Whole30: Week 1

This week, we officially started the Whole30! There is no doubt this first week will be tough, but I promise, it will get easier. After the next 30 days, you will feel like a new person!

As you begin your Whole30 journey, you’ll have days of intense cravings and days of low energy; keep your head up and push through! You may feel like quitting; but don’t. Remember what your goal is. At a moment of weakness ask yourself, “why you are doing this.” Whatever the reason, if it is important to you, you will do it. Check out the Whole30 Timeline so you can see how you might possible feel each week.

I highly suggest keeping a goal sheet. Post it somewhere visible to keep you on point each day!

Remember, your results are only as good as the effort you put into the program. If you just have that little piece of cake or just a small glass of wine, you’re results may not be as profound.

Tips for a Successful Whole30

  • Eat until you are satisfied. This is a recommendation from our Nutritionist, Cara Zaller. Be sure to eat meals with plenty of proteins, healthy fats and vegetables. If you eat enough at mealtime you are less likely to snack.
  • Plan meals ahead of time. During the weekend, plan the coming week’s meals so you can stay on track. Make an egg bake for breakfast during the week and cut up vegetables to have on hand. Also, have a go-to meal(s). This will be a meal that you can fall back on when you are tired and just don’t feel like cooking. My go-to meal is an omelet! A quick stir-fry or hash also works well.
  • Too busy to cook during the week? Try ordering PremadePaleo meals. Just heat them up and you have a healthy meal in just a few minutes!
  • Heading to party? Eat before you go or bring an appetizer to share that is Whole30 compliant. This way, if lasagna and pizza are on the menu you’ll be prepared!
  • Going to the movies? Mixed nuts and some dried fruit* are great to munch on while everyone else is chewing on popcorn! *Keep in mind that dried fruit should be eaten in moderation!

Food Shopping

Someone recently asked me where I prefer to food shop. Specifically asking about Trader Joe’s, Wegmans and Whole Foods. Luckily, I live about 5-10 minutes away from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. So I can buy all of my food at these stores. Although I really like Whole Foods, it can be a little pricey. The nice thing about Whole Foods is that you can buy anything from deli meats to beef jerky without the worry of nitrates/nitrites in the ingredient list. I love this because nitrate-free items are rare in your regular grocer. It’s also hard to find items which are soy and wheat free. Although it takes a little more effort, I can find these items more easily at Whole Foods.

As for Trader Joe’s, these items are harder to come buy, but nitrate-free bacon and deli meats can be found there (just check the labels!). I like Trader Joe’s the best when I want to buy the basics plus some items are less expensive. On my most recent shopping trip, I picked up these items for less than $50!

Here are some of the Trader Joe’s essentials I pick up weekly/bi-weekly to keep me on my grain/dairy-free diet!

photo (2)

Items to buy at Trader Joe’s:

  • Bacon – everyone needs bacon!
  • Avocado – to add some healthy fats to my meals
  • Mixed “fancy” nuts – healthy snack when cravings kick in!
  • Ready to eat grilled chicken – After looking at the package more carefully, I noticed these chicken breasts are sadly made with soy protein isolate – not approved!
  • Various fruits/veggies – some shredded carrots and snow peas for stir fry!
  • Pork, chicken, beef and fish -there is a limited selection of grass-fed beef and limited selection of wild caught fish
  • Almond Butter – great on apples as a snack!
  • Coconut Oil – for cooking
  • Eggs – these are a must during Whole30!
  • Nitrate-free lunch meat

Whole30 Approved Recipes Here are some recipes from the group for you to enjoy, plus they are Whole30 approved!

Butternut Squash & Zucchini
Submitted by Peggy

What to do: Toss butternut squash and zucchini in EVOO. Season with garlic powder, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes. Roast at 350 for 15 minutes. Then throw in cauliflower and onion( also tossed in EVOO and spices) Roast another 30-40 minutes. Voila! Plenty of healthy veggies to last all week as sides.

