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!

We have just finished the first week of Quantum Crossfit‘s annual GET REAL Food Challenge.  I am so impressed with everyone’s enthusiasm thus far!  I am even more impressed by the fancy schmancy cooking skills that people are busting out…people have been pulling together some pretty epic meals!  As a result, I wanted to share some of the awesome recipes that some of the participants have been whipping up.  Without further ado (in no particular order:)):

Jason’s “curried meatballs dragged through the garden”

1lb grass fed ground beef
– 1lb naturally raised pork
– 1/3 med onion
– 1tsp minced fresh ginger
1 clove minced fresh garlic
– 2 eggs
– 2tsp coconut flour
2tsp coconut oil
– handful chopped fresh parsley
– salt, pepper
Directions: As you see fit

, mix all the stuff together, pack the 12 slots on a muffin tin. Toss it in oven at 300 for 15 mins or so and flip over in muffin tin once with a fork.

The Garden:
– 1 can coconut milk
1tsp curry powder
– 2tsp minced fresh ginger
– 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
1 bag fresh spinach
– the rest of the onion
– 1 pint mushrooms halved
– 1 pint grape tomatoes (as is)
handful of chopped fresh cilantro
Directions: Toss the stuff in a stir fry pan with 2 Tbsps of coconut oil, along with onion, ginger, garlic, and mushrooms. Then coconut milk, tomatoes and curry powder. Spinach and cilantro go in when you take meatballs out of oven.

Throw it all together and you’ve got yourself a magical meal.

Ashley’s Murg Kari (slightly modified from a retro Time Life book collection circa 1969…true story)

First, some curry-warrior tips from the master (aka: Ashley):

– Prep it all first, then start cooking.
Turmeric stains like red wine on white carpet at a Twister party. Beware! Plastic utensils, countertops, containers, fingers, you name it. It’s also really good for you.
– Replace the oil using whatever your Paelo-ness level dictates. Use the full 1/2 cup though, as the it remains in the pan to fry the onions etc.
– I left the skin on the chicken (out of forgetfulness vs. savvy adaptation). It still worked, it just sticks to the pan a bit. I also just used thights & legs.  I’m not a breast man.
– Use the individual spices (and fresh coriander a.k.a. cilantro & ginger), it makes a difference. On the other hand, buy the Garam Masala premixed at a store, or just leave it out.  I also used chili flakes instead of hot red pepper.  You can get chopped ginger in a jar, or grab a knob from any supermarket – use the back of a spoon to scrape off the skin.
– I leave out the yoghurt now, and it’s still @#%&ing good.  I served it on Cauli Rice, which I finally tried making in the Magic Bullet. It was @#%&ing magic.
– I always forget the lemon, so you may as well ditch it.
– Use a big skillet with a lid. It’s the only pan you’ll need.
OK here we go.

Murg Kari – Chicken Curry (To serve 4 to 6)
–  2 to 2½ pounds skinned chicken legs and thighs and boned, split chicken breasts
– 1 tsp ground hot red pepper
– ¼ tsp ground fennel, or fennel 
seeds pulverized with a mortar
 n pestle
– 3 tsp salt
–  ½ cup oil (Summer: I’d recommend coconut oil)
– ½ cup water
– 1½ cup finely chopped onions
– 1 cup finely chopped fresh tomatoes or substitute 1 c chopped, drained
–  1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
– 1½ tsp scraped, finely chopped fresh ginger root
– 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
– 1 tsp ground cumin
– 1 tsp turmeric
– 1 tsp garam masala
– 1 tsp ground coriander
– 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and sprinkle them with 2 teaspoons of the salt. In a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over high heat until a drop of water flicked into it splutters instantly. Add the chicken and fry for 3 or 4 minutes, turning the pieces about with a spoon until they are white and somewhat firm. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

2. Add the onions, garlic and ginger to the oil remaining in the skillet and, stirring constantly, fry for 7 or 8 minutes, or until the onions are soft and golden brown. Reduce the heat to low, add the cumin, turmeric, ground coriander, red pepper, fennel and 1 tablespoon of the water, and, stirring constantly, fry for a minute or so. Stir in the tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of the fresh coriander, the yoghurt and the remaining teaspoon of salt.

