20 Aug / 2014
Sometimes deciding what to blog about is hard, so I love when you guys ask me questions and give me some inspiration! Shout out to Shannon Flahive for emailing me a question on olive oil v. canola oil to get this blog rolling. If you’d like me to answer a nutrition question in the blog, email me at [email protected]
Canola oil has been making headway in the US as a “healthy oil”. Multiple sources cite it as having the following benefits:
- Less saturated fat (only about 6%) than any other oil
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Higher level of mono-unsaturated fats (observed to be good for cholesterol) than any oil except olive
But what really IS canola oil? There is, after all, no such thing as a “canola” plant. And is it really healthier than other oils, like olive?
No, really. Canola oil comes from the seeds of the rape plant, in the same family as mustard, radishes, and cauliflower. Rapeseed had been used in Asia and Europe as lamp oil, and later cooking oil, and later became useful for lubricating steam engines on large ships. The oil from the rapeseed was not ideal for eating because of high contents of eurcic acid, which has been linked to heart muscle damage, but in the 1960’s and 1970’s Canadian plant breeders used traditional cross-breeding practices to mostly eliminate the eurcic acid (subbing in oleic acid instead) and create an oil fit for human consumption. Canola Oil – an abbreviation for Canadian Oil – replaced rapeseed oil production by the 1980’s and is produced in Canada. Canola oil is most often used for cooking or salad. dressings.
Olive oil is – obviously – produced by pressing tree-ripened olives. Olive oil is produced in a variety of places, and the taste can vary based on origin. There are several types of live oil: extra virgin (the result of the first press of the olive and has less than 1% acid – this is widely considered the best type), virgin olive oil (also first press, but higher acid content of up to 3%), Fino oil (a combination of extra virgin and virgin olive oil), and simply “olive oil” (a combination of fino and virgin or extra virgin oils). In the US, we also have light olive oil, which is simply olive oil refined to create a lighter color and less intense flavor (the calorie and fat numbers are the same as regular olive oils).
Olive oil has a smoke point of 375 degrees F, making it best suited for lower temperature cooking like sautéing. The light olive oil has a smoke point of 468 degrees, making it more suited to frying (or baking, given its light taste). Canola oil’s smoke point at 400 degrees also makes it good for frying. Imagine that – a “healthy” oil ideal for frying.
Many food companies and retailers are using canola oil in their products, likely because it’s supposedly healthier and more versatile given that it is flavorless and has a high smoke point.
Isn’t this the big question? There have been some scares about canola oil circulating the internet, but so far I didn’t find much to be worried about.
Olive – A litany of research has shown olive oil to be beneficial for health, and a Mediterranean diet including olive oil has been associated with lower risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, and lower cholesterol numbers.
Canola – A quick review of PubMed turned up nothing remarkably scary or miraculous. A review from 2013 in the journal Nutrition Reviews found “substantial reductions in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, as well as other positive actions, including increased tocopherol levels and improved insulin sensitivity, compared with consumption of other dietary fat sources”.
From what I can tell, Canola oil isn’t terrible for you. It may also not be great for you. Just because it is lowest in fat does not make it healthiest. It’s worth pointing out that olive oil has been around since before Jesus was cool, but Canola oil has only been around since ZZ Top was, so olive had a bit of a head start (and a longer proven record) than canola.
If you’re looking for a new oil to cook with, well… why ? Olive oil is fantastic for sautéing and makes everything (in my opinion) more delicious. Coconut oil or grass-fed butter are good for the limited amount of baking you should ideally be doing. And if you need to fry something – I guess Canola oil works. But so does light olive oil.
If you find canola oil in your Whole Foods Hot bar or other prepared or packaged food, it’s fine in moderation. But you’re better off cooking for yourself with an oil that wasn’t derived from what was once engine lubricant
19 Aug / 2014
So, you’ve just destroyed the WOD and you’ve recovered enough to realize that your classmates are still plugging away at the WOD. What do you do first?
(A) Write my time on the board
(B) Clean up my gear
(C) Gossip with members of the next class
(D) Cheer on the members of my class
The correct answer is D! We cheer on our fellow compatriots until they are done with their WOD. That’s great, Mickey, but I wasn’t a cheerleader in high school or college so I don’t know how to cheer. Well, grasshopper, thank goodness I have some tips on cheering for you!
1. Be positive! Use positive language rather than negative language. In the Level 1 certs, they teach us that when we say “Don’t stop” all the athlete hear’s is “Stop.” So, rather than say “don’t stop,” we should cheer people on with “keep moving” and “you’re doing awesome.”
2. Help athletes remained uncapped mentally. There are studies that show that when marathon runners are told that they’re “almost done” they actually start slowing down in anticipation of being finished. The takeaway of the study was that the body goes where the mind leads and if the mind hears that it’s almost done, it will inform the body to slow down. In Crossfit, the end of WODs is often where we are pushing ourselves and improving our conditioning. The worst, of course, is being told that you’re almost done when you actually have another full round (or more!) to complete!
