Thursday, October 28, 2010

Easy Crockpot Recipes

The weather in Austin has dipped below 80 degrees- it's time to break out the Crockpot! If you don't own one, be sure to either get one soon or put it on your Christmas list- those are the kinds of things Aunts and mother-in-laws LOVE to buy.

I wanted to share my two all-time favorite crockpot recipes that are also (pretty much) Paleo. Let me know what you think!

Mel's Favorite Chili (from The Clothes Make the Girl)
(I've never been that into chili until I made this- mmmmmm...good)


the base:
2 tablespoons of your favorite fat: olive oil, coconut oil
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 lbs. ground meat (lean beef, pork, turkey, veal, bison, or a mix)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa *
(the secret killer ingredient!)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
14.5 oz. can chopped tomatoes
6 oz. tomato paste
14.5 oz. can beef broth
1 bottle light beer (Shiner Lite tastes great!) or about a cup of water
1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce
1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add onions and saute 'til soft. Add garlic and let heat 'til fragrant, about 2 minutes. DO NOT BURN THE GARLIC. Add the meat and sauté until browned and crumbled.

2. Blend all the spices in a small bowl. Add to pot and stir well, about 1 minute.

3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, hot sauce, and beef broth to the pot. Stir well.

4. Crack open the beer and take a sip for luck. Poor the rest into the pot and stir well.

5. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low so the pot has a gentle simmer. SIMMER FOR AT LEAST 2 HOURS. Do not skimp on the simmer. Just as rest time is the magic time when you build your strength, simmering is the magic time when the flavors meld.

This recipe makes 6 3-protein-block servings of 1 and 1/3 cups each. 

Add additional quality fats with some chopped black olives, green olives, or avocado slices (or all three!).

Add more veggies by serving over a bed of cooked spaghetti squash, grated zucchini, or baby spinach leaves.

*** I ommited a few things because I just didn't have them. Instead of beef broth I just added some water. Don't make the mistake I made of pouring in an entire bottle of dark, strong beer- bad idea- it was kinda gross.  Just keep an eye on the pot and add a bit of water if needed.

Also, I sauteed the meat and onions then threw it along with everything else into the crockpot for 2 or 3 hours.

Kat's Thai Kurry
(this one is even better the next day when the flavors have all sat together in the fridge)


1 onion chopped
3 sliced zuchinni
a few carrots
a bunch of chopped cabbage
2 c chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
1/2 jar of green curry paste (in the asian section of the store)
salt, pepper

Brown 2 or 3 chicken breasts, chop them up, and set aside.
In the crockpot, combine the chicken broth, coconut milk, and curry paste and mix it with a spoon. We like really spicy food, so if you don't want it very spicy, cut back on the curry paste.
Then add the veggies, browned meat, salt, and pepper.
Set crockpot to Low for about 3 hours.
Around 2 hours in, put in some fresh basil.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October Athlete of the Month!

We have so many amazing women in our community, and I want to start highlighting them as much as possible. Everyone has a story to tell. Some have lost tons of weight, some have gained tons of confidence.

This month, our October Athlete of the Month is Cindy Hammes!!
Cindy is in Coach Jessica Sharratt's class and this is what Jess had to say about why she nominated Cindy:
Cindy Before

Cindy Now!

"Cindy started in On-Ramp and moved to 5:15pm class with me at RunTex and when I switched schedules she moved to the 6:15am class and is rockin it. Her form has come a long way, she has leaned out a lot and really goes for it in workouts. She did the AdvoCare 24day challenge, the Paleo Challenge and has just signed-up for the Lean Turkey Challenge which shows me she is committed."

Cindy Hammes

6:15am Women's Only Class at Run-Tex

How did you find out about Crossfit/Crossfit Central?
I first heard about Crossfit last summer. I was at a pool party and ran into one of the Crossfit Central coaches - Megan Parsons. My friends and I asked her what she did to stay fit. It took me nine months to join but once I did I was hooked.

Favorite WOD/Lift:
Back squat or deadlift

Favorite Paleo Meal:
Spaghetti squash, veggies, tomato sauce and chicken

Favorite Cheat Meal:
Chips and salsa with margaritas

I have always wanted to...
Travel the world, there are so many amazing places that I want to experience

Outside the Gym I like to...
spend time with family and friends and be active. Some of my favorite activities include tennis, traveling, taking my dog on walks, and checking out new restaurants.

