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Alex is a strong CrossFit athlete and has recently become a CrossFit coach. He is studying for medical school while working multiple jobs to save money and learn more. He has hopes of working in orthopedics, to help athletes like us!
Alex is a big guy, and therefore, needs lots of protein, fat and carbohydrates to keep him going throughout the day. Here are his three meals, plus some extra shots of some guacamole, brussels and sweet potatoes that he made. I’m pretty sure he didn’t eat all of those dishes in one day, but that would have been impressive, right?
Lunch: Steak, brussels sprouts w/ bacon and a sweet potato
Dinner: Chicken, Broccoli, garlic paste, onion paste and spices
Cooked for Future: Guacamole (not shown), Brussels sprouts with bacon, and sweet potatoes with cinnamon.
Posted in 30 Day Challenge | 1 Comment April 30, 2012
Welcome to week 2.
Start posting your comments HERE!
This week, you should be concerned with using NEW ingredients and making NEW dishes. You know that meat & veggies are your best options, but have you branched out? Are you still eating chicken and peppers/onions every night?
Have you tried brisket yet? kale? parsnips? brussels sprouts? endive? bok choy? swiss chard? ground lamb? Asian Five Spice Powder? beef liver? raw saurkraut? stone ground mustard? ribeye steak? pork shoulder? wild caught corvina? Fenugreek?
Spend some time on Paleo recipe blogs, talking with other members, and chatting here online/swapping recipes. You’d be surprised at what falls under the category of “meat, vegetables and spices”. I’ve seen real-food recipes that call for over 25 ingredients in one dish!
The goal during this week is to branch out and try to make an entire week’s worth of food that is not just healthy, but DELICIOUS.
Also, if you were substituting sugary snacks with fruit, now would be a good time to half the amount of fruit you are having. Use it as a ‘treat’ rather than a daily crutch to get you through.
1. What’s your favorite new ingredient to cook with? How do you prepare it?
2. Have you gone out to eat? What did you order?
3. Have people asked you about the challenge? Do they wonder why you’re eating differently? What do you tell them?Posted in 30 Day Challenge | 69 Comments April 30, 2012
30 Day Challenge | 4 Comments April 27, 2012
Before I started CrossFit, I was a competitive bodybuilder. There are few enterprises that require such meticulous attention to food and nutrition. I had weighed and measured foods for weeks preparing for competitions. Each meal was on a rigid time schedule with macronutrients spread out in a very specific manner throughout the day and around my workout. Such precise detail was not required year-round, but I stuck with the general parameters all the time. You may not be surprised that a bodybuilding diet is what is considered “healthy” but the American public: low-fat foods, no pork and little red meat, starches in the morning and greens in the evening, no egg yolks, no refined sugar and lots of supplements. I ate this way for years. Every magazine, TV show or doctor I had ever met or heard advocated such a diet. Even advertisements and commercials reinforced the belief that what I was doing was the best thing for my body.
I began to hear about Paleolithic eating as soon as I joined Crossfit Aspire in January of 2011. Initially, I dismissed it. After all, wasn’t I already doing everything right? I had no desire to participate in some new fad diet that would likely vanish in a year or two — one that claimed eating bacon was acceptable! After a few months and several conversations about Paleo, I decided that I would investigate the science behind it. I thought that learning about Paleo would be a waste of time, though it could serve to cement my certainty that I was eating just as I should have been all along.
In May of 2011 I started reading articles about Paleo. The first few did little to change my attitude. As I read more, I felt a disturbing dread creeping into my nutritional thoughts. For some reason, the science behind the Paleo diet made sense. I found that I could not immediately dismiss it as junk science or a fad. The more I read, the more I felt that maybe, just maybe, I could try it. However, doing so would conflict with years of nutritional training and experience, not to mention the entirety of the American culture that advocates low-fat, whole grain and white meat only. Still hesitant, I continued reading.
What tipped the balance for me was reading the personal testimonials from our own members that were posted on the Crossfit Aspire nutrition page. Of course Justin and Alycia related their own experiences, as well as Jill Fisher, Laurie Denton, Beth Walker, Jason Holonia, Dave Hampton, Steve Kirsch, and Jamie DePolo. After I read through the transformations experienced by people I knew, I came to a realization. The purpose of my disciplined eating had been to continually improve my performance. However, my performance was not where I wanted it to be, where I knew it could and should be. If so many people could drastically improve performance in such a short time by eating Paleo, what would it do for me?