3. Do aerial tricks. It may be hard to believe, but in a double-blind controlled study performed by Leland Stanfurd Junior University researchers, it was proven beyond a doubt that Crossfitters finished 25% faster when their fellow classmates cheered them on with backflips, cartwheels, and other cheers that involved the cheerleaders leaving the ground. Why do this? SCIENCE!
In any case, you guys have been killing it in the gym this summer and I’m looking forward to seeing those backflips soon!
Peace and bacon grease,
P.S. Who’s interested in heading out to the Tsongas Arena to check out the NPGL, where Crossfitters will get all sweaty and swole? Email me at [email protected] if you’re interested. I propose we leave CFB Sunday afternoon at 1 PM.
P.P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our In-House Throwdown on Saturday, September 27th! We’ve already got a bunch of participants and so far, the women account for more than 70% of the field. GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES!
17 Aug / 2014
Hey guys! As we work on our goats, I’m in charge of ensuring that our pull-ups are in a state of constant improvement. Beginning in September, you will have the option of working on pull-ups every Tuesday after (or before) class. Over the next few weeks, please determine how many strict pull-ups you can currently do to figure out which level you are in. Here are those levels:
15 Aug / 2014
Hey! Something that’s been on my mind for some time is best practices for success in your fitness. I have been meaning to put paper to pen but…Here are my TOP 5 best practices to be successful in your fitness. Keep in mind this is not absolute and I make no claims to be a demigod with devout clarity. I am just an aging CrossFit gym owner that loves to sweat and get others in the best shape of their lives.
5. Warm-Up PRE-Mobility – Get the blood flowing before stretching or rolling. This can be a short run/row/bike/jump rope. Mix it up and vary the duration from as little as 5 minutes to as long as 15 minutes depending on what you need for that day. I have gone as far as 20 minutes at really easy pace before mobilizing and hitting a WOD. Of course this will require you to have the ability to show up 10-20 minutes before class. The benefits ARE worth it!
4. Aerobic Base v. Strength Base – If you come from an endurance background or have participated in sports with an endurance base, then you need to prioritize your strength building. For example, someone that played soccer or ran cross country already has a solid CV/CR endurance base and will see the greatest improvement in CrossFit performance by prioritizing strength work.
Just the opposite is true for someone that has a power sport background. Football players, wrestlers, power lifters and weightlifters need to develop a better aerobic base. That means hitting some Long Slow distance work at an easy pace. This is exactly where I fall and I have been spending more and more time on it with great results.
3. Cut the Sugar – I am referring to any added sugar to food products or cooking that you consume on a daily basis. You will be totally surprised at how much sugar is added to make processed food palatable. I am sure Coach Alex can really go deeper on this topic and outline why it is your best interest to limit/avoid sugar consumption.
2. Sleep, Mobility, Stretch – You spend anywhere from 4 to 12 hours a week in the gym. That leaves at a minimum 156 hours where you are not in the gym training. What you do with this time is just as important if not more so than what you do inside. Sleep is crucial and there is research suggesting timing your sleep to follow the (REM/NREM) stages that last approximately 90 minutes each cycle. This research says that the total duration is not as important as being in alignment with the cycle. So if you tend to sleep less, try to get 3/4.5/6 hours of sleep to ensure you wake up feeling refreshed. Try it and see how it works for you.
The human body is meant to move. Our society has become one that is less and less active. This is not good. When you are not training or not sleeping you need to make sure that you incorporate frequent and brief sessions of movement that include some stretching or mobility. Get up from your desk, hit some upward and downward dogs. Stand instead of sitting while you work. Take the stairs. You will feel better and have more energy.
1. Cook for Yourself or Get Custom Fit Meals – You need to know what you are putting into your body. See #3. From watching the Food Network, it is astonishing to me how many recipes call for SUGAR and other ingredients that are not best for you. The only way to control this is to prepare your own foods or order prepared foods from a company such as Custom Fit Meals.
WHAT’S ON TAP/PROGRAMMING
These next two weeks we are going to be working up to 2RM’s in some of the lifts. The next couple cycles of programming is going to have a lot of percentage work based on these numbers. You will need the following: Back squat (8/18), bench press (8/20), deadlift (8/22), shoulder press (8/1), push press (8/9), power clean (8/25), and front squat (7/25). If you didn’t complete the lifts on the prior dates then you may use a recent (1-3 months) 1-3 Rep Max for any of the lifts.
We need everyone to get numbers for these lifts to allow class to move smoothly. The percentage work will begin on 9/3.
