My Free+Style Connection Seminar with Carl Paoli

When I learned that Carl Paoli was bringing his Free+Style Connection Seminar to Southwest region, specifically my box, I was adamant on attending. What better way to take my training to a new level than by learning how to train and perform some of the basic fundamental movements with greater efficiency. 

This all-day seminar, as explained by Carl Paoli, is to analyze and demonstrate the interrelationships between achieving ideal positions, quality functional movements and performing for a purpose.


At this point in my CrossFit training, I am focused on gaining comfortability with some of the more complex movements – snatch, overhead squat, handstand walk, butterfly pull-ups, and muscle-up progressions. Because they are considered high skill movements, I really have to focus on my coordination and mental acuity when performing them. Pistols, burpees, handstand push-ups and the like have become second nature and require minimal forethought. I was hopeful that by attending the Free+Style Connection Seminar I would better understand the concept of functional movement and be able to apply the principles of skill transfer into my training.

Free+Style Connection Seminar with Carl Paoli

Photo compliments of Nate Helming

Carl started off the seminar by getting to know his audience. Who is a competitive athlete? Who is a CrossFit coach? Box owner? Newbie? I was pleasantly surprised to learn that nearly everyone in attendance was a CrossFit coach. In my opinion, this speaks volumes to their dedication to the sport. By proactively expanding their knowledge base, they are becoming more qualified to train athletes of all age, skill level, and experience.

Free+Style Connection Seminar with Carl Paoli

Photo compliments of Centennial CrossFit

He continued with an introduction into the theoretical framework behind Position-Movement-Purpose in which he explained basic body mechanics and the concept of applying movement. With astonishing aptitude, Paoli broke down his movement philosophy into four basic skills – handstand push-up, pistol, muscle-up, and burpee. He poured all of his experience as an elite gymnast and as a renowned CrossFit coach into this insightful, yet brief lecture.  In a Good Will Hunting/A Beautiful Mind kind of way, he scribbled a mathematical movement formula on the board with a plethora of connecting lines and arrows. 

Although my notes look a bit disorderly, I assure you the concepts were all explained in a clear and concise manner. 

Free+Style Connection Seminar with Carl Paoli

If you have any interest in learning the intricate details of his framework, he has a 432 page manual entitled Free+Style: Maximize Sport and Life Performance with Four Basic Movements for purchase.

The remainder of the day consisted of hands-on learning where Carl emphasized the importance of technique, position, progressions and general mechanics. The first of the four basic movements covered was the handstand push-up. While I can perform both strict and kipping handstand push-ups, there was still plenty of valuable knowledge to reap that will help me to gradually transition to freestanding handstand push-ups.

Although it wasn’t on the agenda, we then switched our focus to the handstand walk. I am very comfortable on my hands so long as I have a wall to support me. Take the wall away and I’m down for the count after all of two seconds. Carl asked the question, “Who here can only take a couple steps on their hands before falling?” Naturally, my hand went up as well as the hands of several others. After exhibiting my pitiful attempt at walking on my hands for more than a blink of an eye, Carl instructed me to do a handstand against the wall – piece of cake. He then had me take a few steps back and walk on my hands until I reached the wall. We continued this process a couple times until I was a good 4-5 steps away. Then, he asked me step away from the wall and perform a handstand and immediately roll out of it. He asked me to now try walking on my hands, but rather than falling fumblingly, to simply roll out of it once more. On my best attempt I was able to get 6-7 steps and on my worst I was still able to get 4-5 steps. I’m nowhere close to being able to walk the length of a football field, but adding a few steps and feeling more confident in my bail out method was a big success in my book.

Following a short lunch break was a brief running segment with Nate Helming. Nate is an Olympic level cyclist coach, trains professional triathletes, junior elite mountain bikers, and national-level ultra runners on their strength and mobility. He is also known to collaborate with Carl Paoli’s Free+Style Connection Seminar in order to provide further insight on how to integrate functional movement and skill development to your sport of choice. In the CrossFit community specifically, Nate is a known for his renowned running expertise, which comes in handy for those of us stereotypical CrossFitters that dread any wod that includes running. 

Free+Style Connection Seminar with Carl Paoli

Photo compliments of Centennial CrossFit

Next up, pistols. Like double-unders, this is just one of those things that I could do from day one, but it was still fascinating to go through the progressions that address the importance of unilateral loading, mobility and flexibility. The various progressions and techniques introduced helped a couple athletes do their very first pistol, ever. In typical CrossFit fashion, everyone hooped and hollered in celebration of their success.

The most revered gymnastics movement in CrossFit was next on the docket, the infamous muscle-up. You may be able to perform a strict pull-up followed by a dip, but transitioning between the two on a set of shaky rings requires an advanced level of strength and coordination. If you are light years away from performing muscle-ups, Carl has some incredible progressions involving resistance bands that help to achieve proper positions, false grip and seamless transitions. If you are close to executing your first muscle-up, it’s likely you would get one with the personal instruction of Carl.

Free+Style Connection Seminar with Carl Paoli

Photo compliments of Centennial CrossFit

Last, but not least was the most dreaded CrossFit movement of all time – the burpee. The burpee is a full body exercise that is performed in four steps. It sounds seemingly easy, but it is one of the more challenging aerobic skills.  Carl was able to skillfully breakdown the various movements in order to reduce time between positions, thereby reducing the level of suck.