3. Increase the heat to moderate and add the chicken and any juices that have accumulated in the plate. Pour in the remaining water. Bring to a boil, meanwhile turning the chicken about in the sauce to coat the pieces evenly. Sprinkle the top with the garam masala and the remaining tablespoon of fresh coriander, reduce the heat to low, cover tightly, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is tender but not falling apart.

To serve, arrange the chicken attractively* on a heated platter, pour the sauce remaining in the skillet over it, and sprinkle with the lemon juice.

*I love these home-maker directions calling out to us from 1969.

Garam Masala (just in case you’re crazy enough to make it yourself)

2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1  teaspoon grated nutmeg

In sauté pan, over medium heat, add everything except for the nutmeg. Toast until dark, about 12 minutes, shaking the pan often.  Remove and cool.  Grind the spices in a spice mill or coffee grinder into a powder. Remove and stir in the nutmeg. Yield: about ½ cup..  Source: http://www.Foodnetwork.com

Amanda’s “pot of awesomeness”

no picture, but I’m sure it will make you do this….

I just made a pot of easy seasonal deliciousness (that turned out kinda borscht-ish), so I thought I would share. Food processor required or it is no longer easy!

Ingredients: Shred or thinly slice: leeks, carrots, a sweet potato, shallots (or onions), fennel bulb, beets (I used golden because I’m fancy).

Sauté the leek and shallots in a big knob of gf butter or ghee, add other veggies after that magical thing happens when butter and leeks get together over some heat.

Throw in some garlic, a litre of veggie stock (and some water if you need more liquid), and 1 or 2 craploads of dill (bonus points if you have fresh. I used dried) and a can of coconut milk, salt and pepper. And probably more dill.

I like one pot meals, so I mixed and egg with some dill and garlic and s&p and made teeny meatballs that I dropped right in the simmering soup to cook.

It’s pretty boss, you guys.

Lisa’s “Fancy Pork Chops w/ Cauli-Mash Faux-tatoes”

Pork Chops – Ingredients:
– Pork Chops
– Onions
– Garlic
– Lots of mushrooms
– coconut milk
– mustard powder
– Salt and pepper

Directions: Fry some onions, garlic, & LOTS of mushrooms, remove that & brown the chops, throw it all back in and add a cup of coconut milk and mustard powder, S&P, simmer covered for about 10-15min. Serve on cauli-mash.

Garlic Mashed Cauli-tatoes
– 1 head cauliflower
– 2-3 cloves of garlic (your preference)
– grass-fed butter
– nutmeg
– pepper

Throw everything in a steamer until soft (really soft – mine was a little too firm and I ended up with a cross between cauli-mash and cauli-rice), then toss into food processor with a couple nubs of grass fed butter. Some nutmeg and pepper to taste. Process until really smooth.

Jack’s “Tower O Veggies” and other fun stuff

Layer one: Paleo Slaw
1 head cabbage
2 lg carrots
1 cup paleo mayo(homemade)
1/4 grated onion
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp powdered mustard
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp celery salt

1. Shred cabbage and carrots and onion in food processor.
2. In another bowl combine other ingredients.
3. Slowly add resulting mix to ground veggies.

Layer Two: Gai Lan (chinese broccoli)

Fry chopped Gai Lan in coconut oil with garlic and salt.

Layer Three: Burger!
1 lb ground beef
~1 cup almond meal
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard

Mix in bowl, made four patties.

Layer Four: Garnish

Chopped onions fried in coconut oil
Half an avocado, sliced.

I would have added more meat in the form of bacon if I did this meal again.
Original Recipes made paleo from old recipes.

It’s that time of year again…New Year’s Eve!  Perhaps you are wallowing in misery over the fact that you weigh more than you did at the beginning of last year when you promised yourself that “this year is going to be different!”  Or you’re in the midst of inhaling every last bit of sugar because “starting January 1st, you are going to be perfect so you might as well enjoy the sugary bliss now!”  Or perhaps you’re setting a bunch of resolutions that you will likely never follow through on and you’ll be beating yourself up about come April.  This is why I am proposing to ditch the resolutions.  It seems to me that every year around this time, I see people who spend more time commiserating about their failures and punishing themselves for their self-proclaimed under-achievements vs reflecting on things that they actually did accomplish.  It is a horrible negative feedback loop of self-punishment that does not get you anywhere.

