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On Fear and Learning to Fly

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April Ghiroli

The barbell was heavy, it felt so damn heavy in my hands.

How on earth, I wondered, would I be able to throw this over my head? Well I wasn’t able to. And for a long time I thought it was because I wasn’t strong enough or my technique wasn’t good enough.

Sure, both of those could always use improvement. But it was fear that stopped me cold that day and many days after that. Fear of injury, of failure, of an arbitrary number on the bar or movement on the whiteboard.

We are taught from a young age to self-preserve, to proceed with caution. Throwing hundreds of pounds overhead and getting under that loaded bar can’t possibly be a GOOD idea. We are so afraid of looking foolish, of having to STILL scale a movement or not do it right that we don’t do it at all.

In world where few of us are full-time paid weightlifters or CrossFit athletes, most of us are just seeking self-improvement. Yet we let fear and the foolish pride that often goes with it get in our way. Understand that you can do everything right —from warmup to training, sleep and nutrition— and it won’t matter a bit if you let fear take over.

But this isn’t an article about eliminating fear. This is about learning to fly.

RECOGNIZE THAT YOU’RE AFRAID. 

For months and months I had a nagging wrist injury. When it finally got better heavy cleans —one of my favorite movements — became a source of serious uneasiness.

One bad catch and I just knew my wrist issue would return. So, I babied them. I lowered the percentages and every time it got close to a certain number —not even my one-rep max, just a number I arbitrarily deemed would feel heavy— I ended things.

It wasn’t until I visited a different gym and mistakenly loaded up plates that I matched my scary number.

Not only did it not feel heavy, but I had wasted months of being healthy and not getting stronger!

It’s perfectly normal to be afraid of a certain weight or skill, but instead of pushing those thoughts away and avoiding the situation, recognize that you’re in a state of fear. Then, reassure yourself of all the work you’ve put in to make that fear not matter. In my case, I had already cleaned the weight before my injury. I was strong enough before and certainly strong enough months later. Had I focused on my strength and skill, and not my fear, I would have blasted through that plateau much quicker.

DEVELOP A MANTRA. 

If people only knew the power they had over their own training. Something as simple as a shift in focus can have a profound impact on a lift or workout.

Heavy squat? Move away from thinking about how it’s going to feel like a metric ton on your back. Instead find a technique tip or mantra to repeat to yourself as you unrack the bar. Maybe it’s ‘Chest up, eyes forward’  or ‘I’m going to own this barbell.’ Find whatever works for you.

The same thing can be applied to a scary workout- instead of thinking about the daunting number of heavy wall balls or pull-ups, think ‘Push with my legs’ or ‘Stay tight and use my lats’. Essentially, you’re redirecting your energy into something more useful. Positive self-talk in a tough workout or training set can be a separator. If you don’t believe us, talk to any elite athlete about the importance of your mental game.

TURN INTO IT EXTRA ENERGY. 

Fear can push you to do some remarkable things. And if you can think of it that way, as a step in the right direction, all those butterflies and shakes can give you some extra power, too.

We only are afraid of things that are outside of our comfort zone and to get there you’re going to need everything. So, why not use that fear as an extra jolt in pulling the bar off the ground or getting a snappy transition on your muscle-ups?

HAVE SOME PERSPECTIVE. 

Honestly, what is the worst that will happen if you don’t make the lift or fail a few reps in your WOD?

Will your world end? Will people laugh at you? Will you be kicked out of the gym and unable to eat or sleep for a week? No. You’ve just given yourself a goal for the next time.

So, acknowledge the fear, reassure yourself you’ve got what it takes and concentrate on the lift or what workout entails instead.

If a heavy barbell doesn’t scare you, it’s probably not heavy enough!

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The lowdown on glycemic index and glycemic load

What are the facts about the glycemic load of foods? If you have diabetes, you probably know you need to monitor your carbohydrate intake. But different carbohydrate-containing foods affect blood sugar differently, and these effects can be quantified by measures known as the glycemic index and glycemic load. You might even have been advised to use these numbers to help plan your diet. But what do these numbers really mean — and just how useful are they?

Glycemic index vs. glycemic load

The glycemic index (GI) assigns a numeric score to a food based on how drastically it makes your blood sugar rise. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100, with pure glucose (sugar) given a value of 100. The lower a food's glycemic index, the slower blood sugar rises after eating that food. In general, the more cooked or processed a food is, the higher its GI, and the more fiber or fat in a food, the lower its GI.

But the glycemic index tells just part of the story. What it doesn't tell you is how high your blood sugar could go when you actually eat the food. To understand a food's complete effect on blood sugar, you need to know both how quickly it makes glucose enter the bloodstream and how much glucose per serving it can deliver. A separate measure called the glycemic load does both — which gives you a more accurate picture of a food's real-life impact on your blood sugar. Watermelon, for example, has a high glycemic index (80). But a serving of watermelon has so little carbohydrate that its glycemic load is only 5.

Glycemic load diet

Some nutrition experts believe that people with diabetes should pay attention to both the glycemic index and glycemic load to avoid sudden spikes in blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association, on the other hand, says that the total amount of carbohydrate in a food, rather than its glycemic index or load, is a stronger predictor of what will happen to blood sugar. And some dietitians also feel that focusing on the glycemic index and load adds an unneeded layer of complexity to choosing what to eat.

The bottom line? Following the principles of low-glycemic-index eating is likely to be beneficial for people with diabetes. But reaching and staying at a healthy weight is more important for your blood sugar and your overall health.

If you'd like to give low-glycemic-index eating a try, click here to see a table of the glycemic index for over 62 common foods.

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What's a healthy breakfast?

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If you asked someone to list some typical regular weekday morning breakfast foods, they’d probably rattle off things like cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, pancakes, waffles, and maybe eggs and bacon.

But here’s the deal. Breakfast is how we break our overnight fast, and for many people, breaking fast doesn’t have to happen first thing in the morning. That’s right, folks: breakfast does NOT have to happen first thing in the morning. If you are not hungry when you wake up, that is normal, and you do not need to eat. That old myth about “revving up your metabolism” with food first thing was largely created by breakfast cereal manufacturers.

Overnight fasting: Good for weight control and easy to do

Evidence is growing in support of fasting for weight control, weight loss, and better metabolic health.

An overnight fast could look like this: You stop eating before nightfall, somewhere between 5 and 8 pm. (It’s a good idea to avoid eating anything in the two to three hours before sleep anyway.) Then, you do not eat until 16 hours later, somewhere between 9 am and 12 pm. Only liquids, like water, coffee and tea without sweeteners, seltzer, and even broth are allowed during the fast.

You’ve now completed a 16-hour fast, and you slept through most of it! Your meals occur only during an eight-hour period of the day, and you make these healthy meals, with lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, legumes, and whole grains. This type of overnight fasting is called circadian rhythm intermittent fasting, and is linked to lower blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as healthy weight loss. Most people who try overnight fasting find this a pretty easy routine to maintain.

Some people (like growing children or people on certain medications) do not need to fast this long, and should have a healthy meal before their school or workday.

Break fast with low glycemic foods

Regardless of what time of day you break our overnight fast, scientific evidence shows that all humans have improved cognitive performance and more sustained energy from meals that don’t spike our blood sugars, so meals with a lower glycemic load. What does this mean?

Basically, the glycemic load gives us an idea of how much a certain food will cause our blood sugar to rise, and for breakfast, the lower, the better. A low glycemic load is under 10; medium, 11 to 19; and high is over 20. The best breakfast meal has a low glycemic load.

While it’s important to be aware of the glycemic load of the foods you eat, you don’t have to memorize the numbers. You can count on most plants (fruits and vegetables), legumes (like peas, beans, lentils), nuts and seeds, and whole grains to have a low glycemic load!

Foods that contain little or no carbohydrate, like eggs, nuts, and meats, have a glycemic index and load of close to zero. Does this mean that’s what we should eat? Not necessarily. See, they also have no fiber, nor any other important plant nutrients.

