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Fall 2012 30 Day Challenge: Week 3

Posted on by admin

Despite what you’ve been told in the past, eating fat won’t necessarily make you fat. Some of you already know this, some of you don’t , and some claim to know it, but they still eat a low fat diet. It’s ok. We understand how difficult it is to separate the fat you eat with the fat that accumulates on your body, since they are the SAME WORD in English! (this isn’t the case, by the way, in other languages)

Here’s the lowdown on fat:

If you’ve over-consumed processed foods and sugar for years, your pancreas may not be producing insulin like it should, and your metabolism is probably a little off. In this case, your body is using sugar (aka carbs and processed foods) for fuel, instead of burning off your body fat, or turning the fat you consume into usable energy. If this is you, and you continue on this path, you’ll get into a bad cycle of over-consumption of fat and sugars, and you will gain weight year over year. This is what happens to most people.
If you restore your natural and ideal metabolism and insulin functions by eating only real foods and you keep your intake of natural sugars to a moderate level, then you can eat all the fat you want, and not see any of it accumulate on your body. This is what will happen to you if you keep a relatively strict ‘real foods only’ policy during and after the challenge.

If you aren’t seeing the fat loss you had hoped for:
If you are someone who is hooked on snacks of fruit and nuts all day long, you might not be seeing the loss of body fat that you had hoped for. Try replacing some of your fruit snacks with protein & fat snacks, such as cucumber slices & guacamole, a salad with olive oil and meat, or a mini version of your lunch or dinner.

If you are constantly hungry:
Fat is satisfying. It leaves you feeling full for longer. Carbs (especially empty ones that provide no nutrients) fill you up for a little bit, then leave you feeling like you’re about to bite someone’s head off if you don’t get something to eat in the next 10 minutes.
Try adding some avocado to your eggs, some extra olive oil to your salad, or cooking your veggies in a little more butter than normal, and see how it affects your hunger levels throughout the day.

Another important point that needs to be made is that not all fats are created equal.

Without getting into the geeky science of it all, here are a few basic principles to remember:
Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA’s) such as canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, grape/cottonseed oils are NOT optimal fats.If you go out to a restaurant and you eat something cooked in one of these oils, you will not die. If you cook on a regular basis with any of these oils, you WILL become very unhealthy. WHY? They are refined, and part of that refinement process is to remove the antioxidants from them, which means they are most likely to go rancid in the bottle or in your body. When they do so, it causes a whole host of problems, one being an overload of free radicals, which leads to inflammation within the body, and may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure and even cancer.

Image from BalancedBites.com

Monounsaturated Fats (MUFA’s) such as avocados, avocado oil, olives, and olive oil are a much better choice for consumption.

Saturated fats (yup) such as coconut, butter (from grassfed cows) and the fat on your meat (again, from grassfed cows, or pastured chickens) are optimal for consumption. These oils and fats are more closely connected to their original forms, and lead to happy bodies, inside and out.
We are told to avoid ‘fatty foods’ but what we should be avoiding is the ‘bad sources of fat’ in foods. Natural fats are good and healthy to consume. For instance, hamburgers aren’t bad for you because the meat is fatty. It’s because the meat is usually from grain-fed cows (ie: low quality), and it’s fried or cooked in a high refined (ie: probably rancid) oil, and served with more refined oil creamy spreads, cheese, and a bun.


Eat fats that occur naturally, cook the majority of your food at home in butter or coconut oil, and you won’t have to remember all of this PUFA/MUFA mumbo jumbo. But just know that it’s here if you ever need it.

Posted in 30 Day Challenge, Nutrition Articles | 1 Comment

Fall 2012 30-Day Challenge: Week 2

Posted on by admin

Welcome to Week 2 of the challenge!

We’re hoping that everyone made it through week one without any major disasters. Congratulations – the hardest week of the challenge is over. You might be starting to experience your energy levels rising up and staying normal-to-high for the entire day, rather than dipping like they used to. You might have already started to experience some weight loss. Perhaps you got some PR’s in the gym this week. Overall, the days this week, and all weeks going forward, will be easier to get through, for sure.