1. Complete reps of 15-12-9 for time of
135/95 Squat Snatch
2. Handwalking practice. If you cannot walk on your hands, then practice balancing just off a wall.
Run a Partner 5k (Both run/finish together) (Row is 6k)
then AMRAP 12
5 Deadlift, 205/145
1. Back Squat – 2RM
2. Complete 3 rounds for time
21 Front Squats @ 45% of 2RM
1. EMOM 12 – 2 Snatch TNGo
1-4 – 70%
5-8 – 75%
9-12 – 80%
2. AMRAP 8
15 Box Jumps
1. Bench Press – 2RM
1. EMOM 20
Odd: 5 Push Press
Even: 10 Burpees
2. Complete for time
1. Deadlift – 2RM
Deadlift @ 60% of 2RM
1. Power Clean – 2RM
2. 5 rounds for time
15 Squat clean @ 50% of 2RM
20 Calories on the A/D (12 calories on the rower)
13 Aug / 2014
13 Aug / 2014
I’ve heard a couple of people over the past few years talk about cutting out carbs and sugar to such an extent that even the usually neutral fruit was eliminated. I’ve heard people reference bananas and grapes as “very high in sugar”, and something to be avoided. Now we all know sugar is the opposite of awesome for you and that cutting back on carbs and sugar can produce weight loss. But do you really need to cut the bananas to achieve or keep a healthy body?
Fruit vs. The Rest Of ‘Em
There is a fundamental difference between the sugar in fruit from the sugar in grains, baked goods, and sweetened beverages: FIBER. Yep, that fiber – the “gluten free” of the 1990’s. The thing is, fiber (along with protein and fat) modulates the rise in blood sugar following the consumption of sugar. (If you don’t recall the glycemic index, this should refresh your memory). Basically ,eating sugar alongside fiber slows the uptake of sugar by the body, thus lessening the insulin required to deal with it all at once. That burst of insulin needed to deal with the flood of sugar is what leads to insulin resistance.
There is also the point that the sugar in fruit is 100% natural and not added in or processed in any way.
The bottom line is, human beings still need carbohydrates to survive (yes, I know some people can function in ketosis. But that’s a lot of work and sounds pretty miserable to me. Right now I am talking to the 99% of people at the gym who want to be healthy without going bananas – pun intended). And whole foods like fruit, starchy vegetables, and the occasional unprocessed whole grain or plain dairy product can be a great source of those needed carbohydrates. Bananas make a pre WOD breakfast, grapes and watermelon are deliciously hydrating after a workout, and I find apple (with a little PB added) to make a satisfying snack. (Side note: I have warned about eating too much fiber before a workout in the past. The beauty of fruit is that while it has some fiber, it doesn’t have as much as green vegetables or fortified cereals or bars, so most people can generally eat some within 30 minutes of a workout and not experience any discomfort). Although, obviously, I wouldn’t recommend eating 10 bananas at the same time.
So basically – keep eating fruit guilt free. It’s almost peach season.
What are your thoughts on fruit?
12 Aug / 2014
The Strength Challenge has come to a bittersweet conclusion. Everyone involved enjoyed the programming and absolutely CRUSHED the CrossFit Total. Every. Single. Person PR’d their lifts and increased their Total. I enjoyed working with each and everyone of them and truly look forward to seeing how they respond to the programming with their new strength.
Alright. Alright. You want the results. Well here ya go.
We had 3 ladies undertake this challenge. They were all completely dedicated to the programming. Ali put 25 pounds on her CFT and gained 7 pounds of muscle! Kristin put 24 pounds on her CFT, which should have been 35 pounds. Damn Deadlift…
Kathy? Oh yeah Kathy. She put 47 pounds on her CFT! What?! She also put on 3 lbs. of muscle and lost 2 lbs. of body fat… not that she really needed to lose any. That is pretty damn impressive for three months! So I am proud to say that Kathy is our winner for the women’s division of the strength challenge! Congratulations Kathy!
On to the gents. There were initially 5 guys in the running, but one dropped out due to scheduling issues. But the other 4 guys stuck it out… even while traveling abroad for one of them. There were some pretty dramatic changes for the guys in both body composition and CFT numbers. Rory Q. was a monster. He put 6 lbs. of muscle on while dropping 11 lbs. of body fat! What?! I want results like that! He also added 65 lbs to his CFT. Great job Rory! Denis T. was an animal too, adding 7 lbs of muscle and 25 lbs added to his Total. Atta Boy! Mark Pelofsky. Dude was traveling all the time. California, Seattle, Italy. You know your average weekend getaway. He kept at it though. His dedication truly showed. Mark added 7 lbs of muscle and lost 2 lbs of body fat. He also added 45 lbs to his Total. I’m so happy for Mark. He worked really hard over these past 3 months and it really shows.
