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23 Apr 2014

Keep It Simple, Stupid

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Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 9.49.16 AMPicture it, any CrossFit gym, 2014. A well educated adult starts CrossFit at their local affiliate and gets super excited about their health and fitness. After about a month, he hears about the Paleo diet and gives it a shot. He doesn’t really have much guidance, so he buys a book on Amazon and looks at some blogs. Over the next month or so he’s doing pretty well. Eating Paleo about 80% of the time. He makes Paleo muffins or pancakes for breakfasts, some meat and vegetable dishes like Paleo spaghetti or chili. He eats lots of meat (mmmm PROTEIN) and a few veggies on the side. Plenty of dried fruit and nuts throughout the day, and maybe a Paleo cookie or two for dessert. He still drinks some beer on the weekends. After two months, he’s lost a little weight and feels a little better, but isn’t quite seeing the results he wants. After doing some online research, he decides he may need to try intermittent fasting, Zone, or even ketosis to see results. So he comes on in and asks his coach and some other gym members what they think. 

 

Sound familiar? As I’ve read blogs and spent time around CrossFitters over the past few years, I’ve noticed this happening a fair amount (not calling out anyone in particular, just a general observation). Sometimes we get so caught up in pursuing results via the next big idea, we forget to really think about what we’re doing. This approach can hurt us for a few reasons.

 

1. The Foundation isn’t there. The foundation of CrossFit is nutrition. And in my humble opinion, the foundation of nutrition is a clean, pretty much Paleo diet. I’m talking about a diet mostly fruits a vegetables, with a little meat, some nuts and seeds, healthy fats, and maybe some dried fruit or dark chocolate here and there. While not the ideal diet for everyone, this is where the experiment starts. If you’re not seeing the results you want on a diet like this, there are lots of things to look at ( how much are you eating, when are you eating it, what are your goals, how are stress levels, etc). If a diet like this is too strict for you, then your goal should be working to get as close to it as is sustainable for you. 

 

2. It plays into the American Diet System (which sucks). You know this system. Weight Watchers. Atkins. South Beach. Nutrisystem. Jenny Craig. Alli (or what I like to call the lose lose weight by pooping your pants pill).  Anything you’ve ever seen advertised on TV with a tagline like “eat all your favorite foods and still lose weight!”. In America we like to follow diet rules, deprive ourselves, etc. We’ve been so conditioned to adhere to a diet and self shame when we don’t. So while the Zone diet is a WAY better option than Jenny Craig, if you are a person who has jumped from diet to diet,  figuring out a sustainable, clean diet that moves you towards your goals is going to be way more successful then bringing food scales and time restrictions into the equation.

 

3. More stress. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t stand the Zone diet. Weighing all my food makes me feel obsessive and stressed out, negatively impacting my quality of life. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have Camille’s abs this July, but given my experience with this diet, no matter how good it is on paper, it isn’t going to help me. Not when I could do a better job of cutting out alcohol and grains first.  On top of that, stress  negatively impacts weight and health, raising cortisol levels (a hormone released in response to stress that raises blood sugar levels, boosts the metabolism of macronutrients, and suppresses the immune system) and increasing inflammation in the body.  Unless you are a very high level athlete (I’m talking the kind who makes a living from their sport), in all likelihood a complicated diet like ketosis is not worth your time and energy when you could achieve a pretty good level of fitness and body composition just by eating clean most of the time. 

 

Now, I’m by no means telling you NOT to try something new with your diet. It is, after all, YOUR diet. If you’re not having results you should always be trying something new. When it comes to nutrition, dietitians and experts can provide guidance, but ultimately you are your own laboratory. You need to figure out what works for you through trial and error. I am simply pointing out that before you try something complex like carb cycling, you should be eating clean, have cut out processed junk (yes, that includes Paleo baked goods), and achieved a balanced diet that generally makes you feel and perform well. If you want to level up your performance or body composition from there, by all means jump right in. But for most people, keeping it simple will work out best in the long run. Remember, a lot of us have 30-50 or more years to maintain health and fitness. Who wants to be on a crazy, complex diet for 50 years?

