Drumroll please….I am extremely excited to share with you the King and Queen (winners) of Quantum CrossFit’s GET REAL Challenge!  This year we had almost 40 competitors (our largest group to date!) and I was SO IMPRESSED by EVERYONE’s efforts and results.  It was extremely difficult for us to pick 1 female and 1 male winner because there were so many dramatic changes.  It literally came down to a photo finish to choose the winners.  I am always amazed at everyone’s dedication, commitment and group support, but this year in particular was extra stellar.  You all proved that with solid training (thanks to Quantum CrossFit) and nutrition (thanks to Haute Life…me:)) you can see dramatic changes in your health, performance and body composition in 5 short weeks.   It was a tough decision, but alas we can only have 1 King and 1 Queen.  READY?!?!  Here we go…

The KING of the GET REAL Challenge is Jason!!  Jason is a downtown corporate man who has been a member of the gym for 2 years – he took this opportunity to get his nutrition in check in order to improve his performance and get geared up for a future triathalon….in addition to bringing his abs to the forefront.  He committed to the challenge with gusto and the results are a testament to this commitment.   Dropping 11% of his body weight, he lost the equivalent of at least 1 kettlebell.  Check out Jason’s before picture here:

I am not cruel...Jason gave me this pic to use!

Here is Jason’s actual Before/After pics:

The QUEEN of the GET REAL Challenge is Mary Anne!!  Mary Anne attacked this challenge like Dr. Oz at a whole grain buffet table.  She was a HUGE contributor to the GET REAL forum and provided so much support and encouragement to her fellow GET REAL’ers.  Her commitment paid off as she lost 6% of her body weight and dropped a whole lot of inches.  Check out Mary Anne’s transformation here:

Thank you to both the King and Queen for allowing me to use their pics.  I know they will inspire others to GET REAL!

I asked the winners to answer a few questions about the challenge….

What has the challenge done for you?

J: Attempting not to state the obvious but this challenge really reinforced the value of good solid nutrition forming the base of anything else I want to accomplish in life.  From a physical perspective, I hit a bunch of PR’s –Getting my first ever HSPU (handstand push-up) was a proud moment. So proud I had to show coach KC a second time! Hitting a 205# “Jerk” PR was a nice surprise and 75 consecutive double unders  was another. Generally speaking, I just felt like my frame was thanking me for showing it a little love! In the end, the progress in performance I’ve always wanted in the gym was being held back by my lack of focus on proper nutrition. This competition opened my eyes to that and I’d encourage anyone who missed out to pick the brains of the coaches between now and the next challenge.  I mainly harassed you (Summer) and Pete but Leah, Tyler, and KC are no wallflowers either! I was no different from most coming into CFQ in mid-2010. Couldn’t do a pullup without a green band, didn’t know what paleo was, or what kipping meant. I’ve learned a ton along the way and put it all to work in this challenge . There was really nothing to lose and everything to gain by committing to this.

M: Apart from making me feel better than I ever have, it was really rewarding to commit to something and see all my hard work pay off. Resetting what I ate has given me a new consciousness of my appetite and ‘real’ hunger, and helped me separate that from more emotional eating.

Outside of your waistline, where else did you see positive changes?

J: My productivity and energy in general seemed to increase and/or stabilize. Not having to endure the morning zombi-like feeling or the 2pm energy crash was a win worth mentioning. I should note that I’m not a coffee drinker, and never have been, but I’ve always felt like caffeine shouldn’t be the answer to my energy issues.  My number one goal was to improve my sleep and although I still have my battles as someone with sleep apnea, it’s definitely progressed through this challenge.

M: My energy is up, I’m in a good mood, I feel like it’s helped me be better in every aspect of my life – at work, in the gym, with my friends and family. When you feel good, it’s contagious. I feel more positive and capable all around!  Digestive wise – I used to get “random” stomach aches for “no apparent reason” and I couldn’t figure it out… well guess what, now I know why, and it hasn’t been an issue whatsoever when eating this way. And that’s pretty great.

Did you find it easy to stick to for 5 weeks?

J: I wouldn’t call it easy, but doing this with a group of people definitely made it easier without question. I think in the past when I’ve tried to do something like this, I’ve lost the will or want or inspiration to keep going and keep cooking, and justified a bad choice (aka a trip to the drive through) with some excuse (I’m just too busy, it’s only one meal, most of it’s good for me). This time I just kept telling myself “you only eat what you kill” aka eat what you cook and that’s it. Once things got rolling about a week or so into it, it became routine and in many cases was faster than hitting up Subway or Tim Horton’s because I already had food with me.