The Free+Style Connection Seminar came to an end, prompting everyone to express their gratitude and relish in their new found skills. I would highly recommend this seminar to any and all levels of CrossFit athletes and coaches looking to improve their game and increase their wealth of knowledge. Carl is an engaging speaker and coach that has truly redefined the concept of position and movement with a purpose. The information I gained was invaluable and I am eager to apply it to more complex skills that have a higher demand. 

What was the last seminar you attended? 

Which of the four basic movements would you be most interested in learning more about? 

Favorite Fall Paleo Recipes

Typically during this time of year it’s still pushing 90 degrees, flowers are in full bloom and it is summer by all things considered. But last week in Colorado we experienced one heck of a cold front, complete with snow flurries! Yeah, in September. Needless to say, it made me realize that Fall is here, and it’s here early. Fall is my favorite time of year, despite it’s close proximity to Winter. The temps settle around an ideal 80 degrees and the leaves begin to change to beautiful autumn colors, making for a picture perfect backdrop.

More than anything, I love that Fall brings some of my all time things like scarves, boots and jackets. I get to dig out my cold weather clothes that have been neglected all Summer. It’s like getting a new wardrobe, year after year. Just like my changing wardrobe, my taste buds change dramatically in the Fall as well. I start to crave things like chili, squash and spiced lattes.

At this time last year, I had yet to start CrossFit and knew basically nothing about Paleo, so I am very excited to make my favorite cold weather recipes, Paleo style. Here are just some of Fall Paleo recipes that I can’t wait to give a try…

Favorite Fall Paleo Recipes




Sweet Treats




What do you like most about Fall?

What is your favorite Fall recipe?


RxBar Review: 100% Paleo, 100% Natural, 100% Delicious

My inbox is out of control, my laundry is piling up, and my to-do list is exceeding new bounds. I don’t know if I’m coming or I’m going. What day is it? 

Sound familiar? I know it does to me and I’m sure there’s plenty of you that can relate to not always having enough time in the day. For me personally, between working full time, being a wife, mom to two young boys, homework, soccer and baseball practice, making dinner, cleaning the house, doing laundry, blogging, CrossFit, and going to school on nights/weekends, it’s hard to find the time for anything else, including eating. 

Having perfectly packaged real food meals ready at all times is ideal, but not always possible. And unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of pre-packaged Paleo friendly foods lining the shelves of the local supermarket, and finding a quick high protein meal via drive thru or quick serve is basically impossible. So, what’s a girl to do? 

Up until now, I was winging it, and by winging it I mean settling for something that I would otherwise prefer not to consume. No, I am not running through McDonald’s for a heaping dose of GMOs, but I do have to get creative and sometimes I just need an easy, convenient, grab and go option when going from point A to point B. 

Luckily, I was given the opportunity to try a new protein bar that is unlike any other, the RxBar. With no artificial sugars, gluten, soy, GMOs or dairy, this truly is a no BS bar. Unlike some of the other Paleo-friendly bars on the market, like say Larabars, there’s 15 grams of quality protein from egg whites and raw almonds, and we all know protein is the building block of muscle growth and repair. Intrigued? As was I, so let me tell you more…

What ingredients are in RxBars

Dates. Egg White Protein. Figs. Almonds. Cacao. Coconut and Coconut Oil. Blueberries. Yes, that’s it! 

What flavors does RxBars offer? 

Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, Coconut Cacao, and Coffee Cacao. I’ve tried all flavors and I love all of them equally. If I absolutely had to pick a favorite, I would go with Coffee Cacao or Blueberry.  You really can’t go wrong. 

What do I like most about RxBars

You mean besides how amazing they taste? Probably the fact that they have a great balance of protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates and natural sugars from fruits – the perfect recipe for functional nutrition. 

Where can I buy RxBars

You can buy them from or visit their “Find” page for a local distributor, most of which are CrossFit Affiliates.

RxBar Protein Bars

I love protein bars, but since adopting a Paleo-ish lifestyle, I’ve had to come to the harsh reality that the majority of the protein bars on the market are packed full of insulin spiking sugar or artificial sweeteners, copious amounts of fat, and a whole lot of superficial ingredients. It’s great to know that there is a protein bar company out there that shares the same philosophy that foods should be consumed as nature prescribed – whole, nutrient-dense, healthy and sustainable. 

If you haven’t had the pleasure of trying these hunger satisfying, taste bud rousing, bars of pure bliss, you are seriously missing out!

*I was provided with product by RxBar in exchange for my review. All opinions in this post are 100% my own, and always will be.

What flavor sounds best to you? 

Have you ever tried RxBars? 

What to Expect At a CrossFit Competition

Over the last few years, the CrossFit community has exploded with local and national competitions. Today, they come in all shapes and sizes, one-day, three-day, local, regional, scaled, advanced, individual, team – you name it. But, why are CrossFit competitions wildly popular and sought after experiences? Because even as an amateur you have the opportunity to measure your own progress, appease your competitive spirit and delight in the close-knit community and spirited culture of CrossFit. 

