08 Sep / 2015

Food Wars: Europe Vs. America

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When I returned from a trip to Germany and Italy a few years ago, I wrote a post on some of the food and lifestyle behaviors Europeans do that Americans probably should. After returning from France, I figured I’d share my old findings and add a few.

Many of you may be familiar with the“French paradox”, by which the French (and other Europeans) eat diets higher in saturated fat and grains, yet are healthier and leaner than Americans. Look at this infographic of obesity prevalence around the world to highlight that point.



This is an old graphic (I think Mexico may be beating us now) but most of it still stands. So, what’s the big difference? I didn’t 100% know when I returned from Italy and Germany, but I think I have a better idea now, and it has a lot to do with how food is viewed. In Europe, it’s something delicious to be enjoyed. In America, it’s a billion plus dollar industry. No one in France would think their city calling on companies to serve reasonable portions of soda constitutes a restriction on their Freedom. Nor would a tax on soda faze them. They don’t drink that much of it from what I saw, and everything else is taxed there anyway. (Note: I don’t actually know if soda is taxed in France. Maybe it already is.)

The below six points are things I noticed from the first trip.

1. Soda costs more than booze, almost everywhere. A 12-ounce can of soda was 2.50 Euro almost everywhere I went. In Germany, you could get a liter of beer for 3.50 Euro. This receipt shows Grappas (a type of Brandy) also costs less than cola. I think we might all agree that reducing the availability and low price point of soda could go a long way in reducing how much of it people drink.



2. In Germany, sausage is a salad. Who needs vegetables when there’s meat? (That’s sarcasm, guys, vegetables are really important).

Note: there were also sausage salads in France.



3. Meat is locally grown. Most of the vegetables are, too. And it’s so fresh! Doesn’t it look delicious? Pretty sure we can again all agree that grass fed, happy, locally grown animals produce better tasting and healthier meat than industrially produced animals. Studies have shown grass fed meat is slightly higher in omega-3 fats than grain fed, and my numerous n=1 experiments have shown that it tastes far better.




4. Their large portion is our extra small. Or in Starbucks speak, “short”. Which I’ve noticed isn’t on the big menu and generally has to be asked for at many locations. Italians still drink lattes and macchiatos, but they don’t drink 30 ounces of them pumped full of pumpkin or caramel syrup.



5. We say “soda”, they say “water”. Apparently, “water” in Germany means seltzer. If you want that liquid we think of as water, you ask for “still water”. And it’s kind of hard to find.

6. There is no such thing as a supermarket. In Florence, our host told us that a few blocks over we’d find a “large supermarket with everything you could want in there”. Turns out it was smaller than the Washington Street Whole Foods and the Central Square CVS. All of the cookies, chips, and snacks were in one small aisle and fresh food was abundant. It had everything  could ever want, but I’m sure some Americans might disagree with me.


A few things to add…

7. Food was not everywhere. At one point I felt a little nauseous and wanted a Ginger ale. It took us 15 minutes to find a place that sold a can of it. In France, food is sold at the grocery store, at bakeries, at convenience stores at the train station, and at restaurants. It is NOT in the pharmacy or in the checkout aisle of the electronics store, and there was not a bodega or convenience store every other block selling food. The European diet may be high in bread and cheese, but they make up for it by not snacking all the time.

8. Specialty stores are abundant. We stayed in a trendy area on Rue Montorgueil, and the main street had a fruit stand, a fish stand, a butcher shop, and a bakery. Instead of going to the grocery store and having to pass by the cookie aisle, you could pick up any time of produce you could possibly want, local meat, and of course baguette on your walk home. I can only wish Harvard square had such a setup.

9. The bread came WITH the meal. This was almost my favorite thing. We’ve all had the experience of going out to eat with a growling stomach, placing your order, and immediately receiving bread. You’re trying so hard to just wait until dinner but that bread is just sitting there… In France, the bread comes at the same time as the meal. No temptation. I would love to know how many calories could be shaved off the average American diet if the Olive Garden breadsticks came WITH the meal, and not before it.

A few non- food related things I noticed…

1. Many have active commutes. In Munich, the bike lane was part of the sidewalk and just as wide. In Florence, cars can only drive in the city with special permit, so biking and walking is a regular form of commuting. And in France, the bus had it’s own driving lane, so cars didn’t have to play leapfrog with the bus. Safe, and convenient. While we’re on active commuting,


2. They get over 21 vacation days per year, NOT including holidays. One Swiss man I met at a beer hall told me he was mad that he only got 24 days instead of 27, and that he felt bad for my paltry 14 days. Hey, maybe those extra vacation days reduce stress and inflammation!