It also should be safe to say that at this point, you are starting to realize how many edible non-foods are surrounding you! Home Depot sells chips and candy (all I wanted was  a power drill, and I ended up with 1,000 extra calories of crap. Thanks, Home Depot!), Michael’s craft store sells Godiva chocolate, Wawa sells about 90% edible non-foods, (and also some bananas and hardboiled eggs, if you’re in a pinch!). Even the ‘food’ stores are filled with mostly non-foods. And over 60% of our population is overweight. Hooray for us.  At least you know better now!

Last week we talked about sugar. You might have learned something new, but you also probably came into this whole thing already knowing that sugar was bad for you. No one ever tells you that sugar is good for you. The doctor never recommends that you increase your sugar intake for optimal health.

So, let’s shift our focus this week to something that we eliminated from your diet, but is commonly referred to as ‘heart healthy’, ‘good for you’ and ‘a good source of fiber’. It’s something that we tell you never to eat, but your doctor may recommend you eat every day.

It’s grains.

Being told that grains aren’t healthy is a big surprise to many people, and at first, rightfully so, most people are skeptical.  Today we’re going to address some of the most common questions we get asked about grain consumption. Feel free to pass along this post to your family or friends who ask you the same things!

“But grains grow from the ground, just like vegetables, so why can’t I eat them?”

Grains do grow from the ground, but you wouldn’t ever pick a grain in a field and eat it. Instead, you probably encounter grains in the form of refined grains (refined = stripped of all nutrients and made into a substance used in food science) or whole grains in ‘healthy’ baked goods, which contain toxins (more on those in a bit). When we are eating ‘real foods’ we tend to stick to things that are as close to their natural source as possible. The trip that a grain makes from the fields to your mouth is way too long to be considered a whole food anymore.

Also, we never encouraging blind faith in blanket statements like “if it came from the earth, eat it” without some rational thinking. There are plenty of things naturally occur in the earth, that are toxic to our bodies. Arsenic is natural. So is plutonium. You use your better judgment to skip the toxic foods and only eat the ones that improve your health.

Also, grains turn to sugar in your body. We addressed that last week, so you now know what happens when you eat too much of it!

“But I need to get more fiber in my diet.”

In American, we’ve been told over and over again that we need to get more fiber into our diets. One of the most obvious reasons we have digestive issues is that our nutrition is completely messed up and our bodies can’t properly process all of the harmful foods they are ingesting. Once your body makes the switch to eating real foods, your normal digestive function will return. In the beginning, it might be an uncomfortable to adjust, but once you get a steady stream of good things coming in, you’ll be happy with the results.  :)   (translation = good food in, good poop out)

The majority of fiber you consume will be coming from vegetables anyway, so eliminating grains definitely won’t mean eliminating fiber! Just know that there are no minerals, vitamins, or fiber that occurs in grains that you can’t get from vegetables.

“I don’t have celiac disease, so gluten doesn’t affect me.”

Yes, it definitely does. Just because a bite of a cookie doesn’t have you running to the bathroom, doesn’t mean your health isn’t being negatively impacted by the effects of gluten. Gluten is a protein inside wheat that protects it from being eaten by animals. It’s wheat’s natural defense mechanism.

When we eat gluten-containing grains (wheat, mostly), it causes micro tears in the lining of our intestines, which eventually can lead to some undigested particles of food to pass through the intestinal wall and into your bloodstream. When this occurs, the body attacks the particles because they are seen as invaders. This is an autoimmune response. If this happens chronically (referred to as ‘leaky gut’), you’ll develop nasty symptoms (achy joints, low immunity, increased breakouts of cold sores, arthritis, acne, eczema, psoriasis) and if the inflammation continues to get worse, you’ll may end up with a lovely little autoimmune condition, such as Crohn’s disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, ulcerative colitis, or a thyroid condition.

To clarify: Eating inflammatory foods may or may not be the cause these problems for you, but eliminating inflammatory foods will certainly ease the symptoms or cause the condition to disappear altogether. The gluten in grains is known for a fact to cause local and systemic inflammation, and systemic (meaning, all over your body) inflammation is known to lead to the symptoms and diseases aforementioned. It’s not that a piece of pizza will give you arthritis, but we are willing to bet that your symptoms get a lot better when you don’t eat foods that cause inflammation.

