CrossFit – The ridiculously fun workout

Lately I’ve been giving updates on paleo living and sharing some of my favorite recipes. Now that I have just completed my second month of CrossFit training over at CrossFit Ktown, I thought it would be best to share what’s been going on over at the gym. CrossFit isn’t your typical “globo gym” workout. There are no isolated bicep curls, mirrors on the walls, or a treadmill to be found anywhere. You will find gymnastic rings, pull up bars, plenty of barbells and bounce weights, kettlebells, and the dreaded row machines. As I’ve written in an earlier post, CrossFit is designed to mimic movements we do in our daily lives. We do squats to protect our back from heavy lifting by bending at the knees rather than at the hips. We use kettlebells to keep all of our muscles engaged and increase our strength as the weight moves around in our hands. We do Olympic lifts that require our entire body strength that quickly strengthen and lean us out. We do sprints in the 100 degree heat because let’s face it, it’s just fun! (note: extreme sarcasm)

The coaches over at CrossFit Ktown have been great and so much fun to work with (yea I’m talking about you: Grant, Jessie, Erin, Taylor, and CBo). All of the boxes we use for box jumps have sayings on them, some funny and others serious. One of the boxes says, “Training is a process, not the events of one day.”  That is definitely the philosophy over at CrossFit Ktown.  You’ll regularly hear Coach G say, “Doesn’t matter where you are as long as you’re always progressing and getting stronger.”  Where you usually find gyms very cold and depressing, CrossFit Ktown is encouraging, challenging, driving you to want to get better.  I’ve done things just in these past two months I never thought I could do such as deadlifting 115 lbs. or finishing a WOD like “Erin” where I’m not going to lie, I was a bit scared right before we got started. Note: the named ones are always the difficult ones. To be completely honest, I’ve had a blast with everyone these past two months. I look forward to my evening class and feel so much better and more energetic after a CrossFit day. To top it all off, I’ve shed 4 lbs. of body weight since we first started 2 months ago.  Seeing results is the biggest motivator one can have.

I know my progression has loads to do with combining paleo with CrossFit, and I’m still doing yoga to stay limber and flexible. You can’t overlook how important flexibility and spine health is for any workout program.  I know the inevitable plateau will probably hit here soon, but I’ll be ready for it reminding myself to just keep pushing to get better a little bit at a time.

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East TN’s Best Awards are out – I’ve been nominated?

The annual Knoxville News Sentinel’s “Best of East TN” nominations are out. I’ve always loved this call for Knoxvillians and surrounding neighbors to come vote for their favorite places in town. Tomato Head has been a place where I’ve cast my vote for years. They really do have the “Best Pizza.” As I was perusing the categories this morning, I noticed something funny. Under the Entertainment category as “Best Local Tweeter” there’s a name I recognize – Lynsay Caylor.  I did a figurative “double-take” of my computer screen.  I’ve been nominated? Holy cow, definitely didn’t expect that one!  There’s my name next to others in town who seem to visit everything possible that Knoxville could offer, and then tweet about it on what seems a 24/7 basis. Whereas I on the other hand find myself tweeting here and there when something piques my interest or is something I find really, really funny. As shocked as I am, I feel honored to be nominated because that means at least one person finds my tweets interesting enough. So thank you to whoever in the Twitterverse actually threw my name in the hat. Your kindness is pretty cool.  And to anyone who may actually vote for me, you’re pretty cool too. You can vote here for all of the great categories in “East TN’s Best.” And if you want to see what all the hoop-la is about, check out @lynsaycaylor on Twitter – guess I better step up my game now.

