Friday, August 29, 2014

My life is like a chipper WOD

This is an old one from my archives.  I sent this out when I was coaching crossfit back in March.  I've been having a lot of moments this week wishing for a Groundhog Day and I needed to read this as a reminder to myself.  And oddly enough, we repeated this same workout I mention below yesterday, so it was fate.

Sometimes people ask me how I do it.  If you haven’t asked me, you may be thinking do what???  Live my life, that is what.  Honestly, sometimes I ask myself, “self, how do you do it?”, very rarely do I ask, “how are you going to do it?”.

To clarify, I don’t have a bad life, just a busy life- and I do a LOT of things.  I don’t like to be idle, and I like to learn as much as possible. I want to make sure when all is said and done that I made the most of my time on Earth.

A typical day for me consists of getting up at 4:25 AM and going to bed at 10:30 PM.  There are days when I literally don’t even have time to eat-(yes, Dave, I promised I will stop and eat lunch every day!)

People were asking me my advice for the 14.4 WOD (WOD is Workout of the Day).  In this chipper style WOD, are a myriad of things with a lot of reps- at first glance it can be downright daunting.  As I was in the first group from the box to tackle the WOD (go 5:30 AM!!!), I had no advice heading into it, but my own intuition- tackle one thing at a time, worry about nothing else until you finish what you are doing.

Then it dawned on me- I’m good at chipper WODs- partially because I have pretty good endurance, but partially because my life is like a chipper WOD.  Every day is filled with a myriad of activities, dishes, laundry, cooking, dishes, laundry, homework, getting kids ready, coaching, planning, posting, advising, shopping, cleaning, did I say dishes???  There have been days where I wake up and the day is so full, I blink and I’m back in bed again, without ever having sat down.

I cannot approach my days thinking, “how am I going to do this?”, I approach them like, “let’s do this”, I may not be all sunshine and rainbows when I say this (OK fine, I can’t rub the smile off my face when I see a full sink again), it’s true, I just LOVE doing dishes (insert sarcastic laugh), but the truth is, I have no choice but to do what I need to do. 

The same logic applies to a chipper WOD- if you are rowing 60 calories and all you’re thinking about is the inevitable fact that if you get off the rower, you have 50 TTB ahead of you, you are not really focusing like you need to (sometimes looking at the big picture can be pretty overwhelming).  When you are rowing, the only thing you should be thinking is, pull hard to the chest, 1, 2, 3 return—- that’s another calorie, yes, one pull closer to another one.  Not focusing completely on the task at hand can distract you from that task, make your performance drop, and simply weaken your mental edge.

“Slow and steady sets the pace.”

Have you ever seen the movie, GroundHog Day?  Bill Murray just keeps living the same day over and over.  How many times in life, have you wanted a groundhog day?  Some days before 8 AM, I’m ready for groundhog day- have you ever tried to make lunch for four kids, breakfast for five kids, all while trying to get said kids to eat that breakfast, get dressed, brush their teeth and pack their bags (while one is on task, the others will play)?  I’m pretty sure I could tame a pack of wolves now.  

Have you finished a WOD where you wanted a groundhog day?  Most of the times I have not- unless I performed extremely poorly at something I know I can do (double unders).  Here’s the thing, a WOD is something we train for by practicing skills and techniques, but looking at the big picture, what are you using the WOD to train for? Are you doing a competition, are you doing a race, are you just trying to stay in shape, are you challenging yourself?  What are you training for?

“Oh you want to know what I’m training for?  Life MotherF#$%er!”

And that sums it up, my life is a chipper, my WOD was a chipper, my performance in each helps me in the other.  

I have wanted a groundhog day, but honestly, they do not exist.  I cannot wind back time to try to start my day over, it’s just actually not possible.  

The same thing applies for a WOD, you cannot redo a WOD- you can do it again, but it will never be the same- how did you eat that day, what time of day did you do it, how much sleep did you get, did you wear the pink underwear instead of the blue, was it a full moon, did you use the same bar you used the last time, did you come in after a bout of road rage, did you have your protein 55 minutes before the WOD not 60?  All these things and more affect your performance.  Finishing a WOD and looking back, so many things could have happened, but what actually happened was the WOD and you did it.  