The weeks and days leading up to my first CrossFit competition was packed with all kinds of emotions, both good and bad. I had no clue what to expect. All I knew was that I wanted to have fun giving it my all without passing out, puking or crying. That’s not too much to ask for, is it? I think not. For those of you that missed my competition recap, you’ll be happy to know that I survived without falling victim to any of my fears. More importantly, I learned that I had seriously underestimated the CrossFit culture and my own abilities.

If you’re contemplating competing in a CrossFit competition I am here to urge you on, do it! Go online, sign up and don’t think twice. It will be one of the single best decisions you’ve made – since starting CrossFit that is. 

If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.

To keep your pesky nerves at bay, here is exactly what you can expect to experience at a CrossFit competition:


The infectious and synergistic nature of CrossFit is what makes this insanely challenging sport unique. It is not just evident at The Games. It is also evident at local competitions designed for novice to intermediate athletes. Competitions are packed with energy and enthusiasm; cheering fans, screaming teammates and boisterous commentators make for a lively atmosphere. Droves of fans, friends, family, coworkers and fellow athletes spend hours and even days in the stands or on the sidelines cheering barbarously for those they know and those they’ve never met before. 

Regardless of age or skill level, everyone is bonded by a common goal – to prove their level of fitness and achieve their personal best. You will be proud of the fact that you belong to a community of energetic, supportive and tenacious individuals. Enjoy the experience. 


Check your ego at the door! There is no room for a loser’s mentality here. Your success in a CrossFit competition is not measured by your rank; it is measured by your PR’s. This is where the countless hours of hard work, bloody shins and bruised egos, sweat, tears and pain pays off. This is where you prove to yourself that you are unafraid and unstoppable; that you are a strong and capable competitor. 

Trust me, you will be amazed what your mind and body can accomplish during competition. Perhaps it’s the adrenaline or the hordes of people watching or maybe it’s the cheers and applause from friends, family and teammates. Regardless, you will undoubtedly surpass your own expectations.


In most cases, your wods will be released in the days or weeks leading up to the competition. However, this is not always the case. Take my competition for example, only two of the four wods were released ahead of time. We did our best to develop a strategy within a limited time frame, but it was not exactly ideal. As a result, we experienced a couple hiccups along the way, and that was alright.

This is not the day to let your OCD/control issues take over, roll with the punches. Be prepared to improvise, compromise and comply. Remember, you are not competing for $275,000 and the title of “Fittest Man/Woman of Earth.” You are competing against yourself and for yourself.


We are all inspired by The Games athletes. How could you not be? They are unprecedented specimens of elite athleticism and gross brute strength. I am glued to the television and all social media outlets during The Games, holding my breath, pacing the living room and clinching my fists during each and every wod. The Stacie Tovars, Lauren Fishers and Camille LeBlanc-Bazinets of the world inspired me to start CrossFit in the first place. They are confident, yet humble, and unafraid to fail; they are first-class athletes.

That said, there is something insanely motivating about watching fellow amateur athletes compete. It is the middle-aged working parent that finds time to wod in the early hours of the morning or after a long day at the office that inspires me, and it is this person that I aspire to be. My goals do not align with those of The Games athletes or Regional competitors for that matter, my goals align with Jane Doe from ABC CrossFit that is working towards butterfly pull-ups, ring dips and muscle-ups. At my competition, I vividly recall the sense of determination I felt as I watched in awe as women completed the heaviest weight in the Power Clean ladder. Now that is something I can work towards as a measurable and achievable goal.


A CrossFit competition is about sportsmanship, camaraderie, teamwork and drive; it is the apex of the CrossFit culture. While we do compete against one another, the primary goal is to exceed our own efforts; winning is secondary. We cheer louder and harder for those in last place than those in first. We rally in support of someone that is struggling with a movement or making an attempt at a PR. Everyone wants to see everyone do their very best. It’s infectious, exhilarating and addicting. 

What to Expect At a CrossFit Competition

The truth is CrossFit competitions are everything they’re cracked up to be – fun, uplifting, inspirational, surprising and addicting. If you don’t believe me, go see for yourself. :) 

Wod Love Wednesdays – 250 Wall Balls & One Of The Hardest Wods Ever

Wod Love Wednesday

I did part C of the Invictus Competition Program today and boy was I glad that I didn’t attempt part A and B first. Holy heck, this was probably one of the toughest wods I’ve ever done!  I was literally drenched and on the ground in fetal position afterwards. It doesn’t look overly challenging, but try doing 150 wall balls with a 20 pound ball. I’m not even sure the ball was leaving my finger tips towards the end and I’m pretty sure my chin was raw from catching it with my face cause my arms were so fried. You should try it. :) 

C) EMOM for 30 minutes: 
Minute 1 – 15 Wall Balls (unbroken) (20lbs)
Minute 2 – 10 Toes to Bar 
Minute 3 – 10 Burpee Box Jump Overs 

A) 3×5 Squat Clean 
X-WOD PVC Pipe Jump Overs 2-1-2-1-2

B) 3×5 Push Press 

C) Complete for time: 40-30-20-10
Wall Balls

I worked up to 93 pounds for the squat cleans and 83 pounds for the push press. Needless to say, I was not thrilled to see more wall balls. I was, however, pleased as ever to do them with the 14 pound ball. That thing never felt so light and I finished in 7:14. 

