Saturday, January 23, 2016

Tough love.

Skip-bo has become the house favorite card game...although we've spiced up the rules a bit...
A little espresso to kick off a day of hunkering down, yum. I love the bialetti stove top maker.
  Chicken, salsa, coconut rice. Perfect and easy. 

Shrimp, butternut squash, guac, salsa, sour cream and cilantro to garnish. E-Z.

I have been accused in my life of having a 'tough love' approach that is not always effective. Perhaps that's true, perhaps not, however, what I do know is that I have a tremendous amount of empathy as well. Empathy as a coach with athletes, a mother and as a friend. The most effective motivators and mentors have the perfect balance of these two elements: tough love and empathy. 

To make change in one's life, true lifestyle habit change, takes tremendous honesty and effort. It is not something that someone stumbles upon and has accidental success with. On the contrary, it will take a lot of failed attempts, discomfort and an almost constant questioning of whether the 'juice is worth the squeeze'. However, there is one critical component that it will require in addition: support.


  1. 1 :  to endure bravely or quietly :  bear
  2. 2a (1) :  to promote the interests or cause of (2) :  to uphold or defend as valid or right :  advocate <supports fair play> (3) :  to argue or vote for <supported the motion to lower taxes>b (1) :  assist, help <bombers supported the ground troops> (2) :  to act with (a star actor) (3) :  to bid in bridge so as to show support forc :  to provide with substantiation :  corroborate <support an alibi>
  3. 3a :  to pay the costs of :  maintain <support a family>b :  to provide a basis for the existence or subsistence of <the island could probably support three — A. B. C. Whipple> <support a habit>
  4. 4a :  to hold up or serve as a foundation or prop forb :  to maintain (a price) at a desired level by purchases or loans; also :  to maintain the price of by purchases or loans
  5. 5 :  to keep from fainting, yielding, or losing courage :  comfort
  6. 6 :  to keep (something) going
I've never actually looked up or read the definition before and in doing so it made me smile. Too often support feels like it is synonymous with enabling, however in reading the true definition it is so apparent that it is far more. Support is about the 'best interest', to 'endure', to 'keep from losing courage' and 'to keep something going'. None of those are feasible without some tough love and honesty.

As a coach and leader in our community, I take to heart each and every athlete and their quality of life. We constantly ask ourselves, 'what will make their experience better?" and "what will allow this individual more success at (xyz)?" The answers might not always align with what someone wants and certainly not what is the path of least resistance for them. However, the advice and solutions will not be adjusted or hidden because of their potential 'sting'. Enter the empathy. "I understand", "I've been there", "I AM there". It is crucial to embrace this piece of the individual's experience. This is the credibility that allows for the tough love to potentially follow.

Perhaps it is very obvious...but I am here as the coach to fulfill that role because it's not always an appropriate one for friends and family to fill in an individuals' life. Tough love and empathy relative to these lifestyle changes can can complicated when it's coming from someone in a more 'intimate' relationship. It can also be complicated because the goals of that individual that they require 'support' for may not align with other peoples' in their life. Their coach is their mentor and light at the end of the tunnel to assist.

Bringing this back to the realm of today and what is ahead for 2016 or even just tomorrow...we have a G360 kick off that has been pushed out until next Saturday. I understand lives are busy and there are things on the schedule that take priority. I know all too well the fear of signing up for something and disappointing yourself if you do not meet the 'perfection' you set out to achieve. I know what it is to be frustrated and feel like you are not doing the best job you can with yourself or your family's best interest. And I also understand that the thought of 'what am I really going to learn or get out of this' crosses ones mind. Empathy.


Are you happy with your health? Are you making healthy food for your family 80% of the week? Are you responsibly fueling your kids now and for their futures? Do you feel good about yourself? and....How many excuses are you making about why you are not making the changes you want? Tough love.

We are not doing a 30 day challenge. We are not doing a 60 day challenge. We are doing a 1 day challenge. All you need is 1 day to decide you are going to try. 1 day to agree to embrace a little tough love from your coach and perhaps yourself, and take that first step. I promise you will be armed with resources, education and community. 

Today we are all snowed in. What a great day to sit down for 30 minutes and think about what you want and what challenge you might like to embrace relative to your health this year. Just maybe we can help you get there.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Push yourself.

So excited that I could do this workout today and that my back is making progress!!! It's amazing the perspective shift on workouts when you are injured. Very grateful for the process and the ability to move. Also grateful for the learning and perspective shift. Thanks CrossFit Linchpin for this one...

