Challenge Accepted.

Follow me through the ups and downs of 56 days with no cupcakes. *gasp*

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Beauty in Strength

Apparently, writing consistently is more challenging than I envisioned. I am happy to report that while my blogging efforts have been sub par, my efforts in the Whole Life Challenge are still going pretty strong. A recap of the past two weeks:

CrossFit Highlights: 

Last weekend I did a WOD (CrossFit lingo here: Workout Of the Day) with my friends Ian and Chris (Hi Ian! Thanks for actually reading this!). It’s so great to experience the culture at different boxes (gyms); I really enjoyed meeting everyone and doing the workout. I think I’ll make it a goal to try to make it to a box wherever I travel, everyone is always super nice and welcoming.

I PR’d my dead lift yesterday! PR stands for Personal Record: 256 pounds. I have noticed a tangible difference in the way I feel when I work out-my energy levels are much more stable throughout the day, and I’ve noticed I can mentally push through a workout more so than I felt I could a few weeks ago. Yay for no sugar!

Also, I have already reached one of my own personal goals that I didn’t think I’d reach until the end of the challenge: kipping pull-ups! I just casually did a few after the workout yesterday, NO BIG DEAL! Well, actually, I’m super pumped. I’ve revised-I want to be able to do 15 in a row by the end of the WLC.


It’s been getting cooler around here, so that means breaking out the slow cooker. I love that thing about as much as I love the coffee machine. So, A LOT. I made pulled pork and it was divine if I do say so myself. But wait, what’s pulled pork with out barbecue sauce?  Don’t worry, I covered sauce too, and then ate the combo for 6 meals and didn’t even get tired of it! In fact, I am so making it again next week. Super easy, fast, and delish.

Speaking of the coffee machine, this week I tried out BulletProof Coffee. Sounds disgusting in theory, tastes amazing in actuality. I wasn’t sure I liked it at first, but tweaked the recipe at the recommendation of one of my coaches and added coconut milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Now I won’t leave the house without it. SO GOOD.

As the challenge progresses, I’m finding that I’m not as stringent about my meal planning. I need to get back on track so I don’t end up eating only watermelon for dinner again (oops…). Tomorrow is a new day.

Junk (read: carbs and sugar) has become much easier to turn down. Last week I went to a dinner party that was fabulous in terms of company but terrible in terms of challenge compliance. But I had planned for it, and was more than happy to allow myself beer, lasagna, AND chocolate cake. Boy did I pay for it… It was like a hangover! If that’ s what going back to “normal” food is gonna be like, I’m taking a pass. Ugh.

Finally, ME:

I caught up on the phone with one of my oldest friends tonight. I was gushing on and on about CrossFit (because who has a boyfriend anymore?) and caught myself verbalizing something pretty profound. I will admit, for most of my life, I haven’t had the most positive feelings towards my body. More specifically, I’ve always wanted to be skinny. Because skinny = attractive, popular, and attention-grabbing. I harbored the notion that once I lost those last ten pounds, life would be perfect.

That’s not how life actually is.

Through CrossFit, and more acutely through this challenge, my perception has shifted. I am marveling at how much my body has already changed in such a short amount of time… but instead of focusing on the weight loss, my concentration has turned to strength. In the last two weeks alone I have climbed a rope, done unassisted pull-ups, and lifted almost 2x my body weight.  I’m only driven to do more. It’s amazing to see how my body can actually do things I once would’ve brushed off as impossible.

The fact that my clothes getting looser is just icing on the cake may be the best result of this challenge. It’s amazingly liberating 🙂


Week 1 Recap

Seeing as I’ve been studying physics since wee hours of the morning, what more productive study break to take than to write a recap of  week one of the Whole Life Challenge? That’s right, none.

The ups:

  • I had some good luck with recipes this week…

Sweet potato/apple/spinach/chicken sausage breakfast hash from Multiply Delicious:

Make this now.

