Happy New Year! About those 2017 Resolutions…

By | Holiday, Jessica, MK, New Years, Professional Development, Work | No Comments

I’m cautiously optimistic about 2017. I know we’re not supposed to treat 2016 like a red-headed stepchild, but it really was a crazy year all-around. I’m a resolutions person, so when I sat down late last week to begin thinking about my goals for the year — I could really only write down one…

I want to do less. Or make it feel like I’m doing less…

What do I have in mind for the new year?

I know those of you who know me will laugh, because I’m just that person who wants to go, go, GO, and DO ALL THE THINGS, but gosh it’d be nice to have this year be a little tamer. I know it’s a lot to ask with a busy family, family business, full-time job, and basically another business (which just encompassed another business), but one can hope. Or maybe I just wish to be a little more confident and comfortable in my pacing of it all. Or both.

So while everyone takes a different approach to setting their intentions or goals for the New Year, I’m going to just give you a nice list of desirables, categorized by my life’s various channels. Because I’m old school, and because hearing one more person say their word of the year is “thrive” or “minimalism” will probably make you as crazy as it does me. And since I’ve been such a shitty blogger, I’ll also use my aims for this year to tell you a little about last year.

Happy New Year

My Beeb

My goals for this year are just to be a stand-out model human in all areas I can control for her to continue to watch. Because she does that a lot now. She watches and mimics everything people do, and it’s fun guessing where she’s picked up her latest schtick. Like running around asking for someone by saying “INSERT NAME, are you there?” I’ve tried less to be the “best parent” I can be and have focused more on being the best person I can be this past year — and it seems to work a lot better for my mindset.

She’s obsessed with Libby (our very dear old kitty), so I also need to be a good cat mom to keep her healthy. Otherwise you might hear a desperate post looking for a pear-shaped old black cat to sneak in the house so KK doesn’t know she’s passed on. Last night I rolled over in bed and KK literally had her under the armpits snuggling her like a stuffed animal.

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My Neilyo

I need to strive to be as good of a person as Neil is. I don’t deserve him, and I want 2017 to be the year that I finally leave my “new mom” crazy behind and resume being his wife. Parenthood is a mile-a-minute, but there is little now that I can’t handle with the tools and coping mechanisms I don’t already have. It’s not like the first year. I can deal. So I need to chill with the frenetic, crazy pace I’m running around the house in day-to-day and just…be more…wifely?

I also need to talk him up more. He’s doing a lot of really impressive stuff — both at work and in his racing hobby — and who doesn’t love a good cheerleader and wingman sometimes to make you feel good? I could be doing a lot better there, he’s got a really good year coming up.

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My Career

I feel like this year was all about doing work, and not necessarily learning or filling my cup so to speak. I worked harder this year than any other, but I really only feel trained and not better for it. So this year I want to focus on filling the cup, learning to do new things, and revisiting my skills in order to do all the things I do better. I think that was the biggest takeaway from my CrossFit Level 2 — that you have to constantly be learning and tailoring, while you are still doing.

I know that all probably sounds really pie in the sky, so here are a few of the tactile things I have in mind:

  • Update this website with a bit more of the creative re-direction we’ve had over the past year.
  • Learn to rapid-build/edit videos, richer multimedia content.
  • Experiment with podcasting or just find a way to get on someone else’s podcast.
  • Rediscover my writing voice — it’s in there somewhere.
  • Build conscious narrative on my social media channels — not just spotty posts here and there.
  • Finish both mine and CrossFit Fringe‘s websites and focus on better usability and client profile matching.
  • Pick and choose just one new road a week to explore (it’s hard, so hard).

Coach's Meeting (12/17)

My Fitness

It’s always nice to feel like whatever I put in this category is just gravy on a situation that is better than I could have ever imagined. My programming is amazing, my community is amazing, and I think the only thing I’d like to add to it is a little yoga, more for just body awareness and recovery than anything else. Neil suggested that I create a little space upstairs in our house, and I might buy a hot yoga punch card to keep it interesting.

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My Self

Ah this is tough. I think for myself I just want to have a calmer year, and really savor all my experiences. I feel like I just rush through everything and onto the next thing, and not really stop to be present. An unlikely next goal after that is to put myself into more uncomfortable situations because I know that’s where the most personal growth tends to happen.

But alas, always the practical person I am, I have some more specific goals as well:

  • Read 45 books. I keep the same GoodReads challenge as last year because it’s the perfect amount of books. Might as well stick with what works right?
  • Re-do the upstairs office to make it more family and lounge friendly.
  • Plant some trees in our yard and reclaim our recreation in it.
  • Take KK tent or cabin camping.
  • Enjoy driving my new car

Now it’s your turn!

What approach do you take for starting a new year, or a new stage in your life? Have you made goals for 2017?

CrossFit Level 2 Seminar

I’m back! My CrossFit Level 2 Seminar Experience

By | CrossFit, Exercise, Jessica | No Comments

Hi everyone! Long time no see. I never mean to disappear, but this has been the busiest couple of months I have EVER lived. I hate that I won’t have written thoughts and memories to remember all the amazing work and times we’ve had, but you can only do so much and I hope to start getting back into a regular routine now that things are becoming…well somewhat more doable.

CrossFit Level 2 Seminar

As you might have heard, I just completed my CrossFit Level 2 certification! It was my big 2017 goal and I completed it just in the nick of time.

What is the CrossFit Level 2 Seminar?

