Probably the least adhered to part of the Crossfit ethos is regularly learning and playing new sports. I personally like competing, regardless of how I think that I will place, and I like getting out of my comfort zone. Its funny to me that people will start Crossfitting because they were bored with what they were doing and wanting to try something new only to get stuck in a rut of thrusters and kettlebell swings.
Maybe its a testament to the programming of Crossfit that people don’t lose interest, but I like to hedge my bets against that possibility by trying something new.
This last weekend I roped two of my buddies in to participating in the Northeast Florida Highland Games. Having not so much as google searched what the events were and sans kilt, we showed up completely unprepared and having no idea what was going on.
Thankfully there was a novice category with a judge willing to explain the events to us.
The first event was the weight over bar.
The idea was to get a 42lb weight on a chain over the highest bar possible. I got up to 10ft. Upon seeing the demonstration, it was clear that this was just a kettlebell snatch where you let go at the top. Easy enough.
The next event was the sheaf toss.
Here’s the video of my buddy Gaab doing it. This one involved stabbing a 20lb hay bag with a pitchfork and than flicking it over a bar. I couldn’t figure out any parallel for this, but I got it up to 16 feet. Gaab wound up winning with this toss
The next two events involved throwing the weight on a chain. One weighted 42lbs and the other 55lbs. There was a big difference in feeling between the two.
I didn’t do so well on this. The spinning technique sort of escaped me and I wound up getting my best throws from just muscling through it all.
Next we did the stone throw. I think it weighed around 20lbs.
We through the famous Herman’s Head, which is apparently a very famous stone throughout the south east. According to our judge: “Herman’s Head is a very eccentric stone with a lot of personality that the competitors really like.”
Theres two techniques for stone throwing. You can slide and throw or Bry Mawr where you stay in place. I’m a slider
By far the best event was the hammer throw. This is a 20lb weight on a stick
This event involved standing with your back to a poll, grabbing the handle, swinging this hammer around your head and chucking it over a shoulder.
No one died which was surprising. I was the only one who chose (read: had) to choke up on the hammer so it wouldn’t hit the ground as I swung it.
The caber (telephone poll flip) was last. After a long day of standing in the sun, it was nice to go back inside. The pictures and the event both ended poorly. This was the only one that required a lot of technique that you couldn’t just figure out.
Even though only one of the events closely mimicked anything we do in Crossfit or that I’d ever done before, we all placed pretty well. The results aren’t published yet, but I think Gaab got first out of the 17 novices. Some had some Highland Games experience and all had at least gone to a workshop.
We may not have fared better in the C or B classes, but it serves as a testament that Crossfitting will prepare you enough that you can show up to something completely ignorant of the rules and events and not embarrass yourself.
The weekend was a lot of fun and definitely a good change of pace and scenery.
Here’s my thoughts on the question about sweeteners
The biggest problem I have with sugar substitutes, regardless where they come from is that it’s a non-natural (hence artificial) chemical that you’re shoving into your body. Natural sweeteners-such as agave, stevia, etc- they are a super concentrated form of a natural sugar that you are consuming in an unnaturally high level.
Most of the studies done on artificial sweeteners and their affect on insulin are done on rats or on individuals that are already insulin resistant-even if they are not diagnosed as diabetic.
Mark Sisson came to the conclusion that artificial sweeteners do not cause a net insulin increase in the body.
I take issue with this because the taste of sweetness has a mental and physical affect on the body as a whole. Ever look at a picture of a cupcake when you’re hungry? Even though you know you can’t eat, smell, taste, or touch it you have a Pavlovian response. Your mouth will salivate, you can almost taste how good it will be, and your hunger for it increases.
The conscious and sub-conscious are so closely tied that I find it hard to believe that the taste or thought of anything sugary doesn’t cause an affect.
This does not mean you should do some sort of illuminati form of penance whenever you think an impure thought about eating a doughnut, but that there is some affect.
The other problem is that since there has yet to be a long term study of any of these products–and think of all of them as some form of chemical concoction made by a presumably mad scientist in upstate New York. This is partly due to their recent development.
We simply don’t know how any of them affect the human body on a chemical level in the long run.
The bottom line, is that everything in unnatural concentration can kill you. These chemicals and super concentrated forms of natural sugar can/do/will have a powerful affect on your body. It may not be immediate sabotage, but it could be additional wear and tear that over the long term can have serious consequences.
Hope this helps
Thanks to everyone for coming out to the nutrition lecture yesterday. I had a great time giving it and I hope everyone got a lot out of it. Feel free to send me a message (Matthew Hoff) at anytime. The encore/improved/make up presentation is tentatively scheduled for sometime this week, probably weds at 1900.
This morning for breakfast I made three of the eggs from the Razor farm. I picked them up at the lecture yesterday and was near giddy while cooking them. The eggs were a near religious experience. There is no comparing the taste between even the high end Fresh Market eggs and these eggs. Especially in the yolk.