Most of the times, we think well if only this or only that- partial truth:  damn it if I didn’t do three sink fulls of dishes yesterday, my hands would be soft and supple and the TTB would have been faster, more truthful truth:  if I do extra TTB once a week after a grip intense WOD, I will train myself to tolerate them more, today was some damn good practice and a great reality check. The WOD is there for training, take from it what you may and move onto the next one.  We always do WODS again, I think we did Fran 4 times last year.  WODS are a dime a dozen, why waste your time and energy on one.  

Our weaknesses are being exposed.  Let’s take this next year to make them our strengths.  

I would love to be able to take away some arguments I’ve had with my kids or re do a day when I know they will be accidentally dropping a glass of milk right at a crucial moment, but it’s just not possible.  I take things away from each experience- kids don’t get glass, be more prepared, etc.  You learn something new every day.

You learn something new every WOD.  Stop focusing on the alignment of the stars during the WOD and start focusing on what you learned.  Own your WOD and your times because there is never going to be an exact redo!


Go into this week remembering that you only get one chance, make it a good one!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

What Am I Doing Wrong?

What am I doing wrong?

I found myself asking myself this question the other day- out loud.

How many times have you found yourself asking the same question?

My kids went back to school this week- I wondered where the summer had gone and how we never made it to the water park or to the amusement park.

What did I do wrong- nothing.  We spend a month in Massachusetts- we had football and band practices that couldn't be missed and did not allow time for day trips- We did other things.

My kids went back to school this week and I made lots and lots of lists of things I would get done with all my "free time".

What did I do wrong- the lists didn't get emptied, things didn't get done.  I spent my days filling out questionnaires, doing dishes, laundry, shopping, getting physicals, cooking healthy meals- I wasn't doing anything wrong, there were just other things to do.

My kids came home grouchy and irritable from school almost every day this week.  I found myself asking more than ever "what am I doing wrong".  I had special snacks ready, I had a smile on my face and an extra amount of patience.  I didn't do anything wrong, people get tired, people get irritable, it doesn't mean it was because of something I did wrong.

My neighbor made these cookies that were amazing.  I wondered why my cookies never came out so good- I questioned "what am I doing wrong".  I made over 12 different cookie recipes before he gave me a simple tip- let the butter and eggs come to room temperature.  In many of the recipes, there was oftentimes a comma and then the words "room temperature", but in my hurry to get the cookies made, I was often too impatient to follow this step.  Sometimes we aren't doing things wrong, but we do take shortcuts, which most often change the results we are looking for.

I did a crossfit competition last weekend.  I attempted to bring a weight up to my shoulders that I had never attempted to do before.  Before I started, I told myself I would try, but I had a lot of doubt.  I rushed through and ended up falling down before securing the weight on my shoulders.  I wasn't mad, but I found myself wondering "what am I doing wrong".

My friend sat on the sidelines video taping the lift- after watching the video, I was able to say "wow, that actually looked pretty good, if I hadn't rushed it, I would have had it."  Instead of asking myself, "what am I doing wrong", I found myself using my mistake to make myself better.

There are two ways you can look at "what am I doing wrong"- 1) as a means to better yourself or 2) as a means to wallow in your own self pity.

I'm choosing 1.  Many times we know things we are doing wrong, but we don't want to change them because it means admitting things, changing things, doing things, or having to work harder.

Stop defeating yourself with what you are "doing wrong" and start looking at it as a victory.  If you are doing something wrong, at least you are doing something.  Do it differently next time.  Keep working.  Every mistake you make is one step closer to what you want.

We're going to have bad days, the kids are going to be kids, some meals will be epic fails, it may take you over two years to get a pull-up, your garden may not have grown for the third year straight, but there's always next time, tomorrow, or even next year.  Don't give up and don't beat yourself up.

If you are asking yourself, "what am I doing wrong"- try changing it up and asking "what am I doing right"?

As a constant reminder to myself, I have this hung on the wall behind my computer:



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Making Choices

We all have choices to make.  

Some choices are easy.

Some choices are hard.

Whether a choice is easy or hard, we have to make them.  Many times we don’t even realize we are making the easy ones, they are that easy.

It’s the hard ones, the ones that stop you in your tracks that really burn a hole in your heart.  The ones that you could spend hours debating about either way.
    - Do I start chemotherapy or do I try an all natural, chemical free diet and risk the unknown.
    - Do I quit my job and pursue my true passion.
    - Do I pick up and move to something unknown and potentially great from this place where all      
      my friends are and all I’ve ever known.
    -Do I end this relationship or not

Some hard choices have a clear answer- a path you know you should follow, but for some reason, you can’t bring your self to make the choice.

