05 Nov / 2013
There’s a lot of debate out there about whether or not organic foods are better than conventionally grown ones. As with most things in nutrition, it’s not so black and white, but here is a quick break down of the research and my take on organic versus conventional foods (well, fruits and veggies anyway. I’ll get to meat another day). So, enjoy this blog post with options and learn about organic foods by video or written blog.
What is your take on organic foods? Let me know in the comments!
What is Organic?
Organic” means the food was produced with agricultural methods that facilitate cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and maintain biodiversity. Organic production does NOT involve pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, or genetic engineering.
There are a few ways organic foods can be labeled. Foods that are made with all organic ingredients can use the USDA Certified Organic Seal, which looks like this…. And can claim “100% organic” on the front label. Foods made with 95% of organic ingredients – by weight, excluding water and salt – can use the claim “organic” and also display this seal. Foods that are labeled “made with organic ingredients” contain at least 70% organic ingredients. The can be listed on the font label and in the ingredients list but the organic seal cannot be displayed on the product.
According to a review conducted in Brazil, some organic foods had slightly better nutritional content and durability, but more studies are needed to determine whether or not they are actually superior. (Sousa AA, Azevedo Ed, Lima EE, Silva AP. Organic foods and human health: a study of controversies. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2012 Jun;31(6):513-7.)
Another review, this time looking at the safety of organic versus conventional foods, found that there is not strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious compared to conventional ones, but they may reduce the exposure to pesticides and antibiotic resistant bacteria. (Smith-Spangler C, et al. Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives?: a systematic review. Ann Intern Med. 2012 Sep 4;157(5):348-66)
I also found a review conducted in Germany that focused on organic versus conventional dairy. The study added data from the last three years to an existing pool of data and found that organic dairy products are higher in protein and omega-3 fatty acids and have a higher omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratio than those of conventional types. Typically, the Western diet is high in omega 6 fats and low in omega 3 fats, but a higher omega 3 to omega 6 ratio is thought to reduce inflammation and risk of heart disease. The authors suspect that these results are due to the differences in the way organic and conventional dairy cows are fed. (Palupi E, Jayanegara A, Ploeger A, Kahl J. Comparison of nutritional quality between conventional and organic dairy products: a meta-analysis. J Sci Food Agric. 2012 Mar 19. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.5639. [Epub ahead of print])
A study on the environmental impact of organic farming found that organic systems had lower nutrient losses and energy requirements but had higher nitrous oxide emissions and required more land than conventional farming. Most studies did show less environmental impact from organic farming than conventional farming.(Tuomisto HL, Hodge ID, Riordan P, Macdonald DW. Does organic farming reduce environmental impacts? – A meta-analysis of European research. J Environ Manage. 2012 Sep 1;112C:309-320. [Epub ahead of print)
And finally, there is the now infamous Stanford Study. Published a few weeks ago, this review of studies on conventional versus organic fruits and vegetables found that organic produce wasn’t overall any more nutritious or any less of a health risk than conventional produce, although it did lower the risk of pesticide exposure.(Smith-Spangler C, Brandeau ML, Hunter GE, Bavinger JC, Pearson M, Eschbach PJ, Sundaram V, Liu H, Schirmer P, Stave C, Olkin I, Bravata DM. Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives?: a systematic review. Ann Intern Med. 2012 Sep 4;157(5):348-66.)
So, is it better?
Yes and no. Basically, what all this tells me is that organic produce has its benefits – like that it is more sustainable, better for the environment, and contains less pesticide residue. But this doesn’t mean eating conventionally grown foods are bad for you. While a conventional apple may have more pesticide residue than an organic one, it is still far below the level that the Environmental Protection Agency deems unsafe.
Focus on eating more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables overall, no matter how they are farmed. If you can afford to buy every single item organic, and are inclined to do so, then awesome, go for it! BUT, if you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry about it. The health benefits of eating more fruits and veggies far outweighs the risks brought on by the amount of pesticide or bacteria on the item. Especially if you wash it well.
Now, if you want to start buying some organic foods, I suggest starting with milk and dairy, since research HAS shown organic diary to be nutritionally superior. Next, move on to the fruits and vegetables known as the “dirty dozen”, which are basically items with either thin or edible skins that are most likely to transmit any pesticides on to you. These are:
- Sweet Bell Peppers
Finally, I’d like to make one last point about organic foods. A lot of people associate the word “organic” with “healthy”, but this is NOT always the case. For example, organic cane sugar is no better for you than normal cane sugar, and a brownie made with organic sugars and nuts will add just as many calories and sugars as a brownie made with conventional items. When you choose an organic item, except for dairy, it should be because you want to choose something produced with a lower environmental impact and less pesticides, not because you are looking for a “healthier” or “more nutritious” food.