How America Wins

While our food system is a mess,  I think there is one area where we’re ahead of the game.

We are not Chimneys. They seriously smoke like chimneys over there. We had to leave one cafe because the gentleman next to us was on his fourth cigarette pointed right into my face. We all know the risks of cigarettes, and America is way ahead of the game in reducing second hand smoke and helping people quit.

What do you think? Notice anything like this when you travel? Share!

04 Sep / 2015


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As you know, CrossFit Boston just celebrated its 10 Year Anniversary. One of my closest friends, Dave Picardy of North Shore CrossFit, is also celebrating the 10th year that his gym has been open. We have decided to combine our communities and have one large party.
The event will be hosted on October 4, 2015 aboard the Spirit of Boston. This will be an absolute blast! There will be great food, music, dancing and other activities to partake in. All while sailing around the Harbor with great friends.
This celebration is for everyone whose lives have crossed paths with us over the past 10+ years.  If you were a client in 2005 or now you are considered part of the family.  Invite your friends and family and come share in this celebration!
Here are the details:
*Date: Sunday October 4, 2015
*Boarding begins at 11am, cruising from 12pm – 2pm
*Spirit dinner buffet
*Coffee, tea, iced tea, and water included
*DJ entertainment onboard
*All taxes and fees included
(casual and modern – just completed a full renovation, ship is all brand new this year!)
All attending will receive a special anniversary t-shirt. Be sure to email [email protected] with the subject “10th Anniversary Shirt” and your size in the subject line after you have purchased your ticket.


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Fire It Up baby! It’s Friday and the last one for the month of August AND today is the exact day 10 years ago that CrossFit Boston opened for business. Pretty cool indeed! The summer is officially winding down with school beginning again. We want to welcome back those that have been away. We are looking forward to your return.

There is A LOT happening in September. Here is a quick run down and it may not be in any way complete, excuse me if I forget something.

Labor Day WOD – Rugged will be joining us Full Force on Labor for our 10am WOD. It will be either a Partner or TEAM WOD. Afterwards we will be firing up the grill so either bring some meat, a side dish, or some beverages.

Saturday 9/12 – “Glen” It has been 3 years since the attack to the US Embassy in Libya. Glen Doherty was a member at CFB when he was back visiting his hometown of Winchester, MA. On Saturday we will be honoring his memory with the HeroWOD named in his honor. We will have SFH at the gym to sponsor the event.

Sunday 9/20 – Ladies Brunch and Spa Day – Violet Skin Boutique (Brookline, MA) will be sponsoring a “Spa Day” for our Ladies 11am. More details will be released next week but partake in some mimosa’s and bloody mary’s while sampling some all natural skin care products. Pamper yourselves ladies!

Weekends – Rugged CrossFit members will be here at CFB on the weekends as we continue beginning the transition. The schedule will be growing as well on the weekends to accommodate.

This month we will be focusing on the pistol (single leg squat), continuing grip strength work, and some uni-lateral overhead strength work with dumbbells and kettlebells.

Saturday 082915
Power: Clean & Jerk – work up to a TMFD (20 minutes)

Work: Partner WOD
Complete for time
Row 5000m
Max Handstand Push-ups

Partners must alternate every 10 reps. Record time and reps completed.

Scaling: Reduced ROM HSPU or DB shoulder press

Sunday 083015
7 rounds for time of:
Run 400 meters
21 walking lunges
15 pull-ups
9 burpees

Monday 083115
Strength: Deadlift – 1RM (20 minutes)
10 x 1 (ascend to AHAP)

Work: AMRAP12
30 Swings, 32/24
12 Ring Dips

ABS: 3×12 – leg raises (add weight if able)

Tuesday 090115
Skill: Pistol Progression
Pistols – 50 reps each leg (alternate every 5 reps and add weight as able)

Work: EMOM 12
Odd – 3 Touch and Go Squat Cleans (Moderately Heavy)
Even – 7 Chest to Bar Pull-ups

Grip: Pinch Grip work

Wednesday 090215
Work: Complete each interval for time
Row 2k
rest 10 minutes
Row 2k
rest 10 minutes
Row 2k

Each round should be a strong effort but not maximal. Aim for negative splits. In between sets perform mobility.