“Why can’t we eat other grains that don’t contain gluten?”

Good question. The answer revolves around phytic acid, which is found in high concentration in all grains, nuts and beans. Phytic acid binds with calcium and other mineral such as iron, zinc and magnesium. Phytic acid basically strips out bodies of essential mineral and nutrients, so we file it under ‘going to make you less healthy’, and therefore, we keep those items off of our ‘to eat’ list. We do still include nuts, with the understanding that they are to be eaten as a snack, and not as the base of your meals. Rice, beans and corn typically are eaten in much larger quantities than nuts, and therefore have a much larger impact on your overall mineral absorption.

Remember, we recommend no grains at ALL on the 30 day challenge. After the challenge, it’s up to you to make educated decisions in everyday life. That doesn’t mean that you’ll go back to eating rice and beans with all of your meals, but it also doesn’t mean you’ll be that person at the table trying to pick the rice off their sushi. After the challenge is over, we enjoy sushi and corn tortillas on occasion, realizing that they are no healthy for us, but they are not as detrimental as the food you’d get at fast food joints.

If you have any other questions about grains, please ask in the comments section! we have a lot of knowledgeable people here who are more than willing to help address your questions.

“People have been eating grains for centuries. How come they are so bad NOW?”

First, there are certain parts of the world in which people still subsist on the hunter/gatherer diets and are pretty much grain-free. They are among the healthiest in the world. The Inuits, who survive on mostly meat and fat, have had drastically low incidences of heart disease and cancer (until recently, when they started importing ‘Westernized food products’. Go figure).

Second, people haven’t always been consuming grains at the rate and in the quantities that we do now. (Same goes for sweeteners. Corn syrup or some type of sugar is in just about all processed/packaged foods.) Obesity due to over-consumption of baked goods and sweets has been research and documented for centuries -  almost everyone seems to be afflicted with it now, and somehow we all forgot what causes it!

Third, the wheat that people have been eating up until very recently (until the 1970′s) is different than the wheat we have now. In a response to the potential inability to feed the growing world population, scientists engineered a new type of grain that produced a bigger yield. What they weren’t concerned about, however, is how this new grain affected the health of humans. Turns out that a piece of whole wheat bread raises your blood sugar levels more than actual table sugar! Click here to read some other facts about this ‘new wheat’.

Other topics to discuss this week:

1. Bringing lunches to work. Do you do that, or do you buy lunch? What do you buy, if you buy lunch?

2. Have you been eating enough? Do you find yourself hungry often?

3. What’s one new vegetable or meat that you haven’t yet tried to cook? (We might be able to give you tips!)


Posted in 30 Day Challenge, Nutrition Articles | 15 Comments

Fall 2012 30-Day Challenge: Week 1

Posted on by admin

Throughout each Real Food 30 Day Challenge, we try to provide online and in-gym support to those who are new to this whole ‘cooking and eating real foods’ thing. This time around, I’ll be posting weekly blog posts in which each participant is encouraged to talk back and forth in the Comments section, swapping stories of evil cake-wielding co-workers, triumphs over alcohol cravings when out with friends, asking “can I eat this?” questions, and sharing recipes.

The blog posts will be slightly more fact-driven and maybe a little too science-y for some people. We have a record number of repeat-challengers, and we think that  warrants some higher level info. You’ve earned the right to know what the heck is going on in your body when you slip from 100% Paleo back to 80% (or less) over the summer, and why it’s so hard to come back to 100%.

If you are brand new to this, and aren’t ready for the science behind everything, then just skip this post and spend your time on Paleo recipe websites! Just remember to come back here and post in the Comments section every day or few days, to keep the conversation going.

This week’s topic is SUGAR! Sweet, evil sugar.

Here is a VERY condensed, oversimplified version of what happens in your body when you consume too much sugar. (Remember that sugar is shoved into just about ALL processed foods. We aren’t talking about eating teaspoons of table sugar here). This info is adapted from a paragraph in the book It Starts With Food from the good people at Whole9. They say it more eloquently, and have tons of info to expand upon these concepts, so I highly recommend you go out and get their book after reading my Cliff Notes version.