Sauteed Bison and Veggies
Submitted by Peggy

What to do: Sauté 3 garlic cloves and 1/2 white onion in EVOO. Add 2. Lbs ground Bison. Once meat is cooked, add 2 cans of petite diced tomatoes w/green chilies and 2 cans of black olives (cut in half). Peggy recommends throwing in a few cashews for some crunch factor. Add some leftover roasted veggies or a side salad to your plate and its a healthy easy Whole30 dinner.

Scrambled Eggs with Kale
Submitted by Tracy

What to do: Cook bacon, 3 strips (Tracy suggests Nature’s Promise). Then sauté two shallots in ghee or bacon grease w/ dash of S&P Add kale (a big bunch since it reduces so much). Toss in chopped bacon. Add two eggs. BAM! *drool*

Chicken & Spaghetti Squash w/sauce
Submitted by Sue

What to do: Brown chicken breasts and finish cooking covered with some added water or broth. Saute shallots in oil, add dijon mustard, white vinegar and some of the finished broth. Serve chicken over fresh baby spinach, with a side of spaghetti squash and sauce over all. If you microwave the squash while cooking the chicken and sauce. This a 15-20 minute dinner start to finish.

Tasha’s Spin on Green Beans

  • 2 bags of fresh green beans (steam until they turn color)
  • Coconut oil
  • Fresh Garlic Cloves 1-2
  • Small Carton of grape tomatoes cut in half

What to do: Steam the green beans first. In a separate pan add coconut oil (about 1 tablespoon). Then add the fresh garlic, green beans and tomatoes. Sea Salt and Pepper to taste! Tasha suggests serving with cinnamon chicken (see below) + cauliflower rice!

Tasha’s Spin on Perfect Guacamole

Simply Perfect Guacamole (Tasha’s Spin)

  • 2 medium avocados
  • 1/4 cup red onion or sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeded and chopped. For more heat and flavor, try a habanero instead
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut up
  • Juice from half of a lime
  • Crushed fresh garlic (to your liking)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (more or less to taste)

What to do: Mix it all in a bowl and eat!

Tasha says, “I found that if I keep the avocado seed/pit in the bowl for storage it stays fresh a little longer. Not as much browning! I actually bought the guacamole bowl and masher at Bed Bath and Beyond! I love it! I also grind all my veggies, I find it mashes better.”

Cinnamon Chicken Submitted by Tasha

  • 1 3lbs chicken, cut into 8 pieces (breasts, drumsticks, thighs and wings)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2/3 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 cup water or chicken stock

What to do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, garlic and cinnamon. Rub the chicken pieces with this mixture and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature.
  3. Place the chicken pieces in a large roasting pan, sprinkle the meat all over with the paprika and add the onion slices to the pan.
  4. Cook for 35 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 F.
  5. Stir in a cup of water to the roasting pan and continue cooking for another 50 minutes.
  6. Serve and use the juices from the pan as a sauce.
  7. Serve this dish with a simple side of roasted root vegetables or a salad for a very satisfying Paleo meal.

Whole30 Approved Recipe Links

Is there something that you have found helpful during your first week of Whole30? A recipe, a tip or quote? Write a comment below and share 🙂

Good luck during your first week! We can’t wait to hear how you’re doing!

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Happy New Year!

After celebrating our one year anniversary, welcoming several new clients and class members, plus a new and improved class format, we’d say that 2012 has been a successful year for OPTI!  We are looking forward to the year ahead and hope you are too – make 2013 your strongest year yet!

Since we are committed to making you the healthiest and strongest versions of yourselves, we would like to share with you some updates taking place at OPTI.  Enjoy!


First and foremost, Joe and I would like to announce that we are now StrongFirst (SFG level 1 and 2) Russian Kettlebell, Barbell and Bodyweight Training Certified Specialists.  As you know, we pride ourselves on carrying the most reputable certifications and maintaining the highest education standards the industry has to offer.  Until this point, Dragon Door’s Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC) program had been the highest standard of certification in strength training and russian Kettlebell training within the industry.  However, just a few short months ago, RKC founder and Chief Instructor, Pavel Tsatsouline, parted ways with Dragon Door and the RKC to start a new organization called StrongFirst.  Pavel’s mission is to lead the way onward to educating the population to the highest strength and movement efficiency standards within the industry.  Pavel mentored Joe over the last four years, who then mentored myself, so it seemed only fitting and obvious for us to follow and work with Pavel and Strongfirst in this new pursuit.

