Team Sparta: CMC Intrepid Recap

Last weekend, we competed as a team in the Civilian Military Combine (CMC) on the USS Intrepid. For those who are not familiar with the CMC, it’s an obstacle race that supports Operation Homefront and the Heroes of Tomorrow. While it’s similar to a Tough Mudder or a Spartan Race, there’s one additional element that is unique to the CMC, Hell The Pit. But before we go into the details of the race, we want to introduce Team Sparta.

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  Our team was made up of 12 awesome athletes, evenly split between ladies and gents. We all love to train, and we also love flexing.

 Ok, back to the Pit. The Pit is a workout that you complete before the obstacle course. For this event, the Pit was a 7 minute AMRAP (as many repetitions as possible) of:

 7 Push-press (45lbs, girls/75lbs, boys)

7 KB swings (26lbs, girls/40lbs, boys)

7 Box-jump over burpees (20” box, universal)

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  I’m pretty sure our faces say it all.

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 After 7 minutes of the Pit, it would be nice to lay down and take a little rest, right?. WRONG. You have 90 seconds to recover or grab a sip of water (if you can swallow in between gasps), before you’re “released” into the obstacle course.

Because the event was held on the Intrepid, the obstacle course was a half mile sprint, which consisted of a sled push, sandbag and water bucket carries, crawling through nets and lots and lots of climbing.

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  We were one of the only teams not from a Crossfit box, and we came in 18th out of 48. Not too shabby!

 We were pretty happy with our individual results as well 🙂

Pit Obstacle Course Rank
Kayte 144 reps 9:05 5/188 females (and first in her age group!)
Julia 142 reps 10:20 10/188 females

 And even happier to be finished!

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  The atmosphere on the Intrepid was incredible. Despite the freezing temperatures (ok, maybe it wasn’t that cold but it was on the water and some of us may not have worn enough clothing…), everyone was amped to be participating in such an exciting event. The judges were all super supportive as well, cheering on each and every athlete and encouraging them to get out every last rep. And it was cool to see people of various athletic backgrounds in all different stages of their training come together and give it a go.  Really goes to show that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it!

Since we each approached the race slightly differently, we thought we’d also give you a recap of the event from our individual perspectives…

Kayte

 I was a little apprehensive about this race.  For the last 2 months, I haven’t been training for power or working on upper body strength because of the pinched nerve in my neck.  I wasn’t even sure I would be able to participate until the doctor gave me the “OK” 1 week before.  On the Monday before CMC, I decided that I should go for a test run of “The Pit” in a closed environment.  I got through the whole 7 minutes at a moderate pace and didn’t feel any additional pain, so I made the decision to go for it!  My goal was to just get through the day without hurting myself.

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The morning of, I was a little anxious, but as Team Sparta started to gather at the gym, I began to get more and more pumped!  We all seemed to feed off of each other’s energy, which is the great thing about doing these events with other like-minded, positive athletes who inspire you.

Although I hadn’t trained for this specific event, staying active and doing what I was able while injured, along with a solid base of power and strength that I have from years of training, allowed me to be able to complete the course at a competitive level.  The course involved a lot of climbing, and I’m pretty much a monkey with my gymnastics background, so I really felt comfortable with the obstacles.

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 Despite being able to get through the course without serious preparation, I really felt the effects of it afterwards.  My shoulders were so sore and I couldn’t lift my arms up until Wednesday without being reminded of the CMC on Saturday!

Julia

Signing up for the CMC was an easy decision for me. I sort of have a hard time saying no to any type of physical challenge. Plus, a couple of my teammates did the CMC in Brooklyn last September and wouldn’t shut up about how awesome it was, so I knew there was no chance I was missing out on this one.

 As someone who always likes to be thoroughly prepared, upon signing up I immediately visited the CMC website and watched the Pit instructional videosso that I would know exactly what each element entailed (no way was I going to get a “no rep!”). I practiced the Pit once a week for about a month, and even though I knew exactly what to expect the day of, my stomach was still doing somersaults as we waited for the countdown to begin. There really is no other feeling like pre-race nerves!

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 My performance during the actual event was pretty much on par with my performance in practice. But it felt SO much harder. I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t properly warmed up, or if I was just having a bad day, but by the time I was on round 3, I wanted to lay on the ground in the middle of my burpees and not get back up. Luckily, the screaming judges and rowdy crowd were enough to push me through, and the 7 minutes of torture finally ended.