Here’s the vicious cycle:

The “=” means “equals” and the “->” means, “which leads to”

Sugar over-consumption = excess sugar in the bloodstream -> Insulin Resistance. Your body is so overwhelmed with sugar that it no longer responds to it by sending in insulin to bring blood sugar levels back down. Blood sugar stays high.

Excess sugar in the bloodstream -> Triglyceride formation and Leptin Resistence. (Leptin is the hormone tells your brain that you are full and don’t need to eat anymore. When leptin stops working, you keep eating.)

Lots of triglycerides = fat accumulation in your cells -> excess body fat.

ANALOGY: You know when an old lady walks into the room and her perfume REEKS but she can’t seem to smell it at all? Her sense of smell has become resistant to the smell because it was so overwhelming when she first put it on. She doesn’t smell it anymore. Well, your body is that old lady, and sugar is the perfume.  You’ve gotten into a horrible cycle of overeating it and your body has come to rely on it to function. It barely recognizes what “sweet” tastes like any more, and requires you to eat so much of it, in an effort to feel satisfied.

Don’t worry. It’s not your fault. Edible non-foods (anything in a package, with ingredients you can’t understand) are specifically engineered to cause this cycle. After all, companies want you to buy more of their foods, right? It’s just good (for them) business.

Now that you are enlightened, you can pick out the times over the course of the next 30 days when you are craving a sugary non-food treat, you can make a better choice, and you can get on with your day. You’ll also have several instances where fruit all of the sudden tastes sweeter than you remember. Heck, even some vegetables taste sweeter. Those are your taste buds coming back to life, after years of being dulled. Welcome to an awesome real-food existence. I have a feeling you’re going to like it!

Discussion topics: Here’s some things you can talk about in the comments section:

  1. What did you eat today for breakfast?
  2. What did you cook on Sunday? What is your favorite meal to cook?
  3. How do you plan on tackling your first weekend on the 30 day challenge? Do you have any plans that involved potentially non-approved food/drinks? Let us know and we can all help. We’ve been there, too.
  4. Has anyone at work asked you what you’re eating for lunch, or why you won’t go in on the pizza that everyone ordered? How did you answer?
Posted in 30 Day Challenge, Nutrition Articles | 17 Comments

Cheater, Cheater

Posted on by Alycia

Just like a calorie is not a calorie, a cheat is not a cheat.

The definition of a ‘cheat’, when it comes to food, can vary from a weekend long bender of beer, pizza and cookies to an extra few handfuls of nuts throughout the course of a day.

-If you are newer to CrossFit Aspire, or the Spring 2012 30-Day Challenge was your first experience with eating only real foods, your cheats might include weekly beer nights, and anything that doesn’t fall under the umbrella of ‘paleo’ or ‘primal’, ranging from the white rice on a sushi roll to the sugar bomb that is a 3-bowls-of-cereal-and-a-pastry breakfast. To you, anything that isn’t ‘real food’ is a cheat.

-The next tier of people draw a line in the sand, and frequently re-evaluate where that line is. They move it a little farther back every few months, tightening things up as they go. First, it might be ‘nothing that comes in the box or bag’, then it might be “no beer’, then ‘no gluten’, and so on.

-Those with more experience or who are trying to lose some fat might consider overindulging on paleo-friendly foods a cheat. Three bananas in one day? Cheat. 3 servings of almonds? Woah now. A whole container of dates? Sugar overload.

-And finally, the strictest group, which is usually reserved for those with autoimmune conditions, those who are serious about gym performance, and/or who have no cravings for ‘bad food’ or alcohol. These people never (or very, very rarely) eat meals that include more than meat, veggies, nuts and fruit. Their intake of food is mostly protein and fat, with post-workout carbs mixed in to keep energy and recovery levels in check. Yes, this includes holiday, birthdays, weekends, happy hours, etc. All the time means all the time.


Choose the category of people above that best describes your current habits.

Spend the next month (which is an easy, veggie-friendly, grill-friendly, relaxed month) getting used to living in the next strictest tier of eating. This won’t be easy at first, but it certainly isn’t that hard. Push yourself. Make that change. Stick with it.