To learn more about StrongFirst, check out these articles:

New Class Times

As a result of your feedback, we have decided to open some new class times plus a new day!  Please be sure to adjust your schedule so you may have time to complete the new movement prep routine 20-30 minutes prior to each class!

The new class times are as follows:

  • Monday & Wednesday at 6 & 7pm
  • Friday at 4:30pm


As many of you now know, Joe and I have recently completed the Whole30 challenge. After the 30 days, we feel energetic, aware of foods that negatively effect our body, experienced improvements in our bodies function and lost significant fat in the process.

What is Whole30?

During The Whole30 Program, you will cut foods from you diet that may cause systemic inflammation, gut distress, hormone imbalance and unhealthy dietary habits. The 30-day program allows time for your body to reset and heal.  The next 30 days could possibly change your life.

From the Whole9 website:

“Whole9’s original program designed to change your life in 30 days. Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food. Since 2009, thousands of people have used our program as a jump-start to changing the way they eat for the rest of their lives.”

For more details, go to The Whole30 Program.

What Can I Eat/Drink During The Whole30?

Eat real food – meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds.  Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.

Everything you can eat and drink is provided on this shopping list.  I highly recommend printing out a few; one for your fridge, one for your wallet and a couple extras to hand out to friends!  I cannot tell you how many times I have copied the shopping list or sent the link to a friend. Keep it handy 🙂

From the Whole9 website, here is a quick review of  what not to eat!

Omitting all of these foods and beverages will help you regain your healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation, and help you discover how these foods are truly impacting your health, fitness and quality of life.

  • Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial.  No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc.  Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
  • Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking.  (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
  • Do not eat grains.  This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa.  Yes, we said corn… for the purposes of this program, corn is a grain!  This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on.  Again, read your labels.
  • Do not eat legumes.  This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts.  No peanut butter, either.  This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
  • Do not eat dairy.  This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee. (See below for details.)
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites.  If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
  • Do not eat white potatoes.  This is somewhat arbitrary, but if we are trying to change your habits and improve the hormonal impact of your food choices, it’s best to leave white, red, purple, Yukon gold and fingerling potatoes off your plate.

Whole30 & Paleo

Although most Whole30 “approved” foods are Paleo, it is important that you do not  “Paleo-fy” your foods.  This means making something with Whole30 approved ingredients that resembles a junk food you enjoy.  That means no “Paleo pizza,” almond flour pancakes or flourless muffins.  Remember, The Whole30 is not merely a program to help you lose weight.  Many programs offer this.  What makes Whole30 different is that it breaks your food addictions and unhealthy habits.  By making foods that replicate junk food you are missing the point of the Whole30 entirely.

A Final Rule

You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program.  Like I said, this is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the other benefits Whole30 has to offer.  That means no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking  measurements during your Whole30.  We do recommend taking before and after pictures, body fat and circumference measurements and weight.  Personally, I did not lose any weight, but I got significantly stronger.  For this reason, pictures and body fat measurements were most helpful.

Ready to Start?

Are you ready to make changes in 2013?  Then join OPTI as we begin our Whole30 journey on Monday, January 7th.  This will give you plenty of time look over the shopping list and plan out meals for your first week.  We have a Facebook group set-up to provide support during the 30 days.  If you have trouble joining the group, friend me (Christine Nicole Norris) and I will add you.  I will also be posting weekly updates on the blog with recipes, helpful links and general info health & fitness info!  Please go to the home page of our member blog and type in your email address (top right) to ensure you will not miss any information.  The first official post will occur next weekend!

If you do not have Facebook or if you would prefer not to subscribe to our blog, please send me an e-mail at cnorris7880@gmail.com and I will be sure to send any information your way!