My roommate and I enjoyed this lounging on the sidewalk watching the Rock and Roll Marathoners run through Mile 24 on Saturday morning. We may or may not have suggested (yelled) to several attractive ones that there was plenty to go around…

Cherry Balsamic Pork Chops (adapted from this recipe)

New go-to, FOR SURE.

By far the easiest and most delicious meat recipe I’ve ever made. From prep to table in less than 30 minutes. DONE in less than 30 minutes? With minimal dishes? Points for me!

I had a big bag of frozen cherries that I used instead of fresh blackberries (what the recipe calls for). It’s feels good to be getting more comfortable with cooking that I’m ok diverging from the recipes; one of my goals by the end of the WLC is to be able to make up several of my own concoctions.

** Note to fellow WLCers: if you want to make these pork chops (Believe me, it’s more of a need) – make sure that your balsamic vinegar doesn’t have any added sugar- I like the kind they sell at Costco.

The downs:

  • School fried me last week, and I really felt my mental fatigue transfer into my workouts. CrossFit is such a great release outside of the tension that school creates; it was annoying to feel like I wasn’t able to be 100% at something I enjoy so much. I think not having anymore exams for a while after this week will help. I’m trying to get myself psyched up to practice my double-unders this upcoming week; I’m over finishing a jump rope workout with lash marks all over me. NOT pretty.
  • I ran out of food on Thursday. That wasn’t especially pleasant because I ate scrambled eggs for two meals before I got some time to do a little more meal planning/run to the store. Usually it wouldn’t feel like as big of deal because I could just go grab something quick, but I digress.  This weekend I created a crude weekly planning system (read: a weekly chart) so I can actually see days where I might run short. It helped-I figured out I just need to add one more protein recipe (for a total of 4, with leftovers) into my week to make it all the way through.

Every week there are mini-challenges within the WLC. Week 2’s Challenge: 10 minutes practicing mindfulness every day. Sounds just like just what I need to get back to business. Thanks for reading!


I started a eating *mostly* paleo diet when I returned to Denver after spending this summer in New York, where I worked for a summer camp and ate gross amounts of penne pasta/whatever filled the office candy bowl. I was so ready to feel healthy again when I got home, so the transition from a high carb diet to paleo didn’t affect me mentally as much as I would have thought. There were also some quick physical changes which I think helped too.

As many participants can probably attest to, the WLC has taken my diet up another notch (or three). Cutting out sugar has been tough- not necessarily because I miss eating sweets everyday, but because now that I’m hyperaware and read every food label I can get my hand on I have found that sugar is added to EVERYTHING. The somewhat disturbing thing is that sugar shows up in the ingredients of food items that aren’t even supposed to be sweet. What? Even when you don’t think you’re eating sugar, you are! Ugh. I’m wondering if that might have to do with the diabetes epidemic plaguing so many Americans.

I have to say, the novelty of the Whole Life Challenge is wearing off just a bit, and I’m wondering if that means tedium is approaching. Like, here I am, five days (that’s it?) in to the WLC and a little over month into eating paleo, and I already find myself pining for the days of convenience. Like, how great does some thai takeout from that place down the road sound instead of eating leftovers because studying’s made me too busy cook tonight? Pretty damn good.

However. I didn’t order any yummy asian food tonight because I thought about this too:

I was introduced to yoga in college and have been practicing for a couple of years. In class, a popular instructor mantra is “be present.” Though I often toss this aphorism aside as cliche, today I found some depth in it. For this challenge, and at this point in my young life, sometimes presence is all I can muster up. Concentrating on future goals (eating strict paleo for all 8 weeks, big weight loss/strength gain at the end of this challenge, getting As in my classes, getting into med school, figuring out how the hell I’ll ever be able to balance my life if I become doctor, etc. etc. etc.) can be exhausting and intimidating and even demoralizing. Personally, when I get wrapped up in this spiral, it’s very enticing to make an easy/convenient decision over the right one.