* NOTE: If you are very new here  and you are looking to make a dietary change, but you have not yet changed your eating habits at all, don’t worry. We’ll be hosting a Nutrition Discussion very soon, where you’ll have a chance to learn more about how and why we eat only natural, real foods. For now, just be sure to read the CrossFit Aspire Nutrition Guide that was emailed to you after you joined!

NOW, onto the real reason I wrote this article. A ‘cheat’ is called such because you are cheating yourself out of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. As you know, diet isn’t the ONLY factor in crafting a sustainably healthy life.

Pick one or two things from this list that you do so commonly that you consider them ‘habits’. 

Going forward, consider these ‘cheats’. Every time you do them, you are cheating. Add up these ‘life cheats’ and your food cheats and the sum isn’t pretty. I’ll bet your ‘90% healthy’ lifestyle just got downgraded to a 60%.

I skip workouts regularly.

I do a CrossFit style workout at 90%+ intensity every day of the week.

I’ve been annoyed at someone all week, but I haven’t addressed it yet.

I slept less than 7 hours.

I took a nap or had a cup of coffee after 12pm to keep me going throughout the night.

I have had a nagging pain/ache for more than a few days and I haven’t done anything about it. Foam rolling doesn’t help.

I felt a sharp pain during today’s workout, but I kept going because otherwise my score on the board would look too low.

I worry about things as I fall to sleep at night.

I didn’t cook one meal at home in the past 5 days. I’m ‘doing the best I can’ by making healthy choices at restaurants.

I ate lunch (and dinner) at my desk this week.

I cheated on my reps during the workout to finish sooner.

I said or thought something negative about my body today.

Just like the food cheats, some lifestyle cheats are more serious than others, but surely we can all find TWO things on this list that we consider a habit.


Write these two things down, and keep them in your wallet, your pocketbook, your gym bag, stick it to your computer screen, or fridge. The note will serve as a reminder that you’ll need to make a change during your day to avoid that bad habit.  In the beginning, just like when you start a diet, you’ll have to concentrate on not doing these things. You’ll have to break old patterns and start new ones. But over time, you will see that it wasn’t so hard to stop those things from happening, and you can start to easily live a healthier life.

As the owners of your gym, we are here to help you get healthy, and we realize that our job does not stop the moment we yell ‘Stop” and the music shuts off. We are here to help you become better, healthier, and happier people,  in and out of the gym.

Hopefully this list of habits and soon-to-be ‘cheats’ helped you realize that you can do even better. There is always room for improvement. You’ve got to start somewhere!

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Challenge Kick Off with Guest Blogger: Steve Kirsch!

Posted on by admin
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

CrossFit Your Nutrition

Posted on by admin

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!

Warm Up

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 info@crossfitaspire.com 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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Diet and Disease

Posted on by admin

“Relax. It’s just food.” This is how we initially introduce nutrition to our gym members. We accentuate the positive and pack our recommendations with easy ‘how to’s’. We do that to avoid any unneeded stress about what to eat, what not to eat, how much to eat and when to eat.

Our intention is to keep things positive and light, and get people into cooking their own real foods as much as possible. Now that we’ve pretty much accomplished that, now we’re here to tell you the truth -


Like, really serious. Lifesaving, disease curing, symptom eliminating, longevity increasing stuff.

Throughout these 30 Days, most of us are starting to feel a little leaner, and have more energy throughout the day. Because of that, we are making better progress in the gym, looking better in our clothes, and walking around with more confidence in general. That’s great, and was the intended outcome of the 30 Days. But we also noticed some other things happening as well… your symptoms that you have been dealing with for months, years or decades, have started to go away.

You already know what worked for you, and what might work for other people. Below are the scientific facts that can back up your own experiences. When you have a friend or family member who also has symptoms or a disease, it would perfect sense to first try the the easiest, least invasive, cheapest and most convenient methods of treatment. Right?


They are a primer for everything below. Some parts are dry, but stick it out, especially if you or a loved one has any of the diseases mentioned below.

According to Chris Kresser of The Healthy Skeptic, there are 4 toxins that we should absolutely eliminate from our diet immediately. The health of your gut can dictate the overall health of your body.

If you vaguely remember why gluten is bad, but you can’t recall everything, read this overview of “leaky gut”  from Balanced Bites. It’s is an illustrated and succinct account of what gluten and other anti-nutrients do to your body.

