Get to Know: Jon S. – CF KoP Athlete

Jon S.
Weight and when: 300lbs January 1st, 2011
now: 225lbs as of January 29th, 2012
Give us an idea of your background, specifically related to fitness and
A: I
was a lean 185lbs as a senior in high school. I played football for
school but my friends and I lived to play basketball. We’d run full
court 5-on-5 for 6+ hours a day at least three times a week. Despite my
mother’s best efforts, I ate like crap but it didn’t matter at that age
and activity level. Even my first few years in the military I ate
everything in sight and nothing changed. Then I woke up one morning
fifteen years later and I was fat. That’s what happens when your
activity level drops to zero and you continue to eat like a care-free
When did you change your diet and what made you change?
A:  A
good friend of mine was suffering from horrible stomach problems. It was
recommended that he stop eating gluten, so he did and lost 30lbs in six
weeks. Zero exercise. It was about a month or two later that I got into
Crossfit and learned of the Paleo system. The brutal, straight-forward
logic of Paleo backed by the results of eliminating grains that I
witnessed firsthand and I was sold. Sometime in August, 2011 is when
Katie and I really went all-in with the Paleo system. We went through
the kitchen and threw away all the crap we had. The reason we
even looked into being more fit is because we just flat-out got tired of
being overweight and feeling like crap. I was actually starting to
develop moderate heath issues. We made a promise to each other that
thing were going to change in 2011.
Outdoor adventure WOD (Oct. 2011)
What benefits have you seen from changing your food?
Everything! My mood is more balanced, my energy level is higher, the
fatigue of shift work is less substantial. I eat better so I’m actually
eating less. I’m probably consuming a little less than half the volume
of food I was previously. The 300lb guy in the mirror that used to
disgust me is now a 225lb guy that I feel good about. Yes, the food is
more expensive but I’m eating less of it so the cost difference is
effectively zero. Consider this: a Primo’s hoagie is about $8-10. A full
pound of grass fed bison meat is about $9. If I eat a half pound of
bison and two avocados for lunch, I spend about $4.50 for meat and $3
for fat. Either way you slice it, I eat better and cheaper.
What has been the hardest thing about eating clean/paleo?
Truly, the most difficult part of going Paleo is the elimination of
sugar. Those first three days reminded me of what it was like when I
quit smoking ~5 years ago. I had headaches and was irritable, but you
know what? It passed. Once you defeat your sugar addiction, and yes it
is an addiction, the next thing is the convenience foods. Sandwiches are
the devil. Everyone at work orders hoagies for lunch and I microwave my
grass fed bison roast. There is a bit of ridicule that comes with
“eating outside the box” but I take solace in knowing I can kill the
naysayers with my bare hands.
Lean and Mean at Barbells for Boobs (Nov. 2011)
Q: You
changed your diet at the same time you started Crossfit. Do you think
one has helped the other?
Crossfit introduced me to Robb Wolf, Loren Cordain and the Paleo
system. From a strictly nutritional perspective, I would still be eating
the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) and be much less healthy. Beyond
that, the community we have at CF-KoP is absolutely amazing. It’s hard
to fall off the wagon when you have both awesome coaches leading you and
incredible athletes around you. I tell people all the time that
Crossfit isn’t just an expensive gym; it’s fun, it’s a community and
it’s my own personal fitness support group. 
What advice do you have for those who are looking to change their food
A: The
first step is making the commitment to yourself. I’m lucky because
Katie is right here with me through all of this. It’s hard to fall off
the horse when you have a partner that is right there alongside you the
whole time. It’s not easy and there are moments of weakness, so having a
strong support system is vital.
What are your nutrition and/or fitness goals?
A: For
nutrition, I’m just going to keep eating this way. This isn’t some
gimmick that I can just stop. My heartburn is entirely gone. I’m not
gassy, bloated and fatigued all the time. My doctor laughs with joy when
she sees my blood work when she used to express genuine concern. My
quality of life is better now that it has ever been. As far as fitness
goes, I just want more. I want to perform more work over a shorter
period of time. I want to lift heavier weight and run/row faster,
further and longer. I’m going to be posting some big numbers by Festivus
Anything else you’d like to add?
A: My
personal success is a testament to our incredible community. I wouldn’t
have been able to do this without all of you, especially Katie V, and
for that, I thank you.
Celebrating Festivus at KoP (Dec 2011)
Editor’s Note: Jon has been a very active member of CrossFit King of Prussia, but I wanted to highlight the fact that changing his NUTRITION resulted in significant change prior to CrossFit. In other words, CrossFit is a great fitness program and can help you become stronger, faster, etc. but if you truly want to change how you look and feel, nutrition is going to have a bigger impact than any exercise program. Jon is a great example of persistence, dedication, and the pursuit of health. 
If you have any questions for Jon, leave them in the

For more on the basics of eating clean and establishing good habits, check out my previous blog post Nutrition, Fitness, and Health 101.


Sunday = Food Prep Day

When it comes to changing your nutrition, one of the best things you can do for yourself is prepare. This will mean different things for different people based on cooking skills, where you eat meals, and work schedules, but will help you resist the temptation of office snacks and holiday treats. Ditty and I don’t have work schedules that allow us to eat breakfast at
home, so it means preparing all breakfasts, snacks, and lunches for the work week
. For dinners, we lay out what we are going to have each weeknight so that we can go food shopping, but the actual preparation usually happens the night of. It might take a few hours, but it is worth having prepared food that we like and know are better for us than fast food or office cafeteria options. It’s also just time to spend together and rock out to music, listen to podcasts (Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser anyone?) or have something on TV in the background. Here’s a peek at our Sunday routine in pictures.

