5 Tips to Improve Double Unders  + Giveaway Courtesey XShadyside Pittsburgh Gym

Jumping rope sounds like child’s play, but it’s a fierce workout that requires cardio-vascular endurance, coordination and razor focus. But, if turning the rope in a single rotation isn’t challenging enough, give your game new “ups” with double unders.5 Tips to Improve Double Unders - ideas to help your  jump rope skills take off for Crossfit and other workouts.

Read on to find tips that will help you up your Double Under game . . . and also enter my giveaway (sponsored by a Pittsburgh Gym I’ve partnered with) for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods to get new gear (like maybe a fancy jump rope). Continue reading

Lemony Turmeric Cauliflower-Quinoa + Quickie Crossfit 17.1 Recap

Quinoa is just such a handy grain . . . er, seed, to have around. It easily cooks up on the stove top in about 15 minutes (with less mess than rice, in my opinion) and is packed with a head-spinning assortment of nutrients including lots of iron, an abundance of fiber and plenty of protein. In fact, quinoa is considered a complete protein because it boasts all 9 of the essential amino acids — a rarity in plant foods.Lemony Turmeric Cauliflower-Quinoa

A fluffy pot of quinoa turns into pure bliss when you pair beautiful golden turmeric, a “superspice” with mild taste and beacoup de health benefits, along with a bit of lemon. Oh, and cauliflower’s in there too — dang my recipe for Lemony Turmeric Cauliflower-Quinoa is healthy!  Continue reading

Paleo Kung “Power” Chicken with Medjool Dates

Training for spring season obstacle course racing and the 5-week long Crossfit Games Open competition makes me hungry. Really, really hungry. After 25+ years as a competitive athlete, I’ve learned (and sometimes the hard way), what does and doesn’t work for me when it comes to fueling my fitness. Lots of junk food and candy, not so good. Salty, over-sugared or fat-laden drive-thru and take-out meals, also not optimal. Restrictive dieting or skipping meals, even worse. Paleo Kung "Power" Chicken with Medjool Dates

But, you know what’s good? Healthy, homemade recipes like my Paleo Kung “Power” Chicken, an easy-to-make meal that gives me the energy I need to accomplish my daily fitness goals, make workout gains and recover optimally for the next sweat sesh! There is lots of lean protein for muscle-making, this take-out inspired dinner also features a surprise ingredient that is great for athletes – MEDJOOL DATES! Read on to find out all the deliciously savory-sweet-sticky details and get the recipe! Continue reading

How Exercise Boosts Brain Power + Week of Smart Workouts

Exercise is a smart choice for maintaining physical health and it also plays a role in promoting overall happiness and well-being. But, can exercise make a person more intelligent? Probably so say sports scientists from Finland who recently published some surprising findings on how the type and intensity of exercise may have a bearing on brain power?

Find out the best form of exercise for a brain boost. Yes, some workouts can make you not on stronger, but smarter!

The study compared pitted moderate-paced running, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight lifting against each other to observe how these various forms physical exercise can increase hippocampal neurogenesis (e.g. the creation of new brain cells) in an already mature brain. The test subjects – rats! The running rodents were left to run on their cage wheels (a moderate jog, some up to several miles a day) with free will while the HIIT group was given a daily 15 minute regimen of repeated strenuous effort sprinting with jog recovery. And, the weight-lifting rodents climbed walls with little weights attached to their tails as a sedentary control group lounged around and watched. I laugh just thinking about this! mouse-lifting-weight

Whether mouse or man, it appears that the winning exercise for long-term brain health may simply be moderate running or “jogging” and, by my semi-educated extrapolation, other similar “aerobic and sustained” activities like biking, swimming and brisk walking.  It seems wheel-jogging rodents had the most vigorous rates of new brain cell growth, significantly higher than the sedentary, lay-around rats. The hightailing HIIT group had some brain cell growth, but not as much as the aerobic joggers, with researchers hypothesizing that physical stress impedes neurogenesis. Interestingly, the resistance-trained rats were no different brain-wise at the end of the study – which keeps the status-quo on “muscle head” jokes!

Exercise is not only great for your health, but can make you smarter! Find out what type and intensity of workout will give you the best brain boost!

Seriously though, all forms of exercise are beneficial for the body. Just like variety in diet is important for optimal health, so is mixing up the way you move. While jogging or easy running may boost brain cells, lifting weights strengthens muscles, bones and tendons, helping to improve every day work capacity.  And, both resistance training and HIIT up the body’s metabolism, one of the keys to keeping a lean silhouette.