 

Have you ever tried a complex diet? How did it go?

22 Apr 2014

The Power of GRIT

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My CrossFit Kids program is about teaching kids to take care of themselves and value fitness. I also believe in the intrinsic values and qualities sports can IMG_2662-300x200teach. Qualities I think are valuable in life and teaching kids and teens what they mean through sport was central to the mission of my fitness business. I come from an education background and I am always curious about the latest in education studies. I am fortunate to have some great connections with educators in the field of pedagogy and one such professor introduced me to the research done by Angela Lee Duckworth on GRIT. Her work in this field affirms what I have always believed, GRIT is a necessary quality for success.

I recently had a set back in my professional career and that experience got me thinking about GRIT again. I’ve always been willing to take risks. I went to college when my high school guidance counselor told me I wouldn’t make it. In fact, he was a little more harsh “girls like you don’t go to college.” I set out to prove him wrong. It took me 7 years to finish college while I worked a full time job. During that time I failed out of college once because I just wasn’t ready for the demands of school. I kept going back when everything kept pointing in the opposite direction. I believed that with enough hard work I could make it. I also had seen that poverty was a life I didn’t want to live.

When I applied to graduate school I didn’t know if I could get in. I didn’t have the best grades and my undergraduate school was by no means a top tier school.  Hunter College is part of the CUNY system of New York City and it caters to students on the margins. While I was there I had to take remedial education IMG_3865and learn the basics of high school math. I was in a classroom with other students working full time. There were mothers in the classroom who would bring their babies because they didn’t have anyone else to watch them. I loved it! I understood their story and their drive inspired me.

Dr. Duckworth’s research on GRIT has started important discourse amongst educators and psychologist. She looked at success from a motivational and psychological perspective and what she asked is: Who is successful and why? The quality that kept emerging time after time was GRIT. She noticed that IQ was not the predictor of grades for students and that professionals in sales were most successful if they had long-term passion and perseverance. Adults and kids with mental stamina and the ability “to stick with your future” is what made success because hard work for many years is what makes that “future a reality.” Angela Lee Duckworth

My recent set back got me thinking about my goals for the CrossFit kids program I started 4 years ago. It was reality time for me. I had the next 6 months all planned out and in one phone call everything changed. I was going to take my kids program to another affiliate gym. The new gym had hired me as a consultant for 3 months. I would then leave the kids program behind and move on in the summer to work with inner city kids in another program. Seemed perfect until I got the call that the new home for the kids program was pulling out of the contract. It was the eleventh hour and all I could do was crawl in bed and pull the sheets over my head. “NOT Happening!” I kept saying to myself.

Once I emerged I felt defeated. I called a few trusted people and asked for advice. These are some of their insights:

“Don’t stay in the grey area for to long trying to figure out other peoples motives. Make a new plan and save your kids program.” 
“You started this kids program when no one else was doing this in Boston. Keep it going.”
“Never give up your kids program!”
“This is not a failure but perhaps the best blessing you can’t see right now.”

I started to figure out a new plan. I also started to do what I do when life doesn’t make sense. Work out more and read research on education. I looked at Dr. Duckworth’s research on GRIT from a new perspective.

gym5I took Dr. Duckworth’s GRIT test. I thought I would be the grittiest person in Boston. However, a 3.38 on a scale of 1-5 is not so gritty for someone as gritty as me. I’m a survivor for sure but perhaps at this point my gutsy determination was not enough to pull me through the latest set back. Perhaps what’s still missing is the last part of GRIT that I’m in the middle of trying to figure out—working hard over many years to make my future a reality. The future of the kid and teen program I started four years ago is just not finished yet. I was giving it up just as it was getting to the next level.

Dr. Duckworth has noted, people with GRIT don’t look at set backs or failure as a permanent condition. I liked her message, when we fail we have to be able to start over with lessons learned and find a way to be better. I learned a huge lesson~ Never give up my kids program! I was ready to hand it over to other people. Nice people, I’m not even upset that they pulled out at the last minute. I get to redo this and get it right. I get the opportunity to take this program to the next level. I don’t know what the future will bring but I’m not ready to give up.

