Monthly Archives: October 2012


Getting back on the Paleo Bandwagon a.k.a. Paleo Faileo

Happy Halloween! The other day Ian posted a link to the “Seven Shades of Paleo” from The discussion that this article generated online between Facebook, Twitter and I’m sure many blogs was interesting. If you read that article you’ll know what I mean when I say I’m not “That Guy”! I follow a 80/20 diet. I try for 90/10 but that’s not always possible.  

After a weekend of visiting with family and eating some not-so-paleo foods, it was time to get back on that bandwagon!

Lunch was a chopped salad with chicken, bacon, a boiled egg, lettuce and yellow pepper with “dreamy avocado dressing”. I wish I had taken a shot of the salad, it was so delicious! The avocado dressing was a recipe from It Starts with Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig of the “Whole 30” fame (highly recommended read by the way). I’ve been wanting to try this recipe but hadn’t had a chance until today. Let me tell you, its a great way to use failed homemade mayo!

For dinner I had some left over moose roast, brought to us by a good friend! I grilled some cauliflower on the barbecue with some olive oil, S&P, and curry powder. I also added a side of pepper with some of that Dreamy Avocado Dressing.


Some advice for getting back on track with your nutrition is to make sure you have lots of good food in the house. Typically I do all my non-paleo eating outside of the house so when I need to get back on track I don’t have those non-paleo foods staring at me. I try to make sure that I have some protein cooked at the beginning of the week so that I can at least have raw vegetables for quick, easy meals. Of course, taking a few hours on Sunday to prepare some meals for the rest of the week is super helpful too. This, as I’ve mentioned before, is a huge challenge for me!


How do you get back on the paleo bandwagon after a paleo faileo?! If you’re on twitter you can follow me @sarmcgregor and let me know!

By |October 31st, 2012|Blog, Nutrition|Comments Off on Getting back on the Paleo Bandwagon a.k.a. Paleo Faileo

Keeps Getting Better!



Some new plate trays and platforms for our training racks. If you’re looking for a fully equipped Elite Weightlifting and Strength facility in Eastern Ontario, there’s no better place than JustLift.

By |October 28th, 2012|Blog, News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Keeps Getting Better!

What’s Happening at JustLift?

There sure is a lot happening at JustLift these days!

Given Ottawa’s large transient population, we have a lot of members that have moved away, but never really leave. I guess that’s family for you! John stopped by for a visit this week with his 11 year old daughter, Audrey. They both managed to get some lifting in, and Audrey showed off her great form and some pretty impressive weights for her age. Super cute girl. John’s pretty cute too, now that he’s eating lots of meat!



The JustLift team will be taking part in Movember in support of Prostate cancer research. You can join our team and grow an epic Mo’ in honour of weightlifting greats with legendary Mo’s such as Pisarenko and Krastev, or just show your support for by making a donation to our team.

We’re still accepting orders for the JustLift hoodies, make sure you reserve yours today!

As far as competitions go, it looks like we’ll be sending some lifters to the Ontario Open at Variety Village in Toronto on November 3. Make sure you cheer the team on! has a great post on the seven shades of Paleo. Too often people think in terms of absolute. There are shades of grey when following a Paleo/Primal diet that are healthy, sane, and maintainable in the long run.

By |October 24th, 2012|Blog, News|Comments Off on What’s Happening at JustLift?

Power Food

A couple of years ago I discovered my power food.  That thing that I eat during the day that gives me energy, the thing that makes my lifts that evening powerful, precise, quick, and right on target! I often hit my personal records or even make new ones when I eat it! 


My power food is tuna and avocado! I love it! simple yet satisfying and keeps me going all day.  I usually have some kind of salad on the side, or mix the tuna and avocado into a salad, or spread it on slices of cucumber, pepper, etc. 

I’ve even done this with it:

(Tuna and Avocado Nori Roll with cucumber, broccoli slaw, orange pepper)
It took a couple of tries to figure out how to roll this, but having worked at the Pita Pit as a poor university student helped in my understanding of constructing a tight roll! 

I know it sounds a little strange but give it a try! I swear its delicious and I’ve converted at least a couple of people to eating this instead of regular old tuna salad.


On another note, in my continuing efforts to be more prepared food-wise for the week, last night I made my go-to quick meal, sausage with whatever veggies are around (tonight was mushrooms and sauerkraut), and prepared a big pot of chili.



I didn’t use a recipe, I just kind of threw a bunch of stuff in the pot and simmered it down.  I took some inspiration from online and went for it.  This pot has the following in it:

  • 1lb of ground beef
  • 1lb of ground lamb
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup or so of chili powder
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper

Simmered down until it looked kind of thick and let it sit until it cooled down and threw in the fridge.  This will be dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow.  If we’re sick of it by Wednesday night I’ll throw the rest in the freezer for another day!