So what are some healthy breakfast choices? Here are some easy options to fuel you for your busy day:

  • plain yogurt, fruit, and nuts

  • oatmeal, fruit, nuts

  • whole wheat or rye toast with nut butter

  • black beans and tortilla (corn or whole wheat).

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I AM CROSSFIT- MCKENZIE MARSHALL

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When I was in elementary school and my parents encouraged me to try out different sports, I always quit each one before the season could even start. I was never competitive and just wasn’t naturally athletic. When I was in middle and high school, I hated P.E. I was the tall, lanky, awkward girl who couldn’t stand to do anything athletic in front of other people. By that time, I had made up in my mind that I wasn’t the “sporty” type and just never would be. Luckily at that age, like most people, I had a high metabolism, so not being very active didn’t have much of an effect on my overall health. 

It wasn’t until college that my non-active lifestyle started to have consequences on both my health and weight. Not being active, combined with drinking regularly, settling into unhealthy relationships and taking advantage of the new found freedom of being able to eat whenever and wherever I wanted to meant that I had then fallen into a hole of unhealthy and hard to break habits. It would take me 4+ years to learn to make better choices for my health and to learn to love my body and treat it with respect. 

After graduating college, I got my first job as a teacher and settled in on my own in Winston-Salem. I knew it was time to really start making life changes so I got a membership at Planet Fitness, but going in and not knowing anyone and having no clue how to use any of the machines properly would result in me never actually making it to the gym by the end of the day. Frustrated, I gave up. Just like with everything else I had tried in my life before. Around this time, my sister and brother-in-law had been trying out CrossFit and would always talk about how much they loved it. It got to the point where no family meal or gathering could take place without them telling everyone what they had learned and accomplished at CrossFit. A few months later, my other sister also tried CrossFit at their gym and she was just as obsessed as they were and would never stop talking about it. 

As much as I loved hearing their stories, my natural reaction when the topic of CrossFit got brought up was to think to myself, “Yeah that would never be something I’d be interested in or let alone could do!!” I never even thought twice about trying it or considered looking into it. I just assumed CrossFit was not for “weak” and unathletic girls like me. 

Well back in January of this year, I decided to actually make a change and I started with my diet and then moved on to exercise. I tried PF again for a few weeks but became just as frustrated as before so one night, on a whim, I randomly texted my sister April and said “Soo tell me more about this CrossFit thing” and she encouraged me to just give it a try and not be scared. She told me I would love it and she was right! Of course there have been so many movements and work outs that are challenging for me, but every coach at CrossFit Hogtown has been nothing but patient and thorough in explaining how to do them. There are things I’ve accomplished that I never in million years thought I’d be able to do. Not only has CrossFit made me stronger, but it’s given me confidence and made me believe in myself in so many other outlets of life. It’s made me a better friend, daughter and teacher. I teach so differently in the classroom now - I jump and skip around the room while teaching and I hop up on tables and chairs to get my students attention. And because of all the encouragement and support I’ve received at CFHT, I’ve begun for once in my life not to care so much what others think of me and to live my life for me while loving others in the process!! Isn’t it crazy how “just a gym” can have such an impact on your life?

My name is McKenzie and I am CrossFit

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Exercise versus caffeine: Which is your best ally to fight fatigue?

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Monique Tello, MD, MPH


Chronic lack of sleep makes it hard to focus on a task. As if this didn’t make complete logical sense, multiple research studies have shown that sleep deprivation has about the same effect on our cognition and coordination as a few alcoholic beverages.

What do you do when you need to concentrate, but you’re tired?

Many of us reach for a cup of coffee, or a soda. Mountains of solid research have shown us that caffeine (in doses ranging between 30 and 300 milligrams) improves attention, alertness, reaction time, and mood, especially when we’re tired. An average cup of brewed coffee contains between 80 and 100 milligrams of caffeine; a soda, between 30 and 60.

But exercise works too. This is also well-studied. Even a short bout of any cardiovascular exercise wakes us up, speeds mental processes, and enhances memory storage and retrieval, regardless of our fitness or fatigue levels.

So, when it’s late afternoon and I’m struggling with charting or finishing one of these pieces, what should I do: exercise a bit, or go for coffee?

One recent (and very small) study compared these two wake-up methods. This well-conducted study used healthy but chronically sleep-deprived volunteers to compare three interventions: caffeine, stair-climbing, and placebo. They found that just 10 minutes of stair-climbing boosted self-reported levels of energy far more than a moderate dose of caffeine (50 mg). However, this was a very small study — only 18 out of 90 healthy, college-aged women met all the criteria and were willing to participate.

Digging deeper: Exercise offers more long-term benefits

While the findings make a whole lot of sense, I went to the existing piles of literature for more information.

Interestingly, another study looked at the effects of either exercise alone or exercise plus caffeine on cognitive tasks, and found that (perhaps predictably) exercise plus caffeine had the greater benefit.

Caffeine (in the form of coffee) has been well-studied, and regular intake is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, but may increase cholesterol. It may be protective against certain types of dementia and cancer, but has been associated with bone loss and rheumatoid arthritis. Basically, there are many benefits, but there seem to be some risks as well.

But there are multiple studies suggesting that exercise has multiple long-lasting positive effects on physical fitness and function, cognition, mood, and behavior in just about all populations studied, in all ages, fitness levels, and regardless of baseline cognitive function. Some of the greatest benefits have been seen in older patients, as well as patients at risk for or diagnosed with dementia.

The take-home message? Caffeine can provide a boost in alertness and energy levels that may help you to think faster and better, for a while. But even a short burst of exercise can do the same, maybe more, and for longer. In addition, while caffeine is associated with both good and bad health outcomes, exercise is good for everything.

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3 Numbers That Can Dramatically Improve Your Rowing

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Dement Dominguez

Strap yourself in, grab the handle, and go. For a lot of athletes, that’s the extent of their relationship with the rower. Despite the fact that rowing is an integral part of many CrossFit workouts, athletes just don’t spend the time getting to properly know the erg, the indoor rower. In truth, the erg is a highly developed machine meant to replicate the effects of rowing on water, which is why elite rowers train on it during their off season. And when they do, they make sure to take several different factors into consideration—depending on the goals of their program. For us, these factors translate into numbers—three numbers that relate to three factors that can have a profound impact on your rowing performance in any given workout.

1 The Damper Setting

What is it?
On the side of the flywheel housing (the big circular fan cage at the top of the rower), there is a lever that can be moved up or down. This lever adjusts how much air flows into the cage. The fan cages are usually numbered 1-10; the higher the number, the more air that flows into the flywheel housing, making it harder to spin the flywheel with each pull. Lower damper settings allow less air into the flywheel housing, making it easier to spin the flywheel.

Why It’s Important
Sometimes athletes incorrectly assume that a higher damper setting equals a tougher workout—or that they’ll row at a faster pace because of it. In reality, the difficulty of your workout, or the pace at which you row, has more to do with you with than the damper setting. When rowing at a high damper setting, you move slower up and down the erg so you’ll need to apply more force with each pull to go faster. At a lower damper setting, you’ll have much less air flowing into the flywheel. Because of this, you’ll be able to move up and down the erg faster without applying as much force per stroke.
So, where do you set your drag factor? Think of it this way: Over the course of any given distance, would you rather apply more force with each pull or pull more while applying less force with each stroke. Although you might have an idea of which is better for you, it’s best to take a scientific approach and experiment with different damper settings to find your sweet spot. Start with a damper setting of 3-4 and see how that feels. What pace were you able to keep over the course of 1,000 meters? Retest rowing 1,000 meters at different settings to find which damper setting is more ideal for you.

2 Pace (in Meters)

What is it?
When rowing, your pace is identified by how long it takes you to reach a certain distance. We’ll discuss pacing using meters, although you can also use calories. On ergs your pace is expressed as time per 500 meters. For example, a 2:30 pace means that it takes you 2 minutes and 30 seconds to complete 500 meters. Depending on the format of your monitor setup, your pace is usually be found between your overall time and meters rowed (as pictured above).