Resorted to the treadmill with the weather the past week...this was a good one! Trying to keep up 2x a week Endurance workout this year.

FULL CART! Tons of good proteins, veggies, frozen goods and more - 6 bags of groceries...$200 bucks!!! Love this place! (Just don't go on a Sunday between 11-4!)

My Aunt in Norway is the queen of homemade EVERYTHING. She works full time, has raised 2 kids and still finds the time to cook everything from scratch using the best ingredients. This was the prep for a chili relish that she jarred to use over the winter. It's a probiotic which is great for the body. A little teaser....plans in the works for a visit from her to host a cooking class as part of our G360 this Spring!

Quick, easy and very delicious meal the whole family enjoyed! Shrimp (bought precooked and just sauteed quickly with some taco seasoning in a pan to heat) with spicy corn salsa from TJ, Guac, Sour cream and a yummy tortilla topped with chopped cilantro. All measured out and in the MFP! 

Lagging a bit on my resolution, but still here to post! Day in the life theme continues...Monday I took a class at Soul cycle (my weekly guilty pleasure) with a new instructor, Erika. I am pretty picky about the instructors and who I want to spend 45 minutes on a bike with! The experience can be very challenging if you let it be and having the right tour guide that provides that opportunity is key.

Erika was off the bike (coaching from the floor vs riding the bike) due to an injury she was suffering from. To say the least it was 'challenging'. The combination of the class plan (hills/ sprints etc) with her cues and motivation was the best way. During the class at one point as I thought I might die, she took a second to encourage the new folks and tell them what a great job they were doing. At that moment my immediate reaction was, "how the hell aren't they dead if they are new?!" 

But then I realized something...(and not necessarily relevant to newbies because for them the smart move is to ease into the intensity at first), NOT EVERYONE PUSHES THEMSELVES.

You may be thinking, "No shit!" But to me it was so obvious in that moment how much opportunity and progress is left on the table because we don't try or don't push out of our comfort zone. 

We talk about this so much at CrossFit, but I wonder how often we practice it - both in the workout and outside of the gym. How often do you really go for it. How many times to you think, 'I can go faster', and actually do it. Maybe it happens, but does it happen often enough?

In keeping with the theme of 'opportunities vs boundaries', you truly need to break past that automatic response that 'it's good enough' that you have established for yourself. And we all have it, regardless of our ability level.

Taking this beyond the gym is simple. What about in your relationships? Truly pushing your comfort zone with changing your behavior or your usual reaction. What about with your personal goals? Falling off the wagon is almost guaranteed...that in itself is not the 'boundary'. The boundary is not getting back on. Falling off the wagon is the opportunity. 

I would argue that if you are 'successful' and not pushing up against any boundaries in your life, you are void of opportunity. In essence, that has become your new boundary and limit. To fail is necessary.

For me, I typically see the opportunities to push through in workouts and physical endeavors, that is not so much of a hurdle. The personal, behavior opportunities are the ones I need to start taking vs shying away from. 

Wake up each day knowing you will be presented with that chance to push yourself. See if you can identify it. Here's the real might just mean backing off a little though and giving yourself a break.

Friday, January 8, 2016

A day in the life...

A friend, Paul, gave us the book "What to do when it's your turn" by Seth Godin. This excerpt is a great reminder for me keeps going and to make progress we MUST FAIL. And...things don't have to be ok all the time. Inevitably, they will not.
LOVE this snack! A piece of grainy bread (9 grain or wheat will do), homemade chocolate cashew butter (2:1:1 ratio of Cashew butter: local honey: unsweetened good quality cocoa). Sprinkle a little salt on top and good to go! (Yes, coffee and a Quest bar made their way in here too...Moved on from the Quest bars to Caffeine and Kilo and trying some new ones...more to come!)
I recently took myself off the Diary sharing option of My Fitness Pal. I've been working with a coach from Working Against Gravity, #TeamWag, and just need the accountability to her and me...that's it. I want to be helpful to friends, members, clients, but I also need to keep some things private for sanity sake! 

Last night I had a puzzle to solve of a little too much fat and not so much carbs left... it took some thinking, but I ended up with some apples sauteed in ghee with 1/2 cup whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkled on top! Delicious!
One more creation....Hashbrowns (Alexa are the most flavorful but Trader Joe's are good too and a steal!), 1 oz avocado, 1 egg white and 1 over easy egg. Yum.

