Friday, February 17, 2012

Chocolate Cravings, Switching Up Workouts & Tackling Sleep Deficit

This is a challenging week with some added work and personal responsibilities that are taxing me.  This is the week of crazy chocolate cravings.  This is the week where I am adding in some endurance drills to improve my running speed and explosive power.  This is the week where I am going to be challenged to stay focused and catch extra sleep wherever I can.

Chocolate Cravings!
Yep, I get them too!  Big problem, I can't do soy and just look at the ingredients list on even the darkest organic chocolate bar and you will find soy lethican as one of the ingredients.  Sure, the traces are meant to be small, but even small, it is soy and highly processed ~ genetically processed soy.  So what is a girl to do to tackle these chocolate cravings...especially during the 6-Week Paleo Challenge?

The Answer:  The Paleo Candy Bar!!!  This recipe comes from - they have some really amazing recipes! 

Makes about 4 (2″x2″) bars.
Approximate cooking time: 15 minutes, with 2 hours of refrigeration=


  • 3 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 Tbs raw honey
  • parchment paper


  1. Melt the honey and coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Once combined, add the cocoa, ground nuts and coconut and mix together.
  3. Pour mixture onto a small baking sheet covered in parchment paper.  Form into a square when cool enough to touch.
  4. Refrigerate until hardened. Cut into 4 servings.
I cut them into squares instead of bars, so you get 8 servings.  It is that perfect square of chocolate heaven with the coconut that I love.  You have got to try these out.  I am working on modifying this for my kids who don't like hopefully there will be a follow up recipe soon.

Switching Up the Workouts!
Like so many people who either workout or teach within the fitness industry, boredom sometimes settles in ~ the routine sometimes feels mundane...which is probably why I like Crossfit so much.  Crossfit breathes new life into my workouts and also gives me an opportunity to just focus on my own workouts.  The workouts are fast, intense and are allowing me to develop the skill and strength that I want and can't obtain while teaching others. 

Switching it up also means that I am changing around my runs and how I train.  I am starting to work on endurance training and utilizing the explosive power I am gaining from all of those 20" box jumps.

Switching it up also means taking on new challenges and teaching @ new locations.  Sometimes a simple change in scenery is enough to change your attitude about your workouts.  There is nothing worse than dreading your workouts...that is a big signal that it is time to make a change.

Tackling Sleep Deficit!
Wow - now this has really got to be the worst one of all.  The lack of sleep that I get becomes so blatantly obvious as I am doing the 6 Week Paleo Challenge.  You earn points for getting 8.5 hours of sleep each night....I am wondering how I carve out 8.5 hours with my crazy schedule?  On the nights when I am able to get to bed by 9(pm), I sometimes lay in bed unable to quiet my thoughts so I can fall asleep.  AND, even with a 9(pm) bedtime, that still only gets me 7 hours of sleep.  I would have to be in bed @ 7:45(pm) to get a full 8.5 kids are just brushing their teeth to go to bed at that time.  I realize that my only hope is to get at least 2 days where I can get 8.5 hours of sleep.

Why is lack of sleep not good?  First off, it makes it really difficult to get through the day.  Even the strongest cup of Peets coffee can't make up for lack of sleep.  Workouts suck and decreased performance, strength & endurance are so obvious.  The other problems?  The longer you are awake in the evening, the more you tend to eat = weight gain...holy smokes, who wants that?  No thank you.  Lack of sleep also throws your cortisol levels into overdrive, throws off your hormones and taxes your adrenal glands.  Guess what, if your hormones are out of whack, it doesn't matter how often you workout and how great your diet is, you can end up holding onto the weight you want to lose, or even worse, packing on additional pounds.

So, knowing how important sleep is, why the heck don't I get more of it?  Crazy schedule - YES...but I need to do a better job.  A well-rested mom is a happier mom.  A happier mom = happier kids and a happier home.  This alone should be a greater incentive.  The Paleo Challenge is showing me that I need to cut corners where I need to and try to plan a little better so that I can get more that my entire family can get more sleep. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Eating Green..Getting Lean...Sometimes a Little Mean

My big goals for 2012 were to drop the 7 lbs I put on as a result of all my injuries the second half of 2011, to clean up my diet and keep moving towards a more Paleo inspired diet and well and to train mean (but not be so mean) :o).

I am coming to the end of week 1 of the Paleo challenge and I feel pretty good.  I didn't get enough sleep this week, which is defnitely hindering my performance, but I know that I am going to have to commit and get focused on the sleep for the coming week.

This week also revealed some training changes that I will need to make to be successful.  I am only able to get in 2 WODs a week @ RVC, which means that I need to earmark some times during the week to conquer two additional WODs on my own.  Because I also like the idea of training for endurance, I am starting to look @ SFCF as their trainers are incredibly knowledgeable in Crossfit Endurance training. 

12 Weeks to Change!

My hope is that I can reduce the number of classes I teach and increase my own training over the next 12 weeks.  While the RVC Paleo Challenge is 6 weeks, I am adding another 6 weeks for my own personal challenges and to hit my goals.  I want to be leaner, stronger, faster and have markedly improved endurance for my runs.

