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Archive for March, 2012

End of The March Nutrition Challenge - Tell Your Stories

Saturday, March 31st, 2012
This changes everything

This changes everything

March has come to a close. We’ve had a lot of people take on new eating habits.  I’ve seen the benefit in some of you, and have heard others that have noticed a difference in energy levels and how they feel. We’ve seen weight loss, size loss around the midsection, better performance. And this is all within a month.

Here is a great article on how the information we have been fed for the past several decades is faulty.

What really causes heart disease

Who is going to stick to their new eating choices? Who is going to turn this month long challenge into a lifestyle. Who is going to take another step this month and do even better with their nutrition? Look back through the blog and see the notes from Amanda on her experiences.

Here’s a little history on my nutrition. I eat a pretty significant amount of food. I generally have. I wasn’t one of those boys in high school that appeared to be an endless pit, but I got there in college. Through college I ate a diet that was a bit higher in protein than the prevailing “low fat” wisdom at the time, but I did fall into the high carb, low fat trap. I consumed around 6,500 calories a day of low fat, moderate protein, high carb foods because all the information I could find pointed in that direction. I did pretty well, stayed quite lean (6% bodyfat or so) and left college at 175 lbs mostly wrapped around my shoulders due to gymnastics.

After college I got a desk job for a bit over a decade. I continued to train, and ate about the same. I gradually worked my way up to 185, but remained pretty lean. In early 2007 after reading a lot more about nutrition (research incited by my getting involved in the CrossFit community) I decided to modify how I ate. I reduced my carb intake drastically, cut out refined sugars and increased my fat intake. In 1 month I dropped 10 lbs and got stronger. So here I was back at 175, which was my competition weight at the height of my athletic ability. My performance increased noticeably in that month. Pretty cool to have that training 5-8 hours/week rather than the 15-24 hours/week that I was in college. Over the next year and a half  I felt great, but lost another 10 lbs. Not intentionally it just kinda went away. When I hit 165 I decided that I needed to stop loosing weight so I increased my fat intake and the weight loss leveled off and I gradually worked my way back up to 175lbs where I stabilized. I was not strict paleo, or strict zone at this point, just roughly adhering to the recommendations of these diets.

Now comes March of 2012 and the Cave nutrition challenge. I decide I’m going to go strict paleo. No gluten, no lactose, no beans, nightshades, etc. Meat, veggies and nuts for the most part. The first thing I notice is I have to eat more food. Not a good thing for me when I already have to eat more than I’d like generally. It is somewhat inconvenient sometimes. Oh well, not a huge deal, lets keep at it. So the biggest thing that came out of this is that I’ve had a nagging case of medial epicondilitis from being an idiot doing weighted muscle ups a while back. It was never a big deal, but I could periodically feel it from time to time. Its gone as of about two weeks ago. Could be coincidental, but is most likely due to the anti-inflammatory benefits of eating this way. Again, I’ve leaned out due to these changes a little. Performance has been good, though with the games in the middle of all of this I haven’t done any of the work that generally gives me a clear indication of how I’m doing from a performance basis.

Let us know your stories. The more people that speak up, the more encouragement those that haven’t tried this will have. I can not stress enough how important eating right is. Every aspect of life is benefited from eating better.

Parkour Rail Flow Combination Tutorial: Italian Job to Palm Spin Combination

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Last week we watched a Palm Spin tutorial be Epic.  Once you have the palm spin solid you can try learning an “Italian Job” and then build on it by connecting the Palm Spin for some rail flow.

Now,  I know you want to practice your rail flow!

The Delights and Frustrations of being a Bad-Ass Ninja & Other Vulgarities

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Our friends at Apex Movement, Colorado are “Living The Dream”, in a parkour & free-running kind of way.  In the process evidently they get a lot of bumps and bruises.  Here’s the evidence:

The qualifiers for American Ninja Warrior 4 for the North & South-Central Regions were March 14th-16th, in which I’m sure several of these folks competed.  A few of the featured athletes in the video include: Amos Rendao, Jake “Love” Smith, Ryan “Demon Drills” Ford,  Justin Clark, Erica Madrid, Dylan Baker, & Mason Fleet.  Hoping they all had fun and the best of luck! (retro-active.  I actually don’t know how any of them did!)

Here’s what they were actually working on:

Sometimes you have to pay the price to throw the big tricks!

