Happy Memorial Day!

We spent our weekend hiking at Red Rock. Since moving here, anytime I mention the word ‘hiking’ to anyone, Red Rock always seems to be a headlining suggestion. Red Rock Canyon (Las Vegas, NV), offers 26 hiking trails that range from beginner 1.1-mile trails, to more advanced, unpredictable terrains.

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We began by stopping in at the visitor center to purchase our pass for the day; for a 1-day pass per vehicle, it cost $15. On our next visit, I plan to purchase the yearly pass which is $30, and Wes being active duty military will receive a free yearly pass!

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The scenic drive through the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is 13 miles long. Every couple of miles offers scenic stops and a variety of trailheads.

We began our trek at the top of the White Rock Loop Trail and ventured off down the Keystone Thrust Trail. According to Red Rock Canyon LV, this Thrust dates back 65 million years to when the Pacific and North American continental plates got into a shoving match. The conflict pushed up the Sierra Nevada mountains to the west. The same force pushed the deep limestone layers up and over the sand dunes in what is now Red Rock Canyon.

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After our hike, I circled the trails that we tackled and dated it on the map that we picked up at the visitor center, and thought to myself, “there must be an easier way to track trails that we’ve trekked” (say that 3X). I noticed when looking through our photos that REI.com was on one of the trail markers. If you have ever participated in anything outdoors or searched #hiking or #adventure on Instagram, then you are familiar with REI.

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I searched for “hiking trails” on the REI website which led me to The Hiking Project. I typed in Las Vegas, NV and the trails surrounding us are nearly endless! The desktop version was nice because it allowed for statewide maps and it also lets you hone in on specific trails, which included the degree of difficulty, elevation, and estimated duration.

I also downloaded the Hiking Project App that provides detailed information on trails near you, including GPS route info. I created a customized user profile with interactive features. I tagged myself in at the location, as well as, pinned my very first trail!

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If you are a Las Vegas local looking for adventure or simply visiting, I suggest hiking the rolling trails of Red Rock Canyon.

I also recommend downloading The Hiking Project App, or visiting their web address to participate in interactive forums, read informative blog posts and stay up to date on newly discovered trails!

Happy Hiking!!

I was super stoked to get home this afternoon and begin this blog! As I continue to shake things up with my cardio, I want to share one of my all-time favorite “active-rest” day activities that I have incorporated the last two weeks, hiking.

Hiking is a minimalist sport. It requires a decent pair of shoes, and if venturing out on longer adventures, a camelback or perhaps a fanny-pack (and who doesn’t appreciate a good fanny pack). It’s one of those activities that relatively anyone, at any fitness level can benefit from. You don’t need to go hard-core rugged to reap the many benefits of hiking.

Last weekend, Wes and I decided to explore the terrain of Lone Mountain. This rocky butte is a steep and isolated mountain (hence its name), in NW Las Vegas just inside the Interstate-215. From our house to the base of the mountain is (not even) a ten-minute drive. We parked on the Northwest Side, and little did we know that the trail we needed to reach was opposite of the direction we headed. When we got to the trail that heads to the top, we realized we had already hiked the perimeter of the entire mountain, which was about 3 miles. With plans to have dinner with a friend later in the evening, we decided to call it a day and save the uphill climb for trip #2.

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Fast forward to this morning, we headed out to hike to the top. We left the house around 9am, and it was a perfect 75 degrees. While I would rate the hike last week as a beginner trail, I would rate today’s climb as more moderate, due to the rocky terrain, loose gravel, and incline; however, the climb to the top was relatively quick. The view was incredible!

The hike today was definitely more intense, but when comparing the calories burned to the ground distance covered (shown below), it is obvious that an individual will benefit greatly from either level of intensity.

Walking on flat terrain allows you to move continuously with little effort, whereas, hiking a rugged terrain forces greater work on the internal stabilizer muscles, which ultimately knocks out a lot of that energy transfer. Hiking of course isn’t without its own risks, but a good morning spent on the trail is not only a wonderful cardiovascular exercise, but excellent for mental clarity.

Navigating through this world is truly amazing! Go for a hike!

As I left the salon today, I detoured across the street into Orange Theory Fitness. My motivation for summer shredding has been lacking a bit, and I credit this to the fact, this is the first summer in 5 years that I don’t plan on stepping on stage. While I am still in the gym 5 to 6 days a week, I need a change. After doing some research about OrangeTheory Fitness, I was intrigued.  The “theory” behind OrangeTheory seems to be scientifically based, and this science nerd is all about the whys, hows, and facts behind everything. All of us fitness enthusiasts know that interval training in comparison to steady-state cardio burns more calories post-workout, and that is why interval training is so incredible!!

