Crossfit Specialty Course: Gymnastics

Crossfit Gymnastics is my third Crossfit Certification and even though its hard to pick favorites, this cert was really freaking rad!  First off, the cert was in Hong Kong.  I took a direct flight (2 hours) from Naha to Hong Kong.  After a thirty minute bus I checked into my hotel (there was a lady playing a harp in the lobby!!)!  That night I scoped out the nearest Starbucks, did a map study, and then hit the sheets.

In the morning, I got my Starbucks and grabbed a taxi to the box.  Destination: Crossfit Asphodel (pronounced: ass fa del).  The taxi pulled up to a building with a very large garage-like opening.  Inside were four employees guarding three elevators who did not speak a lick of English.  I tried pointing at my shoes and shirt and saying “crossfit” slowly but my game of charades got me no where.  Since I was a hearty 30 minutes early I figured if I just walked around looking lost; someone was bound to find me.  Five minutes later a Kool-Aid drinker emerged from the elevators, eyeballed me and said, “11th floor”.  Then he turned to the guards and yelled in Chinese Cantonese.  Next thing I knew I was in an elevator heading to a crossfit gym on the 11th floor of a building.

I was greeted by a coach who introduced himself (I couldn’t hear his name over the butterflies in my stomach), checked his papers and gave me a name tag: I’m in.  There were only 5 other athletes at this point; all of whom seemed to know each other and had no desire to make a new friend.  Within thirty minutes all of the crossfit elements had arrived: beards, knee high socks, lulu lemon booty shorts, tattoos, rok tape, Regionals Tshirt, and a ton of  ridiculously beautiful smiles.

The coaches introduced themselves: Chuck from Florida (AKA gymnastics Jesus), Jen from Perth (Olympic Athlete) and Kevin (imagine: pure fitness meets humble pie) from Boston.  The lead coach, Chuck, asked the group “how many of you are trainers or coaches?  Competitors?  Injured?”  I was the only one without their hands in the air and I couldn’t help but think: man, these people have long arms.  Chuck followed up with a whole spiel on why gymnastics was vital to crossfit, what we could expect from the course, and of course: safety.

When Chuck went through the expectations I started to really get nervous: pull ups, ring dips, levers, planches and muscle ups.  I knew right away I was waaaaaay out of my league. Once we broke free to start our “warm ups”, I pulled Chuck and Jen aside and informed them of my fitness level.  Instead of pointing out the obvious and laughing at me, they literally put their arms around me and reassured me that not only would I benefit from this course, but I have the most to gain.  Well played.

Off I went, trying to keep up.  We went through the basics with a fine toothed comb: bear walk, crab walk, and of course: superman and hollow.  I spent a lot of the weekend as a third wheel, but I didn’t mind.  I felt like I was brushing shoulders with some big dawgs!

The big lesson I learned from the first day: lat activation.  I need to do a whole lot more of this.  I have always thought the biceps were the big player in the pull up and I could never imagine my little guns moving my whoooooooole body and bringing my chin above the bar.  BUT, I was wrong.  The lats are the major player in the pull up.   Huh, good to know.

The lat: largest muscle in the back.

The lat: largest muscle in the back.

After the first day I was able to sneak in a bit-of-a-chat after hours with the trainers and got to know them a bit more on the personal side.  Even though their knowledge of fitness, their gorgeous physics and their crossfit-godliness didn’t change the fact that they are actually human.  They arrive late, talk about family, take pictures of a dreary skyline and follow the lost into the subways.  Totally. Rad. Humans.

The second day flew by ridiculously fast.  We went through the muscle up, paralettes and handstands but my favorite was finding a modification to the ring dip.  I’ll be using a lot of what I learned in my garage gym, but the ring dip with the heels on a box feels like an epiphany!

I wish I could go through page after page of the notes I took, but this cert did cost a pretty penny.  If you’d like to feel yourself do a ring dip, reverse lever, planche hand stand, or a muscle up- these two days will get you there.

About a week before this cert I created my first crossfit goal: 3 unassisted kipping pull ups in a row.  After what I learned this weekend I really want to change my goal to a strict pull up.  But, I’m not going to.  Instead, I’m going to add the strict pull up as a goal.  Its all about the progression.

