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.
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?!
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!
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.
If 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
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.
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.
Okay, 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).
The 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!
The 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
I’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.
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.
Most Unexpected Race Win: In October, I was the first OVERALL winner of the Hill Country Half Marathon in Marble Falls, Texas. Granted, the field wasn’t Rock ‘n Roll marathon kind of huge, but that being said, I beat all the women and the MEN with my scrawny legs — the hills were some of the worst I’ve ever seen (not kidding, one went upward for at least half a mile).
Craziest Conditions in a Race: The Spartan Beast Dallas was not what I was planning for, it was crazy! With a half marathon being in my wheelhouse, I expected to nail this race — but unforeseen Texas flooding delayed the start for hours and created a running situation in ankle deep mud the entire distance. I was sore the next day in some pretty weird places! Although hoping to do better, I managed to pull off a 2nd place podium finish in the Elite Master division (and it was only my 2nd Spartan, and first “beast”).
Most Unusual Prize Won in a 2015 Race: A $250 gift card for a tattoo! I am no saying if, when and where I used it!
Best Pre and Post Race Festivities at a Race: Hosted by Health and Cooking Light magazines, The Fit Foodie Run in Austin (but also in Fairfax, Chicago and San Diego) proves that a healthy lifestyle can mesh with culinary enthusiasm! The weekend is packed with celebrity chef tasting, food and fitness interactive demos, yoga sessions, and yoga boot camps – there is so much food! Plus, the goodies and samples you get to take home from the after run are some serious healthy nom-noms – bring a big bag!
Best Running & Fitness Moments on Instagram: Of course, I blew up my @thefitfork profile with photos of my favorite yoga poses and running with friends!
Favorite Women-centric Race: I’ve been an ambassador for Zooma Race Series for 4 or 5 years now and have run that hilly Austin-area half marathon and said – “never again” at the finish line. But, after I catch my breath a few minutes later, I’m like “awesome, that was the best race ever despite the course challenges.” The Austin race is now defunct, but the other fabulous locations across the country beckon for a mini-vacation! Created and run by women, this race focuses on females supporting each other, no matter age, ability or life situation – and the weekends make great girlfriend getaways! My mom and I have made a tradition of it! Even though I’ve been in a role to mentor and support the runners, I can’t tell you how much more energy and inspiration I’ve received from them – always so happy to see those smiles and high-fives at the half-marathon turnaround.
Favorite Yoga Pose: Always the Crow or some variation! Hopefully this time next year, my hamstrings and back will be more bendy and stretchy so my Instagram profile can be more well-rounded!
Running / Workout Injuries: Thankfully, nothing serious this year – eg. no stitches, concussions or pulled rib muscles like last year! Only falling off a box doing the Murph CrossFit WOD and spraining ankle, numerous palm tears, one lost toenail . . . looking for some wood to knock on! Despite the healthy year for me, I did write a helpful post on 4 Ways Sports Injuries Build Better Athletes that will keep all of us focused on end goals.
Weirdest Workout Moment: It would have to be working out with watermelons for the second summer in a row on my #LivingOnTheWedge blog series! I CrossFitted with watermelon, ran with watermelon, and even worked out in the swimming pool with a watermelon! Oh, you don’t want to miss that watermelon pool workout video – please make sure you are wearing Depends. On behalf of the National Watermelon Promotion Board, I will be taking the show on the road at IDEA World Fitness & Nutrition Expo in L.A. in July 2016.
Best Blooper(s): Oh, there are a lot of bloopers and outakes, my phone is filled with them! Practicing on the parallettes is cause for crashing on my face or rear, but still it’s fun. There are also some awkward moments coming out of a handstand in a walkover when my old back decides “no” midway through!
More Bloopers: Because research shows you live longer if you laugh.
Favorite Running and Workout Gear / Fuel:Vim & Vigr Compression Socks (super functional , fashionable and fun in a variety of stripes, polka dots and fun patterns), Altra Running Shoes (I love the super lightweight, zero-drop “The Ones” ) and Nuun for my hydration needs — I’m digging their fairly new product called PLUS for Nunn. Unlike regular Nuun that is virtually calorie free (there are a few, but under 10), PLUS provides a boost with fast absorbing performance carbohydrates that keep me hydrated and provide quickly sourced energy for demanding endurance events. Also, I still love my bottle of Core Power High Protein Shake in Chocolate Lite Flavor for 20g of quality protein to help my muscles recover right after a long run or intense workout.
