Chili Lime Shrimp n’ Scallops w/ Banana Salsa

The hotter the weather gets the more I crave seafood on the grill.  Light yet satisfying the shrimp and scallops doused with fresh squeezed limes, chili powder and a few other spices had the perfect flavor with a subtle bite.  I’m not one to waste food and when I have overripe bananas laying around I usually them into some sort of muffin, cake or pudding.  Not on my ‘spring leaning’ quest; this banana jalapeno salsa was the solution and the perfect accompaniment.

Photo Apr 26, 7 24 32 PM (1)

I was little hungry that day–it had been a hard workout and I earned my carbs.

Photo Apr 26, 7 10 46 PM

Skewer the shrimp and scallops; sprinkle both sides evenly with the rub mixture

Photo Apr 26, 7 11 35 PM

Throw on a handful of apple wood chips

Photo Apr 26, 7 12 33 PM

Grill about 2 minutes per side with a lid on

Photo Apr 26, 7 18 07 PM

Carefully remove from the hot skewers, serve with the banana salsa, lime wedges and. . .

Photo Apr 26, 7 22 03 PM

your favorites sides depending on whether you earned your carbs today!

Recipe & Ingredients

The shellfish
1 1/2 pounds fresh wild shrimp, preferably heads on
1 pound sea scallops
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 fresh lime, cut into 4 wedges
apple wood chips for smoking

The salsa
2 overripe bananas
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow bell pepper
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
good pinch sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Preparation

Place the shrimp on 2 pronged skewers, place the scallops on 2 pronged skewers.  Mix all the spices together and sprinkle evenly on both sides of the shrimp and scallops.  Squeeze the juice of 2 of the lime wedges over the shellfish.  Prepare your grill and throw on the chips.  Place the skewers on the grill and cook approximately 2 minutes per side covered turning once.  Times will vary depending on the size of the shrimp and scallops.  Be very careful to not overcook.

To make the salsa, mash the bananas with a spoon in a small bowl; stir in the rest of the ingredients mixing well.  Adjust seasonings to taste and spoon into small serving dishes.

When shrimp and scallops are done, carefully remove from the skewers and serve with the salsa and remaining lime wedges if desired.

Enjoy!

Wine & Wod

Wine?  Yes, it was a bribe.  We hosted our first Ladies night at the box last Friday; each female member was asked to bring a friend(s) that had expressed an interest in what we do at CrossFit Jag.  There would be an introduction, workout and then afterwards everyone would hang out and enjoy water, wine and appetizers.  What an amazing night!

IMG_1875

We had over 50 ladies attend from age 19 to 70.  What was really amazing is in the diverse group everyone was doing the same thing.  How is that?  Well, how about a little recap of the evening. . .

We started the night off by gathering everyone at the whiteboard and Coach Kim led the group with an icebreaker having everyone introduce themselves and a line or two about why they are here or something about themselves they’d like to share.  She then covered ‘what is CrossFit ,’why’ CrossFit very well might be for you and that it won’t make you bulky but it may make you buff.

After a thorough explanation of the whiteboard Coach Melissa led the group in the warm up

IMG_1833

IMG_1836

Now it was time for the wod. . .

Partner AMRAP for 15 minutes
1 works 1 rests

200 m run (scale to 100 m or row)
10 squats (scale down to a box or up to DB thrusters:)
10 sit ups (scale down to crunches or up to v ups)
10 burpees (scale down to step ups or up to hurdle)

70 years young, you go Pauline!

IMG_1859

Jump!

IMG_1855

Squeeze!

IMG_1864

Fit Momma to be

IMG_1849

We worked hard now it’s time for some fun!

IMG_1871 - Copy

IMG_1872

IMG_1873

Y’all come back real soon!

Eating Out while Leaning Out

The typical contest prep diet will range anywhere from 6 to 16 weeks; it’s a long time to be disciplined.  At some point you will find yourself in a restaurant and you need to be able to make the best choices.  While we aim to cook 98% of our meals at home and take prepared food with us on trips there will be at least a few occasions where you will find yourself eating out.

Photo Apr 25, 7 17 50 PM

It could be your mother’s birthday, Uncle Fred’s retirement party or perhaps your own birthday or anniversary.  Do we cheat?  Depends, on how you’re doing and how close you are.  The closer you are to showtime I would recommend not or keeping it to a bare minimum.

One of the biggest things to watch out for is the hidden bloat; restaurants typically pile on the chemicals and sodium.  To be fair this is primarily found in fast food and most chain restaurants.  So rule #1 if you can is choose the restaurant yourself and stick to non chain, higher quality ones.