Crossfit Gymnastics Cert

Crossfit Gymnastics Cert


Donny Shankle Seminar

This weekend I spent 8 hours on Saturday and Sunday participating in a Weightlifting Seminar with Olympic Weightlifter Donny Shankle.  Even though the only moves he dissected were the snatch and the clean & jerk, I learned a lot more than I had expected.

Ten Things I learned from Olympic Weightlifter Donny Shankle:

  1. Weightlifters are a bunch of bad asses.
  2. Weightlifters lift in kilos.  Times pounds by 2.2 to get kilos.
  3. Need to have the right kit: Olympic (oly) weightlifting shoes. You can customize them: here.
  4. Know and record your PRs.
  5. The best way to learn the snatch/clean & jerk is to learn from the top down.
  6. Yes, the bar actually hits your body in the “pocket”.
  7. Do NOT get frustrated: unless you train these lifts professionally (which is three hours a day: EVERY day).
  8. Be aggressive.
  9. Be confident.
  10. Make goals.
Reebok Crossfit Asia & Donny Shankle

Reebok Crossfit Asia & Donny Shankle

#1: Weightlifters are a bunch of bad asses. When I thought of “weight-lifters”, prior to this seminar, I thought of great big guys with big ol’ bellys and prison tattoos; with a bald head.  Donny Shankle walked strutted around as an average 6 foot tall guy with medium long curly hair- his tattoos were simple and beautiful.  His voice was deep with an accent impossible to place.  His eyes: patient, focused and passionate for lifting.  This guy is a bad ass; and I know my bad asses.

#4: Know and record your PRs. After two years of crossfitting I thought I mastered the “Log Book”.  My wods are logged chronologically with my scaling in paraenthesis.  In the back of my book I have the following sections: general (heros, girls, 5k, ect), thruster, shoulder press, push press, push jerk, power clean, squat clean, snatch, front squat, overhead squat, hi-bar back squat, low-bar back squat, & deadlift.  I’m going to start a new book and have a PR section before my general section.

#7: Do NOT get frustrated.  If you’re not getting frustrated at crossfit- you’re doing it wrong.  Frustration comes with the territory, but don’t let it own you.  If it takes Donny Shankle eight years to PR– it might take a little longer for you.

#8: Be aggressive.  “…like you’re ripping the head off a god damn lion.”- Donny Shankle.  Seriously bad ass.

#9: Be confident.  Positive begets Positive.  Fill that brain-housing-group with positive thoughts!  “Be patient.  It will.  If the training remains constant, it will.”- Donny Shankle.

#10: Make goals.  Along the lines with #4 my new crossfit log book will have a goal section.  It will be on the first page.  My goals will be specific and have a target date.  If I don’t make my goal by the date I will channel lesson #9 and change the date.



Paleo Beef n Broccoli

When I was about 7 years old my dad took me to a sand pit and we picked out the perfect sand for my brand new sand box.  I remember my dad measuring, sawing and grunting through the whole project.  When all the pieces came together he stood back and said, “now you can dig your way to China”.  Well, Dad, I am now going to finish that journey!

“It is rarely a child’s potential that causes them to be unsuccessful, but rather the lack of rigorous goals, high standards and imagination of their parents, teachers and coaches.” ~Jeff Martin

To prepare for my 6 day trip (1 day for travel, 2 days for the crossfit gymnastics cert and 3 days as a tourist with the hubster) I’ve been racking my brain Pinterest for a good beef and broccoli recipe. I found it.  The trick is fry the meat separately!!!

Paleo Beef n Broccoli

  • 2 top sirloin steaks; sliced into strips
  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-2″ ginger; peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • 4 green onions
  • 2 heads of broccoli, chopped
  • coconut oil
  1. Place steak strips, coconut aminos, garlic, ginger and onions in a bowl and let it marinate on the counter top for an hour.
  2. Heat a large pan to just shy of HIGH and add coconut oil.
  3. Working in batches, brown the steak strips- ONLY the steak!!! Set steaks aside.
  4. Once the last batch of steaks is done add all the steaks, marinade and broccoli to the pan and fry ’em up (I had some left over zucchinis so I threw that in there too).
  5. Top with sesame seeds cause you’re fancy like that.