Paleo Pot Luck Recipes

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Just because we are at the end of our nutrition challenge month, doesn’t mean you have to quit!  Keep up the good work.  Talk to eachother.  Share recipes.  I think you’ll find that making these choices is a lot easier than you once thought.  I have stayed true to my no wheat goals, with a few cheat days here and there.  The days I am on, I certainly see the difference in my abbs.  The days I am not…hello bloating!  I would have had no idea I bloated this much unless I did some self tests.  Though the flour tortilla taste delicious, its almost not worth the way I feel after.   Take a look at the recipes below for some great ideas.  If you were there, you know they were yummy!  Enjoy!

Crockpot Carnitas

Don’t let the seemingly long ingredient list keep you from trying this recipe! There are really only 3 steps to the process and they are all simple. The end result is a huge portion of well-seasoned meat you can eat all week.

adapted slightly from Paleo Eats

1 (6-8 pound) pork butt, also called pork shoulder (you can also use country style ribs, bone-in or boneless. I think these cook a little quicker)

2 tablespoons coarse salt (if using fine grain salt, use 1 1/2 tbsp)

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

8 whole cloves garlic, smashed

4 chipotle peppers (canned or dried) or 1 tsp chipotle powder

1 cup tomato sauce

1 cup orange juice

Step 1 – combine all ingredients except for pork. If you want, you can do this in a small blender, such as a Magic Bullet. Just make sure the garlic is crushed, pressed, or chopped well.

Step 2 – put the pork in the crockpot, pour the spices over it and make sure it’s well coated.

Step 3 – cook it until the pork is fall-apart tender. The total time will depend on the size of the cut of meat you started with and whether you set your crockpot on high or low, but between 6 and 8 hours is average. I generally use boneless country style ribs and cook it for 6 hours on high.

Step 4 – this step is optional since the meat will be delicious and well-seasoned right out of the pot, but if you have the time it’s worth doing. Carefully remove the chunks of meat from the pot and allow them to cool until they won’t burn your fingers. Using a fork, separate most of the fat bits from the meat bits and put the chunks of meat in a large container. When you have separated all of the meat, use a measuring cup to add some of the melted fat and cooking liquid back to the meat. 2/3 cup is usually enough. Shred the meat with 2 forks and serve.

Serving ideas: traditional carnitas is cooked twice before serving. This recipe doesn’t follow a traditional cooking method, but to acheive a similar result you can cook the pork a second time. Fry the pork in an oil of your choice over medium high heat (I would recommend ghee first, but coconut oil or reserved pork fat also work well) until it is browned and crispy on one side, then flip and brown the other side. You don’t need to use much oil to do this, a tablespoon or less should be fine.

Try serving the pork as tacos using lettuce leaves as the wrap and your favorite taco toppings. It also goes great with cabbage or veggie slaw, or think beyond lunch and dinner and top the pork with fried eggs, avocado, and hot sauce for breakfast.

Paleo Brownie Bites

1-1/3 cup pitted dates
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup raw almonds ( you can use any nut you want)
Unsweetened shredded coconut, for topping

Other variations-

Add honey to the recipe( just a dollop)  this will make them sweeter and stickier ( more of the topping will stay on)

Use sea salt as a topping- sprinkle some flaked or course sea salt on them after you form the balls

In the bowl of a food processor, combine dates, vanilla and cocoa powder. Process until the mixture forms a paste. Add the pecans and process until they are finely chopped and fully incorporated (but don’t let them turn into dust). Form the “dough” into bite-sized balls and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll half the balls in coconut.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Paleo BBQ Sauce

  • One can of quality pure tomato sauce (i.e., no sugar or salt or garbage added)
  • 2 T of red wine vinegar
  • 1 T honey
  • 1/2 T cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 TB chili powder
  • 1/2 TB chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • A dash of garlic powder

Pancetta-wrapped asparagus

Pretty self explanatory…

Nutty Beet Salad

1 Bunch Roasted Beets (see below)
1 large navel orange , peeled, with each segment cut in half
2 tbs chopped roasted filberts (hazelnuts)
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large avocado, cut into 8 slices
3 cups mixed greens

To roast beets, preheat oven to broil. Use 1 bunch beets, remove leaves,
peel, and quarter. Toss with 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbs dried basil,
and 1 pressed garlic clove in glass or ceramic baking dish. Broil for 30
minutes, stirring once at the halfway point. Top with fresh ground pepper to

In a medium bowl, combine roasted beets, orange, and hazelnuts. In a smaller
bowl, mix allspice, orange juice, and olive oil. Place beet mixture on top
of greens, spread avocado slices, and drizzle with dressing.