So, after two weeks and two workouts at two different locations, I can share my thoughts on the “theory.”

My first OT experience was shared with two of my girlfriends, Kaitlyn and Kelly. We all three headed into OT last week with a water bottle and no expectations. We arrived about 15 minutes early to fill out any needed waivers or paperwork. The first initial impression was, welcoming. The girl working the front desk was friendly, energetic, and eager to offer assistance. People continued to trickle in, but with only 5 minutes to spare before class starts, we had no idea what we were going to be doing. The instructor was nowhere in sight. The front desk girl apologized for the instructor’s tardiness and took us into the gym area. We were instructed to take our pick of either a rower or a treadmill (not really knowing why). I personally never felt uncomfortable (only because I am familiar with the unfamiliar when it comes to group fitness), but Kaitlyn and Kelly (a bit newer) were probably a bit uncomfortable. I tried to offer what advise I could regarding rowing techniques while we were warming up, and then about a hundred meters or so in, the instructor arrived. She apologized as she jumped on the mic and got us into a warm up. I will say things started off a little rocky. She was calling out commands to the class, but not being familiar with any of their terms or “lingo,” I just rowed with intensity and assumed if I was screwing up royally, I would be called out. We continued to row with uncertainty, and all of a sudden we heard “switch” yelled out, so we just went with the flow of the others. Once we found our way to our new location, we were instructed to partner up. I told Kelly and Kaitlyn that I would fly solo and try to find a regular member and they could pair together. I paired up with another female and the workout consisted of rounds for time of treadmill sprints, rowing sprints, and dumbbell work. After 60 minutes I was a sweaty, red-faced mess. Class ended and the instructor approached us with apologies for being late, and poor presentation of the class introduction. We assured her that our workout was still great even if we were a bit lost.

After class, we were back up front to talk memberships. I chose the basic package of one session a week. This would allow me to get in 60:00 of intense cardio training each week for the next month, perfect. This is worth $59 alone, but when the girl behind the desk said she would throw in the heart rate monitor for free, I was sold!


*Class pricing varies by region, so it’s worth giving your local studio a call to find out the exact cost of a membership or class. Your first class at any OTF is free; after that, the studio’s packages start at $59 and can go up to about $200 for an unlimited plan. The average price for a drop-in class for nonmembers is $28, with a few select locations costing slightly higher than this.

Now, fast-forward another week and I came back for round 2, except this time at a new location. Last week I visited an OT in Summerlin, but because I flew solo this week, I decided to go first thing in the morning to a location 10 minutes from home.

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Yesterday’s class was endurance based, meaning that we ran…a lot. We began on the treadmill with a base pace for 5 minutes, followed with just over 20 minutes of combinations with both base and push efforts. If that weren’t enough, a 1-minute all out, give it everything you got, race to the end.

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After running, we hopped on the rowers for more base and push efforts combined followed with dumbbell work. After 60 minutes, my body was spent and my lungs were on fire.

What I find to be most successful about the OT approach is the use of the heart rate monitor. I began wearing a heart rate monitor years ago when I began training for my first triathlon, and have worn one ever since when it comes to cardio training. This method of training enables you to see exactly where your heart rate percentage is at all times, allowing for continual improvements.

A big screen hanging overhead continuously displays your name, heart rate, percentage of max exertion, calories burned, and “splat points” (how often your heart rate is in the “orange zone”).

Below is an analyzation of each color:

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  1. Grey Zone (50-60% Maximum Heart Rate) – This is the safest, most comfortable zone, consisting of very light activity.
  2. Blue Zone (61-70% Maximum Heart Rate) – This zone is specifically geared for warm-up and cool-down exercises. You are merely preparing your body and mind for high-intensity interval training, but you haven’t unleashed the burn just yet.
  3. Green Zone (71-83% Maximum Heart Rate) – In this zone, you have reached a challenging but doable pace. This is what Orangetheory categorizes as “Base Pace,” a pace that you can maintain for 20-30 total minutes. Your body starts to burn fat and carbohydrates evenly.
  4. Orange Zone (84-91% Maximum Heart Rate) – This is where the magic happens and where you achieve “EPOC” (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) – what we call the “Orange Effect / Afterburn.” The goal is to accumulate 12 minutes or more in this zone within a 60-minute period to achieve the maximum caloric burn up to 36 hours AFTER your workout is completed.
  5. Red Zone (92-100% Maximum Heart Rate) – This zone happens organically and may be achieved during ‘All-Out’ efforts when you’re emptying the tank and using every ounce of energy left in your body. You don’t need to set an All Out pace for more than 1 minute at a time to experience maximum results.