A) 3×3 Weighted Pull-ups 
3×3 Weighted Dips 

B) 3 Rounds for time:
300 meter Run 
15 KBS (35lbs)
12 Slam Balls (20lbs)
9 Strict Pull-ups

I completed the weighted pull-ups with a 25 pound KB, which was my 1 RM back in May. Instead of doing weighted stationary dips I worked on strict ring dips. I was able to link 3 ring dips together, but they were not pretty. I completed part B in 11:10. 

I completed a portion of the Invictus Competition Programming while in Vail for our Anniversary. 

A) Chest Press x 3 rep
Loading per set (by %): 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 80+, 80+, 80
I haven’t done chest press since before starting CrossFit back in January at which time I typically did 6-8 reps at no more than 65 pounds. I was happy to see that my 80+ loads equaled 85 pounds.
B) Shoulder Press x 1 rep
Loading per set (by %): 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 80+, 80+, 80
I completed my 80+ loads with 30 pound dumbbells.
C) 3 Rounds for time:
6 Strict Pull-ups
3 Dips
12 Pistols (alternating)
I completed part C in about 4 minutes time.


monday 2
Since my box was closed on Labor Day, I went to 24 Hour Fitness to complete parts C and D of the Invictus Competition Programming. I was not comfortable doing heavy high hang snatches, so I skipped parts A and B. 

A) E2M and 30 seconds for 20 minutes (8 sets): Back Squat
Set 1 – 6 reps @ 65% of 1-RM or 105 pounds 
Set 2 – 4 reps @ 75% of 1-RM or 122 pounds 
Set 3 – 2 reps @ 85% of 1-RM or 138 pounds 
Set 4 – 6 reps @ 75% of 1-RM or 122 pounds 
Set 5 – 4 reps @ 85% of 1-RM or 138 pounds 
Set 6 – 2 reps @ 95% of 1-RM or 154 pounds 
Set 7 – 4 reps @ 90% of 1-RM or 146 pounds 
Set 8 – 4 reps @ 90% of 1-RM or 146 pounds 

B) 3 Rounds for time:
12 T2B
9 Strict HSPU
6 OHS (125lbs)

I can’t come anywhere close to doing OHS with 125 pounds, so I used 60 pounds.

C) Run 1 mile

Anytime I work out in a normal gym, which is not often, I am reminded how much I love CrossFit and do not miss the typical gym atmosphere. 

 A) 5×5 Front Squat
X-WOD Long Jump + High Jump 2-1-2-1-2

B) 15 minute AMRAP:
5 Strict Pull-ups
10 Push Press (55lbs) 
16 Jumping Lunges (alternating)

I worked up to 123 pounds for the front squats and completed part B with 9 rounds and 15 sets. 

Happy Training! 

What was your favorite workout this week? 

What is the hardest workout you’ve ever done? 

An Anniversary Getaway in Vail

Two years ago this weekend, my husband purposed to me in Vail, CO. After spending the day at Gourmet on Gore, a culinary festival in Vail Village, we dined at the legendary Sweet Basil and then walked the cobblestone streets of the quaint mountain town. Then, he pulled me aside and asked for my hand in marriage. It was everything a girl could dream about!

Two wedding dresses and twelve months later, we were married at Space Art Gallery surrounded by our closest friends and family. Let’s all be glad that I did not have a blog throughout the course of my wedding planning because it was absolute mayhem. I was a crazy Pinterest, Craigslist, Bravo TV obsessed DIY bridezilla. In the end, my black and gold Art Deco/Gatsby inspired theme surpassed all my expectations and turned out to be well worth it, complete with a wall of string lights, candy table, champagne Jello, signature cocktails, champagne fountain, and cigar bar. My husband was handsome as ever in his James Bond looking custom suit and my boys stole the show with their dance moves. It was the perfect start to our life together as husband and wife.
For our first anniversary we decided to go back to Vail for a beautiful weekend in the mountains. For those of you that have not been to Vail Village, it is nestled at the base of Vail Ski Resort and is something out of a fairytale. The local shops and hotels are reminiscent of European chateaus; charm and luxury is the status quo. With grand chandeliers, award winning cuisine, and apres hot spots, it is wonderful belief.
We headed out of town Friday afternoon with just enough time to make our evening reservation at Mountain Standard, a new modern American restaurant from the creators of Sweet Basil. We started off with a celebratory oyster shooter. If you like oysters even in the slightest, I would highly recommend this. I’m not one for the taste of hard alcohol, but the cocktail sauce seemed to cut through the vodka quite well.
We took the recommendation of our server and went with the Stone Fruit appetizer – grilled nectarine, goat cheese, pickled cherries, cashew granola, and surryanno ham. This was fresh and innovative and simply divine. The Korean BBQ Steak Tartare was equally fantastic.
Mountain Standard_2014 3

For entrees, we shared the Colorado Lamb Sirloin with ratatouille vegetables, crisp polenta, truffle fondue, black olive oil and the Cedar River Ribeye Steak with
crisp fingerling potato, salsa brava, mushroom and asparagus salad. We were thoroughly impressed with everything and our empty plates were proof of our satisfied tummies.