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  Even though I know my score was definitely above average, I was slightly disappointed because I had been hoping to do a little more with adrenaline kicking in and all. But, at least I know a couple of things that I’m going to do differently in my training next time: use heavier weight and practice lateral box jumps (that part really threw me for a loop). I’ll also be incorporating more running and climbing stairs with sandbags and medicine balls in preparation for a longer, more rugged obstacle course.

It was a pretty amazing day all around, and we could not be more proud of our team’s performance. Check out more pics of Team Sparta in action here.

 Oh, and the day obviously would not have been complete without a few post-race beverages.

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 So what’s next? Several members of Team Sparta have decided to sign up for the another CMC in Camelback, PA on May 18th. Follow our workouts on Instagram (@average2athlete) to see how we’re preparing, and let us know if you’ll be there too!

 Now, time to start training…

 Kayte & Julia

Strong is the New Skinny. And Oodles of Zoodles!

As anyone who follows us on Facebook or Instagram already knows, this past weekend, Kayte and I competed in the Civilian Military Combine in NYC on the US Intrepid. It was a truly awesome experience and we’ll be writing a full post on it later this week, but for now I couldn’t resist at least sharing a picture of our amazing team.

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Team Sparta!

One of the coolest things about this event was getting to see all of the kickass women out there. Out of 482 total participants, 188 were female. That’s about 40% – not too shabby! I think a lot of this can be contributed to the huge growth of Crossfit, which has been attracting more and more women over the past couple of years.

 However, despite this tremendous growth, there is still a lot of convincing to be done when it comes to getting women to even pick up and weight. And I don’t mean grabbing two 5-pound dumbbells and doing a few bicep curls and maybe a couple of lunges. I’m talking challenging weight. Weight that is actually hard.

But why? There are pictures of strong women with awesome physiques all over the media, and trust me, they did not get their bodies purely by doing cardio and starving themselves. I guarantee you that even your favorite spin instructor with the awesome bod did not get her “toned” arms from spinning alone. So why do women need so much convincing when it comes to lifting weights?

Well, I’ll begin with a couple of misconceptions that are unfortunately all too common and continue to keep women isolated to the cardio machines…

1.       Lifting weights will make you bulky.  This is simply not true. Women do not have enough testosterone in their bodies to bulk up. The bodybuilders that you see that look “manly” do not get that way from lifting weights alone. They are either taking some sort of supplements, or they are part of the 1% of the female population that is able to bulk up like men. Some women might say they naturally get bulky when they lift, but this is probably due more to diet and a higher percentage of body fat than it is to the amount of muscle they’re carrying.

 Often when I talk about wanting to get stronger or be able to lift heavier, people reply with, “but aren’t you afraid of getting bulky?” Well, I am currently stronger and can lift more than I’ve ever been able to in my life, and I would consider myself the “leanest” that I’ve ever been as well. Why? Because most of the extra “bulk” that I carried was actually fat, not muscle mass! And if you’re reading this and thinking that I’m bulky, then we can have a separate conversation about that later 😉

 I think Dwight sums it up best:

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 2.       Cardio is the best way to burn fat. Don’t get me wrong, cardio is important. It’s a great way to get your heart rate up, build endurance and can burn a ton of calories while you’re actually doing it. And I’m really not saying to forget about it, I just think it’s overdone. Just because you are sweating bullets does not necessarily mean that you’re burning more fat. Anyone who has lifted weights at high intensity can tell you they felt just as fatigued, if not more, than they would have from doing cardio for that same amount of time.

 Unfortunately, many women get discouraged when they first start lifting because they notice their legs/shoulders/arms getting bigger and their weight going up, and they decide to throw in the towel and resort back to purely cardio. What they don’t realize is that their bodies have started building muscle (hence the weight gain), but they haven’t necessarily started to burn the fat on top of that muscle yet. However, as that lean muscle mass continues to increase, body fat will start to decrease (assuming they are also eating well) and that newly formed muscle will start to show!

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These next two aren’t as much misconceptions as they are additional comments that you often here in regards to weight lifting…

 3.      But I just want to tone my arms. Well, any decent trainer will tell you that you cannot target fat loss. You will lose fat wherever there is fat to lose. Just like people carry their fat in different places, people lose fat differently as well, and unfortunately, this is not something that you can control. So the only way that you’re going to “tone” any part of your body is going to be by lifting weights to build muscle, and simultaneously decreasing body fat so that your muscle will show. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to target certain muscle groups, but it won’t matter if you have fat on top of them.