Below are some examples of the types of symptom reversals that we’ve seen at our gym, and have heard about through testimonials from patients of well-known holistic doctors and nutrition specialists.

If you or any of your family members have been experiencing any of the following symptoms, please do your research (starting with these links, and continuing on your own) and try the least invasive plan of action first.

GERD (Acid reflux):

An article on how to eliminate heartburn and GERD for good in 3 simple steps.

A testimonial from someone who wrote in to the author of “Wheat Belly”.

If you are eating all real foods, but still have symptoms of GERD, consider lowering your carb intake or eliminating nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes).


A Q&A  with a lot of great ideas in the answer section. A must read, if you are suffering, even if your symptoms have started to go away.

A great testimonial on Mark’s Daily Apple from a person who discovered, late into life, that his debilitating IBS was due to grain consumption. His suspicions were confirmed on a weekend retreat in the woods with only granola and fruit.


Here is a good breakdown of how/why the elimination of certain (inflammatory) foods are causing your migraines.


A great, easy-to-read piece by Mark Sisson on depression and diet.

In this podcast (press play when you open the page), Dr. Chris Kresser talks about the brain-gut axis and how the health of your gut influences the health of your brain.

Type 1 Diabetes: (yes, it can be controlled)

One Whole9 client’s story about Type 1 Diabetes and her diet.

One mother’s success story with her Type 1 Diabetic child.

Another testimonial, on Robb Wolf’s blog about how Paleo has become a way of life, and a way to control his Type 1 Diabetes.

Thyroid Dysfunction:

Thyroid diseases are on the rise, big time.  Fixing your immune system via eating real foods might be the only way to cure your problem for good.

Here’s a great article about the thyroid/gluten connection.

An excellent article on why/how changing your diet should always be the first step toward dealing with Hasimoto’s Thyroid disease.

Below is a list of additional symptoms or diseases that have been  linked with chronic inflammation or that have an inflammatory component.

Remember: Eliminate the inflammatory foods (processed, wheat containing, anti-nutrient containing) as a first line of defense for dealing with any of these issues:

acid reflux/heartburn
allergies and sensitivities
Alzheimer’s disease
celiac disease
chronic pain
Crohn’s disease
dry eyes
heart disease
high blood pressure
insulin resistance
interstitial cystitis
joint pain/arthritis/rheumatoid arthritis
metabolic syndrome (syndrome X)
Parkinson’s disease
periodontal disease
raynaud’s syndrome
Sjögren’s syndrome
spastic colon
systemic candidiasis

If you want to know more about how diet can affect and help these diseases, just google “Paleo + name of disease”. Start there, pay attention to the sources of info, and go from there.

For more information any of these diseases, and how nutrition and diet play a part, refer to the following podcasts and videos if you learn by listening, or the following websites if you learn by reading. Good luck in taking your health into your own hands!


Underground Wellness Podcast Interviews. Sean Croxton has interviewed most of the BIGGEST names at the forefront of nutrition and holistic wellness. A must-listen!

The Paleo Solution podcasts. Great Q&A from listeners to Robb Wolf, our most integral source of important information on all things nutrition. His podcast could be 5 minutes long, with the answer to each question being, “eat Paleo, ya big dummy.” But instead, he takes the time to explain the why’s and how-to’s.

The Balanced Bites podcast with Diane Sanfilippo and Cave Girl Eat’s Liz Wolfe. A great duo that brings a quirky feminine touch to the topic of nutrition and health. They also help out mom’s to be, and those who are trying to conceive.

Chris Kresser – He’s smart and his stuff can be pretty high level at times. Very informative!


Paleo Solution

Mark’s Daily Apple

The Healthy Skeptic

Balanced Bites



For when you want answers and help. Now.

If you, or a loved one are dealing with symptoms or disease and think that you might benefit from some one-on-one or group nutritional therapy, please contact Liz Wolfe, NTP. She lives and works locally in Cherry Hill. After comprehensively evaluating every aspect of your current health and symptoms, she utilizes the principles of the Weston A. Price Foundation and paleo (real food) diet to help determine the exact cause of your problems, and how natural nutrition and tailored supplementation can help YOU with YOUR symptoms. Remember, nutrition is not one size fits all, especially when it comes to nutrition and healing.