“This course is ideally suited for any CrossFit trainer serious about delivering quality coaching. Students enhance their understanding of the CrossFit methodology, program design, and implementation, and they advance their skills while coaching others in movements and workouts. Students need to come prepared to be heavily engaged; each leads individual and small-group training sessions, and classroom sessions are discussion-based. Peers and instructors provide feedback and evaluation.” (source: CrossFit Training)

In short, the Level 2 Certificate course is that “next-level” intermediate step that builds on the methodology and movements of CrossFit learned at the Level 1 Certificate course. It aims to build on the understanding of essential mechanics of functional movements, fault identification, and correction, essential qualities of an effective trainer, effective programming design, and evaluation, and class management strategies and structure for effective group workouts.

The Level 2 is the second out of three (soon to be four) certifications offered by CrossFit for coaching.

Why did I want to take it?

For those who are just starting to know me, I’m a Learner and an Achiever (StrengthsFinder). I always want to know about everything, and I thrive on achieving things.

When I started CrossFit 5.5 years ago, I had never really done sports or “working out” before. I got hooked quickly once I realized CrossFit wasn’t just “hitting the gym.” It had a methodology that thrived on testing and retesting measurable, observable and repeatable fitness movements and benchmarks.

Along the way, I also fell in love with coaching and being a working part of the community. Just like the workouts themselves, coaching CrossFit has its own style and methodology that thrives on constant variance and improvement. And as one of the early (second!) female coaches in COMO, I’ve always felt women needed to special representation (because we own), as well as “from scratch” athletes who started from the very beginning like me.

I wanted to take the L2 specifically because I wanted to attack weaknesses I know I have in front of groups and public speaking, as well as fine tune some strategies for cueing and triaging (that’s an official term) movement patterns.

How did I prepare for the seminar?

I think every certification or test has its horror stories, and there was no shortage of them for the L2 when I started thinking about registering. I’m a part of the CrossFit Affiliate Owners and Coaches group on Facebook, and I regularly stalk the CrossFit subReddit. People talk, and if you know me, you can guess how that might have sent my anxiety into THREAT LEVEL MIDNIGHT CODE RED SURVIVAL. I suffer from crippling performance anxiety when it comes to public speaking. Oddly enough it’s never been an issue coaching unless I’m doing so in front of 10+ people.

With that all said, the biggest help I found was talking to people, mainly Tyler, Angelo, and Nate. I read the extensive LEVEL 2 TRAINING GUIDE & WORKBOOK from the CrossFit Training website. I also discovered several YouTube playlists of videos (here and here) captured at Level 2 Seminars. They were very helpful in allowing me to kind of priming my mind for the lectures and demonstrations. The CrossFit YouTube channel, as well as the CrossFit Journal, has tons of available resources. If you aren’t taking advantage of them (even as an athlete) you are missing out!

My Level 2 Seminar Experience

Day 1

My CrossFit Seminar Staff consisted of Steve and Natosha Haydock, a married couple from CrossFit Springfield where I attended the seminar. Steve’s intense (in a good way):

The softer side of Steve…

In addition to being a part of the coveted CrossFit Seminar Staff, they now hold the distinguished role of being witnesses to my Level 2 experience (haha!).

The first day began with the six criteria needed for effective training (teaching, seeing, correcting, group management, presence/attitude, and demonstration).

We then broke into groups and practiced teaching and correcting static and dynamic positions in the 9 foundational movements. It was very nerve-wracking to essentially circle your fellow participants repeatedly and cue their movements, not to mention the fact that it was being guided and prompted by the Steve or Natosha.

Subtle dynamic faults are definitely something I need to be more mindful of. In the world of group fitness classes, it’s all too easy to attack only gross faults, especially in those who are new to CrossFit or working out. Often this leads to intermediate and advanced athletes being coached less, and I know I’ve been guilty of that.

After lunch, we dug into class structure and group management. We built off the discussions over the effective coaching criteria and applied those approaches to how we approach a one hour class or session. Natosha led us through a “mock” class and demonstrated how many opportunities there are for coaching and how every one of our athletes should come away feeling like they’ve received valuable feedback, one-on-one attention and ways they can improve. That was the part/idea that, even though I knew it already was my biggest “aha” moment of the weekend (there were more for sure).

Our workout (we always want to know what the workouts are at these seminars don’t we?) was:

21-18-15-12 (reps of each)

  • Sumo deadlift high pulls (95/65)
  • Overhead lunges (95/65)
  • Push-ups

This was my jam, although eating Chipotle 1.5 hours before not thinking there may be a workout was a mistake.

We closed Day 1 with one more daunting group exercise where we had to pick a foundational movement, teach it to another member, then triage and refine their movement to what is better and closer to “optimal.”

Needless to say, the rumors are true, you are WORN OUT.

Day 2

Day 2 dug heavily into teaching and programming for the methodology of CrossFit. I’m fascinated by programming, mostly because I’m an Instructional Developer by day. That is what got me hooked on CrossFit in the first place. How all the pieces come together to meet the desired stimulus or performance outcomes. Yum.

While the Level 1 Seminar dedicates just a little piece of Day 2 to programming, The Level 2 Seminar digs further into not only developing programming but analyzing its effectiveness. They offered great insight into how to really develop for variance well, offering great templates and techniques for writing and developing workouts, proper scales and accommodating heavy days.