Roasted Tomatoes


12 whole tomatoes, any variety, halved cross-wise(not through the stem end), or 1 pint cherry tomatoes or berry tomatoes, halved)

6 to 8 garlic cloves, skins on

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

1 tablespoon coarse salt

Fresh ground pepper, to season


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Place the tomatoes and garlic in a non-reactive bowl and pour the olive oil over them.  Gently toss with your hand to coat.  Turn the tomatoes and garlic out onto a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet.  Season with the thyme leaves, salt and fresh ground pepper.  Roast until the tomatoes are fragrant, and their skins are shrinking, about 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.  Remove the loosened skins (from whole tomatoes; not necessary for cherry or berry tomatoes) and transfer to a bowl with any juices that have collected.

Gently squeeze the garlic from the clove and store with the tomatoes, or store separately for another use.

Know Where Your Food Comes From

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
How chickens should look while raised

How chickens should look while raised

We’ve been talking a lot about nutrition lately. We’ve talked about quantities of different nutrients, ratios of macro nutrients, sources of different micro nutrients. We have had discussions on what the general make up of your diet should be.

Today’s post is about where that food comes from. All chickens may be created equal, but they certainly do not turn out equal. Does your chicken come from a farm where they are free to roam around and eat grass, bugs, seeds and whatever else they find, or do they come from a farm where they are packed into crates, fed grains and stuffed with anti-biotics so they don’t die. Does your beef come from a farm where the cows are allowed to graze a variety of grasses, moved from one place to another regularly, or are they packed into a field where their is no remaining grass, fed grains (or cattle parts) and also stuffed with anti-biotics so they don’t die.

The FDA has tried to help us with this mess by allowing certain labels to be on food depending on how it was farmed. Stickers with “organic”, “free range”, “grass fed” and the like adorn many of our foods. The problem is there are specifications to achieving these labels, and like any other specification large scale farms game the system so they can get the label, but do little to actually improve the condition of their animals and processing.

We are making steps to help you all have access to food produced in an acceptable manner on all fronts. Locally grown produce and meat will soon be delivered to the gym. We are becoming a drop for Tara Firma Farms. We’ve had the opportunity to meet the founder Tara and talk with her about her adventure starting a small local farm. There are many reasons why sourcing your food in this manner is great for your health and our community.

1. We can actually see that the farmer is following the practices they are supposed to adhere to. Go visit the farm. Tara Firma has regular farm tours and you can go by for free and see what they are up to.

2. Buying locally produced food is good for our local economy. See Spending Locally Benefits Community.

3. Buying locally reduces the time to your table and the load on our environment. Just think about the amount of work and energy cost of getting a steak from Minessota to your table, vs bringing it down from just north of Novato.

On the website you can select a type of box, ranging from a few dollars in produce monthly, on up to having them take care of all of your food needs. Sign up for monthly, weekly or bi-monthly drops as suits your needs. Pick up your box at the gym.

So you can sign up for our drop by going to their sign up page. Our drop is currently in waitlist status until 10 people sign up, so select our drop as well as another drop point. Your account will be on hold until our drop is finalized. When you check out use the coupon code “THE CAVE” and you will get a $5 discount on the sign up fee (only $15 to begin with). So go, sign up, get some locally produced meat and veggies and get eating even better.

Games Final Standings (almost)

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Since validations can occur clear until Tuesday there is a small chance these numbers will shift, but it looks like they are counting “pending” scores so that final standings are currently showing.  We have a few folks that have qualified to move on to the next round. Unfortunately with two prime athletes out this year we did not qualify a team to regionals. Our final place is 48th in the region. An interesting little fact. Our team scored EXACTLY the same on this last workout as we did last year. 568 total reps. Last year included all of our best folks, this year we were missing a few, so that is a big step up. Here are our qualifiers.

Jill S. qualified to regionals placing 38th in the region. With her last workout she cemented her spot.

Amanda N. qualified to regionals placing 58th in the region. Things got a little nervy there at the end as folks were posting final scores.

Rich L. qualified to the CF Games placing 20th in the Masters 55-59 age category.