WUOT 91.9FM – Why I’m a loyal public radio listener

The first time I ever heard the University of Tennessee public radio station WUOT on 91.9FM, was as a college undergrad. College was an endless sea of paper writing.   I imagine that every student has his or her own routine for studying or writing a paper. I quickly found out that the only way I could focus was to have the classical music playing in the background.  I don’t know what it is about classical music. I think studies show it increases brain function or something – don’t quote me on that.  Frustrated from wearing out “The Pianist” soundtrack (and boy did I wear that album out), I began trolling radio stations.  To my surprise, I stumbled upon WUOT which had the most beautiful classical music piece emitting from the speakers. I stood there amazed as my frustration lifted, and I was overcome with desperate determination to finish this 20 billion page paper. It was like magic or something. I immediately had brilliant thoughts that I began typing furiously on my enormous Dell laptop. Yes, it weighed about a hundred pounds. You remember the ones I’m talking about.  Well, turns out I was listening to Afternoon Concert. After that, WUOT became my “study station.” I quickly found many other programs that I fell in love with: Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Improvisations, and of course, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.  Becoming a regular listener took no effort on my part because I was just drawn to the stories, the humor, and of course, the magical music that helped me study.  Still to this day, I have the station lightly playing in the background in my office all day.

So this year marks the 60th anniversary of the radio station and boy do they have it packed with some amazing great events – many are FREE.  Already, Carl Kasell, longtime NPR news anchor and currently on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,  and Senator Howard Baker have stopped by the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy for a wonderful evening. They talked about public radio as a true service to communities, a place to hear about real issues and real people, and give back to the listeners.  I was squirming in my seat toward the end of the evening.  I just wanted to have my picture taken with Carl as I’ve been a long time listener of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Luckily, I was granted that wish!

Carl Kasell and I

I got to help out a little at this year’s Spring Fund Drive.  WUOT is a listener supported station with no paid advertisements.  So I got to help out manning the phones for taking listeners’ pledges.  Everyone kept telling me how much fun it was to volunteer, but I kept thinking, “Uh, you’re just manning a phone. How fun can it be?”  Well, I was wrong because I ended up having a blast!  My 3 hour time slot went by in what seemed like 30 minutes.  In between phone calls we got to chat with each other and nibble on some rockin food from Tomato Head and Nama.  During our chat one guy was telling us he had just moved to Knoxville from Dallas, Texas a little over a week prior to the Spring Fund Drive. He was listening one day decided to volunteer when he heard the call on WUOT. Our jaws dropped when we heard this realizing he had been in Knoxville about 10 days and was already volunteering for the station.  The loyalty of public radio listeners really runs deep.

One wall of the vinyl jazz collection at the station

So back to the party. There are some amazing events scheduled for this anniversary year including a FREE concert with David Northington at the Clayton Center for the Arts – Monday, May 24th at 8:00pm and even more surprises to come which I can’t share just yet. Wink, wink. I encourage you to check back on the WUOT website as it is updated regularly with sponsored events.  You can even listen to the station from your iPhone or iPod with the new application on the App Store. I actually tested this out today when I took my lunch down to Sequoyah Hills Park.  I was listening to the interview with journalists Lisa Ling and Laura Ling about Laura’s capture in North Korea when I arrived to my destination. Rather than just sitting in the car, I took my phone with me and listened while having my lunch by the water. Couldn’t have been more perfect. You’ll really enjoy this app the next time you find yourself sitting in your car in the driveway to finish listening to an interview or news story (admit it, we’ve all done it). Now you can take it with you!

Old poster up in the station

So if you’re a WUOT listener, what’s your favorite program?

Introduction Knoxville: Not just for those new to the area

For the past six Thursdays, I have had the privilege of joining an excellent group of Knoxville’s finest on a different adventure around our great city through Introduction Knoxville. From the Tennessee Theater, to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Fulton High School, we explored some fabulous Knoxville destinations learning about a new aspect of our area’s culture along the way. Each week features a theme for the evening such as: the political and economic community, the educational community, innovations and cooperation, the healthy and caring community, and the arts and cultural community with the first night dedicated to a bus tour around K-town. As a Knoxville native, I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed the bus tour. My first thought was, “Really, a bus tour of Knoxville?” Let me just say that I learned more about our history during that bus tour than I have my whole life here in Knoxville. I think it’s great to know where you came from especially your own city.