Thursday 090315
A. Kneeling Single Arm Overhead DB Press – 3×8 each arm
B. Single Arm DB Bent over row on a bench – 3×8 each arm

Work: Complete 3 rounds for time
Run 1 lap
15 Front Squats, 135/95

A. L-sit – 6 x 30 seconds
B1. Reverse Hypers – 3 x 10
B2. Back Extensions – 3 x10

Friday 090315
TEST: “Diane”
Reps of 21-15-9
Deadlift, 225/155
Handstand Push-ups

Skill: Pistol Progression
Pistols – 60 reps (alternate every 5 reps, add weight as able)

24 Aug / 2015

A Few Ways To Fail At Healthy Eating

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OK, I’m not really going to tell you HOW to fail, but I will talk about a few ways you might have in the past, and how you can fix it. This may surprise a few people, but you can be overweight or at your ideal weight on any diet. I have seen a vegan patient who was very obese, while on the other hand a professor in Kansas lost 27 pounds eating nothing but Twinkies, Oreos, Doritos, and sugary cereal. While I don’t recommend this “Twinkie diet” – professor Haub was doing it to make a point about energy balance – I will say that maintaining a healthy weight and getting the best performance out of your body is based on many factors. Research has shown a variety of eating patterns including the Mediterranean diet, Paleolithic diet, and low fat diets can help people lose weight and improve health markers like cholesterol and blood sugar. No matter what type of nutrition plan you follow, there are a few key things that will help you maintain optimal weight and perform at your best. In this post, I’ll talk about some of the common mistakes people make, and how you can fix them.

Paleo Problems

The Paleo diet is unique in that it is one of the few that doesn’t place a heavy focus on portion sizes. While Weight Watchers followers for example are measuring everything, Paleo eaters are encouraged to toss the measuring cup back in the drawer and eat fruits, veggies, and meat until they are full. And it makes sense. It’s way harder to over eat broccoli, with about 50 calories per cup, and grilled chicken. But sometimes it’s easy to get busy and distracted and end up eating too much of the wrong stuff. Here are a few common mistakes made by Paleo followers:

  • Too many nuts. Nuts and nut butters provide healthy fats and help keep you full longer, and they are a good addition to a balanced diet. But if you’re finishing a whole jar of almond butter or you go through a whole bag of walnuts in under a week, you’re not going to see the results you want.
  • Paleo “Treats”. Just because you can make something Paleo doesn’t mean it’s healthy or that it’s OK to eat regularly. In fact, I have made Paleo cookies that are double the amount of calories in a normal cookie. Almond flour is energy dense and the sugar in honey is still sugar. These treats add a lot of calories and fat while still not giving you very many of the nutrients you really need – fiber, protein, and vitamins – that you will get from meat, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Backsliding. This is what happens when your “80-20” (aka eating Paleo 80% of the time while allowing a few other items like dairy, dark chocolate, or beer in from time to time) becomes “60-40” and then “kinda Paleo”, and then… you get the idea. This also happens when your one cheat day becomes the whole weekend.

Other Diet Mistakes

The Paleo diet is not the only diet that can be “done wrong”. Here are a few other mistakes people make:

  • Overeating a food because it is “low this” or “healthy”. Really, too much of anything is bad news. Even healthy stuff. I wouldn’t recommend anyone eat 3 brownies in a day, but I also wouldn’t recommend eating 3 avocados or 3 bananas in a day either. The key is balance, variety, and choosing whole, unprocessed foods.
  • Misreading the labels. A food can be “high fructose corn syrup free” but still contain a lot of a different type of sugar. Grains and cereals can be labeled “whole grain” but contain little whole wheat flour and plenty of other not so awesome ingredients (like added sugars). And many foods can be labeled “natural” but still contain as many processed ingredients as your not so natural Pop Tart. It’s important to check the back of the box. If you want whole wheat bread, the first ingredient should be “100% whole wheat flour”. If you want unprocessed food, look for a short list of ingredients that don’t have complicated names. Also, check your dried fruit and nut butters for added sugars, and go for the option without them.
  • Trusting the names and claims. Just because something is vegan, vegetarian, low fat, low carb, “healthy choice”, or Weight Watchers approved doesn’t mean it’s good for you. In fact, many Weight Watchers and Healthy Choice meals and desserts contain artificial crap and preservatives (think about how long they’ve been in that freezer). Same goes for the vegan items. Have you seen the ingredients in vegan cheese? Just stick to whole foods.

The Fixes

Be mindful of portions. Don’t stress about measuring vegetables, but keep in mind that serving of nuts is ¼ cup and a serving of nut butter is 2 tablespoons. Try to shoot for no more than one or two servings per day. If you don’t have a measuring cup on hand, ¼ cup is about the size of a large egg or an average handful, and 2 tablespoons is similar in size to a ping pong ball. This is important even if you’re an athlete trying to gain weight. Too much fat at one time can make you feel sluggish, and if you eat it too close to a workout can cause an upset stomach.