The final big exercise was a teach back/group coaching — teaching and cueing a movement (mine was overhead squat) to an entire group. Boy, that was tough — and I can definitely tell that I’m used to much smaller and one-on-one coaching. I could not stop jumping around instead of projecting and commanding from one place. Yikes.

Reflections

While daunting and very much like ripping a band-aid off some major hang-ups and anxiety, I’m so happy I completed this seminar. I feel like it’s given me renewed motivation and better context for what I should aim for in my coaching and position at CrossFit Fringe. Too often, I sit on the side and assume other people would be better-suited to things than I would, and that really isn’t always the case. I got great feedback, and feel assured that my coaching is valuable and needed.

Ramen with chicken bone broth, pork shoulder, soft-boiled egg & greens - kohler created

Paleo Beef Bone Broth

By | Food, Healthy, Paleo, Whole30 | No Comments

Is bone broth a winter staple for you?

Use the promo code “KOHLER15”, and receive 15% off your first order with Kettle and Fire!

Paleo Beef Bone Broth - Kohler Created

You might not believe it, but Neil and I used to live on canned soup. I shudder to think about it now, but with a busy life and schedule, that was often our go-to meal, and especially so if we thought we were coming down with a bug. I used to literally slurp chicken soup, from a can (I know don’t judge me!) when I was sick because I definitely didn’t feel comfortable making my own. But when I came down with a really bad cold a few years ago and happened to glance at the ingredients on the back of the soup can, I decided that I had to try something else.

If you haven’t heard of bone broth, it’s been gaining a lot of popularity the past few years, especially in the fitness community. If you’ve made your own soup broth before, the whole idea is quite similar. Grab a pot, throw in some animal bones, cover it with water, and simmer for a long time. By doing so, you extract all the nutrients from the bones into a digestible form called gelatin. It’s this gelatin that contains many amino acids that’s perfect for bolster your immune system and improving your overall digestive health.

Because Neil and I are always looking to save money, we’ve learned to make our own beef broth and find it to be absolutely delicious and comforting, especially as the temperatures drop. It uses just a few simple ingredients and simmers all day long making the house smell of delicious beefy richness.

Paleo Beef Bone Broth - Kohler Created

While we would always like to make our own sometimes it’s tough to find the time to do so. Fortunately, there are quite a few pre-made options. I personally prefer the bone broth from Kettle and Fire. It’s made from organic ingredients and grass-fed beef bones, and has a super rich flavor I haven’t found in other brands. The best thing for me is that they’re also non-frozen and shelf stable, so I can always have some in my pantry for when I’m short on time. Check out their online store and if you use the promo code “KOHLER15”, you’ll get 15% off your first order. That’s more than enough incentive to stock up for a good chunk of this winter.

Paleo Beef Bone Broth
Recipe type: Soup/Beverage
Cuisine: Paleo/Primal
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 32-35 oz
 
Ingredients
  • 3-4 lbs of mixed beef bones (oxtail, knuckles, neckbones and/or short ribs)
  • 2 medium carrots (coarsely chopped)
  • 3 celery stalks (coarsely chopped)
  • 2 medium onions (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Place bones in a single layer on a sheet or roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil to evenly coat.
  3. Roast for 30 minutes, then, flip each bone over and roast for an additional 30 minutes.
  4. Chop the vegetables while the bones are roasted and put them with the bones, bay leaf and cider vinegar in a large crock pot or soup pot.
  5. Cover completely with water and bring to a high simmer.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 12-24 hours. Throughout simmering, add water as needed to keep all the ingredients submerged.
  7. Once the broth has reached a dark rich brown color, remove from heat.
  8. Discard the bones, vegetables and bay leaf and strain through a cheesecloth.
  9. Cool the pot to room temperature.
  10. Once at room temperature pour into jars and let cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  11. Skim the condensed fat off the top of the cooled broth and heat to the desired temperature.

Ramen with chicken bone broth, pork shoulder, soft-boiled egg & greens - kohler created

We try to always keep some broth in the freezer and ready, but having a stockpile of our Kettle & Fire is nice, especially as the temperatures drop and you just want something comforting to sip on. For this round, we decided touse it to make an easy ramen.

Ramen with Bone Broth, Pork, Soft-boiled Egg & Greens
Recipe type: Soup/Appetizer
Cuisine: Asian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 2-2½ cups ramen noodles
  • 32 oz bone broth
  • 2 large handfuls shredded spring greens
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh sprouts
  • Chilli oil, to serve
  • Pickled chilli to taste
  • 1 tablespoon shallots, to serve
  • For the Ramen seasoning:
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon saké
  • 4 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
Instructions
  1. Boil the eggs in a pan for 6 mins, then remove and put in ice water to cool.
  2. Boil the noodles in a large pan, stirring so they don’t stick, until al dente, about 3 mins. In the final minute of cooking, add the greens. Drain and divide between the bowls.
  3. Mix the ramen seasoning ingredients in a small bowl. Slice the pork and add to the bowls.
  4. Pour the broth over each and add the spring onions and sprouts.
  5. Peel the eggs, slice in half lengthways and place in each bowl with a dollop of pickled chilli & shallots, if you like. Pass round the ramen seasoning and chili oil to serve on top.

Hope you enjoy these recipes, and definitely check out Kettle and Fire!

Kettle & Fire Logo

Disclosure: I am participating in the Kettle and Fire Affiliate Program and have been provided with feedback and additional media to use in this blog post in addition to the codes and benefits of being in the program.