M: It was tough at first, getting the hang of really planning things out, and with some events I had to attend. But I got the hang of it and now it feels more like 2nd nature… I don’t have to think about what would make a ‘paleo’ breakfast/meal/snack… it’s just how I eat now. And the more positive feedback I got, the easier it became because I wouldn’t want to go back to feeling crappy again. I may have had a few sweet treats after the challenge was over, but unfortunately (or not?) now I know I feel better without them

What are your goals now that the challenge is over?

J: Keeping my a$$ on the wagon would be at the top of list! I still want to see my 6th ab (oh the vanity!) and until I do, I’ll just stick with it but maybe in more of a 90/10 fashion like you (Summer) alluded to.  I’ve also set my sights on a 2nd shot @ a sprint triathlon in milton on June3rd. I did my first and only triathlon there in 2010 after one month of crossfit at CFQ, so we’ll see how far I’ve come barring any injury flare ups.

M: Get super strong! And keep on keeping it real 🙂

Any plans on how you’re going to spend the prize $?  Perhaps some new pants?

J: I choose meat and some sunshine (future vacay) over oreos…I’d consider that progress!

M: A couple of new dresses… maybe some new kitchen gadgets (I have my eye on that veggie spiral maker!) But mostly I’m putitng it back into CFQ so that I can keep this great experience going.

Congrats to you both…you both did AMAZING!  (And you made me proud….tear)

Until next time, keep it REAL!

Apparently it’s Star Wars day (because it’s May 4th…. “May the 4th be with you”)…I know, lame.  BUT, I had this post floating in my head for the past couple of weeks and as soon as I found out today was Star Wars day, I knew it was time to post it.  This is dedicated to everyone who lets that number on the Oly bar (or on the scale!) distract them from reaching their goals and aiming for bigger and heavier things in life.  I’m a numbers nerd and I tend to obsess over numbers…whether it’s the 0.5lb increments that I add or take off my shoulder press…the 0.8 lbs that I gain between breakfast and lunch…or the 6 cashews that I eat as a snack because I still look at nuts in Zone blocks (damn you Barry Sears).  I’ve had to try really hard to break some of these habits – mainly the obsession with the scale.  I can count on one hand how many times I’ve weighed myself in the past 6 months and that is something I’m really proud of.   I’ve still got work to do in the nut department, where I feel the only option might be hire Arnold Schwarzenegger to erase the memories of my Zone days (“You have been erased”  …classic 90’s movie).  The one thing that I never thought to escape is obsessing over the weight that I put on the bar when I’m lifting.  This was something that I loved to see…it allowed me to understand if I was going up or down vs my previous lifts.  I have learned (after 4 years of lifting) that I was all wrong.  Let me explain…

3 weeks ago I was at the OPT CCP Nutrition and Life Coaching Certs in Chicago (highly recommend).  During our lunch hour we had access to Windy City CrossFit which is one of the coolest gyms I’ve ever seen….huge beautiful space with a full kitchen and so much room to play and lift.  I decided to work on my press and do 6 x 3.  I started at a low weight (45lb bar + 2 x 5lbs = 55lbs) and it felt SO HEAVY.  I felt weak.  I added #2.5 more lbs to each side (=#60) and I couldn’t get the bar to budge.  Rather than having a temper tantrum like I used to when my mom would make me wear braid + bow + bun as a child, I talked myself into thinking that this was due to the travel and lack of sleep due to the super long days that we’d been keeping.  I decided not to get upset (because I’d just had my first Crossfit meltdown after WOD 11.4 the previous week because the OHS killed me….no worries if that last sentence didn’t make sense to you as it’s not relevant). I decided to stay at #55 for 5 of my sets.  For the last set, I added #2 to each side (a whopping #59…sarcasm) and I got it up.  I then walked over to do some chin-ups and Peter asked me how I was doing:

Peter “How was your lift?”
Me “Horrible….I can’t lift anything…Whatever, I don’t care (I really do care)…it’s probably because of the lack of sleep.”
Peter “What did you get to?”
Me “59, but I should be doing at least 65….whatever, I don’t care (I still really do care)”
Peter “You know that’s in Kg’s right?”
Me “SHUT UP. You lie.”
Peter “Ya, it’s in Kg’s.”
Me “Seriously??  Really?? I was just about to have another meltdown….wait! How many Pounds are in a Kg?”
Peter “2.2”
Me “Is there a calculator around here?”  I found one….
Me “OMG, I just hit a new 3 rep max! I just did 3 at 75lbs!”  (45lb bar + 14kgs = 59 lbs in my head, but in reality that’s ~75lbs)
High fives all around and I hit the chin-ups like it was nobody’s business.  I had just Jedi Mind Tricked that bar! BAM.

