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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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    Gone Bananas!!

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    Eating a banana might be as effective as taking ibuprofen, says a study from Appalachian State University

    Nathan Katzin

    Getting a serious workout in? Running a distance race? How about a strenuous home repair project?   Instead of reaching for a bottle of ibuprofen to ease those aches and pains, a new study suggests eating a banana might be just as effective.  It’s been common knowledge for years that bananas are a great way to restore energy. Now a study from the Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory suggests that bananas can be as useful as ibuprofen in easing inflammation.

    In a randomized trial, the research team brought in 20 cyclists and tested their blood before and after a workout. The cyclists drank plain water, water with sugar or water with carbohydrates from two types of bananas. Researchers found that not only did both types of bananas reduce inflammation, they also had an antioxidant effect, which helped keep immune cells functioning optimally.

    Targeting Specific Enzymes

    The study focuses on the effects of bananas on an enzyme known as COX-2 mRNA. Banana metabolites, or the products of metabolism, seem to limit the expression of COX-2 mRNA, the same enzyme targeted by ibuprofen. This helps limit inflammation.

    “Ibuprofen is the number one drug taken by athletes to combat inflammation,” says study leader Dr. David C. Nieman in a press release. “However, research shows that it can cause intestinal cell damage and, in some studies, was found to increase inflammation in athletes. Now, athletes know there is a natural alternative—bananas and water."

    The study, was co-authored by scientists from the Dole Nutrition Institute, NC State Plants for Human Health Institute and the UNC Charlotte Bioinformatics services division. 

    Dr. Mary Lila with the Food Bioprocessing & Nutrition Sciences Department at North Carolina State University said the study’s data is compelling, but the next step would be to compare the effect of bananas and ibuprofen directly. "Using ibuprofen directly as a positive control will be a direct way to see the comparative effects and provide the gold standard for demonstrating that the claims suggested by the original work hold firm," she said.

    What Else Can Bananas Do?

    Bananas may have a similar effect to aspirin or ibuprofen, but there are so many other benefits. 

    “Consuming bananas with water during exercise has several advantages for athletes and fitness enthusiasts above those linked to regular sports drinks,” said Dr. Neiman. “That includes a stronger anti- inflammatory effect, better nutrition, and improved metabolic recovery. This makes bananas close to the perfect food.” 

    Bananas are grown in 107 countries and are ranked fourth among the world’s food crops in monetary value. Americans already consumer more bananas than apples and oranges combined. That number will most likely grow.

     

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    Liquid Courage

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    Written by Stronger U Nutrition

    Oh, alcohol, that wonderful source of liquid courage and the best social lubricant there is. 

    Alcohol has been around since the beginning of time and us humans have figured out all kinds of different ways to go about making it. We’ve gotten mighty creative with it, as well. Making it from all kinds of fruits and vegetables in the most unlikely of places.

    Alcohol and our use of it dates back millennia. Now, obviously, alcohol doesn’t come without its problems. And we’re certainly not going to tell you that you should or shouldn’t drink it. Alcohol can be a messy subject for some of us, and only you know if you can handle it or not. But this email is for those of you who choose to drink it on a semi-regular or regular basis.

    Here’s everything you need to know about alcohol and how it works in the body:

    Alcohol is technically a 4th macronutrient. I know, this is where things get confusing since just a little while ago I told you there were only 3 of them. And for all intents and purposes, there are only 3, that we track regularly. But alcohol does act like a 4th one, and in fact, it’s 7 calories a gram, for any of you who are curious.

    But on top of being a 4th macronutrient, alcohol acts like a toxin in the body. Which is part of the reason why it’s gotten us to make so many bad decisions for thousands of years. Toxins lead to toxic behavior, you know?

    Really though, the body does view it as a toxin. So much so that when you drink alcohol the body stops metabolizing all other forms of energy like carbs and fats and shifts all of it’s focus to metabolizing alcohol. Which means that when you’re drinking you’re actually putting any and all fat burning efforts on hold for as long as it takes you to metabolize whatever it is that you’re drinking.

    Now, where things get extra tricky is that even though alcohol is the 4th macro and the body prioritizes breaking it down over all other things, alcohol can’t actually be stored as body fat. Which seems counterintuitive when you think about the fact that the term “beer belly” is so widely used.

