Paleo crusted Pizza

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I have had the opportunity to taste some of the best pizza in the world. All of which were in my home country, Italy. Perhaps my opinion on this is slightly biased. No matter.

My mother also made a pretty awesome pizza. Both a chewy and crisp crust. I’ve not been able to replicate it. As the base for your toppings, the crust is first and foremost important.
Pizza was a Saturday night ritual in our home. Something to look forward to after a night of partying. My mother always made sure to leave some warming in the oven for us. Actually, I believe it was incentive for my then boyfriend to get me home, and to keep him coming back for more. After all it is said that the way to a mans heart is through his stomach. ♥️ I’ve had some pretty big shoes to fill. Thanks mom.
Fast forward to a few days ago when I was craving pizza of another kind.
I’ve been investigating a few different methods of preparing a Paleo pizza crust, and I chose this particular one because I had the ingredients on hand and it seemed easy enough.
Recipe adapted from Love and lemons

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium head of cauliflower
1 cup almond meal( I used nuts.com)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
3 eggs beaten
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp fresh basil finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped or ground prosciutto
4 Tbsp pitted roasted black olives
3 oz. goat cheese crumbled

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 450′

Process the cauliflower using this blade

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In a large bowl mix the first 7 ingredients.
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Place a piece of parchment paper over a baking tray unless you prefer a pizza stone. Either will work.
Spread the “dough” over the parchment evenly to a 1/4″ base.
Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, spread with some tomato sauce but not too much.

imageThen add your preferred toppings. Reduce oven temperature to 350′ and bake another 15 minutes.
I had the prosciutto olives and goat cheese so those were the toppings I chose.
By all means use whatever toppings you like.
Serves 8 as a side.
Protein 11.7g
Carbs 11.4g
Fat 14.8g

Curried Cashew butter chicken

Some of the best dishes are created without a recipe or a plan.
This one falls under that category.
Having taken out a few organic chicken breast, I had no idea where I was going with them. First thing I did was look in the fridge for vegetables.
Next, I knew I wanted a bit of heat so I pulled out my crushed hot pepper flakes. Then, some organic curry powder.
Half way there….
Here’s what I came up with in 15 minutes.

INGREDIENTS:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thinly against the grain
( best of slightly frozen, you will need a sharp knife)
3 Tbsp virgin organic coconut oil
2 heaping tbsp organic curry powder
1/2 tsp crushed hot pepper flakes(best if ground to a powder)
2 tbsp organic cashew butter
2 tbsp hot water
1/4 red onion thinly sliced
1/2 napa cabbage thinly sliced
2 baby bok choy thinly sliced
1 large brown mushroom thinly sliced
Salt to taste

PREPARATION:

In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Once melted, add curry powder, hot pepper and a pinch of sea salt. In a small bowl mix cashew butter and hot water. Add this mixture to the skillet.
Increase heat to medium high.
Toss in sliced chicken and coat evenly. Cook about 3 minutes, then add in the onions, cabbage, bok choy and mushroom all together.
Place a lid over the skillet for a minute or so to wilt down the cabbage.
Adds pinch of salt. Mix to combine the chicken and vegetables.

Plate and sprinkle with some crushed cashews for some crunch.
I only had almonds in my pantry and they worked well.

30 minute cod chowda

This dish was inspired by a recent visit to Boston. You might say I tried a few different chowders during my stay. Crab and of course New England clam chowder stood out. The best was the crab chowder at The Four Seasons. I’m sure there are many amazing chowders out there but I only had three days and much more to tick off my list.
The chowders I’m speaking of are usually laden with cream and milk so I thought I’d lighten it up with my version.
So here you have it, Cod chowder.
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INGREDIENTS:

3 tbsp virgin organic coconut oil
1 bunch of leeks, washed and thinly sliced
3 cups of diced butternut squash
2 stalks celery washed and thinly sliced
1 box organic chicken or fish broth ( see picture below)
1 236 ml clam juice
1 400 ml can lite coconut milk
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger ( or jarred puréed ginger)
3-4 lbs wild Atlantic cod fillets, cut into large chunks ( available at Costco)
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly chopped parsley

PREPARATION:

Start by prepping your vegetables. Slice your leeks, celery, and squash. In a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot melt your coconut oil, add to it the leeks, celery and diced squash. Cook on medium heat while stirring, about 7 minutes or until the squash has softened.
Add the broth, clam juice and can of lite coconut milk. Increase heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium for another 5 minutes. Add in the ginger, stir.
Using a hand held immersion blender, partially purée the chowder, leaving it a little chunky. This will help to thicken the chowder.
Add chunks of cod, cover with lid and cook 6 minutes. Taste. Add salt and pepper and a little freshly chopped parsley.

