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30 Day Challenge

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Week 3: Spring 2012 30-Day Real Food Challenge

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It’s week 3! You’re more than halfway through the ‘hardest’ part of your transition from Standard American diet to actual, nutritious, delicious, home cooked real food.

For most of you, other than some annoying coworkers and the occasional bought of sadness over all of the beer that’s not being drank by you at the bar, most of you seem to have been having a pretty easy time making this transition. Crock pots are cooking, ovens are on, and grilling outside is soon to become a weekly, if not daily occurrence.

This challenge is one of the easiest yet because the amount of information, recipes and support out there is at an all-time high. And its growing.  We are no longer embarking on a ‘risky diet’ that no one understands. Instead, our doctors, family members and coworkers are taking notice and joining us.

This ‘real food revolution’ has been brewing (stop thinking about beer) for quite some time now. Robb Wolf, one of the smartest and loudest voices in the Paleo community started his work about 15 years ago.  Finally, it’s gaining traction, it’s making sense to other people, and most importantly, it’s starting to be recognized by the medical community  (<—looking for a new doctor? Check this out!). It’s going to take years (decades, probably) for the greater medical community to recognize and fix their errors and for the general public to knock ‘low fat & hearty healthy whole grains’ out of their brains, but we’re making progress every day.

What can you do to help?

1. Know your stuff.  When someone says – “What about your cholesterol?” or “Saturated fat clogs your arteries. You might get heart disease” or “You aren’t getting enough calcium without dairy.”  do you know how to answer? If not, please check out some of the articles and podcasts that we list here, and on Free Paleo, a comprehensive collection of all relevant Paleo resources out there today. This way of eating (which used to be the ONLY way of eating, BTW) is based on hard science. It’s nothing new. It’s just new to you and to other people who’ve been steered in the wrong direction.

2. Lead by example. More about this next week will be written next week when we discuss what to do after the 30 days. But for the rest of these 30 days, the best thing you can do is to stick to your original plan of eating and drinking 100% ‘real’, and working toward your goals.

By ‘doing’ and not just simply ‘talking’,  you’ll be taking yourself one step closer each day to becoming the happy,healthy, energetic person you want to be, and the people around you will notice. Instead of giving them unsolicited advice about what they should or shouldn’t be eating, wait for them to come to you and ask. The hardest people to talk to are the ones that don’t want to be helped.  (<—Read that article. It’s really good.)

3. Vote with your dollar. This weekend, coconut milk was sold out at Whole Foods & Wegmans. Coconut aminos were also out. Coconut oil was sold out at Trader Joe’s the last time I went, and yesterday, sunflower seed butter was sold out. Did I miss national coconut day? OR could our 70 challengers, plus the other local real-foodies be causing a shift in availability of certain items and eventual restocking/purchasing habits of major stores? If we continue to use our money to buy real food and real ingredients, leaving more packaged foods on the shelves, we will send a message to the food manufacturers, suppliers, and to the stores. We Want Real Food.  (<–sign that)

This Spring-Fall, take it one step further and start doing the bulk of your grocery shopping at the local Farmer’s Markets or join a CSA. Being in the Garden State, we are lucky to have easy access to so many fresh fruits, vegetables and Grassfed meat/free roaming chickens. Take advantage!

Please post your comments, questions and thoughts to the comments section of this post!

Discussion Topics for this week:

1. Have you noticed any weight loss?

2. What’s your favorite real food recipe so far?

3. What would you bring to a party to ensure that you had something to eat while you were hanging out?

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A (Delicious) Day in the Life Of: Eric Allen

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This is a day in the life of Eric Allen, man about town.  Those of you who live alone know how hard it is to muster up the energy to cook for yourself.  Also, “cooking in bulk” usually means eating the same damn thing every day. Here’s a great example of how to eat well, and keep things new throughout the day/week.

“I’ll gladly represent the live alone bachelor demographic :) After only 3 months at CrossFit Aspire I am definitely stronger than I have ever been. However, my diet has been CRAP, and as a result I am slow and my metcons have seen little-to-no improvement. I’m hoping this challenge will shed some unwanted pounds as well as help me recover faster and keep my energy and strength up for an entire metcon!”

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with sauteed onions, hot sausage, and roasted long hots. Also, some fresh fruit in coconut milk. I can’t believe how amazing that was, I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to regular milk!

Lunch: Pork shoulder cooked in a crock pot with cinnamon and apples, and roasted sweet potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and peppers

Dinner: At this point I was feeling tired and uninspired, so a simple hunk of steak and a mound of greens with some evoo and vinegar did the trick!

Snacks: I had some of those amazing hot sausage stuffed mini peppers, pictures were impossible to take because they literally went straight from the fridge to my mouth. They just taste too good! Also had a Larabar (gluten/dairy/peanut free variety) and a few almonds

And yes, all of my food is served on the finest of paper dishes and eaten with plastic cutlery – I did say I was a bachelor!! :)

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A (Delicious) Day in the Life of: Alex Carrese

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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.








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Week 2: Spring 2012 30-Day Real Food Challenge

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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.

Discussion Topics:

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?