Rather than beating yourself up for riding another year on the treadmill of failure, take a few minutes to write down the things that you DID achieve in 2011.  Unless you are Rob Ford (the horrible Mayor of Toronto), you likely have many things that you accomplished.  These things can be as simple as, “I ate more Kale” or “I took my Vitamin D supplements” or “I made an effort to see my friend’s more often.”   Take a few moments to pat yourself on the back for the things that you did achieve.  Here are a few of mine:

– I made it through another year of school, working full-time, working part-time and being a good wife without having full-blown adrenal fatigue! YAY!
– I gave up Gossip Girl, Desperate Housewives and Jersey Shore in order to spend more quality time with my husband
– I became comfortable with the fact that I will never fit into my size 28 jeans again because increasing my back squat is WAY more important to me
– I ate way more organ meats that I ever imagined
– I became a Coach at Quantum CrossFit and love every second of it
….and the list goes on.

Back to resolutions….I am not saying that you should ditch the commitment to bettering yourself.  I think this is important, but it is also something that should be done continuously throughout the year….Don’t save your commitments to 1 time per year.     Rather than setting specific goals this new year (which is something that Krista at Stumptuous wrote a great piece about), try creating some mantras for yourself instead.  Create a set of mantras which will act as your guideline to living the best you in 2012.  Mantras will help to create self-awareness around some of your short-comings and will also help you to consistently better yourself by acting as reminders for how you can be a better person.

Create your mantras and write them down….take a few moments first thing in the morning or before you go to bed at night to say an affirmation to yourself as it relates to your mantras.  Affirmations are an excellent way of shifting your mindset and will help to create long-lasting changes.  Here are my mantras for 2012 and in classic CPG style, I have related them to my hero’s of the 80’s and 90’s hair metal movement:

#1 – Axl Rose  “I am OK with not being perfect.”

Remember how Axl Rose took 15 years to finish the much anticipated album Chinese Democracy?  His addiction to perfection prevented him from releasing it any sooner because lord knows he was probably tweaking every last note trying to achieve perfection.  I wrote about my addiction to perfection  in this recent post.  My affirmation will read something like this, “I am not perfect and I am OK with that.  I do the best that I can and this is something I am proud of.”

#2 – Slash “I will make a conscious effort to collaborate”

Slash has collaborated with everyone from Michael Jackson to Fergie.  I must admit that I have not done the best job of collaborating with others.  This is partially because I often perceive collaboration as kissing someone’s ass.  It is also because I feel that unless I am 100% aligned to what other people are saying, I do not tend to support or collaborate with them.  I will make more of an effort to support others and find the commonalities in our principles. I will #FF and “Like” other people’s projects.

#3 – Vince Neil “I will be aware of negative self-talk and stop punishing myself”

How often do you find yourself punishing yourself via negative self talk?  Seriously, how much time have you wasted in your life punishing yourself by putting yourself down?!?!  Unfortunately I still do this often and much of this stems from my addiction to appearance (which is a whole other post).  Look what happened to Vince Neil! He’s a plastic surgery victim….his addiction to appearance has moulded him into a geriatric Ken doll.  I will make a conscious effort to become aware of my negative self-talk.  When negative thoughts pop into my head I will stop myself and question them.  I will use affirmations to love my imperfections and release myself from my own criticism.

#4 – Bon Jovi “I will make this career last”

“Who-ooohhh, we’re half way there….Whoaaa-aaaaahhh, livin on a prayer!!!”  I am 8 months away from being a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and this is both very exciting and terrifying.  Exciting because this is my passion and what I am meant to do in life.  Terrifying because at some point I am going to have to cut ties with my cushy corporate gig and take the leap to commit to this career full-time.  Like Bon Jovi, I am seeking longevity through this career change…not a one hit wonder.  I will let go of the fear that I have and get comfortable with the risk.  I am confident that this is my destiny and by gosh I will make it happen!  Lastly, “I will hold on because ready or not, I live for the fight when that’s all that I’ve got.”