Here’s a quick checklist on how to work your way through the menu making the best choices:

  • Libations:  no
  • Appetizers:  let’s take out the obvious — fried anything, no breads or bread coatings or anything covered in butter or heavy sauces.  Suggestions:  seafood cocktails such as shrimp or crab, ahi tuna (ask them to leave off the sodium laden teriyaki and other sauces), steak tartare sans sauces
  • Bread:  no
  • Salad:  sounds safe BUT beware what are they putting in it–no croutons or tortilla strips.  If it comes with cheese, bacon, avocado or olives decide on one and make sure it fits into your fat macros for the day.  Another way to save is to not use the dressing; a little bit of balsamic vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon will go a long way in flavoring the salad saving for the entree.
  • Main course:  use common sense; again anything fried, smothered in sauces butter or cream is out.  Opt for chicken, beef or seafood grilled or baked.  And ask them how it is being prepared.  Depending on your caloric and macro goal for the day they can leave off the butter or oil and be especially aware of any seasonings they use.  Most restaurants are using blends that may seem flavorful but will bloat.  Ask them to leave them off.  They should be accommodating and if they aren’t find a new restaurant
  • Side items:  opt for plain steamed veggies or a plain baked potato (sweet or white) depending on what your carb goals are for the day
  • Dessert:  no
  • Plan ahead:  do a little research. Know the menu and what your choices are and see how they fit into your food log for the day.  Eat a little less prior to going out saving a few extra calories for the restaurant meal.

We ate at our local favorite Iavarone’s Steakhouse: it’s not a chain, we know the owners, the quality of both the food and service are superb and consistent.  I opted for the crabmeat cocktail for my appetizer while my family enjoyed the fried calamari.  I had my salad without dressing but failed to remember to tell them to leave off the Gorgonzola cheese.  Sigh, I confess — I ate it, it appeared to be approximately 1 tablespoon’s worth.  Living dangerously.

For the main entree I had oak grilled gulf grouper (sans the typical butter/oil combo it is cooked with) and a plain baked potato.  I enjoyed my evening, kept the end goal in sight and while I would have enjoyed a whole serving of creme brulee I know that meal will come after my show.

Follow these simple rules for navigating a meal out and focus on your long term goals and the occasion and company of your family, friends or lover you are with.  You don’t need to overindulge in order to enjoy the evening, this is not forever, it is a temporary sacrifice to reach a goal YOU chose.

Don’t Run Out of Gas. . .

Fuel. It’s what makes the engine run. One of the biggest mistakes made in physique contest preparation is taking the calories too low.  Sure we want to get lean but we also don’t want to waste away all our hard earned muscle. The stereotypical physique competitor generally enters with that do or die mentality; they’re not one to cheat. They tend to be extremists and generally willing to do what ever it takes.

Photo Mar 27, 11 52 57 AM

I’ve been in the game a long time and have done this several times although the last comp was in 2006.  My nutritional knowledge is far above where it was back then but I wasn’t sure how the body would respond being 10 years older.

I prefer to start far enough out so that I can lose more slowly — about a pound a week preserving as much muscle as possible.  First four weeks worked like a charm but then I hit a little plateau for a few weeks. So, I decided to cut back a little on the calories and see what happens. You know, the physique is not the same as it was 10 years ago maybe the metabolism has slowed and I need less food.

I wait a week, nothing. Go down a little more, wait another week — nothing. Then I totally crash on a particularly  rough training day not to mention I couldn’t sleep well the night before, blood sugar seemed out of whack, energy lacking and moody. Uh oh, somethings not right. Google, the more I read (most of which I quickly decipher between the BS and the truth) the more I realize I already know.

I review my “symptoms”. Only conclusion I can draw is that I need a ‘refeed’. Yea, eat more. Calories were too low for too long. So I plan out this reefed on that Thursday (day the training crashed) after a brutal workout consisting of all out sprints, speed squats and a high rep deadlift, pull up superset and I am starving; my body cannot suck up enough food. I eat an additional 400-500 calories, sleep like a baby and the scale is down a pound the next day.

Photo Mar 21, 8 03 38 PM

Now typically after a reefed you expect it to go up for a day or so because of the water retained. Not so, I was that empty. I ate moderately the next day and over the course of the weekend (recovery/rest day) and was down another pound on Monday. Well, doesn’t that just beat all.

During my one day breakdown and frantic efforts to determine why I had stalled I reached outside my circle for some advice. After about a week (during which time I had resolved the problem myself) I receive an answer telling me to lower the calories even lower than they were when I had crashed. Huh? We’re dropping now, energy is there for workouts and I would do that why?

Still I pondered the advice for about 2 days. Toyed with the idea and dropped a fraction of what was recommended and tanked again 2 days later — on another demon Thursday workout.  No more self doubt.