Photo c/o Agricultural Marketing Service
03 Nov / 2013
I was reading this article here. I find it VERY interesting and I agree with it totally. I can totally understand and relate to the desire to complete the WOD as Rx’d but is it in your best interests? What is the cost of doing so? Tell me your thoughts and experiences?
01 Nov / 2013
FIRE IT UP! FIRE IT UP!
It’s been a great week of training here at CrossFit Boston. It all started last Saturday with the Master’s Competition at CrossFit New England. CFB had a great turnout to cheer on our 6 competitors of the “Geezer Squad”, I say that with complete admiration, and the energy definitely carried over into this week. What was your favorite day this week? Your least favorite?
I can definitely see vast improvement in everyones olympic lifts and heard quite a few mentioning how sore your body was after the weighted pull-ups. This is great feedback to us coaches in that it tells us what you all need to keep developing into a better CrossFit Athlete.
You are all CrossFit Athletes. Whether you choose to participate in the Sport of Fitness or if you utilize CrossFit for outside endeavors, our goal is to improve your performance in what ever you fancy.
Gym CLOSED This Weekend
Reminder that the Box will be closed this weekend while we host the CrossFit Level 1 Cert. On Saturday members can join Reebok CrossFit One in Canton, MA for the Barbell for Boobs event/fundraiser. It is sure to be a good time and an opportunity to meet another top notch CrossFit community.
What’s On Tap
This week’s programming will get back to the barbell for strength work. Only Beginner and Intermediate athletes will continue working up to straight sets across for the lifts. Advanced lifters will only work up to the last set being the heaviest. The MetCon’s will be focusing on classic CrossFit style. Simple couplets and triplets. This simplicity should allow each of you to work at a super high intensity.
The skill this week will be to keep working on toe 2 bar. You will see it on Wednesday with a strong focus post WOD. Additionally we will be programming it in our warm ups. Focus on developing the kip swing to the kip swing with straight leg raise to the full movement.
Saturday – 11/2
CLOSED FOR LEVEL 1 CERT
Sunday – 11/3
CLOSED FOR LEVEL 1 CERT
Monday – 11/4
1. Deadlift – 3×8
B/I – Straight sets
A – work up to 1 heavy set of eight
2. 5 rounds for time
15 Push press, 115#/75#
Tuesday – 11/5
1. Complete reps of 21-15-9 for time
Overhead swings, 32kg/24kg
2. EMOM 15
2 Snatch @ 80%+
Wednesday – 11/6
1. Complete reps of 15-10-5 (15 minute cap)
135/95 pound Power clean
135/95 pound Lunges
2. 10 rounds for quality
Unbroken toe 2 bar (10 max)
1 rope climb
Thursday – 11/7
1. Back squat – 3×8
B/I – straight sets
A – work up to a heavy set of 8
2. AMRAP 10
10 Box Jumps, 24″/20″
Friday – 11/8
1. Clean & Jerk – 7×1
2. “Cindy” – AMRAP 20
5 Pull ups
10 Push ups
Saturday – 11/9
1. 10 minutes Handstand walk – max distance
2. For time
30 Snatch, 135#/95#
30 Oct / 2013
Happy Halloween! I hope you’re planning on dressing up to WOD today! I’ll be dressing up to coach!
Announcing the 2013 Renegade Rowing Club!
It’s that time of year again. The weather has gotten cold and no one wants to row in the cold. Now is the time to get pumped for training in the gym and crushing your 2k on the erg! The 2013 Renegade Rowing Club will be held at 5:30pm on Monday nights at CrossFit Boston. Practices will start the Monday after Thanksgiving, December 2nd. The cost for the Renegade Rowing Club will be $47 per month or $94 for the whole winter. We will be training for the Renegade Rowing League, which will be held in December and January, leading up to CRASH-B’s. Who’s game? Email me if you plan on joining the Renegade Rowing Club, [email protected] There are only 16 spots available in the club, so let me know sooner rather than later!