I decided to try sharing 'day in the life' and thoughts/ encounters I experience versus attempting to cram profound thoughts into 1 monthly (or so) post...One of the things I appreciate in Social Media is when I relate to some of my mentors. When I see that they too struggle and share my battles, that life is not simply a breeze on their side. It helps to know I'm not just failing miserably...Here was Wednesday/ Thursday snippets...

Woke up and battled about whether or not to go to yoga. Pretty much a back and forth since Tuesday night but promised myself to just get there for the heat and the mindset if nothing else. THAT is arguably the true benefit for me beyond the stretches. Staring myself in the face, contemplating only that moment in which I'm existing with no phone and no pressure. And so I went. And it was well worth it. 

I would not be telling the full truth if I didn't add that my focus strayed multiple times to the world of comparison - women that are smaller, thinner, leaner, more flexible, more feminine, more elegant, prettier, had better hair, appeared more spiritual...the list goes on. It's amazing what goes through the mind at any given time. Instead of being critical of myself for having those thoughts I acknowledged them, accepted them and re-shifted my focus back to the task at hand.

This week is my second week working with Team Wag and my coach Ivette. I am working on patience and lasting results vs a quick fix and I have been trusting the process since I'm at a higher calorie count than I had previously been on. 

Made a killer pasta dish that I figured out all the macros for and enjoyed using my brain for the math. I understand it's time consuming, but it's definitely worth a few extra steps to have some say so in whether you are moving toward or away from your goals and commitments. I had not yet been doing any timing of food and decided I would start incorporating that into my efforts so I spent a few minutes planning Thursday. 

Thursday was going to be a full morning but there's something so satisfying about being prepared and planning ahead...and so I did.

Hit the ground running! Today was the day I had planned to fulfill 35% of my carbohydrates prior to my workout...that was about 70 grams worth of carbs. Note to self, don't choose a food that is low density for a morning meal that necessitates that much food...I chose it was A LOT of food. in hindsight oatmeal would have been better! But, I did it, ate it all and got to the gym for a workout before coaching.

I've been ensuring time for proper warm-ups and the reverse hyper as I am just getting back to working out since the back injury. I am so grateful to be able to move again and want to be smart not to jeopardize that! 

The workout was 4 rounds total, and in the rest post round 4 I decided, 'why not', and I went for a 5th round. Sometimes there's something to be gained by silencing the battle in your mind and just saying "F*ck it", you're going to do this because you are able.

Thursday night my amazing husband drew me a bath as I was feeling like I might be coming down with his cold he had been battling all week and I had some time to myself to relax with bubbles and candlelight.

I quickly became aware of the strange anxious feeling I got as I had nothing to read, to look at, to do...Just lay there and think....

So I thought. 

Laying there looking at my legs poking up out of the water and my belly protruding beyond the bubbles I initially had negative thoughts about myself - "Why isn't my stomach more flat? Do my legs look too big? Too small?" But, I managed to switch that to a more positive process. I started instead reminiscing about all that my body has been through - 2 pregnancies, 4 years of competing in CF regionals, various phases of fitness to include but not limited to Ashtanga 5x a week, teaching 20 fitness classes a week, training for triathlons, marathons... and the list goes on. It's been through trauma, injury, anorexia, and flabbiness. It's been there through it all.

Thinking in that way made me smile at how amazing it really is. And I made a small vow to have that awareness of gratitude towards my body vs shame or disappointment. Having high expectations is
par for the course, but remembering a little praise is an important piece to include in the journey.

Last night ended with watching an episode of Homeland with Bill after getting the kids to bed. And I thought as I laid there with him about all the nights we slept alone, texted each other goodnight and promised to never take for granted the time together when it was a reality. And so I didn't. 

Closing my eyes knowing I did my best and that tomorrow would be filled with opportunities to feed the good and positive thoughts was a great end to the week.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Kamiwaza: opportunities or boundaries?

Christmas cozy. It was a great holiday season, but feels good to be in the New Year...

Breakfast at The Standard Hotel after a night of Death & Co. cocktails and dinner at The Polo Bar.

Livy is a natural rockclimber! Love testing fitness elsewhere.

The indoor Farmer's Market in Morristown. What a surprise to see all of these vendors inside!

Love this sign!

Purple sweet potatoes!

A great healthy bow of wild salmon, grains, strawberries and herbs...this was before the holiday food madness...a little fresh respite.

Can't get enough of the greek yogurt lately. Fage 0% with cashew butter and a little bit of honey with some apple slices is a perfect snack.

Trader Joes on January 3rd. Time to get real with cooking and good food again!

It's that time of year when "New year, new you" slogans and "New Year's goals" are everywhere you turn. The impetus is on making a change NOW and that a better version of you is on the horizon as you kick off the new year.

Don't get me wrong, I like any chance there is to set a goal and kick off a new routine/ ritual and look for self improvement. However, the question is what are we improving on? Is it something lasting and truly instrumental in who we are as people or is it something temporary and fleeting.

There is nothing wrong with setting a goal such as getting leaner, losing weight, or getting to the gym x many times per week. These are all still health related and when attained should make progress in terms of our longevity and general well being. However, if they are not attached to a why or a bigger internal compass, they have a good chance of fizzling out by the time Valentine's Day chocolates are in front of us.

Recently my favorite SoulCycle instructor, Christina, presented a choice in class - see an opportunity or set a boundary. Essentially - you can say Yes or choose to say No. This stuck with me as I thought about goals and how far we are willing to reach. The notion of "Kamiwaza" defines this beautifully. On Seth Godin's blog he explains this concept which has no exact translation in English:

"The Japanese have a term for this, which is “kamiwaza.” “Kamiwaza” means god-like, with no wasted motion, with confidence, and yes, with hubris. And so, when we see a cheetah running through the jungle, we see kamiwaza, because the cheetah could not run any better, any more fluidly, any more perfectly. But when human beings set out to do it, we check ourselves. We hold ourselves back. We imagine that a platform is for other people, not for us, because we haven’t been picked. Oprah didn’t call. Howard Schultz didn’t put us in charge of this steering committee. It turns out that in this new fluid economy, waiting isn’t going to be a particularly productive plan."

 Essentially, don't set boundaries so low...see the sky as the limit for opportunities. And, what better time to implement that notion then when you are establishing New Year's goals...So here goes my attempt...

One of my goals, like every other year and many other people in our gym, is to focus on my nutrition to the extent that it is all encompassing. I may have set boundaries on that in the past with rules, strict guidelines and numbers on the scale. However, this year I want to connect that goal to something bigger - self improvement. Nutrition, health, quality of life are all paramount to how I live and what I preach. To limit my goal to only hitting numbers in My Fitness Pal would be a waste.

How do I make this about self improvement? Cooking meals at home for my family. Sourcing out local farmer's markets, farms, establishing a co-op for the gym are all extensions that involve a process and learning. Meeting numbers is fine but meeting them with quality food like fruits and veggies vs processed foods is even better. Losing a few pounds or percents of leanness is always a goal, however, finding ease with whatever the number is on the scale and not letting that reflect my self worth is the true goal for the year.

I'm sure the natural response to all of this is something like, 'no shit'. The 'how' is the crux of the matter. The answer to this is that there is not answer. The answer is, be honest with yourself. The simple fact of checking in with yourself is that it has to happen regularly and it has to be sincere. That honesty and work is the no-ceiling approach to take.

Perfection doesn't dictate the end state, rather awareness.

Part of the honesty and awareness is answering the question of how hard are you willing to work? Regarding nutrition and making improvements...are you willing to take the time to shop and plan in advance? Are you willing to try new foods, recipes and learn? Are you willing to take the time to weight/ measure and do some calculations? Are you willing to not complain about all that you are 'giving up' and instead focus on how you want to feel and what you are looking to accomplish?

For me, those aren't necessarily the hurdle...for me, I am willing to do the work, the cooking etc. Instead, my challenge in goals surrounding nutrition are the notion of having them lead to self improvement. I need to check in regularly on if I'm using weight loss and 'hitting' numbers as a crutch or am I really connecting with my bigger picture of health. I need to ask myself if I am sacrificing experiences with friends, family etc. for hitting my numbers? Am I keeping things in perspective? All of this is an interesting exercise as it leads to other goals I have such as patience, having FUN, expanding my experiences and exposure.

I am excited about saying yes to opportunities and not letting everything be a low ceiling and a boundary. The 'what if's' can wait. After all, it's about the process, not the end state. Apply that to any one of your goals and you will have success this year for sure. A New year, not a New you, the same you, and that's perfect.