Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why I'm Participating in Fight Gone Bad 6

9,300 CrossFitters and 31 Kids
by Scott Zagarino

On August 6th 31 children lost their fathers in the same day. As it is, most of us don't stop long enough to breathe, much less ruminate for just a second what it would be like at 10-years old to watch as two uniformed men inform your mother that a grateful nation is telling her that her husband will never return, or that before she could even grasp the enormity of that grief, she had to tell her children. Since you may have read this far, ponder for a second the breaking hearts and the fear that goes from stunned to crumpled.

I have to apologize to you all, here and now, for doing something I had no right to do. We committed to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation that we would fund 60 college scholarships this year from a portion of the proceeds of Fight Gone Bad. On Aug 7th I called Steve and gave him my word we would fund 31 more scholarships. I had no right to commit to that on your behalf, but I gave my word and if it costs us everything, those kids are going to school.

More than the money, more than the scholarships, it's our friendship, our support and our thanks that these families need now. So, on Thursday, September 1, we're going to publish an open letter listing team by team, box by box, the 9,300 (or thousands more by then) CrossFitters who are teeing it up on September 17 first on the FGB6 Blog.  We'll include a list of every registered team and what we've raised so far with an introduction that lets every one of the 31 children know how much we appreciate their sacrifice. We want them to know how much we want to help, and how much they can count on us, not just this September, but ever September until they graduate.

Come Thursday, please comment on Facebook and the blog, let them know who you are and why they matter to you. You may never again have the opportunity to do so much good in 17 minutes. There are more than 1,000,000,000 CrossFitters out there and we can change at least this small part of the world together on the 17th.


Monday, August 15, 2011


"'He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.' Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you make the Most High your dwelling-- even the LORD, who is my refuge-- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 'Because he loves me,' says the LORD, 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.'"

-Psalm 91


"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away
in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?"
Matthew 6:26

Image via Government of Western Australia Department of Agriculture

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Dream of Chickens

I want chickens.  I want to hear them cluck and watch them run around the backyard, feathers flying and everything.  They're not cuddly and they stink, but I want something only they can give me - eggs.  Fresh eggs every day.  We eat a LOT of eggs in this house, especially we now eat the Paleo way.  I can't keep enough eggs in the refrigerator these days.  I think my husband may turn into one.  You are what you eat, right?

But, alas, my HOA and Harris County does not allow for backyard chickens (although there is a rebel in the neighborhood next door  - I hear suspicious clucking sounds coming from his house when the kids and I are at the park).

Having backyard chickens that are allowed to roam and eat grass and insects to their hearts desire is very beneficial to our health as egg consumers.  The eggs are (almost) free.  And, more importantly, the eggs are simply better for you.  I never knew the difference in egg quality between cage-raised hens and free-range hens until recently and I was stunned at the difference.  Sure, they cost more at the super market, but I just don't feel comfortable supporting industries that care more about money than they do about the quality of food and the treatment of animals.  Why should you pay the extra dollar or two?  If you care about the condition of the animals, that's one reason.  If that doesn't tug your heart strings, then maybe this will convince you:

Most of the eggs currently sold in supermarkets are nutritionally inferior to eggs produced by hens raised on pasture. That’s the conclusion we have reached following completion of the 2007 Mother Earth News egg testing project. Our testing has found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:

• 1/3 less cholesterol 
• 1/4 less saturated fat 
• 2/3 more vitamin A 
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E 
• 7 times more beta carotene

Read more at Mother Earth News.

Why the difference in nutritional value?  It all comes down to how the chickens are raised.  Most commercial chicken houses fill their walls to the brim with as many feathered friends as they can squeeze in.  These cluckers don't get much (if any) sunlight and many of them cannot even walk due to the growth hormones they are being fed.  The lack of sunlight causes them to produce eggs with a low amount of vitamin D.  Plus, free-range chickens eat the kind of foods that God intended them to eat.

"True free-range birds eat a chicken’s natural diet — all kinds of seeds, green plants, insects and worms, usually along with grain or laying mash. Factory farm birds never even see the outdoors, let alone get to forage for their natural diet. Instead they are fed the cheapest possible mixture of corn, soy and/or cottonseed meals, with all kinds of additives." - Mother Earth News

This makes sense. The same principle is applies to people, too.  Eat good nutritious foods and you'll be healthy.  Eat junky sugar- and carb-filled processed foods and you won't be healthy.  Have you ever seen the documentary called "Supersize Me" by Morgan Spurlock?  If you haven't, you should.  In the documentary, Morgan puts himself on a strict diet of McDonald's for 30 days.  The results were nothing short of astounding.  He started out as an overall healthy person and ended up with so many health issues that even his doctors were concerned about his condition.  