Why It’s Important
Knowing your 500m pace allows you to control the speed at which you row—depending on the distance you need to hit. For example, let’s say a workout calls for you to row 1,000 meters. Assuming you already know that your fastest 500 meter row is 2:30, it doesn’t make much sense to assume you can hold that pace over 1,000 meters. A better strategy would be to lower your pace in the first 500m and gauge how you feel during the second 500m. If you feel strong, you can increase your pace accordingly. Through repeated practice of this method, you’ll find your optimal pace for different distances.

3 Stroke Rate

What is it?
Your stroke rate is the number of strokes (pulls) you take on the rower per minute, or SPM. Technically, each time you pull on the handle the performance monitor will register a stroke. Depending on your monitor setup, your stroke rate can be found at the bottom left of your monitor (as pictured above).

Why It’s Important
Just like with rowing at a higher damper setting, athletes may incorrectly assume that the higher their stroke rate, the better the workout—and/or the more meters they’ll accumulate. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case.

For example, let’s take two rowers of equal height and build who are both rowing 1,000 meters. Both rowers are moving at an equal pace of 2:30/500m and have the damper set at 5. However, Rower A has a stroke rate of 40, while Rower B has a much lower stroke rate of 28. This means that Rower B is able to generate the same amount of power in 28 strokes per minute as Rower A does in 40 strokes, making him/her a more efficient rower; generally speaking, this boils down to technique.

Watching your stroke rate is also important for maintaining consistency and control in your row. Let’s say you’re shooting for a five minute 1000m row. For the first 500m you’re able to maintain a 2:35 pace at a stroke rate of 28s/m. As the second half of the 1000m row approaches and fatigue sets in, it’s likely that you’ll subconsciously begin to move up and down the erg at a slower pace. Keeping an eye on your stroke rate and ensuring you maintain it around the 28s/m range is crucial in helping you maintain your desired pace. If you notice your stroke rate dropping, it’s likely that your pace will also drop.

The demands of the WOD may dictate whether you keep a high or low stroke rate during your row. If you need to perform heavy cleans right after your row, perhaps it’s better to use a higher stroke rate with a lower damper setting (which will place greater emphasis on your aerobic capacity). If you want to use the rower to lower your heart rate, consider using a slightly lower stroke rate with a higher damper setting. Just remember, it’s about finding a stroke rate that you can maintain for the duration of the row, and leaving enough energy for the next movement in the WOD if needed.

Bonus: Don’t Forget the Drag Factor

Drag factor is a numerical value that represents the rate at which the flywheel slows down. The higher the damper setting, the more quickly the flywheel decelerates. Therefore, the higher the damper setting, the higher the drag factor. So, why should we worry about drag factor when we already know where to set our damper? Well, various factors affect the amount of air that flows into the flywheel including temperature, dirt on the flywheel, and wind, to name a few. That means that setting the damper at 5, for example, may feel slightly different on each rower you sit on. Drag factor helps adjust for the various factors that affect air flow into the flywheel.

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I AM CROSSFIT- AMANDA FORTUNE

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For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with my weight, and what my perception of healthy was. As a kid I stayed away from activities that required too much endurance or strength. The fear that I would be embarrassed when the “fat girl” couldn’t perform as well as everyone else overwhelmed me.   As I got older, I realized I controlled my health.  I decided to join a gym, and it paid off, for the most part.  I was finally at a comfortable size, enjoyed working out, and loved seeing the results.  Then life happened. I had a full-time job, an infant step-daughter, working on my college degree, and a home to take care of.  When would I force myself to work out?  I tried to make time, and when I was in a good cycle, things were great. But eventually the enthusiasm would fade, and back to old habits.

             It was clear to me that the only way I would every maintain the “healthy” state I desired was to work out constantly and restrict every single thing that went in to my mouth.  That was not a realistic lifestyle for me.  Once I found out I was pregnant the fear of weight gain set in quick.  I tried to continue working out, but after three months, my doctor discouraged it.  I gained nearly 70 pounds!  At first, it didn’t seem to phase me because I was so consumed with this new gift, but after time, the size and lack of energy really got to me.  I was almost to a point of depression.  I forced myself (very reluctantly) to get back into the habit of working out.  I dropped weight, and was very pleased, but as soon as I’d let off the gas, the pounds would creep right back on. My doctor had begun to have concerns due to family history and was disturbed at some of the health risk we would soon be addressing. Until there was CrossFit!

After being introduced, and taking a ramp up class, I was hooked.   There is never a reluctance to go, or me forcing these unrealistic habits for myself. Knowing the proficiency of my performance comes from what I fuel my body with has taught me to eat clean without making it this dreadful task.  It has literally changed my mind, body, and soul. That perception for “healthy” that I had strived for is no longer what I want to be.  I know now that being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean being skinny. My new healthy is being able to push my body to unbelievable measures, hitting new PRs, being strong and fit, dropping weight, and keeping it off.  I have been able to drop 30 pounds and maintain it! CrossFit has taught me self-love, strength and confidence. I’m learning to get “I can’t do it” out of my head and proving to myself that I can!  I love everything about this community. The coaches, the members, the weights slamming, the sweat angels, and the feeling of accomplishment after crushing a demanding workout.  

It’s been over a year since I made the decision that changed my life, and I still get butterflies as the clock is going down...3-2-1—Gooooo.  During my check- up this past year I received a clean bill of health.   The doctor was more than pleased with all my numbers. I gave all the credit to CrossFit, and all the support from my family at CrossFit Hogtown.  It was around the same time that I started training for my first solo competition. All those years I spent shying away from opposition because of fear and self-doubt, I was going to compete! And you know what, I won!! I have never won anything in my life, but that day I won.  Not just because I was on the top of the podium, but because I proved to myself that I was able, and strong, and for once felt fierce.  To think where I have come from literally brings tears to my eyes.  What I love most is that my daughters see this strong woman I have become, mentally and physically.  It has introduced them to a beauty outside of what society has tried to force on them. For so long I told myself I couldn’t do it, until I finally just shut up, and I did that!

I am Amanda Fortune, and I am PROUD to be CrossFit!

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3 Tools To Help Keep Hunger At Bay

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Robbie Farlow

Good God, it took long enough. But at long last, the scale is FINALLY moving in the right direction—you’re losing weight. And it’s about time, too.

  • You’ve spent weeks of hitting the gym with the consistency of a well-oiled machine.
  • Sacrificed precious Sunday afternoon hours when you could have been catching up on the latest season of Jessica Jones on Netflix.
  • And you’ve been getting 7-8 hours of sleep instead of mindlessly scrolling Facebook before bed.

But then it hits you like a bolt of Force Lightning and for the first time since you decided to start losing a few pounds, you feel hungry. And these aren’t small hunger pangs. No, these are ravenous, starved Rancor-like cravings.

Anyone who has ever tried to lose a few pounds has been there. Standing in your kitchen, staring down that pint of ice cream, that bag of salty, greasy potato chip goodness, or that container of peanut butter.

But you’re on a “diet,” you’re trying to get leaner. And this time you’re committed to doing it right; a “cheat day” is out of the question, and you can’t fit your temptation into your macros. So what the hell are you supposed to do? How do you fight these cravings and win the battle against hunger?

1: Hydrate, Yo

I’m assuming you don’t live on an arid planet like Tatooine. So you have easy access to water whenever you want it. And if you want your body to lose body fat more efficiently while keeping hunger at bay, you need to stay hydrated.Those hunger pangs you’re feeling might actually be your body trying to tell you that you’re dehydrated. Why does this happen?

Because nature hates you, that’s why.

The same part of your brain that tells you that you’re hungry is also responsible for sending out thirst signals. Your damned brain can’t tell the difference and send you mixed messages.

You hear, “Let’s eat some ice cream.” When what your brain is trying to communicate is, “Yo, I’m thirsty but I don’t know how to tell you that, so you should definitely polish off that pint of Chunky Monkey.” And since your body can’t tell the difference, it’s always best to err on the side of thirst first. If you’re wrong and still hungry after 20 minutes, go ahead and eat something. (But make sure it fits your macros.)