    But people who gain weight and drink quite a bit don’t do so because the alcohol is making them fat. They get that way because if you remember from above, alcohol puts a stop on all other fat burning processes. Which means whatever it is that you’re eating with alcohol is going to be more easily stored as body fat. And that doesn’t just go for food. That goes for whatever mixers or whatever else happens to be in the alcohol that you’re drinking.

    Oh, and we haven't even talked about the fact that alcohol lowers our inhibitions leading some of us to wake up in the morning like we're in The Hangover, surrounded by pizza boxes, and wondering what in the world happened last night.

    See why this can be such a slippery slope when you’re dieting?

    But, all of that being said, we know that plenty of people drink socially with their friends and family. And remember, above all else, we care about you making this program work for you and fit your lifestyle. Because of that, we’re never going to tell you that you can’t drink. That sort of decision is completely up to you here above all else.

    What we will do though is work to make your decision to drink as easy to log and account for as possible. Which is why we have plenty of alcohol recipes in MyFitnessPal. All you have to do is search Stronger U cocktail, Stronger U wine, etc.

    We have these listed because it’s important to be able to account for alcohol when you’re drinking it. The alcohol itself may not be able to be stored as fat, but it does have calories, and those calories need to be budgeted for in your daily macro intake.

    This is why we suggest if you know that you’re doing to be doing some drinking, we want you to plan ahead. We like it when people budget alcohol into their daily calories and stick to that budget. Which is a whole lot easier said than done after you’ve had 3 beers and that 4th one is starting to look really good, isn’t it?

    Remember, at the end of the day, a glass of wine isn’t going to ruin a day of eating or completely put a halt on all of your hard earned progress. Dieting and losing body fat doesn’t work that way. But we do encourage you to be sensible to limit your alcohol intake while you begin to reign in your macros, just like a healthy individual would tend to do.

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    The Importance of Scaling

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    By: Rhett Clark

    Here’s a quick post to think about. Rome wasn’t built in a day.  You didn’t get out of shape in a day; and you certainly won’t get into shape in a day. The same goes for movements. Very few of us have the ability to look at something and learn it. It often takes repetition after repetition to ingrain the correct pattern and become proficient at something. There is often a learning curve associated with correct movement as well. This is where scaling comes into play.

    As a coach there is nothing more frustrating than seeing an athletes ego get in the way of progress. Often times we see athletes try to scale up a workout instead of doing it Rx. We also see athletes try to get a workout Rx when they should be doing more manageable weights or movements.   Keep in mind, there is a difference between challenging and inappropriate when it comes to weight and movement selection. For example: If my max deadlift is 300 pounds it would be challenging for me to do a 21-15-9 of deadlifts and HSPU at 225, it would inappropriate for me to do it at 275.

    Each workout has a desired intent. Some are meant to be heavy, some are meant to be long and grueling, others are short burners that elevate the heart rate quickly. It may not be inherently clear to us as athletes what the intent is but by breaking down the workout and its structure we can come close. Workouts like Grace, Isabel or Fran are meant to test our work capacity at given loads. Murph is used to test endurance and muscle fatigue over time. In terms of results; the times or scores when plotted should resemble a bell curve, with the majority of people having around the same times.  There will be people that went faster or had more reps than the average and there will be some below the average. Over time it is expected that your scores gradually become better than average. If we get too far ahead of the average then the workout can be deemed too easy and scaling up should be considered. If you are constantly below the average think about scaling the weights or the movements to have a more normal score. By following this approach we would constantly be improving, becoming more proficient, finding a weakness and then improving up on that weakness.

    As athletes we think more is better, more weight, more reps, more complexion. We forget about intensity. We forget that if we lighten the load we can move faster with less breaks. We add in things like strict movements and other unneeded variations to make it feel like we are accomplishing more work. In reality we are missing the intent of the workout. We have to remember that its ok if we can’t do a HSPU or kipping pull-ups our third day into CrossFit. Want to get better at CrossFit? Leave your ego at the door, get out of your own head and do things you are capable of.