 4. I don’t care about muscle, I just want to be skinny. We’ve all heard the term “skinny fat.” While I don’t think that anyone wants to think they fall into that bucket, there are always going to be people who are naturally skinny and don’t care about being strong or having muscle. Well, obviously everyone has different end goals when it comes to fitness, but there are several reasons beyond aesthetics that being “skinny fat” can ultimately be hazardous to one’s health. Rather than going into detail on the topic in this post, I’ll let the good people at Tabata Times do it for me.

 So, now that I’ve convinced you all to start lifting weights (right?), you’re wondering where to start. I would say second to being afraid of bulking up, simply not knowing what to do when it comes to weight is the next biggest deterrent to women. Well, stay tuned for an upcoming post on weight lifting tips for beginners!

 In the meantime, I’ll leave you with my “zoodle” recipe!

 Zoodles and Meatballs

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Zoodles

 1 zucchini

 1 Julienne peeler (I bought mine on Amazon to save a few bucks)

Nomnom Paleo (another awesome blog you should check out for yummy, clean recipes) explains zoodle preparation way better than I can.

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Zoodles

You can either pop them in the microwave or sautee them to get them warm. I like mine with a bit of a crunch to them.

Turkey Artichoke Meatballs

 1 lb lean ground turkey

1 can artichokes, chopped

½ onion, chopped

1 cup spinach, chopped

Seasoning of choice (I used garlic, basil and red pepper flakes)

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix chopped vegetables and turkey in a bowl. Roll turkey/veggie mixture into balls and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 30 minutes or until turkey is thoroughly cooked.

Marinara Sauce

 ½ jar of natural marinara sauce (ingredients should be tomatoes and seasonings, for the most part)

½ bell pepper, chopped

½ onion, chopped

Basil

Black pepper

 Grease skillet and add onion and bell pepper. Sautee until onions are translucent, then add sauce. Add basil and pepper and stir. Cover and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.

When sauce is finished, pour over zoodles and add a few meatballs. They even twist around a fork just like noodles!

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Have an awesome week!

 Julia

Julia’s Quick and Dirty Guide to Clean Eating…and Stuffed Bell Peppers!

“You are what you eat.” “Abs are made in the kitchen.” “You can’t out-train a bad diet.”

You’ve all heard it in one form or another. And it’s true, unless you have an amazing metabolism (in which case I’m super jealous of you), you’re not going to reap the full benefits of your exercise program without eating well along with it. Plus, we like our bodies, right? So why not be nice to them and give them things that will make them happy?

So what does this mean? What should you eat? Should you eat less? More? High protein? Low carbs? No fat? With all of the diets and products out there, it’s no wonder everyone is confused…who wouldn’t be?

Well, in this post, I’m going to tell you what I eat. I’m not a nutritionist and I’m not saying that everyone should do as I do, but this is what works for me. And guess what, I feel good AND I enjoy what I’m eating. Isn’t that what really matters?

But before I get down to business, I have something VERY IMPORTANT to share. Ok, not really. I just needed an excuse to embarrass my friends by posting these pictures that I received via text on Saturday.


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Oh, yeah. That happened. Oh, and I’m supposed to be very clear about the fact that they are making fun of people who take “gym selfies.” Because apparently that makes this acceptable.

What’s a “gym selfie?” You know, those people who should be working out but instead are too busy taking pictures of themselves in the mirror. Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Well don’t worry, I took one of my own.

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 Not laughing yet? How about  now?

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Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I can focus on the real subject of this post, which was…oh yes, eating. Ok, here goes. Apologies in advance for a lengthy post. If you’re just looking for the recipe, I’ve buried it all the way at the bottom so just keep scrolling.

I’m going to list a few (relatively) simple rules of thumb that guide my eating habits. I will probably link out to other articles, especially as it regards to more “scientific” subject matter, because I do not have a science background and would probably only confuse you (and myself) more.

Eat REAL food. What does this mean? Try to avoid anything that is processed. How can you tell if it’s processed? Well, first off, if you see a commercial for it on TV, it’s probably not natural. Check the ingredients. Is there a long list of things that you don’t understand? Is sugar an ingredient? If the answer to these questions is yes, then it’s most likely processed. Real foods include fruits, veggies, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, etc. Basically, if you stick to the perimeter of the  grocery store when you do your shopping, you’ll be able to avoid the processed things. I realize you can’t do this 100% of the time, but if you do it 80% of the time, you’ll notice a huge difference in how you feel. I promise.

Don’t fear the fat. This could be an entire post on it’s own. People think that in order to lose fat they need to eat fat free foods. This is simply not true. Fat plays several important roles in our diet from making us feel full to improving our mental states and energy levels. Fat is especially important if you’re on a low carb diet, because while protein will help to build muscle, your body needs something to run on for fuel! If you’re interested in reading more about this issue, I would recommend reading this.