Keep eating a balanced diet. Meals should be a colorful array of protein, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. If your whole plate is tan or white, add some color. And spread m
eals throughout the day. Eating big meals usually leads to points of sluggish fullness and hunger. Have moderately sized meals and a few smaller snacks every 3-4 hours to stay fueled, ward of hunger, and keep your metabolism humming at a good pace.

  • Track your food. You can use apps like MyFitnessPal (compatible for iPhone and droid, and usable online via computer) to enter your food and create recipes from a very wide database of foods. Tracking food keeps you more attuned to what you’re eating, which can help you avoid mindless snacking and prevent a back slide. It will also alert you to any glaring issues in your diet, like eating too little carbs or over doing it on the fat. You can also graph sodium and vitamin levels to see if you’re getting too little or too much of any nutrients.
  • Plan ahead. It’s easy to keep up the same bad habits when you’re on autopilot. If you want to change up your meals, revamp your snacks, or be more mindful of portions, then plan for it. Sit down with a cookbook and come up with a few new meal ideas. Make a grocery list so you don’t forget anything or buy additional items you don’t need (like cookies!). Make a few balanced meals and pre-portion them in Tupperware on an off day. This way when you get busy you’re well prepared with good food.
  • Cheat now and again. Instead of trying to “health-ify” your favorite pancake or cupcake recipe, just go get a Georgetown cupcake or make a batch of pancakes once in a while. As I’ve mentioned before here, having a planned cheat day on occasion can beneficially impact certain appetite regulating hormone levels and allow you to take a mental break, and can be very helpful in the long term maintenance of a good nutrition plan.
21 Aug / 2015

FIRE IT UP! August 21, 2015

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We are into our second week of partnering with Sweat Angels. How this works is very simple. Each time to you come to the gym and workout, log on to your Facebook account and “Check-in” on the CrossFit Boston Facebook page.


1. Every check in by a member or a staff will result in $0.20 being donated to the cause. This month the cause is partnered with You can rest assured that each month the organization has been vetted to ensure that all donations are going directly to the cause and not supporting the overhead of the staff.

SweatAngel Cause August


2. By checking in you will be helping the gym grow by increasing our exposure to a network of people that we may never have been able to reach.

These last two weeks alone has resulted in 19 new page likes and almost 200% more impressions since beginning the partnership. Thus far we have seen 47 check-ins. I want to see over 100 hundred check-ins before the end of the month. If we do it, I will perform 100 burpees!


The last week of August has arrived. We are winding down the single leg strength and grip cycles. This week we are going to be testing the work. Its going to be exciting to see the improvements. Today we already witnessed some of the benefits with Pull-up Madness resulting in some new leaders. I know that some of this is not sexy but the hard work never is. Keep grinding away at it and you will come out better on the other side.

Saturday 082215
Power: Snatch – 17 minutes to work up to a technical max for the day

Work: Complete reps of 21-15-9 for time
Wallball Shots, 20/15
Unbroken Double Unders

Sunday 082315
Power: 3 x 3 broad jumps (max distance)
Cover as much distance in 3 jumps. The jumps are to be touch and go.

Work: EMOM 20
15 Unbroken Double Unders
5 Deadlift @ 70%

Monday 082415
1. Shoulder Press – work up to a heavy single
2. Clean – work up to heavy double

A. Toe 2 Bar – 4×10
B. Reverse Hypers – 4×10

Tuesday 082515
TEST: Back Squat – 3RM

Work: EMOM 15
2  Bar Muscle-ups
6 Front Squats, 115/75

Sub 4 CTB Pull-ups if you cannot perform bar muscle-ups
Sub 5 Pull-ups if you cannot perform CTB pull-ups

Wednesday 082615
Warm-up: As Many Rounds For Quality – 6 minutes
25 Russian Swings, 24kg/16kg
10 Inchworms with 2 Push-ups
10 Ring Rows
10 Bootstrappers
10 Air Squats

Work: Row 100m x 10
1 minute of active rest on the rower between each set.

Grip/Hand balancing:
A. Max Bar Hang x 3 attempts
B. Handstand walk 3 x 50′

Thursday 082715
TEST: Run 1 mile

A. Dumbbell Shoulder press – 6×3 (ascend to AHAP)
B. Max Strict Pull-ups

A. AbWheel Roll outs – 3×10
B. Back Extension on GHD – 3×10-15

Friday 082815
1. Push Press – 1RM
2. Bench Press – 5 RM

Grip: Pinch Grip

Work: Row 15 minutes (at easy pace)

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17 Aug / 2015

Tips For Healthy Travels

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As many of you know, I am currently in France enjoying my honeymoon with Coach Pat, leaving my 6 am and 7 pm crews in the good hands of Micky, Neal, and G2. Since I’m currently traveling – and it being the last two weeks of August presumably so are many others – I thought I’d re share some tips to go on vacation and come back in the same pants size you left in.