One more thing, water is physically filling. When your stomach is full of water, it sends signals to your brain that it’s full and doesn’t need anything (or needs less). That doesn’t mean ONLY drink water all day and skip food. But, when those cravings come knocking and try to burst in…open the door and throw some water in its face.

My point: drink water. Lots of it. The standard rule of thumb is to aim for half your body weight in ounces per day. So if you weight 200 pounds, guzzle down 100 ounces of agua.

2: Distract Yo’self Before You Wreck Yo’self

If I tell you NOT to picture a pink elephant right now, guess what happens?

Your brain conjures up the most beautiful pink elephant the world has ever seen.

What does a pink elephant have to do with hunger? Well, replace “pink elephant” with donuts, muffins, or bacon cheese fries. And guess what? Now those are all you’re thinking about.

Screaming to the heavens about how hungry you are will only make things worse. Master Broda (read: me) said it best:

Boredom leads to eating, eating leads to too many calories, too many calories leads to unhappiness.

Think about it. How many times have you sat in front of the TV binging Netflix, when suddenly your brain (because it has nothing else to do) decides its hungry. Five minutes later, you’re mindlessly munching on cookies, ice cream, peanuts, and washing it down with a few beers. A few episodes later, you’ve consumed more food than a Wookie at a wedding.

So here’s what you do instead: distract yourself. If your brain is preoccupied, it won’t be consumed with thoughts of how much you think you need to be stuffing your face.

  • Go for a walk. (exercise + distraction for your brain = double win)
  • Fire up your amp and dust off that guitar in the corner
  • Hell, read that book you’ve been putting off for a while now

When cravings come at you, find a fun and creative activity that will distract your mind from the food. In short, do ANYTHING ELSE besides open that fridge.

3: Get Better Sleep

There is one time you’re guaranteed to not be eating: bedtime. Sleep is a vital factor when it comes to burning body fat and building muscle. And the better your sleep, the less hunger you’ll feel during the day.

There are two hormones that play a major role in hunger — leptin and ghrelin. Both of these hormones increase or decrease production based on your sleep. Leptin is a powerful appetite suppressant, while ghrelin is the hormone responsible for increasing your appetite. And if either of those gets out of whack due to your poor sleep habits, you’re in for a world of issues.

Have you ever noticed how it’s harder to fight cravings on days where you have less sleep? Well, yeah. You’re fighting both hormones, fatigue, diminished willpower, and, on top of everything, you look exhausted because you’ve got heavy bags under your eyes.

Follow these simple tips to get more (and better) sleep:

  • Set a bedtime and stick to it. You may not be twelve years old anymore, but if you’re still eating like you are, you’re also going to need a bedtime.
  • Cool the room. Ideal sleep temperatures are between 64-68 degrees, use a fan if you find yourself too warm. Sleep with as little clothing as possible – bonus: if things get steamy with your partner, you’re already ahead of the game there.
  • Make everything as black as my emo heart. The darker it is, the more your body gets trained for sleep.
  • No screens, caffeine, workouts, or food close to bedtime. All of these things can work against your quest for a solid block of sleepy goodness

Force Choke Your Hunger

If your goal is to lose body fat, you will, at some point, encounter hunger. It’s a part of the process. And anyone who tells you that they never feel hungry on a diet is lying to you. So when you’re attacked by those pesky pangs of hunger, remember, they’re normal.

And fighting them back is sometimes as simple as drinking more water, distracting your brain, and getting more sleep. If you equip yourself with these three tips, you’re going to be much more successful at losing belly fat, eating better, and becoming the sexiest mofo you know.

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A Beginner's Guide to CrossFit

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Brendan Rice

Over the course of the last decade, CrossFit has becoming one of the biggest movements in the history of fitness, with over four million athletes visiting 15,000 CrossFit gyms located in 120 countries all over the world. Those that join the community in this fun and competitive sport simply can’t get enough of it once they’ve started. Athletes quickly find themselves in the best shape of their lives and competing in ways they maybe never thought possible.

There’s a good chance you’re reading this because you’ve heard a lot about CrossFit but want to know some of the basics in order to get started. You’ve come to the right place. The following is an exciting introduction to the world of CrossFit:

What is CrossFit?

Originally developed by Greg Glassman, CrossFit is a fitness regimen that has evolved considerably over the last few decades to become the first program to define physical fitness in a way that is measurable. It is designed to increase work capacity over a long period of time through different types of exercise, but more than anything, CrossFit’s primary goal is to improve athletes’ fitness and health.

What is a WOD?

This is done through daily workouts, known by CrossFit athletes as the Workout of the Day, or WOD. These days, there are many places to find a great CrossFit beginner WOD, which typically involves exercises like weight lifting, kettlebell swings, the pull-up bar, and other customized workouts. Many CrossFit workouts are timed and all of them exist to help build muscle and improve overall health. Depending on your program, your WOD log may include all sorts of different exercises.

How Do I Find a CrossFit Box?

There are CrossFit boxes, or gyms, all over the world, finding one nearby should be easy! Check out this handy map of CrossFit Affiliates to get started. These gyms love beginners and are helpful and friendly in assisting rookies eager to get their start. It all can sound quite intimidating, but CrossFit communities really do a great job helping new members feel comfortable.

How Strong Should I Be to Start?

Your CrossFit exercise list will grow more challenging as you get more familiar with the sport and improve your general fitness, but at the very beginning, the trainers at your box will help you get started at whatever level is appropriate for you. In other words, there is no “minimum” requirements in terms of weights or times. There are plenty of stories of athletes starting at the bottom and working their way up to greatness. You obviously could do the same!

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I am CrossFit Jed Orman

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My name is Jed Orman and this is my CrossFit story.

I am originally from Davidson County and graduated from East Davidson High School in 2002. I played a lot of sports in high school and got my introduction to weight lifting there. I continued to stay active in fitness while in college but still managed to gain weight well above the 185 pounds I weighed when I graduated.

After college, I moved back home and started working in Lexington. I put on some more weight and started running to help manage some of that. In 2006 I ran my first 5K and slowly worked up to my first half marathon in 2010 and my first triathlon in 2011. While living in Trinity, my wife and I had our first child in 2012 and I fell back into bad habits. They got worse with the birth of our second child in 2014. However, I still managed to run when I could. The bad part was, my strength training was missing, and unless I could find a partner, running was incredibly boring. 

My wife and I moved to Lexington in May of 2017 and I told her when our new budget got straightened out I wanted to do something different, in addition to my occasional running and trip to the YMCA. I had been eyeing CrossFit Hog Town (CFHT) and knew several of the members, so in September of 2017 I gave it a try.

Because of the timing of CFHT’s move to a new facility, I couldn’t do the traditional “ramp-up” program and was offered the “burn boot camp” classes until another ramp-up class was offered. I took this option and felt fairly confident going in that I could handle it.

First day of class – a little nervous but excited. It was incredibly difficult and humbling. I was completely drained, but I left wanting more. 

I kept doing the burn classes for around 7 weeks, getting better and better with my ability to handle the workload, and finally was approached by one of the coaches to try the CrossFit group classes. After passing the test out, I tried my first class the next week. It was incredibly difficult and humbling. In fact, all the classes are. They are designed to push you as far as you are comfortable going, and even though some nights I left in pain I always wanted more.

All while doing CrossFit, I still kept running at least once a week. Every Thanksgiving I start my day with Lexington’s Early Bird 5K run - I think I have done it for the past 4-5 years. I didn’t really know what to expect because I hadn’t trained but I also knew that I could push myself for 25 minutes…especially since I had been pushing myself for 45 minutes in most of the CrossFit classes. I ran as hard as I could and finished in 22:46 – a pace of 7:20/mile. This was my best 5K time. EVER. AND I hadn’t been training for it. My previous best was probably 10+ years before and many pounds lighter at 23 something. These results made me even more of a fan of the work I had done at CFHT.