In addition, I found it very helpful to sign up for the the daily e-mails provided by Whole9Life.com.  Although you can successfully complete the program without signing up, extra support is always nice.  The emails are jam-packed with recipes, tips and other great information to keep you on track.  The cost is about $15 but it is well worth it! Sign up here!

Links to Get You Started!

Whole30 Program Quick Links

Christine Approved Food Links!

  • Elana’s Pantry  – Recipes to get you started – be careful, as some have milk
  • Civilized Caveman – Paleo recipes to get you started!
  • Everyday Paleo – Food so good it’s now a cookbook!
  • Nom Nom Paleo – Great site packed full of recipes. Plus, if you have an iPad, Nom Nom Paleo offers a $10 app that is Whole30 approved! Here you will find step-by-step pictures to go along with the recipes!
  • Paleo Comfort Foods  – Lots of delicious recipes
  • Primal Kitchen – Plenty of recipes to get you started! Some have milk/sugar so be sure  to substitute when needed!

Other Links

  • OPTI’s Nutrtionist, Cara Zaller
  • Mark’s Daily Apple – Mark Sisson’s site is wealth of information and has the research to back it up! Questions about cholesterol, sugar or just food in general? Type in a keyword in the search box and find plenty of posts about the topic.
  • Robb Wolf – Robb Wolf wrote The Paleo Solution and his site is also a great source of information
  • Steve’s Original – buy all natural, wheat and soy-free beef jerky here!
  • US Wellness Meats – get grassfed meats shipped right to your door!

Have a Safe & Happy New Year!


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July Workouts

July?! Are you kidding me?

Summer is in full effect, folks, and we are knee deep in the heat at OPTI. July workouts are going to be kick-ass, but sadly, I will not be there for much of it. (Sitting on the deck, overlooking the Atlantic ocean as I type this!) You will have plenty of fun smashing weights with Christine and Joe-just don’t set any PRs while I am gone; you know how I feel about that :).

Session A

1-TGU to warmup


2b-1 leg squats (advanced)/reverse lunge (beginner/intermediate)

3a-Farmers walk

3b-TRX pushup

4-Hand to hand swing and goblet squat ladder (swings: 20…15, squats: 10…5)

Session B

1-TGU to warmup

2a-Deadlift (appropriate variation)

2b-Double overhead press

3a-TRX row

3b-Overhead carry

4-Conditioning circuit: Double snatch or push press/2 asw/bike (roughly 15-20 sec each)

Session C

8 am Group:



2b-single leg glute bridges (learning 1ldl concepts)


3-clean and push presses/2 asw

9 am Group:



2b-Single leg deadlifts

3-clean and jerk/2 asw


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June Training

Joanne pulling 205

May was an epic strength month here at OPTI. Some serious PRs were made, including:

Joanne: 205 lb sumo deadlift

Dana: 12kg chinup x3, 205 lb trap bar deadlift

Peggy: 175 lb trap bar deadlift

Matt: 44kg overhead press

Mike: 36kg TGU

Tasha: 24kg TGU

Erin: 20kg overhead press

Stacia: 115 lb trap bar deadlift

Laura: 135 lb sumo deadlift x3

Peter: 28kg overhead press

Melissa: 16kg overhead press

and sooooo many more!

You guys absolutely amazed me last month. I just cannot begin to describe the pride and excitement that I feel seeing you accomplish such incredible feats and develop a well rounded arsenal of strength, power, movement and mindset. I really do have the best job in the world!

As we enter into June, I want you to remember what we always preach here at OPTI:

“Train heavy, not hard.”

-Dan John

The concept that we must always push ourselves to the limit is a fallacy. Strength is gained through practice of the skill, as well as continuous effort and varied intensity. Remember, never try to squeeze out that last rep. Move weight that is heavy relative to your level of strength and bodyweight, and do so efficiently and with ease. I promise you will see the gains and FEEL BETTER in the process!