This “zone” approach definitely gives you continuous motivation. I know personally, each time I looked up, if I wasn’t in the correct zone, I would fight until I reached it (this meant digging deep a few times).

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Once the hour was over I felt accomplished. I took a quick snip of the board to log my totals on the way out the door, but I was informed by an OT staff member that my stats would be emailed to me within minutes (which was pretty great!)

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Within minutes I received an inbox with my heart rate and zone summary.

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My overall opinion of OT summed up in one word, effective. I personally will not use OT as my only form of exercise, because lifting is my jam, but when it comes to shredding… this will definitely be a great addition!

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Follow along as I continue to share my experiences while exploring the versatility of fitness.

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“If I’m going to drink alcohol, what is the healthiest choice, and can I fit it into my macros?”
Below I have tried to provide the easiest explanation of how to track alcohol into your macros.

Doing the Math:

Alcohol, just like anything else, should be consumed in moderation; however, when looking to lose body fat, it is usually a top choice to be eliminated from the diet. In order to share a clear understating of how alcohol is counted, below is an example of how alcohol is logged when “tracking macros.”

Doing the math:
When it comes to calories, alcohol has 7 calories per 1 gram. This is very dense especially compared to the main macronutrients:

1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories

1 gram of protein = 4 calories

1 gram of fat = 9 calories

1 gram of pure alcohol = 7 calories

To track alcohol, the calories are allocated to carbs or fats. Never substitute alcohol for protein.

Example: if a drink has 200 calories you could track as:
Carbs 200/4 = 50 grams of carbs
OR
Fats 200/9= 22.2 grams of fat

Below I have given an example of how to add a vodka and water to fit into your macros:
2 oz of Vodka = 130 calories which is the same as 32 grams of carbs or 14 grams of fat

This means that if you want a vodka and water with dinner, then you must take away 32 carbs from your meal, which is equivalent to a large sweet potato. Also keep in mind, you’re not only taking away the potato, but the nutrients you get from it. Alcohol calories are considered “empty calories.”

Don’t get me wrong, we all love a night out, or a drink at home, but just be mindful and take each drink into consideration. For some, it isn’t the alcohol that sabotages their progress, but rather the food choices made while drinking, or the day after.

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I just returned back to Italy from Marseille, France where I had my final race of the season to complete my 2017 European Trifecta! Not only did I complete my Trifecta, but I was able to do so with one of my best CrossFit mates. What an incredible race season!! The Spartan Trifecta is completion of all 3 Spartan  distances in one year. The Sprint (3-5 miles of obstacle racing, 20+ obstacles), the Spartan Super (8-10 miles, 25+ obstacles), the Spartan Beast (13-15 miles, 30+ obstacles). I added my own fun twist to it and decided to complete each one in a different European country.

The first race of the season was the Sprint which took place in Orte, Italy.  The second was the Beast in Vienna, Austria at the Military Academy, and the third, the Super, this past weekend in Marseille, France.

What an incredible year, Aroo!!!!

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I met Kat while both of our families were stationed in Aviano, Italy. Kat would occasionally join my 0530 CrossFit Class and we became friends. After a move back to the states, she soon messaged me and asked me to be her coach. I told her it wouldn’t be easy, I would give her my 100% but she had to be 100% dedicated as well. 

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After weeks of consistent results, Kat decided that she wanted to set a major goal for herself. She had always dreamed of competing in a bikini fitness competition, so that would become her goal. As her coach, I knew this dream was attainable, but as a friend, I knew this meant that at times I would have to be crude without “sugar-coating” anything. She never once thought of throwing in the towel. Competition prep requires a dedication that most people will never understand. It is a commitment that some call crazy. It not only takes determination, diligence, and perseverance, but it takes bravery. 

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Transformations like Kat’s require an effective nutrition plan and dedication in the gym. You won’t see transformations like this happen with endless hours each week on the elliptical. It takes compound movements like squatting and deadlifting, all completed without the fear of becoming “too big.” In order to attain a lean, toned physique, it takes heavy- lifting, hard-hitting training sessions.