At this point, I am committed to CFHT and a huge advocate. I think CrossFit workouts in general are great, but the variety and quality of coaching at CFHT sets them apart. Since I started, I have lost about 25 pounds (unintentionally – because I still love ice cream), gotten better at just about everything I do from a fitness standpoint, and made a lot of friends along the way.

If you are considering a change to your fitness routine or want to try something new, give CFHT a try – it won’t disappoint.

I am Jed Orman and I am CrossFit

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Exercise As Part Of Cancer Treatment

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Monique Tello, MD, MPH                                                                                                                                                                                          Harvard Health Blog

In a first, a national cancer organization has issued formal guidelines recommending exercise as part of cancer treatment, for all cancer patients. The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) is very clear on the directive. Its recommendations are:

  • Exercise should be embedded as part of standard practice in cancer care and viewed as an adjunct therapy that helps counteract the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment.
  • All members of the multi-disciplinary cancer team should promote physical activity and help their patients adhere to exercise guidelines.
  • Best practice cancer care should include referral to an accredited exercise physiologist and/or physical therapist with experience in cancer care.

Lead author of the statement, clinical researcher and exercise physiologist, and chair of the COSA Exercise Cancer guidelines committee, Dr. Prue Cormie is also very clear in her statement to the press:

“If we could turn the benefits of exercise into a pill it would be demanded by patients, prescribed by every cancer specialist and subsidized by government. It would be seen as a major breakthrough in cancer treatment.”

The evidence on benefits of exercise during cancer treatment

On the research supporting the bold guidelines, Dr. Cormie states: “the level of evidence is really indisputable and withholding exercise from patients is probably harmful.”

She is correct. There are hundreds of studies showing real, tangible benefits of exercise for patients with a variety of different cancers and at different stages.

Exercise specifically as an additional therapy for patients undergoing cancer treatment has been well-studied and associated with many benefits. In one analysis of 61 clinical trials of women with all stages of breast cancer, those who underwent an exercise program during treatment had significantly improved quality of life, fitness, energy, and strength, as well as significantly less anxiety, depression, and lower body mass index and waist circumference compared with the regular care groups. In another major analysis of 28 trials involving over 1,000 participants with advanced cancers (including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, lung, breast, GI, and prostate), an exercise program during treatment was associated with significantly improved physical function, energy levels, weight/BMI, psychosocial function, sleep quality, and overall quality of life.

COSA’s prescription for exercise during cancer treatment

The COSA statement advises that people with cancer should:

Avoid inactivity and be as physically active as they are able, with the goal of:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g. walking, jogging, cycling, swimming) each week; and
  • two to three resistance exercise (e.g., lifting weights) sessions each week involving moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercises targeting the major muscle groups.

Their care team should:

  • tailor exercise recommendations to the individual’s abilities, anticipated disease trajectory, and health status
  • consult with accredited exercise physiologists and physical therapists as the most appropriate health professionals to prescribe and deliver exercise programs to people with cancer
  • promote these recommendations throughout treatment;

Finding a way to include exercise as part of cancer treatment

More research will help us understand exactly how much exercise is optimal for people with specific cancers. For now, COSA’s exercise prescription translates to about 21 minutes per day of exercise, plus a couple of muscle-building sessions per week.

I asked experienced nurse practitioner and cancer survivor Eileen Wyner what she thought about these guidelines, and she was unequivocal in her enthusiasm: “I think that is a terrific idea.” Though she is four years in remission from lymphoma, she remembers her chemotherapy treatments well. “I was in very good physical shape when I got sick, but I got weak fast. I would walk the hospital hallways with my IV pole when I could, because I knew from being a healthcare provider how important it was to stay as active as I could. But I did not do anything for my arms at all.” The new guidelines call for some kind of resistance training twice weekly, and Wyner feels that could have been helpful to her: “At one point, after my chemo treatments were over, I was home and I decided to get something out of a lower cupboard in my kitchen. It was so shocking to me when I realized I could not get up. For the life of me, I could not push or pull myself off of that floor. I couldn’t get to a phone, to a window… I was stuck there. I realized how weak I was, how weak my arms were… I’m lucky someone was able to help me, or I would have been in real trouble.”

What you can do

If you are being treated for cancer, the exercise recommendations can certainly sound overwhelming, but it’s important to remember the idea is to individualize the activity plan. Wyner suggests a little stretching and strengthening class during chemo infusions. “We were there all the time anyways, why not do something formal right then and there? It could be something basic and easy, modified for where the patients are at. It could really help people.”

The idea is for patients to do whatever they can manage, as they will reap the benefits, from conditioning to emotional well-being to relapse prevention.

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Want A Better Nights Sleep?

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Written by K. Aleisha Fetters

According to a 2016 study, more than 1/3 of American adults don’t get the recommended minimum seven hours of sleep per night. If you’re included in that group, you’ve likely heard (and tried) many tricks to get a better night’s sleep: Follow a set sleep schedule. Drink sleep-inducing tea. Turn on a white noise machine.

But when it comes to scoring quality shut-eye, what you don’t do is just as important.

Case in point: These seven common mistakes can stand between you and the sleep your body needs. Take note of each for a restful night’s sleep.

1. REFINED CARBS

As if those sugary, refined and processed carbs (Think: white bread, cookies, candy) didn’t have a bad enough health reputation, 2016 research from Columbia University shows that, on days when people eat sugar and refined carbohydrates, they have trouble falling asleep. When they finally do nod off, their sleep patterns are disrupted. The carbs-sleep connection may have to do with the roller coaster blood sugar and insulin levels that refined carbs cause, according to researchers.

They also note that when study participants ate more fiber from carbs such as whole grains and produce, they slept much better.

2. UNWINDING WITH SOCIAL MEDIA

As soon as most people’s heads hit the pillow, they start scrolling through social media. And while it might feel like “unwinding,” the bright blue light of your phone can throw your circadian rhythm out of whack and make falling asleep more challenging once you actually power down, says W. Christopher Winter, MD, owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine clinic and CNSM Consulting and author of “The Sleep Solution.” In fact, a 2016 study published inPLOS One found people who use their phone the most, especially before bed, sleep the worst.

If you absolutely have to check Instagram before bed, Winter recommends turning down your phone’s brightness. If you have an iPhone, turn on its Night Shift setting, which will dial down the screen’s blue light at night.

3. THICK BLANKETS

We know, it’s not what you want to read this time of year, but hear out an expert: “When you go to bed, your body is in a state trying to cool down,” says Winter. “We all experience a natural temperature drop right before we fall asleep.” So, if you’re under thick blankets and wearing extra warm PJs, you prohibit your body from cooling itself and kickstarting sleep. Plus, research published in Diabetes links consistently sleeping in a chilly room (66° is a good temp) to improved insulin sensitivity and lower levels of fat.

Finding it hard to get out of bed when it’s cold outside? Try setting your house’s thermostat to start warming up right before your alarm goes off.

4. NIGHTCAPS

We know what you’re thinking: “Wait, I fall asleep faster when I’ve had a drink!” It might seem that way, but it’s important to realize “sedation is not the same thing as restorative sleep,” says Winter. What you’re vying for is the latter. In fact, in one 2015 study out of the University of Melbourne, researchers found that alcohol triggers the same changes in sleep patterns that you’d see in someone receiving small electric shocks all night long. Sounds really restful, huh?

On average, it takes one hour for the body to metabolize (aka break down) an ounce of alcohol, or about a shot, so time your drink and bedtime accordingly.

5. LOTS OF PILLOWS

All of those decorative pillows on your bed look trés chic, but when it’s time to sleep, they are better off decorating the floor. “To minimize back and neck pain, I advise my patients to sleep in a ‘neutral spine’ position,” says Anne Marie Bierman, a physical therapist with Athletico in Illinois.

“For example, if you are lying on your back, avoid propping your head up with too many pillows,” she says. “If side-lying, try to keep your neck in line with the rest of your body with an appropriately sized pillow.”