Why should we expect anything different from animals?
If you live in the Houston area, check out Yonder Way Farms.  They raise grass-fed meats and free-range eggs and everything we've purchased from them has been absolutely delicious!  Plus, I love supporting family-owned local farms.
Maybe someday I'll have my own chickens.  When I do, I'll blog about it for sure :o)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Real Food Nutrition & Health Homeschool Curriculum

My husband and I have made great strides in taking care of our health and fitness.  With all that we've learned about food, our bodies, and fitness, it would be a crime to not pass down what we've learned to our children.  How could we sit there and eat our grass-fed steaks and spinach salads and fill our children up with unhealthy processed fried chicken nuggets, french fries and chips?? 

Advertisers are smart and they know how to market to our kids.  My kids want the brightly colored, character adorned boxes of crap they see in the snack aisle.  And I'm a mean mommy because I say "no".  Please don't get me wrong - I would not deny my child a slice of cake at a birthday party or an occasional ice cream cone here and there.  I even occasionally make homemade cookies for them (made with healthier ingredients, of course).  It's just that we refuse to keep unhealthy items in my house on a regular basis.

My husband and I eat Paleo, however, unlike us, our kids do consume whole grains.  We just try to limit the amount they consume and we choose snacks and bread that are free from corn starch and high fructose corn syrup (organic when possible).  I also had to get creative and spend some extra time searching the grocery stores for healthy alternatives to their favorite foods.  We even managed to make their diet mostly dairy-free.  They love chocolate and vanilla almond milk!  In fact, almond milk has WAY more calcium than cow milk.  So far, the kids have been more than happy with their healthy snacks at home.

I think it is key is to teach children WHY they should eat certain foods and WHY they should avoid other foods.  Simply saying "no" is not enough.  I found a resource for teaching the 'whys' of nutrition on the Food Renegade website.  It's a curriculum called Real Food Nutrition & Health.  I haven't read this book yet so I can't give it a 'yay' or 'nay', however, I was happy to find a book that is more in line with what I know to be true about food & nutrition.  The government can reinvent the food pyramid all they want, but the truth is that their pyramid has done nothing but help make America fat and unhealthy (Wanna read more?  Click here.)

I want my kids need to know that I care more about their long-term health than I do about their immediate gratification.  If that means that I'm "mean" because I said no M&M's, then so be it.  When we truly love someone, we give them what they need before we give them what they want.

I want my kids to grow up healthy, strong and happy, just like any mom does.  I believe proper nutrition plays a big role in accomplishing that.

After all, we are what we eat.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

No Toast French Toast Recipe

I have to give my husband credit for this one.  One of our favorite Paleo breakfast recipe's is Robb Wolf's Peach & Pecan Scramble (found in 'The Paleo Solution' by Robb Wolf - full recipe can be found here).  A couple months ago, peaches were no where to be found in Houston since they weren't in season yet.  We often substituted using apples or pears, which is still just as delicious.  However, one day we were out of apples and pears so my husband decided to make this without fruit.  He took it a step further and made it into an omelet, versus being scrambled, and topped it with agave nectar.  The end product tasted exactly like French toast - no kidding!  

Don't believe us?  Try it for yourself - I dare you not to like it!

This recipe serves 1 - adjust quantities according to how many people you wish to serve.
1. In a small bowl, crack two eggs and scramble them with a fork, mixing the yolks and the whites.
2. To the eggs, add approx. 2 TB no sugar added apple sauce, chopped pecans to taste and cinnamon to taste (maybe 1/2 tsp?)
3. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (Optional)
4.  Mix all ingredients well.
5. Heat olive oil in frying pan (the amount of oil depends on whether you cook with a teflon coated pan or a stainless steel - we use a bit more oil because our pans have no teflon coating). 
6. Once the oil is heated, add egg mixture and cook it like a flat omelet, flipping once to cook both sides.
7. When the egg mixture is cooked through, place omelet on plate drizzle agave nectar over top.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

I thought I was fit, until...

We've made some BIG changes since this post: A New Year, A New Me?