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    I AM CROSSFIT- DAN LACKEY

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    I have been doing CrossFit for about two years now and I absolutely love it. From competition to community and everything in between I am hooked. However, it didn't start this way for me. I have been health conscientious since I was about 12 years old. I started bodybuilding after my dad gave me and my brother a program from a friend of his that was training for “Mr. Universe.” As the years went on I learned more about nutrition, proper programming, the building and cutting phases, and how to develop strength. I fell in love with the strength aspect of bodybuilding, so I transitioned to powerlifting with an emphasis on aesthetics. I thought that because my muscles were aesthetic, I ate healthy, and had a low body fat percentage that I was in optimum health and in shape. However, this could not be more untrue. I started watching different CrossFit workouts and hearing about it from various people both positive and negative. My initial opinion was of arrogance and skepticism. However, I was starting to get bored of the same old routine- Monday bench, Tuesday legs, Wednesday arms, Thursday back, etc., so I decided to try a class. I remember the first WOD clear as day. The first part was clean and jerks, and the second part was a mix of overhead squats, pull-ups, and running. I remember I arrogantly loaded the bar for overhead squats with 135lbs thinking it would be a breeze and then I tried and failed. I tried repeatedly to complete the reps, but I just couldn't do the movement. I wasn't flexible enough. I was decent at running, but when combined with the pull-ups and barbell movements I was gasping for air and sweating profusely. That's when I realized I wasn't truly in shape. My muscles looked good, but I had neglected several aspects of fitness and I was not functional. That's when my opinion changed from arrogance and skepticism to humility and determination. CrossFit magnified my weaknesses and exemplified my strengths. I knew that if I started doing CrossFit day in and day out I would truly be in shape, so I decided to continue. I still had my reservations about CrossFit because I had always heard bodybuilders saying, “you can't be big and you can't be strong doing CrossFit.” Well I've been doing it for two years now and I keep getting stronger; I keep hitting PR's; I'm better at gymnastics, cardio, and flexibility; and I feel like I have a better body composition then I ever did as a bodybuilder. CrossFit simply gives you the best bang for your buck and I believe it's the most efficient and effective way to build all aspects of your fitness. I still love bodybuilding and powerlifting, and it gave me a great foundation of strength, but I now realize that fitness is about longevity and functionality and not just strength. 

    I am Dan Lackey and I am CrossFit

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    Calling all Desk Jockeys

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    From Harvard Health Publishings

    Any task that encourages you to sit in one position for long hours can wreak havoc on posture. Even enjoyable hours whiled away with an e-reader or a tablet may have that effect — and worse. A study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Microsoft showed that holding a tablet too low in your lap can force the muscles and bones in the neck into an unnatural posture, which may strain or aggravate other muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and spinal discs. Over time, poor posture chips away at the range of motion in your joints. The neck problems described in the study above — and repetitive stress injuries from tasks such as typing — may occur, too.

    Fortunately, good ergonomics and regular posture checks can help combat these problems.

    Ergonomics for computers, phones, and tablets

    If you use a laptop or desktop computer:

    • Choose a chair with good lumbar support, or place a pillow against the small of your back.
    • Position the top of your monitor so it's just below eye level.
    • Sit up straight with your head level, not bent forward.
    • Keep your shoulders relaxed and your elbows close to your body.
    • Keep hands, wrists, forearms, and thighs parallel to the floor.

    If you use a handheld phone:

    • Avoid propping the phone between your head and shoulder.
    • Consider investing in a comfortable, hands-free headset. Depending on your needs, you can choose one designed for use with cordless phones, landlines, or computers.

    If you use an e-reader or tablet:

    • Buy a case that allows you to prop the device at a comfortable viewing angle, one that doesn't require you to bend your neck much.
    • Change things up every few minutes. "Usually we tell people they should change their position every 15 minutes," says Dr. Jack Dennerlein, principal investigator of the tablet study and an adjunct professor or ergonomics and safety at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "Just change your hands, shift your weight. Stand up or sit down."

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    GET YOUR HEAD RIGHT

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    With the Open upon us, Festivus right around the corner and tons of great local competitions a lot of us are interested in how to put our newfound capacity to work and test it out.  We've been training hard, increasing strength, ramping up our conditioning and dialing in our nutrition.  However there is one aspect of preparedness that we rarely get a chance to discuss at the box, our mindset.  Whats going through your head just before the 3...2...1...GO and how do you handle it.  Dr Jim Taylor takes a look at three of these and gives some intersecting insight.  Enjoy!!!

    3 Essential Mindsets for Athletic Success

    Dr. Jim Taylor-Adjunct faculty, University of San Francisco

    In this post, I’m going to talk about “mindset,” which I consider to be an essential contributor to athletic success and a mental area that has only come to light in my work with elite athletes during the past three years. This topic is also where professional and Olympic athletes offer wonderful examples in which they use different mindsets to perform at their highest level consistently.

