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Twisted Prey - John Sandford

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold - John LeCarre

UNSUB - Meg Gardiner

A Spy Named Orphan by Roland Philipps

How It Happened by Michael Koryta

The Word Is Murder - Anthony Horowitz

Star of the North - D.B. John

The Sinners - Ace Atkins

The Outsider - Stephen King

Spymaster - Brad Thor

The Other Woman - Daniel Silva

The Man Between - Charles Cumming 

Operation Mincemeat - Ben Macintyre 

Berlin: Caught in the Mousetrap by Paul Grant 

Berlin Game - Len Deighton (for the Spybrary book club)

Desolation Mountain - William Kent Krueger

Podcast Favorites . (The life and Legacy of Ian Fleming, with author and historian Jeremy Duns, always an excellent and entertaining interview) . (the true story of Oleg Penkovsky, regarded by many as the greatest spy of the Cold War era - with Jeremy Duns, whose book on the topic, Dead Drop, is a classic) (wonderful history of Ian Fleming's involvement at Bletchley Park during WWII, and Anthony Horowitz making a presentation about his new James Bond novel, Forever And A Day. "How I Nearly Started World War III" with Mark Valley, host of the Live Drop Espionage podcast



Simply Pure Nutrients - PRO3 Synergy Fuel and Sweet Potato Recovery Fuel

John Jaramillo, founder of Simply Pure Nutrients, first came to my attention last year when he was loudly running the Paleo Wagon at NorthCentral CrossFit Regionals. I was working for CrossFit Media at the event, pinned to a laptop for long hours, and CrossFit took care of us volunteers with plenty of free tickets for meals from the Paleo Wagon parked outside the building. Lines of athletes waiting to buy meals were always long, delicious smoke came in waves from the wagon, the food was wonderful, and John provided verbal entertainment and support. We ended up having several engaging conversations throughout the three day event.

Intermittent contact via Facebook about John’s supplement company, Simply Pure Nutrients, brought him back to my attention. Aah, here’s what this guy really does! The name of his company sounds good; his mission statement and ingredient profiles look top-notch. Curious to learn more, I reached out to John and a long, rambling phone conversation later, he sent me a handful of sample packets of PRO3 Synergy Fuel and Sweet Potato Recovery Fuel.

I’ve been using and writing about performance, life and fitness supplements for many years; let’s call it two decades. It’ll possibly take me fewer words to tell you why I love these two products than it did for me to ramble on about how I met John!

First, I’m in love with sweet potatoes as a performance food. For body composition, for health, for my active life in CrossFit - sweet potatoes are king. Yeah, you may have crowned protein or even saturated fat as your top of the pyramid food, but for me, the difference maker surrounding my workouts is the sweet potato. They’re always part of my first meal after a workout (whether strength training, or metabolic, or CrossFit), and often part of a day-time dish when I’ll be training at night. My body needs and desires this starchy carb as fuel. I feel better and perform better when sweet potatoes are in my life. 

John has Sweet Potato Recovery Fuel! 27 grams of carbs, 11 of egg protein isolate, it’s delicious and readily mixes. Travel to the Simply Pure Nutrients site for close-ups of the ingredients; you’ll find 15 grams of good fiber and 7 of coconut oil. No added sugar. Gluten-free.

I love this stuff, and even when I’ve used it in my “immediate post-WOD, gotta-get-this-shake-into-me-now” period, I usually still enjoy sweet potato fries afterwards. Flavoring is subtle; my shakes made with Sweet Potato Fuel don’t scream “sweet potato” at me. There’s no cloying artificial flavor - drinking from my shaker after a WOD, the flavor is great; so is my confidence that what I’m putting into my body is real, and that it’s going to help with my recovery. 

PRO3 Synergy Fuel is Jaramillo’s basic meal replacement. Setting this product apart from most is the 3/1 ratio of fat to carbs, and the nearly 7/1 protein/carb design. Grass-fed whey and egg protein lead the charge; coconut powder (MCT) is the fat. The alkaline internal PH balance of PRO3 helps fight the free radicals developed from regular, intense exercise. On the Simply Pure Nutrients site is a good deal of explanation for what’s in here and why. I’m a believer.

My handful of sample packets were used alone before workouts, and mixed with Sweet Potato Recovery fuel afterwards. I feel using them together is over-kill, but in my experience, many strength athletes and most CrossFit people tend toward the “do more” side of life. Post-workout, using PRO3 and Sweet Potato Recovery Fuel together felt like too much food, even in the magic window after a workout. Shaking and downing one PRO3 Synergy Fuel an hour or two before a workout kept me full yet ready to train; my energy levels were good. I look forward to using it for meal shakes in the BlendTec, mixing with a half dozen other ingredients.