Mountain Standard_2014
After an evening of feasting, I was adamant about working out on Saturday morning, but as fantastic as our hotel was, it did not come complete with a fitness facility. I made the less than sensible decision to pay the $35 day rate at the Vail Vitality Fitness Center in order to have access to their gym. I did the following workout, a compilation of missed Invictus Competition Programming workouts of prior days.
A) Chest Press x 3 rep
Loading per set (by %): 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 80+, 80+, 80
I haven’t done chest press since before starting CrossFit back in January at which time I typically did 6-8 reps at no more than 65 pounds. I was happy to see that my 80+ loads equaled 85 pounds.
B) Shoulder Press x 1 rep
Loading per set (by %): 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 80+, 80+, 80
I completed my 80+ loads with 30 pound dumbbells.
C) 3 Rounds for time:
6 Strict Pull-ups
3 Dips
12 Pistols (alternating)
I completed part C in about 4 minutes time.
Before enjoying the open air tasting and world class wine of Gourmet on Gore, we strolled past the very spot he proposed. #romantic
Gourmet on Gore_2014 3
After scoping out all the culinary delights, we cashed in for gourmet dollars and proceed to try everything from etoufee to ahi tuna. I washed it all down with a glass of my all time favorite drink, champagne. I love bubbly, a lot!
Gourmet on Gore_2014 2
Gourmet on Gore_2014 1
Our last stop was Batter, where we picked up two cupcakes that would be sure to satisfy our late night sweet tooth. Naturally, I opted for the banana cake topped with peanut butter frosting and  maple bacon crumbles. Mmmmm, bacon. The last time I had a non-Paleo dessert was our honeymoon, so this was a well deserved treat! And yes, we share food all the time.
Gourmet on Gore_2014 4
Before heading out of town on Sunday, we made a quick stop for some breakfast and then proceed to the Vail Farmer’s Market. I love going to Farmer’s Markets and Vail has quite an impressive one, but the drizzly rain and chilly temperature made it a bit difficult to enjoy. I was more interested in warming up at the local Starbucks.
Vail Farmers Market

Revisiting Vail was an amazing way to celebrate our first year of marriage and I look forward to celebrating many more to come, hopefully back in the same charming mountain town. It is hard to believe that it has already been a year, but I guess time flies when you’re having fun!

Gourmet on Gore_2014

As for the rest of the weekend, it was committed to grocery shopping, food prep, laundry and other not so blog worthy tasks. Sad, but true. I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday weekend, and I can’t wait to hear all about it.

What did you do this Labor Day weekend?

What was the best thing you ate this weekend?

Wod Love Wednesdays – Invictus Competition Programming & A Box Jump Blunder

Wod Love Wednesday

A) Max Height Box Jump – I didn’t actually do this part. 

B) 12 minute AMRAP:
3 Strict HSPU
6 Front Squats (95/65)
9 Box Jumps (30/24)

Caution Box Jumps

I completed part B RX with 8 rounds and 6 sets, and walked away with one heck of a bruise that stretches nearly the entire length of my shin. Ouch! 

A) 1 RM Snatch
B) 2 minute max Double-unders
C) 100 Plate Burpees for time 

My 1 RM Snatch was 73# and a new PR! I completed 130 double-unders in 2 minutes time, 73 of which were unbroken. Part C I was less than thrilled to complete after having just did 75 burpees over the bar in my competition, but I learned that plate burpees aren’t quite as bad as over the bar burpees. I finished in 8:30. 

Invictus Competition Programming:

A) EMOM for 10 minutes:
Back Squat x 1 rep
Sets 1-2 – 55%
Sets 3-4 – 65%
Sets 5-6 – 75%
Sets 7-8 – 80%
Sets 9-10 – 85%

This translated to loads of 89, 89, 105, 105, 122, 122, 130, 130, 138, 138 pounds.

B) Every 90 seconds, for 15 minutes (10 sets):
Split Jerk x 1 rep
Loads per set (by %): 55, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 95+, 95+

This translated to loads of 55, 65, 70, 75 80, 85, 90, 90, 90

C) 12 minute AMRAP of:
40 Double-Unders
2 Muscle-Ups 
4 Power Cleans (185/135 lbs)
8 Push Press (185/135 lbs)

I did Part C with 65 pounds and subbed the Muscle -Ups for 6 C2B and 6 Ring Dips. 

Invictus Competition Programming: 

A) Three sets of:
60 seconds of L-Seated Ring Support Hold (accumulate as much time under tension as possible)
Rest 30 seconds
60 Seconds of Handstand Walk (accumulate as much distance as possible)
Rest 30 seconds

B) Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 6 minutes of:
3 Squat Snatches (175/115 lbs) *I used 65 pounds 
6 Burpees Over the Barbell
9 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

Rest exactly 4 minutes, and then . . .

C) Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 6 minutes of:
3 Squat Snatches (155/105 lbs) *I used 60 pounds 
6 Burpees Over the Barbell
9 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

Rest exactly 4 minutes, and then . . .