Still hesitant, I switched to Paleo in late May of 2011. Within a week I noticed that I had lost 4 or 5 pounds of fat. My clothes fit differently. More than that, I began sleeping better. I had always been a very light sleeper, never able to sleep a night through without waking up several times. After I started eating Paleo, I could get solid, unbroken sleep. Those two facts alone were enough for me to continue long enough to notice something more. I found that on the occasions when I could not exercise for several days (such as when I had the flu), I didn’t gain any fat. In the past, if I missed three days at the gym, I would add a few pounds of bad weight. After I got back into the gym, the fat would vanish. But eating Paleo added no extra weight, no extra fat, when I couldn’t exercise. Regardless, let’s hope that doesn’t happen much.
And as for performance, I have to say that I didn’t notice much improvement. Let me say that again: I didn’t notice much improvement. At least for a while. You see, I still came in, worked as hard as I could and collapsed on the floor after each WoD. Since we don’t repeat workouts often (constantly varied, right?), I just judged things based on how I felt. Since I still felt exhausted every day, I figured there wasn’t much going on in the improved performance department. However, on 16 August 2011 a WoD was posted that we had done before: 5 rounds, 5 deadlift and 10 burpees, 3, 2, 1, go. When we finished, I collapsed on the floor until I recovered. When I could breathe again I logged my time, as I always did, in my exercise journal. I wasn’t sure what my time was the last time I did that WoD and wanted to compare. It was almost three months of Paleo eating and four months of training in between. I found the previous entry on 18 April 2011 and checked my time – 8:37. Then I looked at the clock and my book once more for 16 August and saw the time – 4:01. I had to look at it a few times to be sure I was reading the right WoD. Yes, it was the right one, and I used the same weight, too.
When I pointed this out to Justin, his comment was, “It’s nice when it just kind of smacks you in the face ilke that.” I have to agree. Although I know some of the improvement was due to continued training, and Justin is an awesome coach, I think he’ll agree that it takes much more than good programming to become literally more than twice as fast in a mere four months. Finally, I had my proof. Paleo improves performance. A lot.
Now, as Alycia will confirm, I don’t consider myself to be participating in the 30 day challenge. That’s because I eat that way all the time. It’s not really a challenge when you just keep doing what you’re doing every day, is it? I’ll be participating in the sense that I’m doing it too, of course. I’ll check the message boards every day and add advice and encouragement if Steve and Jamie haven’t beaten me to it already (or maybe even if they have). I’ll be eating the same things and not eating the same things as everyone else involved, but I don’t really find it a challenge. Paleo is just the way it is for me. Kind of like the way Monday night means football in some houses.
For anyone who is still on the fence about Paleo or struggling with it, all I can say is stay with it. You’ll be happy you did. I’m here, and so are many others, to offer whatever support I can, so feel free to ask me anything or e-mail me with anything. If I don’t know, I’ll find the answer (I want to know, too). Maybe after 30 days you’ll find, like I did, that too many important things in your life have changed because you started eating only real food. Perhaps when you experience the kind of improvements that so many others have you won’t want to go back to your old habits, to the old you. You’ll be too busy eating bacon to look back, anyway.Posted in Personal Stories | Leave a comment April 26, 2012
The following meals are by Jordana Ginsburg, member and gymnastics trainer at CrossFit Aspire.
She does a great job of eating the same foods in different ways throughout the day.
Cooking in bulk isn’t always the ‘sexiest’ way to have you meals, but it sure is the easiest and usually the healthiest!
Lunch: Brussels sprouts, bacon and mushrooms with crockpot meat and carrots
Dinner: Brussels sprouts, bacon and mushrooms with a mini burger and avocado
Posted in 30 Day Challenge | 4 Comments April 24, 2012
Julie Toone has been coming to the gym since last summer. This is her second 30 Day Challenge. She had quite the transformation after the first challenge, and continued to eat Paleo(ish) since then.
