Archive for March, 2013

I don’t share much of my beliefs on this blog since it is focused around healthy living — but today, I just had to share the joy I feel with you. I love Easter. Easter is for me as New Year’s is for many people — a chance to start over. A chance to remind myself what I believe, why I believe it, and celebrate in the love and forgiveness and grace God has given us through Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Easter brings me so much joy and renewal. Last night I went to an Easter vigil service at my church and there was a hymn that said “Tis the spring of souls today,” and that’s exactly how I feel.

So I hope everyone is having a joyful Easter as well surrounded by family and friends!

Today, we’re staying relatively healthy. Bob’s parents and aunt are coming up to celebrate with us so we’re fortunate they are bringing lots of delicious things to eat too. In case you’re curious, the menu for today is ham, ginger & lemon glazed asparagus, green beans with roasted red peppers and garlic, scalloped potatoes (Bob’s aunt’s claim to fame and NOT healthy but so worth it), green salad, biscuits and butter in the shape of a lamb (a must-have for any Hartman family holiday), and deviled eggs (my grandmother’s recipe, served on an egg plate she gave us as a housewarming present!). And for dessert, some of Mama Hartman’s cookies (her claim to fame — SO GOOD) and fruit sugar cookies she’s making as well.

Rooster plate from Grandma!

Rooster plate from Grandma!

As far as the rest of the week, here’s what we have planned:

Monday: Leftovers!!

Tuesday: Fish packets with cauliflower rice on the side

Wednesday: Venison roast in the crockpot with mushrooms and onions

Thursday: Stuffed peppers (wanted to make meat sauce for spaghetti squash again but there’s STILL no spaghetti squash at Wegmans)

Friday: Leftovers.

I hope you guys have a wonderful Easter and a great start to the week! Happy Easter!


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I’m done wallowing in defeat. I’m not saying that I’m triumphant, or that I feel an overwhelming sense of success and accomplishment. I just don’t feel as beaten down by the Open or my expectations of myself. And that is thanks to 13.4, another workout that seems to be tailored specifically to my weaknesses.

Yesterday I had the perfect recipe to be miserable, and it literally took me 10 minutes while I was getting ready to actually decide I was going to go and not skip it. This is what I was debating as I thought the odds were stacked against me:

  • I was still pretty upset at myself about my floor hockey game the night before
  • I only got 4 hours of sleep, and still hadn’t caught up on sleep from my business trip earlier in the week
  • The wounds were still fresh from (what I perceived as) my failure in 13.3
  • Half of this workout was being able to repeatedly perform a lift that was only 5 pounds lighter than my 1 rep maximum
  • I knew I wasn’t going to be good at this one, and I was afraid of failure again

The last one was probably the biggest one – being afraid of failure. I ultimately decided to go, mainly because I just wanted to get this out of the way. I actually had the attitude of “well, this is going to suck, I’m not going to do well, so I might as well just do it so I don’t have to think about it anymore.” It ended up being a great decision.

Before I had my turn at this workout I served as a judge for another competitor. This person had never been able to successfully complete a movement in this WOD (toes to bar). During the warm up he got his first ever toes to bar – it was a personal record for him, and he was excited! The WOD itself was a seven minute workout, and he had to do 3 clean and jerks, and then 3 toes to bar before he could advance to the next round. Basically, he did his 3 clean and jerks, and then he went to the bar, and got 1 toes to bar.

Then he struggled for over 6 minutes, continually attempting to get another successful rep, and being unsuccessful for the entire rest of the workout. His final score was 4 (3 clean and jerks and 1 toes to bar). He worked so hard for the entire workout, he never gave up, and he just couldn’t get another rep. I felt like he was going to be devastated. Like he would be angry, and frustrated, and defeated like I felt last week.

Instead, when the timer rang, he looked at me exhausted, sweating, and tired. And he smiled. He was excited that he did something he had never before done. Even though I had just witnessed 6 of the most frustrating minutes for someone that I have ever seen in my gym, he was happy.