D)Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 6 minutes of:
3 Squat Snatches (135/95 lbs) *I used 55 pounds 
6 Burpees Over the Barbell
9 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups


monday 2
Invictus Competition Programming: 

A) E2M for 12 minutes (6 sets):
Hang Snatch (mid-thigh) + Snatch @ 80-85% of 1-RM Snatch

I used 60 pounds for Part A. 

B) E2M for 10 minutes (5 sets):
4-Stop Halting Snatch Deadlift @ 95-105% of 1-RM Snatch
(Pause for 3 seconds at each of the following positions: 2″ off the floor, mid-patella, mid-thigh, “pockets”/high hang – USE STRAPS)

I did 105% of my 1 RM Snatch for a total of 82 pounds. 

C) Every 2 minutes and 30 seconds for 20 minutes (8 sets): Back Squat
Set 1 – 6 reps @ 60% of 1-RM
Set 2 – 4 reps @ 70%
Set 3 – 2 reps @ 80%
Set 4 – 6 reps @ 70%
Set 5 – 4 reps @ 80%
Set 6 – 2 reps @ 90%
Set 7 – 4 reps @ 85%
Set 8 – 4 reps @ 85%

My 1 RM Back Squat is 163 pounds, which translated to 98, 114, 130, 114, 130, 147, 138, 138. 

 A) EMOM for 12 minutes:
1 – Handstand Walk
2 – x10 Ring V-Outs 
3- x8 Strict Pull-ups 

B) Strict Press

Completed with 65, 70, 70, 85, 65, 70, 70, 85, 55 pounds. The 85# rep was a new PR by 5 pounds! 

C) Against a five-minute running clock
Row 750 Meters, immediately followed by, as many reps as possible in the remaining time of:
Muscle-Up + 2 Dips *Substituted with 3 C2B Pull-ups and 2 Dips 

Rest 2 minutes, and then…

Against a five-minute running clock,
Run 800 Meters, immediately followed by, as many reps as possible in the remaining time of:
Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

Rest 2 minutes, and then…

Against a five-minute running clock,
Row 750 Meters, immediately followed by, as many reps as possible in the remaining time of:
Muscle-Up + 2 Dips *Substituted with 3 C2B Pull-ups and 2 Dips 

I completed 2 full sets of C2B Pull-ups/Dips for both the first and third round, and 8 C2B for round two. 

Part C was pulled from the Invictus Competition Program, but the rest was customized by my coach. I have come to absolutely love the Invictus workouts. CJ Martin’s extensive knowledge is evident in the success he’s had training some of the “fittest on earth,” including Josh Bridges and Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, to name a few. The workouts prescribed are long, typically requiring 90 minutes, include a lot of foundation strength work, and are ultimately designed to warrant a level of fitness that exceeds the general level of preparedness. 

Happy Training! 

What was your favorite workout this week? 

Have you heard of Invictus? Want to know more? 


Enter to Win $500 in Reebok Gift Cards

Want a new pair of Reebok Nanos? New workout attire? A new gym bag? How about all of it, all for free?  That’s right, FREE! 

Reebok is hosting a Fall Fitness Giveaway where both you and I can each win $500 in Reebok gift cards! To enter, simply check out from now through 8/31, pick out your favorite fitness item (apparel, shoes, accessories, and more) and post a link to that item in the comments section below. It’s that easy! 

Reebok will announce their winner on 9/2, and if we win, I’ll announce my winner on 9/3!

I could use a pair of CrossFit Plus 2.0 Lifters, how about you? 

*Open to US Residents Only
**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Good luck and happy shopping! 

Paleo Angel Food Cake with Strawberries & Coconut Whip Cream

Just because I eat mostly Paleo doesn’t mean that I don’t love and crave sugar. Sweetness is and always will be my flavor of choice.

Luckily, there are so many alternatives out there that actually do sugar justice. Coconut palm sugar, stevia, agave syrup and raw honey are all acceptable substitutes in my opinion, and I’ve come to know and love them all.

That said, I am human. I know the pleasurable sensation that accompanies the taste of sweetness; the activation of taste receptors, the immediate release of dopamine, and the uplifting effect of serotonin. There’s no denying the rewarding feeling that accompanies the consumption of sugar; it is divine. For a sacchariferous fiend like myself, it is this very flavor explosion and chemical reaction in my brain that makes it difficult to abstain from indulging in candy-coated, syrupy, chocolaty, delicious, sugared goodness.

Eating Paleo has done wonders for my sweet tooth. Keeping my blood sugar in check is no longer a vicious cycle. With a balanced diet of adequate protein, carbohydrates and fat, I am able to ward of fatigue and substantially diminish any insulin dependency that is likely to strike as a result of low blood sugar. I have more energy, better mental clarity and very rarely experience cravings of any kind.

But let’s be real, Larabars and sweet potatoes don’t always satisfy my insatiable appetite for sugar. Paleo Angel Food Cake with Strawberries & Coconut Whip Cream, however, does! So, every now and again I have to channel my inner Betty Crocker and put my Paleo pastry skills to the test. This faux dessert was simple, required only a handful of ingredients and was an easy clean up. My family absolutely loved it and had no clue that it was Paleo-friendly, grain free, sugar free, dairy free and gluten free. Trust me, it’s that good!