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Baked chicken fajitas

Eat chicken? Most of us here in Canada do. In fact, the average Canadian eats over 30 kg of chicken per year according to recent statistics. That being said, there are countless chicken recipes to try.
This one is simple and you likely have all the ingredients available in your fridge and freezer.
This recipe requires one bake pan which doubles as your serving dish. Prep and cooking time takes less than one hour.
Try it tonight!

INGREDIENTS:

5 boneless skinless organic or naturally raised chicken breasts sliced into 1″ strips
2 red peppers sliced lengthwise 1″ thick strips
1 green pepper same as red
1 1/2 large red onion sliced 1/2″
4-5 cloves garlic chopped
2 tbsp oregano
1 1/2 tbsp chilli powder
1-2 tsp cumin
1/2-1 tsp hot chilli flakes ( depending on your taste)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3+tbsp organic olive oil or melted virgin coconut oil

PREPARATION:

Pre-heat oven to 400′

Kick ass Paleo chocolate cake

If you can’t live without chocolate then this one’s for you.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking soda
pinch sea salt
10 oz. pitted medjool dates
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp freshly brewed warm coffee
3 eggs at room temperature
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 325*.

When measuring your dry ingredients be sure to be accurate. Level off the ingredients with a knife.
Mix together all dry ingredients (almond flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt) in a bowl and
Sift these ingredients onto parchment paper, and set aside.
Place the dates and warm coffee in a food processor and blend until it forms a smooth paste. Then add eggs coconut oil and vanilla extract. Continue blending and scraping down sides of processor. The mixture should have a smooth consistency.
Add the wet to the dry and stir until smooth.
Grease an 8″ round cake pan with coconut oil and add a few tbsp of almond flour & cocoa to coat the pan and tap out the excess flour. Pour the batter in the pan. Tap the pan. Don’t worry if the batter isn’t perfectly smooth on top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 28 minutes in an electric oven worked well.
Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving so that it has time to set.
Place a large plate over the pan. Give the pan another few taps and Invert it into the plate.
Serve as is or with this simple frosting care of Elenas pantry.

Simple chocolate frosting :

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Place chocolate and coconut oil in a bowl over a simmering pot of water.
Melt then add the vanilla. Place the frosting in a fridge for a half hour.
Frost your cakes over a rack as the frosting may drip down the sides.
The cakes can be left out at room temperature for a few days, or refrigerate in an airtight container for a week.

Winter Asian pork stew

Pork stew

When it’s cold outside there is nothing better to warm your belly than a nice bowl of stew. And this pork stew with Asian accents will do just that. I was searching for something other than the traditional beef stew and stumbled upon this one, which came from Fine Cooking. I tested it out and made a minor adjustment. Now, IMO it’s perfect. 😉
It is relatively inexpensive to make as it utilizes pork shoulder or pork butt (same thing). You may ask your butcher to trim off the excess fat, and there will be quite a bit. Don’t fret about removing all of it. Some will add flavour and the excess can be removed after the cooking process.

You will need a heavy bottom pot, or Dutch oven.

INGREDIENTS:

3 lbs boneless pork shoulder, fat trimmed and cut into 1-1/2 to 2 inch pieces
3 tbsp olive oil, more as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp minced fresh lemongrass
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 or 2 Thai bird chillies or 1 rounded tsp of red chilli flakes
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups onion wedges ( 3/4″ wedges)
2 cups butternut squash (1-inch dice)
2 cups diced red pepper( 1″ dice)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp fresh lime juice, more to taste
1 tbsp fish sauce, more to taste

PREPARATION:

Position rack in the bottom third of your oven and heat oven to 325’F
Spread the pork on paper towels to dry for 10-20 minutes before browning. If the meat is very wet, pat it dry. Use this time to chop the onion celery and carrot.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pot (6 quart), until it is shimmering hot. Season 1/4 of the pork with salt and pepper and arrange it in a single layer in the pot( leaving 1/2 inch space between pieces. Brown well on all four sides, adjusting the heat if necessary. Each batch should take about 10 minutes to brown. Transfer the pork to a large bowl in batches. Repeat with the remaining pork pieces. Once all the pork is browned remove the pot from the heat and let it cool a few minutes.
Leave about 2 tbsp of fat in the pot and if there isn’t enough fat then add in oil equal to 2 tbsp. Return the pot to medium heat, add the chopped onion, celery and carrot. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, cook stirring often and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula. Cook until the vegetables have softened (about 5 minutes).
Stir in the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander and chillies and cook stirring about 1-2 minutes.
Add 1 cup of water, stirring to dissolve any of the brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Raise the heat to medium high and boil to reduce by about 1/2, 5-8 minutes. Add the chicken broth and the additional 1-1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Return the pork to the pot along with any accumulated juices. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer.
Crumple a 12×16-inch piece of parchment, then flatten it out.
(crumpling makes it easier to handle)
Place the parchment directly on the surface of the stew, allowing the ends to come up the sides of the pot. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes of stewing, add the onion wedges to the pot. Cover with parchment and lid and return to the oven another 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add the squash and bell peppers. Cover with parchment and lid and return to the oven, cooking another hour until the pork is fork tender.