I've been a gym rat for a long time.  I've spent YEARS in spin classes, kick-boxing classes, pilates classes, yoga classes and body combat classes along with countless hours on cardio machines at the gym.  I shed a few pounds after having my second baby, but I never got to my goal weight or to the level of fitness that I wanted to be.  In fact, I resigned to believe that true fitness wasn't possible for this mom of two.  I settled for a women's size 12 pant size and hoped that someday I'd squeeze into a 10.  I thought I ate healthy, although I realize now that my idea of a healthy diet was greatly skewed.  In my mind, I was doing everything that I could to "get thin", but it wasn't working.

I almost gave up completely.  Until, my husband, Court, stepped in and said he'd work out with me.

Since I was now working out with a man, naturally we started working out as bodybuilders - which was a completely new concept for me.  This all began about a year and a half ago.  At first, I was a little intimidated in the weight room with all the guys.  We did the typical body builder thing: biceps/back on Mondays, triceps/chest Wednesdays, legs/shoulder Fridays, with cardio thrown into the mix as well.  This worked out well for a while. Also, I was beginning to feel pretty confident in the weight room - not many women were walkin' in there lifting the amount of weight that I had worked up to.  They were all huffin' and puffin' on the treadmill machines.  I even got down to a size 8.  The hubs was lookin' pretty good, too.  We also were "eating healthy" and watching our portion sizes.  Not too shabby, eh? Until we got bored.  And, I plateaued for a LONG time.  Doing the same thing over and over getting the same results is the definition of insanity, right? 

 (This is me and my friend, Tisha. The before photo on the left is what started it all.  We were in desperate need of a change!)

After Christmas break, we were ready for a change. Not just a change in routine, but something more challenging.  The typical gym workout just wasn't cutting it anymore.  It was then that Court learned about Gym Jones and the 300 workout.  I was terrified of this workout.  But, I did it anyway - January 3, 2011, to name the exact date.  And I fell in love with it.  Not because it was kind to me, because it wasn't.  It was brutal.  It kicked my ass.  Yet, I fell in love with this primal-style workout because it challenged me.  I found an inner athlete that had been lying dormant, just waiting for a true challenge to come along.

We did the 300 workout for a few weeks and again, needed to mix-up the routine.  During this time, Court had been doing some research and found what we had been looking for:  CrossFit.  I had no idea what it was, but I began doing it.  Court would look up the WOD (WTH is that you ask? it stands for Workout of the Day) and then we'd do it as best we could at our local YMCA.  The WODS, like the 300, pushed me further physically than I had ever been pushed before.  Sometimes I'd look at the WOD and say, "Oh, that's not too bad" and say, "That doesn't seem like enough.  You can't get a real workout in 20 minutes!" and then halfway through I'd be eating my words, along with the sweat pouring down my face.  

Before CrossFit, I thought I was fit.  However, CrossFit has changed my definition of fitness.  My goals before CrossFit were to "get thin".  Now, it's much more than that.  I want to run faster, jump higher, lift more, go further, do pull-up, crank out push-ups and put boys to shame.  The weight loss has simply become a side effect, a benefit.  In fact, I'm happy to say that I now wear a size 6 and can even get into a few 4's - something I NEVER thought possible!  I even have clothing now that has an 'S' or an 'XS' on the tag instead of a 'L' or an 'XL'.  It's so nice to not be 'Extra Large' anymore!

Doing the WODS at the Y worked out OK for a while, but if you're a Crossfitter, you know that a typical gym just won't do.  We actually had an easier time completing some of the WODS at home.  If you're doing a WOD for time, it's very frustrating to have to wait for an available rower or trek down the hall to go from the rowers to the weight room.  We decided to say goodbye to our beloved Y and joined a CrossFit box - CrossFit Champions. It only took one trial class there to get us hooked - it was just what we were looking for and more.  Working out with like-minded athletes has been fun and challenging.  The atmosphere is competitive, yet encouraging.  The trainers know what they are talking about and I can tell that they are passionate about what they do.  They encourage you and push you to your limit.  I like that.

(This is a pic of the WOD board at CFC taken on the day I did my first workout there.)

As I type, my muscles are sore and tired.  However, I ready for more.  I'm excited to see where this journey will take us.  I've come a long way, but I still have a long way to go - I even hope to compete one day.  Starting with the Metro Dash

Bring it!