She’s using this challenge as a way to tighten things up a bit, and eliminate the booze and extra ingredients in an effort to get to her ideal bodyweight.
She works full time, has two twin boys at home, age 5, and she does just about all of the cooking in her household. She stays on top of things by preparing a bunch of food for the week at once, so she only has to cook certain parts of meals throughout the week.
Her and her husband Scott have recently started pickling their own vegetables. For tips on how to make your own pickles, or pickled vegetables, ask her!
Breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 sausage links, diced red onion….mmmm
Lunch: “Spaghetti”-spaghetti squash, sauce (jarred but has only a few “real”ingredients and no sugar) and ground beef…..yum!
I eat lunch at noon and dinner at 730ish so I sometimesthrow a small snack in there…today was a few slices of ham lunchmeat…no pic…you know what it looks like
….bangin’ if I do say so myself. A must try!
Posted in 30 Day Challenge | 4 Comments April 22, 2012
Welcome to Week 1 of the 30 Day Real Food Challenge!
The goal for this first week is to get some new habits in place. The day doesn’t start with a bowl of cereal. There are no drive thru stops, or convenience store raids. This week, you’ll start to cook some awesome meals and you’ll learn how to make enough so that you are NEVER LEFT WITHOUT FOOD. That’s really, really important! Seriously. Never leave the house without bringing food.
Please use the COMMENTS section of this blog post to talk about what you’ve purchased/cooked/eaten this week. The more the merrier, as your meals will help others to think outside the box and cook something new as well.
PICTURES: A recurring segment during the 30 days will be “A Day in the Life Of <insert your name here>”. This will be a photo montage of the food that one of our members ate over the course of an entire day.This is a great way to see what real people eat on a typical day.
We’re looking to include a variety of people – those who cook all of their own food, those who eat the same thing for all of their meals, those who are gourmet foodies, those who live alone, those who have a lunch meeting/dinner party that they have to navigate, etc. If anyone shoots you a weird look for taking pics of your food, just start talking to your food. They will probably leave you alone after that
HOW TO SUBMIT: Email your photos to alycia@crossfitaspire.
WHEN TO SUBMIT: As soon as possible, and whenever you think of it throughout the challenge. If you’re reading this before you’ve eaten breakfast, then today would be a good day to submit some pics. Remember to include your ENTIRE DAY’s WORTH OF FOOD.
DISCUSSION TOPICS for Week 1
Here are a few things that you might want to talk about.
1. The ‘best buy’ (ie: cheapest) for certain ingredients. Where/when to get the highest quality for the lowest price.
2. ‘First Week Fog.‘ This is the lethargic, moody, can’t-lift-weights-for-sh*t state that most sugar addicts find themselves in during week 1. If you have done a challenge before, give our new people some tips or some sympathy notes!
3. Your favorite Crock Pot recipes.
4. The best omelette you’ve ever eaten.
5. Some examples of real food ‘snack foods’.
Happy shopping, eating and talking!
PS - Steve wrote another blog post for all of you newbies. Go over there and check it out!Posted in 30 Day Challenge | 111 Comments April 20, 2012
CrossFit Aspire is hosting a BIG, IMPORTANT, ALL-ENCOMPASSING, MEGA-INFORMATIVE Nutrition Event on April 21st…and you are invited!
“Practical Paleo Seminar”
by Diane Sanfilippo, owner of Balanced Bites
Who is Diane?
Diane is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and a C.H.E.K Holistic Lifestyle Coach. She runs her own Nutritional consulting business, an informative website and blog, and an easy-to-follow-along Podcast with co-host and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Liz Wolfe of CaveGirlEats.com. Liz is also the Nutritional consultant for Steve’s Original PaleoKits.
Liz Wolfe will be a special guest at the Practical Paleo Seminar as well!
What is the Seminar all about?
This nutritional seminar will give you all of the information you need to know to be the healthiest you’ve ever been without restricting yourself or feeling like you are ‘on a diet’. You’ll learn about which foods are actually healthy (you’ll be surprised…and happy!), as well as the truth behind some very common nutritional myths regarding fat, cholesterol and whole grains.