6. COUNTING SHEEP

‘If I go to sleep now, I’ll get 6 hours and 32 minutes of sleep.’ We’ve all been there, experiencing the minute-by-minute math equations, sheep counting and trying to will ourselves to sleep. But it doesn’t work. “You can’t control when you fall asleep. But you can control being in your bed and turning the lights out with a goal of resting, rather than sleeping,” says Winter.

Rest itself is incredibly recharging. “And by changing the goal, you take off the pressure to fall asleep — which will actually make falling asleep easier,” he says.

7. SLEEPING ON YOUR STOMACH

When you sleep on your stomach, you tend to put your body — especially your neck — in some pretty unnatural positions … for hours on end. “If a patient has neck pain and is a belly sleeper, we discuss how that prolonged prone position can affect the joints and soft tissue as they sleep, increasing stress on their neck,” says Bierman . (However, if you’re a stomach-sleeper and your neck feels fine, cool. Keep doing what you’re doing, she says.)

Changing your regular sleep position can be tough. If you’re trying to make yourself into a side- or back-sleeper, consider using pillows to wedge yourself into place so that you still have the pressure you like on your tummy. A weighted blanket is another great option for making you feel like you’re on your stomach, even when you’re not.

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    3 Common Squat Mistakes You Can Fix Today

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    Posted by: Maureen Quirk
    Global Newsroom

    Whether your workout class of choice is boot camp, HIIT or boxing, there is one movement that consistently shows up across the board: the squat.

    It’s one of the basics and yet many have never properly learned the movement’s basics.

    “The squat is such a well-known movement that you’ll always see people incorporating it into their gym routines,” says Reebok trainer and eight-time CrossFit Games competitor Stacie Tovar. 

    “Because it’s this common, people just assume they know how to perform it, but in reality, many have probably never been taught.”

    Until now. 

    “When I coach,” says Tovar, who is the owner of CrossFit Omaha in Omaha, Neb., “I stress to the people in my classes that they should not add weight to the barbell for back squats or front squats until after they’ve mastered the air squat.

    “The air squat needs to be the starting point,” she continues.

    Simple, right? 

    Tovar says think again, pointing out the air squat is deceivingly complex.

    She adds, “Unless you have a coach there pointing it out, it can be difficult to recognize where you’re going wrong.”

    After years of coaching, Tovar says there are three common squat mistakes that can be addressed immediately. 

    1. Rising onto the toes

    When squatting, feet should stay planted on the floor, but often, people find themselves rising up onto their toes.

    “Think you’re doing that? Then, wiggle your toes,” says Tovar. “The moment you go to wiggle them, you will shift back into your heels. This is the correct stance.” 

    2. Chest folding forward

    Folding one's chest forward while squatting is frequently a result of exhaustion. When a person becomes tired, it’s natural to revert to leaning. Correcting this lean is simple: Pull the chest up.

    Tovar says the easiest way to avoid this mistake in the first place is to consciously think about pulling the chest up. “If you’re thinking about it, chances are you are doing it correctly,” she confirms. "Most of the time, people just forget to focus on it."

    3. Knees caving in

    If a person’s knees are caving in, the way to correct this is as obvious as one would think: Pull the knees apart.

    “When pulling apart, keep in mind that the knees should stay in line with the toes,” says Tovar. “Make sure your knees never come outside of your toes. That will lead to just as many balance issues as when they were caving in.”

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    I AM CROSSFIT- PATRICK MCDADE

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    CrossFit. Cross-Fit

    What does it mean to be fit?

    What does it mean to be a man? What is masculinity? Are these genetic? What is our full genetic potential? Do we want to know?

    Humans are energetic systems, and we still know very little about our bodies and the universe that we interact with. Questions seem to be the objects of my motivation in life and thus CrossFit.

    How is it that I can be at a social gathering with 20some strangers, and come away from that experience just as exhausted as a WOD? What is really going on there? It cannot be that I did not eat enough carbs the day before. Is there something else at play here? How is it that I found so much more strength during Festivus, but if I tried to do the same workout in a gym by myself that those barbells seem like a metaphor for gravity itself?

    Is the answer to ask no questions? I’d say, no. Sometimes questions can paralyze us; paralysis on analysis. Sometimes questions can be veiled doubt and fear. Should I really go to the gym today? Should I do Rx today? Can my hips get there today? Will my shoulder hold up today? Self awareness is a gift and can be a hindrance. I try to be with those fears and doubts with compassion and patience, for myself. Where did these fears and doubts originate?

    Society, upbringing, genetics, trauma? It amazes me how much fear and doubt can hold an athlete back. They are energetic concepts, with relative aspects.

    Society is social construct, and our society has its own set of energetic channels. CrossFit can be daunting from this perspective, and it takes a well thought out, analyzed and questioned personal vision to not get lost. What do I want from CrossFit? Am I chasing an unattainable vision of masculinity put forth by what I have been told? What is right for my body at my age with my injuries and my current lifestyle? When I am 50 will this personal vision still be the same, and if not, has CrossFit programming served me? I’d like to think so.

    Empowering myself with questions leads to a more well rounded vision and perspective. It is amazing to read about the anatomy and physiology of the human body after questioning what the proper form for an exercise is. It will only lead to the answer that the human body is totally interconnected. You cannot get away with shortcuts and patience is a virtue for a reason. So, take a step back. Ask some honest questions, and proceed on your journey a little more patient with yourself.

    I am Patrick and I am CrossFit

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    Memorial Day Murph

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    Memorial Day is an American Holiday which honors the men and women who have died while serving in the US Armed Forces. It's usually associated with BBQs, pools, a day off of work, and sales, but Memorial Day is a somber reminder of the sacrifices inherent in protecting and providing the freedoms we celebrate here in the United States.

    For CrossFitters, Memorial Day is generally marked with the Hero workout Murph. Murph, named after Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, is viewed as a rite of passage in CrossFit, but sometimes the man behind the workout and the reason we do that workout are lost. 

    Who was Michael Murphy?

    Michael Murphy was a Navy SEAL who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after being killed in action in Afghanistan. While conducting operations in the mountains of Afghanistan, his team was discovered by enemy forces and ended up outnumbered in a firefight in the extreme and mountainous terrain. As he and his teammates all suffered major injuries, including mortal wounds for most of the team, Lieutenant Murphy fought his way out of cover and into open ground to transmit his team's location and call for support. Lieutenant Murphy purposefully left cover and relative safety for open ground to call for help and in the process was mortally wounded but continued to engage the enemy until he was finally killed. 

    Of Lieutenant Murphy's team, there was only one survivor, Marcus Luttrell. Luttrell's story, and the story of that operation, is told in the book Lone Survivor and the movie with the same name.

    What is Murph?

    Murph is a CrossFit Hero workout which Murphy himself would regularly do. Murphy called it Body Armor and it was the same workout we know and love today:

    1 mile run

    100 pull ups

    200 push ups

    300 squats

    1 mile run

    Murph would complete this while wearing his body armor. The CrossFit version of this suggests wearing a 20lb weight vest and allows the middle portion to be partitioned as needed.

    What's the point of doing Murph on Memorial Day?

    Unlike other CrossFit workouts, completing Murph isn't about crushing your time or competing or even finishing the workout as written. Murph exists as a reminder of the actions and sacrifices of men and women like Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy. Murph is an opportunity for those of us who are still around to celebrate Memorial Day to experience a whole bunch of discomfort and intensity as a tribute to men and women like Lieutenant Murphy. 

    This doesn't mean you can't enjoy your day off, have a BBQ, or buy a deeply discounted laundry machine. Just don't forget that Murph isn't only a workout and always remember the men and women whose sacrifices have afforded us the opportunity and freedom we enjoy every day.

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    Hydrate

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    Here's is a great excerpt from a Journal Article on hydration and training in the heat.  Read the full article at http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Heat_Starr4.pdf

    Bill Star

    Hydrate!

    Water is the key. This nutrient, which we all take for granted, is crucial to every function in the body temperature regulation, nerve-impulse conduction, metabolism, immune system, eliminative process, and all the rest of the workings of the body.