The list of places we visited is worth noting because of just how great each one is. Here is a list of each one of those places: Tennessee Theater East Tennessee History Center Scripps Networks Headquarters Fulton High School Knoxville Convention Center Oak Ridge National Laboratory Beck Cultural Exchange Center The Emporium.

The Political and Economic Community session stood out to me for the fact that we really got down to the nitty gritty of Knoxville politics and economics. Speaker Frank Cagle, Columnist and Political Analyst for MetroPulse, talked about the history of politics in the area, the move of development to West Knoxville and its effect on the city, and what would need to happen in order for Knoxville to move to metro government. I really wish that some of these topics would be discussed in Knoxville schools. I feel behind for the fact that I’ve lived here for as long as I have and really knew none of this. It gives you such a different perspective on the area and your role in the community. More importantly, how your role in the community really is integral to the success of our region.

Fulton High School Gospel Choir....A-mazing!

Fulton High School was an eye-opening experience. Their new class structure to include schools of learning much like a college or university seems like a huge step in the right direction. This is only the second year of this new program, but they have seen around a 10% increase in graduation rates from before implementation to after one year of the new program. That’s an amazing jump! I value education as a priority number one for all individuals. I think it is amazing how an educational setting can change you as a person from day one to final exams for a single class. As a product of Knox County public education, I really want to see our schools succeed and want to be apart any way that I can. Some great community outreach ideas were proposed to the group, and I hope to get involved even more in the educational community of Knoxville.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory was an absolute treat to be able to explore. Seeing the world’s fastest computer, the Jaguar, up close was amazing in itself. What I’ve always known Oak Ridge for is Big Ed’s pizza. From childhood, this was a place we would visit as a family, especially for birthdays and during the summer when we would stop by Oak Ridge pool or one of the nearby parks. I always remember hearing about ORNL as a child, and when I would hear people talk about it, there was always a sense of mystery around the place. I was so excited to see the place for myself, tour the facilities, and hear about the rich history of the lab and what it has meant for our nation. It blows my mind that we have such an amazing, innovative place right in our backyard!

My favorite night by far was the Arts and Cultural Community at The Emporium. This was definitely a celebratory night with great food and great performances. We were so blessed to see performances by the following groups: Keith Brown Jazz Trio, Knoxville String Band, African Drum and Dance, Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble, Carpetbag Theatre, Knoxville Opera, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Spoken Word by Stephen “Seed” Heathcock, and The Black Lillies. I loved all of the performances, but my heart is certainly with The Black Lillies. I saw them perform last year at Tennessee Shines at the Bijou Theater. As a bluegrass, Americana, folk music lover myself, I was in awe getting to see them perform again. They are a very special band, and they exemplify the true talent in our great city.

We visited some great places and got to see amazing things. However, the coolest, and long lasting aspect of Introduction Knoxville is the people you meet and the friends you make. I know for certain that I have made some friends for life out of this group. Everyone is so smart, ambitious, with huge hearts for the Knoxville community. I look forward to working with many of them in our area giving back to a city that has given so much to us. I highly recommend Introduction Knoxville, and suggest you check it out. If anyone from the class is reading this, what was your favorite night or aspect of the class? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.

Purchasing my first home!

Seriously, who would have thought there is so much that goes into purchasing real estate?  Searching the MLS for hours to find the right house, visiting houses, making an offer, then the counter offer, then another counter offer, inspections, home repairs, scouring files for documents for the lender, waiting, waiting, a little more waiting, then a rush to tie all the loose ends, and finally signing about a million papers.  After a few weeks into this process, I told myself I had to blog about it just because of the shear volume of information one must rapidly learn to keep up.  Not only that,  but I wanted to share a few people who have made my life and this process that much easier through their helpfulness and expert knowledge.   