And as I witnessed that I felt my own weight lift off my shoulders. I had heard people all week that it’s all relative. It’s about pushing yourself. It’s about how far you personally have come. It’s about getting off the couch and stretching your limits. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH!!

I get it – and those are all true statements. But when you sometimes just feel defeated, when you are just down, there is nothing other people can do to console you. Sometimes the only thing that can bring you out of it is that gestalt moment. That surreal experience where things just start to make sense again. This fellow competitor just went through 6 minutes of torture, giving it everything he had just to come up short. And to see him treat that a triumph? That was my moment.

Because it WAS a triumph. He did something he had never been able to do before. And he never gave up. And my competing in this Open IS a triumph. I AM a different person than I was two years ago, than I was last year, than I was last month! I have come a long way, and I will continue to go a long way, and I can never give up.

Did I do great when it was my turn? No. But I gave it all I had. And that’s all I can reasonably expect. And I’m happy about it.

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I sit at a desk all day for my job. I work with the website, social media, and marketing, so that means I rarely take my eyes off of the computer screen (unless I’m in a meeting. And you know how I feel about meetings.)

We all know that sitting at a desk all day is terrible for us. It’s awful for our muscles, for our health, for productivity, etc. You name it, there’s been a study about it. But that doesn’t change the fact that for those of us who work in an office — we still have to sit at a desk and stare at a computer screen all day.

So how do you combat the dangers of sitting all day? You sneak in exercise and movement whenever, however you can.

Here are a few ways I do this:

  • I use the time I spend heating up my lunch in the microwave to do a few body weight movements. Usually the kitchen is empty so I do squats, push-ups, lunges, and planks. If I’m heating up soup for 3 minutes, I’ll spend a minute squatting, a minute doing push-ups, and a minute in a plank. Or if I don’t feel like squatting because I already did 100 of them that morning at CrossFit, I’ll see how long I can hold a plank. Fortunately no one has walked in on me doing any of these things.  I can’t imagine how I would explain being found in the plank position on the kitchen floor.  You could do this also in the bathroom, in your office, etc. (True story: at my previous job, I did push-ups in the bathroom multiple times a day so I could build my strength.)
  • I take a break every hour. I think “they” say you should do this ever half hour but really, who has the time for that? Sometimes I walk to the bathroom. Sometimes I stand in my office and do a few lunges. Sometimes I stretch. But I try to stand up every hour.
  • Park far away from your building. Since I work at a college I have to park far away and walk a mile (okay, it’s probably not even a few hundred yards) to and from my car every day. But it’s nice to look forward to that walk after sitting.
  • Take a walk during lunch. I do this in the spring and summer when it’s warm. When it’s winter I hibernate and eat lunch at my desk (Bad Meg!). Walking during lunch this summer & fall actually helped me think of some solutions I wouldn’t have otherwise when I was in the office. It was great for productivity. I also used the time to catch up on phone calls with my mom and grandmother. I can’t wait until it’s warm again when I can do this a few times a week.
  • Use your chair.  Sometimes if I am feeling extra antsy I use the arms of my chair and push up into an L-sit (using the back of the chair to stabilize me). I hold it for 10 to 20 seconds and then my abs are tired and happy to be resting again.
  • Take a lap around your building. Seriously. I will take a lap or 2 around the section of the building I’m in. It doesn’t take more than 2 minutes but it gets me out of my chair.

If all else fails, do a few jumping jacks when no one is looking. Seriously. Or a burpee, if you’re really hardcore (I’m not).

To be honest here: I don’t think doing 20 squats during a 5 minute break every day will really burn calories or give me a “workout.” I move because I get really antsy after sitting for long periods of time. (Car rides with me are really terrible.) But I do think there is some value to getting up and moving while you’re at work. I’m sure there are studies that say you have less chance of gaining weight if you take a break and stand up for a minute. At least, I feel like I see these studies posted often on Facebook and Twitter.