This experience made me realize that I get stuck on numbers rather than focusing on the awareness of how I feel.  How many times have you said, “I can’t lift that, it’s too heavy.”  MANY many times in my recollection.  My experience with the Kg’s (which is ironic because aren’t we supposed to use Kg’s in Canada?) has made me realize that many of my failures at the gym are more a function of my mental state vs my lack of strength.  I seldom go by how I feel, rather I get stuck on the #’s and it creates a numerical bottleneck which prevents me from going further.   Yes, I just said numerical bottleneck.  By removing the numbers from my mind or pretending that it’s a smaller number via the Jedi Mind Trick, I was able to rely purely on how it felt and push past a previous barrier.

This also applies to the other number obsessions that I’ve had.  Why 6 cashews?? Why not 7 or 5? Why don’t I go by how I feel as opposed to the number?  Or the scale…what does it matter if my weight jumped 5 lbs over the weekend? Why don’t I think about how I feel instead or whether my pants fit?  How many times have I beaten myself up over a number?!?! GAaaahhh!!!  It’s enough to make one go crazy.  The lack of awareness to how I’m feeling is something that has been creating unhealthy patterns and behaviours.  Fortunately, breaking this cycle is something that is possible, but must be done consciously and in baby steps.  Luke Skywalker didn’t become a Jedi overnight.  It takes practise and most importantly awareness of how you feel.  Stop and pay attention to what you notice about yourself – do you feel hungry? Are you happy with how you look today?  Does it feel like you can lift more?  Figure out how you really feel and then address the situation accordingly.  You may need to shift your mindset or trick yourself in order to break past your own internal barriers (see below)….it depends on the situation.  I have overcome the scale, but this took a long time and I still need to stop myself from stepping on it.  I am working on overcoming the #’s on the bar with success to date.  My next phase will be to de-zone my nut consumption….this one will be trickier and I’m really going to have to channel my inner Yoda.  NO MORE BLOCKS! Happiness does not exist inside of an equation.

Jedi Mind Trick in action:  I was excited to try my Jedi Mind Trick on WOD 11.5….with the 100lb cleans.  This was an extremely heavy weight for me (my 1 rep max was 95 before I was able to somehow get 110 up during 11.3) so rather than thinking about the #, I pretended it was 75 pounds.  I kept saying to myself, “just approach it like it’s 75 pounds…it’s only 75 pounds…” over and over in my head.    I was able to get through 6 rounds of the bastard which was WAAAAY more than I had anticipated.  JEDI MIND TRICK baby!!!

Drumroll please….I am extremely excited to share with you the King and Queen (winners) of Crossfit Quantum’s GET REAL Challenge!  Everyone who participated in the challenge did amazing and we saw some fantastic changes across the board!  I loved following each of your blogs and getting a window into what you were eating and how you were feeling.  I was so impressed with everyone’s dedication and commitment.  Your hard work has paid off and it amazes me to see what people can accomplish in 6 weeks.  MAJOR props go to all the people who stayed strict until the end and survived MANY wine and/or cupcake-infused occasions!  (Especially my brother in-law and his girlfriend who had to survive a few dinners with my mother in-law’s plethora of to-die-for desserts…I feel your pain).  It was a tough decision, but alas we can only have 1 King and 1 Queen.  READY?!?!  Here we go…

The KING of the GET REAL Challenge is the amazing Alber!!  Alber is working father of 2 who joined Crossfit Quantum a couple months ago – he jumped into the challenge with gusto and posted one of the most amazing transformations that we’ve seen to date.  Dropping 18 pounds, he practically shed a small person and gained a whole lot of compliments from everyone who was along for the ride.  Check out Alber’s transformation below – Do I even need to tell you which one was the before?

The QUEEN of the GET REAL Challenge is supa-fly Julia!! Julia is a busy nurse that gained her supa-fly status at the gym by competing in the 2011 Crossfit Games Open and other challenges.  She can rock pull-ups and has a mean back squat (…that makes me jealous).  Julia is living proof that pictures speak louder than the that stupid scale…she only lost a couple lbs over the 6 weeks, but she got riiiippped!  Check out her transformation here:

Thank you to both the King and Queen for allowing me to use their pics.  I know they will inspire others to GET REAL!