Oh, and there’s this guy Tim. You might have seen him around the gym before. At least you have if you’ve been there these past 3 months. I think he might have been in there as much as me! His numbers? Eh. They were alright. He put on, you know, only 18 lbs of muscle! Get the f@$& outta here! 18 Pounds?! 6 pounds a month? And to add to that, he lost a pound of body fat. Then there’s his Total. He added A. HUNDRED. POUNDS to his Total. A hundo. A Benjamin. You get the point. Unreal. I guess that leaves no doubt who is the winner for the guys. Tim B. I am proud to say that you are the men’s winner!
Kathy and Tim will be receiving a nice little prize package including some Progenex, Pure Pharma, and a gift card to help fuel their workouts from Starbucks. But to be honest, I really think everyone that did this was a winner. They all put up some serious #gains and will be killing it in classes, so watch out! If you see anyone wearing their new Challenge t-shirt in class (not for sale, must be earned), give them a little space because they are going to be going H.A.M. on their workouts from here on out.
With a bunch of feedback from all the athletes involved, I am contemplating starting a new Strength Challenge starting in September. It will run another 3 months and will be done before December and all the holiday commitments take up your attention. If you are interested, please see me or leave a message below.
Congratulations again to Kathy and Tim!
12 Aug / 2014
It’s that time of year again where we test our fitness against those that we WOD with every day… Our In-House Throwdown will take place on Saturday, September 27th, so clear those calendars! This is a great opportunity for some friendly competition and lots of fun. We’ll have both scaled and Rx divisions available, so whether you’re a seasoned competitor or a first-timer, this is a great event for everyone to participate in.
Our plan is to run heats of the competition from 9am to 1 or 2pm in the afternoon. The exact timeline may change depending on the number of competitors we get to sign up, but we expect to wrap the competition up early in the afternoon so we have time for some fun activities and a cookout afterwards. It is guaranteed to be a fun day, and we hope you all can join us!
Don’t want to compete but still want to be involved? Awesome, we need your help! We’ll need lots of judges and volunteers to help the day run smoothly. If you can lend a hand, we’d very much appreciate it.
As we get closer to the event, we will release more details and workouts. For now, take a look at the standards below, see which division you fall into, and get signed up! We’re very excited about getting as many people as possible involved this year. Get pumped!
Rx Division: Thrusters 95/65, Snatches 115/75, Toes to Bar, Double Unders, Unassisted Pull Ups, Wall Balls 20/14 to a 10′ target
Scaled Division: Thrusters 65/35, Snatches 75/45, AbMat Situps, Single Unders, Blue Band Pull Ups, Wall Balls 14/10 to 10′ target
What: CrossFit Boston In-House Throwdown
When: Saturday, September 27th
Where: Here! CrossFit Boston
NB: Most of the content of this post was lovingly borrowed from our friends at CrossFit Southie.
10 Aug / 2014
I hope all of you had a GREAT weekend
Now, down to business!
So, all of you guys come into class early, roll out on a foam roller and do static stretching. But, here is my concern, you guys shouldn’t roll out, or do static stretching on rested/cold muscles. Do a little dynamic stretching before, and work with the PVC before you grab a band for mobility movements. If you are trying to stretch muscles, when you are not warm yet, you won’t get anything from it. Give them some love and loosen up! Then you will get a hell of a lot more, rolling out and doing static stretching.
Lets look at the works outs this week..
Monday: Front Squat AND Fran…oh boy!
Tuesday: Strict Dips, Strict TTB, and Clean + Jerk.
Wednesday: Burpees, Giddy up! Deadlifts, and Turkish get up!
Thursday: Row, Ring Rows, Push ups, and V-ups.
Friday: Rope Climb and GTOH.
So, for Mobility this week guys, do DYNAMIC stretching before you roll out. PLEASE, do me a favor and try it! Now, you know what your doing for work this week, so get the PVC and do a warm up with the exercises you are doing. PRACTICE FORM. Grab a bar, and do some reps to wake your muscles up! For dips, TTB, Turkish get ups, ring rows, push ups…you know what I am going to say..do 5 reps, 4 reps or 3 reps of each. THEN break into the band, 4 way, rolling out on a foam roller or a lacrosse ball. Mark my words, you will be thankful if you actually try this. So, for the WOD you won’t just be ready to go…you will already be going!
ONE more thing. Down Dawg, Upward Dawg…DONT forget them, ALWAYS DO THEM!
08 Aug / 2014
Hey guys! Our Buffalo wing gathering is on for this Sunday at 4 PM at
Silvertone (69 Bromfield Street, Downtown) Buff’s Pub (317 Washington Street, Newton). For those without cars, we can meet at the gym at 3:30 and carpool in together. If you haven’t yet emailed me to let me know you’re coming, please do so at [email protected] Also, I’m curious to see how many people would be interested in snagging a classic CFB05 t-shirt (and in what colors and sizes), should they become available again. Comment away!