What are your mantras for 2012?



Barbie in a straight jacket...it only seemed appropriate.

I’m alive!!!

It’s been so long since my last post and I am long overdue.  I knew it was time to get crackin when my parents finally noticed my last post about my farting confessions.  I had forgotten that this was the post welcoming people to my blog for the past 2 months.  I recently learned that my father had been passing along my website to some of his colleagues to encourage them to seek my advice for health and wellness.  Awesome.

After I fell behind from blogging for a few weeks, it somehow became increasingly more difficult to write. I started to over-analyze my own thoughts instead of just letting them spill out of my brain like I used to. I fell into a horrible habit of not writing because I felt my thoughts (which turn into blog posts) weren’t perfect.

I have recently started a class in school called “The Psychology of Disease” which is all about the mind-body connection. Our first assignment is to write a paper on our addictions. Addictions? ? Aside from my addictions to pastured bacon, CrossFit, anything coconut, coffee, Hawaii, Lululemon and 90210, I’m totally addiction free! I say no to crack! This was my initial thought until I started to read the survey and reading that came along with our assignment. In the reading, it outlined various addictions including “Addiction to Success”, “Addiction to Appearance”, “Addiction to Perfection” and MANY more. As I started to read the corresponding descriptions I realized that I could put a check mark beside many of them. It was the “Addiction to Perfection” that resonated so much with me….I realized this was what was stopping me from doing so many things, including updating this blog. I also realized that it was half the reason why I beat myself up so much for different things (the other half reason falls into the other addictions).

I did not want to post anything unless it was PERFECT. The pictures for my recipes aren’t perfect (aka: they look like they were taken with a disposable camera) so I haven’t posted a recipe. I’m still holding back from launching my Haute Life website because it is not perfect. I’m holding off on getting professional shots taken because I feel like I don’t look perfect enough yet. And the list goes on….I never realized how shackled I was to this notion of perfection. I knew I was a “Perfectionist”, but I didn’t realize it was an addiction that prevented me from getting down to biz-ness. I have also come to realize that this addiction to perfection can also be the result of a fear of failure.

What is perfection anyways? Sure it makes sense if you’re taking a test or getting marked on something….or if you’re a heart surgeon or physicist. Perfection matters in these circumstances. But what is perfection outside of these circumstances? When I started to think about it, I realized it is simply a fantasy or made-up ideal that we envision in our heads. If the benchmark for your own idea of perfection is in your own head, then why does it even matter?? If there is no concrete measurement of perfection in the task you are doing, then you will never achieve your desired result of perfection. It is this vicious cycle that can hold you back from doing so many things.

When it comes to nutrition and lifestyle, perfection can hold you back. I have seen many people hold back on making changes because everything in their life isn’t perfect…ie: I’m not going to eat clean because it’s Christmas and I can’t be perfect so I might as well just crack out on bad food for the entire 2 weeks. Or at the gym when I see people not wanting to try something because they might not be the strongest or fastest.  It is these types of excuses that indicate an addiction to perfection and a fear of failure.

I have seen this addiction to perfection lead to body image issues and unhappiness. When I meet people (usually women) who have solid bodies yet they complain about their 1 inch of cellulite because they are NOT PERFECT. What the hell is perfect when it comes to body image anyways?? It doesn’t exist…it is a made up ideal in your head that you will never achieve. (I could go on but that’s a whole other post).

Well, screw this!

I am vowing to release myself of my addiction to perfection. I will not let it hold me back from achieving the things I want to achieve anymore. Awareness of this addiction is the first step to getting over it, so I’ve passed phase 1.

It is time that we all break our addiction to perfection.  Start being happy with your best effort and don’t  over-analyze the situation.  Be proud if you get a B- instead of an A+.  You are the only one judging yourself in the end because no one else holds your idea of perfection except for you.

And for the record, I wrote this post in 20 minutes, so “Brittany’s back bitches!*”

*this is in reference to Brittany’s comeback performance at the MTV awards a couple years ago….I realize she actually said “It’s Brittany Bitch,” but this other version sounded so much better with this post.