1. Always be prepared with snacks. Pack nuts, trail mix, jerky, Lara bars, and other snacks to have in the airport, between work meetings (or sightseeing), and for late night cravings. Pack more than you think you’ll need, as healthy snacks can be hard to find in hotels and airports.

2. BYOB (Bring Your Own Breakfast). Unless you fork over $20 for the sit down breakfast, most hotels offer a continental breakfast comprised of cold eggs, processed bacon, pastures, bagels, cereal, and canned fruit cocktail. If you’re lucky, the eggs will be hot and there will be fresh fruit. Either way, the safest bet is often having something in your room you can eat, saving you money and keeping you on track. When I’m traveling I like to have a banana with peanut butter or oatmeal (you can usually find hot water) with dried fruit and nuts or nut butter. In a pinch, oatmeal from Starbucks isn’t the worst, and hard boiled eggs are becoming easier to find.

3. Do your homework. Look up restaurants that are near where you are traveling, and read over their menus before you go. Most places will offer some sort of meat/potatoes dish, or salmon and green vegetable. If you read up ahead of time, you can identify a few places you know you can find a healthy meal, and a few meals at each place. I find that having my mind made up before I get there helps me avoid the temptation to order something less nutritious.

4. Talk to your coworkers/travel mates. It’s 2015. There’s never been a bigger focus on health than right now. So I find it hard to believe that there isn’t at least one other person in your group who is trying to pay attention to health. I would say you are more likely to find other healthy eaters on a work trip, simply because on vacation people tend to care a little less about staying on the wagon (let’s just say when I traveled to Italy I was not worried about the pasta and gelato). For example, at my company there are at least 3-5 other people who are paleo or gluten free. I like going to eat with these people because I know they’ll be ordering something healthy, which encourages me to do the same.

5. Keep up the exercise. Sometime when you’re traveling, there’s not getting around a less than desirable meal. Your salmon comes with more sauce than you thought. There’s no other food available in the meeting besides pasta salad and sandwiches. Et cetera, et cetera. (And I haven’t even mentioned the booze yet…). Exercise can not only negate some of that damage, it can also give you more energy and motivate you to stay on track while you’re away. I travel to California every year for work, and try to take advantage of the time difference to get up and go running at least one morning. I’m also lucky enough to work for the fitness industry, so our work trip includes morning group classes (last year I went to a Piloxing class, and I was more sore after than I care to admit). If running outside or group classes aren’t an option, take advantage of what is. Use the pool in your gym to swim some laps. Look up hotel CrossFit workouts (or ask a coach for some ideas). Try deck of cards WOD (via the, app, or an actual deck of cards) in your hotel room. There are lots of creative ways to get 20-30 minutes of movement in during some part of your day. If there’s really not, try walking or taking the stairs as much as possible.

6. Go easy on the booze. Whether for work or play, traveling always seems to include healthy doses of adult beverages. When I travel for work, it’s cocktail hours with wine or open bar. When I travel it’s the booze of the land (bier in Germany, red wine in Italy…). Either way, try to aim for no more than one drink an hour, and mix in plenty of water between. Try to stick to one type of drink – wine, gin, beer, whatever. You can also order a vodka/gin and tonic for the first one, and quietly refill with just tonic or club soda the rest of the night. It’s important (at least at my work meetings) to appear social and participate in festivities, but I also need to have energy to get up and workout in the morning, so I aim for 1-2 drinks over the course of a five hour evening.

Photo c/o Nicolas Raymond

13 Aug / 2015


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I am away on a little family vacay visiting my family back in Pittsburgh/Latrobe. I don’t venture home too often but this year while home the Thompson’s will be in town for the Family Reunion and Jessica and the girls will meet as many as 50 relatives for the very first time. This is the first time Jess and I have been away since February break. It’s important to break away and recharge the batteries. With the work that has been put into finalizing the merger with Rugged this is exactly what the doctor ordered.

The original prescription of CrossFit included getting away from the gym from time to time and using your fitness in other endeavors. It’s meant to be more than just being good at fitness. Use that fitness, outside the gym walls. Wicked Fit. For Life! This week I am not going to be touching a barbell. I will be running, playing, (gasp) swimming, and using my body as the only resistance that I will move. I am looking forward to it.