I asked Julia and Alber a few questions about the challenge to share their advise and experience.

What the challenge has done for you?

Julia:  This challenge has taught me about self control with food.  I thought before I had good control but while on this challenge I was able to test myself by being around large quantities of my “favourite bad foods”.  Just because I want it, and it is available, is no reason to dive in and eat it.  The self control aspect of this challenge was so difficult but in the end really rewarding.

Alber: The challenge has taught me how to treat my body with respect so that it rewards me with high levels of energy, physical power and mental confidence.  I learned what real food is and how the conventional North American diet fails us on so many levels.  I believe eating real food is the best way to allow my body to perform at its most optimal level, to be able to grow in strength as well as health and get closer to my top potential.

Did you find it easy or hard to stick with it for 6 weeks?

Julia: During the week and while at work it was not too difficult, I just had to be on top of planning meals and not leaving myself hungry while out in a public “tempting” atmosphere….Nurses LOVE sharing food and patients LOVE bringing us all sweet treats, which was hard at first.  The most difficult part of this diet was going away with friends for a weekend, or watching a sporting event at a pub.  Those places were torturous for my greasy fat filled taste buds.

Alber: I found it hard to eat only real foods for the 6 weeks.  I had to deny on numerous occasions my desire to eat sugary and carb loaded bad foods because I was dependent on them before.  However the motivation to eat REAL was always there, and with proper science backing up this new idea of “real food”, I was never de-railed from my goal to eat properly.

Where did you see the biggest improvement (how you look, feel or stuff at the gym?)?

Julia: I am not too sure if I saw any concrete improvements at the gym, that we would have to ask the CFQ crew to see if they noticed a difference (insert Summer’s comment: I saw you clean #110 the other day…I’d say you’re rockin it at the gym!), however I did feel WAY more energized in the morning.  I would wake up and feel awake and refreshed, instead of the usual lethargic and hazy feel.  My quality of sleep was definitely better and in so my energy in a day was higher than before.

Alber: I saw the biggest improvement on how I look.  I gained new muscle and lost fat.  I also gained strength throughout my body, which goes hand in hand with the increased muscle.  I can lift more, jump higher, skip better and all other movements have improved; but we are forever in our own skin, so the reminder of how I look better is the predominant improvement.

Summer: I love that you both mentioned how you FEEL and PERFORM better.  It goes WAY beyond just dropping some excess lbs and translates into every aspect of your life.  Yay!

Are you going to keep up with the lifestyle?

Julia: For the most part…YES.  I am so much more aware of the food I was packing away mindlessly prior to the challenge.  I have learned a whole bunch of new recipes and food ideas that are more body friendly then I was previously eating.  That being said now that the challenge is done, I have enjoyed indulging some weekend beers.  Oh beer I wish you were healthy! (Summer: I wish cupcakes were healthy!!)

Alber: I will most definitely keep up with this lifestyle.  I now feel guilty just thinking about eating grain products like bread and pasta because I know the health problems it can cause in both the long and short term.  Sugar is harder for me to stay away from and I have to try harder for me to resist that temptation.  But I look at grains, legumes, dairy and sugar now as one would look at regular excessive drinking or chain smoking: being detrimental to my health.

What is your advice to other people looking to GET REAL?

Julia: PLAN PLAN PLAN.  For the first few weeks making sure you are never left hungry or eating the same ol meals.  Searching for new recipes and being able to 100% say no to any food temptations for the first month.

Alber: My advice to others is to educate yourself on what you are putting in your system and ask hard questions about where the ingredients in your food come from, and learn what your body really needs to thrive.  Don’t give your body less or more then it needs.  Find out what the happy medium between hunger and overeating is, and which REAL foods you like because that will help you reach a new controlled and planned out way of eating that will last forever.  Get a slow cooker, get lots of new spices, start experimenting with easy recipes and try new real foods that seem fun and tasty to you.

What was your favourite REAL food to eat?

Julia: Sounds so lame but tuna was a new food I discovered while doing this challenge.  So easy and filling and you can put anything with tuna to change up the taste. And lets face it, the Healthy Butcher is pricey but the quality of meats I was eating was WAY more tasty….mmm meat…so yummy!

Alber: It’s hard to choose a favourite REAL food but I love sashimi, steak and broccoli.  I eat raw broccoli almost everyday, and for protein I love eating a tenderloin steak or fresh raw fish.

Congrats to you both…you both did AMAZING!  (And you made me proud….tear)

Until next time, keep it REAL!

so that 1992 kind of way

Screw resolutions….I’m proposing a better mantra for 2011: “What would Zack Morris do?”  For the past few days (of my holiday), I have been spending my mornings watching 3 back-to-back episodes of my favourite show as a tween, Saved by the Bell.  As I thought about writing a post on resolutions, it became clear that resolutions are just annual ‘good intentions.’  I hate intentions.  Intentions don’t get you anywhere… Actions do.  Zack Morris is to be admired because this kid got things done.  If he wanted the teachers to go on strike so he could go skiing, he did it.  When Kelly agreed to go to the dance with some dude named Matt, Zack schemed and won her back.  He was seemingly able to accomplish everything he wanted in life during the span of a half-hour.  You must give him credit (and that giant ‘cellular’ phone he had).

Your intentions are only as good as the actions you put behind them.  Don’t just dream of getting something done.  Go and do it.  It is going to require some risk taking and it might be uncomfortable, but never let these things stop you from achieving your dreams.  You will make mistakes and you might fail along the way, but this is all part of the process.  Get back up and keep going.  Do not fear failure or rejection because otherwise you will never get anywhere.  Facing fear and rejection is all part of the process.  Do you think Zack Morris let small mishaps get in the way of his goals?  Hell no he didn’t!  He never let Mr. Belding stand in the way of getting what he wanted.

Everyday you should be setting small milestones which will enable you to go after your goals.  Whether it is to quit your 9-5 and follow your dreams, lose your muffin top or add 50 pounds to your deadlift, you should be taking small steps everyday to get there.  Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of work required to reach your goal….take it in baby steps.  Make a small to-do list everyday and cross off each task when you complete it.  I have been doing this for the past couple of months and it is very rewarding to put a check mark beside something that is getting you to closer to your dream.  Don’t get stuck on the treadmill of life and end up at the end of next year setting the same old resolutions.  Intentions will not get you anywhere.  And when in doubt, just ask yourself, “What would Zack Morris do?”

Wishing you all happiness, health and heavy back squats in 2011!

I want to get my Haute clients a small gift for the holidays…I am so proud of their dedication through the holiday season thus far…managing the extra stress, exposure to numerous bake sales and attending parties without straying from their plans.  If any of my clients are reading this, I suppose I am ruining your surprise.  sorry!  Anyways, I was driving in my car today thinking about various gift ideas and my mind became flooded with various CPG-ish gifts that would go on MY wish list.  Balanced Bites did a great post on holiday gift ideas for Paleo enthusiasts….I ‘second’ many of her suggestions (especially the dehydrator!), so will not repeat them.  Here are my recommendations:

For Haute chicks

  1. From 70’s big – “I ‘heart’ guys that are 70’d big” tee.  Need I say more?  This is amazing.  Let’s promote our love of gorilla-juice head biceps without promoting the guido side of it.  And it’s a v-neck making it extra cute.
  2. From Whole9 – “I should be in the kitchen” tank.  I would prefer if this said, “I should be barefoot in the kitchen,” but I like it nonetheless.  Women do belong in the kitchen…..cracking the whip while their man makes them bacon and eggs.
  3. ANYTHING FROM LULULEMON.  I repeat ANYTHING FROM LULULEMON.  Boys, you cannot go wrong here….make any woman happy with some lulu’s.
  4. Pendlay Barbell kicks – aka  Weight lifting shoes with pink stripes.  Nothing says sexy like a chick lifting some big weights whilst rocking pink.
  5. Ex-Boyfriend Knife Set – great gift for single girls or generally cool people.  If you bring a guy home and he sees this on your counter, he will know that you don’t take crap from men.  This is good.