Above is a video of the Wayland Weston Men’s Crew Team that I’ve been coaching this Fall. I wanted to give you all a view of the sport of rowing from the water. This was their last practice before the Head of the Fish Regatta, which is where that Fish Head came from that I hung on the gym wall earlier this week. If you’d like to learn to row on the water and get your own fish head someday, it starts in the gym this winter with the Renegade Rowing Club. Who’s game?
30 Oct / 2013
By October of my first year in Boston I’d begun to feel somewhat underwhelmed by the changes college had brought. The binge drinking and pizza eating provided no satisfaction. I struggled with the distinct sense that I had not yet found my place. While my dorm mates seemed to thrive on the insular culture of group living, I felt stifled. I couldn’t have articulated what was missing, but looking back I was longing for a sense of community and purpose. During this time I was following CrossFit’s main site and doing their workouts independently, mixing in weightlifting with my existing running routine. While the workouts were challenging I was bored, lonely and increasingly over-trained as I continued to increase the volume in search of greater gains (because more is always better, right?).
Finally, at the end of October I decided to give CrossFit Boston a call. At my uncle’s urging I called Neal and scheduled my intro session. I remember walking into the gym and immediately feeling that I had made an egregious error by agreeing to this. My thought was that they would immediately know that I didn’t belong. Someone would take one look at me and smell my fear and that would be it: exile to the island of the unskilled and untrained. To my great relief the opposite was the case- I was welcomed in with open arms and more positivity than I can begin to explain. I was hooked immediately, so thrilled to be learning new things and to once again be in an environment that was both supportive and competitive. I remember well, Jon Gilson in my face, stridently informing me that I had more in me, that I didn’t need to put the bar down yet. And honestly, everything was really hard.
When I began I had no concept of where my body was in space and absolutely zero ability to integrate coaches cues into my performance of movements. I flailed. I struggled. I hit myself in the face with a barbell more than once. My arms were so weak they were useless. I finished last every single day but just kept showing up. I’d wake up at 5:30 four days a week to make it into the 7:00am class at CFB and hustle back to BU for 9:00am lecture. As the months passed I steadily improved. I gained muscle and learned for the first time how to use my upper body. I learned to lift things and reveled in the newfound skill.
But the most noteworthy change wasn’t in my strength, endurance or coordination. The big transformation was all in my head. CrossFit provided the basis for a complete shift in how I viewed my body, my value and myself. Not long after joining I found myself thinking not in terms of inches or sizes but rather in terms of pounds lifted and sprints run. With this new metric for assessment, my thoughts began to change. I berated myself less often for the size of my thighs and thought instead of how heavy I could squat and how far I could jump. My confidence soared even as I had to buy larger jeans to accommodate my new muscular quads. I cannot possibly overstate what a huge change in perspective this was. Today I’m strong and it shows. My shoulders, which I once would have called ugly and too big, are my favorite body part. I relish the fact that I am strong, I look strong, I feel strong. It’s awesome.
I’ll share one other anecdote about my CrossFit experience before I wrap this up. A few years ago, after a flare-up of an old injury, I started to focus on Oly because it was one of the few things that didn’t bother my back. I took a step back from CrossFit and focused my efforts on learning the complex lifts. Over the months the movements began to click and I was thrilled by the progress I made. I put the work in, drilled my form relentlessly and eventually became proficient in the lifts that had previously been the absolute bane of my existence. I went on to compete at lifting meets, winning my weight class on a few occasions. What was previously a major weakness is now something that I identify as one of my greatest strengths. Again, cue major shift in perspective. Olympic lifting allowed me to understand that excellence isn’t something that just happens to people. Skill and strength are the hard-won result of dedication, attainable if you are truly willing to pursue them. I feel so lucky to have grown up at CFB, having had the opportunity to learn so much about sport and about life. It’s been an incredible gift.
So here’s a big thank you. Thank you to CFB for helping me to lay the foundation for a healthy, happy and strong adulthood. Thank you to Neal for creating a gym where respect, compassion and encouragement are paramount. Thank you to the coaches for inspiring excellence. Thank you to the whole CFB community for being my friends, my training partners and my acquired family. While I’m excited to begin a new chapter in Denver, my next gym Front Range CrossFit has some serious shoes to fill. I love you fiercely and am so fortunate to call you all friends.
29 Oct / 2013
Earlier this week I was reading an article titled something along the lines of “halloween candy is awful and horrific for kids”. Obviously candy is empty calories, sugar, and often times additives and other flavorings, and it’s not exactly the ideal food for kids, or anyone. But seeing all these articles and awareness about the evils of candy and the healthier alternatives, I realized I’m a bit torn about halloween.