I think trail running and obstacle course races like Spartan are a great way to add “extra” to simply running – a well-rounded athlete is a smart athlete, too!

Below are some of my favorite running, HIIT and other workouts — pick your favorites and get strong, get smart!

 

 

Here are a week of workouts to get stronger and smarter:

  1. 20 Minute Kickboxing Workout to Kick Monday in the Face
  2. You Got Mad “Ups” Body Weight Workout
  3. Boom! Med Ball Workout
  4. Trail Run Tabata
  5. Fun Faster 800m-Lover Workout
  6. Sayonara Sprint Partner Run Workout 
  7. Soccer Strong Workout – – also great for OCR Training

What is your favorite “type” of exercise to do? Do you mix it up, or single sport? Ever feel smarter after jogging (haha)?  Please share in the comments — XOXO, Jennifer

Why Consistency is the Best “Diet”

Get my thoughts on losing weight in along with the advice from 24 other nutrition, health and fitness professionals in a recent article hitting the internet –25 Weight Loss Experts Expose Diets that Work.

Why Consistency is the Best Diet

But, in a nutshell, the sub-title the author gave my opinion was “Never Take Time Off From Your Healthy Eating Plan.” Just reading the title as-is, that sounds a little strict, however . . I’m anything but rigid in my approach to eating for optimal health. I’d title it — “Why Consistency is the Diet that Works Best.”

running jennifer 20 years between

There is 20+ years between these pictures, my weight is the same!

Check out the story, and you’ll find that I believe the most successful strategy to losing weight and keeping it off for good is to not be on any one particular “diet” or the other, but to create a day-in and day-out lifestyle that balances exercise with eating mindfully! And, I’m not alone in that opinion.

 

 

 

A plate at least half-full full of colorful fruits and vegetables paired with lean protein and a moderate intake of whole grains is the balanced approach I suggest and take myself. Also, I think saying certain foods are absolute no-no’s is a set up for failure too, if you love chocolate or bread, then enjoy in small portions every now and then — just use common sense, and balance in light of your weekly food intake and exercise expenditures.

Studies have proven that successful “dieters” (I hate to use that word) create their own personal strategies to maintain a lean body mass and don’t veer off the path much – despite weekends, holidays, vacations, or even when they are happy with their current weight. In a nutshell, success means being flexible, but never take a hard break from a healthy eating routine.

Dona Jo Fit Wear - FITFORK20 for 20% discount

Also, off topic, but not really considering the importance of daily exercise and feeling good about what you’re wearing . . . I’ve got the cutest yoga shorts to tell you about from Dona Jo fit wear! This fun company makes adorable yoga clothes, running clothes, printed cycling clothing, CrossFit active wear, barre clothes and tennis skirts that make it more motivating to get up, get dressed and get moving!

dona jo 2I picked out the Caribbean Shorts, the new print (which reminds me of a tropical fish) just launched last week! The shorts come in 2 sizes – Size 1 (0 – 8) and Size 2 (10 – 16) – I wear a size 2 normally and these fit just fine, I was worried they’d be too big. While they don’t have that tight compression feeling, they are perfect for summer running and nailing new yoga poses –plus, the wide waistband is very flattering.  If you use discount code FITFORK20 when checking out at Dona Jo, you can save 20% on your active wear purchase!

What is your mindset about “dieting”? Do you follow a stricter diet like Paleo or Vegan? How do you like your yoga pants — bright or black? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer 

Shiner Bock Beer Short Ribs with Chipotle Cheese Grits for CrossFit 16.1 Recovery

Shiner Bock Beer Beef Short Ribs can be made ahead in the slow cooler -- and then the grits only take 10 minutes make.Oh hello, how was your weekend? Mine was very meaty and gritty, let me explain! First up, I had to, ahem, knock out Cross Fit Games Open 16.1 Workout. And, when I say “knock out” I mean muster up every gram of grit I have to lunge around with a really-heavy-to-me 65 lb. overhead bar. Seems everyone else was worried about the Chest-to-Bar Pull ups in this WOD which I nailed unbroken (need to have some silver lining in the recap).However, the Achilles heel of my scrawny rear is any task that requires more butt strength than getting up off the couch. I kid, but still.

CrossFit Games Open 16.1 Workout - thefitfork.com

In the end and with many rest breaks, I lunged 275 meters with more than half of my body weight above my head  (tongue out!). . . at the finish of one set I half dropped the bar on my head. That hurt. As I bragged mentioned, I killed the Chest-to-Bar Pullups and the positive visualization of whipping those out is what would get me through the last few lunges in each round.  And, the burpees – well, they were burpees. One young beast of a girl at the gym scored nearly double to me – so awesome, so humbling!  Right now I am hanging at 14h place in my age group for the South Central states region (and will surely drop significantly by Monday night when all scores are reported), I’m really happy that I challenged myself to do something that was out of my comfort zone. That’s what it’s all about, right?!

