03 Dec / 2014
I feel like the question “why do we need to put a label on it?” is the purview of commitment phobic men in romantic comedies or friends in a sitcom storyline who’ve wound up in the sack together a few times. But I’m starting to feel that way these days – about food. Enough people ask “hey are you still Paleo” or wonder if I’ve gone vegetarian because I’ve opted for the quinoa black bean salad instead of the steak and potatoes. Or maybe if you’ve lost a lot of weight recently, and everyone wants to know what “diet” you were on.
Here’s the thing though: why are we labeling it? Why do we need to be “paleo” or “vegan”. Because, want to know what my diet is? I’ll tell you:
- I eat oatmeal for breakfast. But sometimes I also eat bacon egg and cheese sandwiches from home, or the deli in my office, who makes the best ones around.
- I try to mostly eat vegetables, grass-fed or humanely raised meat, and avoid additives I’m not familiar with. I definitely eat organic meat and dairy, but draw the line at produce because shits expensive yo.
- I avoid grains, because diabetes is hard and I’ve found that’s the easiest way to control my weight. But sometimes I eat sushi and I have a soft sport for a good cheeseburger and fries.
- I love beer but I try to keep it to Saturdays (but sometimes it gets into Fridays or Tuesdays, too. Hey, happy hour with girlfriends happens).
So, how do you classify that diet? Am I 80/20 paleo? Am I flexitarian? Honestly, I don’t even know. What I know is, i have energy. I feel good when I stick to this basic template (and go easy on the cheeseburgers and beer). I’m happy with my weight. I don’t need to count calories. So why label it? I’m happy.
PS I think it’s the same with exercise. I wouldn’t say I’m a runner, or a CrossFitter. I’m certainly not a pole vaulter anymore (very sad sad face for that fact). I play tennis and golf occasionally, but I’m not a golfer or tennis player. What am I? Maybe I’m just active?
So what do you all think? Am I being the nutrition version of Barney Stinson, or do I have a point going here?
02 Dec / 2014
Hey guys! Our annual holiday party is happening this Saturday at 6 PM at Daedalus (45.5 Mount Auburn Street, just outside of Harvard Square). It looks like we’re going to have about fifty people so it’s bound to be a great time. I’ve been getting lots of questions/hearing lots of chatter about what people will be wearing and guidance is “smart casual” and dressier. NB: I *did* hear a rumor that Coach Jen may be going backless that night…
There will be a pre-party at Tasty Burger (40 JFK Street, Harvard Square) at 5 PM. The plan is to pop in, grab a quick bite and then head on over to Daedalus by 6 PM. After enjoying some bubbles and sweets at Daedalus, the plan is to head to the Hong Kong, where the floors will be sticky and dancing will be dirty. Need I say more? Oh, please do declare your intentions HERE. In addition to the folks on the FB event, we’re expecting:
Finally, we’re doing afternoon tea again on Sunday, December 7th at 4 PM. Last time we did Linda and this time, who knows? Maybe if we play our cards right, we’ll get some female representation… #TheBestThingsInLifeAreTea
Peace and bacon grease,
01 Dec / 2014
Back to the grind, working hard, and giving your body some peaceful attention! That means MOBILITY, NOT “STRETCHING”! So, here is our direction this coming week, we are on for Wed. and Sat. YOU are going to pay attention to your entire body. I want everyone to shoot me an email, and let me know by Tuesday night, where you need to give your body some extra LOVE! The more I know the more you will seek happiness!
“Our mind is our instrument. Learn to be its master and NOT its slave. It may be hard before it is easy but with an open mind, you will capture the feelings in knowing life is endless.” – J.
01 Dec / 2014
Welcome back from the long weekend of food indulgence! Here is what we have going on this week. There is an emphasis on time under tension and tempo squats in addition to short, high power conditioning. Be sure to choose your weights correctly so that you can complete the conditioning in the correct time, heavier may not be better.
