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Getting Back on Track

30 Dec

tracks01 It’s that time of year! It’s so predictable.  Americans have officially established a final holiday tradition–and it seems participation is almost obligatory.  To close out the season, we vow to clean up the diet as soon as that ball drops.  It’s become faddish–especially in the functional fitness community–to regularly schedule a “Whole 30” or a no-cheats paleo/primal eating challenge.

 The jumping-off point can be a place of dread or anticipation.  Take heart!  Hitting the reset-button will be easier by establishing a new frame of mind.  The rewards of a clean diet are worth the trouble.

Our 10 tips for pulling off a successful paleo or primal eating challenge:

1.  Stay calm.  It’s not that hard.  Don’t focus on restricted foods, and don’t think about weight loss.  This is not about weight loss alone.  Remember the objectives: reset sugar sensitivity, establish true hunger signals, and achieve optimal nourishment for overall wellness.  Do some research, start with the “why”, and solidify personal goals.

2.  Be thankful.  Isn’t it wonderful to have the ability to enjoy so many clean food options?  We live in a time where we have access to any fresh food we desire–there is no lack of variety.  This is a time to get creative, a little adventurous, and have fun with it.

3.  Get some Tylenol…especially if this is your first time.  Don’t try to do the cold turkey thing without ammunition!  My first 30-day challenge was…well, challenging.  I was shocked to have withdrawal detox headaches for the first week while my body readjusted to a normal, balanced, carb/protein/fat ratio.  I was THAT hooked on sugar–to the point that I experienced physical pain.  Ridiculous.

4.  Minimize the coffee habit.  Grazing on coffee all day (even black) has been shown to keep blood sugar elevated, thereby throwing off true hunger signals.  Allow good food to do its work by energizing and replenishing the body.  Afraid of residual headaches?  See #3.  Can’t give it up? Opt for decaf past noon. The aroma of coffee brewing is energizing in itself.

5.  Be prepared.  This will be extra work.  Real food is not prepared or processed in advance.  Be smart about prepping ahead: chop all your veggies for the week, portion things out ahead of time,  and have portable snacks readily available.  The freezer is the new pantry.  It is possible to grab-and-go, and still eat clean.

6.   Double batch everything.  It is so convenient to have food on-hand for later.  Whenever it’s time to get out the knives and food processors and pots and pans, go ahead and double it up.  Freeze a whole batch for a dinner next week, or portion out servings for breakfasts and lunches.  Don’t be afraid of leftover curry chicken for breakfast!  This will help you out of the “eggs again” rut and keep you from resorting to old cereal habits.

7.  Keep it simple.  Pick a few tried-and-true recipes, and stick to those.  Heck, there is nothing wrong with cycling through a set selection over the course of the month.  I could eat these 7 over and over, and really not feel bored:  Butter ChickenPastelon (over sweet potatoes), Lamb MeatballsKheema,  Fresh Roast ChickenPulled Pork, Paleo Pad Thai.  These are fast, flavorful, and they go far.

8.  Don’t go hungry.  It’s the fastest route to discouragement…and forgetting the point.  No one feels stronger, faster or more motivated after eating a 3 oz steamed chicken breast and a cup of broccoli.  Eat healthy fat at every meal/snack for true satiety:  avocado, nut butters, coconut, plenty of healthy oils…every time.  It’s all about balance.

9.  Sugar doesn’t love you back.  Don’t lament it that much.  Good food works to improve health: to replenish, rebuild, and repair.  Crummy, glucose-spiking food works in the opposite manner, and the body must work hard (on the cellular, hormonal level) to compensate for the toll it takes on us.  Put a stake in the ground and don’t look back.

10.  Relationships are more important than food.  (Romans 14.)

Bonne Santé!  We hope 2014 overflows with refreshing times, laughter, and a renewed resolve to work hard in all areas of life!

Leigh and Heather

this is not a deprivation!

this is not a deprivation!

benefits More favorite clean eating recipes and resources:

Who is Sick of Eggs for Breakfast?

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

Barbecue Sauce

Unwrapped Gyoza

Thai Green Curry


Your Garage Gym

9 Jul


I am very blessed to have an awesome CrossFit gym super close to my home filled with great people, great equipment, and great camaraderie where I can both train and coach. That wasn’t always the case and there are seasons in life when a solid garage gym serves you well.  My top reasons for having a garage gym are 1. You can train whenever you have the time, whether it’s 5am barefoot in your pajamas, 1-2pm while your toddler naps, or 8pm after the kiddos are asleep, 2. You can work out together with your spouse in the early morning hours before heading off to work ,  3. You can practice skills that need work or interest you (some of which you’d rather not have an audience for!) and 4. You can get your kids involved by doing family WODs or CrossFit kids homeschool style.