Nor Cal regionals this year are May 18th-20th. It is going to be in San Jose, but I can’t currently find venue information on the games site. We’ll keep you posted on venue and ticket information. Let’s bring a crowd to support Amanda and Jill. The regionals are a bigger deal than the games were just a few short years ago.

Where is Gabe?

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

So as many of you noticed we didn’t have Gabe T. hoisting up our team scores this year in the CrossFit Games Open. Gabe has been off at Cal doing the school thing, but has kept on training. He has been focusing on strength, power and technique as his skiing is reaching new heights (terminology intended). While it would have been great to have had Gabe’s scores helping out the team, we’re totally proud of him going out and doing his thang on the slopes.

Gabe won the Big Air competition at US Collegiate Nationals this year. So we’ve officially got a collegiate national champion that we’ve been coaching in some fashion since he was 7 years old. We all knew the capability that he has, it is great to see him do so well in his sport. Keep an eye out because 2014 isn’t too far away, and we may be talking about an Olympian at that point.

Palm Spin Tutorial by “Epic”

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

How great would it be if every time you found an stable object anywhere from about shin height to chest height you could practice a fun freerunning/ parkour trick?  Think how endlessly entertained you could be.  Almost like you were a kid that’s really into parkour!  Well, here you go.  This is a great palm spin tutorial by Epic that you should check out and the way he teaches it you don’t need to have any prior experience with parkour or freerunning to start working on it.  You just need to be able to move and to want to have fun!

Now all you need to do is ditch work so you can find a bench or a low lying wall on which to practice your palm spins!  Fantastic.  Tomorrow we’ll check out an “Italian Job” to palm spin combo.

Paleo Pot Luck this Sunday!

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Don’t forget to come to the Paleo Pot Luck, this Sunday at 5:00pm.  6:00pm Crossfit class will be cancelled.

Bring yourself and your food to share!  Celebrate the end of the Crossfit Games Open and get some great ideas for your nutrition habits.  Email me your recipe, so we can share it with everyone!  Kids are welcome, but as usual, no one is to be unsupervised on the equipment.

See you Sunday!  Come hungry!


Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Swimming is a useful and, in my opinion, necessary component of general physical fitness.  We all know the basic benefits of swimming, which you hear anytime somebody talks about it: no impact, works all muscle groups, etc.  But I’m going to tell you why it’s a good addition to CrossFit.

Lalanne Fitness demonstrating an awesome WOD in the Bay.

Lalanne Fitness demonstrating an awesome WOD in the Bay.

1.  It helps improve shoulder mobility.  Every stroke, you really need to concentrate on lengthening your body and reaching with your arms.  You’ll do this a couple hundred times during a swimming workout, but without the stress of a barbell or your bodyweight.

2.  It develops midline stamina - particularly in the hollow position.  CrossFit has a large focus on the posterior chain, but I’ve seen plenty of people who are weak in the hollow position.  Having a strong hollow body position is useful for many gymnastics skills, as well as for maintaining proper muscular balance.  Swimming lets you work the hollow position for a considerable amount of time, at a lower resistance level than out of the water.

3.  It teaches you how to breathe.  Everybody knows how to breathe, obviously, but controlling your breathing during a CrossFit workout allows you keep your heart rate lower and not feel like you’re an inch from dying.  When you swim, no matter how tired you are, you simply cannot take rapid gasping breaths, you have to focus on taking regular, deep breaths.  If your training includes underwater swimming, your body will learn to make better use of oxygen.

4.  It is excellent for recovery.  Most people don’t like ice baths, despite the amazing anti-inflammatory effects.  If you’re swimming in cool water (doesn’t have to be ice cold), you can get a similar effect.

5.  CrossFit is supposed to help you develop the athletic ability to do just about anything well.  One of the main ideas of the CrossFit philosophy is to be ready for whatever life throws at you.  Well, 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, so if you want to be ready for life, there’s no excuse to not know how to swim.

So, why am I writing a post on swimming so early in the year?  Well, it just so happens that we are doing a swimming class as part of our Tough Mudder Training Course.  Even if you have no plans to do Tough Mudder, you should still come to this class because we’re teaching things that are so useful and beneficial to your overall fitness.  Also, it’s fun!

If you’re interested, sign up on the Tough Mudder Training registration form in the gym.  Or you can meet us at the YMCA pool this Saturday (03/24).  Class starts at 6:00 PM, and costs $40.00.

See you in the gym– or at the pool.