I’m also really appreciating mobility gear from ACUMOBILITY – a great company that I connected with this year at The Running Event that not only makes rollers and other mobility products, but also assesses, corrects and unifies movement to reduce injuries and unlock improved performance. Stay tuned because I will be having an awesome giveaway at the beginning of January! And, for “on the go” rolling, I really love The Original Worm (based right here in Austin).
Most Used Mantra: When times get tough in a race, I break out the “If you can take it, you can make it”line from Unbroken. Or, when I try to get too controlling about stuff – “Where are you? Here. What time is it? Now. What are you? This moment.” – from Dan Millman’s book , “The Way of the Peaceable Warrior” Both books are so inspirational — read them!
Favorite Kettle Bell Workout:
My Best Way to Stay Motivated: When I start to feel burned out, I take an active fun day! And, always more crazy with my friend Valerie (by the way, she’s an internationally known running coach, not kidding — check her out at @runrx )
I’m just sharing a day from my Thanksgiving – it’s all good and I’m giving thanks and feeling blessed! The morning started with a run – the Thundercloud Turkey Trot (5 miles) in downtown Austin. Well, let’s back that up, it actually started with a worm – The Original Worm. The Original Worm is a massaging body roller that provides trigger point release to combat stiffness, pain and stress in muscles and joints – I’m hosting a giveaway and one of you will win your very own — so keep reading on!
So, why might I need to worm? Ha, have you looked at my Instagram profile! On Tuesday I was at the gym, and after my workout I thought I’d wind down with some yoga – it didn’t go as planned. While up in a forearm stand variation, I was taken down my a writhing, hideous calf cramp – I was trying not to howl and cry in public and after it passed, it felt like I had pulled the muscle. Plus, my hammies and glutes were still super tight from an 8 x 800m marathon workout two days prior.
The early bird gets the worm –and I’m not kidding. I’ve been putting my way-too-early mornings to productive use with this therapeutic tool – it’s like cross between a foam roller and tennis balls wrapped up in neoprene (pink or black). At first I was a little freaked out I wouldn’t be able to run the Turkey Trot on strained calf and tight glute. But, after rolling, whacking and a little wiggling, I was able to get rid of all my kinks before lining up on the start. In the end, the Turkey Trot went pretty well despite some rain and muggy conditions – out of a field of 20,000 participants, I trotted away with 7th overall female and 1st overall Master – and my calf kink is gone.
Of course, The Original Worm is a great recover aid too, and worming after a race or intense workout is a preventative measure for stress out muscles. It comes in a carrying pouch and both sizes are small enough to stick in a gym back, but big enough to get the job done. Just look at all the things The Original Worm can do!
So, if you run, Crossfit, yoga, rock climb, parkour, obstacle course race, play basketball, soccer or football, you definitely need one of these WORMS – it’s like having a massage therapist on hand at all times. Also perfect for travel – I use it for relief on plane flights or when stuck at a standstill in my car during rush hour! Oh, and this company is Austin-based which makes me love it even more!
Enter to win your own Worm via the Rafflecopter app below. Also, check out The Original Worm website to get the specs on the two sizes, colors, care instructions, more uses and such. Enter by Dec. 11, 2015! In the meantime, order a few to give as holiday gifts to your fitness friends!
Also, I have another giveaway going on right now for a $25 Visa Gift Card, check that out too – that one ends December 3, 2015.
This post is sponsored by Isopure, but recipe, editorial remarks & enthusiasm are all mine!I was looking for a snack to take on a trail run the other day and just wasn’t happy with the packaged options available. I wanted something that would offer me enough quality carbohydrates to keep my body moving, but also protein for sustained energy and muscle recovery. It was going to be a long day – I also had a big workout planned later in the day. I needed to avoid nuts, wanted a snack that was good for my guts, and was in the mood for tart and tangy, something completely different that the normal chocolate and caramel concoctions. A big order!