    Two misconceptions get people in trouble:

    1. It takes a large amount of dehydration to bring on negative reactions.

    2. You can depend on thirst to inform you when you’re at risk. It takes a surprisingly small amount of uid loss, just one percent, for your body to become dehydrated, and you can’t depend on your thirst to tell you what’s happening.

    Researchers have found that even a tiny shortage of water disrupts biochemistry of the human body and can limit performance. Water balance is the single most important variable in athletic performance. Besides a ecting overall strength, dehydration causes the brain to shrink slightly, which in turn results in an impairing of the neuromuscular system, coordination, concentration and thinking.

    It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to be able to gure out you’re not going to be able to perform at your best when these things begin to happen in your body during any form of physical exertion.

    Water is your best friend when dealing with very hot

    weather.

    “But what about Gatorade and those high-energy boosters that have recently ooded the market?”

    After all, Gatorade is loaded with electrolytes. Yes, and that’s a good thing, but at the same time, it contains sugar, and sugar slows the assimilation process. And those high- energy drinks contain a huge amount of caffeine, which promotes rapid water loss. So no cola or coffee. I typically use coffee to get me kick-started for my cardio and weight workouts, but I have to do without that caffeine jolt when it gets hot. I’ll come back to this discussion a bit later on.

    Overheating and resulting de ciencies in fluids and vital nutrients can come about amazingly fast when temperatures climb to 100 degrees and humidity gets extreme. As much as three quarts of sweat can be lost in a single hour. When this happens, blood volume drops appreciably. If it drops too low, circulation becomes impaired so that the brain and other vital organs are deprived of oxygen.

    Heat illnesses fall into three categories: heat fatigue, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat fatigue su erers will experience cramps, usually in the legs and abdomen. If these symptoms aren’t dealt with right away and the athlete continues to push himself, the next step is heat exhaustion. This is a more serious response to the heat and results in fatigue, weakness and collapse. An athlete suffering from heat exhaustion may have the following symptoms: normal temperature; pale, clammy skin; profuse sweating; nausea; headache and dizziness.

    Heat stroke represents the most serious heat illness because it can end in death. Every year, we all read reports of athletes, usually football players, taking part in two-a- days, who died from heat stroke. The symptoms include high body temperature; hot, red and dry skin; rapid, strong pulses; and in most cases unconsciousness.

    All are preventable.

    Starr, Bill. (2013). Training in the Heat. The CrossFit Journal. 3-10.

     

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    THE IMPORTANCE OF A TRAINING JOURNAL

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    BY CRYSTAL MCCULLOUGH

    I have always been involved in physical activity and trained with some type of purpose. In high school, I played varsity sports. In college, I played intramural sports. At 25, I joined the Army and trained in order to be in shape for my job and score the highest I could on my PT test. Once I got pregnant and got out of the Army, there was a year or so I didn’t do anything and felt like I had to start over completely. My easy go-to with a small child was running, so I could put him in a stroller and go. This was the first time in my life I needed to find a new goal completely on my own; someone or something else no longer defined my goals. It was up to me to set my own.

    I set goals to run 5ks, then 10ks, then to run a half marathon. I kept logs of my runs so that I knew where I was in my training. I set goals for each race that I ran to be better than the previous one. Does this sound familiar?

    In 2010, a friend introduced me to CrossFit. The gym I started at was very big on tracking workouts. I am so thankful they felt that way because it put me in the right mindset from the very beginning. From my first workout, I kept a training log and still do until this day. I still have all those journals and will pull them out on a rainy day. Sometimes, when I ran or did CrossFit, I filled the whole journal before I would start a new one. Now, depending on the meet I’m training for, I sometimes start a new journal after each meet so I can look at the difference between the cycles.

    FIVE REASONS TO KEEP A TRAINING JOURNAL

    1.    It shows you where you’ve been. Sometimes, we feel like we aren’t making any progress. It helps to go back and look at old journals and remind ourselves of how far we’ve come. Writing down workout times and maxes gives you a visual way to track your progress.

    2.    It allows you to take control of your fitness. In all likelihood, the coach isn’t going to remember the numbers you hit the previous week. Keeping a record allows accuracy in percentage work.

    3.    It provides you with your own accountability. Writing your daily workouts shows you how many days you trained or didn’t train. It keeps you motivated to workout.

    4.    It allows you to write down sleep and nutrition habits as well as how you were feeling while you were training.

    5.    It helps you to track you goals and set new ones. If you never write anything down, how do you know when you’ve met a goal?

    I realize that it is an extra step, but it is a crucial step to achieving optimal success. Regardless of what sport you are involved in, keeping a training journal can be just as important as the recovery process to keep you motivated and your eyes on the prize. Whether a soccer mom or an elite athlete (see Lisa and Hunter below!), we all have goals, and visually tracking them ultimately leads to greater success.

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    Crossfit hands: perfect guide to preventing and treating rips

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    By Jenifer Charles

    I am an accountant. The hands of an accountant are typically soft and smooth. We use our hands to create spreadsheets, work a calculator and staple documents. The closest we come to developing a callus is from repeatedly hitting the 'plus' button on our keyboard with our pinky finger.

    I also shake a lot of hands. One day, after a handshake, the client asked if I’d been doing a lot of yard work.

     

    “No,” I said. “Why do you ask?”

    He seemed a bit embarrassed and I realized how rough my hands had become. I was healing from a recent rip and the edges of the tear were hard and scratchy.

    Crossfit has changed my hands

    As soon as I fell in love with the feel of a barbell, I developed calluses and tears. I’ve ripped and healed and ripped again.I felt pride and awe the first time my hands bled from too many toes to bar. But after that I realized the injuries to my hands kept me away from the pull up bar and made the barbell painful to hold.

    I’ve tried gymnastics grips, gloves, athletic tape, grippers. But nothing felt as good or worked as well as feeling the cool, chalky bar with my bare hands.

    I soon learned that the best treatment for a rip is to prevent it.

    Robin Ribeiro is a former gymnast and the owner of RipFix. She walked me through the elements of good hand care. “Is about every day hand maintenance,” she says. “Not just the rips.

    It starts with the grip.

    Although adjusting your grip on the bar won’t completely prevent callouses, it will reduce them. If you currently grip the bar with your palm, try gripping the bar at the base of your fingers.This way less skin is compressed between the bar and your fingers, and you’re able to move with the bar more easily.

    How you work the bar is key,” Robin adds. “Try re-gripping at the top of a pull up and avoid having a death grip on the bar.

    The combination of bars and chalk and friction make the development of callouses unavoidable. The more we work, the bigger and harder our callouses become. Chalk dries out our hands and causes roughness.Rough, hard skin gets caught on the bar and rips.

    How do we prevent our callouses from turning on us mid-WOD?

    1. File them down or shave them.

    “Use a pumice stone or a razor if you need to,” says Robin. A good time to file your hands is after a shower when your callouses are a bit swollen and soft. File until you no longer feel hard edges. Your skin will still be thick, but it needs to be smooth and consistent.

    2. Apply a moisturiser.

    Applying a moisturiser before going to sleep every night is also a good idea. “Your hands should be smooth and supple,” says Robin. “Your hands don’t have to be ugly. I apply moisturiser to my hands and feet every night. It keeps the callouses from hardening and adds moisture back into your hands after chalk has dried them out.

    And yet, when we do rip (although we swear we’ve followed all this great advice)…?

    3. Ripped hands: clean first.

    Wash your rip with soap and water. (And wash the barbell – or rig – too. No one wants to share your hand slime or blood!) Cut away the skin as close as possible to the rip. Leftover skin gets hard and will catch on the bar to cause another rip. “Pack in a salve,” adds Robin. “Really pack it in. Then wrap your hand with some gauze. You want to protect the tear but you also want some air to get in.” You can use a topical antibiotic like Neosporin. The idea is to keep it clean, treated and covered.