Gifts for your Fully Primal Husband or Cool Chicks

  1. Steak, by Mark Schatzker – Fully Primal Husband loved this book and now knows everything there is to know about steak and cattle farming.  This made our trip to an Argentinian Steak House in NYC much more interesting.
  2. Butchering Classes – Let your man learn how to butcher an animal like a butcher.  I recommend these from The Healthy Butcher – Last year, we took the chicken butchery class and it was awesome.  You learn every possible way to cut up a chicken and everything about the farming.  For people who are not keen on seeing a whole animal get cut apart, I would recommend the sausage making class…I really want to go to this one so that I can re-create the scene in Seinfeld where Kramer is making sausages.
  3. Meat – Order your man some grass-fed beef, like from Beretta Farms – they flash freeze the meat to maintain all the nutrients and they have the BEST 100% grass-fed Filet Mignon I have ever had in my life.
  4. Custom Kicks – Design a pair of custom Chuck Taylors.  This one might be too late for this season, but you could always give it as a belated gift.    
  5. Breaking Bad Seasons 1 & 2 – I know a TV show is a bit random in this post, but this is one of the best series I have ever watched….if you like dark, violent and twisted shows.  Yes, I do.  FPH and I blazed through seasons 1 & 2 over the course of a couple weeks.  Everyone needs a rest day and this is a great way to spend it.

Stocking Stuffers

1.  Nutrasea Fish Oil – When I attended the Element Crossfit Challenge back in June I became really excited when I saw that one of the prizes was fish oil.  This stuff is not cheap, but it is a necessity that I will not go without (like getting my hair ‘blondified’ every 6 weeks).  I would be thrilled if this showed up in my stocking!

2.  Avocado Slicer – This is not something you would think to buy for yourself, but comes in handy if you are like me and consume numerous avocado’s every week. Check your local kitchen store.

3.  Aquaovo Thermo– My new favourite portable tea/coffee container that I bought at David’s Tea.  It is glass, so free of any chemicals.  It keeps things really hot or cold and has a filter so you can add tea leaves straight into the thermos without a bag.

4.  Kicking Horse Coffee – my favourite coffee beans.  Kicking Horse coffee is the best.  I was thrilled to learn that their decaf blend (which I am on now) is not chemically treated like most decaf beans.  They use a Mountain Water Process to remove the caffeine.  The Kick Ass dark is our favourite blend.

5.  Galerie Au Chocolate dark chocolate.  Some of the best dark chocolate I have had.  The Espresso Dark bar is delicious.  Everyone deserves a treat and it needs to be a good one.  This fits the bill.   Yum.

That’s all for this post! Happy shopping!!

wetsuits are not flattering....they are basically black SPANX.

I was introduced to the burpee when I first started Crossfit back in 2007.  I had never heard of this movement before and thought it was an expression for mid-workout flatulence.  I quickly learned to dread the burpee….especially when paired with thrusters.  I may dread the burpee, but I secretly love the burpee.  I have participated in a couple of different types of burpee challenges involving the completion of 100 burpees at once.  I even took a pair of argyle socks, cut the toe hole out of them to create make-shift knee-pads so I could do burpees on my hardwood floor at home without destroying my knees.  Over the past 3 years, I have probably done thousands of burpee’s….possibly even 10’s of thousands.  But I have never been so thankful for all of the burpees I’ve done than this past week when I tried surfing for the first time.

Warning: I’m about to brag and that’s OK because I have never been good at sports. I have never picked up an athletic skill easily…except for synchronized swimming when I was 11.  Coordination and rhythm are not my strengths.  It took me 1 year to get a kipping pull-up and I struggled with double-unders for the LONGEST time.  So when I signed up for my first surfing lesson, I had low expectations.  But, when the instructor (a super-cool surfer chick from Surf Diva) walked us through the movement on land, I recognized it instantly!  The familiar plank position…the pop-up to a semi-squat followed by a slow stance.  “THIS IS JUST LIKE A BURPEE!” I proclaimed.  From that point forward I was determined to nail this.  We hit the waves and the instructor told me to lay on the board – she pushed me into my first wave and yelled “Go! Go!”  I immediately popped up on the board and was able to surf for maybe 1 second.  I actually got up on my first try.  I swam back and tried hitting another wave.  In between the many misses, there were at least 4 occasions where I got up and surfed into the shore.  The instructor said to me, “you did amazing for your first time!  you are a natural!” – Yes, I’m bragging – I responded, “it’s because of all the burpees I do!”.  She said, “huh?”  I had to explain what a burpee was.  My thousands of burpees paid off and I have never been more thankful.  “Bless the burpee.”  I only wish we had waves in Toronto.

There must be other practical uses for the burpee…please share!

This post is for every person who still has that “chubby kid” mentality in their heads.  Or for inexperienced hikers looking for a detailed account of hiking Gros Piton Mt in St Lucia.