    Let me preface this discussion by clarifying that my use of the word mindset is different from the use of mindset popularized by the Stanford University researcher Carol Dweck(a perspective, I might add, that is consistent with my own and one that can also help athletes achieve their competitive goals).

    When I talk about mindset, I mean what is going on in your head just before you begin a competition, whether on the field, course, court, track, what-have-you. What happens in your mind during that oh-so-important period sets the stage for whether you perform to the best of your ability. 

    I have found three mindsets that the best athletes appear to use most. There may be others (and please let me know if you think of any), but I find these three to be the most common.

    Aggressive

    In an interview after her first World Cup victory of this season, Mikaela Shiffrin, the 19-year-old alpine ski racing prodigy who has already won Olympic and World Championship gold medals, indicated how “I’m trying to take more of an aggressive mindset” that helped her overcome her pattern of relatively sluggish skiing in the first half of race runs. 

    When I talk about an aggressive mindset, I don’t mean that athletes should try to hurt their opponents. Rather, I think of aggressiveness as a mindset in which athletes are proactive, assertive, and forceful, for example, driving hard to the hoop in basketball, going for a risky shot in golf or tennis, or setting a fast pace in a marathon.

    This aggressive mindset is often needed for athletes to shift from solid performance to exceptional performance because it allows them to take their performances to the next level, particularly for those who aren’t naturally aggressive in how they perform. For example, I worked with a top NFL draft pick at linebacker who was so gentle off the field that he wasn’t able to naturally “take it to” the offense while playing. For him to be successful in the NFL, he needed to adopt an aggressive mindset.

    An aggressive mindset can be so valuable because many sports these days have become “combat sport,” meaning that opponents or competitive conditions are trying to literally or figuratively beat athletes. Athletes do battle not only with opposing teams and players, but also weather and field court, or course conditions. Only by assuming an aggressive mindset do some athletes have a chance to vanquish those enemies.

    An aggressive mindset can be developed in several ways. First, you’re more likely to perform aggressively if your body is amped up a bit more than usual. You can raise your physical intensity with more movement during practice, in your pre-competitive routines, and just before you begin to compete. Simply moving more and being more dynamic in your movements will help you shift to a more aggressive mindset.

    Second, you can use high-energy self-talk to instill that aggressive mindset. You can see this practice used regularly in football locker rooms and before weightlifting competitions. Examples include: “Let’s go! Attack! Charge! Bring it!” What you notice is not only what you say, but how you say it. So, your aggressive self-talk should sound, well, aggressive. No pussy cats here; only tigers, lions, and panthers allowed.

    Third, you can incorporate an aggressive mindset into mental imagery in which you see and feel yourself competing aggressively which, in turn, helps create more attacking thinking, focus, and feeling.

    Calm

    A calm mindset is typically best for athletes who get nervous before they compete. Throughout your pre-competitive preparations and when about to begin a competition, your primary goal is to settle down and relax, thus allowing your mind to let go of doubt and worry and your body to be free of nerves and tension. Additionally, a calm mindset can be valuable for athletes who are naturally aggressive and don’t need to take active steps to get into attack mode.

    A calm mindset can be created in several ways. First, it’s difficult to have a calm mind if your body is anxious, so focusing on relaxing your body is a good start. Deep breathing and muscle relaxation are two good tools you can use to calm your body.

    Second, you can use mental imagery in which you see and feel yourself being calm before a competition. This imagery has a direct physiologically relaxing effect on both your body and mind.

    Third, calming and reassuring self-talk can ease your tension, for example, “Easy does it. Cool, calm, and collected. Chillin’ before I’m thrillin’” (I just made that up!). Relaxing self-talk can take the edge off of your nerves giving you the comfort and confidence to perform your best.

    Clear

    A clear mind involves having basically nothing related to performing going on in your mind before a competition. The athletes who use a clear mindset are those you see before a competition talking to coaches, teammates, or even their competition. They are often smiling, dancing around, chatting it up, or singing to themselves. These athletes can use a clear mindset because they are incredibly talented natural athletes and have years of experience that allow them to trust their bodies completely to perform their best without any interference from their minds.

    A clear mind is most suited for athletes who are intuitive (meaning they don’t have to think about their sport very much to perform their best), free spirited (meaning they go with the flow rather than being really structured in their approach to their sport), and experienced (meaning they have a lot of confidence and trust in their capabilities from many years and successes).