I’ve gotten some really nice compliments about the blog and so I just want to thank everyone who takes the time to read this and it’s really awesome to know that a few of you get a little inspiration from what I’ve been eating! Keep coming back! I’ll try to keep it interesting!

By |October 23rd, 2012|Blog, Nutrition|Comments Off on Power Food

The FIT Principles – Keys to Making Progress in Olympic Weightlifting Training

Many of you may ask yourself, “how do I get better at Olympic Weightlifting?” Generally speaking, if we take a relatively average person with little to no exposure to Olympic Weightlifting, well, the good news is that for the most part, we can get someone past the novice stage and performing the lifts competently within 1-3 months. Competent being proper technical execution of the lifts (would be judged acceptable at a competition) and lifting more than they can just throw around with no effort. When someone is first learning the lifts, some very rapid progress can be made when it first clicks that they have to accelerate the bar and move fast. This is great and those “beginner” gains stimulate that initial euphoric high of accomplishment.

Many people will reach this point and think that they’ve got it “figured out” and never move on from there. That’s too bad, because that’s when the fun really starts.

F – Frequency

One must be consistent in their training. You have to keep showing up! Of course, you can consistently show up once a month, so it’s really the frequency that matters. The frequency of sessions must be enough that one does not “unlearn” all the gains they made from the previous session. Our general recommendation for this is a minimum of 3x a week with no more than 2 days off in a row. Any less than that and the time between sessions is long enough that you will spend most of the next session trying to remember what you learned from the last session and never progressing.



Some of us train so frequently, top of the line weightlifting shoes last less than 6 months.

I – Intensity

You can’t progress unless you are training at a high intensity. By intensity, we mean what weight you are using relative to your 1 rep max. The weight has to be heavy. It has to be hard. If you only ever practice using light weights, you’ll only ever get good at lifting light weights. You’ll never learn what a heavy weight feels like if you never attempt it. Positive adaptation will never be made unless the body is challenged. You may look technically amazing, but the whole point of these exercises is to get stronger, faster, more powerful. The intensity also needs to be there mentally. If you’re not fully concentrating on the lift while you’re standing over the bar, you’re not going to be able to lift to your full capacity. The mind – body connection has to be there to channel all your energy into completing the specific task of throwing heavy weights over your head.



T – Technique

After the basic technique is learned, further progression is made by constant minor adjustments and fine tuning of the technique. When one is in the beginning stages of learning the technique, the variability from rep to rep is often very large. Once you get to a point where every rep starts to look similar, then small corrections can be made that will increase your efficiency. This is where one really needs the “coach’s eye”. An experienced and qualified coach can properly identify which adjustments need to be made, and what the best cue is to give the lifter such that the corrections will be made. You’ll make that change and hit a new PR, and then when you add weight again, a new problem will creep up! It’s these small adjustments and improvements that make weightlifting such a challenging, but rewarding sport!



Fine tuning the jerk position; any small variance away from the midline is magnified when the weight is held overhead.

FIT – Frequency, Intensity, Technique – Follow these basic principles and you’ll keep progressing! If just one of these principles is missing from your training, don’t be surprised if you aren’t making progress. Identify the changes that need to be made and follow through!

By |October 21st, 2012|Articles, Blog|Comments Off on The FIT Principles – Keys to Making Progress in Olympic Weightlifting Training

JustEat – Breakfast!

Good morning! “They” say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but if you eat a Paleo diet, breakfast can be the most repetitive meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be!

There are many options for your first meal of the day.  Traditional breakfast foods of eggs, bacon, etc. usual end up on my plate, but eating those leftovers from the night before doesn’t have to be relegated to the later part of the day!

My challenge in the morning is making sure that I end up with a hearty breakfast to bring me through to lunch, which means protein.  I have to say, eggs are a staple in my breakfast, I love them and try to switch it up and mix up how I make them.  Boiled eggs though, with whatever left over veggies from dinner, usually end up on the menu!

Since my work day starts at 8am in the office, I more often then not end up packing both my breakfast and lunch to bring with me.

This morning was egg salad with green onions, a cut-up tomato, and a banana with black coffee.


It has only been in the last couple of months that I took the leap to start drinking my coffee black.  Cream in my coffee has always been my last hurdle to pure paleo eating (minus an indiscretion in my weekend eating here and there). The experience of switching to black was not nearly as bad as I had thought it would be. I’ve often heard people weaning themselves off cream by switching instead to milk and then lessening the amount until it’s not there anymore. I decided to just switch to black.