Stir in the cilantro, lime juice and fish sauce and taste adding more if necessary. Degrease the stew by laying a paper towel over the surface of the stew and gently pushing it into all the bumps and dips, then quickly peeling it off. Once the stew is chilled, lift the solidified fat off the top with a slotted spoon. Reheat over medium-low heat to serve.

This stew can be made ahead up to 2 days.

Offal is not so awful

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It’s making a comeback.
I’ve thought about this one for some time. I’ve been slightly hesitant to share this recipe. Mostly for fear it may conjure up some childhood memories.

One of the hottest trends in the gourmet food scene right now is offal. The term offal is a British name for the non- muscle parts of a butchered animal, such as the entrails and internal organs s becoming more popular, thanks to growing interest in Food Network TV shows, increased culinary travel, and the proliferation of innovative edgy neighborhood restaurants.

I have a story I’d like to share about sweetbreads. I’m not talking about dessert. I’m talking about offal, organ meat and specifically, the pancreas and thymus of an animal. When properly prepared, it is absolutely delicious.
Don’t judge until you’ve tried. They are a delicacy. Rare to find nowadays.

But once upon a time, you could even get sweetbreads for free at your local butcher shop. My husbands uncle Mario would often ask his butcher for them. He’d tell him they were for his dog. His butcher was happy to oblige as he took them for scraps. But Mario knew exactly what he was doing. Clever man. He made the best sweetbreads. Not sure whether his Butcher ever caught on.

As for myself, I’ve had the opportunity to try quite a few different organ meats. Some not by choice and some out of curiosity. And I have been pleasantly surprised.
Here is a list of offal that you may have tried:

Blood is used to make blood sausages and blood puddings. It’s a great source of iron, although it can be high in fat and cholesterol. A 3-ounce serving of blood sausage contains about 380 calories and 15 grams of protein, and is about 80 percent fat.
Hocks are the joints between an animal’s leg bone and foot. They have much skin, tendons, and ligaments, and so must be stewed or braised for long periods. Hocks, used in Southern U.S. and Caribbean cuisines to flavor soups and greens, are high in protein and fat. A 3-ounce serving of ham hocks contains about 230 calories, 12 grams of protein, and 18 grams of fat.
Intestines, popularized lately by the “caveman diet” (or the paleo/Paleolithic diet), are called chitterlings by Southern cooks. These meats must be thoroughly cleaned and cooked because of food safety issues.
Tripe is the lining of an animal’s stomach. It’s a good source of protein but high in total fat and saturated fat.
Heart, commonly used in Peruvian barbecue and Scottish haggis, is a good source of protein but is extremely high in cholesterol.
Brain is used in Latin and European cultures but consumption is restricted in the U.S. due to concerns about Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or “mad cow disease.” A 3-ounce serving of beef brain is about 130 calories and 9 grams of protein, and is only 14 percent fat.
Liver, when from younger animals, tends to be less tough and has a milder flavor. It is high in protein, iron, and vitamin A.
Sweetbreads consist of the pancreas and thymus of an animal, and are most tender and flavorful when from veal and young lamb. Sweetbreads are a good source of iron and protein but are also high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Tongue is best prepared using slow, moist cooking methods. A good source of iron and protein, but high in saturated fat.

The only thing on this list I haven’t tried is brain and I’m good with that 🙂

In my opinion, most of us shy away from eating say, liver because we don’t know how to prepare it. Yet we’ll eat fois gras.

If you are a Crossfit athlete, you really should start incorporating some organ meats into your diet once a week.
Here are the goods on beef liver for example.
It is rich in Vitamin A, folate, vitamin B6&B12. And it’s a great source of Iron and Zinc.

My recipe is a simple one.