Frying up sausage for my breakfasts to go with…
Sweet potatoes! I cut up 3 or 4 into tiny slices and roast them in ghee. These are divided up and eaten with the sausages.
Ditty likes 3 hardboiled eggs for breakfast, so we make 15-18 (a spare set is good for pre-WOD on weekends)
Also with breakfast, Ditty likes carrots and almond butter. Buying bulk and then splitting portions saves money!
snacks can be simple: pepperoni and salami divided up into snack bags.

Lunch is usually a crock pot meal. This time it’s Chocolate Chili from The Clothes Make the Girl (Melissa Joulwan). I upped the servings so that we had enough for both of us for five work days. (2lbs. of meat to 3lbs.)

Some of you might think this is monotonous or boring. And then you might realize you’ve been eating the same cereal for 15 years. If this is overwhelming and you think “I could never do this/I don’t have the time, etc” then just know that this has been an evolution of experimenting and figuring out what works for us. This is what you need to do. Maybe the best prep day is Tuesday night. Maybe you only prepare lunches because you can have breakfast at home. Maybe you’re a night shift worker and need to prepare dinners. Maybe you don’t have a microwave at work. My biggest advice is figure out your goals and tinker with different recipes and foods. And DON’T make excuses. Not all of you know how to cook, but if you can throw ingredients from a recipe into a slow cooker, then that’s pretty darn good. And if you say you don’t have any time, really examine how much time you spend watching TV, playing on Facebook, etc. If you have a family, make it a family event and get the kids involved. Nothing better than to prepare future generations for self-sustaining cooking!
Read on:
“Temptation Alley” – Ditty’s Diary

“Diet Secrets of the Tupperware Man” – CrossFit Journal Article by Greg Amundson 
“Food for Kids” – Sarah Fragoso of Everyday Paleo

Do you prepare your food for the week? If so, what does it look like?

Liver: the Paleo Superfood You Should Be Eating

Liver. Just the mention of the name sends shudders down people’s spines. It functions as a vital organ in animals and humans, but is it really something we should be eating? Let’s take a look. 
Chuck Norris rarely ate, but when he did, it was liver
You may not realize it, but eating organs is one of the best things you can do for health and longevity. Hunter-gatherers even favored the organs while throwing muscle meat to their dogs. Rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, organ meats may not be palatable, but they are certainly good for the body. Liver in particular is one of the best organs to chow down on. It’s a great source of CoQ10 (important for heart health), contains high quality protein, and is one of the best sources of iron and vitamin A. If you were to compare the amount of vitamins in liver to fruit and vegetables, it’s like comparing a Ferrari to a Dodge Neon. Both will get you what you need, but one is supercharged. Case in point: check out the chart below from Paleo Cafe. You’ll see that liver has 3x potassium compared to an apple, 4.5x the amount of vitamin C compared to a carrot, and a whopping 1,335x the amount of vitamin A compared to red meat. The next most concentrated source of vitamin A is carrot juice (source: USDA)
holy nutrients, Batman!
 Liver is also known for its mysterious anti-fatiguing effect. A 1975 article published in Prevention magazine described
the experiment as follows:

“After several weeks, the animals were
placed one by one into a drum of cold water from which they
could not climb out. They literally were forced to sink or
swim. Rats in the first group swam for an average 13.3
minutes before giving up. The second group, which had the
added fortifications of B vitamins, swam for an average of
13.4 minutes. Of the last group of rats, the ones receiving
liver, three swam for 63, 83 and 87 minutes. The other nine rats in
this group were still swimming vigorously at the end of two hours
when the test was terminated. Something in the liver had
prevented them from becoming exhausted. To this day
scientists have not been able to pin a label on this
anti-fatigue factor.” (Weston Price Foundation

Are you kidding me?? Swimming 9x longer and having the experiment actually end before they could find out what happened with those remaining nine rats is astonishing. If you are a triathlete, CrossFitter, or just a HUMAN BEING, this should inspire you to eat liver.

In high school and college, you probably saw those pictures of human livers from alcoholics compared to healthy person’s. The same can be considered for animals. Make sure you’re choosing healthy, vibrant, red liver when about to chow down. If reading this is not enough to convince you, check out this picture.
I know which one I’m picking
Yes, I realize the thought of eating liver is still gross. There are a lot of recipes out there in the paleosphere and beyond that can help with your aversion to this superfood. Two of the main things you’ll usually find in a liver recipe? Bacon and butter. Yum. Knowing this, I made my own liver pâté. (yes I searched how to get those symbols over the “a” and “e.”) The liver is from a shipment from PhillyCowShare. They had a box of cow parts that no one really wanted (liver, heart, tongue, tail) so I took it. Score!
1. Gather tasty ingredients. Amount is up to you, but here is what I used: 
3 strips of bacon
1/4 chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp. butter + another 2 Tbsp. later
1/2 lb. grass fed beef liver
2.  First, I cooked the bacon. Then I took the strips out, but kept the bacon fat to saute the onion.
3. Then, I added the strips of liver in with the onion to cook. It probably took about 2 minutes each side. Then I added the bacon back in. (Note: At this point you can eat the liver like steak. I will most likely do this next time)
4. If you’re going for more of a pâté, then throw all of this in a food processor or blender and whirl away. Store in a refrigerator for 30 min. or so to let it cool down, and then serve on carrots, peppers, or if you’re not 100% paleo, on crackers or chips.
So now you know why liver is so good for you AND you have a recipe to make it a little more palatable. Bacon and butter truly make everything better. But if that’s still not enough, check out the links below for more information about liver and some recipes too.
Weston Price Foundation: The Liver Files

Balanced Bites: Chicken Liver Pate