I ended up making my own concoction, Tangy Cranberry Grape Protein Bites — perfection and just what I “ordered”! Made with a whey protein isolate and Isopure Amino Acids, I knew my workout snack was going to give me quality nutrition for muscle recover and building – especially with those BCAAs.
I’ve blogged about the Isopure Amino Acids before, I love this product – not only does it taste great, it features everything I need for head-to-toe recovery including all the branch chain amino acids ( BCAAs) to help me make more of my muscles, but also tart cherry to ward off inflammation and L-theanine for a calm and relaxed mind.
Other nutrition perks of these on-the-go energy protein bites? Lots of vitamins and minerals (especially vitamin C) and quality carbs to keep the engine revved on high. Not only are the unsweetened cranberries and drizzle of honey a good, dense source of carbs for any high-energy sport, the unmodified protein powder used serves the dual purpose of binder and beneficial resistant starch.
So, what am I talking about when I say unmodified potato starch is a “resistant starch”? It’s a type of prebiotic starch that “resists” digestion and prevents spikes in blood glucose and insulin. As a type of prebiotic (aka, and digestible carb), it helps to establish and support good gut health – the right environment for gut bacteria. Studies are also suggesting that resistant starches may also help contribute to weight loss through lowered blood sugar spikes, decreased appetite, lessened fat storage in fat cells and preservation of lean muscle mass. There are many kids of resistant starches, but unmodified (aka, raw) potato starch is a reliable and easy-to use option (the Bob’s Red Mill brand is sold at most stores). Anyway, all the science is a little over my head, but I thought this article How Resistant Starch Will Help to Make You Healthier and Thinner at ChrisKresser.com was very helpful in understanding.
Add cranberries, honey and water to work bowl of food processor and process for 1 -2 minutes, or until cranberries very, very finely chopped up and sticky.
In large bowl, mix together protein powder, amino powder and potato starch until combined.
Add dry mixture to cranberry mixture about ½ cups at a time, processing each time until incorporated. Dough should be forming up into a big ball with some crumbling back down. If mixture still looks too sticky, process in 1 tablespoon of potato starch at a time until desired results are achieved.
Roll into 24 bite-sized balls approximately 1-inch in diameter. May be left out in gym bag, but store in refrigerator overnight for best freshness.
Quick Macros Per Bite: 50 calories, 7g protein, 18g total carb (0.3g sugar), 0.125g fat, 12% DV Vitamin C,
Hope you get a chance to make this easy protein bite recipe for your next run or workout. They pack really well in a little zip top bag that you can take wherever you go, they don’t melt or fall apart or “go bad” sitting out all day. Stash a handful of these recovery treats in a fuel belt, pocket or gym bag and then feel free to KILL that workout knowing all your post exercise nutrition needs will be met in a few little “bites”. Also, check out Isopure BCAAs and all the other clean, lean quality protein products they offer.
Do you have a homemade workout snack? Have you ever heard of resistant starches? Did you run a race, have a fitness competition, do something else fabulous this weekend? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
What’s the point of bringing a big, yummy watermelon home from the market if you need help getting it out of the basket, into the car and up the garage stairs to the fridge? “No thanks, I’ve got this,” is what I tell the twerp well-meaning bag boy who always tries to help. Hey, I’m not just your ordinary produce-shopping mom – I’m a fruit-loving foodie who’s turned herself a lean, mean lifting machine thanks to adding functional exercise (aka CrossFit) into my workout routine about three or four years ago.
TheFitFork.com Living On The Wedge
While I don’t care to set records or go for “max” when lifting weights (nor could I) during a CrossFit WOD, I do feel like adding weight to my workout regimen has helped me tremendously as a runner, an athlete and busy working mom who’s just living her crazy life and might be getting a little older in the process. Last year for my summer of #LivingOnTheWedge, I shared a CrossFit inspired Watermelon Workout – I’ll never forget swinging a 25 pound watermelon kettle bell style and having it fly out of my hands across the yard. Oops! And, who could forget the Watermelon Pool Workout from earlier this summer – I certainly know the swimmers grinding out their laps that morning I filmed it had something to talk about!
This month, I’ve created a Partner Watermelon WOD that lets you share pleasure and pain of working out with a friend who loves watermelon as much as you!