INGREDIENTS:

3 Beef liver(baby)
2-3 rashers bacon chopped
1 1/2 large onions sliced
Olive oil
Coconut flour for dredging
1 cup red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley chopped

PREPARATION:

Start by rinsing the livers. Pat dry then dredge in some coconut flour. Heat a few tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Add the livers and cook 2-3 minutes per side. Careful not to overcooked as the livers will become tough. Set aside on a warm plate.

Then add the chopped bacon and sliced onions to the skillet and sauté until the onions are tender. Add red wine, and cook down until it has reduced one half. Add back the livers add salt and pepper and cook another few minutes. Plate them and sprinkle some chopped parsley on top.
They should be slightly pink inside.

African chicken almond stew

It’s time to stew. This little gem came to me by way of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. The original recipe was a peanut stew so I replaced peanuts with almonds, a little less almond butter, a bit more heat from cayenne and boneless chicken leg pieces to speed up the cooking time. Serve with my curried cauliflower rice and it is a perfect cold weather warm you up meal. Here we go!

INGREDIENTS:

3 lbs. boneless chicken legs and or thighs
3 tbsp olive oil or virgin coconut oil
1 large onion chopped
A 4 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1-15 oz can crushed tomatoes
4 cups organic chicken stock or broth
1/2 c + 3 tbsp almond butter
1/3 cup toasted almonds*see note below
1 tbsp ground coriander
11/2-2 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

PREPARATION:

* note: toast your 1/3 cup almonds in a frying pan over medium heat about 4 minutes and set aside.
Heat a large cast iron pot or heavy bottom pot over medium heat,and add the olive oil. Pat the chicken pieces dry and season both sides with salt.
Brown them in batches, making sure not to crowd the pot. Look for a nice brown sear on the chicken. Set aside in a large plate.
Sauté the onions in the same pot for 3-4 minutes scraping down the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté another 1-2 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes stirring well to combine.
Add the chicken, chicken broth,crushed tomatoes, almond butter, toasted almonds, ground coriander, cayenne and stir well to combine.
Bring to a simmer, uncovered and taste for salt.
Cover the pot and simmer gently for 60 minutes.
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Plate over cauliflower rice, sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley and sliced almonds. Enjoy 🙂

Serves 6-8

TOP 10 mistakes Crossfitters make

Here is a great article for all Crossfitters, recreational and competitive.

Top 10 Mistakes CrossFitters Make
posted by Talayna Fortunato in CrossFit Games, CrossFit Problems, Crossfitters, games athlete, Talayna Fortunato | 0 Comments

Top 10 Mistakes CrossFitters Make

Not Warming Up Properly
Everyday it takes me around 30 minutes to warm-up. I start with easy cardio for 5-10 min. then do some light foam rolling and stretching, leg swings, lunges, rotator cuff exercises, and finally movements specific to the workout I’m about to do. My warm-up has gotten more extensive (and longer) with each year I do CrossFit®. Almost to the point that it started to annoy me, and then I remembered back to my gymnastics days. Ever since I was on team at age 8, I remember our warm-ups taking us at least 30 minutes with all of the stretching and other calisthenics we did. Even though we were young and healthy I believe the gymnastics coaches knew what they were doing to keep us that way. With the intensity of competitive CrossFit® it’s imperative to put in the time for an adequate warm-up and mobility work. If you don’t put in the time now you’ll put it in later when you have an injury.

Eating too Strict of a Paleo Diet
If you are a recreational CrossFitter following a Paleo lifestyle is probably nutritionally adequate and a good way of maintaining longevity and health. However, if you are a competitive level athlete and training intensely more than an hour a day your main source of energy is carbohydrates and strict paleo simply does not provide enough sources of them. Now I’m not saying to go out and carb load on pasta, bread, or sugar. That’s just an inflammatory insulin bomb. I am saying look for complex sources of carbohydrates from plants and low glycemic grains to add into your diet, especially when training is at its peak. During an interview at the Games every individual athlete was asked who follows a paleo diet, and not a single one raised their hand.

Sacrificing Technique and Movement Efficiency for Intensity and Eventual Technical Breakdown.
CrossFit gets results due to the intensity of the workouts, but that doesn’t mean throw all good form out the window. For example if your back starts rounding when you’re pulling from the ground or you’re chasing wildly after snatches, it’s time to put the bar down until you can regain efficiency. Your back and other body parts will thank you later! Also if you’re compromising range of motion enough to miss consecutive reps, take a quick rest before you go again. Otherwise you’re ingraining poor habits and when you reach that place of pain and fatigue again in competition guess what’ll happen… No Rep!