How has Crossfit impacted your life/what changes have you seen in yourself since starting?
I have lost 5 pounds and 3.5% body fat since June. The mental and physical strength I have gained from Crossfit is unbelievable. I have a new attitude about life and I am much happier all the way around.

In 10 years, I...
will continue to advance in my career, get married and have a family that is healthy, happy and fit

Advice for Newbies:
Don't be intimidated. The trainers and other members of your class are so encouraging and before you know it you will be doing things you didn't think were possible.

Congrats Cindy! Keep up the great work!

Want to nominate someone for Athlete of the Month? Contact me at

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy Hour This Friday!

Join us for a Women's Only Happy Hour tomorrow night!  It's a great chance to mix and mingle and get to know your classmates and coaches- usually we are all sweaty and tired, so here's the chance to wear "normal" clothes  and of course drink some wine. 

The only catch: no sports bras or workout gear! 
So come on down south of the river (don't be scared) and have a glass or two (or 7)

When: Friday, October 22nd
Time: 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Where: Water to Wine 4036 S. Lamar, Suite 100
Cost: $10 for wine tasting or you can buy a glass or make your own wine and label!

Hope to see you all there! Spread the word...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Appearance and Performance: Part 2

Here is Part 2 of the article from Oakland County Crossfit.  Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!

Women will not get big bulky muscles because they just plain don’t have the hormones to build them.  It is the difference in the hormonal profile between men and women that causes their performances to also be different.  There are several aspects of a woman’s performance that will different from those of a man, all of which depend on neuromuscular efficiency, and all of which are a direct result of lower testosterone levels and the effects that testosterone has on motor unit recruitment, central nervous system excitation and other neuromuscular factors.
You might now be thinking that because there are such big differences, then it must be true what the fitness industry says about the necessity of gender specific programs and exercises.   This could not be further from the truth.  Women may lack higher levels of testosterone, but we are built the same when you look at our body structures.   We are not as different as bunnies and fish.   Men and Women, however, both recruit motor units into the same patterns to cause muscle contractions…..just to different degrees.   A real world example would be that physiologically, Aaron Rogers and your grandmother operate the same way, in the same sense that Labradors and Toy Poodles are both dogs.
What does this all mean?  That the type of stress (i.e. training / heavy strength) will cause the best results in both men and women, only the degree of results will vary.  For example, Squats work better for everybody than leg extensions, leg curls, and the Bun Blasters because of the quality of stress they produce.  “Squats are performed with the same muscles by everybody, they are hard for everybody, hard enough to produce system-wide stress for everybody – and this is why they work for everybody.   Men are more efficient at responding to the stress of squats in terms of elevated testosterone levels, and in this respect men can get stronger and bigger faster.”  (Rippetoe) What this doesn’t mean is that women are not served well by using “less efficient” ways to produce stress on their bodies.  We just wont get as strong or big as men.  J
So what should we do ladies?   We need to be doing barbell exercises that demand strength, balance, power, coordination, and mental focus to produce a type of stress and adaptation that is superior to either low-intensity floor exercise (or walking on the treadmill) or isolation type machine exercises (i.e. bicep curls, leg extensions).   It is the stress that causes the adaptation, and the quality of the adaptation is dependent on the quality of the stress.   For example, an exercise that does not involve balance cannot cause an improvement in balance.   The stress on the body must target the parameters that need improvement or these parameters will not see adaptation.   It is this simple fact that is ignored and/or misunderstood – by the fitness industry, and thus the value of squats, deadlifts, presses, cleans, and combinations of barbell movements with gymnastic skills and track & field skills goes unappreciated and therefore causes an incorrect education of our society.
The other unfortunate aspect is that holding businesses to these truths would complicate their businesses.  It is very hard to find qualified staff to train members at optimal levels of skill and intensity.   And it will continue this way as long as the standard fitness center pays minimum wage for trainers.  Qualified coaches generally get paid more than fitness centers are willing to spend.   All hope is not lost!   This paradigm is slowly breaking down and we can thank CrossFit!  As CrossFit grows and it becomes harder to ignore the results of honest work done at high intensities, the “fitness media” is taking notice.  You see more stories featuring the benefits of weight training versus aerobics-only programs.
It honestly isn’t rocket science, as most things in life work in a way that you get out of an effort what you put into it.  This is something that we all know, however, we still crack and are willing to believe people who tell us otherwise.   We hear 20-min a day and you could look like this, or all you have to do is walk on the treadmill.  Unfortunately it isn’t true and we know that because we are smart people.
To summarize my experience as a CrossFit Coach and Affiliate owner for 1 1/2 years, on top of 10+ years in the fitness industry, is that not one of the 180+ women we have trained has gotten bigger and stayed bigger.  I have seen a couple women get bigger as the body begins its transformation.  However, bigger is temporary. Usually lean mass increases first.  Shortly thereafter, a layer of fat melts off the top of the newly acquired lean mass.   As soon as that happens, the women are thrilled.   For the clients that incorporate a zone/paleo approach to nutrition, the results come quickly and without fail.   For those that do not make dietary changes, the process takes longer.  And don’t forget that strength will have longer lasting benefits than the immediate tight ass or smaller waist.  It will help you open jars, carry your own groceries, move your own furniture, stay mobile and osteoporosis free so you can enjoy a long active life!   So get started and pick up some heavy weights to start making the changes that you want to see.
Want to read more about Women in CrossFit?  Check out this great article Beyond the Body, you won’t regret it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Appearance is a Side Effect of Performance