1a. Back Squat – with a 21×2 tempo, women 5×8 @ 85%/men 5×5 @ 85%, rest 1:00
1b. Dips – with a 21×2 tempo, 4×5, rest 2:00
2. Complete reps of 21-15-9 for time (8 minute cap)
Front squat, 155/105
1a. Strict Handstand Push-ups – 3×3.3.3
1b. Toe 2 Bar – 3 x max unbroken reps, rest 1:00
2. Aerobic Power
rest 10 minutes
PR Wednesday 12/3
1a. Bench Press – with a 21×2 tempo, women 5×8 @ 70%/men 5×5 @ 70%
1b. GHD Sit-ups – 4×10, rest 2:00
2. “Annie” (10 minute cap)
Complete reps of 50-40-30-20-10 of:
AbMat Sit ups
1a. 5 x Max pull-ups
1b. 5 x max reps thruster, 95/65
2. EMOM 12
4 Power Clean (not touch and go)
1a. Deadlift – with a tempo 21×2, women 5×8 @ 70%/men 5×5 @ 70%, rest 1:00
1b. Ring Rows – with a tempo 21×2, 4×8, rest 1:00
2. AMRAP 10
15 KB swings, 24kg/16kg
1a. Push Press – 3×5
1b. Pistols – 4×3 each leg
2. 3 rounds for time
8 Shoulder to overhead, 115/75
16 Knee to elbow
24 Air Squats
30 Nov / 2014
So I know I’m not the one who normally talks about food, but I was browsing the interwebs and stumbled upon this article. It’s a pretty short and interesting read. I think we sometimes reject others’ perspective because of our preferences and preconceived biases. I challenge you to read this with an open mind, regardless of whether you adhere to the paleo diet/lifestyle or the “see-food” diet (like myself as of recently). I know that food is a pretty sensitive topic for most people, but we must realize that science is constantly changing our working knowledge of what, when and how we should eat for both general health & fitness and performance. Does this stir-up any visceral emotion/reaction in you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
27 Nov / 2014
Yesterday my Abigail’s, my 4.5 year old daughter, school performed their Thanksgiving Celebration in grand style with a performance that played out the First Thanksgiving. It was wonderful to see the hard work she had put in by practicing to and from school every day now the last 4+ weeks pay off. She was having a blast up there and she and her classmates did an excellent job.
I mention this not to brag about my daughter, though I am happy to do so, but rather it led me to think about what I am most thankful for. It’s sad that this is probably the single time where many actually express their gratitude out loud. Here goes:
- I am thankful for each you as members of our community. You trust the Staff and I in leading you to a lifelong pursuit of health and fitness. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously. We have the ability to change lives and that is what we try to do each day while being the best part of your day. No small task. Thank you for the challenge and continuing support!
- I am thankful for my Staff. I appreciate your efforts to give more to each member of our community. Your professionalism is inspiring. Your efforts to improve your skills is enduring and I wish you all continued success!
- I am thankful for my family. My two girls for keeping me grounded and reminding me that when I walk through the doors at home, they are my priority. My wife for being such a rock and weathering the good and not so good. You all are my continued drive to create something even greater than I can imagine.
I hope that each of you enjoy the next couple of days and that you have the opportunity to express your thanks and gratitude to those dearest to you.
25 Nov / 2014
Hmm, “Turkey TWOD” may be redundant, but in this season of excess, I’m sticking with it! Here is the TWOD for Friday:
1. “Hulk Salad” (modified)
8 minutes to establish max weight without removing hands from the bar:
2 Cleans (first from ground, second from hang; can be squat cleans, but they don’t count toward front squats)
2 Front Squats
2 Shoulder to Overhead
Rest 8 minutes, score is pounds successfully complexed.
2. “Super 88″
8 Rounds for Time (14 minute cap)
8 calorie row
8 Burpee box-jumps
Rest 8 minutes, score is reps completed plus 5 reps for every FULL minute under the cap.
1 HSPU or accumulate 15s in handstand hold
8 ball slams
Score is total reps.
Peace and bacon grease!
P.S. I can’t remember who I had this discussion with, but in 2013, Maroon 5 “became the third most-played artist on Top 40 Mainstream radio,” based on Clear Channel owned Mediabase, becoming one of the most successful acts of Interscope Records.“
Hey CFB! Who’s ready for Turkey?
Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year and I can’t wait for next week. Be sure to check below for the holiday schedule! Congrats to all of those athletes who PR’ed this week. I hope you all enjoyed attacking your 1RM Power Clean, 1RM Shoulder Press, “Cindy” and “Mary”. We’ve had some epic days in the gym with classes packed and everyone throwing down. The Olympic Lifting, Strength, and Rowing Programs have been blowing up and it’s awesome to see everyone working so hard to reach their goals. Bring your “A” game for this weekend and next week leading up to Thanksgiving. I’ve got some fun in store!
Mobility Awesomeness w/ Coach Jen!
Don’t forget to drop in and get your stretch on with Coach Jen every Wednesday evening at 7:30pm and Saturday morning at 8:00am! If you are tight, run down from a solid week of training, or in need of some good breathing, get there! Do it. Do it.
Renegade Rowing League 1 – Saturday at 8am!
If you’d like to retest your 2k and race head to head with members of the Renegade Rowing Club and other gyms in the area, sign up on the whiteboard and come ready to race! Here is some more info on the event.
Holiday Party – December 6th from 6pm to 9pm at Daedalus in Harvard Square
Bring a friend and have some fun! We’ll all be there! Get pumped!
CFB T-Shirt Contest! Help us Vote for our next T-Shirt!
CFB Thanksgiving Schedule:
- No 8AM Master’s Classes next week
- Wednesday 11/26
- 6am, 7am, 12pm classes (NO OPEN GYM BETWEEN MORNING AND NOON CLASS)
- No evening classes
- Thursday 11/27 – CLOSED
- Friday 11/28 – TurkeyWOD 10am – 12pm
- Saturday – 10am ONLY
- Sunday – 9:30am
Here is the programming for the week! Have fun and go hard!
Complete For Time …
25 KB Goblet Squats (1.5/1)
50 KB Swings
75 Double Unders
50 KB Swings
25 KB Goblet Squats
Teams of 2
One person working at a time.
Complete For Time …
30 Clean and Jerks (135/95)
60 KB Swings (1.5/1)
90 Wall Balls (20/15)
120 Double Unders
1a. Fish Game x2
1b. 20 Reverse Lunges x2
1c. 10 Push Ups x2
10 Bench Press @65%
5 Pistols Each Leg
3. Gymnastic Skills:
10min Handstand Practice Balancing Without Wall/Assistance
1. Back Squat
5 reps @ 75%
Kipping pull-ups 10.10.10, rest 3 minutes
3 reps @ 85%
Kipping pull-ups, 10.10.10, rest 3 minutes
1+ reps @ 95%
Kipping pull-ups 10.10.10
2. AMRAP6 (For Reps)
9 Air Squats
6 Push Press (85/55)
Max Free Handstand Hold*
*Every second spent in a free handstand or handstand off the wall counts as one rep
Touch and Go
Bar Speed on Drive
21 KB Swings
12 Pull Ups
Compete For Time w/ Family and Friends…
“The Gobble Gauntlet”
50 Sit Ups
40 Air Squats
20 Push Ups
10 Split Squat Jumps
1. Run 1 Mile
5 Push Ups
5 Jump Squats
20 Nov / 2014
Hopefully you have been practicing the breathing technique I outlined a few weeks ago. In the beginning it may seem odd or ineffective but if you stick with it daily, you will begin to notice some differences. One of the differences is the ability to tap into your Alpha Mind.
What is the Alpha Mind?
Alpha brain waves occur between 7 and 14 cycles per second – which is between sleeping and wakefulness. While functioning at this level, apart from the usual left brain activity, our right brain also gets activated. This makes a person’s thinking very powerful, very intuitive and very creative . This level connects us with our subconscious and helps us to access the amazing powers lying dormant there.
Imagine the kind of creativity you can tap into when your entire brain is available. This allows you to achieve things that you never dreamed possible, tapping into dormant brain powers that lie within each of us but few ever recognize. Practice of breathing and meditation for 15 minutes everyday improves memory and sharpens the mind.
How To Reach Your Alpha Mind
To tap into the hidden powers of your mind, you must learn the basics of meditation. To reach a state of alpha consciousness, you must first achieve a level of deep relaxation, completely removed from your worries and stressors. Your mind will wander to this and that. Training your mind to release these things requires tremendous willpower and regular practice.