Go with your gut and instinct if you’re an experienced competitor. NO one and I mean no one knows your body like you do. You cannot train intensely CrossFit style 4+ times a week, throw in 2 low level aerobic days and subsist on low carb, low fat and low calories. It will shut your metabolism down, you’ll have crappy workouts, sleepless night, mood swings and elimination problems not to mention lose precious muscle.

Now, if you’ve minimal muscle, high levels of body fat and your idea of training hard is whistling Dixie on the inner/outer thigh machine you might get away with that and lose a little body fat in the process since your metabolic requirements aren’t as high.

For those training for a physique show this is not a free card to go eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, you want to stick to quality foods and your calories, macros and refeeds should be planned around your goals and activity level carefully with enough flexibility when things do not go exactly as planned making any necessary adjustments.

Even when your goal is a physique competition if you’re a hard training seasoned athlete you need adequate fuel for your training and to preserve muscle so be smart and eat!

Rest Day Repast

As I begin week 7 of my spring lean out I am astounded at how well I am feeling, the lack of cravings and improvements in my training.  Well, after 20 years of fine tuning sometimes you finally get it right.  The first 6 weeks my days have consisted of similar caloric amounts and macronutrients.  I’ve been going with 40/30/30 split, a little more food on training days and a little less on ‘rest’ days.  It’s working.

But we’re approaching the point where the last 5-6 pounds aren’t going to come off quite as easily as the first 6.  So rather than do anything drastic I’m going to slightly change what I eat on my rest days versus my training days; in other words cycling –after all we’re utilizing different energy pathways which require different fuel sources. . .

Photo Apr 22, 9 35 44 AM

This simple number is a great ‘rest’ day breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Moderate in protein, some fibrous veggies and just enough complex carbohydrates plus a little extra fat for even better flavor.

Recipe & Ingredients

The Bird
1, 4-6 pastured turkey breast
fresh herbs of your choosing (thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano etc)
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 – 2 oranges

Sprinkle with fresh herbs and sea salt and pepper to taste.  Bake at 325 degrees breast side up until temperature reaches 160 with a meat thermometer.  Tent with foil and let sit covered for 30 minutes before carving.  Meanwhile, cut orange into sections and place under the broiler for 2 -3 minutes per side or until just browned.  Serve with turkey.

The Sprouts
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
1 fresh beet, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Place Brussels sprouts and beets in a steamer and cook 10 -15 minutes or until tender.  Remove water from bottom of the steamer, put in sprouts and beets in the pan and stir in butter and mustard until melted

The Sweet Taters

Bake a large sweet potato until tender; peel and toss with 2 teaspoons grass fed butter and 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

And by the way, make sure you get in some recovery work–I started the morning off with a 3 mile walk with a 203 weighted vest.  Exhilarating but not exhausting.  Enjoy!

Contest Prep Dieting — you gotta’ be weird

Over the course of my 20 years in the fitness industry I have tried many different nutritional paths. At times my reasons varied from contest prep to resolving health issues to performance to maintenance. The impact that nutrition has had in all areas of my life has been equally transformational to the physical aspect of training. I could write a series on the last 2 decades.

Photo Apr 20, 2 00 20 PM

“Don’t be weird” in ‘normal’ life – train hard, eat the way you should 80% of the time and let loose 20% of the time, it will keep you sane, healthy and maintain friendships and family harmony.

To keep to the scope of this article and the upcoming prep for the Tampa Bay Classic we shall stick to the subject at hand and start with this disclaimer:

I am not a registered dietician or certified clinical nutritionist. My experience with nutrition is solely self studied; I have had many great mentors and worked with several qualified professionals over the years and have found what works best for my body type and goals. Contest prep nutrition is not meant to be a lifestyle or sustainable. It is for the sole purpose of aesthetics and reaching a low level of body fat for a specific event. It’s not easy and it’s not for everyone –and you need to weigh, measure, calculate and record your nutritional intake which will be viewed by many as “weird”.

There is more than one way to accomplish this. People are different; their individual make up, body chemistry and many other factors to include activity levels, training experience, muscle mass and on and on. What works for me may not work for you. After doing this for 20 years I am still learning and fine tuning. Let’s first look at what won’t work for anyone. . .

Starving yourself: go ahead, eat sub 1000 calories a day, weight train 6+ days a week and perform 2 hours a day of intense cardiovascular training you’ll lose weight—both fat and muscle. Under eat and over train and you’ll end up with that skinny fat look which may be the least of your problems.

Excluding a macronutrient group: yep, tried it. Take out all the carbs and pile on the fat; lift heavy and sprint see what happens. You’ll most likely lose muscle, look flat and your training will suffer.  Or take out all the fat and pile on the carbs—makes sense right? Eat the ‘yummy’ low fat processed crap and see what happens. You’ll have intense cravings, mood swings and your hormones will backfire making it difficult to lose the fat.