Confession: I used to be the QUEEN OF FARTS.  That’s right, I used to be able to out-fart any guy on both sound and quantity and I was not embarrassed about it –  I guess growing up with an older brother who would pin you down and fart in your face makes you less shy about these things.  Of course, my mother would be mortified that I’m sharing this fun fact with the world (sorry Mom).   And it took a special type of guy to love a girl who could win in any dutch-oven showdown (that guy is Fully Primal Husband).

Why am I telling you this?  Because after switching to a Paleo diet it took me about a year to notice that I no longer had this skill….it was actually this blog post by John Durant that prompted me to reflect on my past talent.   I can’t fart anymore….it’s rare and never on command.  Usually it’s after a few too many almonds and some sugar-free gum.  Side note: Because of this, these are 2 things that you should never combine when stuck on an airplane for 5 hours…I speak from experience.

I also used to suffer from major blood sugar crashes and could not leave my house without a Powerbar or Zone bar in my purse in case of an all-too-often emergency.  I used to be STARVING by 10am after my wholesome breakfast of whole grains and fruit….I’d start shaking, get the sweats (I had a several hot flash occurrences where I would need to go to the bathroom at work and remove all my clothes to prevent them from getting soaked) and become an uber-biatch to anyone and everyone.  I had to make sure I always had food with me to prevent this from happening.  THIS NEVER HAPPENS to me now….I can go for hours without eating and when I am hungry the feeling is subtle and I can often go for another 1 or 2 hours without any negative consequences.  As Robb Wolf said, “A good meal should keep you going for 4-6 hours.”  True dat!

It is amazing what we accept as being “Normal” and consequently accept as being “Healthy.”  The farting and hot flashes were an indication that something was not functioning properly in my body.   My symptoms were never severe like someone with Celiac or IBS….they were subtle, considered normal and I accepted them as being healthy.  After all, I wasn’t ‘sick’….I thought I was uber-healthy with my hour-long elliptical sessions, thigh abductor rep’s and veggie dog dinners.  All the while I was completely ignorant to the fact that there were some issues happening under my hood and that I was not healthy.

There is an endless list of symptoms that people accept as being normal….headaches, joint pain, cramping, cravings, insomnia, fatigue, skin problems, constipation, moodiness etc etc….mine were pretty minor and superficial in comparison.  People need to understand that these types of signs are indeed symptoms of something else going on.  Accepting these issues as normal will only prolong them and hinder the potential for health.  The problem gets worse in that all too often these signs get masked with Rx drugs….which may result in a slew of side effects such as: impotence, blindness, cravings for chalk, immaculate conception and a third nipple.  The root cause never gets addressed and people go on living their lives as normal.

Being in tune with your body, noticing signs and recognizing them as symptoms rather than quirks is the first step to moving beyond normal.  Seeking out nutritional and lifestyle changes to fix these issues is the second phase.

Don’t accept normal as healthy….and don’t let other people accept normal as healthy.  Let them know that they can do better and they deserve to be healthy.  So the next time someone is cutting the cheese, you know what to do.

What symptoms did you pass off as being normal before you changed your diet?

Sitting pretty

Once you shove a can of beer up a chicken’s butt you will never go back…I mean, you will never handle a chicken the traditional way or “missionary style” again.  This recipe made the most AMAZING chicken I’ve ever had….it was equivalent to eating a succulent steak or plate of ribs.  It tasted so indulgent, yet it is just plain old chicken.  It also looks really cool, so that makes the whole experience fun.  Fully Primal Husband took the reins and did this entire recipe without me.  He cooked it on the BBQ as that is his domain, so all I needed to do was eat the final creation.  This recipe was so easy and takes no longer than a normal roasted chicken.  You can do it on the BBQ or in the oven.