June’s Training Sessions:


1. TGUs for warmup and activation

2a. Pullups/Chinups (This is you MAIN lift today)

2b. Bottom up clean and press practice

3a. (Done in two groups) Farmer’s walks

3b. pushups

4. Conditioning:

Beginners: Goblet squat and swing ladder

Advanced: Double clean and squat ladder


1. TGU practice (breaking down the different parts of the exercise)

2a. Deadlift

2b. Double overhead press

3a. Suitcase and bottom up carrys

3b. TRX rows

4. Conditioning:

Swings, we go, you go: 20, all the way down to 10.


8 am Group:

1a. Brettzel or rib pull

1b. Half Kneeling halo

1c. Full TGU 1/1 x3

2a. double clean

2b. 1 leg deadlift

3. Conditioning:

goblet squat/2 arm swing/bike sprint

9 am group:


It’s going to be a fun month for sure. The focus will be on improving grip strength and overall proprioceptive (body) awareness. Plus, we will keep crushing some heavy deads :).

Don’t forget, we will be teaching a DON’T MISS nutrition seminar here at the gym on 23 June. Sign up if you want to OWN your food choices!

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May Workouts

Tasha posted this message to Facebook last week about Wednesday nights training session:

“Tonight’s workout awesome…I really enjoyed this evening..lot’s of fun! I was soaked after the conditioning!! I really pushed myself…:) I’m looking forward to Saturday! May=Marvelous.”

I am inclined to say that Miss Tasha is CORRECT! May is going to be lot’s of fun as we focus on fine tuning our skills and getting stronger at our compound lifts. As you all know, we have 3 training sessions throughout the week: (A) Day (Mon/Tues), (B) Day (Weds/Thurs) and (C) Day (Saturday). Starting this month I am going to list the rough outline of our monthly sessions so that you can have an idea of what you’re in for (or what you missed!)

May Training Sessions


1a-TGU 1/1, Light, Medium, Heavy

1b-TRX row

1c-2 leg glute bridge (beginner) or 1 leg glute bridge (advanced)

2a-Pressing ladders: Heavy, Medium, Light

2b-Deadlifts, Trap Bar, Straight Bar or Kettlebelles

3-Beginner: Goblet Squat ladder with Airdyne Bike sprints

Advanced: 2 Arm Swings heavy, 2 Arm Swings light, goblet squats


1a-TGU 1/1, Light, Medium, Heavy

1b-Core (plank progressions, body saw, rollouts etc)


2a-Pullups/Chinups (or negatives/hangs for beginners)

2b-Beginners: Reverse Lunge or Goblet Squat

Advanced: 1 leg Squat or Reverse Lunge

3-Beginner: Medicine Ball Slams and Airdyne Bike Sprints

Advanced: Double Push Press or Double Snatch ladders, 1 Arm Swing ladders


8 am Group:

1a-full tgu

1b-overhead carry

1c-practice double cleans

2a-practice 1 asw

2b-suitcase DL

3a-Single or double bell complex: clean/press/squat

The focus here is STRENGTH not conditioning so slow and controlled

3b-TRX rows, focus is on extreme shoulder blade retraction!

4-Swing ladder we go/ you go, start at 20 and go all the way down to 10 (20/19/18…)

9 am Group:

1-tgu to windmills and back down

2-double jerk or double snatch for POWER!

3a-1 leg dead lift

3b-bottom up press

4-conditioning: 4 stations

slams/goblet squat/double kb swing/bike or curve

See you in class!!!

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April Training Focus and Suggested Reading

It’s officially Spring! Cold and rainy one day, warm and sunny the next, but there are always kettlebells in motion here at OPTI!

This month, our advanced students are putting a heavy focus on bottom up cleans and presses. I am so impressed with all of you and how quickly you have picked up the technique. This morning, Denise D. bottom up pressed (BUP) a 12kg! It was cool to watch. It just goes to show you that having a solid foundation will allow you to learn new things effectively. At this stage in the game, technique is what will hold you back from realizing your full strength potential, so every rep counts. It’s imperative that we view our training as “practice” as opposed to a “workout.” Of course, we will still get our sweat on, but we will garner much more desirable results if we approach our training with the mindset of getting “better.”