Hmmmm, beef- it's whats for dinner!

Hmmmm, beef- it’s whats for dinner!

Let it marinate!

Let it marinate!

Fry 'em up!

Fry just the steak first- then add the rest later!


Fancy, huh?!!?!


During my marinating hour I made two sides:

Asian Cucumbers

  • 2 Japanese cucumbers; sliced
  • 3 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T dill (fresh or dried)

Mix.  Refrigerate- if you have the time.

Spicy Kale Crisps

Preheat oven to 350.  Massage oil and salt into kale and bake for 10-15 minutes- long enough to be crispy but not burnt.

paleo preach





Tools for Crossfit. Tools for Paleo.

Holy crap- Crossfit has been in the news and not in a good way.  Between “should a preggo do overhead squats” to “do Crossfit and you’ll get rhabdo and die” to my favorite “I don’t want to get bulky” — Sheesh! To balance all this ickiness plaguing my faceboook  there has been some amazingly awesome things: Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Fallon are in my top three, but this one is my total favorite for the week: “Idol Winner Ruben Studdard Now Biggest Loser“. 2 reasons why I love that a celebrity is a contestant on Biggest Loser: 1.) Takes away the excuse (guilty): If I was famous and had someone cook for me and tell me when to work out I’d be Hollywood thin too! 2.) Biggest Loser uses all types of workouts for their athletes including Crossfit. Even with all of the negative publicity of Crossfit… I’m still loving it.  I’m loving it so much, in fact, that I have signed up for another crossfit cert!  I am beyond excited to be travelling to Hong Kong to participate in the Crossfit Gymnastics certification. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please look into attending a Crossfit Level 1 certification.  Even if you have only been crossfitting for a short amount of time, the information you receive during this 16 hour seminar is mind blowing!  Rumor has it that Shogun Crossfit on Kadena will be hosting a Level One cert— seriously, check into it! So, this one isn’t “Crossfit” affiliated, but its sure to be bad ass… Reebok Crossfit Asia will have Donny Shankle in town for a two day weightlifting seminar.  Who the eff is Donny Shankle?!?!   Please, please, please watch this video:

THAT IS 458.562 POUNDS, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!

I may never be a crossfit trainer and I may never get a muscle up- and that’s ok with me.  These certifications are (very expensive) tools that give me two valuable things:

The first is knowledge.  They teach me the safe and efficient way to do move my body.

The second is confidence.  Crossfit can be intimidating and down right confusing as hell.  Having a whole weekend to break down each movement to the point where it starts making sense changed everything for me.

Along with knowledge and confidence, I met some really awesome folks and Ill continue to use these tools to help my family travel from sickness into wellness for the rest of our lives (and that’s a super long time).

On a lighter note I wanted to show some things that I use on a weekly basis that help me in the kitchen. My number one favorite thing I have in my kitchen is my egg boiler.  I have had a gazillion recipes for idiot-proof-hard-boiled eggs and have proven each and every one of them wrong…. until this: DB tech at 22.95 Chefschoice at 38.97 Cuisinart at 39.95 I’d go to Bed Bath and Beyond, but I don’t think Ill have the time….

18 minutes. Perfect eggs.

Follow up with an ice bath- peels right off… everytime. Even with fresh eggs from the oki egg zoo!

My second biggest helper in the kitchen is my handy dandy Pampered Chef chopper.  If you have been on Okinawa for more than 6 months and haven’t been invited to a carb filled Pampered Chef party… then you need to find new friends.

Zeds dead, baby.

#3: Grease-thing-a-ma-jigger.  The name says it all, really.  Oh, too much nitrate in your bacon, leave it for me… Ill take it.

Got this at a flea market 10 years ago: Fiddy Cent.

Bacon crusties. Looks tempting, but don’t eat them… trust me on this one.