The nostalgic in me remembers dressing up in costume, running around my neighborhood with other kids, collecting a bunch of candy. When we got home, we traded it with other neighborhood kids while our parents made sure all the candy was safe, and then ultimately ate a bunch of it. We got to go to bed late and eat sugar, and it was awesome. By the end of the week we’d either eaten it all – or at least all the good pieces – or gotten sick of it. Nobody died and nobody gained 20 pounds – probably because we ran around all the time and burned it off. All was well and we had a blast, so what’s the big deal?
Knowing what I know about food behavior, I worry that demonizing bad foods like candy and making a big deal about the calories and sugars can negatively effect kids’ relationship with food. Yes, it’s important to educate people about the negative effects of too much sugar and promote healthier foods like fruits and vegetables. But I’ve also seen kids who grow up in healthy households that will eat “forbidden” junk foods outside the home, almost compulsively.
The nutritionist in me knows the realities of child obesity, childhood type 2 diabetes, and inactivity compared to the mid 90′s. I know that sugar is a much bigger part of kids lives today. In my elementary and middle schools, we had no vending machines and 30 minutes of recess AND physical education, but many schools today are quite the opposite. Fewer kids play outside or on sports teams today. Basically, the food environment is worse, kids are less healthy, and a few days of too much candy has a much bigger impact today than it might have two decades ago. And when people are taking positive steps to eat healthier, get more active, and improve their health, throwing 10 lbs of candy at them because “it’s halloween!” isn’t all that helpful.
So, for now, I’m torn. I probably won’t buy any candy for myself, and tricker or treaters don’t come to my door (they’d rather over by John Kerry’s house, where they hand out better candy). So, what do you think about halloween? Do you give out candy or a healthier option for trick or treaters? How do you deal with halloween candy your kids bring home? Let me know in the comments!
29 Oct / 2013
I just wanted to pass on this video I just watched about opening up your hips. If you frequently have lower back or hip pain, give these drills a shot and see how much better you feel. Remember that you may not see dramatic results immediately, but with continued application of these drills, you will notice a reduction in pain and tightness.
29 Oct / 2013
Two years ago when I first came to CrossFit Boston there was talk of creating a Master’s Team. I think after this weekend we can definitely say mission accomplished. Julie Glover, Kari Tannenbaum, Audrey Huang, Nigel Costello, John Zimmer, and me (Sandbag Ramos) participated in the CrossFit New England Master’s Competition. It was a fun group to participate with and cheer on.
Julie walked away with 7th place in the 40-44 age category. Not an easy group of women to top. We started the day with Horsepower. We had 1 minute for max number of reps on the bench press at 65#. This was followed by 30 seconds of rest, and then 1 minute of max reps of Hang Squat Cleans. Julie pulled out 4th place finishes in both of these events.
In Triple Take she took 9th, 19th, and 8th. Most impressive however was capturing 5th in the bonus round of Snatches at 85# after running an agility course that included jumping over 2 hurdles.
Kari came in 7th place overall in her age category. She will be humble and say there weren’t many women in her category but considering she just had surgery 5 months ago I look forward to watching her get stronger.
Audrey is STRONG! She was so impressive on the power snatches. She came in 18th place over all in her age category. She was steady throughout the day. On the obstacle course she missed going around the last kettlebell and had to go back to finish the WOD. She didn’t lose focus and came back strong with the power snatches.
I can’t say I was very impressive but I had such a great time. I came in 18th place out of 24 women. I have some work to do on my strength and Coach Neal gave some pointers afterwards about mobility and core strength work I need to do. I love competing and this was no different.
Nigel is always impressive. On Triple Take he didn’t slow down on the first WOD, thrusters and pull-ups. He was able to continue the momentum on the bench press in horsepower. He fell over on the Hang Squat Cleans and wasn’t able to continue. Every little mistake costs points and time, which is what makes CrossFit competition more about mental endurance and focus. Even if you’re the strongest athlete, if you lose focus it can get you during the WOD.
John takes the prize for best facial expression! He came in 16th place out of 47 men in the 40-44 age category. No sandbaggers in that group! I think that is something to brag about. It was a tough field of athletes. He was so positive and at every corner cheering all of us on. I haven’t had a chance to train with John much but look forward to getting to know him as we continue to grow the team. He is sure to be a leader.