Colorado 2016 - Kohler Created

Our 2016 Colorado Trip

By | Colorado, Travel | No Comments

Authors note: I’m back from the dead (read: mountains of work)! Here is the post on our vacation to Colorado last month, and I’ve got a catch-up post in the works!

Yup, I have a feeling we’ll be going to Colorado once a year. How can you not? It’s just one awful state away, and there are so many friends and activities!

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To say we did a lot on our trip would be an understatement. The first part of the weekend was dedicated to Neil’s race. While he will definitely be making his own post on how that went, I’ll just give you a little rundown.

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Neil’s been wanting to try out High Plains Raceway for some time. So when a race popped up on the calendar and the timing was perfect (not in our busy season at work), we bought in and started planning a trip to Denver and all the logistics involved with toting a car, trailer and toddler across Kansas.

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KK and I weren’t able to spend a ton of time at the track. The altitude and intensity of the sun coupled with hot black gravel parking area didn’t make it an awesome spectating experience — which sucks because it is a gorgeous track. It’s very remote and right in the middle of the high plains. KK and I could have walked around for HOURS.

Denver swinging 9-3-16 from Kohler Created on Vimeo.

While we were in Denver, we stayed with one of my closest friends Patrick and his wife Jen. Patrick and I have been friends since high school — nearly 18 years! While Neil spent the weekend racing, KK and I hit the local parks and visited downtown Golden with Patrick and Nate (oh yeah, remember him?). The entire Denver area is amazing. It is jam packed with people and things to do nearly wherever you turn. We also ate some incredible food and enjoyed downtime around the house.

Dancing with Patrick from Kohler Created on Vimeo.

Neil finished racing and came back to Denver Sunday night. On Monday, I hit FAST/CrossFit LTP to train with Nate. Their facility is amazing! Nate and I worked up heavy singles of both snatch and clean and jerk, and then did a 20-minute EMOM of sled pulls, handstand walks, GHD sit-ups and lunges. It was definitely an adjustment with the altitude.

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We also did a little exploring in downtown Littleton and stocked up on spices from Penzey’s, and chocolate from The Chocolate Therapist. Support your local businesses, they are amazing! Both also have online ordering, so get your fix, the prices were amazing. We ended the night grilling steak and asparagus on the deck.

Colorado 2016

Tuesday, we hit the Denver Zoo with Patrick. After the wild success of the St. Louis Zoo a few weeks ago, we decided it was a must to do it again. While KK was a little less enthused because we got precariously close to naptime, she did enjoy the exhibits (especially the water ones) and saw a lot of cool animals. Huge thanks to Patrick for catching so many photos while we wrangled the beeb.

Colorado 2016

Colorado 2016

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Wednesday was an awesome day for me. I got an amazing massage, and then we hit a Farmer’s market in Cherry Creek for lunch. We had a little of everything, including tacos (Roxie’s Tacos), tamales and perogies. KK loved the tamales, and the tacos were to die for.

For dinner that night, a failed attempt to get sushi to celebrate Jen passing an important certification test for work led to our discovery of Thai Basil for the first time. Oh my gosh is it amazing. We don’t eat at a lot of chains, but we would definitely eat that often. The pineapple curry was phenomenal.

Thursday, Neil and Patrick set out really early to hike Mt. Bierstadt, Neil’s first fourteener. Patrick has done many fourteeners, and really wanted to hike one with Neil (I’m too much of a scaredy cat of heights). They talked about it for weeks ahead of our trip, weighing the pros and cons of each option. They got a lot of AMAZING photos, and one of the other hikers on the trail that morning even caught a video with his drone. I literally haven’t been able to stop watching it all week!

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That night we met up with Nate and Michelle for one last dinner out. Patrick chose an AWESOME beer garden called Kline’s in Arvada close to Nate’s gym, and we had an amazing dinner and conversation. It was open air, and the setting was just perfect to bring a toddler to. KK had a blast!

Friday we packed up super early and headed home. It was a wonderful trip, and I’m still amazed it’s already been a week since we came home. It was really hard to send KK back to daycare again on Monday. Parenting isn’t easy, no matter what circumstance you are in. For Neil and I, the time we spent with KK uninterrupted was priceless. It felt like she grew so much in just a short week and it was so cool to get a little closer to her world and perspective and how much it’s changing and evolving constantly.

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I think Josh Bridges said it best. “Being a parent is like being in this awesome club that, once you’re in it, you wish you would have joined a long time ago.” I don’t know that I would have agreed with him when she was an infant and screaming for hours on end, but I’m definitely a card carrying member now.

High Plains Raceway with NASA Rocky Mountain Region

By | Automotive, Colorado, MK, Neil, Racing, Time Trials, Travel | No Comments

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Welcome to High Plains Raceway!

High Plains Raceway is located exactly as it is named. The High Plains about an hour or so outside of Denver. It is a 2.5 mile long, 15 turn track with a little bit of everything. Tight turns, a long straight, fast sweepers, and elevation changes! oh elevation changes.

This was my first time at this track and was it a treat. A bit selfishly we kind of planned a vacation around this event, so we had the Jeep packed to the gills. Yes, I was going to tow my car, tools, toddler, wife, hiking gear, and all the necessary toddler toys, clothes, and everything else necessary for a week in Denver. Maybe I bit off more than I can chew???? Does YOLO apply here? Does anyone even say that anymore?

