Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Second Annual Family Vacation at Moose Lake Ranch

After last year’s Cape Cod Classic with our hometown friends, we decided to make our “family” vacation bigger and better and move it to Moose Lake Ranch in Otisfield, Maine. This year, our group grew to 11 adults and 4 kids, and, my gosh, we had a good time! In fact, there was so much fun, I honestly don’t think I could recap it all, so I decided to create a top 15 of my favorite moments from the week. Ok, here we go!

1. The house – Holy cow. Moose Lake Ranch was epic. I’ll let the photos do the talking! 😉

Moose Lake Ranch was also know as the “Suit of Armor (SOA) House.”

NBD, Luke Bryan stayed at Moose Lake Ranch last summer.

2. The rainbow that appeared within minutes of everyone arriving! 

It was a sign of a great week ahead! 🙂

3. The iced coffee bar – This year, we bought plastic tumblers for everyone, which ended up being a huge hit. Everyone had their own cup for the week, which definitely cut down on dishes and misplaced drinks!

4. The lake – Ok, well, technically, it was a pond (Saturday Pond), but it didn’t seem that way at all. The water was nice and clear. We spent a lot of time at the lake pond!

5. Yard games – Moose Lake Ranch provided a bunch and we brought some from home, so it was yard games all day! Let’s just say we’re definitely a family that loves games!

The water balloon pump pictured below was a big hit – we used it just about everyday of vacation!

Beetles were also a huge hit. Apparently, it was mating season at Moose Lake Ranch, and they were everywhere! Qman loves bugs, so he was obsessed with the beetle mania.

6. The hot tub. SO.MUCH.FUN!!!

7. Boat rides around the lake. Quinn loved it! 🙂

8. Family dinners – Each family was responsible for cooking dinner one night of the week. We ate some seriously delicious food!

Taco Tuesday, complete with margaritas, was an especially good time!

The Hauperts made pizza for our family dinner night.

9. Campfires – The adults stayed up late into the night hanging out around the campfire.

10. Family movie night – We watched Moana and ate popcorn.

11. Visiting Maine Wildlife Park – It was a fun family outing and both the kids and adults enjoyed seeing the animals (Quinn and I both saw our first moose!), but I especially liked what the park was all about. They care for wildlife that cannot survive on their own in the wild. Many were brought to the park because they were injured, orphaned, or because they were human dependent – raised, sometimes illegally, in captivity.

12. Late-night gamesUNO, Pitch, Farkle, Monopoly, Werewolf, Spoons… we played so many games. Again, we’re a family that just loves games!

13. Spending some quality (technology-free) time with these sweet guys.

Unplugging (for real) was truly the best. We had zero cell service and no wifi at Moose Lake Ranch.

14. Cafe Nomad – One morning, Mal, Quinn, and I went “into town” for breakfast. Cafe Nomad was an adorable spot with an awesome menu.

We were definitely impressed with the food! 🙂

15. Family dinner at Norway Brewing Company – What a great place! We loved everything about Norway Brewing Company – the atmosphere, service, food, and beer. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re in the area!

What a wonderful weekend – can’t wait to do it again next year!

The end.

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CrossFit Training: How to Add Mass and Build Strength with Primal

crossfit training - man flipping tireGaining mass and building strength while CrossFitting should be a breeze. You’re lifting heavy things using compound full-body movements like squats, deadlifts, and presses, providing a potent growth stimulus to your muscles. Yet, many people fall short of their goals, perhaps losing weight and improving performance but failing to really gain any real muscle or strength.

Today, I’m going to explain how going Primal can help you achieve both goals.

First, you must understand the very Primal reality of your body’s hormonal systems and their relation to the environment: Acknowledge that you are an organism whose endocrine system is acutely attuned to the inputs it receives. It’s actively engaged in the world around you, making predictions and taking actions based on your perceptions. If your body thinks it’s living through a famine, it will conserve energy and eliminate wasteful extravagances like big muscles and 2x body weight back squat. If your body thinks it’s living through plentiful times, it will be more liberal with energy and allow the growth of extracurricular tissues, like big muscles. Create an environment of abundance—or even the impression of one—and you will be more likely to gain muscle and strength.

First and Foremost, Eat More Calories

Providing a caloric surplus doesn’t just provide the raw materials necessary to build more tissue, though that’s a big part of it. It also sends the message to your endocrine system that you’re living in a resource-rich environment and that it’s okay to splurge a bit. Your body, first and foremost, just wants to survive. CrossFitters have a higher baseline because of the stressful training they engage in, so the calorie excess is really important here. Start by adding about 10% to your calorie intake.

Get Your Precursors!

People forget that hormones—the anabolic foremen directing the operation that constructs new muscle tissue—are material things with physical precursors, triggers, and building blocks. Most of the necessary precursors, triggers, and building blocks come from the food we eat.