Changes/Realizations @ the end of Week One of the Paleo Challenge?
  • my digestion has improved.  I had the worst time transitioning over to the Paleo diet and experimenting with lots of foods.
  • the food diary not only keeps me accountable, but is helping me to determine which foods are good for me/make me feel good & which foods make me feel like crap.
  • I am a little less really, it's true.  I am sure that more sleep will only help this.
  • that there are days when I don't sleep enough or drink enough water and my performance and overall mood is greatly affected on those days.  My Tuesday run was slow and sloppy as a result of both of these.
  • how I eat.  I pretty much knew that I was a grazer, but by tracking all of my food/drink intake, I realized that I basically eat about every 2 hours.
  • some of the inflammation is gone and my sinuses are improving.
  • the point and prize system & knowing that I am going on the Fat Truck in 5 weeks is a strong incentive to stay on target.
Because I prep all of my food for an entire week, there wasn't a lot of variation in my diet this week, but I made sure that I had lots of foods available to me.  I also realized which foods I like most and the times of day in which I enjoy them.

This week I will experiment with a few of the recipes and will post them later in the week.

Off to RVC now - fully fueled and hydrated and ready to go!

~ Amy

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Paleo Challenge w/ RVC - 6 weeks to a better me? Hopefully!

Yes, another challenge ~ as if my life isn't busy enough already, I add yet another element into the mix.  My argument is that this will hopefully improve my overall life: better sleep (perhaps), lose weight (sure hope so, gotta dump these 7 lbs that creeped on from all of last year's injuries.), increased energy (how I long for more energy), increased strength (I am banking on this) & improved endurance (another one I am banking on).

So first, let me say a BIG THANKS to Stephanie & Nick @ Ross Valley Crossfit for doing the Paleo Challenge for all of the members that want to participate. 

Here is how this challenge works: everyone tosses $40 into the pot.  Why?  Because this challenge comes with perks and incentives in the way of money & prizes - OH YEAH!  That alone is a strong motivator, right?  Let's sure hope so.  Fitting into my jeans is also an added bonus.  Everyone is working on a point system - we start the week with 100 points and get bonus points for doing the WODs and for getting enough sleep (8.5 hours).  Realistically, I know that I can only do 2 WODs a week and can only bank on maybe 1 day a week of getting 8.5 hours a sleep (sadly, it's true - 7 hours a night is generally where I land if I can get to bed on time.), so I will never get more than 3 bonus points per week.  That means that I have win points on being as strict as possible with the Paleo diet.

For me, I have found recently that I have allowed two things into my diet that have thrown me off: dairy & excess calories.  I have eliminated the dairy, with exception to the single scoop of the Whey Factors undenatured whey protein, which I have decided to stay with for the convenience of my smoothies.  The excess calories come at night.  I usually get home and am starving and start picking and grazing from dinner for the kids before I eat my own dinner ~ not allowing that 20 minutes for my food to settle and my brain to register that I am full.  I am determined to do a better job.  How?  More water and grabbing those cut up fresh veggies until I can sit down.  I am also going to force myself to go to bed earlier so that I don't do that snacking that is really just a substitute for exhaustion - food won't give me energy at that point, sleep will!  I preach it; now I need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

I am going to log my daily progress and post regular recipes that I use during the challenge.  Hopefully, blogging my progress will keep me on track.  As a first recipe, here is my daily breakfast smoothie:

- 8 oz water
- 5 oz of either unsweetened almond or coconut milk
- 1/4 apple (I can't do bananas, but 1/2 frozen banana adds a nice smooth texture and kills the "green" taste)
- 2-3 cups organic spinach
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp hemp seeds
- 1 tsp dried goji berries
- 1 tsp Maca root powder (my preference is MacaForce brand)
- 1 tsp unsweetened coconut
- 1/4 cup frozen organic blueberries
- 1 carrot
- sometimes I toss in kale too and spirulina if I feel that it is needed.
- 1 scoop of whey factors undenatured whey protein (less than .5 percent lactose, no sugar) - you don't have to add this.  You could swap this for a pasteurized egg or two.

Here is where I landed for day one (yesterday, the 6th) with food, drink, sleep & exercise:

Early AM - 4:30(am)coffee w/ unsweetened almond milk, cinnamon and vanilla; 4 walnut halves
Post-Workout 8(am)1.5 carrots, 1 celery stalk
Breakfast 9(am)shake: undenatured whey Protein (less than .1% lactose), maca, hemp, chia, 2.5 C spinach, 1/4 c. blueberries, 1/4 apple, 5 oz. unsweetened almond milk, 10 oz water, goji berries, 6 ice cubes 
Lunch @ Noonishegg + whites, spinach, olives, salsa, coconut oil, zucchini, squash, mixed greens + broccoli
Snacksnap peas (raw) + 5 raw walnut halves
Dinnerapple crepe w/ apples, blueberries, unsweetened almond milk, eggs + whites, coconut flour, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut oil
Snackbraised greens in coconut oil, minced garlic, himalayan salt & coarse ground pepper
carrot, jicama, celery and 3TBSP of raw coconut chips
Water Intake4 liters
ExerciseTeach 6(am)/4(pm)
Wake Up Time4:15(am)

Let's see how I do on Day 2!  Inspired?  Let's sure hope so.  Feel free to ping me if you have questions or suggestions as I am still learning and enjoy learning from others.

~ Amy