Finding out the right amount of calories and what macronutrient ratios work best for you is the hard part. Evaluate your genetics. It’s simpler than one might think and while research and science are wonderful the KISS approach is often the best. There are 3 basic somatotypes that most everyone has heard of: the ectomorph, the mesomorph and the endomorph.  Aruyveda calls them vata, pitta and kapha. Basically the same thing.

In a nutshell the ecto or vata is generally tall, thin and has a hard time gaining muscle.  The meso or pitta (lucky one) is athletic looking and can generally gain/lose weight without much trouble. The endo or kapha is bigger boned, heavier by nature and struggles to lose weight. Most of us are not solely one but primarily a combo of  two types with a bit of the third sprinkled in.

Body Type

The ectos need to eat more sticking with a higher percentage of carbs, mod protein and lower fat. The mesos generally do best with a 40/30/30 split and the endos do better with a little lower carb, mod protein and slightly higher fat. Their training also needs to reflect their genetics.

I am about 64% meso, 23% endo and 13% ecto. Could be worse. The last time I leaned out I made the mistake of going low carb and high fat. I lost muscle, looked flat and energy for training suffered greatly. This go round we went with the 40/30/30 and it’s working. We will adjust and cycle as we get closer but we’ll keep it simple here.

Let’s look at the Calories & Macronutrients:

Calories: they matter. All this “eat in abundance” will only work if you’re looking to bulk up. For a client interested in general weight loss, performance and/or improved health I will not have them calculate their macros with the precisions of a engineer but when you’re trying to attain single digit or low teen body fat levels for your physique competition you damn sure better know exactly what you’re in taking. Too much or too little will negatively impact you.

General range: if you’re relatively lean go off your body weight; if you’re not go off your lean body mass. Multiply that number by 12 – 15. Towards the higher end if you are a hard training athlete and lose easily or the lower end if fat loss is a struggle for you.

Protein: hard and heavy training athletes need more – not to mention you’re in a caloric deficit; protein must be increased in order to maintain muscle mass. You will find science, research and opinion vary on this one, I don’t go lower than 30% and as high as 40%.

Carbs: in the immortal words of PAHQ “earn them” and I couldn’t agree more. You’re sprinting, squatting, deadlifting and lifting heavy in general so you need the fuel to perform these glycolytic activities well. Depending on your body type somewhere between 20 and 50%; a big range but a lot of variables affect this.  Many athletes and physique competitors will also cycle their carbohydrates around activity.

Fat: is needed to maintain a healthy and sane hormonal balance. You won’t need to add much as you get a fair amount in the meats and fowl you are eating. I don’t like taking this below 30%, certainly not below 25%. Endos will be upwards to 40 ish.

Photo Apr 02, 7 08 21 PM

Quality of foods: from a fat loss standpoint quality it not a major issue. From a health and performance standpoint it is. Eat junk be junk. I ramp up quality even higher when I am prepping for a contest. I need and want my head clear and you can’t do that with processed crap flowing through your blood. It may not be a deal breaker but the ultimate quality blueprint is: pastured meat and fowl, wild seafood, organic vegetables and fruits and no processed food whatsoever. Cook as many of your meals as possible yourself or hire someone that follows these guidelines.

What am I eating?

I started out at 128 pounds and approximately 20% bodyfat. . .

• Calories: 1700 – 2000
• Protein: 30%
• Carbs: 40%
• Fat: 30%

These will vary to a degree based on progress, training and activity levels.

Food Choices:
• Protein: lean beef, skinless chicken breast and thighs, seafood
• Carbs: veggies of course, white rice, sweet/white potatoes, yucca
• Fats: not much added in but some raw butter, raw cream, olive oil, and duck fat; these are added in sparingly when macros allow

How’s it working?  Well, here’s the progress over 6 weeks.  If you still think calories don’t matter I’m going to have to disagree — my training hasn’t changed.

IMG_1467 - Copy

Photo Apr 16, 10 36 09 AM

I am a follower and advocate of CFFB, John Welbourn and PAHQ; one of their main nutritional tenets is “don’t be weird”. And I whole heartedly agree; don’t be that person at celebrations, holidays and family gatherings that whips out their Tupperware container of chicken, rice and broccoli and eschews the desserts, libations and other tempting treats. Life is meant to be lived and in a normal day to day existence where we are training hard and eating the way we should 80% of the time you should indulge—it’s healthy, fun and a part of life.

However when training for a physique competition, dialing the body in to low levels of body fat for a stage worthy presence it’s a whole different ballgame. Sometimes you gotta be weird. It’s temporary and will be all worth it when you step on stage knowing your nutrition will be your ace in the hole.