Yes, these ladies lift heavy!
I came across this post on the Oakland County Crossfit site. I hate just copying and pasting someone else's words, but I actually have been thinking about this particular topic a lot in the last few days. So, thank you, OCCrossfit, for putting together a very timely and well-written post!

Please post your thoughts to comments. We'd love to hear them!

"As I was pondering what to write for today’s post I noticed an article posted to FaceBook by D-Pain (aka Dana).  It is titled” “LIES IN THE GYM”.   It shows us that one does not have to go far in the average gym (obviously not a CrossFit Gym) to find someone willing to hand out bad information.   This article outlines many of the myths that women are hearing about fitness and strength training.
Let me summarize several of the myths this article touches on.
1.  Weight training will make you huge and masculine.
2.  Men Train.  Women Tone.
3.  There is a difference between toning, sculpting and firming.
4.  Women should stick to machines and stay away from free weights.
5.  Women shouldn’t work on their leg and butt muscles, otherwise they’ll get to big.
6.  Weight Training Turns Fat into Muscle
7.  Women should only lift light weights to not get “bulky”
To quote a famous fitness author, “Women are not a special population.  They are half the population.”   In an article written by Mark Rippetoe he points out that Women DO respond to heavy physical stress (i.e. lifting heavy shit) differently than men.  However, women get the best results when they train for performance (the whole premise of CrossFit and what we do), because even though there are differences between men’s and women’s response to training, there is no difference in the quality of the exercise needed to produce the stress that causes our bodies to change.   The different responses men and women see in training are not the ones that the industry, media and popular culture have presented as fact.  This unfortunately has had a detrimental effect on women’s training.
The answer to our questions on how to get there are right in front of us.  The results, in terms of both performance and aesthetics, admired by the vast majority of women, continue to be routinely produced by advanced athletic programs.  Which then amazes me how “body-sculpting sessions or low intensity machine based circuit programs were the approach sold to the public.  But then again, “easier” is easier to sell.
The fact is that aesthetics are best obtained from training for performance.  It becomes very simple, if you want to look like a lean athlete (the standard most active women strive to emulate) you have to train like an athlete, and the unfortunate part is that most people lack the “sand” for that.   Despite this unfortunate truth (most truths seem to fall into this category), the fitness industry continues to see appearances first, as though it is independent of performance.  Appearance cannot be trained for.  Think about it:  I know how to make your squat stronger, but how do you program Bun Blaster sets and reps for a tight ass?   I may be able to double your pull-ups in a month, but I don’t know how to give your back that V-Shape everyone craves without increasing your pull-ups.  Every single aspect of programming for resistance training that works at all does so because it increases some aspect of performance, and appearance is a side effect of performance.