We have lots of new students joining our all levels classes this and last month! Make sure you all introduce yourselves to Brenna, Justin, Erin, and Sean. They have all spent a good amount of time in the beginner classes so they have a pretty good basic foundation. They will continue to focus their training efforts on building solid technique in the basic movements: turkish get up, deadlift, swing, squat, clean, press, pullup, pushup and row. I am really pleased to see how far they have come!

We also have Kathy and Melissa joining us in group who have both trained privately with me for some time. Be sure to say hello and make them feel welcome!

Some of you have been asking questions about the “Paleo Diet”, which I think is a solid, healthy way to eat. I pretty much eat paleo but I am not super strict about it (I put cream in my coffee and sometimes eat CHEESE!). However, I think it’s important for everyone to find their own nutritional path. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another and we are all at different stages of our health evolution. For instance, I do intermittent fasting every single day and I absolutely love it, but I would NOT recommend it for someone who is still struggling with making the right food choices.

Some links about Paleo and IF:

Robb Wolf: Paleo Solution

Fast Paleo: Recipes

Intermittent Fasting 101 and 201

I will continue to post links for you so that you can grow your education, but here are some basic guidelines for eating:

As Michael Pollan says “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (And I would add PROTEIN!)

Things to eat:

  • Lots of veggies, every color possible
  • Fruit, but not more than veggies (berries are BEST!)
  • Protein (cage free chicken, turkey, fish, grass fed beef and lamb, eggs, pork in moderation, the less processed the BETTER!)
  • Healthy fats in MODERATION (avocado, nuts and nut butter, organic coconut and coconut oil/milk/butter, fish oil)
  • REAL FOOD. If it has a label you should always question it. Does it have a long list of ingredients on the label? Then it’s probably not a good idea!

Things NOT to eat:

  • Grains. Gluten is bad for most guts! Grains include: bread, corn, rice, oats etc. You can still make your favorite breads and treats by using almond and coconut flours!
  • SOY
  • Trans fats (all nut butters should be natural or better yet-organic!)
  • Nitrates (found in processed meats, look for “no nitrates” on things like bacon)
  • Processed sugar, and if you are trying to lose fat, try reducing or eliminating even the natural sugars (high glycemic fruits, honey, agave, maple syrup)
  • Artificial sweeteners, dyes and stabilizers (i.e. aspartame, red #40, soy emulsifiers, corn starch, etc)
  • Eat dairy in moderation. Organic, grass fed is best!

This is by NO MEANS a comprehensive list but should help get you started. I am currently working on an ebook with lots of recipes so you can look forward to that in the next few months!

A lot of you have been asking about the Amino Acid Supplement (BCAA) I drink. I don’t take many supplements but I do like this one since I fast every day and it helps support my body. It has no artificial dyes or ingredients except sucralose :(. This is the only time I ingest an artificial sweetener and when I can find one that is sweetened with stevia I will let you know! (the supplement needs to be calorie free due to the fasting component…) Anyway, if you’re interested you can get it on HERE. It is the best one I have found so far and will help build and protect your lean mass (muscle) and therefore your training.

Some suggested reading for this week:

Strong Fixes Everything

Gluten and dairy free banana bread

And my latest blog post: It’s My Fault

Great books:

In Defense of Food and The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Don’t forget to connect on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!

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March is Overhead Press Month!

One of the drills we will practice this month

We had an amazing Pullup month in February! So many of you progressed rapidly and either got better at your technique, stronger at your vertical pulling, or both. I am really excited to post just some of these amazing accomplishments:

  • Bruce T. 24kg chinup
  • Dana V. 16kg chinup, 9 bw neutral grip pullups, 7 overhand
  • Annie M. 5 bw chinups, 2 neutral grip pullups
  • Peggy B.C. 2 bw chinups, almost 3!
  • Will R. 5 neutral grip pullups
  • Matt W. multiple 16kg chinups
  • Phyllis S. first bw chinup
  • Christine N. (our beautiful new instructor!) 12kg chinup

I’m sure I missed someone, so please feel free to remind me! Plus, so many of you reduced your assistance on the bands significantly. I am incredibly impressed with the diligence and quality of performance from the group. You all continue to inspire me and remind me why I love my job so much.