Here’s my bottom line: I believe John Jaramillo has the best interests of athletes and his customers in his heart. He wishes for you to be healthy and to succeed. These two products sport nice flavor, mix easily and well, are good with or without each other, and have as good a nutritional ingredient profile as any other supplement out there, I believe. I will continue to use Simply Pure Nutrients’ product line.

@spndenver, #paleo, #CrossFit, #simplypurenutrients


Crazy, Exciting, Dramatic Fun

Thanks Rudy Nielsen at Outlaw CrossFit for this:


Inside the Box: How CrossFit Shredded the Rules, Stripped Down the Gym, and Rebuilt My Body by T.J. Murphy

What a fun, inspiring and fascinating book Inside the Box is. More than anecdotal history of the early years of CrossFit (yeah, many of you just discovered CrossFit, and sure, it’s less than a decade old, but there are definitely ‘back in the day’ times, people and events), Inside the Box brings the reader right into the skin of author Murphy. As a veteran magazine editor, in the triathlon field no less, T.J. recounts with gleeful abandon and honesty his careful, then free-fall, immersion into CrossFit. I enjoyed every page.

As a writer, Murphy knows how to set the stage. His re-telling of a 2010 experience at L.A. Fitness, witnessing what turns out to be the first CrossFit workout he’d ever seen, is compelling. As a personal trainer in a similar globo-gym, yet a member of a CrossFit affiliate, I realize and understand how surprised and full of wonderment he was, watching what proved to be a seven-minute beat-down (workout), all bodyweight, no machines. Author Murphy was on a treadmill at the time. And he was hooked.

As a “student” of CrossFit, yeah, a geek for the sport, I was fascinated by the re-telling of the early days. Greg Glassman receives a lot of attention, as surely he should, and I found much of it compelling. The personalities of the founders, the early ‘fire-breathers,’ the first affiliate boxes - they all come alive through interviews and the experiences of everyone Murphy came to know. He found himself at the epicenter of CrossFit’s founding mothers and fathers, unaware at the time. 

Reading Inside the Box is similar to having the YouTube videos from the first years of CrossFit come alive on the page and in the reader’s head. Murphy’s background as a competitive marathoner and triathlete is essential to his unraveling the attractions and mysteries of why CrossFit turns the switches in so many people, builds such community,  and takes on such a major role in so many lives.

Many fine books about CrossFit are yet to be written; this is the first. Murphy is active today in the CrossFit media world; he’s co-host of the new Metcon Radio podcast, and the subject of the inaugural episode. Inside the Box, ostensibly about his first year in the sport, is really the chronicle of Murphy’s new life in sport. Nicely done.

VeloPress, $18.95


Why CrossFit?

I've written and posted many reviews, columns, interviews and articles relating to CrossFit on this blog over the last three years. Look for them under "Stuff I Like." Last year a bunch ran on the site as well, from the beginning of the Open to the Games. This year I was asked to write for the site once more but my personal training business, writing for myself, and life crowded it out. 

Much of my time is spent working with people about food and nutrition. I have made my living as a personal trainer for years, in a large commercial gym. More and more, I find that for optimum health, fitness and performance (in life, not merely in the gym), it's all about what one puts into their body, when, and what doesn't go in. All of this is fascinating to me.

CrossFit is a big part of my life. More than a style of exercise, more than a competitive athletic endeavor, it's glue in my life. My wife brought me into CrossFit years ago; sharing this passion is beyond special. One of our daughters has competed; two have been to CrossFit affiliate workouts. It's a running joke that nearly all our friends, our social life, are composed of people from CrossFit.

Our idea of a Friday night out, after a long, draining week, is the 5:30 WOD perhaps with some prowler pushes afterwards! Later at home while relaxing with dinner (almost always the same meal, with red wine), we'll watch the CrossFit Games Update show, or other videos. Each week we discuss with each other our favorite moments and fine points from the current episode of Wodcast Podcast!

I'm a life-time gym rat, 58 years old, slowly training my body to effectively work through Olympic lifting and whatever level of gymnastic moves I can attain. Decades of traditional strength training, bodybuilding and powerlifting built a strong body with limited range of motion. Slowly it's yielding to stretching and training.

Why am I running on about this? Because I have so many new readers, so much recent exposure, and want to share my passion. CrossFit, for me, is as much about the passion, community, and sense of accomplishment as anything else. Do not let age, injuries (like Eddie Ifft, I'm always injured in some way, but unlike Eddie, I didn't run track!) or a busy life stop you from trying for your personal brass ring. Don't even begin to tell me you're too busy to prepare food ahead of time, or are tired of eating the same foods, or cannot find time to train. I don't want to hear it. 

You'll be reading and watching my videos about supplements, weight-training products, food, books and magazines, the CrossFit world in general, and my little niche in it.

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