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Lets just get right into it and take a look at one of my faster laps:

Sessions were kept short in the NASA Rocky Mountain Region due to the thin air. I cannot say that at the altitude we were at on the track ~6k that I was really feeling the thin air. Did not really seem to have effect on me, but what I did not expect was how intense the sun would be at high noon. Obviously a dry air, but it was completely clear and very strong.

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Unfortunately that was also the downside. Jes and KK were not able to make it out to the track. Being over an hour drive and the fact that there is no shade, apart from any pop-ups you may be able to get under, it would have just made for a very short trip. KK does not stay still these days and the sun would have made quick work of her skin even with sun screen.

Another treat was my friend who lives in Denver, Patrick came along to the track to hang out for the day, took him on a ride along and I think we both had a blast.

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How’d it go?

Being my first time on this track I was not going to win any trophies that is for sure. The track is bigger than most of our midwest tracks so on any given session you really only have a few clean laps. This made learning particularly challenging.

The nice thing is that the track is very rewarding to lap on, as I said before it has a bit of everything. For those thinking about this track, I would say it is worth the drive. I found this turn by turn description of High Plains Raceway and found it to be pretty accurate!

Here is my quick rundown of my thoughts of High Plains Raceway:

Turn 1 – Coming off of the checker straight, tons of fun left hander, easy to get sideways, has a good amount of track out but you have to get set up for turn 2 on the other side of the track.
Turn 2 – Simple right hander, I took a bit of a late apex, be patient.
Turn 3 – Right hand, little kink, stay out wide, apex mid, and flat out for my car around the slight sweeper into the long back straight.
Turn 4 – Can take this a lot faster than you think, braking too much here loses time
Turn 5 – Finally need to scrub off the rest of the straight speed here, gravel tends to pile up on the inside of this turn, I took it wide.
Turn 6 – This turn is easy to over drive and push or get crazy over steer, slow in, fast out here, be patient.
Turn 7 – In my car you do not need to brake for this turn, takes some time to build up to that, but you can go flat out
Turn 8 – Another turn easy to over drive, slow in, fast out
Turn 9a-b – Flat out through these downhill, so much fun
Turn 10 – Hold as much speed as you can here, dont slow down too much, work up to it
Turn 11 – Stay way outside and apex late, be patient here, many people spin here because they turn in too early
Turn 12 – Flat out up the hill
Turn 13-14-15 – Slow down and get 13 apex’d right to set you up for 14-15, if you do it right you will sail through these, do it wrong you will be fighting the car to keep it on track. Get 13 right!

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Final thoughts…

I owe a lot to my wife Jessica and KK for happily going along on this journey with me and allowing me to race on this great track and facility. It was at times not the easiest (around hour 10, KK was not happy), but all in all I think that we had a great vacation (vacation post coming soon) where a lot of firsts were done. First time to this track, first time to Denver zoo, first time strolling through Golden, and first time (for me) hiking a 14,000+ feet mountain peak. It will be a trip I will remember for a long time.

But would I do it again? I would say yes, but with some adjustments due to lessons learned. One would be to either break the trip up into 2 days, or leave enough time to have a good hour or two stop mid Kansas for a picnic and park playing, something enough so that KK gets her energy out and then naps. Two, bigger, better trailer (I wish!). It would be nice to have storage, winch and things on the next one. Three, an older KK? I dont wish for her to grow up faster, but another year or two would do wonders for her attention span, communication skills, and maybe even potty training? OhGod.

More sights and sounds

More videos at my YouTube Channel

High Plains Raceway 2016

Has it been 5 years of CrossFit already?

By | CrossFit | No Comments

A little ditty on our CrossFit anniversary…

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2011, last night in our first location

I can’t believe I just typed that. Neil and I have been doing CrossFit for 5 years. It probably sounds somewhat smug, but most people don’t celebrate their gym anniversaries. That’s a testament to why CrossFit (and especially our community) is so significant and valuable. Because not only do I feel the need to acknowledge every year, but there are more years. My fitness is not something I picked up and put down. It’s never faded or become old hat. If anything, it continues to grow in my life.

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2013, after HOA team competition

CrossFit has taught me to define fitness not only by its methodology but the entire spectrum of my health. It’s taught me to constantly seek improvement, whether it be in my lifts, or the quality of my sleep and time with family. I’m less afraid to tackle new or hard challenges, and my attitude has more optimism than a church revival. I strive constantly to be a better person, a better example, and a better support to others.

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2016, after CrossFit Open Workout 16.5

Being new at something is never easy, but if I were to give one piece of advice to new athletes (in any sport really) it would be to make it your own. Focus on just your pieces of fitness. I was so intimidated by others for far too long. And I thought that if I wasn’t the best, that I was less “good” or would be seen as less of an athlete. Having the heaviest lifts or the fastest times doesn’t define you, the work and your attitude does. Celebrate all the little moments, find your tribe, and savor every moment of the adventure.

Here’s to five more years…

Easy Skillet Tacos - Kohler Created

Easy Skillet Tacos

By | Food, Main Courses, Recipes | No Comments

Skillet Tacos

Skillet Tacos! It’s been forever since we posted a recipe. If you’re relatively new to our site, we used to be avid “food bloggers,” if you could even call us that. We were never super serious, but we’d blog a recipe at least once or twice a week without fail. Over time, the desire to simplify, save money on groceries and spend time doing other things won out, and the food aspect of this blog definitely took a hit.

I still love the idea of posting recipes, but more just for us and whoever is wondering what we’re eating lately. We do get asked fairly often for the recipes we’re using, and I’ve also gone to find recipes we’ve used in the past and found the sites long gone or disabled. So in order to make sure we have them, and to share them with our friends, I’m putting them up as we use and love them.