Warning: I have no idea whether this is entirely gluten-free.  The beer never comes into contact with the chicken….it is the evaporated moisture from the beer that seeps into the chicken so I’m thinking it’s probably OK.  I read a few blogs of people with Celiac saying they were OK after consuming it.  However, if you are a celiac or have a severe gluten sensitivity, then I would proceed with caution or do this with a gluten-free beer.
Ingredients (Recipe inspired by Bob Blumer from The Food Network):
– 1 Whole Chicken – quality is KEY!  We used a Fenwood Farms naturally raised chicken from The Healthy Butcher.  Remove the giblets and rinse with cool water inside and out. Dry with a paper towel.
– ~2 Tbsp of olive oil or avocado oil (or coconut oil, but that might taste a bit weird)
– A generous amount (~3 Tbsp) of any spice mix – My go-to is Emeril’s Essence Spice Mix…BAM
– if your spice mix did not include salt and pepper, add this
– 1 can of Beer – we used Steam Whistle
  1. Spark up the BBQ to 350 on either the Right or Left side only (the bird will be cooked on the opposite side on indirect heat).  If you are doing this in the oven, pre-heat to 375.
  2. Pour oil on chicken and then cover it in spice mix.  Rub it thoroughly to make sure every inch is covered.
  3. Open beer can and empty out half – or drink it (if it won’t kill you)!!
  4. Sit the chicken on top of the beer can – grab it by the legs and sit it down over the beer can so that the can goes into the chicken’s rear and up the cavity.  The legs should touch the ground….like a tripod
  5. Transfer to the non-heated side of the BBQ and place it standing up like a tripod on the grate.
  6. Cook for about 1 hour or 1.5 hours….until internal temperature is 160.  Then remove it from the heat and tent it for 10 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!
Fully Primal Husband devoured this chicken….he said, “Oh man….this is a like a Saturday night kind of meal.  This is the best chicken I’ve ever had.  It’s so easy to make too!”  


If you have read this blog before, then you know I love a reason to write Oprah into a blog post (see here and here and here).  I had really hoped for 1 last Oprah post before her farewell season ended a couple of weeks ago.  I even PVR’d her final episode on dieting and anxiously watched with the hopes of finding something to rip apart in a blog post.  Alas, her final episode on diets gave me nothing to work with as it only featured people’s transformations – I have to admit it was kind of a good episode.  Oprah, you may not have given me one more opportunity to blog about you, but at least I still have your protégé Dr. Oz.  He did a show 2 weeks ago titled, “Are Carbs the new cocaine?” which was the exact title of a Details magazine article published a few months ago and featured the same pieces of info.  Well Dr. Oz, you did not disappoint…here goes my rant…

I could sum this up by saying that Dr. Oz’s prescription for beating carb cravings is the equivalent to giving methadone to a heroin addict.  Or giving “non-alcoholic” beer to an alcoholic.  Seriously, I could end this post right now.  But I’m just getting started, so let’s continue….

The show featured women (obviously) who are addicted to various things like pasta, bread and fries – he featured each of them and they all said that they could not stop eating these foods and it was controlling their life.  To me this sounds like a serious problem which would require a major dietary transformation and help to address the emotional cause of their eating behaviour.  Apparently it doesn’t need to be that complicated because Dr. Oz’s “28 DAY PLAN!!” for kicking your carb cravings was here to save the day!  I was hoping for some recommendations that actually take into consideration your body’s biology and mechanisms for controlling hunger and cravings such as insulin and leptin.  Alas, I was wrong.  Dr. Oz’s prescription for kicking your carb cravings was to switch to UNLIMITED (I repeat UNLIMITED) “Good Carbs” like whole wheat pasta and brown rice.  He might as well have given each of the women heroin to at least get them to zone out into a happy place at meal time.

There are so many things wrong with this recommendation, but I will only focus on 3:

1. Would you give non-alcoholic beer to an alcoholic?  Of course not!  So why would it make any sense to give a carb addict something that basically tastes exactly the same and has the same composition as regular carbs.  The cascade of events that occur from consuming these foods would be slightly different in that they would not increase your blood glucose levels as quickly (though still much faster than say, asparagus), however they still contain the opiod triggering components (ie: gluten) that stimulates the same portion of your brain as cocaine.  I highly doubt this protocol is going to do anything other than make them swap one addiction for a higher fibre alternative.  Personally, when I switched to “Good Carbs” (back in my low-fat days of my early 20’s pre-Crossfit) I used to inhale them just as easily as “Bad Carbs.”  It makes so much more sense to give someone something completely different…like how about vegetables and good fats?  Cracking out on broccoli and salmon would be pretty impossible and even if someone succeeded in doing so the ramifications would likely be more positive than negative (Oh no, you OD’d on calcium!!).