Grain or no grain? Avoiding grains, particularly gluten, seems to be an emerging trend, and some may wonder whether or not they should jump on the gluten-free bandwagon. Basically, gluten causes an inflammatory response in the body, even in those who do not have Celiac disease One of my favorite bloggers, the Petite Athleat, gives a great breakdown of the benefits of not eating gluten as well as a breakdown of the alternatives to wheat flour – almond vs. coconut – here. Well, I decided to give the whole gluten free diet a whirl and have been avoiding gluten, for the most part, for the past 3 months, and I can say I’ve never felt better. My digestive issues have gone away (that alone is enough for me to never eat wheat again), I have more energy and fewer cravings and as an added bonus, I’ve leaned out a bit. 

Drink more water. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. It’s very important to stay hydrated. This will help keep you full, give you that youthful glow you try so desperately to achieve through bronzer and blush, keep your muscle energized and mostly importantly, keep you “regular.” Need I say more? For those stuck behind a desk like me, I recommend keeping a glass of water at your desk and getting up to refill each time it’s empty. This also serves as a reminder to get up and stretch your legs every once and a while.

Limit your alcohol intake. We all know that excessive alcohol consumption leads to weight gain. Remember the Freshman 15? Yeah. Obviously, if you’re trying to lose weight, cutting out alcohol altogether would maximize your results. But we’re all human and after a long week, we need a drink. Or two. Or three… If we’re going to drink, why not choose something that has some health benefits? I actually stumbled upon a useful article the other day that outlines the health benefits (or lack of benefits) of each type of alcohol. All I can say is, bring on the red wine and whisky.

So now you’re thinking, that’s great and all, but what do I eat?!

Well, your grocery cart might look something like this.

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Ok, so what do I do with all this food? Won’t it go bad? Don’t you spend a lot of money on groceries? Have no fear! I have a solution!

Prep your meals in advance. This is crucial if you don’t want to waste food and money. I usually do my grocery shopping and prepare my lunches for the week on Sundays. I’ll cook all of the fresh food that I buy (because there’s nothing worse than wasting food), and then portion everything out into tupperware containers. Voila, 5 days of lunch! It can get a little boring eating the same thing every day, but I try to include a variety of veggies/proteins and change up the “dressings” that I use – alternating between avocado, hummus and salsa – to keep my taste buds happy.

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Freeze food. If you are afaid that something will go bad, just pop it in the freezer! No food wasted!

Portion out your snacks. This is a great way to avoid eating that entire container of mango that you bought in one sitting.

Trader Joe’s is a godsend. I don’t know how it is in other parts of the country, but if it weren’t for TJs, I would be seriously broke. Their prices are absolutely unbeatable.

Get creative. There are TONS of easy recipes out there that you can make with just a few simple ingredients! Google is your friend people, use it. 

People often ask what I eat in a typical day. While food and nutrient intake is dependent on a million different factors (body mass index, basal metabolic rate, body composition, allergens) as well as your goals – do you want to lose fat, build muscle, maintain – here is what an average weekday of eating looks like for me. Keep in mind that I workout at 6:30am every morning (crossfit or HIIT) and then sit at a desk from 9am-6pm each day before walking the mile home to my apartment.

5:30am Pre-workout pancake + cup of coffee
8:00am Post-workout protein shake (1 banana, 1 scoop whey protein powder, unsweetened vanilla almond milk/water)
9:30am 2 hard boiled eggs, 1/2 small sweet potato, 2 slices Applegate Farms turkey
11:00am String cheese
1:30pm Bowl of assorted roasted veggies (brussel sprouts, carrots, mushrooms) on bed of spinach or kale, 5 roasted sweet potato “chips”, 4 turkey meatballs (I make mine without the oats), topped with hummus/avocado/salsa
4:00pm Apple with almond butter
7:30pm Scrambled eggs with spinach, tomatoes, bacon, mushrooms and goat cheese or pancakes topped with Greek yogurt and blueberries

And finallyyyyyyyy, a recipe!

Last Friday, I had a couple of friends over and we made stuffed bell peppers for dinner. They were absolutely amazing so I thought I would share this delicious recipe with you.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

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You will need:

3 large red bell peppers

Filling:

1 lb lean ground turkey

1 small onion, chopped

1 cup spinach leaves

1 cup mushrooms, chopped

Sauce:

2 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1 tbsp stone ground mustard

Splash of vinegar (white or balsamic both work)

Seasonings of choice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut bell peppers in half, lengthwise, and discard seeds and membranes. Wrap in foil, place on baking sheet or in casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes.