What do you do to sneak in exercise?

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Today’s post was written by our friend and fellow CrossFitter Morgan! Thanks Morgan!

To know me is to understand the saying, “go big or go home”. While this can serve as a wonderful attribute, it can also serve as a terrible nemesis. For over a year I’ve self indulged and enjoyed life to the fullest. It’s the first time in my entire life I put me first. My wants trumped everyone else and it’s felt great! However, my wants seemed to include a lot of adult beverages and not a lot of gym time.

After months of events that included an awesome summer, the holidays, two trips to Jamaica, and endless birthday/baby/bridal celebrations I was ready for a detox. I’d made up my mind that the Monday after St. Patty’s Day was going to be my kick start to a healthier me. I was going to do a Whole30 to give my body a chance to rest and revitalize. I was also going to recommit to CrossFit and see what a year of actual training could do.

Here are some of the contributors to my demise..... (1) fried food galore (2) jerk chicken in Jamaica (3) Jreck Subs- can only get them up north and I ate a million of them last summer (4) McDonald's remnants after a night out (5) daily occurrences (6) gifts from family.

Here are some of the contributors to my demise….. (1) fried food galore (2) jerk chicken in Jamaica (3) Jreck Subs- can only get them up north and I ate a million of them last summer (4) McDonald’s remnants after a night out (5) daily occurrences (6) gifts from family.

It is Wednesday and day number three of my Whole30. Just kidding! Let me explain.

Three things led to my detox delay. One, I sprained an ankle and landed bronchitis, so I’ve been wallowing in fast food all week. The grocery store and cooking were not anywhere near my list of priorities. Two, while it isn’t a great excuse, two of the three soccer teams I play on are sponsored by local bars. This means they give us money towards league fees and in return we patron their bar before or after games. This is our last week of the session and I feel somewhat obligated to support the business that supports one (well, two) of my habits. Three, I have a friend moving away and plan to say goodbye over cocktails tomorrow night. While I really want to do my Whole30, there are times in life when you just have to allow yourself to live in the moment.

So, I’ll be embarking upon this little journey on Friday. No really, I swear! My goal was to start both my training schedule and the Whole30 on Monday, but it just didn’t happen. I was not mentally or physically prepared to start my change. Not only am I just starting to feel human again, but I literally have no food in my house. Half of the battle to any change in diet is preparation. Like the saying goes, “dress like the job you want, not like the job you’ve got”. So tomorrow I’ll hit up the public market and fill my kitchen with goodies.

Managed to do well in the Under 35 scaled division for Hammerhead, but looking pretty plump

Managed to do well in the Under 35 scaled division for Hammerhead, but looking pretty plump

I want to do this challenge for me. I want to see how a change in my diet (lifestyle) can contribute to my mental health and physical gains. I know it won’t be easy, but it’s worth a shot. I want to feel better and I want to do the open next year without hearing, “imagine what you could do if you actually trained.”

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” -Wayne Gretzky

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I desperately need to get back on the paleo wagon. I set the March goal of only cheating once per week during the month of March. That didn’t quite work out. Unfortunately, that led to the recent chain of events where I ended up cheating every single day over the last week.

You might ask how this happened. You see, I am still learning a lot about myself throughout this journey. And one of the things that I have learned is that I am very much an all or nothing person. If my goal is to only cheat once per week, and I cheat twice, I am susceptible to giving up on the entire week and just making it a free for all. That’s what happened last week. Instead of cutting my losses and minimizing the damage, I cheated every day and decided that pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and muffins from Wegmans were the most logical decisions I could make.

The result has been feeling very sluggish, not wanting to exercise, having my performance at the gym suffer tremendously, feeling pretty sick, and, of course, weight gain.

So, I am going to need to address this differently in the future. I’m still not sure how that will look, but I know I have to start acting now. A friend of mine is starting a Whole 30 on Monday. I can’t commit to that with Easter and a trip to NYC both within the next 30 days, but I will be following most of the same principles for the next month. This will be a good exercise for me to see if I can stick with it for the most part knowing that I will be making exceptions and cheating for these few special events.