Carey Kepler, Jessica Sharratt, and Lindsey Smith
Appearance is a side effect of performance.
Appearance can’t change unless performance does, and the performance changes are what we quantify and what we program.   Your appearance when fit is almost entirely a function of your genetics, which are expressed at their best only when your training is at it’s highest level, and this level is only obtainable from a program based on an improvement in your performance in the gym.   To top it off the best improvements in the gym occur when participating in a program that looks more like performance athletics (i.e. CrossFit) that one that looks like waving your arms or legs around on a machine.
More Unfortunate Truths:
  • Your muscles cannot get longer without some rather radical orthopedic surgery.
  • Muscles don’t get leaner ….. you do!
  • There is no such thing as “firming & toning”.  There is only stronger and weaker.
  • The vast majority of women cannot get large, masculine muscles from weight training.  If it were that easy, I would have them!
  • Women who do look like men have taken some rather drastic steps in that direction that have little to do with their exercise program.
  • Women who claim to be afraid to train hard because they “always bulk up too much” are often already pretty bulky, or “skinny fat” (thin but weak and de-conditioned) and have found another excise to continue life sitting on their butts.
  • Only people willing to work to the point of discomfort on a regular basis using effective means to produce that discomfort will actually look like they have been other-than-comfortable most of the time.
  • You can thank the muscle magazines for these persistent misconceptions, along with the natural tendency of all normal humans to see reasons to avoid hard physical exertion.
Come back tomorrow for part 2 of Women, CrossFit & Myths.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Purpose: A Shout out to Pili!

I came across this blog post from our friend and affiliate owner, Pilar Grace over at Crossfit Ozone in Georgia. Pilar is a hard-working mother, business owner, and athlete who recently opened her own affiliate. I get really excited when women open their own boxes- it's empowering and makes me give a little "hell yeah! go girl!"  Hats off to you, Pili! 

Her latest blog post is short and sweet, yet timely and poignant. It was featured on the Crossfit main site recently. Here it is:

"So, keeping up with my life on here has gone from fun to hard to guiltifying (new word?) to non-existant. All I can say is that I love my life and the places God is taking me. Opening up my own CrossFit affiliate is a wild ride that doesn’t look like it is going to slow down anytime soon.
In this moment I feel the need to thank God for this gift. It is not just my profession which is being affected. I am finding connections to dreams from childhood (too personal to share here) and dreams for the future of my family. Some things which I long thought were lost to memory are returning full force.
Living a life of purpose and attention has opened a floodgate in me.
It is not easy. Some days I wonder and struggle at why I am doing this.
Today was such a day.
Now, as I sit in the silence of a sleeping house, I see that I am on the path that God has set for me. Every baby step I have taken to get on this path is full of uncertainty. But step out I must and step out I do.
The choices of life are given to us all. We make the decisions that lead us forwards or backwards. There is no standing still. Which way are you going?"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

PRs & Hot Moms!

Congratulations to Olivia Sharratt who was voted one of Austin's Fittest Moms! Look for her in the November issue of Austin Fit- way to go Olivia!!

Last week was the monthly benchmark- Crossfit Totals. First of all, what exactly is CF Total?

According to this article from the CF Journal, Crossfit Total is the sum of the best of 3 attempts at the Squat, the shoulder Press, and Deadlift. Basically it is your 1 rep max.

So how do you know where you stand? Here is a chart that will help you understand where you compare to others with the same bodyweight and training level (beginner, int., and elite).

Last week, some of our ladies (really ALL of them!) set some killer PRs. Take a look...

Crystal McReynold's Classes:

Kelly A. 245# Deadlift
Sarah from 9:15am class PR'd by 30lbs on her Deadlift
Everyone in the 9:15am class PR'd!

Jessica Sharratt's Classes:

Adrienne Prem - Back Squat 175#s Press 85#s
Robin Ostrander - Deadlift 220#s
Katie Drilling - Deadlift 220#s
Olivia Sharratt - Deadlift 175#s
Emily Seiders - Deadlift 175#s
Kathie Sieders - Deadlift 165#s
Cindy Hammes - Back Squat 155#s
Natalie Douglas - Back Squat 145#s
Eyra Dzakuma - Back Squat 185#s
Therese Vasquez - Back Squat 185#s
Jessie White - Deadlift 165#s

There were many, many more PRs last week. These are just some of them. Congratulations to all of you strong beautiful women! Keep on keepin' on!