I won’t be around to see Nancy tomorrow. Do me a favor, go to our Facebook Page and check in and post your Nancy results. I think you all will crush the leaderboard and I want to be there in spirit if not in person.


We have partnered with Sweat Angels. As a community we used to be very involved with giving back through various causes, think Fight Gone Bad for those that have been around for a while. Lately we fell off track.

Sweat Angels is a way for us to get back involved and continue to do it on a regular basis. How does it work? I pay a monthly subscription. With a certain number of checkins on our CFB Facebook page, money is disbursed to the cause that has been chosen for that month. (This month we are raising money to help build schools for children in poorer countries.) The community supports a great cause. The gym benefits by the exposure to your sphere of influence. It is referral marketing at its best.

Lets do some great things together. Please help by checking in each and every time you come to the gym. let your friends know that you are here and what you are doing. We will help those that need it and help CFB continue to grow!


Week 4 of grip work, single leg strength, and upper body strength. Listen, I cannot emphasize the importance of developing killer grip strength. It will improve your lifts and gymnastic work. Don’t skip it and don’t half ass it.

Saturday 8/15
A. DB Shoulder Press – 6×3 (ascend to AHAP for the final set)
B. Legless Rope Climb – 1/2 way up the rope (test the grip strength)

Work: Complete 3 rounds with a partner (divide the work as you please)
Run 2 laps
10 Bear Complexes, 115/75
20 Pull-ups

Sunday 8/16

7 rounds for time of:
Run 400 meters
21 walking lunges
15 pull-ups
9 burpees

If you have a 20-lb. weight vest or body armor, wear it.

Monday 8/17
Strength: Reverse Lunges (bar on back) – 6×3 each leg (ascend to AHAP)

TEST: Run 1 mile (3 laps) for time

Work: For time
50 Burpees
25 Unbroken Wallball Shots, 20/15
12 Handstand Push-ups

Tuesday 8/18
Strength: Push Press – work up to a heavy 2 (15 minutes)
3 sets of 2 PP + 1 Jerk @ 90% of your heaviest weight for the day

Work: “Mary”
5 Handstand Push-ups
10 Pistols (5 each leg)
15 Pull-ups

Wednesday 8/19
Strength: Deadlift – 5 x 3 (ascend to AHAP)

Work: 3 rounds for time
Run 1 lap
1 Rope Climb
10 Clean and Jerk, 135/95

Thursday 8/20
Work: 5 rounds for time
Row 20 calories
15 Ring Dips

GRIP work:
A. Farmer Carry – 3 x (gym floor)
B. 3 x 20 sec flex arm hang

Friday 8/21
1. RFESS – 3×5 (add weight to 8/13)
2. Step-ups – 3×5 AHAP

TEST: Pull-up Madness
With a continuously running clock, perform 1 pull-up on the first minute, 2 pull-ups on the second, 3 pull-ups on the 3rd…Continue as long as you can until you cannot complete the corresponding reps to the minute.

If you pay attention to public health news, you’ve probably noticed Coca Cola’s new strategy for the modern age: portray Coke products as part of any healthy diet. Talk about the importance of energy balance and the many factors contributing to obesity. Move the discussion towards “lifestyle” and away from “diet”. You can see evidence of this in their “Coming Together” ad from a few years ago.

You can also view Centers for Science in the Public Interest’s translation, because it’s both funny and true.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 4.22.59 PMThis week, a report in the New York Times Well Blog seemingly confirming this strategy has been making the rounds on social media. The article revealed that Coca Cola is largely behind (at least financially) a new non-profit group called the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN). From their website:

“The Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN) is a newly formed, voluntary public-private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to identifying and implementing innovative solutions – based on the science of energy balance – to prevent and reduce diseases associated with inactivity, poor nutrition and obesity. It is a premier world-wide organization led by scientists working on the development and application of an evidence-based approach to ending obesity.”

What’s more, it seems this partnerships was not disclosed at first (this has since been corrected). While a quick skim of their website reveals nothing particularly nefarious to me, it feels like a lot of public health speak. Like a grand celebration of getting into the weeds of obesity research rather than providing any useful, actionable information to the public.

Is This A Big Deal?