We will continue to work on our pullups, but this month we are putting a heavy focus on overhead pressing. You will often see me abbreviate “Overhead Press” as “OHP” so please be aware of that. (My military background demands an overuse of acronyms!) We will be learning some new drills to improve our technique and will aim to increase our pressing strength as well. We will fine tune our double and single overhead pressing, as well as address mobility and patterning restrictions. I have recently made some strides in my pressing strength, and I will be using some of the same strategies to help all of you take your pressing strength to the next level.

As always, your progress is only as steady as your consistency. Please do your best to get to class regularly, because we miss you when you’re gone!

On an unrelated note, I have finished my finals and officially completed my first two classes! So, to celebrate I went to dinner with a good friend who is also a veteran, a mother and pursuing a degree at UMUC. Against my better judgement, I ate A LOT of extremely delicious bread and I am paying for it today. I feel soft and squishy and absolutely sick to my stomach. I don’t normally eat grains to avoid this very consequence, so I wanted to share with you all a few great resources to learn about grains and why or how you can take them out of your diet:

Wheat Belly

Lower Your Grains, Lower Your Insulin Levels

Do Whole Grains Make You Fat?

Furthermore, some wonderful resources for delicious grain or gluten-free cooking and baking:

Dark Chocolate Avocado Cookies

Grain Free Banana Bread

Elana’s Pantry (Gluten Free Recipes) 

The Clothes Make the Girl (Love this blog!)

Have a Great Sunday and don’t forget to support my message: Eat, Lift & be Happy, by liking the facebook page and following the blog!

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Being Consistent

I’ve mentioned it several times-it doesn’t matter how tough you train and how well you eat, if you don’t do it CONSISTENTLY you will not see results! Some of you I see pop in and out of class, getting stronger and leaner and then losing the strength and leanness, like a vicious cycle. I understand life is hectic. Heck, I coach full time, manage 3 blogs, take classes full time, have an online client roster and I’m a single parent! Life is CRAZY! I know what it’s like to get busy and be tempted to skip out on training in order to manage other tasks, trust me. But guess what? I never do. Why? Because I feel absolutely awful when I skip training or eat badly. If I go on a trip, eating out the entire time and lacking exercise, I end up feeling off-not like myself at all. I always feel better when I train, and the physical strength I gain from training gives me a mental strength that helps me tackle all of life’s hurdles. I am a stronger woman, inside and out, because of my training and nutrition consistency.

And the truth is, when you are not in class we miss you! No joke, we really do.

Please come back!

My friend and Girls Gone Strong sister, Jen Comas Keck, just posted about the very subject of consistency on her blog. Go on over and check it out, and while you’re there check out some of the great clean baking recipes she has!

Beauty Lies in Strength: The Art of Consistency

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February is Pullup Month!

In case you haven’t all noticed, we have done A LOT of pullups and chinups this week! Coming from someone who has a HUGE pullup goal (24kg, for the RKC Iron Maiden) that I would like to reach by May, I know how important it is to do something often if you want to get better at it. (I recently wrote about my battle with pullups on my blog.)Many of you have an expressed an interest in being able to perform an unassisted pullup soon, and those of you who have done them unassisted have expressed weight and volume goals. The only way to further that progress is more PRACTICE!

That being said, there are a few things I would like you to consider:

  • Vary your volume and intensity. Please refrain from going heavy (meaning weighted, or less assistance) all the time. A failure to do this will likely result in repetitive stress injury (achey elbows!). Play with your rep schemes and load, and this will allow you to do pullups 2-3x/week.
  • Vary your grips! You can choose Pullups (overhand grip on the straight bar), Neutral grip pullups (palms facing each other on the squat rack), or Chinups (supinated, or underhand grip on the straight bar). Some of you may even want to play with an over/under grip of you are trying to bridge the gap between pullups and chinups.
  • Roll and stretch your lats, please!
  • Above all, have FUN (meaning do not let pullups frustrate you or you will get nowhere-trust me from personal experience) and BE CONSISTENT. If you barely make it to class once a week, having a month dedicated to pullups will not benefit you.  Please come to class regularly, because when you don’t, we miss you :).