Obviously a sense of the bigger picture is necessary. However, if I want to make it out of this alive, I think it’s actually necessary to just focus on mindfulness of where I am today as opposed to where I’m going to be in 7-ish weeks. Taking it one step at a time (in this case, making the seemingly trivial but actually annoyingly difficult decision to just. eat. the leftovers.) is what’s going to get me, and I suppose all of us, through the WLC. We all just went through a pretty drastic lifestyle change, it’s all about baby steps if we want to sustain in.

I’m in a post-chemistry/genetics exam haze, so apologies if that got a little too deep for anyone. I’m going to make a soup/stew/chili tomorrow and I’ll let ya’ll know if it’s any good. Thanks for reading!





Days 1 & 2

Well, so far so good. My roommate reminded me today that there are only 7 weeks and 5 days left. It’s going so fast!


Yesterday I went home to my parents house and got to hang out with my aunts and grandma who flew in from San Diego. They were curious about the WLC and supportive of my participation, which was great. I’ve been on my dad about trying CrossFit for a while, and  I think the video on my last post pushed him a little closer. Baby steps… I ate dinner with the fam and then watched them all eat dessert, which wasn’t as excruciating as I had expected 😉

Today was a mellow Sunday full of cooking and studying. One of the benefits of not working retail anymore is all of the FREEDOM I have on the weekends. TWO WHOLE DAYS to structure however I want. Granted, that structure is mostly Chemistry/Physics/Genetics at the moment, but still. It’s glorious. I do what I want.

The morning started off with a spaghetti squash egg bake from PaleOMG. I thought it would be a good idea to make something for breakfast that could give me leftovers for a couple of days this week. The recipe took forever (~1.5 hours) to make, so I was glad that it came out pretty well. I’m not sure I’d make it again… But it was good to learn the lesson that I should probably stick to recipes that take less than an hour from start to finish (otherwise the hangry sets in, and no one wants that).

My goal is to do major cooking only twice a week-Sundays and Wednesdays. I love cooking all of these new things, but it’s really nice to have leftovers to reheat when I come home from school/CrossFit during the week.

For lunch I whipped up these bad boys: Pizza Stuffed Sweet Potatoes a la Health-Bent. This blog is definitely one of my favorites, I have a feeling this recipe will work its way into my weekly rotation. Easy, quick, and ridiculously good. I can’t wait to have one again tomorrow. Dinner was simple and consisted of breakfast leftovers with tomatillo salsa on top.

I’m going to start taking pictures of my meals to add here, so I’ll do my best to make everything look palatable. Also, I realize reading three paragraphs about what I ate on a particular day will probably get old pretty quick… but never fear, I’m working on some good stuff. Off to do a little yoga before bed…


Hey everyone,

I decided to start this blog to tell everyone the story of the next 56 days of my life. If it goes well, maybe even beyond that, but let’s start small.

Though it sounds totally cheesy, I’m about to embark on a journey that’s like nothing I’ve ever done before, and I want to share it. Tomorrow, along with around 50 other people from CrossFit Elevation, I start the Whole Life Challenge-an eight-week total lifestyle overhaul. In essence, for the next 56 days I will be extensively tracking what I eat, eliminating all grains, dairy, soy, corn, processed foods, alcohol, and added sugar (basically a super ramped-up paleo diet). I have to take fish oil. And I must work out and mobilize (stretch) every. single. day. Cake, right?

A few days ago one of the coaches at CFE said that it’s the nerds who always win these challenges because they’re the ones who are the most meticulous about recording their progress. I definitely fall into that category (see: well, this blog). So I’m going to put said nerdiness to the test, and hopefully even mildly entertain those of you lovely people who actually read this. I also figured this would be a good resource to point my baffled/annoyed friends and family to when I quiz them about every single ingredient in dinner or turn down yet another invitation to happy hour (It’s only for eight weeks guys, promise!)

If anyone has questions, please please please ask me! I think I’ve found my niche with CrossFit and the paleo lifestyle, and am SUPER EXCITED to see where this challenge takes me. I can’t wait to see what my body can do, and in what ways my outlook on life in general will change.

If you’re interested in seeing why I’m so into this CrossFit business, watch this:

Have a great weekend everyone, and just remember: