Archive by Author

Murph…the WOD that keeps on giving

30 May

Monday, May 29, 2013

I finished Murph…..

No, really, did you hear me?  I FINISHED MURPH!!!!

After I jogged all but 1/4 of the first mile, I started my 5-10-15 strategy.  5 rounds in, I thought to myself, “You have been doing Crossfit for only 6 months, you can be just as proud to do half of Murph.  Just get to round 10 and do your final mile.”

I will tell you this now…this conversation goes through my head in 75% of my WOD’s .  It is something that I battle and have never succombed to since I have started Crossfit, but it speaks to me more often than I want to hear it.  It is part of my problem.  I am still in the mindset that I am this obese person that no one really expect much from, so if I don’t finish a workout, it is no surprise.  “Kudos for trying!” I expect to hear.

Unfortunately, I have made too much of an impression at my box and people expect more from me.  Just writing this down is such a milestone from me and I have to say, I have tears in my eyes (Luckily, my husband and son are watching the Blackhawks, game 7, so I could be bawling uncontrollably and they would not notice).

I am so thankful that the people in my box expect more from me.  I am grateful for the comments that I still find hard to believe are true from Paul’s posts on ETP.  I am thankful for my husband’s comments here and there, calling me skinny.

I really am thankful for all of this and it has made me raise the bar for myself, but honestly, I still don’t always believe it.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe it 60% of the time, but the other 40% of the time, I feel fat.  I feel like I could be working harder.  I feel like I could still be making better food choices.  I feel like if I could do all of these things, I would be 20 pounds lighter and 3 sizes smaller.

Damn Damn Damn!

I wish I could just flip a switch and believe the logic that my head tells me.  I KNOW I am on the right path.  I KNOW I am stronger.  I KNOW that 6 months from now, I will look and feel healthier, stronger and more confident than I do now.  Unfortunately, a little part of my heart seems to be speaking louder than my brain….

When I was young, I was INCREDIBLY shy.  Not just shy, I was “only speak to people in my immediate family” shy.  I was never really aware of this until high school.  I would hear people say that they thought I was a snob or bitchy because I didn’t really give them the time of day.  Little did they know that I was terrified to talk to them.  My self confidence was non-existent.  I had no idea what to say to people.

When I moved from Boston to Illinois after my bad breakup, I consciously told myself “I am done being shy.  Even if I have to fake my confidence, I will no longer be the person who missed out on opportunities because I am too shy.”  I honestly faked being confident for probably about 6 months, when it started coming naturally.  This was also during my “eating disorder” time when I was eating less than 1000 calories a day and exercising a ridiculous amount.  I still have to be thankful for this period though.  This is the period that I met my husband.  I had the confidence to just go up and talk to him that night at the racquet club.  3 hours later, I went home realizing that I just met the man I would marry, and wasn’t shy about sharing that with my family.

When people hear this story, they think, “No Way!  You were not shy!  You are one of the most confident people I know!”  Little do they know, I can still fake it pretty flawlessly.  It’s my defense mechanism.  I am not going to let people know how weak I think I am sometimes.  Hell, my husband can count the times he has seen me cry on one hand.  I am a rock….or so I want people to think.

All of this is why I am SO proud of how fucking sore I am right now.  Never, in my wildest imagination did I EVER think I would do a workout like Murph.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would backsquat 240 pounds.  Never, EVER, did I imagine being able to eat logically and exercise with so much determination.  Doubt is always there, but it’s just like the powdered donuts…you need to see the logic and sometimes fake it.  Fake that you don’t want to quit, fake that you have full confidence of RX’ing a WOD, fake that you are the strongest person in your box….even if deep down you know you are not…if you keep believing it and faking it…you won’t have to eventually, because you will be.   I will be…will  you?

And the Grocery Bill Doubles….

19 May

cioppino2My 19 year old son, Lucas, is home from his first year at The University of Wisconsin-River Falls.  I have two boys (3 if you include my husband) and they could not be more different.  Dalton is our athlete.  He acts like an athlete, eats like an athlete and definitely SMELLS like an athlete.  He knows random facts about professional athletes that the typical person could care less about and even has a special alert on his phone that sounds when something “BIG” happens in the sports world.  Lucas has no desire to play or watch sports.  He is our intellect who can read a book faster than you could watch the movie, loves animals and nature and….is a vegetarian!  While I completely support his choice not to eat meat, it does make cooking and grocery shopping more complicated and more expensive.  It also worries me that he is not getting the nutrients he needs.  Thank goodness he will eat fish and seafood, so he can get some of his protein needs there, but the amount of protein he is putting into his body is far from what he needs and his caloric intake is way too low.  It’s one thing to hear people, like Paul, talk about how fueling your body affects your performance.  It’s another thing to see it first hand, and it’s not pretty.  (By the way Paul, I can’t wait for you to talk to him!)  We are in the process of forcing Lucas to stay awake while feeding him whatever we can.  He is in this vicious cycle where all he wants to do is sleep, which keeps him from eating, which makes him want to sleep more.  6 months ago, I may have thought that this was just typical behavior from a college student who just finished a week of finals and whose sleep schedule is off.  Now, I think differently.  This is not normal, even for a college student.  This is a body that has not been fed correctly and can no longer function properly because of it.  Mom to the rescue!

Tonight, a nutrient packed dinner for the boy!  Since he will eat seafood, I pull out the scallops from my freezer.  Since they have been in the freezer for a while now, I can’t just do the typical salt and pepper, sear in a pan with butter scallop…this will need some extra flavor.  I love cioppino!  Cioppino is a stew full of various types of seafood in a tomato based broth.  Since I don’t have a variety of seafood (remember, I am in Minnesota) I will make a scallop cioppino.  I think I will add some spinach to it too, since I add spinach to as many of my dishes as possible just to add a little bit more nutrition.  Since the boy is basically in starvation mode, I will serve this over some cooked white rice too!

After I made this recipe, I tasted it and thought…YUM!  You could substitute chicken, fish, veal or whatever protein of choice and it would still be delicious!


  • 10-12 medium scallops
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 16 oz can of crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • cooked white rice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a skillet, heat the coconut oil until melted over medium high heat.  Add the red onion and cook a couple of minutes, until transluscent.  Lower the the heat to medium/low and add the garlic.  Cook about 1 minute and add the coconut milk, tomatoes, italian seasoning and spinach.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

In a baking dish, arrange your scallops in one layer and pour your tomato mixture over the top.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes (this is a perfect time to cook your rice).  Scoop your rice into a dish, top with your scallop cioppino and enjoy!!!

Back in the Swing of Things…But Paying For It!

15 May


Shannon normally blogs about recipes, she is no longer new because she has been Crossfitting for 5 months but for all the new folks out there Shannon is your example.  If you are interested in having more support on your new journey join the Science Lab, click this link for info.

This past weekend was a really busy one for me…the last time I did a WOD was last Thursday (until today) and it felt like forever!  Dalton, my 15 year old had his annual mother’s day soccer tournament.  This weekend typically ends up with a disappointing finish, but his team this year actually won!  It was the best Mother’s Day gift I have ever gotten!  Unfortunately, I am paying for it in many ways…laundry, dishes, grocery shopping….Crossfit…..

I was so excited to get back to my routine of Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday WODS until I saw what the WOD was going to be today.

“Strung-Out, Backwards, and Upside Down Fran”  This sadistic WOD involves the following for time:

1600m run
9 Pull-ups
9 Thrusters (95#/65#)
800m run
15 Pull-ups
15 Thrusters
400m run
21 Pull-ups
21 Thrusters

I saw this last night and immediately cancelled my reservation and became oddly angry.  My exact words were, “Are you fucking kidding me?  Who the fuck thinks this shit up?”  Then I had a glass of wine.  I told myself that I would skip the WOD and do some hiking on the trails instead.  I was completely fine with this until Facebook.   Oh Facebook….what a wonderous creation!  One short comment on a fellow Crossfitter’s post and suddenly I am being shamed into going to this WOD sent straight from hell.

“shannon veeeeee……get your tailfeathers to the gym with me at 600!!”

“come on…get there….do it…don’t back out….here, take a sip, its just Kool-aid…}”

“so Shannon Vonkaenel you will be there right! Don’t be such a girl……. Be more……Do More!!! Thats gonna be why I’m going in this hotness!!”

Out of shear guilt, I sign up for the WOD for the 2nd time….I still have time to back out, it’s only 2:00…

5:00 rolls around and I still have not cancelled my reservation. I guess, I am going, but I am NOT happy about it.  We pull into the parking lot and I see my friend Swan who gives me a little cheer for coming…I sneer and give her a growl….I walk in and tiny little Heather is on the floor stretching.  Upon seeing me, she claps and gets a big grin on her face….I can’t help but smile…then Vicki comes out of the bathroom and gives a little cheer when she see’s me….

This is why I Crossfit.  It’s not the WOD’s, it’s not even the results, it’s the people and the unconditional support they give you.  They have been where I was today and they knew that I needed to go to this workout.  They helped me make it happen.  As for the workout…IT SUCKED!  Not only is it a REALLY tough workout, it was 90+ degrees outside today.  That combined with the blowing dirt and tumbleweeds rolling by us as we were running from the gusting winds made this workout one of the worst I had done…

Yes, I am glad I did it…

No recipe tonight – I promise one later this week, but I have laundry to fold and a 15 year old boy who is crabby as a teenage girl….

On another note, when you don’t want to do the WOD, just post that on Facebook…there are plenty of friends that will change your mind…..

The best cure for PMS…a WOD..and some delicious food!

8 May

Today I am crabby…actually, I will admit, I have been a bitch today.  It’s one thing when your family recognizes that they need to keep away, but when your co-worker asks you (somewhat jokingly) if you are no longer friends, you know that you have been a bitch.  Nothing like a little PMS to motivate you to go to Crossfit.  I actually was dreading the WOD all day since it involved running.  Running sucks.  I hate it and my body hates it.  If I could go the rest of my life without running a single step, I would.  Regardless, I signed up for the WOD and I have not cancelled a WOD reservation yet.  Honestly, I needed to go to Crossfit more than ever today.

I was right to dread the workout.  It sucked, especially the running (and occasional walking on my part).  I managed to complete 100 kettlebell swings at (1P) along with running/walking a mile in 20 minutes.  Not bad and it put me in a MUCH better mood.  The bad news, by the time I picked up my son from soccer and got home, it was 8:00 and I had nothing planned for dinner.  Defrost some chicken to throw on the grill…naah…let’s go to the pantry…

So in my pantry, I find a large can of crushed tomatoes and in my freezer, a package of italian sausage links.  I’ll just make a simple tomato sauce with some sausage – simple.  I ran the idea by my 15 year old who, at this point, was “hangry” (being so hungry that you become angry) and he was actually ok with the idea with one suggestion, “Do you have any of those hashbrowns that I can have it on top of?”  Hmmm…Dalton loves the shredded potatoes that you can just throw in a pan to crisp up.  We had some left in the freezer, but it gave me an idea…I couldn’t believe how good this was!!!!


Sweet Potato Hash with Simple Tomato and Sausage Sauce


  • 1 lb italian sausage links (I used the mild)
  • 1 32 oz can of crushed tomato
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • Parmesan cheese

In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and add the minced garlic.  Once the garlic is softened, add the can of crushed tomato, spices and salt and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce the heat to medium low.  In a saute pan, cook your sausage (cut into about 1/2 inch slices).  Once it is cooked through, drain the sausage and add both the sausage and tomato sauce back to the pan.  Heat on medium low heat while you prepare your sweet potato hash.

Peel your sweet potato and use a grater to shred the potato.  Heat a small skillet over medium high heat with 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Add half of the shredded potato to the pan and press into a pancake.  Cook for about 4 minutes on each side (no worries if it doesn’t stay together when you flip it, just do your best).  Do the same with the 2nd half of sweet potato.  Transfer to a plate, top with the sausage sauce and parmesan.

Mediterranean Chicken and Quinoa

5 May

mediterranean chickenI think the dark is gone…for now.  I had the pleasure of meeting Elizabeth this past Saturday (the Crossfit workout Elizabeth).  She and I are not friends….As I finished the last couple squat cleans of my first round of 21, I was pretty sure that I would not finish this workout, but I huffed and puffed my way over to the rings to start the torturous round of 21 ring dips.  5 squat cleans into my second round of 15, I was positive I would not be able to finish…I thought to myself, “This is crazy!  How can I possible to this?”, yet I kept going.  I realized after getting through 5 more that there was no way I couldn’t finish.  This was not because of me by any means, it was because of all the people around me (who had already finished Elizabeth) who would not allow me to quit.  I mustered through the remainder of my workout to the sound of Jill and Pam cheering me on and finished with a time of 15:10.  This Crossfit community that I have become a part of is like nothing I have ever encountered.  Never have I met a group of people that get as much or more joy and pride out of another person’s success than they do their own.  It’s pretty surreal and I feel so lucky to have found Crossfit Templar.