Our garage gym has taken on several forms as we’ve moved around. It’s a living breathing project. As we develop new interests we save money for new equipment.  My best advice is to think about your strength and conditioning goals and prioritize your shopping list. If you can’t bust the bank for a squat rack right away, aim for a solid pull up bar, and a barbell with plates. While you won’t necessarily be breaking PRs in your back squat, at least your Olympic lifts will shine on. Rogue Fitness has an impeccable website with more information than I could ever provide, but here’s how we got started:

1.  Assess what you have that could work for you.

  • Old dumbbells make cheap replacements for kettle bells and all around effective training tools.
  • Bench from your “lifting” days.
  • Yoga mat, jump rope, rowing machine, treadmill (gasp….but think 800m sprints when it’s pouring rain or your kids are sleeping!)
  • Sandbag. With just this alone you can do almost anything you can do with a barbell. Click here and scroll down to sandbag for a comprehensive list with instructional videos from Mountain Athlete. Love.

2.  Buy a PVC pipe from your local hardware store.

  • Do the Burgener Warm-up and practice overhead squats with it every training day.
  • Consider taping it with barbell knurl marks.
  • Even if you never purchase your own barbell, you can still perfect technique with a bit of purposeful intensity.

3.  Measure your useable floor space and consider flooring options.

  • 3/4 in rubber horse stall mats from your local feed and supply house are your best bet.
  • We started with puzzle piece rubber gym mats, but they proved to be too thin and came apart easily.

4. Select a squat rack with pull-up bar or stand alone pull-up bar. 

5. Select a barbell. 

6.  Select bumper plates and clips.

7.  Think about plate storage.

8.  Select rings and straps.

9.  Think about plyo boxes.

  • We used 20in tall “tough boxes” with plywood nailed to the top for a long time–adequate and basically free.
  • Upgraded to the Rogue games boxes–again, better with multiple heights if you’re sharing with your hubby.
  • Construct them yourself if you’re handy, which I am not.

10.  Make a wish list of equipment for the future.

  • Kettlebells, medicine balls, AbMats, GHD, climbing rope, speed rope, sled, atlas stones.
  • Make your own: paralettes, slosh pipe, and more.

All that aside though, when life gets busy and the summer vacations start, I never leave home without this bodyweight workout resource. It is super comprehensive and has saved me from slumps many times.

Here’s to summer!


Cultivating Choosy Children

26 Jun


Considering the abundance of creature comforts and food choices in our country, it should be an easy no-brainer to just feed our children good food.

What makes it not easy?

We are inundated with tempting and unhealthy foods constantly, and somehow there is guilt associated with saying “no” to the day-after-day junk.  Why is this such a source of guilt?  As parents, we should embrace our responsibility to lead them in every way, not the least of which are nutrition habits.  We simply don’t have the luxury to X it off our list of what we impart to them.

The processed “food” industry creates inventory that is specially formulated to hook us, and ultimately our wallets.  It’s sad.  I am straight-up offended at what they are trying to sell me.  How stupid do they think we are?  Here is a telling clue:

This company is laughing all the way to the bank.

This company is laughing all the way to the bank.

Is this what it’s come to?  This is audacious.  We should all be offended.  And afraid.  Anyone seen Wall-E?

We have to teach our kids how to decipher truth from fiction.  Kids CAN reason.   Tell them why.  “Because I said so” only goes so far.  That statement will control their behavior for a while.  But if you want to instill into their hearts a reverence for their health, then you’ll have the “why” conversation with them.  Often.

quick reminder

quick reminder


–Show them the labels with the unreadable ingredient paragraphs and discuss the implications.
–Remind them that there are plenty of occasions in the outside world to eat an array of junk food; however, their home is an oasis for delicious real food that God designed for our best health.
–Use a lot of positive reinforcement: “I LOVE the way you picked that delicious snack, it’s going to make you feel wonderful!”
–And, you can pepper-in some occasional negative mantras as well: “Cookies make you fat and slow.”*  🙂 Just kidding.  But no really.

Kids appreciate the opportunity to make their own choices!  Everyone wants to have some sort of control over their circumstances–allow them to exercise freedom of choice when it comes to good food.  I have had much success telling my children something like this:  “You know, we had cake at the birthday party yesterday.  So, your choice of dessert is either fresh cherries, or ants-on-a-log, or some dried mangoes.”  Et cetera.   The simple opportunity to make their own selection goes a long way.  (It worked well this week on our recent vacation-tour of America’s finest gas stations, fast food restaurants and the world-class American feeding-trough we call Golden Corral.   I mean moving cross-country.)

The goal is to instruct our littles how to identify the unhealthy, and to be on the lookout for the ideal.  Avoid spotlighting what’s being withheld.  Strive to highlight all the delectable foods God has provided.

We have to move past the idea that eating healthy is somehow a deprivation!!  This is such a lie from the media and from the haters all around us.  It is a privilege to have access to healthful food and the means to provide it for our families.

In the immortal words of Melissa Hartwig: It’s not that effing hard.**  Do right by them, and point them in the right direction.  Yes, you may have some pushback, but with the right amount of reason and flexibility, it will come together.  What is more–they will anticipate getting to make a choice, and begin to initiate the conversation.

Stay with it.


*Words of wisdom spoken by C. VanWey
**I am preaching to myself.
Read more on getting your kids on board to a clean diet.
This is a brief explanation of what balance means.

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