Doing Volume for Volume’s Sake without Intent.
CrossFitters are notorious for thinking that when they’re getting ready to compete more is better. This mindset leads to the performance of multiple hero WoDs in a day with the intent of “loading”, when what it really does is break the athlete down with laborious repetition and impede lasting gains. More is not better, better is better. Having a purpose, i.e. knowing the energy system and muscular groups you’re trying to tax during a workout allows you to work smart and hard, not just hard. Again, your body will also thank you later!

Cherry Picking Workouts and/or Jumping Around Programs
This is for the CrossFitter that walks into the gym and decides when they get there what workout they’re going to do based on what their gym posts and which one of the blogs they follow appears best that day. Blogs are written for a reason, with progressive intent to allow your workouts to build upon themselves for measurable improvements in your numbers. If you jump from program to program, weekly or even daily, that progress is completely short-circuited. Not to mention you’re probably doing mostly what you’re good at and not working your weaknesses enough.

Following a Strength Progression that Doesn’t Makes Sense or One Without Any Progression at All.
The body adapts to load by responding to meet the load in the form of muscular hypertrophy. There have been many studies showing the best percentages of max load, sets, reps, and frequency to produce optimal gains without under or overloading the athlete. These studies have produced named strength progression tables, squat cycles, and the like. You can reinvent the wheel and use yourself as a guinea pig to do your own research, or you can find a viable progression and just follow it. I’ll give you one guess what most long-term successful athletes do. One other thought to keep in mind is how much loading your conditioning work is providing. An example would be making your conditioning heavy on the weights during the heaviest week of a strength loading cycle (no bueno).

Forgetting to Supplement Your Program with Basics, Strict Strength, and Supplemental Work.
Just because you can kip almost any movement in CrossFit, doesn’t mean it’s in your best interest to do so all of the time. Working strict strength with things like dumbbell press or tempo bench press can do wonders for the strength of your jerk or stamina of kipping handstand push-ups. Sometimes to get better at a complex movement you need better strength with the basics as well. Think along the lines how important the hollow position is during kipping in general and you’ll see why doing hollow rocks would have carry over into almost all gymnastics movements. Basic skills and strict strength also overlap with supplemental work, which can be a great way to address muscular imbalances and push past plateaus. Supplemental work is also a staple in the work of some of the strongest people on the planet who employ Loui Simmon’s conjugate method.

Waiting >90min. to Replenish After a Hard Training Session or Only Replenishing Protein.
The fact is the majority of CrossFitters do not need a liquid protein shake post-workout. If you are just doing CrossFit as part of a healthy lifestyle or you are trying to decrease body fat, then a meal consisting of lean protein, nutrient-dense carbs (vegetables) and healthy fat is best post-workout. However, if you are participating in CrossFit as a competitive athlete and are completing multiple grueling and taxing workouts several days per week (and many times twice per day), your post-workout nutrition becomes vital to your success. Although this is a very individualized thing, there are some constants; the first being that you need more than just protein after each session. Protein combined with carbohydrates is essential immediately following a workout – it’s just a matter of how much of each based on the individual. The ideal ratio of carbs:protein can typically run anywhere from 2:1 to 4:1 depending on the athlete’s body composition and type of training session just completed. The source of carbohydrates should be something that will work quickly with minimal interference. Some examples would be maltodextrin or sugar. The priority is timing and you want to make sure this liquid shake is taken immediately after the session is completed in order to replenish your glycogen stores decreased from training and spark muscle protein synthesis. Approximately one hour after drinking this shake, you should then consume a whole foods meal consisting of lean protein and carbohydrates. A great example of that would be some grilled chicken and a sweet potato. Again, the amounts of protein and carbs are extremely individualized. It doesn’t have to be the size of a traditional dinner, and each athlete must find their ideal ratio, but the constant is timing and the combining of the two macronutrients.

Skimping on Sleep and Skipping Rest Days
Nearly as important as what you’re doing in the gym is what you’re doing outside of the gym. The ability to recover is instrumental to seeing consistent gains in athletic performance. Growth Hormone (GH) is an essential part of that recovery. It allows the body’s ability to repair itself after intense exercise through muscular hypertrophy and plays a significant role in the maintenance of lean body mass. Nearly 50% of GH secretion occurs during the third and fourth NREM sleep stages. If you are regularly skimping on sleep by 2 or more hours you are missing the body’s prime production time of GH, and thereby not recovering as you could or should be. Basically all the effort you put into your squat cycle was just thwarted by a significant percentage if you were sleep deprived during it. Another important aspect of recovery is taking needed rest days. Continuing to workout through a certain level of fatigue or soreness can actually be counterproductive long term.

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Figure out what you need to change and change it now.