Shiner Bock Short Ribs and Chipotle Cheese Grits

So, I rarely write a race or workout recap without also including a recipe –for me the love of food and fitness are forever entwined.  So, anticipating my fatigue from the CrossFit 16.1 WOD, I knew I was going to need a protein-rich meal to bring the old bod back to life. In the morning before heading out, I threw some beef short ribs and a bottle of beer in the slow cooker to work their magic. To prep dinner, I only needed 10 minutes to whip up some grits and toss a salad – thank you Crock Pot for doing all the heavy lifting at dinner!

Chipotle Cheese Grits are ready in 10 minutes and add South of the Border meets The South flair to dinner.

Hope you enjoy this recipe for SHINER BOCK BEER SHORT RIBS WITH CHIPOTLE CHEESE GRITS – I originally created it for the Texas Beef Council – head on over there if you’d like to learn a little more about this cut of beef or get my useful slow cooker tips. It’s a super easy and forgiving recipe that will pamper your primal meat cravings without any fuss. Not normally on my diet, the Chipotle Cheese Grits were a delicious treat . . . and using some of the beef liquid reserved from the Crock Pot complemented the peppers’ smoky heat and kicked up the flavor of often bland grits into beast mode!  And, the ribs were literally fall off the bone tender which I feel was somewhat metaphorical for the state of my muscles.

ancho chili slow cooker pot roastIf you are looking for another beef slow cooker meal,with Texas flair, check out Ancho Mama’s Pot Roast —  cook up a chuck roast and serve over potatoes, in tacos or on a salad.

So, did you break a sweat in the CrossFit Games Open WOD 16.1 ? Have you ever eaten or made beef short ribs? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

 

 

Shiner Bock Beer Beef Short Ribs can be made ahead in the slow cooler -- and then the grits only take 10 minutes make.
Shiner Bock Short Ribs with Chipotle Cheese Grits + CrossFit 16.1 Recap
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 hours
Shiner Bock Beer Beef Short Ribs can be made ahead in the slow cooler -- and then the grits only take 10 minutes make.
Shiner Bock Short Ribs with Chipotle Cheese Grits + CrossFit 16.1 Recap
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 hours
Ingredients
For Short Ribs in Slow Cooker
For Chipotle Cheese Grits
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Rub olive oil in bottom of skillet, bring to high-heat.
  2. Pour Greek seasoning into shallow dish and roll each short rib though to coat.
  3. Add seasoned short ribs to skillet, searing quickly for about 30 to 60 seconds per side. Remove from heat.
  4. Add broth, beer molasses, vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, salt and pepper sauce to slow cooker, stir to combine.
  5. Add short ribs to liquid and place lid on slow cooker. Cook on low setting for 10 to 12 hours.
  6. Ten minutes before serving, remove 1 cup of strained short ribs cooking liquid from slow cooker, add to medium pot.
  7. Add water, salt and chipotle in adobe sauce to pot and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add instant grits, stirring frequently for 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened.
  8. Remove pot from heat and cheese, stir until combined.
  9. To serve, make a pile of grits and place a short rib on top. Present with strained short rib juice, if desired.
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How to Push Past a Running Plateau

How to kick through a running plateau. Whether you are fairly fresh into running or well-seasoned in the sport, you have may have experienced a plateau stage where athletic performance seems staler than, well, a week-old donut. Who wouldn’t want to be on a permanent upward trajectory, setting PRs at every race and nailing mileage on every single run? But, that’s just not humanly possible. All runners, even professionals, find themselves stuck in a rut on occasion. Instead of dismay, disappointment and threats to “throw in the towel,” look at a running plateau as an opportunity to analyze and overcome any issues that may be holding you back.

Use strength training as a tool to prevent injury and break through a running plateau.

Supplement with Strength Training: Contrary to what many runners believe, strength training doesn’t make you bulky or heavy on your feet. Stick with lighter weights (add more reps) and bodyweight exercises to add lean and mean muscle that will improve your stride and overall fitness, busting you right out of a running rut. While beneficial, don’t only focus on squats and other lower-body movements. A strong core and arms are also beneficial for running.