Last year my brother hiked Mt Whitney in California which is the highest peak in the US at 14,000-ish ft.  When he did this I thought, “I’d love to do something like that.” “I do Crossfit, I can climb a mountain!!” The thought of a 10km run sends pangs of fear down my spine, but for some reason I have the impression that hiking uphill for hours is no problem!  While Semi-Primal Husband and I were in St. Lucia we were determined to hike Gros Piton Mountain, a mere 2,600 ft compared to Mt Whitney.  It takes anywhere from 1.5 – 2.5 hours to hike/climb up.  In my competitive Crossfit ‘for time’ state-of-mind, I said to SPH “We’re going to do this in under 1.5 hours!” The day before our date with the mountain we decided to drive into the park and take a closer look at the beast that we were up against.  GAH! This thing is huge! And rocky! And it’s very hot outside! GAH!  My grade 7 ‘chubby kid’ mentality came flooding back and I started doubting my abilities and fearing possible failure.  It was the same fear that I used to have whenever we had to do our 1km (yes, 1km…i was afraid of that) run at school and I would come in dead last every year.  The night before our hike I ate a delicious Paleo dinner, abstained from wine and drank plenty of H2O.  Despite my best efforts I had a hard time sleeping as my inner ‘chubby kid’ would not leave my brain.  

We got up at 5:30 to make it to the mountain by 7am – it’s steaming hot in St. Lucia so you want to do your hike as early as possible.  SPH wore the backpack which contained 6 Litres of water, 2 bananas, almonds, some prunes, sunscreen, bug spray, paper towels and my Crossfit Quantum knee socks to put on at the top of the mountain (because most Crossfitter’s, including me, have a weird need to take an epic picture of themselves wearing a CF tee or something).  This backpack weighed about 15-20 lbs, so it definitely made SPH’s hike much harder.  It is mandatory that you hike the mountain with a guide – our guide was a St. Lucian girl who grew up in the village at the base of the mountain.  At 7:30am we were off…



The first 1/4 is really easy…mostly a gradual incline with a few rocks.  We blew past some fellow hikers and were going at a quick pace.  Our guide asked us if we were hikers, to which I laughed and said “nope!”  At this point I realized that perhaps having some hiking experience might be a benefit.  

The next 1/4 to the half-way point gets a bit rockier, but we kept our quick pace and continued on.  At the 1/2 way point there was a place to sit and re-hydrate.  We stopped briefly (because I wanted to keep rest time to a minimum…because i’m insane) to take a couple pictures and then we kept going.  This is when things got really hard and steep…We had to step up onto rocks that were 2 and sometimes 3 ft high – fortunately they have built somewhat of a handrail using dead wood that I was able to use to pull myself up and take some of the stress off my legs.  After about 15 minutes of the steep climbing – fully drenched in sweat, panting and already sore – we needed a rest and found a couple rocks to sit on.  At this point we asked our guide how much farther and she said, “10 minutes to the 3/4 way point”  WHAT?!?  Our original pace had moved to a slow climb and the 2nd half of the mountain took much longer than the first 1/2.  At the 3/4 point we were dying and still had another 1/4 to go.  We stopped a couple more times for breaks along the way and in the final stretch I took the backpack from SPH to give him a break and see what all the fuss was about.  It was HEAVY and it made it incredibly hard to balance while climbing.  But then we saw the light and knew the end was in sight…

"We're gonna make it after all!!!!"


The TOP!!  Notice that there is a dog in the picture…. 4 strays followed us up and down the whole way – this little guy was so cute and I gave him my banana for a snack.   The first thing I did was ask what time it was….8:50am.  We did it in 1 hr 20 minutes. WHAT WHAT! I was so happy and proud for us.  

The chubby kid in my head is in remission and now I know that I don’t need those fears anymore.  Don’t let that chubby kid inside you ever stop you from challenging yourself or questioning your capabilities.  Let that chubby kid inside you die with your giant red Carol Seaver glasses (yes, I had those…and a headgear!).

For those looking to do the Piton hike, I recommend practicing with some walking lunges…many, many walking lunges….with weights.  Hiking this mountain was comparable to doing walking lunges uphill for an hour.  Thank you Crossfit for putting me in the best shape I’ve ever been in!!  My legs were only a bit sore the next day and I felt fantastic.

Unfortunately I completely forgot to take the epic picture of me in my Crossfit Quantum socks.  I guess I’ll save those for Mt Whitney.

It’s finally here…I’m so excited!!!  My friends at Crossfit Quantum are having their grand opening this weekend.  If you live in the Toronto area, come by their new space at 2 Thorncliffe Park Dr, Unit #41 – tomorrow, Saturday Feb 27th from 10am-3pm.  Their will be a WOD at 11am – I highly recommend taking part in that if you can.  