My best advice: spend money on your coffee. Get GOOD coffee! It will make a world of difference! You know those descriptors they use for coffee? ‘Carmel’, ‘chocolate’, ‘fruity’, ‘nutty’, etc. You can actually taste that when you don’t have all that cream and sugar in there! Yum! I can’t imagine drinking my coffee anyway but black now.

By |October 19th, 2012|Blog, Nutrition|Comments Off on JustEat – Breakfast!

Sign Up Now and Reserve your JustLift Hoodie

Here’s your chance to get some more JustLift swag! We’re putting in an order for hoodies so that we can have something to wear during warm-up now that the colder weather is breathing down our necks. We’ll be doing a limited run this time around, so we’re asking you to reserve yours by signing up at the following link:

The final cost is $60 each and we’re asking for a $20 deposit. If you think you want one, as Yoda says, “Do, or do not!”

Here’s what they look like:

I think they look pretty great and I know I’ll be proud to wear mine all winter long! I may need to get a second one just to rotate through my laundry…

By |October 17th, 2012|Blog, News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Sign Up Now and Reserve your JustLift Hoodie

Pumpkins, and cabbage and more cabbage! Oh my!

Eating paleo involves A LOT of cooking, but if you single it can also mean eating a lot of the same thing over and over again! Last week my boyfriend was gone all week and I found myself eating the same thing for about five meals!  Thankfully I’m one of those people that as long as it’s good I’m quite happy to eat the same thing for multiple meals. If you’re not though freezing can be your best friend!

The meal was sausages with sautéed red cabbage, onion and cranberry from the paleo cookbook, ‘Practical Paleo’.  I also roasted some mushrooms, but those were so delicious I polished them off in my first meal!  The sautéed red cabbage was super easy, pretty quick and I even found myself eating it for breakfast on Saturday morning when I was rushing to get to the gym.  Plus it’s such a pretty purple colour!


Since it is now decidedly fall I have been craving lots of squash, cabbage and warm dishes. I love all squash and decided that I would try my hand at the Practical Paleo Pumpkin pancakes.  I had a pumpkin already roasted which made the whole thing much easier.  They were SO delicious and super easy to make! I made them before I went to work and ate them at my desk as I got ready for my day (eating breakfast at work happens a lot!)


I sometimes find myself getting overwhelmed by the amount of cooking that it takes to maintain a paleo diet. The trick to paleo is twofold, 1) keep it simple, and 2) prepare, prepare, prepare!  Being quite an unorganized person I find this incredibly difficult to do, but when I do, it is extremely satisfying. Every paleo blog and cookbook will tell you the same thing: do a big cook up on Sunday. I would recommend the same thing, however I don’t always do that myself as I’m often gone on the weekends. My trick is cooking in the morning before work!

This morning was no exception to my morning cooking ritual. I happened to have thrown some ribs in the slow cooker before I went to bed and this morning I sautéed some vegetables while I was getting ready.  When I cook in the morning it makes me feel accomplished before I even get to work, I have my lunch ready to go and don’t have to resort to scavenging for paleo friendly foods (and spending unnecessary money) at the local restaurants in the neighbourhood where I work.

By |October 12th, 2012|Blog, Nutrition|Comments Off on Pumpkins, and cabbage and more cabbage! Oh my!

Introducing JustLift’s Paleo Food Blog Featuring Sarah McGregor

Hi! I’m Sarah. I feel like this week is the perfect time to start this awesome food blog initiative with JustLift, just days after the Thanksgiving Weekend! How many of us are in a post-Thanksgiving food haze, unable to focus on the tasks at hand, stomachs and digestive systems in havoc, and maybe a bit of a guilty conscience? I was hoping not to have to start my first blog post with an admission of having indulged in everything that was offered at my family’s rather non-paleo friendly feast, but I am. I COULD have gotten away with eating only paleo foods. There were lots to choose from. I COULD have skipped over that stuffing that my mom and I made together, full of wonderful butter, onion, celery and whole wheat wonderbread. I COULD have skipped over the gravy that my mom and I, with the assistance of my older cousin, laboured over, fiddling with the cornstarch thickener to get it just the right consistency. And I COULD have skipped dessert: pumpkin pie and strawberry rhubarb pie made lovingly by my Great Auntie Sally, who I describe as a Master 10th Degree Black Belt baker. But I didn’t, and I refuse to feel guilty about it.