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    One of my favorite products for bandaging my hands is self-adhering wrap. I wrap some normal gauze around my hand, then secure it with the wrap. It doesn’t slip off like a band aid, and it doesn’t get all grimy and stiff like normal medical tape.

    Robin recommends sleeping with a sock over your hand. It’s a good way to let the wound breathe and it prevents the salve or topical antibiotic from getting on your sheets.

    “You have to keep treating your hands while they heal,” Robin says. “Athletes make the mistake of not treating a rip like a real injury. Your hands need to recover just like the rest of you.

    But what if we can’t stay away? What if we can’t resist?

    How do we protect our hands while they’re healing and still get some time in at the box?

    You can make some grips from athletic tape.Here’s a chart on how to do it, but you can also Google “how to wrap hands” for different methods. Making your own grips to use them for WODs with a lot of bar work can also help prevent rips.

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    Source: Steve Bonham

    Remember 14.4? All those toes to bar?

    I knew I was in trouble when I started to see flakes of skin falling from the bar. By the time I was finished, my hands were torn and bleeding. I had some topical antibiotic in my gym bag. I immediately washed and dried my hands (hellfire!) and packed in the antibiotic. For the next few days I applied treatment regularly and within a week my hands were good enough to go back to WODing.

    Ever since 14.4, I’ve kept ahand care kit in my gym bag containing antibiotic, bandages, athletic tape and gauze.Not only has it come in handy for me, I’ve also shared with fellow CrossFitters.

    Don’t wait until you rip to start taking care of your hands. They’re an important part of your training and progress.

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    Quick Q&A on Keto, Carbs and Glycemic Index

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    ADEE CAZAYOUX

    Here's a great little Q&A from our folks at Working Against Gravity (WAG)

    Q: Would you recommend going the keto route?

    A: At Working Against Gravity, we don’t believe that there is one nutrition plan that fits everyone. Whether you’re following Atkins diet, keto diet, Zone diet, the WAG diet or another plan, the success of the plan depends on the person following it. If ketosis fits your lifestyle and it’s a plan you can follow: do it. If you feel great, you’re performing well at the gym and you’re impressed with your progress: go for it! However, at the same time I’d recommend doing your research. You should be aware of what you have to monitor in your body to stay safe and healthy.

    Q: Can getting all of your carbohydrates from vegetables give you the same energy as starches?

    A: There is definitely a difference between getting all your carbohydrates from vegetables instead of from starchier sources like potatoes, pasta, oatmeal and rice. Here’s something to consider: foods from the vegetable category also provide important vitamins, minerals and fiber, which not only benefit your digestive health, but also satisfy any deficiencies your body may have. At the same time, the starch carbs provide some benefits too. Because starch sources are higher in calories, and because your body absorbs them faster, these foods provide energy to ensure you’re performing at your highest level. So ultimately, a diet with a mix of the two is likely your best option. If you plan to eat most of your carbs from vegetable and high micronutrient sources, but then around training sessions incorporate a starch source, you should see increased energy and performance.

    Q: How much should I worry about the glycemic index? 

    A: When thinking about the glycemic index of your carbohydrates, first consider your workout plan. High glycemic carbs absorb and enter your bloodstream quickly and provide a quick boost of power. Low glycemic carbs absorb more slowly, but provide longer-lasting energy. So around workout times focus more on those high glycemic carbs to help improve your performance during your workout. Outside workout times, focus on low glycemic carbs, which are higher in micronutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Strike that balance that’s right for you and your body.

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    I AM CROSSFIT-PAULINA HANNER

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    Hi my name is Paulina Hanner. I am a 27 year old, Middle School Behavior Specialist who is married with 2 energetic dogs and I have always loved a good challenge… 

    I remember growing up in a neighborhood with mostly boys during my childhood years. While these boys were some of my best friends, in order to hang out with them there was an unspoken rule and expectation that said I had to keep up with them and do everything they did. From bike riding through the woods, building club house forts, speed skating down the steepest hill in the neighborhood to endless paintball and air soft matches I never shied away from an opportunity to hang out with the boys and show them up. Throughout elementary school and middle school, the boys treated me as an equal and cut me no slack for being a girl and I respected them so much for this. I remember thinking how strong I must have been as a girl to keep up with the boys I grew up with.

    It wasn’t until the summer of our upcoming 9th grade year that we all started taking interest in other things and began to spend most of our time with other friend groups outside of the neighborhood. I started to spend more time doing “girly” things and less time outside playing air soft or paintball. I remember feeling torn and wondering why high school had to be so stereotypical.  I say I felt torn because I wanted to do girly things but still needed to feed the competitive and athletic side of myself. It didn’t take me long to find my way on to the track and soccer team in high school and like my childhood, I remember these years as some of the best memories of my high school career. I remember wanting to be the fastest sprinter and best striker on our soccer team. I was always up for the challenge of pushing myself to be a better athlete and sized myself up with other players to push myself to produce more. When I graduated high school in 2009, not only were my high school years of playing sports coming to an end, but my motivation to remain athletic suffered. I started college and worked close to 40 hours a week at Cook Out. I found myself having less time and less energy at the end of a school day and 12 hour shift and started to indulge in a lifestyle of fast food eating habits. For anyone who has never worked for a restaurant, it’s always the easy choice to eat where you work because you end up spending the majority of your time there anyways and why wouldn’t you choose to eat conveniently? With the combination of daily life stressors that come along with being a full time college student on top of paying your way through college, I realized that my unhealthy eating habits had hit an all time low and it was not ok to eat fried chicken nuggets and milkshakes everyday! I joined a local gym and like many gyms, I had free rein to more equipment than I knew what to do with. I found myself sticking to the leg machines, elliptical and treadmill. I always saw guys lifting weights on the opposite side of the gym and while I was curious to cross over and give it a try, I always found myself playing it safe and sticking to what I knew and was comfortable with.  Over the course of my college years, my gym attendance dwindled. I remember starting off going to the gym multiple times a week and by the time I moved to Lexington, my attendance at best was once or twice every month. Knowing myself, I needed accountability and never found that at a traditional gym.

    After moving to Lexington three years ago, graduating graduate school, getting married, buying a house and starting my dream job, I felt like my life was finally settling down. I remember talking to a friend one day who was trying out CrossFit. She kept telling me how much I would love it especially with how competitive I can get. She encouraged me to give it a try. After a couple of months of contemplating signing up at a gym again, I decided to try out CrossFit. I started with the Ramp Up Class in January 2017 and LOVED it! I never understood the significance of CrossFit until I began my own CrossFit journey and I was glad I gave it a shot. 

    But still, why CrossFit? After a year into my own experience, I see a confident and stronger me when I look in the mirror everyday! Now don’t get me wrong it’s the hardest physical activity I’ve ever done in my life. I think this is part of what hooks you. It’s a fight against your own limits especially on days when you feel like the workout wins. But see, it’s so much more than just pushing yourself physically and mentally. It takes courage, accountability, positive vibes, strength and a supportive community to surround you so you feel empoweredto show up and go as hard as you can each day. The other thing is CrossFit does not discriminate. I was not happy with myself when I began my CrossFit journey, but that is the beauty behind it. CrossFit not only provides me with a space to workout but it’s a safe, judgment free space where I can try out new things (even when I look super crazy as hell), and I know it’s always going to be OK. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in your life or if you had the worst or the best day before coming in to work out. When I CrossFit, the only thing I have to think about is being focused, maximizing my reps, watching the clock, chugging my water and getting through the workout no matter whatchallenging movements I’m faced with. It has made me strong enough to handle whatever comes my way in the gym and in real life. The other piece that makes CrossFit unique is the fellow CrossFitters you are going to meet throughout your journey who are facing the same emotional and physical battles that you are as an athlete and person in general. Being a social person, the friendships I have formed during this journey with fellow CrossFitters and coaches at my box has also played into the big picture of coming back day after day. 

    Thanks to my CrossFit journey and supportive box, I feel like I have finally regained my childhood motto of “loving a good challenge” and this is why I am CrossFit.

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