    You create a calm mindset by thinking about anything except your sport. Talking to others around you, thinking about someone or something that makes you feel good, and listening to music in your head are several ways you can keep your mind clear, thus preventing it from getting in the way of your body performing its best.

    Mindset, like all mental states, requires several steps to instill and master. First, you have to experiment to figure out which mindset will work best for you. Second, you need to make a commitment to adopting an ideal mindset. Third, you must focus on your desired mindset in practice and competitions to create that mindset. And, finally, you need repetition in practice and competitions to ingrain your ideal mindset so deeply that, when you begin the most important competition of your life, that mindset just clicks on and it enables you to perform your very best.

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    The Low Down on Fish Oil

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    Here's a great Q & A I ran across that gives a wealth of information on Fish Oil.  Enjoy!!

    Q:  Where do Omega-3 fatty acids come from?

    A:  Omega-3 fatty acids are found in the green leaves of plants, like grass, phytoplankton, algae and seaweed. This is the food that OUR food is designed to eat, which makes grass-fed beef, pastured organic eggs, and most importantly, certain types of fish (wild-caught fish and fish lower on the food chain, like herring, anchovy, sardine and mackerel) are good, natural sources of omega-3’s.  Unfortunately, due to poor meat quality, and over-consumption of fast foods, processed foods, and vegetable oils, most of our diets are lacking in these essential fatty acids (and overly rich in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids).

    Q:  So why can’t I just eat grass or seaweed to get my omega-3’s?

    A:  First, you don’t have the ability to digest grass properly.  Moving on, omega-3’s are a family of fatty acids, and the “parent” molecule is called alpha-linolenic acid (abbreviated as LNA or ALA). The ALA from plants is converted by animals or fish to the potent anti-inflammatory omega-3’s called EPA and DHA by a long conversion process (see the discussion of ALA from plant seeds below). The ALA itself is not actually anti-inflammatory, and only a small percentage of ALA can be converted to EPA and DHA. Fish (and to a much lesser degree, land animals) do the metabolic work to convert the plant-based ALA into concentrated EPA and DHA.  Fish oil is already a concentrated source of EPA and DHA, which is why fish oil has such potent anti-inflammatory properties.

    Q:  Why can’t I get my omega-3’s from flax?

    A:  There are countless problems with getting your omega-3′s from this particular plant source. It requires an extremely inefficient conversion process – meaning your body has to do a lot of work to get the EPA and DHA you want out of the kind of fat found in flax (ALA). And the conversion pathway is full of difficulties that can, in fact, lead to MORE inflammation – the exact opposite of the intention. Even if everything works perfectly, the amount of EPA and DHA you can actually convert from flax is very small.  (By the way, the story is the same whether you’re talking about flax, chia, hemp or echium.)  Just stick with your fish oil.

    Q:  Why do I need EPA and DHA?

    A:   You only need a quick web search for this one, because there is a wealth of information on this subject.  Fish oil is not a magic bullet, but there are an infinite number of well-documented benefits for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions.  The short answer is that EPA and DHA are specific types of polyunsatured omega-3 fatty acids.  Your body cannot produce these fatty acids – you must get them from the food you eat, or via supplementation.  EPA and DHA are natural anti-inflammatory agents, and as such, play a role in brain health, heart health, improvement of skin conditions, inflammatory bowel disorders, and arthritis, to name a few.

    Our typical diets are rich in another type of pro-inflammatory polyunsaturated fatty acid called omega-6.  When our dietary intake of omega-6’s far exceeds our intake of omega-3’s, our bodies experience a wide range of negative consequences, all with the underlying cause of increased systemic inflammation.  Minimizing dietary intake of omega-6 fatty acids, and supplementing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, helps to reduce inflammation, and the wide range of downstream effects.

    Q:  Is there an ideal EPA to DHA ratio?

    A:  This isn’t particularly important – but a supplement in the general neighborhood of 1:1 would be a good find. DHA converts to EPA easier than vice versa, so if you had to choose, choose a high-DHA oil.

    Q:  What else should I look for in a fish oil brand?

    A:  First and most importantly, squeaky clean ingredients.  This means your fish oil should be free of soy (including lecithin), dairy, wheat, rice, sweeteners or other artificial ingredients. 