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Partner Watermelon WOD (8 Sets of the Following):
(6 Reps) Watermelon Burpee-Squat Handoff: One partner does a traditional burpee while the other partner simultaneously squats with a watermelon – then the watermelon is handed off for the next rep.
(6 reps) Watermelon Box Step Up: One partner steps up with watermelon at chest or held straight overhead while other partner uses small watermelon for Russian Twists (12 to 20 twists, or until box step ups done). Partners switch off and perform repeat exercises.
200 Meter Run or Walk: holding watermelon at chest.
You may be laughing at the video, but watermelon makes a great piece of workout equipment in a pinch – you can lift it, swing it, jump over it, squat with it and more. Plus, you can purchase them in a variety of weights – the smaller “personal-sized” melons are awesome. If you didn’t get enough workout inspiration, here’s a Summer Squat Challenge to get your rear in gear – of course, use a watermelon for your weighted squats!
Working out with a watermelon isn’t so crazy when you start seeing the results of this muscle-making melon – plus, who can argue with gobbling it up as a nutritious snack afterward?! Made of 92% water, watermelon is obviously hydrating. But did you know the fruit can help you with workout recovery? A recent study in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry reports that drinking watermelon juice before a hard workout helps to reduce an athlete’s heart rate and next-day muscle soreness. That’s because watermelon has an abundance of an important amino acid called L-citrulline, which the body converts to L-arginine, to help with blood vessel dilation and improved circulation.
I’m winning at this watermelon workout thing and to the victor comes the spoils – at that is first dibs at devouring the watermelon! Okay, okay, I’ll split it up fairly between my workout friends!
About to enjoy the fruits of our efforts! Sharing watermelon with my Cross friends
Why am I jumping the in bluebonnets? Well, for a couple reasons – it’s finally spring and the sun is OUT, the 5-week CrossFit Games Open is OVER (mini recap below) and I have a snappy new pair of running shoes to keep my feet happy and hopping.
First, let me tell you about the shoes – love them! They are called Puma Ignite, a super responsive running shoe that features cushioning to disperse impact while providing energy return to help make me faster. Usain Bolt wears them, so enough said! The uppers are not only attractive and available in a range of color combos, but these shores are made with lightweight materials to provide a super comfort with a light ride – the average weight is 8 ounces. As a neutral and efficient runner, I often run in really light shoes for speed work and shorter tempo runs – but definitely enjoy the little extra oomph of these Puma Ignites for everyday runs through the neighborhood and logging lots of miles on the road. I’ve also worn these shoes to the gym and Crossfit and have found them to provide enough cushioning combined with flexibility for explosive box jumps, burpees and jumping rope.
Speaking of CrossFit, here’s my quick rundown on the 2015 Crossfit Games Open that just ended a week ago. First of all, I swallowed my pride and I decided to compete in the new scaled division this year and am so glad I did. Last year, in a couple of the RX’d WODs, I just plain ran into a wall where I physically could not perform the task – mainly, I’m talking about the heavier Olympic lifting. For example, last year I remember on the deadlift ladder, I knocked off the sets of 95lb, 135lb and even 155lb deadlifts, but then had to just stand there and watch the clock tick away helplessly because there was no way I could deadlift 185 lbs once, let alone the 20 times I needed to get back to the box jumps.
So, my point here is that in the scaled division I was actually able to get after it in the workouts for a maximum personal effort – that made it much more fun (if one can call quivering quads, raw palms and sore-for-days shoulders “fun”)! It was still HARD! The exiting part is that at the end of the five weeks, I actually placed 12th in the South Central states region in my age group and even won 1st in the 15.3 WOD! My worst workout by far (and really hurt me in the rankings) was the 15.1B where after completing a full workout, you immediately had to get the bar overhead with a max load. I never expected how trashed my arms would be and I really failed on this one – I also rarely try to PR any of my lifts (usually just keeping everything low with lots of reps). Next year I know what I need to focus on!
Are you ready to IGNITE your next workout? I’ve put together this Don’t Stop (Ignite Your Fight) Workout that will test your stamina and strength, both mental and physical. Don’t stop, don’t give up half way through — you’ll be on fire, but in a good way! Also, check out the Puma Ignite running shoes if you are looking for a great pair that will take you from a morning run to an afternoon at the gym.