You’ll also learn a lot about digestion, hormones and blood sugar regulation and how they play a critical role in your health and performance.
Why do I need to know this?
Because this is your life, and you only have one chance to make it the best it can possibly be. So many diseases, conditions, illnesses and general maladies that we accept as a natural part of aging can be avoided by feeding your body that natural things that it requires to run at it’s best.
Nutrition and sleep are just as important as your workout. You can’t CrossFit your way through a bad diet and expect to come out healthy – instead, we recommend that our members take a holistic approach to address all aspects of physical health.
What types of people should attend this?
Those of you who eat food.
Those of you who love to cook, eat, and indulge in food.
Those who don’t know much about this whole “paleo” thing.
Those who know enough about eating real foods, but have trouble explaining it to others, or answering tough questions about the impact of real foods on your health, heart, etc.
Those who are interested in performing better in the gym.
Those who know that they need to make a big life change.
Those of you who are ‘addicted’ to certain foods.
Those of you that love to geek out about nutrition.
What are the details?
3 Larwin Road
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
April 21st, 9-5 pm
The Practical Paleo seminar costs
$95 $45if you sign up before April 8th, and includes a complimentary e-book written by Diane, as well as complimentary lunch provided by CrossFit Aspire. $95 $45 for 8 hours worth of high level (yet understandable) nutrition advice, discussion, Q&A, case studies, etc) is a tremendous value.
REGISTRATION: Click here to register now! Space is limited, so please try to register before April to ensure that you can attend.
Our Next 30 Day Challenge!
Your next chance to step it up and eat 100% clean, with the support of over 100 people, online resources, cooking demo’s and parties, and more, begins on Sunday, April 22nd. For the 30 days following the seminar, you will work together with your gym friends and coaches to commit to 100% healthy eating. You will assess your gym performance (with a benchmark workout pre- and post-challenge), symptoms, body composition and overall health to see the immediate effects of treating your body well.
The 30 Day Challenge is completely optional – but really, who doesn’t want to look younger, feel better, and live longer?
More info on the challenge to follow.
to reserve your spot! We are opening this up to all area CrossFit athletes, so please sign up soon to make sure you get in!Posted in News & Events | 1 Comment January 27, 2012
Stuck in a Food Rut?
You love CrossFit. You love the workouts, the way you feel after the metcon, you love the barbells, the people, the atmosphere, and the PR. CrossFit has given you the confidence to make you realize that you are capable of more than you thought – both in AND out of the gym. But it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Nutrition is a key component of your health, fitness, energy levels, disease prevention, and longevity.
As you’ve read in our Nutrition Guide (if you are a member), we advocate eating only whole, real foods. These include all meats, vegetable and good sources of fat, along with some fruit and nuts. This removes all grains, sugar, legumes, and dairy from your diet.
When people make this change, they instantly see results. They usually start off great, sticking nearly 100% to the guidelines. Over time, perhaps once weight loss is no longer happening, or once the last 30 challenge is well in the past, old habits begin to creep in, and a healthy diet of 90% real foods quickly drops down to about 70%, without notice.
Why is it so easy to go to the gym, but so hard for some of us to eat well? Maybe it’s because the gym is fun, but for some people, cooking or eating this way…isn’t. Well, what if your involvement with nutrition were more like your involvement with the gym? What if you took your favorite parts of CrossFit and implemented them into your diet?
Change it up
One of the reasons that CrossFit is so fun is that it changes every day. Very rarely to you repeat a workout. If you can count your last 20 days of food on one hand, perhaps you might need to crack open ye old Paleo Cookbook and check out some more real food recipes to add it to your repertoire. (Our current favorite is Paleo Comfort Foods. Everyday Paleo is also great and beginner friendly. We’ve heard rave reviews about Make it Paleo.)
Make something new. Make something nostalgic. Make something using a vegetable you’ve never heard of before. Make something ethnic. Create a dish that’s all your own.
Make it Functional
The things you learn in CrossFit are so helpful to you because they carry over into ‘real life’. You are learning movements that make sense to you, and that have relevance in your life. When you bend down to pick something up, or reach overhead to put something away, you are (hopefully) using the techniques that you learned at the gym to most effectively get the job done.