I have always believed in the power of GRIT. I think it is a quality worth teaching kids and teens through the sport of fitness that we have all come to love. I continue to learn through my own CrossFit training about my strengths and weaknesses as a person. What I value: Honesty, Hard Work, Giving Back to Those Less Fortunate, and Fortitude, to name just a few. And what I would never do: cheating, stealing and cutting corners. The CrossFit community is full of amazing comeback stories of courage and resolve. This is my little story about getting a second chance to get it right.

How about you? Got GRIT? Is CrossFit a valuable tool in helping you become a little more gritty? 

Take the GRIT TEST

20 Apr 2014

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Travis Manion Memorial WOD

7 Rounds for time

400m run
29 Back Squat, 135/95

20 Apr 2014

Light The Fire!

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“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” 
 
– Albert Schweitzer
 
I spent the weekend hosting and interning with the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar. It was inspiring to see so many new people looking to increase their knowledge of CrossFit and fitness. I am grateful for opportunities to remember what it was the first time I attended a Level 1 Seminar way back in 2004. I am grateful to each of you that comes in and trains day in and day out to improve. It inspires me to get better. It’s thrilling!
 
Who has lit your flame lately? Have you thanked them?
 
Grant pulling under the bar

Grant pulling under the bar

19 Apr 2014

042014

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Gym closed for CF L1 Seminar – Meet at Harvard Track next to stadium at 9 am

SCHEDULE

This weekend the gym will be closed while we host the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Seminar.  There will still be a track workout with Coach Voci so be sure to head over to the Harvard Track. 

On Marathon Monday, Patriot Day, we will be running one WOD at 10am. It will be the Hero WOD Travis Manion:

7 Rounds for time
400m Run
29 Back Squat, 135/95

We wish the best of luck to CFB’ers Cissy Young and Zack McWade as they participate in the marathon. Look out for them if you are heading to the course to cheer on the race!

PROGRAMMING

Everyone has been doing a great job of attacking the strength workouts the last couple of weeks. Many PR’s have been set.  Keep it up, and stay focused. The increase in the strength will continue to help you in the WOD. The greater capacity you have to large loads, the greater your capacity will become to perform work.

Here is the upcoming week’s programming:

Saturday 4/19 – CLOSED FOR LEVEL 1 (Meet at Harvard Track for 9AM WOD)

Sunday 4/20 – CLOSED FOR LEVEL 1 (Meet at Harvard Track for 9AM WOD)

Monday 4/21 – PATRIOTS DAY 10AM WOD ONLY

Travis Manion Memorial WOD

7 Rounds for time

400m run
29 Back Squat, 135/95

Tuesday 4/22

1. Back rack reverse lunges 5×5 (each leg)

2. For time
500m row
21 push ups
21 power cleans, 95/65
500m row
15 push ups
15 power cleans, 135/95
500m row
9 push ups
9 power cleans, 185/125

1. Build up to a challenging weight and perform 5×5 at that weight

Wednesday 4/23

1. EMOM 10
5 pullups
8 burpees

2a. Farmer Carry 50′, 3 x AHAP
2b. 200m Run

Thursday 4/24

1. Deadlift – work up to a 3RM

2. AMRAP 15
21 OH Swings, 24/16kg
9 Handstand push ups

Friday 4/25

1. “Chelsea”
Complete every minute on the minute for 30 minutes

5 Pull ups
10 Push ups
15 Squats

Scaling option
3 Pull ups
6 Push ups
9 Squats

2a. Front Rack Walking Lunges – 3×50′ AHAP
2b. Toe 2 Bar – 3 x max reps

17 Apr 2014

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1. Baseline – For time
Row 500m
40 Squats
30 Sit ups
20 Push ups
10 Pull ups

2a. Practice hand balancing and hand walking for 20 minutes
2b. Abs – Accumulate 100 hollow rocks

17 Apr 2014

Shoulder Health

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Hey everyone. Over the past week, we have been doing a lot of heavy work and a lot of heavy overhead work (think EMOM Snatches Tuesday). While coaching some of these classes I might have limited some of you to only performing a power snatch instead of the full (I hate saying this, but…) squat snatch. If you recall, which I hope you do, the reason for this limitation was because you lack both thoracic and shoulder mobility. Well, here is a little science bomb for you. 