Ok, on to the recipe.  I made this a couple of nights ago and just had leftovers for lunch.  It’s SO good!

I just recently was introduced to quinoa and have really tried to find ways to incorporate it into some recipes.  I like it because it is a gluten free high protein grain and pretty easy to make.  When I make it, I usually make an entire box of it and save whatever I do not use in my recipe for another use later in the week.  One cup of dry quinoa will yield about 3 cups of cooked, so you get a good amount from one box.  I also cook my quinoa using stock instead of water to give it more flavor.  If you have homemade bone stock, it’s a great option, otherwise and store bought stock will work.

I have to give props to Suzanne, the cook at the child care center I teach preschool at, for giving me the idea for this recipe.  Suzanne does a great job trying to incorporate healthy meals to the menu at my center and tries to expose the children to some foods they may not ever have tried otherwise.  She serves a simplified version of this recipe to the children and it’s one of my favorite lunches.

The recipe calls for feta or parmesan cheese, but again, if you have been strong enough to omit cheese from your diet, feel free to leave it out.

Mediterranean Chicken and Quinoa


  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb cooked chicken, sliced or diced
  • 1 bag of baby spinach
  • 2 cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Feta or parmesan cheese

Rinse your quinoa in a strainer for at least 2 minutes. Rinsing the quinoa removes its natural coating, called saponin, which can make it taste bitter or soapy. Although boxed quinoa is often pre-rinsed, it doesn’t hurt to give the seeds an additional rinse.  In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and add rinsed quinoa.  Dry and toast the quinoa, letting the water evaporate (about one minute).  Add the chicken stock and salt and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.  Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining ingredients.  Cook until spinach is wilted and everything is heated though.  Serve topped with feta or parmesan cheese.


Going to the Dark Side….

3 May

Stack of powdered doughnuts


In our extreme fat loss classes these are the types of struggles that are very common, we don’t just help people understand their food choices.  We provide them other people with shared experiences.  Some of whom (me) have come out of the other side.  For information on how to join click here.

If you have been reading my blogs (and not just enjoying my recipes) you’ll know that I have struggled with my weight all of my life.  I didn’t need to worry or struggle with my weight when I was in highschool, but I did and this certainly lead to a path of unhealthy living and eating, which of course lead to me actually needing to worry about my weight.  Over the past 25 years or so, I have learned a lot from my successes and failures…more from my failures than my successes since most of my successes were achieved by the wrong means.  One thing I have realized and really owned recently (by recently, I mean today) is when I begin going to that dark place….any of you who have struggled with their weight know what I am talking about.  It’s that time when you start getting frustrated, the weight is not coming off and you are focusing on the numbers.  No matter how much you or anyone else tells you that you look great and the numbers don’t matter, you are brought back to that logic that got you to where you are in the first place.  Numbers, numbers, numbers…logic doesn’t matter…self destruction begins…

I feel myself going there.  I don’t know why, but I think that by writing about it and owning it, it will help me get through it and hopefully help someone else that may be going through it.  I realized I was going there today when I was walking through Walmart and saw a bag of powdered donuts…suddenly, I had this urge to eat the entire bag.  What is crazy is that I became very aware that this sudden urge to eat this bag full of sugar and carbs was a signal that I was getting frustrated with my progress.  That has never happened before…


I feel like this is a major step in my journey to “be the person I am meant to be”.  To be aware of the triggers that can lead you back to the person you used to be is a HUGE accomplishment and in 25 years of struggling with my weight, I have never chosen to listen to those triggers.  I am listening now.  I know that bag of donuts could have been the turn in the road that lead to self-destruction and am so proud that I have been able to listen to my body and my mind.  People always say that to lose weight you need to find out why you are eating the way you do, find the underlying reason….

I think that’s bullshit for the most part.