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A (Delicious) Day in the Life of: Cathy Innes

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The following is from Cathy Innes, dedicated member, a great athlete, and kickboxing instructor (in her spare time).  She also takes our gymnastics and Olympic Lifting classes. She is very active and has a high energy output on any given day. Check out the pictures from her day! She has a great substitute for tortilla wraps as well.
Thanks for sharing, Cathy!
Breakfast: We had a birthday celebration at work.  I made a tomato, spinach, broccoli frittata, pepper and onion frittata, fruit, and bacon.
Lunch: Organic roast beef from Wegman’s deli, in a coconut wrap (photo of package and ingredients included), sweet potato, spinach, and avocado.
Late afternoon snack: Dates, almonds, mango.

Post workout/pre-gymnastics snack:  A few bites of a Paleo Kit.
Dinner: was hastily assembled, as the meat that was supposed to have been cooked and waiting for me, was not.  I had sardines on spinach, carrots, avocado, and green beans.



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A (Delicious) Day in the Life of: Jordana Ginsburg

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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!



Breakfast: Paleo hash, 2 eggs and crockpot meat.

Lunch: Brussels sprouts, bacon and mushrooms with crockpot meat and carrots

Dinner: Brussels sprouts, bacon and mushrooms with a mini burger and avocado










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A (Delicious) Day In the Life of: Julie Toone

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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!

Her commentary on the day’s food:

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 :)

Dinner: Brussels with bacon, salt and pepper, and Everyday Paleo’s “Better Butter Chicken

….bangin’ if I do say so myself.  A must try!






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Week 1: Spring 2012 30-Day Real Food Challenge

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Welcome to Week 1 of the 30 Day Real Food Challenge!

My email inbox is empty, which means that hopefully all of you have completed your food shopping for the week, and have a pretty good idea of what constitutes a ‘real food’.

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.


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

Challenge Kick Off with Guest Blogger: Steve Kirsch!

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The first post of the challenge comes from Steve Kirsch, a member at our gym, lover of heavy deadlifts and drumming, and general ‘real food’ enthusiast. He writes about his experiences with food on his blog, The Paleo Drummer.
Here is a message from Steve to all of the first-time challengers:
As someone who eats paleo/primal and has seen great results from it, I love when these challenges get lots of people to try this lifestyle. If you do it right, the rewards are great in terms of energy, body composition and athletic performance.
But the single most important piece of advice I can give you for a paleo challenge is: don’t get tied up in knots over the rules and technicalities.
The only rule that matters is this:
Eat animal protein (meat, fish or eggs), vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Drink water, seltzer, coffee or tea. Use any spice you want.
That’s it.
There is a whole list of “No” foods — you know, grains, legumes, dairy, sweeteners, etc. — but why be negative?
You have a world of amazing food in front of you. You know really well, if you think about it, that 30 days of the “yes” foods is going to make you feel better. That is all you really need to think about.
On the other hand, if you *want* to delve into the science/nutrition/etc head-first, you can do a ton of research at a lot of websites. I have a (mostly) food oriented blog called The Paleo Drummer at http://thepaleodrummer.com. There you can find links to lots of other paleo sites. There are tons of articles about food, some recipes, even the greatest crockpot recipe ever. (I also occasionally use words there that might offend mom. Sorry.)
Or you can go to my FB page and “like” it and then ask me any question you want: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Paleo-Drummer/311241758925358. There really is no question that is “dumb.”
But the point is this: you don’t *have* to do anything but eat the “yes” foods for one month.
There are websites where you will see low-carb-versus-high-carb-paleo disputes, all-out war on how much fruit to eat, kvetching about whether you can heat up olive oil (you can; some people don’t; if you really care why, ask me and I’ll tell you, but it doesn’t matter for now), and other bits of hyper-minutiae.
These are the same people who can’t enjoy a baseball game until they master the intricacies of the infield-fly rule.
Don’t be like that. Just learn the basics for now… and they really are basic. “Yes” — an emphatic “hell, yes”  — to  to animal protein, veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, water, seltzer, coffee, tea.
For these 30 days, just eat that.(Do you see sugar or artificial sweetener on that list? No you don’t. Don’t eat ‘em).
I leave you with this: Good luck. Have fun. Eat delicious paleo food. Only paleo food.
Oh, and peanuts are a legume. Don’t eat those. :)
Posted in 30 Day Challenge, Nutrition Articles | 1 Comment

Top Ten Reasons You Should Do a 30 Day Real Food Challenge

Posted on by Alycia

10. You aren’t 100% happy with the amount of body fat you are carrying, or your reflection in the mirror.

9. You get tired throughout the day.

8. You are stressed – work is busy, the kids have practice & homework, and you barely have time to make it to CrossFit more than 2x week.

7. You have an autoimmune or digestive disease/disorder (Thyroid diseases, Lupus, IBS, Colitis)

6. Your Triglycerides are high or you are at risk for an inflammation-related disease (Diabetes, Alzheimer’s)

5. You are ‘addicted’ to sugar or processed carbohydrates (bread, baked goods, pasta).

4. You don’t cook often.

3. Your skin and hair are dull.

2. You suffer from anxiety, depression, or restlessness.

1. You sleep less than 8 hours per night.

Will eating only real foods for 30 days cure all of your problems? Maybe. Maybe Not. Will it help most of your ailments, and make you healthier? Definitely Yes.

As a CrossFitter, you are tough. If you can dig deep within yourself to finish our metcons, or use every muscle in your body to stand up from a heavy back squat, you can surely give up your precious sugar or bread for 4 weeks.

Mentally and physically, YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU ONCE WERE.

Exercise your willpower and cause some real change.

The next Challenge at CrossFit Aspire starts on April 23rd.

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