In my everyday life I eat a Paleo diet. I buy locally raised and butchered meat as much as I can (I’ve almost completely switched to local). I eat from my garden and buy from the farmers’ market in the summer. And I love to cook! The guys at JustLift and I decided that I would start blogging about how I eat and my experiences eating Paleo here in Ottawa and in my home because I have a pretty busy life, and it’s a challenge everyday to maintain good nutrition. These posts will give a glimpse into my everyday Paleo eating. I’ll try to include as much about my challenges as my successess, and I am really looking forward to sharing with you. I take lots of inspiration from Paleo eating friends, and even more from online resources and cookbooks (Paleo and non-Paleo alike).

I started my Paleo journey about three and a half years ago, but I was quite lucky in that my parents had started eating pretty similarly when I was a teenager. When I transitioned to Paleo, giving up bread was hard but I had gone through it years before, and I was lucky in the sense that I’ve been allergic to milk since I was born so I never missed it. Sometimes I have processed dairy (cheese mostly) and my milk allergy is mostly a mild reaction that just reminds me why I cannot eat it, and sometimes it rears is ugly head on me when I dare to test it.

I started eating Paleo because honestly, I was getting fat. I wasn’t fat yet, but I was getting a little chubby (“in the face” – as my Grandmother lovingly let me know one day before I started Paleo!). I was training with headcoach Pierre back in 2008/09, Crossfitting and then transitioning to weightlifting. I was getting really frustrated because despite training hard my body was not responding. This was when Pierre and I sat down and talked about Paleo, sleep, stress, cortosol levels, etc. I remember telling him that I hated lettuce, that it was rabbit food, and he basically told me to suck it up, I was an adult and my taste buds would change. After a month of eating Paleo (with “cheat days”) I felt better, I had lost a bit of weight, my performance at the gym had increased, and lo and behold, my tastebuds had changed!

So, after 3 years of working on my Paleo diet, I am so pleased to be writing for the JustLift blog about Paleo eating!

To start, I’ll share what I had for breakfast and lunch the day after the Thanksgiving weekend – the day that I get back on the Paleo bandwagon! Most of my posts will be short, just a quick look at my everyday Paleo eating, so I hope you get a little something out of it and very much look forward to any feedback and discussion these posts generate.

3 sweet potato hashbrown patties
3 over-easy eggs fried in butter
Coffee – black


5 oz of left over Turkey (I usually don’t measure my food, but this morning I wanted to make sure I had enough protein in my lunch for weightlifting tonight)
Mash of sweet potato, turnip, and carrot


Later, I’ll probably have a Lara bar and coconut water to tide me over during my workout until I get home to eat supper.

I don’t normally eat so many carb dense foods, but I also don’t tend to shy away from them. This just happens to be what was in my fridge after not being home all weekend.

By |October 11th, 2012|Blog, Nutrition|Comments Off on Introducing JustLift’s Paleo Food Blog Featuring Sarah McGregor

The Importance of Rest for Power and Strength Development

If you poke your head into one of our JustLift weightlifting sessions, you will probably see a lot of people sitting around doing nothing. You might ask, what are they doing? The simple answer is that they are getting strong.

Unlike circuit training or long slow distance training, the goal of training for power is to target the phosphagen (aka ATP-CP) energy system where the primary fuel source is Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP,e.g. three phosphates). This differs from circuit training (primarily glycolitic) and long slow distance (primarily aerobic). The ATP-CP system is high energy, which allows the athlete to generate maximal force for short periods of time (efforts much less than 30s).



Ideally, we will rest 2-3 minutes between sets to replenish our ATP stores. Much longer than that, and you’ll start to cool down and the body’s nervous system will go into recovery mode. Shorter than that, and we probably haven’t maximized our ATP stores. Occassionally, we have to be able to lift with less than 2 minutes rest in between sets, as this situation may occur in a weightlifting meet when there’s some shifty weight changes being made by crafty coaches. However, this isn’t ideal from a training perspective.



If you want the basic bio-chemistry lesson, the energy comes from ATP being broken down to Adenosine Di-Phosphate (ADP, e.g. two phosphates) and a free Phosphate. The breaking of the bond is what releases the energy. Now, to replenish the ADP and recombine it to ATP, another phosphate is needed, which comes from stored Creatine Phosphate (CP). So, if you’ve heard of the use creatine as a strength training supplement, this is the reasoning behind it. The more CP you have, the more ADP you can convert back to ATP, allowing you to do more work. So creatine doesn’t make you stronger directly (as far as neuromuscular activation), it just allows you to do more work. The cool part is that energy is required to recreate that bond, and that energy ultimately comes from fat!

So hopefully that gives you an idea of why a lot of us are just sitting around picking at callouses, checking our phones, or updating our status with our latest PR’s. We’re getting strong!

By |October 8th, 2012|Articles, Blog|Comments Off on The Importance of Rest for Power and Strength Development