First: The Advisor
The foundation for many of my financial decisions has rested heavily with the expert financial planning advice I received through a local group Resource Advisory Services.  I just so happen to share a connection with one of their NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors, Bryan Hankla, as he is my brother-in-law.  For me that means I get to ask him financial questions anytime, even during holidays!  Bryan has always gone out of his way to help me plan for my future and really teach me about considering the whole picture and long term goals.  As a newbie to big financial decisions, he has always been able to explain things to me where I really understand them. That philosophy is found throughout Resource Advisory Services.  J. David Lewis, the President of Resource Advisory Services, sets the tone for the company as an educator and true resource for their clients and blog readers.  I am a habitual reader of their blog and email newsletters where David writes on a variety of financial topics from planning for retirement to sharing your wealth through charitable contributions.  One of my favorite things I’ve heard David say is that he wanted to revamp their website, blog, and overall company message with the focus of creating an online space for clients to get to know them and their culture before they even meet.  He wants them to know that Resource Advisory Services is the right place to help with their financial goals.  I am so unbelievably thankful for their consistent advice and guidance for my financial decisions, especially the process of purchasing my first home.  It can be quite nerve racking if you are new to this process, but I felt completely secure and confident the whole way with them by my side.  I sincerely thank you, Resource Advisory Services.

 Second: The Realtor
Heading up the expert real estate guidance for the “Lynsay Caylor: First Time Home Buyer Team” was none other than Ms. Suzy Trotta.  From the get-go, she has been awesome to work with.  As an active blogger on Knoxville real estate, I knew she knew her stuff in the field.  Even still, as we sat down to write my first offer on a house (which ended up not being the one I finally purchased), she went through each piece line by line explaining it all to me.  She was so patient with me even though it took almost 2 hours for it all!  It was a tumultuous go around with the first seller as we were often left waiting, but Suzy would always send a quick text or email to keep me updated even if it was that she hadn’t heard anything yet.  I thought that was awesome.  I didn’t have to go chasing her down which I’ve heard other friends mention with their realtors.  Oftentimes, I felt like I had very silly questions or didn’t understand the meaning of a certain term.  Suzy was great at explaining and thankfully never patronizing.  I wholeheartedly thank you and appreciate all you’ve done, Suzy! Plus she brought me a delicious strawberry cupcake at closing. So good!

 I have felt very lucky to work with such great people while purchasing my first home.  After packing for three weeks, now all I have left to do is actually move!  I’m very much looking forward to sitting out on my new back deck with a fire and a great cup of coffee. I’m pretty sure the deck is the thing that drew me into the house in the first place. So here’s to a new chapter in life – my house!

What brings you peace (pax)?

I have been practicing yoga since about 12 years old mainly from the comfort of my own home.  It is great for relaxation and releasing tension, especially in the places we hold the most stress – our neck, shoulders, and back.  In the past few years, I’ve been trying out different classes to experience the variety and community of yoga (“yoga” actually means “union”).  Last night I attended a new yoga class, and I believe I have stumbled upon a rare gem in the Knoxville yoga community.  One gentleman at the end of the class asked, “So exactly what kind of yoga it this that we did? What’s its name?”  The instructor replied, “It’s Yoga with Shanti!”  Shanti went on to explain that the actual term for the full body movement yoga we did was “hatha” yoga, but since she incorporates so many different moves (there are actually 8,400 different yoga poses), she just calls it “Yoga with Shanti.”

That is precisely the way to describe this unique class.  The total experience from beginning to end was unlike any other yoga class I had taken.  At the start, we sat in a circle with our mats extending outward mimicking colorful sun rays (each mat was a different color).  Shanti’s calm and easy voice set the tone for the room. She spoke of how true relaxation starts with releasing tension in the body and then the mind.  After that total release, you experience real freedom.  The word ‘freedom’ stayed with me throughout the class.  I’ve always advocated that people really need their places of release from hectic daily life and even need to come to that place each day.  I think that idea goes back to a philosophy class I took while attending UT.  I remember having a two week long class discussion on the most productive community.  That community was one where the majority of people were able to take care of themselves – which sounds almost selfish in nature but that’s not the case.  When the people take time to attend to their specific needs, they are actually able to be a more productive member of their community.  I personally find that philosophy very true.  Helping and thinking of others is always good for the spirit, but we must take moments for ourselves as well.