Protein Is a Major One

The muscles are made of protein. That’s why eating the skeletal muscle of animals is the best way to get a dense whack of protein. It also means we need to eat protein to build more muscle. But protein helps stimulate muscle protein synthesis by another route, too: spiking insulin, which shuttles amino acids into muscle tissue.

A 2011 paper on optimal protein intakes for athletes concluded that 1.8 g protein/kg bodyweight (or 0.8 g protein/lb bodyweight) maximizes muscle protein synthesis, whereas another suggested “a diet with 12-15% of its energy as protein.” 0.8 g/lb is probably a safe baseline, and you may not need much more than that. 

Carbs Are Important As Well

While they aren’t necessary for muscle gain, they can certainly help when used in the right context. For one, they spike insulin, which helps shuttle amino acids into muscle for muscle protein synthesis. They replenish lost glycogen, which you need to support future strength training endeavors. When you do eat carbs in a post-workout context, keep fat low. Fat is a huge factor in muscle gain (as you’re read below), but not in an acute, immediate sense. In the post workout carb-loading window, dietary fat is more likely to be stored.

Eat as many carbs as you earn.

Favor Saturated and Monounsaturated Fats over Polyunsaturated Fats

The more saturated and monounsaturated fat you eat, the higher your testosterone. But as you increase the amount of omega-6 polyunsaturated fat you eat in relation to saturated and monounsaturated fat, you lower your testosterone, increasing your cortisol:testosterone ratio and impeding your ability to gain muscle and strength.

Eat Seafood on a Regular Basis

The omega-3 fats, found in fatty fish, fish oil, shellfish, and cod liver oil, have been shown to improve muscle protein synthesis in healthy young and middle-aged adults. Seafood tends to be rich in micronutrients that are important for building muscle, like zinc (oysters). An added bonus that seafood itself provides a bevy of pro-anabolic nutrients. Even codfish protein may have particularly potent muscle-building powers.

Increase Your Cholesterol Intake

Yes, increase. The current scientific consensus is that dietary cholesterol has nothing to do with heart disease. On the contrary, cholesterol is a precursor to testosterone; extra dietary cholesterol may increase testosterone production.

Increase Your Zinc Intake

Zinc is another important precursor to testosterone production. In young adults subjected to daily training, supplementing with zinc prevented the normal reduction in thyroid and testosterone production. Oysters and red meat are the best sources of zinc.

Eat Plenty of Vitamin A and D

Preferably vitamin A pre-formed in animals, and vitamin D from the sun.

Both vitamin A and vitamin D interact to increase muscle protein synthesis. Liver is the best source of vitamin A. Cod liver oil is also good and comes with vitamin D.

Foods to Prioritize for These Nutrients and Precursors

  • Whole eggs, not just the whites. Pastured eggs will contain far more micronutrients than conventional eggs.
  • Oysters and mussels.
  • Cod liver oil.
  • Beef and chicken liver.
  • Sardines, wild salmon, cod.

Other Variables To Improve Your Gains

Prioritize Strength Training

I said at the start of this series that I wouldn’t make recommendations that interfered with your workouts. After all, your whole purpose is to support your CrossFit training. Most CF boxes I’ve known include straight strength work alongside, or sometimes as a replacement for, classic metabolic conditioning workouts (the WODs).

If gaining mass and muscle and strength is your primary goal, consider switching out a metcon or two for some of these straight-up strength training sessions, or maybe modifying your approach to the metcon. Instead of going for time, go for intensity. Focus on hitting the lifts, even increasing the weight if need be, and allow yourself more rest. You won’t place first, but you’ll provide a different stimulus that should increase strength gains.

Don’t Forget Your Tendons

Muscle is great. Everyone can appreciate a bulging bicep, a striated calf, a wide back, prominent traps. They exude strength. They produce strength. But there’s another aspect to strength that goes unacknowledged: the tendons.

Tendons are rather mysterious. What do they do, exactly, and how do they figure into strength?

They attach muscles to bones. Muscles transmit force through the tendon and make movement possible. Contracting your muscles pulls on the tendons, which yanks on the bone, producing movement.

Tendons also provide an elastic response, a stretch-shortening recoil effect that helps you jump, run, lift heavy things, and absorb impacts. Think of it like a rubber band. A healthy, strong tendon can provide a lot of recoil strength.

CrossFit, in particular, places a lot of demands on the tendons. All those Olympic lifts, those kipping pullups, those muscle-ups, those box jumps? The tendon shoulders the load and makes the movements possible. You need to support them, make them stronger, to get stronger yourself.

Eccentrics (lowering the weight) are the best and simplest treatment we have right now for treating and even healing tendon injuries. Since heel dips can heal Achilles’ tendinopathy and single-leg decline eccentric squats can heal patellar tendinopathy, doing them before injuries occur should make them stronger and more resistant.

CrossFit is about moving as quickly and safely and cleanly as you can, but consider weaving in some light-ish, slow eccentric movements. Downhill walking, slowly lowering oneself to the bottom pushup position, eccentric bicep or wrist curls, and anything that places a load on the muscle-tendon complex while lengthening should improve the involved tendons.