It’s not a secret that we love Mexican food, and this recipe (via My Recipes) for skillet tacos looked like a good way to use up some ground beef. It definitely did, we ended up doubling the recipe and enjoying tacos all week, making this great for meal prep!

Skillet Tacos

Skillet Tacos
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican-American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 1½ cups (6 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • Taco shells, flour tortillas, or tortilla chips warmed
  • Toppings: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, salsa, sour cream
Instructions
  1. Over medium-high heat, cook beef in large skillet, stirring until beef crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain well and remove beef from skillet. Wipe skillet with a paper towel.
  2. Sauté onion in hot oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add chili powder, cumin, salt, and beef. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in beans, tomato sauce, ¾ cup water, and salsa. Add pinto beans and smash some lightly with fork, leaving some beans whole.
  5. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced.
  6. Add preferred amount of cheese and cilantro. Turn off heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes or until cheese melts.
  7. Serve in taco shells/flour tortillas or over tortilla chips with additional desired toppings.

Bear with the ugly framework of our Recipe Builder app — I’m working on it!

This is obviously a pretty adaptable recipe. You don’t have to use a ton of cheese, you don’t have to have tortillas or tortilla chips. Make it your own, and customize to your own macro needs. I hope you like these as much as we did, enjoy!

Curry Ginger Banana Stir Fry - Kohler Created

How to Meal Prep: Staple Recipes

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Want to make meal prep even easier? Use staple recipes!

How to Meal Prep: Our Favorite Staple Recipes - Kohler Created

Thank you guys so much for your feedback on our first meal prep post! I’m so glad the tips helped so many of you. On to our next topic, staple recipes!

Staple recipes are another way we eat healthy while saving time and money. Meal prep hasn’t always been an easy habit to keep, but one of the ways we make it easier on ourselves is by planning our menu around weekly sales and keeping our meals simple. Part of keeping things simple has been sticking to a core group of staple recipes for the majority of our meals that are easy to prep, reasonable on ingredients, and offer the best health bang for buck.

So due to popular demand, here is a big list of our staple recipes organized by protein! I’ve added a “*” to indicate the easiest (in my opinion) recipes. These are constantly evolving because, well, we like to eat, but as you know, I’m pretty good about talking about my food anyway, so I’ll try to add them to this post as we go.

Yogurt and Avocado Chicken Salad

Avocado Chicken Salad

Chicken

Taco Salad (chicken)

This easy meal (via Wholesome Yum) is great with beef or chicken and easy to throw together when you have a lot of miscellaneous leftovers.

Crockpot Chicken Fajitas*

Another stupid-easy-can’t-fail recipe (via Humbled Homemaker) we often throw together is crockpot fajitas. They are also really easy to prep and freeze for later.

Baked Whole Chicken

One of the things you learn quickly in your meal prep journey is that a whole chicken is often cheaper per pound than individual cuts (especially boneless skinless). Whole chickens are intimidating at first, but once you learn to prep them, the anxiety tends to disappear quickly. This is a great go-to base recipe to work from, and then customize with different flavors/seasoning.

Chicken Wings

Neil’s favorite! We make wings quite a bit because they end up on sale and are easy to pair with veggies and taters. Like steak (below), they are a great meal to kind of mimic the take-out you love, without all the grease.

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili is one of the first recipes we roll out in the fall, it’s tradition. It’s lighter than the red chilis if that’s your speed, and is a great meal that will probably last you a good portion of the week.

Avocado Chicken Salad

Even though I don’t mind mayo in my chicken salad, I know a lot of people do, and that’s why this recipe is an easy hit for lunch or dinner, especially during the summer when you’re not really amped for hot meals.

Chicken Fingers

While these chicken fingers might require a little more hands-on meal prep, I love them as a way to change up our chicken game for the week.

Paleo Sticky Baked Chicken

One of our easy go-to recipes is just simply baking the chicken. Perfect to adapt to whatever cuts are on sale for the week without hassle.

Crockpot BBQ Chicken*

Similar to the above-baked chicken, but this recipe is for the slow cooker, which is great when you’re short on time. We’ve done this with a variety of cuts, everything from drumsticks to boneless skinless chicken breasts (to shred). This recipe is nice because it doesn’t contain added sugar.

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Beef Stew

Beef

Taco Salad (ground beef)

See description and recipe above, great with beef or chicken and easy to throw together when you have a lot of miscellaneous leftovers.

Shepherd’s Pie/Tator Tot Casserole

Being from Minnesota, I grew up on hotdishes and casseroles, so they are something that I crave once the weather starts getting cold. You can easily swap white potatoes for sweet. I’ve also made them Whole30 compliant by cutting a few ingredients and making my own fries for the top of the hotdish without much of a taste difference.

Meat Loaf

I hated meat loaf growing up, but now I love it. It’s super easy, lasts quite a while if you double, and packs a mega protein punch. We have two recipes we like:

Beef Stew

As soon as the weather turns cold, I love comfort food. This hearty stew is all comfort and no discomfort in prep work.

Beef and Broccoli

A lot of Asian cuisine is super easy to double-batch and cook quickly, which is why it’s a favorite for us. Beef and Broccoli is a restaurant favorite of ours that we’ve now made at home a bunch of times.