Same goes for nutrition. You need to make nutritional choices that make sense for YOUR life. Rather than stress over the things you can’t control (my kid won’t eat greens, I don’t have access to a microwave at work, I work overnight shifts near fast food joints), come up with ways to make good food choices that fit your lifestyle. There’s no need to be a Paleo Gourmet if you are low on money or time. Do whatever makes the most sense for you, and it’ll be easy to stick to it!
Warming up might not be the most ‘intense’ or fun part of CrossFit, but it’s the part of class that trains our bodies to move properly when there is weight or speed involved. During the warmup, we repeat the basic movements over and over again, hoping to get them one step closer to perfection.
If you find that you have some dysfunction in your diet, but you can’t pinpoint what it is, go back to the basics to find out. Start off every day with a basic omelette (eggs +meat), then choose a few ‘go-to’ easy real food recipes for lunch and dinner. Do this for a week straight, eating nothing but the basics. At the end of the week, evaluate how this differed from what you were eating during the prior weeks. Had you added in a BUNCH of non-food ingredients? Had your ‘cheat’ snacks become ‘cheat meals’ or ‘cheat days’?
Warm up to find errors, and then fix them as soon as possible!
We are all busy. No one has any extra time. Except that we do. We manage to make time for the things that count. Family time, job time, gym/fun time – these things happen every day because we plan them. We could wake up every morning with 10 reasons to skip the gym – but we plan ahead, set our alarms early, or leave work on time to make sure we get our butts to the gym. Because it’s important. And you plan ahead for important things.
Good food choices don’t just appear in front of us. In fact, bad food choices are all around us, all of the time. We have to plan to get good food into our bodies. So get a pencil, a paper, and a fresh Firefox tab and start searching — search for new recipes, restaurants in your area that serve meats/veggies, sources of grassfed meat in your area, a local CSA. Then visit Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Wegmans for this week’s food. Buy a TON of vegetables and start cooking. Store them in the fridge and serve them with meats and fish throughout the week. Each night before you go to bed, put a beef roast, whole chicken, chicken thighs, pork shoulder, or meat-of-your-choice in a crockpot on low for 12 hours. When you wake up, store it in the fridge – it’s instant lunch/dinner in a snap!
As you go along, things will become second nature, and there will be almost no real planning involved. Just living.
Track Progress and Keep Score
CrossFit has an element to it that almost no other fitness class has – we keep score. We keep score to see how did well in the workout, and also to see individuals’ progress over time. CrossFit causes change in people’s bodies because we are always striving toward improvements, not just ‘maintenance’.
Without becoming neurotic (I repeat…without becoming neurotic) about your food, keeping track of your meals might help unlock some clues about your diet and how/why you are or aren’t making progress. Keeping a food log for a week or two ( and emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can review it and give you feedback) will certainly be a quick way to shed some light onto how to make a change for the better.
Involve Other People
CrossFit is generally more effective than any ‘intense’ workout video that leaves you wiped out at the end. Why? Because of the motivation created by groups of people around you, cheering you on as you attempt to lift the heaviest weight you’ve ever lifted. In many cases, especially with the women at our gym, unrealistic limits have been removed due in part to the fact that they are standing next to someone who looks like them, used to be weaker than them, and is now lifting more. “Well, if she can do it, I might be able to as well.” I’ve seen countless instances of people lifting more weight because of who they were lifting with at their bar.
Nutrition, and any life changing shift, is infinitely easier when you surround yourself with a support group – a collective of people who are there to help you along, and to share their own stories along the way. Our last nutrition challenge was so successful because of the community that it inspired. Each weekly blog post had over 50 comments from those involved, in addition to all of the Facebook chatter, personal blog writing, in-gym conversations, emails, cooking demo’s, potluck parties, etc.
If you are looking to clean up your diet, don’t do it alone. Involve your family, friends or co-workers. If you are bored with your own recipes, get a group of people together to cook bulk portions (depending on how many people are in the group) of 1 dish each, and then create a Food Swap. Make a date/time to meet up and swap food and you’ll end up with a bunch of different meals for the week – all packed up and ready to go!
The next time you find yourself in a food rut, see if you can’t CrossFit your way out
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