Coca Cola’s backing of this initiative does make me uncomfortable. If your product has been accused of largely contributing to a problem, your best bet is to make the problem seem as complex as possible and identify as many other contributors as you can, thus deflecting blame from yourself. Of course, science is great for this! Epidemiological research can never really prove causation, just correlation. There will never be hard proof that Coca Cola contributes to obesity. You’ll have to just draw on common sense to put it together…

In addition, I can’t prove these scientists are shaping their research to come to one conclusion over another. And I really would shy away form insinuating that without a lot more proof. I can’t prove GEBN was founded solely to muddy the waters in favor of Coca Cola’s business interests either, although I would be less shy about that accusation. I just know something smells a bit fishy, which is probably why the New York Times covered it (at the behest, it sounds like, of Yoni Freedhoff, MD, a researcher and professor at Ottowa University).

Can you drink a Coke every day and maintain a healthy weight? Yes, with the right combination of diet and exercise modification. I would guess you could replace “Oly Tea” with soda and nothing would change (although you might be a little nauseated from the carbonation). But do you really want to manipulate your diet so you can fit in brown sugary liquid? I’d much rather have a Boba tea, or flavored yogurt, or couple of chocolate almonds with my 140 calories than cola.

My main concern, though, is that anything that muddies the water for the general public is not helpful. We are in a period of infobesity – we have way more information than any human can digest. Lack of clarity often leads to inaction. We already know a lot about obesity prevention – as Dr. David Katz would say, we have the tools to prevent 80% of chronic disease, including obesity. We don’t need to analyze any more. Lots of evidence is in. We need to change our environment so that we’re not bombarded with 20 different candy bars as we wait in line to buy groceries. Coke and fast food companies need to stop targeting low income African American and Hispanic kids with ads for their junk. We need walkable, bike able city streets. Etc. Etc.

What we need is a little less talk, a lot more action. Preferably not from Coca Cola and friends.

Tom Leonard liked this post
07 Aug / 2015


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This was a fun week at CrossFit Boston. There were some real solid efforts in the training sessions. I thought Monday’s thruster/pull-up ladder was difficult as was Wednesday’s Deadlift EMOM. From my conversations in the gym, many of you felt the same way.

The week finished with a 3k row test and the noon class had an epic battle between Chris and Pat before Chris pulled away and rowed a very solid sub 11 minutes. Great work brother. Be sure to put your time into ZenPlanner WOD tracking and claim your spot on the virtual leaderboard.

On a different note, I coached a class over at Rugged CrossFit this week and then met and spoke with their community afterwards during their Town Hall. It is always a challenge coaching athletes you have never seen move before. It worked out well and the effort was outstanding. The Town Hall meeting was very well attended and I was there until after 10pm bringing everyone up to speed. As you may expect their are a myriad of emotions to all of the change that is occurring but is overwhelmingly positive. I know that they are going to be great addition to the CrossFit Boston community. You shall expect to begin seeing many of them dropping in on occasion to become more familiar with our facility and to meet you all!


Morry has been a private client of mine for the last 14 years, before CFB even opened. We usually train on Monday and Wednesday mornings. Morry “retired” a few years ago as an assistant principal in the Brookline School District and promptly picked up 3-4 jobs depending on the year. His jobs consisted of a Ski Ambassadorship on Killington Mountain; Tour Guide of Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox; VIP Parking Attendant for BC Football Games; and a Hot Air Balloon Chaser in Vermont. As you may have already guessed, he is not one to sit around much.

This past Tuesday Morry, along with his wife Carol and son CJ, opened up a niche retail store in Coolidge Corner called the The Olive Connection. I stopped in to say hello on Wednesday and see the shop. It is beautiful. The store focuses on olives, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, local cheese and meats, honey, spices, etc. Though they are a retailer of such products what they are really offering  is a specialty shop that specializes in flavors and tastes for those that really enjoy cooking and eating.

You can stop in and taste the many options and try something totally new and outside your normal scope of practice. I tasted many oils and vinegars while there and settled on a Chocolate Espresso Balsamic Vinegar. It is delicious!

The store is located on 1426 Beacon Street (outbound side) just past the center of Coolidge Corner. It’s worth the trip even if it is out of your way. Let Morry know that you are a fellow CFB member!

Morry achieved TWO milestones this week: He opened his first business AND he dropped his bodyweight under 200 for the first time since high school! Congratulations Morry!

Morry achieved TWO milestones this week: He opened his first business AND he dropped his bodyweight under 200 for the first time since high school! Congratulations Morry!


Here is the next week of Programming. More grip work on the horizon. Don’t skip it, it will help you in many facets of the programming later.