Sit with your eyes closed and make sure you have at least 15 uninterrupted minutes to practice your breathing. First exhale your breath through your nose so that your lungs are completely deflated to a count of 5. Then hold that for a count of 5. Next inhale through your nose for a count of 5 and then hold for another count of 5. Repeat this cycle until the 15 minutes is up.
If you notice your mind becoming distracted just refocus on your breathing. This act alone will bring you back to the task.
This doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why it’s so important to set aside a solid 15 minutes each day to focus on your breathing and meditations. This time will be used to focus your energies, clear your mind of the day’s thoughts and inch closer to a state of alpha consciousness.
Why Should YOU Try This?
Here is what I have noticed while I have been practicing my breathing and meditation daily for the last 4 weeks. I have noticed considerable improvement in my daily focus and productivity. I have been studying a lot for the business and I am beginning to formulate plans for its future to make it even better for you as our community and for the staff.
I have been sleeping more soundly and feeling more rested each day. On most days I am getting between 7.5-9 hours of high quality of sleep where previously I was only sleeping 5-6 hours per night. Dan G remarked the other morning that I appear to be the least stressed of any time that the gym was in the process of relocating. My training has improved and I have achieved positive changes in body composition.
My relationships have improved because I am more patient with them. This makes me a better husband, father, boss, son, brother, and Coach. Generally, I am more fun to be around! HA!
So, what are you waiting for? Don’t allow your preconceived notions to allow you to miss out on something very powerful.
3, 2, 1…GO!
19 Nov / 2014
Last week, clinical psychologist and UMass medical school professor Sherry Pagoto wrote a great thought piece in Psychology Today on the idea that we avoid exercise because we don’t like to be uncomfortable. I thought it made a lot of sense, and then I started thinking about how it could apply to nutrition: do we struggle with sticking to a plan because we’ve gotten so used to being “comfortable”? Think about it. We’re used to grabbing a piece of dark chocolate when we crave it, used to having a snack ready the moment we’re hungry, used to having too much food rather than to little. It occurred to me how bad I am at being hungry, which made me think of the Hunger Games, and how the people form District 12 could survive hardship because they “knew how to be hungry” (because sometimes I think about how I would do if the Hunger Games happened to me). And I thought about the concept of being “hangry” – the idea that it’s socially acceptable to be mean and angry just because you are hungry, reinforced by the hilarious Snickers commercials (linking you to the one with Manziel, you’re welcome). I think some people go the whole day without being hungry, and we’re taught this is a good strategy for losing or maintaining weight.
But what if it’s not? What if it’s good for us to notice our hunger. To get comfortable being uncomfortable for a little while. And since I think some forms of intermittent fasting can be very helpful in rediscovering your hunger cues, I am re-sharing this post from last year.
IF comes in a variety of plans and structures. The most popular of these are:
Periodic Fasting – eat normally for 5 days of the week. For 2 non-consecutive days, reduce calorie intake, usually to 500-600 calories. You can spread out the calories into smaller snacks or eat one meal after 24 hours of fasting (so, say you started at 7 pm the night before, you could eat 500-600 calories at 7 pm the next day).
Restricted Eating Period – eat normally, but only for a set window during the day. Most people using this plan eat during an 8 hour window starting around 10 am – 12 pm and lasting until 6 – 8 pm. This essentially equates to skipping breakfast and making lunch your first meal.
Benefits of Fasting
Supporters of intermittent fasting have claimed a wide range of benefits from the practice, including
- Reduced inflammation
- Weight loss
- Faster metabolism
- Lower LDL and total cholesterol levels
- Improved blood glucose and insulin levels
- Protection against cardiovascular disease
- Sugar cravings. When you first start out fasting, the body will need to adjust between using carbs for fuel and using fat for fuel, during which time you may experience some cravings. However, this is common when starting any lower carbohydrate or reduced sugar diet.