Posted in Nutrition Articles | 6 Comments

Fish Oil

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Quick science lesson:

Omega 3-Fatty Acids reduce inflammation. They are found in grassfed meats, fatty fish, and certain vegetables.

Omega 6-Fatty Acids cause an increase in inflammation. They are found in nut butters, ‘vegetable’ (soybean, corn) oils, and grain fed meats, to name a few.

The goal is to have a 1:1 ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6. Most people who consumer the modern American diet, have much higher levels of Omega-6 than Omega-3 (like 20:1).  To help balance that out, we should be eating grassfed meats, eliminating vegetable oils, and taking Fish Oil.

Fish Oil should be an essential part of an athlete’s diet. In addition to balancing our your fatty acid ratios, it speeds muscle recovery, reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (that’s the “two day burn” that we’ve all come to know and hate) and helps to convert your calories into muscle mass.

The one downfall is that it tastes pretty nasty in it’s natural state. Try the lemon or orange flavored (but not sweetened) kinds, or swallow the capsules. Capsules are best when they are kept frozen. They thaw in your stomach, so you don’t taste them at all.  :) Always take your fish oil WITH FOOD.

Not sure how much to take? Use the Robb Wolf Fish Oil Calculator!

Still have a bunch of questions regarding fish oil?  Or did the fish oil calculator tell you that you should be taking close to 100 pills a day? The smart people at Whole 9 offer a great FAQ sheet here that should help you with the finer points of fish oil supplementation.

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For the Love of Food: Cooking 1 Week of Meals in 1 Hour Flat

Posted on by Alycia

Trying to eat Paleo, but find yourself reaching for a ‘quick snack’ during the day because real food isn’t available?

Read, or re-read these articles. You might need a refresher!

Baby Step #1: Change your Breakfast

Baby Step #2: Pack your Lunch

Baby Step #3: Get Rid of the Bad Stuff

Hopefully (especially if you’re a member of our gym!) you’ve adopted some of the suggestions that were provided to help you transition into 100% clean eating. For most, you probably had a few ‘take aways’ from the articles, but you surely didn’t implement all of the tactics for eating well. After all, that would include a ton of COOKING….and who has time for THAT?


Don’t believe me?

Take a look at my Monday night. I cooked all of my food for the week between 6pm  and 7pm while Justin coached a single CrossFit workout. I knew that the week would be VERY hectic, and rather than set myself up for bad decision making later in the week, I decided to go on a cooking rampage and just cook everything in my fridge at once!

6pm - Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap a Trader Joe’s Cabernet Pot Roast, plop it on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Remove 5 marinated chicken legs (free range chicken from Reading Terminal Market) from the fridge (these were marinated in Newman’s Own olive oil and vinegar dressing) and put them in an oven safe dish and cover with foil.

6:05 - Put the meats in the oven and set the timer for 1 hour.

6:10- Rinse and chop fresh arugula, garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers ( all from Haddonfield Farmer’s Market). Dress with olive oil and cracked black pepper.

6:15 – Put a pot of water on the stove with high heat. Peel and cube a sweet potato.

6:20 – Chop a 1/2 of a yellow squash into rounds and sautee in a large pan ( try to have a single layer of rounds) on medium heat in some Kerrygold pure butter.

6:25 – Put the sweet potatoes in the water. Flip the squash rounds. Rinse and chop some kale.

6:30 – Cut an acorn squash in half, scoop out the stringy part and seeds. Score the inside of each half. Set open sides up on a baking sheet. Put a pat of Kerrygold butter and a few shakes of allspice in the scooped out portion of each. Put that in the oven with the meats.

6:35 – Remove the yellow squash rounds from the heat and set aside. Put 2 small pork loins ( or one large one) in a crock pot and set it on high for 4 hours. Add a little olive oil to the bottom of the crock pot, and a small amount of water, just to make sure the meat doesn’t stick to the bottom. Don’t worry about seasoning. You’ll do that later when the meat comes out.