When I was choosing which college to go to, I wanted to go to Rensselaer.  I got accepted and I got 2/3 scholarship.  I had received a full four year scholarship to UMass Amherst.  I wasn’t sure I’d get a better education there, but I knew it would help myself and my parents to not have to pay tuition.  I made the decision to go, but the weight of the decision did not leave my shoulders.  I knew I had made the wrong choice, but did not change my mind.  One day, in Biology class, I was thinking about Rensselaer.  I asked for a bathroom pass and ran to the payphone to call my dad to write a deposit check to Rensselaer, the burden had been lifted from my shoulders, I was elated to finally be going to the school I knew all along academically I wanted to attend.

Sometimes we know what choice we want to make but we don’t make it.  There are things that affect us, like other peoples feelings, fear, uncertainty, money, friends, etc.

Sometimes we put ourselves and our feelings last. Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation and decide to stay in it, because you want to ride out the storm, you want to be the bigger person, you want to help everyone else, and you put yourself last.  

How often do you put yourself last?

As a parent, as a spouse, as a sibling, or child, you may find occasionally having to put yourself last is the only choice, and that’s ok.  

But, when you are in a situation where you are constantly compromising yourself and your integrity, that is not ok.  You should drop everything and run.

At no point in time should anyone or anything make you feel less than who you are.  If you find yourself in a situation where you begin to doubt yourself and your choices or you have to say “don’t you know me”- consider the choice no longer hard- get out!

I quit my job this week.  The choice was hard, but really I had put myself last for so long, that when I finally put myself and my feelings first, the choice became easy.  

This will not work everytime, but let me tell you, deep down inside, sometimes we know what we have to do to answer the hard choices.  We know what’s best for us and we know situations we should not be in.

Never ever ever ever (times infinity) let anyone make you feel less than you are.  It is not our job or place to tell someone who they are or make them feel small- it is our job to lift them up, to make them better, to help them evolve.  If we constantly go around making people feel small to make ourselves feel better, we are doing a huge disservice to our community.  A community works because of all the people involved working together to make things better, not make themselves better only.

You are amazing and when someone makes you feel small or makes you question your integrity, you walk away- you find a new friend, someone who will lift you up when you are down or help you make a better choice when you are wrong, not rip you apart.

Some choices can be easy when you look at them the right way- 


One thing is for sure, I’m choosing my happiness and my family’s over all else and I’ll be back on this blog more often now.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

Over the past few months (year), I have been up and down with my baking.  I have given up sugar for a spurt here and there.  My son has given up sugar for a month here and there, and I have noticed changes in him for the better when he does.

Well, that's part of the reason why I haven't been on here.  It is very hard to have a blog to inspire people to bake and cook from scratch when I am also trying to inspire people to eat less sugar and live a healthy lifestyle.  I'm stuck in the middle.

I'm hoping that those of you who follow me are at the same point and that I am inspiring you to stop buying processed foods and start making your own from home.  I just can't shake eating sugar and sweets and at the times when I have completely given it up, the day I'm done, I just want to eat cookies.  I find that when I bake, I am happy.  When I find a delicious recipe from scratch that I love, I want to share it.  I want to inspire you to get in the kitchen and cook- I hope that you will learn something new and bring it to the table for your family to enjoy.

I am spending more and more time in my kitchen these days, trying to use all fresh ingredients and making more and more on my own.  I seem to make a dessert on the weekends and try to make it last through the week, unless I find a rare gem, like this, which it was made on Sunday for Easter, then again on Tuesday for dessert for the rest of the week.

OK, fine, then again a few weeks later, because after all, there are carrots in them, so they are kind of healthy...  If you have a BBQ or party to go to this summer, I highly recommend bringing these.  You they will not disappoint.
Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies-
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter- room temp (important)
1 egg - room temperature (important)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup finely shredded or grated carrots

Filling:
3 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/4 cup ( half stick) unsalted butter- room temp
1 tsp vanilla
2 cup confectioners sugar

1) Preheat oven to 350'.

2) In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Set aside

3) In bowl of mixer, beat butter for 2 min until creamy- add in brown sugar and beat again on medium until fluffy.  Scrape down sides.

