the broccoli and cauliflower, rips off a flower head and starts eating!  How awesome is that?  He’s been helping us garden since he was an infant, and it’s one of our favorite family activities.

Luke eats broccoli
I mean, how cool is that to have your kid excited about fresh broccoli?

I also follow some gardening blogs that might help.  Here are some of my favorites:

Your own personal victory garden

(This post is the third in a series on eating, inspired by the movie Food Inc.  You can read “The Way We Eat” here.  Read “Meet your Farmers” here.)

Luke and the tomato
My son checks out a tomato from our 2009 garden. It was quickly devoured.

OK, I’ll admit it took me a long time to write this post on growing a garden.  Part of the reason is that it’s been so cold and wet, I haven’t wanted or even been able to get out in my own garden.

Trailing winecup nest to Texas Sage
Trailing winecup, a native, next to Texas Sage, blooms in spring.

I always find the urge to grow my own food is strongest around early spring when the trees begin leafing out, the flowers are bursting with color, and the fruit and vegetables that have been long missing from the farmers’ markets are just now starting to reappear.

Spring is my absolute favorite time in Austin.  Admittedly, it doesn’t last very long, meteorologically-speaking.  And this spring took even longer to show up.  What’s up with 40 degree weather on the first day, huh?  One reason I love it so much is that it’s time to plant most of my favorite garden vegetables.

The Nashville garden in 2004?  Or was it 2003?
Nashville gerden -- 2003 or 2004

I’ve been gardening… well, forever.  My grandad had a garden, my mom had a garden, and when I rented my first house — you bet! — I dug a plot for a garden.  Check out that lovely image to the right.  That was my Nashville garden, complete with sunflowers, tomatoes, beans, peas, soybeans, peppers and others.

These are hot peppers from the Fall 2009 garden.

Gardening in Texas is different.  Way different.

We moved back to Austin 5 years ago, bought a house, and immediately I wanted to grow a garden.  While I can grow shrubs, flowers and trees like an experts, my veggie garden continues to be a challenge. Unfortunately, Central Texas poses a number of challenges for aspiring vegetable gardeners, and that can be daunting for first-timers.

That sucks!  Because the best food you’ll ever eat will come out of your own efforts — from the sweat of your body and work of your hands!  When we talk about eating REAL FOOD — you can’t get any better than food from a garden.

And if you have kids, I’ve discovered that children are more likely to eat vegetables if they grew them themselves.  Heck!  Most of the stuff we grow doesn’t make it in the house!  Luke usually eats the broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes straight from the plant!

I’ve written extensively about the challenges I’ve faced, and I’ve learned a lot — so tomorrow, I’m going to share some of the things I’ve learned, share a bunch of pictures, and hopefully you’ll find a way to start your own garden — because there’s no one right way to do it!

Stay tuned.

Going organic

Eating is hard-wired into us, and as adults, we tend to follow the same eating patterns we learned as kids.

Changing habits can be hard.  Seeing through the veil of industrialized agriculture and advertising can be even more difficult without actively seeking out the information.  I mentioned seeing Food, Inc., and the film’s suggestions for changing our culture and the food industry for the better.

One of the first food changes we made in my family was buying organic.

We started gradually.  First, we started exclusively buying organic dairy.

This was back in 2004 in Nashville, and the organic selection was pretty slim.  There was only Horizon in our nearby Kroger.  There were a few more options at the Wild Oats, but it was still kind of sticker shock for us.  We weren’t used to spending  so much on a single gallon of milk.

And I didn’t even taste the difference, until… we tried to drink regular milk again.  All I could taste was a metallic flavor.  It was disgusting.  We never bought conventional milk again.

Soon after we made the decision to go organic, Andy and I moved to Austin and I became vegetarian after watching this.

Organic produce and meat (for Andy) were luxuries for us, and it wasn’t until Luke was born that we took another major step in buying organically.  Andy and I decided to try to feed Luke as much organic as we could afford — exclusively, if possible.  We tried to remember the list of the “Dirty Dozen” — the fruits and vegetables that are sprayed with the most pesticides and avoid the worst offenders.

Buying organic can be very expensive, especially when you add meat into the mix, and “organic” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always good for you — especially when we’re talking processed foods.

My family tries to buy at farmers markets and grow our own vegetables to reduce the added costs.  (More on that in future posts.)  But I’ve also figured out some ways to navigate the grocery store.  Here are a few things that I do:

  • Shop at a grocery store that has lots of variety — multiple brands mean choices and competition, which brings down prices.

(I know you can go to multiple grocery stores, like Wheatsville, Sprouts, Natural Grocers and compare prices and all that.  Do that if you want, but I don’t have time for that.  I work and I have a small child.  Our grocery store of choice is Central Market — it’s close and I know it like the back of my hand.)

  • Buy vegetables and fruit that are in season.  Have you noticed that organic apples are cheaper in the winter?  And berries are really expensive?  Cheap means they’re in season.  Learn the seasons.  Adjust your menus.  We buy tons of summer squash in the spring, summer and fall, and tons of greens in the winter.  We eat lots of apples and oranges in the winter and melon and berries in the summer.
  • Buy bulk, rather than boxed. I save money by buying in the bulk section, because I only get what I need, and there’s less chance it will go bad.  We used to buy oatmeal like this, because it was so cheap.  Now we buy nuts, dried fruit, spices and chocolate.  Just make sure there’s a quick turnover — you don’t want food that’s been sitting there for months.
  • Check out the frozen vegetables. Sometimes these are the better deal.  The produce has been pick at its peak and flash frozen right there in the field, so it’s really fresh.  We tend to buy out-of-season veggies and fruit like this a lot, because the prices are lower and it’s easy to heat up for snacks, soups, and other meals.
  • Avoid processed foods. These are the most expensive items in the grocery store much of the time because of their convenience.  Do you really need a frozen dinner?  With a little planning, you can cook up tasty meals — made with whole, organic ingredients and less salt — in about 30 minutes.

It’s always a victory for us to spend less at the grocery store than our budget.  I’ll admit, one of my favorite things is to walk through the grocery store with my son on a Saturday and let him try the samples.  Sometimes we don’t worry about the budget, and we try things just for the experience — like when we brought home a coconut, because Luke had never seen or tasted a fresh one.

But I absolutely love taking Luke to the farmer’s market, where many of the vendors know him by name now — he’s been going just about every week since I had to carry him in my arms.  I’ll write about that next time.