Steak

This isn’t a recipe so much as a method. I feel like steak is one of the easiest ways you can stay on track but feel like you are doing something special — especially during a Whole30 Challenge! Here is Neil’s method, straight from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course. The only tip we’d add that was left out of the video is to let your steak REST after cooking.

Beef and Bacon Chili

We like both red and white chili recipes, but this one has bacon, so it kind of wins me over.

Pot Roast - Kohler Created

Pork or Beef Pot Roast

Pork

Slow Cooker Korean Pulled Pork Sandwich (Hapa Nom Nom)*

Pulled pork is another well-loved staple recipe in our house. You can church it up easily with difference spices or kimchi etc, and you can serve it with or part of just about anything. We’ve made tacos one night, and then just served it over mash the next.

Pork (or beef) Pot Roast*

This pork or beef pot roast recipe is one of our most used recipes because it needs next to nothing ingredient-wise, and you literally just dump it all into the slow cooker. You literally can not screw this one up, and it’s great by itself or served with rice or over mashed potatoes (sweet or white) to make it last even longer.

Sausage and Kale Soup*

This soup recipe has to be one of the easiest in existence. And it is just so. SO. GOOD. Seriously, give it a try!

Cucumber and Egg Salad

Egg Salad

Eggs

Egg Salad*

I love eating this egg salad recipe on toast, in a salad, or even just by itself. It’s an easy thing you can make every few days and have on hand for an easy snack or meal.

Tomato Avocado and Egg Salad* (Mark’s Daily Apple)

I ate this simple salad of tomato, avocado, and egg nearly every day while I was pregnant. It’s light but filling and super easy to make on the spot. You can eat it as a side, or even a main dish.

Simple Paleo Veggie Quiche

Can’t go wrong with an easy quiche recipe for breakfasts in our busy house! This recipe is crustless, so if you like a good crust, I’d recommend the olive oil tart crust from Chocolate & Zucchini that I’ve used in this recipe. I’ve also used this recipe from Elana’s Pantry for a Paleo crust.

Veggie Stout Chili

Vegetarian

Spicy Vegetarian Stout Chili

We don’t eat vegetarian all that much anymore, but this recipe is still one of my favorite chili recipes. It’s hearty and super flavorful, can be spiced to preference and will last you more than a few days.

Curry Ginger Banana Stir Fry

Curry Ginger Banana Stir Fry

Any Protein

Meatballs*

Meatballs are a great way to use leftover ground beef/meat, or make quick use of ground beef/meat you happen to find on sale. We always have the ingredients on hand, and we can batch and freeze them for future quick meals. Since they are small, they thaw pretty quickly, so you can take them out on the fly pretty easily.

Stir Fry

Stir fry can be made with pork, beef, or chicken, or no meat at all. It’s all about sauce, and we have no shortage of stir fry sauces to recommend. Neil uses a pretty similar base in all of these and he literally doesn’t measure anything anymore, which makes these hard easy to customize. I love a good curry, and I especially love anything that has a good peanut flavor, so if you do too, I highly recommend trying these out and finding your flavor jam!

While I’ve just given you our staple recipes, it’s important that you decide what works for you and ultimately, what you enjoy eating!

Now it’s your turn! Do you have any staple recipes to share?

How to Meal Prep: 7 Tips for Getting Started

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Life a little busy? Looking to save time and eat healthy? Meal Prep!

How to Meal Prep: 7 Tips for Beginners - Kohler Created

Doing meal prep of any kind is single-handedly the best way Neil and I have found to survive two full-time jobs, two part-time businesses and a toddler. It also keeps us eating healthier, saving money, and spending as much time doing the stuff we’d rather be doing as possible. If you aren’t meal prepping, you’re really missing out.

I could probably spend HOURS talking about meal prep. There have to be just as many methods to getting it done as there are recipes, but since we receive this question often and know there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer, I thought I’d approach the question with a few tips for those just starting out.

First, a little background (reassurance)

Neil and I have only been meal prepping for a few years. In that short time, we’ve tried a bunch of different methods, and have settled into a nice routine of prepping Sunday-Wednesday and Wednesday through Friday. It works for us. I’m sure I’ll write more about our method soon, but for now, know that we keep our meals extremely simple, shop around seasons and sales and prep twice a week.

So based on our journey, here our top tips for beginners!

How to Meal Prep: Let us count the ways

1. Avoid shopping and prepping the same day (if possible)

KISS = Keep it simple stupid! No I’m not calling you stupid, but the saying is true, keep your goals doable. One of the biggest mistakes we made in the early days was trying to do EVERYTHING for the whole week on Sunday. Sure it might be doable, but you’ll be miserable and burnt out by the end of it. If you’re going to do batch cooking, make it as easy on yourself as possible.

Meal Planning (3/1) - Kohler Created

Tip: Stir Fries are an awesome way to use ingredients and they are cheap/easy/fast and make you feel like you are eating take out.

2. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be

The second biggest mistake we made in the early days was over complicating the meals we chose to make. Super-involved, ingredient-heavy recipes that didn’t net much food or didn’t keep well for more than a day. Newb mistake. Now, we keep our meals super simple, and “automate” where we can by buying frozen veggies or rotisserie chicken.

3. Double the recipe if you can

Instead of a different recipe for every meal, pick two recipes to get you through the week for dinner. The week isn’t really that long, and you’ll save so much time and money because you always have ingredients left over.

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Tip: Meatballs are easy to measure and they freeze well.