I’m stoked about this location for 2 reasons: 1) It’s the first Crossfit location in Midtown Toronto (where I live!) and 2) it’s owned & operated by some really awesome people.  

If that’s not enough to get you excited, I will also be there providing goody bags filled with some of my favourite treats and recipes.  

As they said in the 50’s – Be there or be square.


Semi-Primal Husband and I are on vacation this week visiting Semi-Primal’s Parents.  Where you ask?  In the land where early-bird specials begin at 2pm, where your Medi-card will get you a 50% discount (to 25 cents) on the trolley (yes, a trolley), and where I found a bumper sticker that read, “If obesity is a disease, can I call in FAT?” (i found the image on Google!). Yes, Ft. Myers Florida.  It really is beautiful here and we’re having a fabulous time.  I follow a very strict rule of work hard, play hard so when I go on vacation I have to admit that I’m NOT Paleo Perfect – I like to eat the local cuisine and in this case, that’s the brownies from the Publix next to our condo.  I will redeem myself when I return – following a strict low carb paleo-zone block ratio for a couple weeks and then returning to my un-measured Paleo routine.  I’m also making sure I get outside and exercise – so far that’s included: 5km runs down the beach, hand-stand holds (on the balcony), plank holds, hollow rocks and push-ups.    It’s got me thinking about my 2010 fitness goals – you may recall my post on this topic back on New Years Day.  Here is a brief update on where I’m at with my goals:

1. Increase Squat PR by 15% – So far my 1 rep max from 2009 has become by 3 rep max so I know i’m on my way.  I’ve been working the reverse GHD 2-3 times a week and hitting my squats at least once per week.  
2. 5 dead hang pull-ups in a row – I’m at 2 2/3 – I say 2/3 because I get to eye level and then i need to so a small kick to get my chin over.  I’m still practicing these 2 times a week. 
3. 1 new recipe a week on the blog.  No problem.

I like to ensure that my fitness goals focus around areas of weakness and there is 1 area that I have not included this year and that I’m going to add to my list today: RUNNING. I hate running. Despise it.  In highschool I used to say that even if Paul Bernardo was chasing me with an axe you couldn’t get me to run.  I’ve come a long way from this statement having finished 1st in the 5k mud run with the ‘dirty blondes’ last year and doing many CF WODs with running (ie: Eva, Murph to name a couple horrors).  But I want to do more.  So i’m announcing that I am setting a new goal to complete my first 10km this year.  This may sound easy to some of you and you’re lucky if it is.  This is a big deal for me and will be something that I never thought I could do.  Every year I say I want to do a 10km, but I always seem to find excuses not to do one.  Semi-Primal Husband and I will be signing up for the Sporting Life 10km – yes, it’s mostly downhill but I’m using this as my 10km training wheels and it’s early in the season so I will do another one later on that is on more challenging terrain.  Now that I’ve announced it to the cyber-world I have to stick to it.  The lesson here is to face your weakness, work on it to make it a strength, set a goal and don’t give up.  

Anyone who wants to join me…let me know!

I always hated team sports growing up because I was never good at them and usually was asked to leave the team for skipping practice or quit because I was horrible.  When my friend and fellow Crossfitter, Lisa, suggested that we get together and play Hooverball I decided it was time to turn over a new leaf and try a team sport.  Hooverball is fantastic because it incorporates Natural Movements, throwing and catching.  Hooverball is basically like Volleyball but with a medicine ball that you throw and catch.  The regulation (yes, there are regulations) size ball is 6lbs.  You can read all the rules and history of the game here.  

During our first attempt at the game we only had access to a rubber 3kg medicine ball – bad idea! NEVER try that at home kids! Not only did I jam 2 of my fingers and bruise my foot, but i probably dropped a bra size from all the impact – and I don’t have room to spare.  Fast forward 1 week….we have a Dynamex ball!!  Soft, yet still regulation size…this ball was my best friend.  I also went out and got a pair of durable gloves enabling my fingers to stay warm and in tact.  I was so pumped playing this week that I busted out my rendition of MC Hammer dancing to the tune of “Stop…Hoover Time” (copyright Lisa).  I’m excited to continue playing Hooverball and hope that we can someday compete in a championship with a trophy or belt.   We’ve even got a Facebook group – that is how serious we are.

Note that during both matches it was -10 degree weather.  yay Canada!

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