Don’t Shortchange Recovery

Cortisol production is a normal part of the post workout hormone response in addition to a healthy circadian rhythm and stress response. However, when those levels are chronically too high, the effect can be catabolic rather than anabolic. This nterferes with the degree of muscle growth that’s possible compared to the potential with proper rest.

Get Your Collagen

Our tendons contain a ton of collagen, and few people eat or make enough of its constituent amino acids to cover all our tissue-building needs. Eat collagen, drink bone broth, or eat plenty of gelatin-rich meats like skin, oxtail, shank, and neck to provide adequate glycine. Taking 15 grams of gelatin with vitamin C an hour before your workout enhances collagen synthesis in connective tissues (which include the tendons).

There’s a lot of advice out there for gaining weight and building muscle and getting stronger. Much of it is effective—you do what they recommend and you’ll get stronger—but most of it is incomplete. After today’s post, I hope you feel equipped with more information, and I hope that information helps you unlock new and greater gains.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

This article was co-written with Laura Rupsis, Level 1 CrossFit Certified, Primal Health Coach Certified, and owner of Absolution CrossFit in La Grange, IL.

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Healing Iced Turmeric Latte

Turmeric is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory roots on the planet, and I’ve been trying to eat some every single day for the last few months to help me recover naturally from a wrist injury without drugs.  This Iced Turmeric Latte recipe makes it so easy and delicious! Turmeric has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat a number of conditions and scientists believe that one of the reasons why turmeric is so powerful is that it contains curcumin. There have been dozens of studies into the health benefits of curcumin, and it’s been shown to protect against arthritisliver damagecancercerebrovascular dysfunction, and Alzheimer’s disease

The biggest benefit that I’ve personally witnessed is turmeric’s ability to fight inflammation and pain in the body. If you are suffering from any injuries (as I was several years ago in my tailbone and now with my wrist), turmeric is very powerful at reducing pain and swelling naturally without drugs like Advil. I was amazed at how well it worked for me back then, and to this day – whenever I have an ailment – I turn to turmeric.

This recipe is similar to Golden Milk, served over ice with a touch of honey, coconut water, and cinnamon. The coconut oil in this drink is essential, as this is what helps your body absorb all the goodness from the turmeric (which is fat-soluble) – so don’t skip this ingredient! I incorporate coconut oil in my diet often as it has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and can assist in weight loss.

 

Choosing the best ingredients for this recipe:

  • The cinnamon is optional, but I really recommend it!
  • If you can’t find fresh turmeric, go ahead and use organic ground turmeric from the spice aisle. Keep in mind that most spices are irradiated and grown with conventional pesticides, if not organic. To experience all the healing benefits, it’s super important to use only high quality organic turmeric and cinnamon from a company that you trust. I’ve been using organic cinnamon and turmeric from Red Ape Cinnamon for years. Instead of oven-drying their turmeric (which destroys some of the vital oils and curcumin), Red Ape’s turmeric is sun-dried, never heated above 118 degrees, and ground slowly, which leaves more natural oils and curcumin in the final product. And – it’s certified organic.

You can make this amazingly delicious turmeric latte in three simple steps!

Pour a couple cups of coconut or almond milk into a small pot and stir in one tablespoon of raw honey and two teaspoons of coconut oil. Turn the heat on low and warm the milk for a few minutes, stirring it every so often until the honey and oil is well incorporated and it’s warm to touch… 

Pour half a cup of coconut water into a blender and add three tablespoons of grated fresh turmeric (only use 1½ teaspoons if using ground turmeric) and a pinch of cinnamon. Give it a really good blend for a couple minutes…

To serve, fill a couple tall glasses halfway up with ice. Spoon a few tablespoons of the blended turmeric mix into the glass and pour the warm milk over the ice until the glass is full. Kick back your heals and enjoy it with a friend!

Food Babe's Healing Iced Turmeric Latte

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond or coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh turmeric or 1½ teaspoons ground turmeric (I like Red Ape Brand)
  • Pinch cinnamon (optional)
  • ½ cup coconut water
  • 8-10 ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Place the milk, honey and coconut oil in a small pot over low heat to warm. Once warm to the touch, take off the heat.
  2. Place the turmeric, cinnamon and coconut water in a blender and blend for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Fill a glass halfway with ice, and add 3-4 tablespoons turmeric mix. Fill the glass the rest of the way with the warm milk mix, roughly 1 cup. Enjoy!

Notes

**Please use all organic ingredients if possible**

3.4.3177

 

If you need some high quality organic ground cinnamon and sundried turmeric for this recipe, don’t forget to get your 15% discount from Red Ape Cinnamon here – just enter the code FOODBABE at checkout. 

Share this recipe with anyone in your life who could use a healing drink like this!

If you want more ideas for how to add turmeric to your diet, check out this post with 15 different ways to use it. It just might change your life! 

Xo, 

Vani

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