Unfortunately, the beginning of my detox period involved a day of travel. So to start off my detox, before I flew to Dallas I started my morning with a delicious green smoothie and some eggs.


One of my favorite, easy travel-tips is to pack an empty water bottle when flying. This way I was able to just fill it with water at a water fountain once I was through security, and I wasn’t tempted to buy any sugary drinks or aspartame-loaded sodas.

Water Bottle

Unfortunately, my flight was delayed, and I missed my connecting flight in Detroit (not without running through the airport to arrive at my ticket counter 10 minutes before the departure time, but still too late because they left early!).

So, I was tired, relatively hungry, and really frustrated as I sat around waiting for over 3 hours for my next flight. I’m not usually a fast food guy, but for some reason the Baconator was really calling my name.

Ironically, Wendy’s was the only place that I could find within a ten minute walk that offered anything remotely green. So, I grabbed a BLT Chicken Cobb Salad to try to satiate my hunger and keep me away from the Baconator. Even if the greens in the salad left something to be desired, who knows what the bacon and “grilled” chicken were cooked in, and the “avocado” that came with the salad was only in dressing form.

Wendys Salad

Wendys Salad Dressing

Side note: it’s sad that my (pathetic) salad, which didn’t fill me up and didn’t come with anything except for that disgusting dressing, cost more than a value meal with a burger, fries, and soda would have cost. And we wonder why America has an obesity problem?

After passing up the in-flight snacks of peanuts, pretzels, and chips for a second time in one day, I landed in Dallas tired and hungry. I arrived at my hotel around 7pm Central, or 8pm my time, and I hadn’t eaten much. And, much to my chagrin, the only places within walking distance that had food was a Denny’s and a gas station. So, I had to get creative!

I really wanted some vegetables and something fresh, but all of their entree-sized salads didn’t have enough protein or substance to actually fill me up. So I ordered 4 eggs and 4 pieces of bacon, with a side salad to try to satisfy both my desire for fresh food and protein/fat to fill me up. I have found that breakfast food is one of the easiest ways to stay paleo while eating out, even if it did mean that I ate 7 eggs today and 6 strips of bacon between all of my meals!

Dennys Grand Slam

Not happy with all of the eggs and bacon I ate today, but I’m not sure I could have done much better given the situation.

Yes, that is an ad for bacon dessert. Yes, I am impressed with my own willpower.

Yes, that is an ad for bacon dessert. Yes, I am impressed with my own willpower.

I was still somewhat hungry when I was done eating, so I grabbed some cashews, almonds, and sunflower seeds to snack on since I still had a long night ahead of me catching up on work I had missed during my adventurous travels.

My command center in the hotel room. The cashews and sunflower seeds were cooked in peanut oil - but that's all I could find at the gas station. Close enough for this weary traveler!

My command center in the hotel room. The cashews and sunflower seeds were cooked in peanut oil – but that’s all I could find at the gas station. Close enough for this weary traveler!

So, Day 1 is in the books, and it has definitely been one of my more challenging days so far! But, I feel accomplished that I was able to do as well as I did, and I’m also less likely to take all of the wonderful food Meg prepares for us for granted! I plan on continuing to chronicle my progress for all of you, and to hold me accountable and help keep me committed to getting back to a lifestyle that I know works for me! Any tips/tricks/suggestions?

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Monday Meal Plan!

Oops! I had such a great time this weekend that I sort of forgot to post yesterday.  My mom and sister came up Friday and we went to Melting Pot for dinner. Yum. Love that place so much. And then I enjoyed a small piece of my birthday cake from the best bakery in the world. Well, at least Pittsburgh.


Note the hickey-like bruise on my collarbone. That, my friends, is from doing cleans at CrossFit. Poor form + heavy weight + protruding collarbone = pain.