4. Don’t attempt too much change too fast

Eager to get started and make BIG changes to their diet/lifestyles, we often see people try to make too many changes too quickly and end up burning out or wasting a ton of food. Identify the areas you want to change and make slower, more incremental changes. That way you can refine and make them habit in a much more sustainable way before moving onto the next goal. For example, start with lunch prep to avoid going out early in the week, or dinners on Friday and Saturday when you would normally just grab take-out.

5. Know your schedule

Building off some of our previous tips, we often see people not planning prep around their schedules well. Look at your schedule and find the points at which you not only meals prepped, but can make 1-2 hours of prep happen. For us, it’s Sunday night and Wednesday (our rest day from the gym). We learned pretty quickly that prep can absolutely not happen on Mondays and Tuesdays, it’s just too busy, and we have no desire to cook on Fridays. Knowing the when is just as important as knowing the what.

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Tip: Salad…for days.

6. Think outside the box

Don’t think of meal prepping as only full meals. We create a little salad bar in our fridge every week with chopped veggies and toppings ready for our lunches. If you have a night you’d like to cook a stir fry for example, you can use your prep time to chop your veggies ahead of time. Prep can be as simple as that, and go just as far toward saving you time and keeping you on track.

Stuffed Peppers - Kohler Created

Tip: Stuffed peppers are simple, cheap and freeze well.

7. Do not compare yourself to others

As I said in the beginning of this post, meal prep is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. We all have different goals, schedules, and lives, and to try to make something fit that clearly doesn’t is just setting yourself up for failure. For example, we don’t eat out of containers for the whole week. Tried it, didn’t like it. Lots of people love it, and that’s awesome for them, we just weren’t happy with it. Try different methods, find what works for you!

I firmly believe that setting ourselves up for success with better planning and preparation ahead of time plays a major part in our ability to accomplish our busy schedule while still eating healthy, homemade meals.

Now it’s your turn!

Do you meal prep?
What are your favorite things to prep?
If not, what’s holding you back?

St. Louis Zoo - Kohler Created - Columbia MO

A coffee date of sorts

By | MK, Parenting, Travel, Weekend | No Comments

How about a coffee date?

a coffee date of sorts

I really didn’t mean to let blogging fall off for the month. Life just got BUSY, and something had to give — basically everything but an insane amount of work across 3 jobs, caring for KK and Neil, and keeping my house from burning down. Probably a little extreme, but some days it felt about to that point.

So let’s chat. I see bloggers do these “coffee date” posts from time to time, and here’s mine.

KK's 2nd Birthday

As you might have seen, our little KK is two years old. TWO. She is just — ohhh I can’t get enough of her. Babies weren’t my strength, but I own at toddler wrangling. She’s just a little ball of exploration and sass. When you have a toddler, naturally people ask you about when you plan to have more kids, but I just can’t even get my mind there. Honestly, I’m just so in love with life right now, I never want it to change.

KK's 2nd Birthday

She had a cute little Doc McStuffins-themed birthday party thanks to her amazing auntie Rachel. Rachel is the master of event planning and I’m so jealous of her natural ability to think through things like food for a specific number of people and decorating with super simple materials. It was seriously adorable, especially the sugar-free cake, which I enjoyed all the next week.

KK's 2nd Birthday

She got super cute gifts this year, many already evidence of how much older she is in just a year. She got board games, Elsa dolls, Learning Resources toys, a hot wheel track, and plenty of Color Wonder markers. These muffins are her absolute favorite thing right now. My parents just bought the popsicle set. Their food toys are super cute as well. Half the fun of parenting is the toys.

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I can say with confidence that we are about 80% functional at the Fringe 2.0. I think the consensus is that we are never moving again. Ever. It was so easy last time because we had half as many members and little to no equipment. This time, we had all the things, and our building underwent significant construction. A lot of things are getting done, but it’s a work in progress. It’s like when you move into a house, shit’s just a little crazy for a while. At least it is if you opt to do as much yourself as possible. Tyler is a machine and my hero. Can’t ask for a better friend and boss.

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Even though we’re still dealing with construction, every time I walk through the door, I’m overcome with visions of what I see it looking like and all the things we’re going to do. I don’t own it, but man, I’m so passionate about that place. Aside from my family and pets, I’ve never been so in love with anything.

Other fun things of note. My brother got married this weekend! Eric is the older of my two younger brothers and has definitely always been kind of bolder, wilder of us three. He literally put Cheez-Its and pineapple on his wedding registry. I knew the moment he brought Liz home that she was going to be stuck with us, and I’m so glad that she is!

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While we were in St. Louis for the wedding, we took Kaitlan to the Saint Louis Zoo for the first time. She loved it! We stopped in the amphibian house first, and I don’t think she really registered the non-moving snakes as animals. But then she saw a pig-nosed turtle swimming back and forth in the water, and she just lost it. Oh, she loved that turtle. She got so upset when we tried to move onto the next exhibit, and didn’t understand the whole concept of zoos until the monkey house, where she realized that if she kept walking, there were MORE animals.

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She did pretty well at the wedding too, although she wanted to be outside the entire time. She also ate her weight in food the whole weekend, which was crazy, because she’s kind of a bird when it comes to food. We got to see so much family we never see enough of, it was great to catch up over hotel breakfasts.

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My brother was so cute at his wedding — so unlike himself, and it was just a great time.

Eric and Liz Durboraw

So yeah, that’s a short catch-up on the past few weeks in our world! Just a few more till a much-deserved break!