Liquid Gold aka bacon grease!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stanco at $7.80 FoxRun at $18.37 RSVP at $19.95 Why don’t I have my own store on Amazon?  Seriously.  Which brings me to the point that I make a big fat goose egg (zero dollars) on the links I post on my sight. In closing…


Tootles- jess #morelinksthanyoucanshakeastickat, #I<3lists, #longwinded

Paleo Shrimp Alfredo

As if the first day of school wasn’t hard enough, I took JR to his 8-year-old well baby appointment yesterday morning.  Annual check up seems so clinical and he’s of course my “baby”.  The doctor introduced herself and immediately fell in love with him.  How could she not!?!

Day before 3rd grade

Day before 3rd grade

There’s two professions in the world that I would never attempt: nursing (slash doctor) and teachers.  Why?  Not because dealing with kids would be hard- but dealing with their parents would be absolute the death of me.

The doctor looked over his numbers: blood pressure is good, eye sight is perfect, hearing good, oh my he is tall…

My son sat on the examination table cross-legged, smiling and beaming with pride.  I looked at him and winked. I too was proud.

… Mom, lets talk about his weight.

My hairs on the back of my neck came to attention.  I tried hard to keep the momma bear in me from going into Binky mode.


But, innocent or not, it still hurts.  It hurts to know that I have been failing as a mother.  I have no problem correcting my children on their manners in public, but when it comes to food its a whole helluva lot harder.

My family eats pretty damn clean.  We eat clean (breakfast, lunch and dinner) Monday through Friday.  On the weekends we loosen the reigns and lock it back in on Monday.  Looking at it a bit closer: that’s 5 out of 7 days.  That’s 71% of the time.  Add in a cheat meal (or two) during the week and put that to grading terms and we would get a D+.

The obvious and math ruined my day.  I couldn’t shake it.  I don’t know if I was more upset with the fact that I have let my son get into the 96th percentile for weight or if it’s the daunting task of making it better.

Thankfully, I mustered the energy to make it to the 1030 wod.  I kept to myself and tried to be polite but one person saw through me.  The owner came over and asked if I was ok and gave me a hug.  That didn’t fix my mood.

We had to show the trainer three reps of shoulders to overhead to make sure our weight was good.  My reps felt pretty solid and the trainer said, “you know what I’m going to say”.  That didn’t fix my mood.

I walked out of the gym without PRing, without RXing, and without making it under the time cut off.  That didn’t fix my mood.

I watched my daughter at gymnastics.  That didn’t fix my mood.

I started making dinner and had small talk with the kids about their first day of school.  That didn’t fix my mood.

I made heygirlheypaleos Shrimp Alfredo with Bacon (except I used zucchini noodles instead of spaghetti squash) and roasted eggplant.

Roasted garlic

Roasted garlic







I sat down to this plate of food, I listened to the sound of slurping garlic cream sauce from my three beautiful children and I could feel my needle on my mood meter change.

BMIs, happy meters and grades can fluctuate; love and determination, however, will always remain constant.



Pork Carnitas and Chicken Mango Salad

Melissa from is my friend in a parallel universe where we wear all black and sit at dingy coffee shops talking about PRs, words that make us smile and debating why dogs are better than cats.  And I have blunt bangs.  Yes.  Oh, ok, back to this universe here is my FAVORITE recipe from her:

Stovetop Pork Carnitas

This recipe is also in her cookbook which is my, of course, is my #1 favorite cookbook in the whole wide world!  I was able to do laundry, water the basil, help my son write a letter to his cousin, and make mayo all while my “uninspired soup” cooked away!

Step 1: Buy this book

Step 1: Buy this book

Step 2: Make uninspired soup.

Step 2: Make uninspired soup

Step 3: Wait

Step 3: Wait

Step 4: Forget all the worries of the world and dig in.  Give a tad bit to your friend.  Only if you really like 'em.

Step 4: Forget all the worries of the world and dig in. Give a tad bit to your friend. Only if you really like ’em!

I started this recipe at 7 in the morning, it finished cooking right at 9 and I was still able to make the 1030 wod before a swing shift!  Phew- that’s a lot to do before an eight-hour day at the office!!!

The wod that I made it to that day was a real high point for me. I was able to do it RX’d (prescribed… get it… like a doctor–ha ha) AND in the time cut off.  Yay me!!

