16 Dec 2014
I get it. You have friends at the gym and you want to throw down with them against other teams, who are also probably friends. The last throwdown was a stunning success, matched only by the successes of those who have participated in Coach Mike’s strength program. We’re having our next throwdown on Saturday, January 31st from 10-1. We will have two-person male-female teams and will have both scaled and Rx divisions. We may have prizes, we may not, but THERE WILL BE BRAGGING RIGHTS! Last time, I did my best to break up marriages and have people partner with some new faces. There was much belly-aching and crying and in the end, Carolyn B. ended up winning all the marbles because she was flexible enough to take on the various randos who ended up being her partner for any given WOD. But yes, this time around you get to choose your own damned partner. Make it so and SIGN UP HERE. The goal is to get twenty teams this time around, so get cracking!
Peace and bacon grease,
10 Dec 2014
All joking aside, though, I think this is a great move. Last week the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) published the final rules about the new menu and vending machine labeling requirements. This requirement was originally mandated as part of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) back in 2010, but is just being implemented fully now (although some establishments have already voluntarily done so, and some local governments had already made this requirement legislatively).
According to the FDA, the rule states
“Calorie and other nutrition labeling will be required for standard menu items offered for sale in a restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is part of a chain with 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, and offering for sale substantially the same menu items.”
You should start to see labels on your restaurant menu sometime this year, and restaurants have to be in compliance by December 1, 2015.
What Does This Mean?
Basically, every time you pop into Starbucks, Panera, or Dunkin Donuts for a coffee or baked good, the calorie count will be on the menu. You’ll also see it at places like Chilis and Applebees, McDonalds, Chipotle, etc. You’ll also notice them on vending machines (the information has to be posted so you can read it BEFORE you make your buy), on Whole Foods Hot Bar or other grocery carry out foods, and on move theater snacks (yes including the infamous buttered popcorn). Conceivably you could see it on Tavern In The Square or J.P. Licks’ menu if they opened more than 20 restaurants (right now Tavern is at 8 and J.P. Licks is at 13).
The Good, The Bad, and The Guilty
Part of me likes this rule, probably the “RD-MPH who knows just how hard it is for people to manage their weight and calorie intake in America’s toxic food environment” part. The other part – the “athlete who does CrossFit and goes running so I can afford to crush a cheeseburger every now and then” side doesn’t necessarily want to know. So, here’s how I think this label is great, and not so great:
It’s great because…
- You can only estimate so much, and most people underestimate their calorie intake. This provides a helpful tool, and makes decision making that much easier for people who are trying to manage their calorie intake.
- It requires food companies to be transparent about what’s really in their food (not ingredients wise, but macronutrient wise, which is a start), and might might might just encourage them to produce something a little more healthful if the customer demands it.
- Speaking of the customer – this truly gives the customer the power to speak by choosing the healthier options and NOT choosing the less healthy ones. Taco bell isn’t going to offer the Chalupa anymore (I haven’t been there in ages so maybe they don’t even) if everyone is choosing the lower-in-calories tacos instead.
- It will inform the public of the real cost of eating out. Maybe seeing 800 calorie sandwiches everywhere will encourage more people to just spend $10 on a loaf of whole wheat bread and some deli meat instead (which will definitely be healthier and include fewer processed/refined ingredients than the eating out option).
It sucks because…
- It takes the fun out of a night out. Sometimes, a treat feels better when you don’t know it’s costing you 2000 calories. Then again, it might temper my “cheat meal” a little, which benefits me too, right?
- The consumer thing could backfire – everyone knows McD’s salads are higher in calories than their burgers (and Arby’s turkey on whole wheat is higher in calories than their roast beef and cheese whiz on white bun). So, if people use calorie info alone to pick the Big Mac over a salad, maybe McDonalds assumes people don’t want salad after all. But really, I’m no economist so I don’t know how this plays out.
- It could cause trouble for people struggling with an eating disorder. Which is not a huge portion of the population, but with obesity rising in prevalence and the media’s standard of beauty getting smaller in size, eating disorders are on the rise in both men and women.
- It’s pricy for restaurants to implement. Then again, it’s only required on those with over 20 locations. If you’ve got over 20 locations, you’re not a mom and pop and can probably afford a few new menus.
Ultimately, I think this is great. No matter where you are on the political spectrum, we should all agree as Americans that freedom of choice is a top priority. And I think this rule helps more and more Americans make better choices.
What do you guys think?
For more info, see a Q and A on the new rules.
09 Dec 2014
What a weekend! First of all, a huge THANK YOU to everyone who made it out to Tasty Burger, Daedalus, and the Hong Kong on a fairly gross Saturday night. It was really great to see all of you in your street clothes and even greater having a little extracurricular fun with you. An even BIGGER thanks goes out to to Neal, without whom the night would have been impossible. It’s truly been an honor to work with such a great team and membership at CFB. Rather than talk at length about our upcoming move (there’s some blah blah blah paperwork that has been completed and some other blah blah blah paperwork that is hasn’t been completed), and talk about our next Team Throwdown (save the date: Saturday, January 31st!), I’d like to share with you a little piece I would like to call:
CFB Holiday Party by the numbers:
Number of burgers consumed at Tasty Burger pre-party: 6
Number of attendees: 50-ish at Daedalus
Number of backless dresses: 2
Number of first-time stiletto wearers: 1+?
Number of bottles of bubbly consumed: 16
Number of Old Fashions fashioned: 30+
Number of cherries in Coach Mike’s drinks: 9
Number of dessert plates devoured: 16
Number of toasts given: 0
Number of times Jobert filled my bubbly glass: probably 9
Number of people who made the trek to the Hong Kong: 20-ish
Number of pupu platters demolished: 2 (plus 1/2, if you include the leftovers that Natalie scored from some new friends)
Number of scorpion bowls sucked down: 6, though I’m a little fuzzy on this one…
Number of minutes we waited until the third floor opened: about 40
Number of coats we fit on one hook on the coat rack on the second floor: 12
Number of randos that wanted to join our crew: at least one
Number of times we dropped it to the floor: 21
Number of times we turned down for what: 15
Number of times we put our hands up for Detroit: 9
Number of panda dogs in attendance: 1
Number of members I went home with: 1
Number of members who showed up on Sunday morning: 15
Number of members who showed up to Afternoon Tea on Sunday afternoon: 5
Number of ciders consumed post-Afternoon Tea: 2
Number of beautiful CFB ladies in the house: too many to count
Number of people who I should credit for photos used in this post: At least two (Judith and Shannon), but I think one more — sorry for forgetting!
That is all. Thugs and kisses. Peace and bacon grease!
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,
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.