Paleo Angel Food Cake with Strawberries & Coconut Whip Cream

Paleo Angel Food Cake with Strawberries & Coconut Whip Cream
Serves 4
Paleo, Grain Free, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
For the cake
  1. 1/2 cup Arrowroot Powder
  2. 1/2 cup Coconut Flour
  3. 11 Egg Whites
  4. 1-1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  5. 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  6. Pinch of Salt
  7. 1-1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  8. 3/4 cup Sugar substitute (I used Coconut Palm Sugar)
For the topping
  1. 1 can full fat Coconut Cream, refrigerate overnight (I used Organic Thai Kitchen)
  2. 2 cups sliced Strawberries
  3. Zest of Lemon
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine coconut flour, arrowroot flour and salt, sift if necessary. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks begin to form. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat for 1-2 minutes. Add vanilla and baking soda, followed by 1-3 tablespoons of sugar substitute at a time, continue to beat until firm peaks form, approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, slowly fold dry ingredients into the egg whites. Do not complete this step using a mixture as you do not want to flatten the egg whites. Cut and fold, people.
  5. Pour batter into an ungreased pan of your choice (bundt or similar) I used two mini muffin tins.
  6. Bake 50–60 minutes or until the top in nicely browned and cake springs back when firmly pressed.
  7. Allow to cool upside down on a cooling rack .
For the topping
  1. Open coconut can and carefully drain the liquid. Note: Open the can from the bottom.
  2. Scoop cream into a small bowl and mix until firm. Add sugar substitute and vanilla for taste.
  3. Top cake with sliced strawberries, coconut whip cream and zest of lemon.
  4. Enjoy!
Beauty and the Box | Exploring CrossFit, Health and Real Food One Blog Post At A Time
Eating Paleo does not mean never eating dessert! If it did, I would seriously have to question my own sanity. There are countless Paleo friendly dessert recipes out there that will satisfy your sweet tooth. This is just one of many!

What is your flavor of choice? Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Umami, Salty?

What is your favorite Paleo dessert?

What do you crave most?

My First CrossFit Competition

Over the weekend I competed in my first CrossFit competition, the 2nd Annual Fossil Games. It was a team master’s competition consisting of teams of 4 (2 men/2 women). The only requirement was that all team members had to be 30+ years old. Yep, they used the word “fossil” to define those of us that were eligible to compete, as in someone or something that is old and outdated. When the heck did 30 become old? I thought 30 was the new 20. I would hardly consider myself or any other CrossFit competitor an antiquated or stubbornly unchanging person or thing – just for the record. ;) 

I didn’t post too much about the competition over the last few weeks – probably because I was more nervous than a pig in a bacon factory. Luckily, the closer competition day came, the better I was at channeling my emotions into motivation. I trained hard, ate clean, and ultimately knew that there wasn’t anything else I could have done to prepare.

My First CrossFit Competition

The night before the competition, I was surprisingly calm. After packing all of my food, supplements, gear and clothing, which was a task in and of itself, I went to bed early in hopes of waking bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Packing for a CrossFit Competition Picture26

Unfortunately, my pre-contest jitters could only be suppressed for so long. I woke up well before my alarm, before the sunrise, and probably before any seemingly normal human being. Before leaving, I had my go-to morning protein shake with 1 cup unflavored coconut milk, 1 cup berries and 1 scoop natural whey protein, followed by half a sweet potato. I think one of the best pieces of advice I received was to not try anything new on the day of competition. I chose to pack stuff that I knew would be appealing – ground chicken sausage and sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, almond butter, Larabars, Quest Bars, and protein powder. Food aside, this is not the day to try out a new pair of shoes, take a new supplement or change to using a hook grip. This is a great time to follow the KISS principle: keep it simple, stupid.

My nerves seemed to perk up en route to the competition. Apparently, I was taking in some really big deep breaths because my husband kept asking me if I was going to be okay. Haha! At least my erratic breathing seemed to distract him from the fact that I was nervously fidgeting and tapping my foot incessantly. When we arrived, the butterflies in my stomach seemed to dissipate some. It was silly being nervous in a place full of smiling faces, lawn chairs, coolers and knee high socks. It was a great place to be, among other able-bodied 30+ athletes.

My First CrossFit Competition

It was during the athlete orientation that I learned that the 75 burpees I was about to do were going to be burpees over the bar. What is it with CrossFit competitions having last minute twists and turns? In the scheme of things, it wasn’t a big deal, burpees are burpees, and they suck no matter what.

WOD 1 “The 4’s”
75 burpees
1 mile run
½ mile run with kettlebells (weight must total 70lbs)
50 clean and jerk (ranging from 95 to 155 pounds)

Each team member had to complete one leg of the workout and tag the hand of the next partner before they could begin the next leg.

My First CrossFit Competition

3 . 2 . 1 . GO!

In my case, jumping the over the bar translated to an additional 1 minute and 15 seconds. After 6 minutes time, I stumbled out the door to tag my teammate, Stephanie, for her portion of the relay, a 1 mile run. I was immediately hit with a horrific case of Fran Lung, which proceeded to stay with me for the next 48 hours. Not so much fun. Andrew was tasked with the ½ mile run and then Jake completed the 50 reps of clean and jerks at 115 pounds. We finished in 13th place.