Of course there may be certain situations where some traumatic event occurred in someone’s life which lead to a life of overeating, but for the most part, we are overweight because we make bad choices and form bad habits because we don’t know any better!  I am not going to blame my mother, my father, how I grew up or a bad relationship for the condition I let my body get to.  It was my fault and now it is time to fix what I have broken.

I am not sure if this will get me out of my “dark place” but the fact that I am aware I am starting to go to my “dark place” (and now so are thousands of other people) I know I will get through it and be stronger (mentally and physically) than I was a week ago.

Sorry, no recipe with this one…just me and my words 🙂  Keep working hard, don’t give up and don’t buy the bag on donuts…I didn’t….

The Perfect Burger with Plaintain Chips

2 May

Let me start out by saying, it’s May 1st and it’s supposed to snow in Minnesota….Screw this weather!!!!!!!!!  I will not be confined to my kitchen!!!  Regardless of my gutterless house dripping cold drops of water on me as I go out to the grill…I will NOT cook my burgers in my grill pan tonight!

Ok, enough complaining about the weather….I back squatted 240 pounds last night.  I am trying to work this into every conversation I have had today and I think people are a little weirded out when I start shedding my hoodie to show them the bruises across my back from the huge amount of weight I squatted.  I don’t really care about how uncomfortable it makes them…it’s all about me right now.  I am usually not so abnoxious about my accomplishments and stay pretty humble and quiet about them, but I never even fathomed the idea of back squatting this much since the most I have ever done in my 3 1/2 months of Crossfitting has been 165 pounds.  My goal was to break 200…..the back squat is now my favorite lift by far…for now….

Back to the burgers…I have been trying to create the perfect burger for years and when I finally realized that the only thing you need to do to make a great burger is add salt & pepper to some 80/20 beef and handle it as little as possible, I was a little irritated yet pleasantly surprised.  Don’t try making your burger meat fancy and gourmet.  If you want a gourmet burger, add gourmet toppings, otherwise, you lose the flavor of your beef.  On this burger, I have a slice of colby jack cheese (more power to you if you have the will power to give up cheese…I do not), a spoonful of all natural salsa, a tomato slice, avocado and a dollop of greek yogurt…all on top of 2 bibb lettuce leaves.

Another thing…where have plaintains been all my life?  I was going to make a simple salad with my burger tonight until I looked over and saw the plaintains I bought this weekend.  I have tried the store bought plaintain chips (which cost a fortune), and figured….I can do that!  I also made an alternate version with thicker slices of plaintains that were baked, smashed, seasoned and baked some more.  I prefer the chips, but both were delicious!


The Perfect Burger

  • 3 lbs 80/20 ground beef
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Toppings of your choice

In a large bowl add about 1 tablespoon of sea salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper.  Mix with your hands just until mixed.  DO NOT overmix your meat – it will kill the texture of your meat!  Form into 6 patties about 3/4 to 1 inch thick…again…DO NOT over work the patties.  Form them until they are holding together and put on a pan.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  This sounds like a lot of salt and pepper, but you need to season your food in order to enhance the deliciousness of the meat.  A lot of this seasoning will also end up in your grill along with all the drippings from your burgers as they grill.

Grill your burgers over medium high heat (on a preheated grill) for about 5-6 minutes per side for a medium burger.  Let the meat rest for 3-5 minutes before serving.


Plaintain Chips or Smashed Plaintains


  • 2 ripe plaintains (they are ripe when there is more black than yellow on the skin)
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  If you do not have a supply of parchment paper in your kitchen, you need to get some.  No more cleaning cookie sheets!!  Brush your cookie sheet with half of the melted coconut oil.

Peel the plaintains.  Plaintains are not as easy as bananas to peel, but not too difficult.  It’s kind of like peeling a banana that is not ripe.  Slice one of the plaintains thinly (1/8 of an inch).  Slice the other one in about 3/4 to 1 inch slices.  Place all of the slices on the cookie sheet without overlapping and brush the topside with the remaining coconut oil.  Season both the thin and thick slices with salt and pepper.  Mix together the chili powder and cumin and sprinkle over the thicker slices.  Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from the over and turn all of the slices (a little annoying but well worth it!).  Take a glass cup and smash the thicker slices.  Bake for another 15 minutes, remove from the oven and try not to eat them all at once!