    Then, look at the EPA and DHA amounts per serving – that’s far more important than the “total fish oil” amount.  A concentrated source means you have to take fewer pills or teaspoons a day – it’s more efficient, and makes it more likely that you’ll actually take your recommended dose each day.

    Q:  Does liquid fish oil taste like fish?

    A: Depends on the brand, but not usually.  Most liquids come flavored, and though they’re definitely oily, most don’t leave a fishy aftertaste.  If you’re having trouble taking a shot of oil, try this tip – “chase” your oil with a bite of fruit, like a raspberry or a grape.  The tartness of the fruit tends to cut through the oil in your mouth.

    Q:  Do I have to be worried about mercury levels or other contaminants in fish oil?

    A:  In a word, no.  The larger the fish, and the higher it is on the food chain, the more potential exposure it has to heavy metals and other contaminants.  Fish oil is almost always harvested from small fish like herring, anchovy and sardines, all of which are very low on the food chain.  Most high quality fish oil brands are tested to ensure that any mercury or other heavy metal levels are all below detectable levels (.01ppm). 

    Q:  Are there any negative side effects for taking fish oil?

    A:  Because fish oil capsules have an effect on reducing the stickiness of platelets, it is recommended that if you have any of the following conditions, that you see your physician to discuss whether you should take fish oil capsules:

    ·       You have a bleeding tendency

    ·       You are on blood thinning medications

    ·       You are about to have surgery

    Of course, before starting any new medication or supplement, it is always a smart idea to consult your physician, right?

    Q:   How much fish oil should I take?

    A:  Our general recommendations are to aim for around 2-4 grams of EPA/DHA per day.  However, if you eat lots of wild-caught salmon, grass-fed beef and other natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and generally avoid sources of omega-6 (like vegetable oils, factory-farmed meat, nuts and seeds), you may not need any fish oil supplementation at all.

    Q:  I’m pretty inflamed/sick/overweight.  Can I take more than you recommend to jump-start results?

    A:  Listen up, as with exercise – you can’t fish oil your way out of poor dietary choices, lack of sleep, over-training or any combination of the above. It’s of the utmost important that you get your dietary and lifestyle house in order!   More fish oil is not better – and in some instances, can do more harm than good.  So make better food choices, get to bed earlier, allow yourself more time to rest and recover and do your best to minimize stress – and don’t rely on any pill or supplement to fix your stuff.

    Q:   How do I take fish oil?

    A:  Most importantly, always take fish oil with meals.  This reduces the chance of stomach upset or “fish burps”.  We think about sandwiching our fish oil inside a meal – one bite of food, then our fish oil, followed by the rest of our meal.  If you’re new to fish oil, ramp up to your recommended dose slowly.

    Q:   What happens if I take too much fish oil?

    A:  Clear the way! Your digestive tract will tell you – and things will “move along” far too quickly for comfort.  We can’t imagine the moderate doses we recommend (no more than 4 grams of EPA/DHA per day) would cause digestive upset.

     Q:  How do I store fish oil?

    A:  Keep fish oil in a cool, dark place.  Your refrigerator is the ideal location, especially in summer.  If your pills don’t have a dark capsule coating and/or come in a light colored bottle, this is especially important.  Fish oil reacts to light and heat, and can turn rancid.  Rancid fish oil – obvious based on the smell – should be immediately discarded.

    Q:  Do I count my fish oil as calories or fat grams?

    A:  While different folks have different answers for this question, we say no.  The way your body uses EPA and DHA is different than other types of fat – the eicosanoid biosynthetic pathway, the brain, and the retina have first dibs, and EPA and DHA are typically used in these pathways as opposed to being used as “fuel”.

    Q:  What about krill oil?

    A:  While some folks make grand claims about krill oil, it seems to be a bit pricy, and isn’t a very concentrated source of EPA and DHA, and so just isn’t worth the additional cost. Stick with your fish oil.

    Q:  I’m a vegetarian/vegan – are there any plant-based alternatives to fish oil?

    A:  Algae oil is the best alternative, although it’s nowhere near as effective or cost-efficient as fish oil.  Most algae oil contains only DHA, and you’ll find even those that contain some EPA will have an extremely low concentration per pill. It’ll cost you an arm and a leg, but it’ll do the trick.

    Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them before beginning. We are not a doctors or registered dietitians. We do not provide medical aid or nutrition for the purpose of health or disease and claim to be a doctor or dietitian.

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