Saturday we left bright & early to “Cruise the Tropics” for a wine tour. I had bought a ticket for mom for Christmas and a ticket for my sister for her birthday present. Bob was our DD for the day. The event was great because with each wine tasting you also had a food tasting. I think my favorite was the key lime cheesecake or the cheese quesadila with lime cilantro sour cream. What a fun event. And of course, we ended up with a case of wine at the end of it.

Me, my mom, and sister!

Me, my mom, and sister!

Sunday was saying goodbye to my mom and sister after a much-too-short visit, and then spending time with friends in the afternoon. I threw together a quick meal plan so we could stop at the grocery store on the way home.

This week is pretty basic because I was feeling uninspired.

Monday: Sausage, escarole, mushroom soup. I might add some white beans to my portion.

Tuesday: Bob is on a business trip, and I’m meeting a church group at Panera so I’ll probably just grab dinner then.

Wednesday: BLTs with cucumber/red onion salad on the side!

Thursday: Fish, asparagus, cauliflower rice

Friday: Shepherd’s Pie because I have Friday off and I’ll have time to make it.

Saturday: Wing it/ leftovers/ out to dinner.

Sunday: Easter! Bob’s parents are coming up to celebrate with us. I guess that means I need to start making a menu…

Hope you are having a great start to your week!!

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Sometimes when you’re trying to maintain your weight, you feel like it’s an uphill battle. That there’s one thing right after another and they’re all there simply to derail you.

For example, at the beginning of February we went to Jamaica — after our Super Bowl party. I gained a few pounds, but nothing too crazy. I managed to lose most of it, but amidst the “back to eating healthy” wagon I had girls’ night which included multiple desserts, the end of Bob’s challenge which meant eating pasta and dessert, then going out for my birthday multiple times. Then this weekend I’m going on a wine tour with my mom and sister (Bob is our DD), AND they’re bringing me a birthday cake from my favorite bakery in Pittsburgh.   And then there’s Easter next weekend, and the following weekend is a baby shower for one of my best friends, and then the weekend after that we’ll be in New York City where we’ll be trying to eat cheaply (i.e. pizza).

Cookie Cake at our Super Bowl party

Cookie Cake at our Super Bowl party

Sometimes, it feels impossible to make healthy choices because you’re surrounded by delicious and non-healthy options.  Sometimes, it feels like everyone and everything is out to get you and you don’t have a way out.

If I was a better person than I am, I might encourage you to deny yourself amidst all of these events.  I would tell you to say “no” to sharing pasta when your husband wants to celebrate  and instead enjoy the basic lean cut of meat and vegetables you can scrape together from the menu. I would tell you to remind yourself how good being healthy feels when you watch your friends eat dessert and you sit by and watch.  I would tell you that it’s not worth it to eat the cookies and cupcakes and pastries at the baby shower.  And I would tell you to find a salad somewhere in NYC when your friends are eating gelato.

Ferrara's in NYC on a trip Bob and I took a few years ago.

Ferrara in NYC on a trip Bob and I took a few years ago.

But I couldn’t do that.  And most people probably couldn’t, either.

The truth is, sometimes there are seasons of life where you can’t eat as perfectly as you would like.  Sometimes you have to be ok that you are up a few pounds because it means you get to celebrate some really exciting things (like a new baby!).  Sometimes you have work out more than usual so your pants still fit. And sometimes when the scale doesn’t move, you need to just be thankful that it’s not moving up.

The truth is that you have to find balance between special occasions (even if they all happen within a two month span) and regular ol’ living.  And the truth is that “this too shall pass.”

The truth is that maintaining is more difficult than losing for me.  When you’re maintaining, you have to be okay with a few pounds of fluctuation. It’s nearly impossible to stay exactly at your goal weight week after week.  (If you can do that, tell me your secrets!!!) And after a year of trying to maintain, I’ve still not quite figured it out.

How do you maintain your weight year after year? Do you monitor it closely? Do you just usually hover around the same number by chance? 

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