Think about the last time you were really hard on yourself. When you really were your own worst critic. Why do we treat ourselves so much harsher than others? The other day I met with a respected coach, colleague, and friend. I had been feeling super frustrated about how it was taking me “forever” (1 month) to get back into shape and wanted to hop back into the CrossFit world and be able to do strict pull-ups, jump rope without being winded, and be able to lift or complete workouts without my heart jumping out of my chest. I wanted to pretend like I hadn’t taken 5 months off from training. Though I had stayed active through our travels, I felt out of shape since I wasn’t able to do the same activities I was able to do in the summer with the same level of confidence and speed. I needed to be the same I was in the summer NOW! Silly me.
When I let her know I wanted to meet with her I expected to go in and get down to business immediately. I was waiting for her to give me all the strength and accessory exercises I needed to do. Instead, she asked me to sit on a bench with her and to tell her what had been going through my mind. I talked about my absence from training had setbacks on my strength and how I needed to gain it fast. And then she said something that didn’t really strike me as ‘special’ until a few days later. We talked about how I had gone up and down in my performances over the years and I continued talking to get to my goals.
I started thinking about how and why I have gone up and down and how true it was. (She knows me!) The thing is that YES I have gone up and down. And that is completely OKAY. There have been times where I have been so committed to my athletics that I added accessory work and was able to keep up with a schedule of triathlon training and strength training. And in those times my performance was way up. I was in amazing cardiovascular shape, had stamina to take me through 2-4 hour training days, and was stronger than I had ever been before being able to string together several strict pull-ups. But we go in cycles, just like all things in nature.
And then I decided to travel the world with my new hubs for 5 months. And I did not stick to training for any specific goal, but rather stayed active for mental & physical health reasons. I learned so much throughout my travels about how others lived and mostly about patience. People in other parts of the world are so patient. Patient when it comes to food, when it comes to communication, when it comes to travel. I learned patience with others, patience with situations, and of course, patience with myself. So why when I came home did I feel the need to be the same as I was in the summer? Hadn’t I left to grow and to let the world have its impact on me so I could return an improved me?
So when I think about how I have gone up and down in my athletic performances, I am reminded of how things bloom and die in nature all year round. And now that I am slowly coming out of the “down,” for lack of a better term, I’m reminded to be patient with myself and that I am still strong, but just in a different way than I was before.
And speaking of strong…chocolate! It’s no surprise that chocolate is a favorite of almost everybody. Almost, because I have come across some crazies..I mean people, who will actually not eat it. But if you aren’t one of those people, it’s time to spice things up a bit.
One of my colleagues and carpool buddies back in the day told me how she would make an avocado chocolate mousse as a treat for her family. There were definitely some perks to being friends with a culinary whiz & teacher! I was enthralled at the idea and demanded the details and of course, whipped it up immediately myself. I even made it into popsicles!
Chocolate avo desserts are not so new anymore so I decided to give this one a kick with some toasted coconut & cayenne pepper. So this recipe is an ode to the people who say the smallest things that have the biggest impacts on our everyday lives.
Mexican mocha toasted coconut mousse
3 ripe avocado
1/2 c. canned coconut milk
2 tsp. instant espresso powder
1/3 c. raw cacao powder
4-5 pitted and very soft Medjool dates* (sub 2-3 tbsp. maple syrup or honey)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1/4 c. unsweetened coconut chips
Optional toppings: 1 tsp. crushed red pepper, sea salt to taste, chocolate shavings, crushed hazelnuts, coconut whip, cacao nibs, etc.
Halve avocado and remove pit. Scoop flesh into the food processor. Pulse a few times to get the creamy texture started. Stir espresso powder in coconut milk until dissolved. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender until creamy. Chill for 30 minutes. In the meantime, place coconut chips in pan on medium high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until brown and toasty. Layer jars, ramekins, or small bowls with chocolate, toasted coconut, and another layer of chocolate. Top with desired toppings & serve.
*If you use dates, place in hot water for 10 minutes to make them very soft.