Neuroendocrine refers to interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine system. Muscle growth and strength increase largely depend on the neuroendocrine adaptations and acute responses evoked during exercise.
Unfortunately, one of the critical elements missing from isolation ‘weight-training’ movements (ex. bicep curls) is they invoke essentially no Neuroendocrine response.
A vital hormonal response to athletic development is a substantial testosterone increase, along with an insulin-like growth factor and human growth hormone. Exercising with protocols known to elevate these hormones eerily mimics the hormonal changes sought in exogenous hormonal therapy (steroid use). Training Programs that induce a high neuroendocrine response produce top tier athletes. Increased muscle mass and bone density are just two of many adaptive responses to exercises capable of producing a significant Neuro. response.
A starting point recommended for Weightlifting would be mastering Powerlifting
(the sport of three lifts: the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift), to be followed later by the more dynamic Clean & Jerk and the Snatch. Being not only demanding of precision and athleticism, but these multi-joint compounds also elicit a profound Neuroendocrine response, emphasizing constant engagement of midline, working core to extremities.
Simply put, in order to maximize neuroendocrine response, focus on working large muscle groups before smaller muscle groups. Use higher volume and moderate to high intensity with shorter rest intervals between sets.
If you are not an avid Olympic Weightlifter, activate a higher Neuro response by programming your smaller muscle groups with your largest muscle groups. (ex. Superset your bicep curls with deadlifts, your tricep extensions with bench press, shoulder laterals with squats). Recruit an even larger response by incorporating Compound movements (ex. a front squat with an overhead press, a sumo deadlift with an upright row, a back squat with a wide grip behind the neck Press).
Maximize your natural growth hormone by recruiting more muscle fibers, more quickly, and more intensely.

I had the wonderful opportunity this week to guest coach at ASD CrossFit, Pordenone, Italy. This Box has been open for roughly eight months and is full of amazing athletes. With most being relatively new to CrossFit, I was unsure what to expect. For their skill/strength training, we programmed a Snatch Progression to a 1RM followed with an EMOM. These athletes are coached by an amazing Olympic Lifting coach and it shows!! Their pulls and progressions were extremely precise and their mobility was exceptional!
I programmed for them a 20:00 AMRAP
20 Wall Balls (16#/20#)
20 Box Jump overs (20″/24″)
10 Clean & Jerks (85#/105#)
10 Burpees
Not only were their movements on point, but they WOW’d me with their endurance!
The determination, drive, and discipline of the athletes are absolutely inspiring! They were such a welcoming group of people, that even with our language barrier, put us at complete ease. I recommend this CrossFit box to any military traveling through or a local athlete searching for a box..give this one a try!
To show their gratitude, they invited me out to dinner which was an absolute blast- along with the best Tiramisu I have ever tasted! 

Having this experience just justifies yet again to me the camaraderie among CrossFit and its athletes.

This past weekend my mate Steven and I took a rode trip to Milan, Italy to complete a Spartan Super. Steven coaches CrossFit with me at Aviano and we always have the best time together, so I knew teaming up for this race would be a blast! 

Although this race was nowhere near my toughest to date (as far as elevation and climbing), it was by far the muddiest! Dangerously muddy! It rained for days prior to the race and although we knew it would be a challenge, we had no idea just how much of a challenge! One can expect their grip to be tested to the max in any Spartan race, and you can always expect mud, water, and muck, but this was a whole other extreme! Throughout most of the race, my  breathing was calm, my legs felt strong, but the severity of the mud would not allow us to increase our pace no matter how much we wanted. 

I have never in my life fallen so much in a race (or laughed harder). We managed to conquer every obstacle (although I did miss my spear throw and got a 30 burpee penalty), and finished within our goal time. 

We hung around for a bit, had our post-race celebratory free beer, and on our way back to Aviano, stopped off in Pordenone at La Torre Ristorante for some killer (well deserved) pizza. 

It was one for the books. Aroo!!


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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. Coconut Flour
  • 1 Tbsp. Flax Meal
  • 1 Pinch Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Unsalted Butter, Cold
  • 1 Large Egg

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, sift together coconut flour, flaxseed meal, sea salt, and baking powder.
  2. To the flour, add ghee or butter and with a fork mash together until small crumbles form.
  3. In a separate bowl, scramble egg and then add the mixture to crumbles.
  4. With a spoon mix together and spoon into greased 4-inch pan
  5. Options: (1) Microwave for 55-60 seconds OR (2) Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.
  6. Cool on rack.

Recipe Notes
This is a single-serving recipe, feel free to adjust accordingly. I have made these both in the oven as well as the microwave, I prefer the microwave version as it fluffs up more. Whereas, the oven-baked version, while still good, does not rise as much.