I topped my crispy crack-pork with home-made guac and salsa and day dreamed of telling Melissa how bad ass she is… without creeping her out.

After a “body weight” based wod today (REALLY?! Talk about salt in the wounds for not doing better at the lean up challenge!!), I came home starving.  Straight up HANGRY!  I gave pintrest my ingredients: mango and chicken.  This is what came up:

Mango Chicken Salad with Spicy Ginger Dressing by the Smoking Chestnut

Since the recipe isn’t “paleo”, I changed things up a tad:


  • 2 t minced ginger
  • 2 T Sriracha
  • 2 T red wine vinegar (organic that I got from Green Leaf)
  • 1 T Tamari
  • 1 t coconut aminos
  • 1 T sesame oil
The "dressing"

The “dressing”


  • 2 boneless skinless breasts grilled and chopped
  • 1 mango, chopped
  • 1/2 head purple cabbage, diced
  • 1 Okinawan carrot, julienned
  • 3 Okinawan chives, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, julienned
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T sesame seeds, toasted
Spicy Mango Chicken Salad

Spicy Mango Chicken Salad

It made me happy.  It made JR happy.

Then I got super pissy.  Don’t know if it’s: driving to Naha in the wind (which reduces the already low speed limit to an excruciating crawl); my husband going on his man trip tomorrow; celebrating JRs birthday without his dad and while I’m at work; super irritated that a friend has complained about not being invited to activities- and then when I do invite them, they don’t come; 39 days without a cigarette, trying to herd 12 cats to play bunco, or this “rare blue moon“.  Whatever it is, I hope it passes as fast as it came on!

Ugh.  Well, at least I’m “well fed“… get it??  Get it?!?!



A Saturday Off

Stereotypes are bad.  I know this.  But it’s easier to judge a whole group than to look into a single persons eye and judge them face to face.  I’m feeling easy: swimmers are crazy.  Families with swimmers are crazy.  Straight up loony toons!

I signed JR and MC up for a swim camp that would end the week in a swim meet.  On a Saturday.  At 0645.   In the morning.  Why would a family want to sit at the side of a pool at the ass crack of dawn?  Oh, I know: they cray!

Without an iced americano I managed to practice my new photo skills.  Watch out photo world- Im off the little green square and only a website away from being a professional!

Im positive Dory was singing in JRs head.  Positive.

Im positive Dory was singing in JRs head. Positive.

MC freestylin'! Word.

MC freestylin’!

After a morning of “you’re all winners”, the husband and I went to Makeman (the Monkey Store) to do some shopping for our garage gym.  Two things have been on our to-do list to make: a box (for box jumps) and a set of parallettes.  From all of the blogs and posts it looked like it would be a “fun” project!

Total price for the wood, the cutting, the screws, the PVC pipe, and glue

Total price for the wood, the cutting, the screws, the PVC pipe, and glue (Under a hundo for a box and a pair of paralettes)

"We" followed the directions and cut the PVC pipes.

“We” followed the directions and cut the PVC pipes.


The glue we used.  We guessed.

The glue we used. We guessed. Im always a fan of #2.

Finished project!!!

Finished project!!!

Houston. We have a problem.

Houston. We have a problem.

For the parallettes the directions said 1 1/2″ PVC.  Since we are in Japan, and they don’t play by inches, we brought our handy-dandy measuring tape and measured for ourselves.  The 1 1/2″ were cool, fun to make, but sure as hell not sturdy!  In hind sight, we are thinking 1 1/2″ PVC means 1 1/2″ opening…. not total diameter.  Since these only took a half hour to put together we will making a few more!  Plus, we have the glue.  I think.

The box hasn’t had its photo shoot yet, but when it does, I’ll let you know.

So, the parallettes were subpar and my photo skills need some mad practice.  Did I mention the lean up challenge ends tomorrow?  Im not leaned up.  At all.  Well, the sun was shinning this morning, so I thought we could use some vitamin D.

water play

water play

Good bye Ginoza

Good bye Ginoza

the simple life

the simple life

treasure hunter






missing the MCA

missing the MCA



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