The best part of the day was all the CFB athletes who came to cheer us on. We can’t thank you enough. We all have work to do but we have great leadership from our top athletes. I look forward to our other teammates getting healthy and stronger. Jason Sager and Shirtless Bob were both injured this time around. I would love to see Judith Donath and some of the other women who have never competed give it a try.
This weekend I will be attending a seminar with Eli Thompson from the Boston Posture Center on fascial training for movement and strength trainers. I will be learning more about how to help the body keep healthy while strength training. I look forward to sharing this new information with all the athletes at CrossFit Boston.
28 Oct / 2013
Hey guys! I hope you are all recovered from your Halloween weekend. I mean that’s partially why we train right?… To enjoy our down time…
Anywho… looking at Neal’s post on Friday, it looks like this week is going to be(slightly) soul-crushing. Today’s… don’t even get me started. I’m going to do it, but I can think of other things I’d like to be doing… like anything I’m good at. Haha. But today’s is exactly what I need to do to get better. We’ve all got to remember to work on those things we don’t like to do or aren’t good at (Goats).
That includes those of you who are involved in the Fran Challenge! There are only two movements that you have to get better at… Thrusters and Pull-ups. If you attended the pull-up seminar, you know what you need to be working on to get better. If you weren’t there, what are you doing to get better? When was the last time you worked on them? Every day is another opportunity to be getting better at your weakness. Today’s WOD will help you get more efficient at your Front squats and thus your Thrusters.
That’s all for now.
Oh yeah, and GO SOX!!!!!!
25 Oct / 2013
Just wanted to remind y’all of some upcoming events here at CFB.
Saturday – 10/26 – Masters Competition at CFNE
Come and support the “Geezers Squad” at CrossFit New England. We have Coach Julie, Coach Tina, Audrey, Kari, Nigel, and Z-man representing the gym. The crew at CFNE run a smooth operation when it comes to competitions so it will be fun to watch.
Thursday – 10/31 – Halloween
Get in the festive spirit and dress up in costume for the day’s WOD. Pics will be taken and there will be a prize for BEST Costume of the day!
Saturday 11/1 & Sunday 11/2
The gym will be CLOSED as we host a CrossFit Level 1 Cert. Reebok CrossFit One in Canton, MA, has invited us to their Barbell for Boobs workout/fundraiser. Here are the details:
Reebok CrossFit ONE is making final preparations to welcome The Barbells For Boob’s PINK BRA TOUR on November 2nd. This is a fantastic opportunity for CF Boston to gather with the local CrossFit community for an amazing cause.
WHEN: November 2nd , 9am – 1pm (yes, we added an hour!)
WHERE: Reebok CrossFit ONE (1895 J.W. Foster Blvd, Canton, MA)
WHO: All CrossFit owners, coaches, members, kids, friends, and all loved ones!
WHAT: In addition to setting a Grace PR, participants can:
- Meet, greet and thank the Barbells for Boobs team as they wind up their cross country tour!
- Shop for Reebok CrossFit gear, including official Barbells for Boobs™ apparel!
- Be entered into a raffle for a $250 outfitting in Reebok CrossFit gear!
- Enjoy lunch with Paleo Power Meals – they’ll be serving fresh paleo friendly meals on site!
- Cheer on your kids as they compete in a “Burpee Grace” heat at 11:30am!
- Bid on some fantastic silent auction prizes and more!
A portion of all proceeds will benefit the Barbells for Boobs cause and help saves lives through the early detection of breast cancer regardless of one’s age, gender, or ability to pay! One last exciting announcement – the affiliate with the most members competing in the Grace WOD will win $1,000 in Reebok CrossFit gear. We hope CF Boston has a HUGE showing!
Grace heats will begin running at 9:30am and every 10mins after. Anyone interested in throwing down is welcome join us — RX or scaled. Individuals and teams can reserve their heat times at the event starting at 8am.
Those interested in signing up to become a fundraiser should follow the link below. Those raising $80 or more will receive an official Barbells For Boob’s Pink Bra Tour t-shirt!
LINK TO FUNDRAISING WEBSITE - http://fundraise.barbellsforboobs.org/canton/events/pink-bra-tour-stop-11/e26744
If you don’t want to compete, but want to help please contact Bryant Mitchell at[email protected] to see how you can help!
Monday – 11/4 – FRAN Challenge
Beginning at 5:30pm we will running the second portion of the FRAN Challenge. PROGENEX will be on hand with samples and the energy will be super high!