Saturday 8/8/15
Tolly’s Off To Journalism School WOD
With a Partner AMRAP 20
10 Push-ups with a side plank (Rx+ with DB’s)
10 Burpee box jumps, 24/20
10 Push-ups (Rx+ Clapping Push-ups)
10 GHD Sit-ups

This is a Partner workout. Partner 1 will perform the work above while partner 2 will run 1 lap (1/3 mile = 536m). Partner will 2 will pick up where partner 1 left off as he goes out for his lap. Continue this cycle for 20 minutes.

Sunday 8/9/15
“Adam Brown”
2 Rounds for Time:
295 pound Deadlift, 24 reps
24 Box jumps, 24 inch box
24 Wallball shots, 20 pound ball
195 pound Bench press, 24 reps
24 Box jumps, 24 inch box
24 Wallball shots, 20 pound ball
145 pound Clean, 24 reps

Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Adam Lee Brown, 36, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was killed on March 17th, 2010 in Komar Province, Afghanistan, in a battle against heavily armed militants. He is survived by his wife, Kelley, two children, Nathan and Savannah, and by his parents.

Monday 8/10/15
Strength: Split Jerk 3×3

Work: AMRAP12
20 Unbroken Double Unders
16 Pistols (8 each leg)
12 Pull-ups (Rx+ CTB)
Grip Work:Pinch Grip – 3 x submax attempts

Hold the head of a hexagonal DB in each hand. Do not go to full failure, work to an effort that is just shy so you can recover and repeat.

Tuesday 8/11/15
Strength: Clean 6×2 ascend up to a heavy 2
Work: Dumbbell DT
5 rounds for time
12 Deadlift, 55/35
9 Hang Power Clean
6 Shoulder to overhead
Grip work: ABS/Grip
A. AbWheel Rollouts – 3×10
B. Back Extensions – 3×10-15
C. Crush Grip (Farmer Carry Holds) – 3xmax attempt HEAVY
Wednesday 8/12/15
A. Dumbbell Bench Press – 3×6
B. Dumbbell Bent over row – 3×6
Work: 6 rounds for time
200m Run
20 Squats (Rx+ with a 45 bar unbroken)
Thursday 8/13/15
Strength: A. RFESS – 3×5 (heavier than 8/3)
B. Bar Hang – 3 x max time (add weight if more than 1 minute)
Work: EMOM12
2 Snatch, ascend to AHAP
Friday 8/14/15
TEST: “Nancy”
5 Rounds for time:
400 Meter Run
15 Overhead Squats (#95/#65)
ABS: A. AbWheel Rollouts – 3×10
B. Reverse Hypers – 3×10
03 Aug / 2015

A Watermelon Juice Hack

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A few years ago I posted an article on watermelon juice, and how it may potentially be a recovery aid for athletes. I am inspired to repost some of the information now by a new hack for making watermelon juice that Pat discovered.

The evidence suggesting this benefit came from a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry and showed that a compound found in watermelon juice may help athletes recovery after exercise.

The compound is called I-Citrulline and is an amino acid that is metabolized in the body into arginine. Arginine is one of the essential amino acids and plays a role in cardiovascular and immune functions, including wound and injury healing (especially bone injuries). Oral arginine supplements have several benefits including wound and tissue healing and reducing blood pressure in people with clinically high blood pressure. Arginine’s role in immune function and tissue healing is what makes it interesting to athletes. A 2007 study showed that eating watermelon increases blood levels of arginine, which means the I-citrulline in watermelon was converted to the arginine in the body.

This particular study put 7 athletes through a max effort cycling test and provided them with either a placebo, about 16 ounces of natural watermelon juice, and watermelon juice infused with additional I-citrulline. Both watermelon juices were helpful in reducing recovery heart rate and muscle soreness 24 hours later.

I did a quick search to see if these results held up. I was only able to find one other study from 2015, in the Journal of Sports Science, which found that watermelon juice and l-citrulline had no effect on exercise performance.

It looks like this one study doesn’t give us enough evidence to start drinking watermelon juice daily. But since watermelon is in season and relatively inexpensive – and watermelon juice is delicious – it can’t hurt to make some. You do need carbohydrates before and after you workout anyway, why not from watermelon. 1 cup of watermelon chunks has 50 calories and 11 grams of carbohydrates.

Making Watermelon Juice

You can do this two ways.

1. Cut up watermelon, blend chunks in the blender until liquefied.

2. Blend in melon. Pat just tried this tonight and it came out pretty good. To make it:

  • Cut a hole in the watermelon roughly the size of the bottom of a drinking glass.
  • Put one arm on you hand blender, and insert it into the watermelon.
  • Blend until it was liquefied (or to preferred consistency)
  • Pour into a bowl or pitcher

Photo c/o White Magnolia Photography 

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