The difference is even greater when it comes to the fatty acid profile. Eggs are an essential source of choline, which is one of the most important micronutrient
Even flax fed chickens raised “cage free” produce eggs that are unnaturally high in polyunsaturated fatty acid. They should be high in GOOD saturated fat
With eggs, taste definitely follows function
Two posts in one morning a rare luxury. No recipe this time, just a ramble with some good information. Eating Paleo can be expensive, this is a fact that us Paleo messengers try to avoid and gloss over. In an ideal world, we’d all be able to walk into the garden and effortless pick the freshest and ripest vegetables, have fresh milled oil, and spend the day leisurely fishing. But in the real world this isn’t possible. Food cost money and time.
Its important to prioritize how you spend your food money economically to make this a sustainable life style. Eating plenty of meat and doesn’t mean T-Bone and Lobster every night, but means that you’ll need to find a way to make the most of less popular cuts of meat.
And then there’s vegetables. While the organic crazy generally focuses on the health benefits of organic vegetables, its hard to quantify exactly what these benefits are. Nutritional analysis has shown that the micro and macro nutrient ratios of organic and conventionally raised vegetables are nearly identical.
The real difference comes in taste and contamination. Organic vegetables are more likely to be in season (therefore tasting better and having the highest possible quantities of micronutrients).
Contamination is a little more complicated. One of the themes for Monday’s Nutrition Lecture that I’m going to harp on is that “You are what you eat AND You are what you eat eats”. This is a fairly simple concept with meat and fish, but plants eat too. You can was the round up pesticide off of the leaves of the lettuce, but as the plant feeds from the soil it absorbs and stores the chemicals from its environment.
This also goes for out of season foods that come from far off countries. Ask anyone in the gym who has traveled the third world about what farms look like. I know that if I ever saw dates that were grown in Iraq, I would never buy them. Not that American farms are much, better, but we can at least be relatively sure that our carrots weren’t raised in a field flooded with industrial run off.
Some plants absorb and store chemicals and the contents of their soil more than others. When its time to decide between conventionally raised and organically raised foods, here is the way I prioritize when to buy organic. As a general rule of thumb, the darker the plant, the more it absorbs
1. Meat and Seafood (worthy of its own post)
2. Dark, leafy greens (most absorptive)
3. Dark colored fruits
5. Squashes and tubers
Here is a pretty handy pocket guide from Grinning Plant. It’s a printable wallet-sized guide to pesticides in plants
Beef Oxtail and Sunchoke Stew
This is really a perfect thrifty meal for this time of year. Although its been unseasonably warm recently, having a warm stew with seasonal vegetables is about as good as it can get.
The yield of 1 oxtail
2 cups of homemade beef broth
3 medium carrots
1 cup of Sunchokes
1 tbsp of sea salt
1 tbsp of thyme
Making this dish only takes about 20 minutes of actual work, but its a lengthy process to do it right.
First start by making the beef broth. This is as simple as boiling left over bones in water. I start by broiling left over bones from any bone-in cut of meat for five minutes. This will enhance the the yield from the bone into the pot. The idea is to extract as much of the flavor and the minerals from the bone as possible into the water. This also has the added benefit of making the meat remaining on the bone fall off more easily.
Using beef broth instead of water will help to thicken, flavor, and add important vitamins and minerals to your stew.
Add the bones to the pot of boiling water. Whatever root vegetables or spices you want to add are optional and acceptable. I used an onion that was about to go bad and some salt.
Let boil for about an hour, reduce the heat and let simmer for another 2 or 3 hours. Strain and store. Let sit at least overnight so the flavors can homogenize.
Next to make the stew. The general rule of thumb is, never make a stew the same day you plan on eating it. It needs to cook for several hours and to rest for several more before being perfectly ready.
Cut the carrots in halves or thirds depending on their size and cut the sunchokes into quarters if they are large. The sunchokes are a denser, starchier root and will take longer to cook. Add the vegetables, broth, Oxtail, and spices to the crock pot. Let it cook on the low heat setting for 6 to 7 hours. Let sit overnight.
About 3 hours before you want to eat it, remove the crock pot from the refrigerator and use the lowest eat setting to gently warm it up without doing any additional cooking.
The stew will give you:
1109 calories, 34g of fat, 95g of carbs, 105g of protein and 100% of your RDA for Vitamin A, Copper, Iron, and Manganese*
*Note: I couldn’t find the micronutrient data for oxtail, so the numbers are probably much
This is an excellent example of getting a lot of miles out of one Paleo dish. I got my oxtail from where I always get my grass-fed meat (especially important because its a fattier cut). The pound of oxtail cost me $7.99. The cost of the beef broth was free, since I already used those bones for dinner once before. I don’t remember the cost exactly, but that amount of sunchokes and carrots was certainly under five dollars. So for a grand total of about twelve bucks and about twenty minutes of actual work. I made lunch and dinner for today.