This past week we have had a lot of success with pullups and chinups. Those of you using bands are using lighter ones and well on your way to unassisted. Those of you unassisted are using weight or increasing bodyweight reps. Most notably this past week Bruce performed a 24kg Chinup (which I did not get on video! Uuugh!), Dana performed a 14kg Chinup and 3 or 4 bodyweight Pullups, Annie performed 4 chinups (her goal was to get ONE before her 50th which is this month!), and Peggy and Juli K. have both entered the unassisted realm. Jamie has 7 weeks left in her pregnancy and has since switched to using the lightest band to assist her with her 30 pound pullups!

I will be posting pullup progress on the white board so that we can track ourselves and encourage each other. You all continue to inspire me with your support of each other and your indomitable spirits. Keep up the good work, and Happy Pullup Month!

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January Updates

What a great beginning to 2012 we have had so far! I am so excited to announce the following accomplishments, and as your coach, I cannot express the pride and elation I feel when witnessing you all achieve greatness.

Recent Personal Records (please forgive me/remind me if I forget anyone!)

  • Dana: 10kg chinup, 22kg TGU
  • Tasha: 20kg press, 22kg TGU
  • Brian: 465 Trap bar deadlift, 48kg TGU
  • Julie M: 16kg TGU
  • Juli K: unassisted chinup
  • Bruce: 245×5 Trab bar deadlift
  • Mike: 36kg TGU
  • Annie: 3 unassisted chinups
  • Sue L: 16 snatch, double 14kg jerks
  • Ally: double 14kg jerks
  • Mina: 16kg TGU

All of you are doing such amazing things, from learning the movements to setting records or simply mastering consistency of training. Just a reminder that the NUMBER ONE most important component of a successful training program is CONSISTENCY. If you haven’t been here much this month-come back! We miss you!

On that note, we are welcoming some new faces this month. You might see them as they are meeting with us privately to prepare for class, in our KB basics classes or even in the all levels groups. Please welcome Justin, Sean and Matt (who is preparing for the RKC in May!) and introduce yourselves.

We are also announcing two new classes to the February schedule:

  • Kettlebell Skills/Saturday 8 am: KB skills will start THIS SATURDAY 28 JAN (it’s already on the meetup) and will primarily be taught by Christine, although I will be there as often as I can! This class will focus on fine tuning your basic skills and making you a BETTER lifter, which means it is appropriate for BOTH beginners and advanced students. Attend this class if you are not proficient with advanced skills such as the snatch and jerk, or if you want to refine your basic skills. You will certainly get your sweat on, even as you focus on correcting your movements. This means that the 9 am class is now ADVANCED and is only appropriate for those students who can efficiently and effectively perform the snatch, jerk, windmill and 1 leg deadlift. You do not have to be advanced with regards to strength or capacity-simply with the skills themselves. I will allow you to be the judge as to whether or not you are “advanced” but please be advised that I may encourage you to attend the 8 am class if I feel it is more appropriate for your learning purposes.
  • Kettlebell Basics/MW 530-6: I will now be teaching 2 30 minute beginner classes each week and encourage those of you just beginning your KB practice to attend as often as possible.

Please stay tuned for announcements regarding a happy hour SOON! We love doing these, and encourage everyone to attend to build camaraderie and interact with each other sans the Iron!

And lastly, many of you have inquired about what I am doing with Intermittent Fasting. Here is a brief recap of my beginning experiments, but look forward to a more detailed post soon. Also, check out this great FREE ebook on the subject and this very informative post by John Romaniello.

Have a GREAT rest of January, friends, and thank you as always for allowing me to be a part of your journey towards a healthy, balanced life.

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