I can already hear you…  ”Hey! G2! This is a video for the Push Press. Where’s the science stuff you were talking about?” Well, if you were a little more patient (just like your Clean and Snatch positions… hmmmm) then at around the 3:55 mark you would have heard Doug talking about the shoulder joint and all that stuff. Patience is a virtue…

 

Joe Z. OHSHey CFB!  How was that snow yesterday?  Ridiculous!  Anyways, props to the morning crew who had to do burpees instead of running due to the flood on the street and winter conditions.

 

Who’s ready to setup a Free Private Training Session?  I’ve already heard from a few of you and I can’t wait to help everyone set some goals and start attacking them.  Remember, you can join any coaches team in the gym.  It’s up to you if you’d like more personalized feedback and help in reaching your goals.  All you have to do is schedule a one-on-one session with a coach and you are on his team.   Let me know how I can help you and let’s get after it! – email me at [email protected] to setup a session to join the CFB Renegades.

 

Speaking of Renegades!  Welcome Joe Z. to group classes!  Joe is completing his graduation WOD, Fight Gone Bad, this week and he can’t wait to mix it up with all of you.  Here’s a little bit about him and why he’s joining CFB!

 

Joe Z. Foam RollWho are you and what are you about? My name is Joe Zarrella, and I’m a senior at Harvard College. I was a Varsity Diver for 4 years until finishing up my career in March, but I have been a lifelong athlete. I’m studying Government, and I’m excited to be joining the Teach For America corps for the next two years in Denver, CO as an elementary school teacher.
 
Why did you join CrossFit Boston? After I finished my final collegiate season in March, I immediately wanted to get back into the gym. I’m motivated by nature, but CrossFit’s philosophy was especially appealing to me. Not only do I want to work out, but I want to know how to work out most efficiently and effectively. I was looking for something that I can continue to do the rest of my life, and that’s why CrossFit Boston was a great fit for me.
 
What are you getting out of the Private Training? In Private Training, I have learned a number of movements that were completely new to me. But more importantly, I really was able to hone in on the movements I was familiar with but have to work on and improve. I’ve noticed that a lot of the movements I’ve learned apply to everyday activities outside the gym. The Private Training has really pushed me to find my limits, and I’m excited to graduate to group classes!
 
What are some of your goals for this year? Because I’m moving to Denver, my goals are to become acclimated to the Crossfit gym in Colorado. I want to attend workouts regularly and really start to build up my stamina and strength as an athlete. Another goal is to improve my nutrition and be more aware of what I’m putting into my body so that I can get the most out of my hard work.
 
What are you looking forward to once you graduate to group classes? As a lifelong athlete, I love team environments. I’m really looking forward to being in the gym with a group of athletes all pushing each other and working towards the same universal goals of CrossFit!
16 Apr 2014

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1. Back Squat – work up to a 5RM

2. Complete for time
75 Power Snatches, 115#/75#


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Athlete of the Month

  • David Kemp

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    Let’s start with a regret. I wish I had gotten off my ass and joined CrossFit Boston a year ago. Fitness-wise, it had been a rough year since I got out of the Marines and started at HBS (Harvard Business School). Not that I wasn’t working out at all, but what I was doing wasn’t […]

Kid Athlete of the Month

  • ASHLEY SCAFETTA

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    CrossFit is a sport I believe everyone can participate in. I especially see this in the kid athletes of CrossFit Boston. Every new kid I have the opportunity to coach brings to our community a new perspective. Ashley is a young lady who at 10 years old is already competing in triathlons and is a […]

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