My First CrossFit Competition

75 Burpees Over the Bar

My First CrossFit Competition

We had a little over an hour before our next event. It was still a bit early for chicken, so I opted for a protein shake and apple to refuel.  With the first wod behind me, I was able to relax and enjoy the experience with the friends that came to cheer us on. And, a huge thanks to those that did!  It was so great to have the support. My husband was especially amazing that day. He was in bed early and up at the crack of dawn with me, and didn’t complain once about having to take photos all day long.

WOD 2 “The Ladder”
Women – Clean ladder 3 rep max touch and go from 65 pounds to 145 pounds, jumping up in weight by 10 pound increments.

Men – Deadlift from 225 pounds to 465 pounds, jumping up in weight by 30 pound increments.

Both athletes had a total of 50 seconds to perform 3 touch and go reps with 10 seconds to transition.

Even though I wasn’t able to finish the ladder, I thoroughly enjoyed this wod. I like the fact that it gave athletes the chance to improve their personal bests. If you’re ever going to hit a PR, this is the best place to do it.


My First CrossFit Competition The Clean Ladder

I recently attempted this ladder during a workout, so I was pretty confident as to where I would fall off the ladder. I completed one clean at 115 pounds, but I was unable to perform the other two in succession. Stephanie had a huge PR and completed the ladder through 135 pounds! The guys destroyed the deadlifts, both making it to 435-465 pounds. Another 13th place finish for us. We were consistent, if anything.

With an hour and a half until wod 3, I figured I better try and eat something a bit more substantial, so I ate ground chicken sausage and half a sweet potato. It’s a good thing I had a Kill Cliff on ice because the down time definitely stole some of my thunder. At one point, my hubby and I took a corner of the indoor soccer field and attempted to rest. It was a failed attempt. Who was I kidding?

WOD 3 “Jumpy”
The third wod was a bouncy house obstacle course. Yes, the inflatable kind complete with jump through openings, pop ups, log jams, squeeze walls and crawl tubes. Seriously. Each team member had to traverse through the course, sprint back to the starting line and tag the next person. Once all members were through the course, everyone had to sprint down the field and the total time was marked. It looked a little something like this: Jumpy.

It was senseless fun, but it also proved to be a bit dangerous. Everyone came out with rug burns (or rubber burns in this case) and one unlucky fellow dislocated his shoulder. We finished in 11th place with a time of 1:30.

WOD 4 “Floater”
This made “Jumpy” seem like Disneyland. Someone with questionable intentions had the bright idea to weld together two sleds to create for a 4 person sled push. One might argue that this seems ingenious for a team competition, but I would beg to differ. Points were given for every fence post passed and every time you returned to the starting point you had to add a plate, the plates ranged from 15-45 pounds. I don’t know what the total weight was, but it felt like about a billion pounds.

My First CrossFit Competition

Sled Push


We had an air tight game plan that fell apart after the first run, so we improvised. Unfortunately, I don’t think they gave us points for our improvisation. A trial run would have made all the difference, but that’s all I want to say about that. Moving on… :)

WOD 5 “Sprint Grid”
Suicides with 200 pound sandbags
20 clusters with 75 pounds
20 double-unders (unbroken)
20 kettlebell snatch with 65/35 pounds
8 partner squats
20 box jump overs
8 burpees with a 9.5’ target

The only requirement was that you had to return to your team to tag the next person, but other than that, we were allowed to divide it up in any which way.

This was my favorite workout of the day, perhaps because I was only responsible for 20 unbroken double-unders and partner squats, in which I was not actually doing the squatting. It was fun, fast paced, and the epitome of what I envisioned for a team competition. And, a great way to end the day!

My First CrossFit Competition

20 Unbroken Double-Unders

My First CrossFit Competition

Partner Squats

I left the competition feeling happy about my performance and thankful that I agreed to compete even though I was nervous. I will be the first to admit that I wish I hadn’t spent so much time worrying about the maximum weight limits and wods. I wish I had been content in knowing that it would challenging, but more than that a fun and memorable experience surrounded by fellow CrossFit enthusiasts.

My First CrossFit Competition

The Team

The most surprisingly realization that came from my first CrossFit competition was not how much fun it was because I was expecting to have all kinds of fun. I was not, however, expecting to be thinking about future competitions before even getting out of the parking lot. I think CrossFit is one of the greatest sports because of its scalability. Whether you are in your first year of training or your tenth, there is always room for improvement, and there is always a way to satisfy your competitive spirit. In CrossFit, competition is not solely reserved for the elite athletes that are considered the fittest on earth. It recognizes all ages and all levels; it does not discriminate.

The spirited and synergistic atmosphere is reason enough to compete again, but more than that it was a great way to measure myself again my fellow fossils. Not everyone that does CrossFit has the desire to compete and that’s okay, but I most certainly do. For now, it is back to the box for me where I plan to focus on building my strength, endurance and mobility. Till next time…

My First CrossFit Competition

Have you ever competed in a CrossFit competition?

If not, do you have any desire to? What is holding you back?

How do you handle your pre-contest jitters?