Throughout the one and a half hour class, Shanti would quietly draw attention to releasing tension through your exhaling breath and practicing ‘non-judgment’ when bringing your thoughts back to the present after they have wandered off.  ‘Non-judgment’ began to resonate with me.  How often do we criticize, compare, and compete in our daily lives?  Most often we probably don’t mean to. It just happens. Having some moments each day of non-judgment help to release that tension you didn’t even realize you were building up. 

After our 15 minutes of relaxation, we brought our blankets back to the end of our mats toward the center creating a closer circle.  During our relaxation I could hear what sounded like water boiling for a cup of hot tea. My interest peaked with the sound, and I began peacefully thinking at what lie ahead for the class.  As we drew into a small circle, Shanti sat down with a large, chocolate colored tray full of small cups of wonderfully smelling tea.  She passed the tray around and said, “We will now enjoy a little time of conversation and tea.”  I loved how she said that, almost as if the group of a dozen or so were old friends just enjoying the moment together.  Even though I met each individual just an hour and a half earlier, it did seem as though we were old friends with Shanti as our quiet facilitator of ‘pax’ (or peace).  After a few sips of some lovely honey and chamomile tea, we all began to pack our things up to leave.  At that moment, I felt as though I was leaving a cozy friend’s house after a peaceful evening rather than just leaving a yoga class.  My body and mind were both at peace, rejuvenated in fact.

I have a few things in life that always bring me peace.  I have a special relationship with the outdoors.  I am amazed at how peaceful I feel every time I finish a hike, kayaking trip, bike ride, or run.  If I’m up in the mountains winding along a tiny trail and come to a clearing with a beautiful view, it takes my breath away as if I’m seeing it for the first time.  I hate that we so often forget to take a few moments for ourselves each day.  Our to do lists, buzzing phones, and rushing from place to place keep us from remembering our peaceful places.  Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely a girl-on-the-go, but last night I was quietly reminded at how important places of peace really are. 

So my question to you today is, what are your places of peace?  What brings you moments of relaxation and freedom?  If you don’t have a new years resolution yet, this is a certainly an idea.

Social Media Launch for Pilot! Coffee anyone?

Hello world! As many of you know, I am the Social Media Marketing Manager for Pilot Travel Centers LLC, headquartered here in the lovely Knoxville, TN.  Well, after a little education and preparation time, we have now launched our first step into the social media world!  You can become a fan of our Facebook  page and receive a free hot beverage coupon good at any Pilot Travel Center or Pilot Food Mart location.  It was a very exciting day yesterday here at Pilot as I pressed the “publish” button for the page. My boss even took a picture he was so excited.

Lynsay pressing publish!

Me pressing "publish"! (Don't look at my messy desk)

We’ve got a lot of exciting stuff in store, and I’m so glad to be pressing forward. Those of you who have been in my office have seen the huge whiteboard wall that I have.  It looks a bit like “The Beautiful Mind” when you walk in with the 6 different Expo marker colors and arrows that seem to point in every direction.  Let’s just say that wall continues to get fuller and fuller as people are seeing the Facebook page and new ideas are sparking.  I love that about digital media!  When you see something, it jogs your creative thinking to come up with more ideas. 

I’m very excited about coffee being our number one conversation piece right now.  I wouldn’t be able to live without coffee, and Pilot’s coffee, especially the Dark Roast with French Vanilla creamer, is my favorite.  It really is the best on the interstate!  I know that when I’m traveling, I always try to keep tabs on where I am on the interstate in relation to the next Pilot.  I can always count on the coffee being fresh and consistent.  I’ve literally never had a bad cup.  It feels good to really love what you are talking about.  If you haven’t tried a cup, stop by your local Pilot and pick one up!  But first, become a fan on Facebook and get a free coupon!