Avoid Over-Training:  It makes sense that gains in speed and endurance won’t be seen if hard work isn’t put in. But, too much of a good thing can also keep you down. Over-training has significant mental and physical symptoms that can keep you from reaching your goals — increased heart rate, poor recovery, loss of motivation (or obsessive fixation) and more. If you think over-training may be the culprit, swap out a workout for complete rest, cardio cross-training or just run lightly with a friend for fun (no watch).

Mix Up the Motion: Human bodies become better, stronger and faster when asked to constantly adapt. That means you can’t hit “replay” on your runs day after day. Mix up your running with a variety of speed work including short intervals, long intervals, mixed intervals and more. Also, running on varied terrain improves fitness, so run hills, stairs and trails every now and then. Try something new, other than a road race — for example, trail running and Spartan races are fun and “mix up the motion.”

Hit the Snooze Button: Part of a runner’s ability to recover and get back at it the next day is based on logging quality sleep. In non-REM deep sleep, blood pressure drops, breathing slows, the brain is at rest and increased blood supply becomes available to deliver oxygen and nutrients to restore muscle tissue. Additionally, the pituitary gland releases growth hormone which helps muscle recover and supports muscle gains. Too little sleep can cause growth hormone to be held back – you don’t want that! So, either go to bed earlier, wake up later or sneak in a nap when you can.

Use Food as Fuel: Eating junk food and other highly-processed foods and drinking alcohol are like putting regular gas in a top-of-the-line sports car. It’s just not what to do for optimal performance. An occasional splurge is fine, but for the most part, eating a variety of foods that are as unprocessed and naturally colorful as possible is the best bet for your health. Also, while complex carbohydrates are an essential source of quick energy, the importance of protein shouldn’t be overlooked. Don’t skimp on protein, the healthy fats, amino acids and other important vitamins, minerals and nutrients found in protein offer sustained energy and muscle recovery.

Have you ever found yourself stuck in a running rut? What did you do to move forward? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer 

Linking Up With: Happy Fit Mama, The Fit Foodie Mama, Hello to Fit, Fairy Burger , Jill Conyers

Run – Workout – Roll – Recover – Repeat – ACUMOBILITY #Giveaway

ACUMOBILTY Mobility BallsOkay, cool stuff going on for this New Year!  I’m excited to announce that I am an ambassador for ACUMOBILITY, a really awesome company that provides systems and products to Assess, Correct and Unify (ACU).

Jennifer Fisher ACUMOBILITY Elite AmbassadorThe whole elite ambassador team hasn’t been announced yet, the official news is rolling out March 1st but I’ve been given the okay to blab. Apparently, I’m rubbing elbows, knees and shoulders with the likes of World Record holders and other athletes with extreme badassery –. Yup, little ole me.

If you’ve never heard of ACUMOBILITY, it’s time to get acquainted. Their sport specific assessment and corrective programs can help address your individual needs for a given sport or movement. Their goal is improving your active mobilization to unlock and maximize your performance, whether you’re a professional or a weekend warrior. Heck yeah, I’m all about getting after my sports of choice (running, obstacle course racing, CrossFit, yoga . . .blah, blah) with the highest degree of efficiency.

Of course, I’ll be sharing more about ACUMOBILITY later, but today I wanted to tell you all about some mobility tools they sell that will keep you moving and grooving and post-workout and ready you up for beast mode the next day.  Oh, yeah – and I get to GIVEAWAY the mobility products to one of you lucky readers, whoohoo!

ACUMOBILITY Eclipse Foam Roller

ACUMOBILITY Eclipse Foam RollerThe Eclipse Roller is brand freakin’ new – it actually isn’t available for shipping until Feb. 2, 2016 – that means the winner is going to be one of the FIRST in the world to have it in hand (and on hammies, neck, back and glutes)!  Imagine a regular foam roller, meh. This bad boy totally redefines foam rollers, zeroing in on hard to reach spots and targeting multiple muscles simultaneously, to reduce rolling time

ACUMOBILITY Eclipse Foam Roller

ACUMOBILTY Mobility BallsI’m also giving away a pair of the Mobility Balls (Level 1). These seemingly innocent looking guys tackle your trigger points with gusto – of course, you control the amount of pressure, but dang, it hurts so well.   Using these neurologically retrain the muscle being worked on to move more efficiently, while enhancing range of motion and muscle elasticity. Two mobility balls can be used for vice-like compression on the spine or joints – they also are useful for stability exercise.

ACUMOBILTY Mobility Balls

Educate yourself! Follow the very detailed video tutorials to learn how to use best use these products to take your training and performance to the next level.

I am an ambassador for ACUMOBILITY, the sponsor of this giveaway. However, all opinions and enthusiasm are my own.

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