4) Add egg and vanilla, beat until incorporated, about 1 minute.  Scrape down sides.

5) Add in dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated, scrape down sides of bowl.  Add in oats and carrots, mix until incorporated.  Scrape bowl, then mix one final time.

6) Drop 1 TBSP sized rounds of batter onto cookie sheet.  Bake approx 11-14 minutes.  Halfway through baking, rotate cookie sheet.  Depending on your oven, the cooking time will vary.  Smaller cookies will take about 11 min, whereas larger will take up to 14.

7) Remove cookies from oven and let cool.  Set cookies onto baking rack to cool completely before filling.

8) Prepare filling:  Beat cream cheese and butter in bowl of stand mixer for 8 minutes, will be light and fluffy- I promise, mix for the whole 8  minutes on medium-high.  Add vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat again for 8 more minutes, stopping halfway through to scrape sides once.  Put filling into a bag and pipe onto a cookie, press another cookie on top to make a sandwich.

Makes approx 20 small whoopie pies.

Adapted from Annie's Eats.




Thursday, May 29, 2014

End of another school year

I can't believe another school year has ended.

Day 1:  August 20- Kindergarten, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 5th Grade
Last Day: May 28- Now 1st Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, and 6th Grade (Jr High -yikes)


Monday, February 10, 2014

CrossFit- a community I'm part of

I started sending out motivational emails to members of our crossfit box.  I've been dying to get back to this blog, so I figured I'd post some here because they may help motivate others who read this blog.

This week, I was inspired to talk about the community I've become a part of at crossfit.

A few weeks ago, I was at my neighborhood book club and one of the mom's was talking about how when she went to playgroup with her kids' friends, sometimes she felt uncomfortable because she oftentimes didn't get along with the parents- she felt like the only way she could meet people was through her kids' friends and she wasn't able to choose what their moms were like.

"CrossFit is community."

My kids went to a birthday party yesterday, for one of their crossfit friends and low and behold many of their parents were there and they were my crossfit friends. I did not feel awkward and stand in the corner playing words with friends on my phone because I didn't know any of the other parents, I was able to smile and carry on an actual adult conversation.   

“Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don't do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.”  -Rachel Naomi Remen

This week, I started a "hands free" rule for myself, from when the kids get home from school until after dinner.  I realized that quick Facebook checks, text messages, etc. were starting to take me away from my life.  I could be having a conversation with my child or my husband, but instead I would be glued to my phone.  Have you ever realized how many conversations you miss because of technology or convenience?  

-ATM at bank, avoid talking to the teller
-self checkout at grocery store- avoid the cashier
-text message someone-avoid the phone call
-order stamps online or from a machine- avoid the postal clerk or mail man
-send e-gifts- why give it in person

These are just a few examples of conversations we are no longer having.  As a mom of 5, if I'm not working, sometimes, I don't even get to talk to an adult all day long, which is why that birthday party meant so much yesterday, my kids got to play with their friends and I got to talk to my friends, like an adult, about things we all enjoyed.

Long story short- at CrossFit, we have to talk to each other- at the Y, we did not have to, at LifeTime fitness, you did not.  

"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation."-Plato

We have set classes we prefer to attend.  5:30 AM, it takes a special person to work out at that time, 6:35- well heck there's an application, 7:30- they're all so quiet, hoping Scott won't cancel the class we just created, they're just happy for that time slot, 8:30- if you like to workout alone, 9:30- yes!!! the kids are at school now, 4:30- left work early, they're all business ready to burn off their aggression, 5:30, 6:30-pm- waiting patiently for the new box so they can have kids at the same time and have space in their classes, bunch of fun ladies at 6:30, 7:30- seriously, who works out that late anyways???  

If you don't show up, you are missed.  Have you ever gotten a text asking where you were or even worse, the dreaded Facebook post that you are tagged in, calling you out to the entire box?  We don't just work out together, we know each other, we see each other's weaknesses, hear moaning and groaning that is usually left for behind closed doors.  Talk about peeing our pants or even worse....   We actually have to talk to each other and we want to.  I love hearing people talking happily amongst themselves.  

"Through others we become ourselves." -Lev S. Vygotsky

I'm an adult and I'm having fun.  I read an article about CrossFit recently and it was entitled "where everybody knows your name".  It's true, most people do know your name here.  For most of us, this isn't a place to join and come once a month, we're in it for the long haul.  I do take pride in the fact that almost all of us do know each other, even if our paths haven't crossed yet.  This box is kind of like our Cheers.