While the peppers are baking, cook ground turkey in skillet until browned. Remove from skillet and sautee onion, mushrooms and spinach in olive oil. Once veggies are cooked, combine with turkey. Mix sauce ingredients together in a small bowl, then add to turkey/veggie mixture. Remove peppers from oven and stuff.

Place stuffed peppers back in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.

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Enjoy!

I hope this was somewhat helpful. As always, let me know if you have any questions/comments/concerns!

Until next time,

Julia

Neon Socks, Partner WODs and PANCAKES…oh my!

It’s been one of those weeks. You know what I mean? I think it partially has to do with this annoying winter that just does not want to end.  Seriously, winter, it’s been swell but it’s time to let spring have its turn. Let’s not get greedy.

The GOOD thing about this week is that I’ve had the blog to keep me distracted. I really hope y’all are enjoying it so far.

Other highlights of the week included getting to do an awesome Partner WOD.

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And doing some delicious (and nutritious) cooking with a friend. Actually, I think I mostly just enjoyed seeing him in an apron.

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Hokay, moving on to my favorite things. Hmmm, where to start…

Ah, my Zensah compression sleeves. These guys are truly awesome. Maybe the best gift I’ve ever received. I really need to get some more colors, although I do love my pink. If you follow the blog, you’ll be seeing these a lot.

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 For those who don’t know about compression sleeves, they help with everything from calf support to shin splint relief and also help decrease fatigue. They can be worn during training/running or afterwards for recovery. I like to wear them for sprints, box jumps, jump ropes, or anything else where you’re on your toes and putting a lot of stress on your shins.

Plus, they come in NEON. What’s not to love?

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Next on the list of favorites is my workout buddies.

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Seriously, I love these girls. They get me in all my craziness. They are my outlet when I need to let off steam, tell someone about a new PR or whine about being sore. People hate on “globo” gyms, but if it weren’t for mine, I never would have met some awesome people. And let me tell you, knowing that I get to see friendly faces each morning is a HUGE motivator to drag my butt out of bed at 530am on a cold winter day.

And we have matching compression socks, duh.

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Finally, PANCAKES! I love pancakes. For breakfast, lunch or dinner. They’re always yummy. Top them with Greek yogurt and berries. Throw an egg  and some bacon on them. Eat one plain for a little pre-workout fuel. They’re just wonderful.

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A lot of people have requested this recipe so here it is! I adapted it from several different sources, and it can take a while to get them the right consistency, so you may have to play around with the proportions a bit.

Gluten-free (Spinach) Banana Pancakes

Yields 6-8 pancakes

1 (very) ripe banana

3 eggs

1 cup egg whites

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (I use vanilla)

1/2 cup coconut flour (sometimes I do half coconut flour/half almond meal)

1 tsp baking powder

Dash of cinnamon

Optional: Add handful of spinach to make them green!

Mix the banana, spinach, eggs and milk in a blender. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl. Pour wet into dry and mix well. Grease skillet with fat of choice, place over medium heat, pour on the batter and get to flippin’!

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YUM.

Enjoy the weekend!

Julia

A Tale of Two Athletes

Welcome to average2athlete! We’re Kayte and Julia, two friends who met at New York Sports Club and immediately bonded over our love of fitness and competitive nature. Hey, who ever said nothing good can come out of socializing at the gym?

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We found ourselves constantly sharing workout ideas and recipes, so we thought, why not create a site where we can share our fitness obsession with a larger audience? Thus, average2athlete was born.

Our goal is to provide a little bit of insight on how to make healthier choices in both fitness and health, regardless of budget, busy lifestyles or anything else that might get in the way. We’ll post a smorgasbord of health- and fitness-related things.

Including yummy, “clean” recipes.

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Gluten-free banana protein pancakes

Workouts and exercises.

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Random things we’re doing.

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NBA All-star Game, Fan Patrol Cheerleaders

And our favorite swag.

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Whether you’re an avid follower of every “fitfam” blog, a newbie just discovering the crazy world of health and fitness social media, or one of our friends that we blackmailed into following us so that we could feel loved, we hope you will find some value here. We don’t claim to be experts. Nor do we claim to have the answers to everything. But at the end of the day, we hope you walk away feeling slightly more informed, or at the very least entertained…

We’re here to show you that if you eat, train and think like an athlete, you will become an athlete!

Happy reading!

Kayte & Julia