6:40 – Drain the water from the sweet potatoes, and add the squash rounds to this pot. Mix in some Trader Joe’s Everyday seasoning and mash together slightly until it looks like chunky mashed potatoes. Put 3 slices of bacon in a small frying pan and cook on medium, occasionally draining the bacon fat into a larger sautee pan (large enough to cook kale in).

6:45 - Slice 6 small apples (organic,  from the Haddonfield Farmer’s Market) into thin slices and put them in a pot on the stove with a small amount of water. Cook covered on medium for 15 minutes.

7:00 - Remove the meats ( leave the acorn squash in there) from the oven and check for doneness. If they are done, set them aside to reach their optimal level of tenderness. If they need more time, stick them back in the oven! Don’t let the bacon burn. Take it off the stove when it’s done and chop into small squares when it’s cool.

7:03- Drain the water from the apples, and add in a handful of raisins and about 1/4 cup of  almond meal. Continue to cook on low heat for about 3-5 more minutes. Remove the acorn squash from the oven ( don’t undercook – the whole thing should be soft, and pliable when touched).

7:06 – Toss the kale into the sautee pan with the leftover bacon fat. Coat the kale, cook for a few minutes until it wilts and gets smaller. Toss in the the bacon squares.

Later, when the pork is done, remove it from the crock pot and shred into small pieces with two forks. Store in the fridge with the liquid from the crock pot ( should be water + fat from the meat). When you’re ready to eat it during the week,  add some minimally processed BBQ sauce, or make your own to put on it. You can also mix this with chopped raw veggies and olive oil, and eat cold ( a la chicken salad).

To recap, here’s what I made:

Arugula salad with local vegetables (2 servings)

Pot Roast with spices from Trader Joes ( 4 servings)

Pulled Pork ( 6 servings)

Baked Chicken ( 3-4 servings)

Sweet potato and squash mash ( 5 servings)

Apples, raisins and nuts ( 5-6 servings)

Kale with Bacon ( 4 servings)

Baked Acorn Squash ( 4 servings)

Depending on the size of your family, or how much you eat at one time, this could easily keep you fed and happy for the rest of the week. Simply cook some more green veggies to add to the plate each time you sit down to eat. These meals were prepared in about 1 hour, will feed Justin and I for an entire week, and the total approximate cost of everything was about $50!

My plan for the week:

Breakfasts: Chop up one of the meats into tiny pieces and add to eggs for an omelette.

Lunches: Meat + one of the squash dishes, and whatever greens are left/available.

Dinners: Meat, a little of one of the squashes/sweet potatoes, and cook more greens to accompany.

Snacks: Nuts, high quality lunch meats, and some of the apple/raisin/nut dish.

And there you have it. My hectic schedule seems less hectic now that all I have to do is cook some eggs or greens, and re-heat good, clean food.

Still think you don’t have time to cook?

Try this out next week and let me know how it goes!

Posted in 30 Day Challenge, Nutrition Articles, Personal Stories, Recipes | Leave a comment

Coconut Oil

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Let’s talk a little about FAT. If you’ve been talking to us about nutrition, reading our articles, or reading other nutrition sites that are listed on our blogroll, you probably aleady know that dietary fat isn’t what makes people store fat in their cells. It’s the sugar that is found in sodas, juices, refined carbs, many grain-based products, and processed foods.  We’re assuming, by now,  that you’re ok with eating fat, and you’ve eliminated most or all of the sugar in your diet. If that’s not the case, let’s talk!

Butter and olive oil are probably the most commonly used fats for cooking. Most of us cook our eggs in butter, and our vegetables in olive oil. There are a host of other fats out there that are also great sources of  ‘good fat’ and are tasty, too. While fancier oils might be a great finishing touch to a gourmet meal, we tend to stick to ingredients that we can easily fit into our budget. That’s why we love coconut oil.

Coconut oil is, you guessed it, derived from the coconut. Here are some reasons we like it:

1. It contains medium chain fatty acids which are burned for fuel quicker than long chain fatty acids, which are found in most plant-based oils.

2. It’s delicious.

Do you really need to know any more than that? Just go ahead and try it for yourself!

It has a noticeable sweetness to it that lends itself well to leafy bitter greens. Go ahead, substitute your olive oil for this stuff tonight, and see how you like it!

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