Have you ever had that awkward moment when you walk into a class you normally don't WOD with and no one knows you?, then like a miracle, someone walks in that you know and it's the biggest relief, or all of the sudden, everyone just starts shaking your hand and introducing themselves to you like you're a day one.  Gotta love it, you'd never get that at spin class at the Y, you'd just slink into the back on the bike in the shadow with no light above it and go on your merry way silently- Not here!

A few weeks ago, Rob wrote in the Facebook group about how he was so glad to be back after time off from an injury.  I really understood him- you get in this group of people that you can truly be yourself with, without worrying about being fired (like at work) or being judged and then when you don't have it- you realize it was what you were missing in life all along.  For some of us, crossfit is a chance to have an identity (even if it is under the cover of our box nickname), to be who we want to be, or to become someone better.  It gives us the sense of small community that is so oftentimes missed in this fast paced world we live in.  It gives us opportunities to converse with actual adults, to meet people whose paths we would never have crossed before, to put ourselves on an equal level with many others, to give ourselves the gift of health, to give our children opportunities for fitness education, and to just be better.

Is this your first time reading one of these emails- welcome!  You will never be the same.  

“Most of the problems with the bodies and minds of the folks occupying the current culture involve an unwillingness to do anything hard, or anything that they’d rather not do. I applaud your resolve, and I welcome you to the community of people who have decided that EASY will no longer suffice”. 

This week it's Valentine's day- a day which many proclaim as a Hallmark holiday- not me.  I choose to use it as a day to make sure to tell important people in my life that I love them because sometimes we just take it for granted.  I also choose to take it as a day to make it extra fun and special for my kids- if we don't make some days extra special, then they're all just ordinary.  Choose to make this day special for yourself, for your family, for your friends, for a random stranger, for your entire WOD group- you are an adult and you are alive and you have opportunities, don't let them pass unnoticed.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Hi, I'm back!  I have not forgotten about this blog.  I often write posts in my head, when I can't find the time to sit and type.  I feel as though, now, four months into the school year, I'm getting back on my feet after having kids home all summer and homeschooling one last year.

This recipe for jellied cranberry sauce is so good, it prompted me to FINALLY get back on here!  When I was a kid, a special treat with a meal would consist of a small amount of cranberry sauce or apple sauce.  I remember on Thanksgiving being able to have more than just a small amount of cranberry sauce and it was delicious!

The past two years, I have made my own cranberry sauce (more of a relish style).  This year, I found this recipe for jellied cranberry sauce and I had to share.  I know it's a favorite at my parent's house and people who might not be compelled to try the relish would love this recipe.  It is my goal to eliminate prepackaged and processed foods from my eating.  For the past three weeks, I have not eaten much sugar and little to no grains.  I am not above eating sugar or grains, I just like to make these products myself, so I know what I am putting into my mouth.  I find eating healthy is not a cold turkey and you're done deal, it takes a long time.  My way is do it myself first, then move on to elimination, portion control, etc. If I can't do it myself, I wonder should I be eating it.

At any rate, this sauce came out just like store bought, but with no chemicals.  It's easy and delicious, I hope that I will inspire someone to try to make their own cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving.
Jellied Cranberry Sauce:

2 bags cranberries
2 cups sugar (sugar in the raw is ok too)
juice from 1 orange- then add water so it totals 2 cups liquid
zest from half of the orange

1) Put all ingredients in stockpot and bring to a boil.
2) Let boil for ten minutes, cranberries will start to pop- I gently mashed the berries against the side of the pan.
3) Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve- press hard on the berries to remove juices and pulp.  I ended up putting the remnants from the sieve into a cheesecloth and squeezing out more liquid afterwards.
4) Place in air tight container in refrigerator for up to one week, or seal in a canning jar by boiling in water for 15-20 minutes.  Jar should be ~1" below water level.
Jar can be stored at room temp for one year if sealed.

Once refrigerated, if you use a jar that is straight (wide mouth)- you should be able to overturn and get the sauce to pop out of the "mold".  I will just scoop mine out, as I did not have a straight style jar.
Source:  Foodie with Family (I halfed her recipe and got 3 pints )