- Blanket Prescriptions. Most alternate day fasts prescribe 500 calories for women and 600 for men on fasting day. But what about differences in energy needs among different people? If I’m a small woman doing little exercise, 500 calories might be about 1/3 of my usual daily needs. But if I’m a larger man doing high intensity interval training (like CrossFit) 5 times a week, 600 calories might be less than ¼ of my usual daily needs.
- Does It Make Sense? IF first reached the mainstream around 2003, when The Warrior Diet was published. The Warrior Diet basically prescribed fasting all day and eating one large meal at night because this is what Paleolithic man and Roman soldiers did. But just because Caesar’s army or Paleolithic man did something doesn’t mean we should be doing it. They ate the way they ate because it was all they had. Now we have the knowledge and ability to really optimize our diet. Let’s not waste it blindly copying our ancestors.
- Is There a Ramadan Bias? Many studies I found citing the benefits of fasting on health markers were based on studies conducted among observers of Ramadan, a religious fast during the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. During Ramadan, observers do not eat or drink anything after sunrise and may eat again when the sun sets. However, many IF protocols look nothing like Ramadan. So, are the benefits the same?
After a brief review of PubMed (an extensive online research database), I came to the following conclusions:
A lot of the studies with drastic positive findings were conducted in animals – mostly mice, rats, and fur seals. While the physiological changes observed in these studies support the benefit claims, the findings have not been replicated on a large scale in humans.
A good portion of the human studies on intermittent fasting – especially in athletes – were conducted among people observing Ramadan. Research conducted as of 2012 indicates that the effects of Ramadan fasting are small if the athlete maintains energy and fluid intake during eating times, maintains a normal training schedule, and gets 8 hours of sleep. Studies have also shown that Ramadan fasting lead to decreased power and increased muscle fatigue in football players, decreased performance among middle distance runners, loss of sleep, and increase in subjective fatigue. In addition, most studies on Ramadan have been conducted when it took place during winter months – with shorter days and milder weather – and more research is needed for times when Ramadan falls in the summer.
As for the research on humans not observing Ramadan, the pickings were slim. One study found that both IF and continuous diet with energy restriction resulted in weight loss and improvements in insulin sensitivity, leptin, cholesterol and other health markers among obese women (Arqin et al 2012). Similar results were seen in obese, young women and men. (Harvie et al 2011). Another study found that calorie restricted IF, both with food and with liquid meals may help reduce CHD risk factors, although the IF with liquid meals resulted in greater results. It’s important to note, though, that the IF diet in this study was not compared to a similar continuous diet.
My Takeaway? Cutting out extra calories is a well-recognized strategy for losing weight and improving health overall. IF is just as good a strategy as a “normal” lower calorie diet for cutting back on calories.
So, Should You Try Fasting?
I don’t think you SHOULD fast, but I think you COULD fast. I always tend to recommend a stable diet consisting of quality foods, with intake based on hunger cues. However, the what, why, when, and how of eating is different for everyone. So if you wanted to try fasting as a way to lower calorie intake, then I think it is a good strategy worth trying.
There is one situation in which I would recommend IF – if you have lost your hunger. It’s easy in our American culture of food availability and glorification of “busy” to stop eating for hunger and start eating for a bunch of other reasons. You eat breakfast because it’s 8 am and you need to leave for work. You eat lunch because your coworkers are all going to that new Mexican place at noon. You eat a snack at 4 because you’re bored. And so on. In a case like that, a week or two of intermittent fasting can help reset your awareness of hunger and recognize the difference between actual hunger and other types of hunger. A great read on this is a recent blog post by Robb Wolf’s RD Amy Kubal, “What Kind of Hungry Are You?”
A few tips if you choose to fast:
- Make sure your “normal” diet is on track. Limited eating periods and non-fast days are NOT an excuse to eat whatever whenever. IF only works as a method for calorie restriction if you maintain healthy, moderate eating habits during non-fasting periods.
- Plan ahead. If you decide to do your long run or 2½ hour Olympic lifting class on a fast day, you might pay for it in the form of poor performance and fatigue. Especially when you’re starting out, plan fast days to coincide with lighter training days.
- Listen to your body. Don’t stick to IF because it’s supposed to have all these benefits if it doesn’t feel right for you. If you’re tired all the time, losing sleep, and not seeing results, it’s time to try a new strategy.