2. Where is the AA support? Where is Dr Drew?  There was very little mention of how these people are obviously feeding themselves for emotional reasons.  I highly doubt that shoving some whole wheat pasta in their mouths is going to help them get over the root cause of their overeating issues.  It is no wonder we’ll probably see these people fatter and less happy in a year despite having completed Dr. Oz’s miracle 28-day plan.  When you’ve got issues with food, you need to address the root cause of these issues.  This compounded with the opiod effects I mentioned earlier is just a recipe for disaster.  Even if you are eating 100% Paleo/Primal, you can still overdo it and eat for the wrong reasons.   I’ll give Dr. Oz credit for briefly mentioning Overeaters Anonymous, but I think that he could have emphasized this piece more.

3.  Hypoglycemia is cool!  It is a known fact (even in conventional nutrition) that Protein and Fat are more satiating and take longer to digest than Carbohydrates.  So why in the world would you not increase these types of foods to help offset the blood sugar highs and lows that these people have been suffering from?   I guarantee that these people are still going to be suffering from blood sugar highs and lows under the 28 day-plan.  Again, back in the day when I inhaled whole grains I used to get hot flashes and dizzy spells at 10:30am after my 8am steel cut oatmeal.  This would always lead to me reach for something equally as carb-a-rific to hold me over to lunch.  It is no wonder my thighs looked like corn flakes through a garbage bag.   Seriously, if one of the main problems is blood sugar regulation, then it would not take a rocket scientist to figure out that addressing this issue is paramount.  Even if you needed to keep eating some “Good Carbs,” wouldn’t you want to try to limit the quantities that people are eating in favour of more nutrient-dense and satisfying foods that help to regulate blood sugar?

Not to mention the gut irritating properties of these foods, which Dr. Oz would never acknowledge because it could ruin his behemoth sponsorship deals with the Kellogg’s and Pepsi’s of the world.  Not to mention the fact that his website is plastered with Weight Watchers advertisements and recipes.  Not to mention the fact that his audience obviously doesn’t look like the fittest group of people despite being die-hard fans and likely eating their oatmeal every day.  Not to mention the fact that Dr. Oz’s colon polyp is an indication of hyperinsulinemia.

There, I got that out of my system.  Thank you Oprah for leaving me with a new legacy in the health world to bash.  I’m sure the OWN network is also stocked full of amazing advisors….I’ll have to start tuning into that one too.

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!!!

I made a green curry a few weeks ago using only green curry paste (Thai Kitchen brand) and coconut milk….I found it a bit bland, so decided to kick it up a notch by adding more fresh ingredients.  The combination of the fresh Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and spice from the curry make this naturally sweet and spicy….and it’s super easy to make.  Sweet, spicy and easy….just how I like my men;)

Ingredients (serves 2)

– 2 pieces of Cod or another white fish
–  1 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
– 1 stalk of lemongrass – cut into 1 inch chunks
– 3 Kaffir Lime leaves – roughly chopped – I found dried leaves in the ethnic section of my Whole Foods
– 1 Tbsp green curry paste
– 1 can of coconut milk
– Greens!!! Kale, Chard, Collard…whatever.
– 2 tsp of coconut oil (to cook the greens in)


  1. In a large skillet, heat coconut milk and curry paste.  Stir around to blend curry paste and coconut milk
  2. Add lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and ginger.  Bring to a simmer.
  3. Add fish and turn heat to medium.  Cover and let it simmer for about 7 minutes or until the fish is cooked (flakey).
  4. Meanwhile, in a large wok or skillet, heat coconut oil and add your greens. Saute until they are cooked.
  5. Serve the greens and top them with the fish and curry sauce (strain the lemongrass and lime leaves out!).
  6. Enjoy!
Fully Primal Husband, who is usually ho-hum on my fish recipes, gave the following testimonial, “This fish is really good!

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!