On Saturday I talked about the nutrition piece of the Transformation Challenge, but if you missed it, here’s a recap.
Qualities of a Healthy Diet
1. Unprocessed foods. Eat what came from nature – vegetables, fruits, quality meat and dairy (I’ll elaborate on that in #3), nuts and seeds, beans, etc. Avoid things that come in a box like processed wheat, crackers, cookies, chips, sweets, etc.
2. Dominance of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber) but low in calories and mostly low in carbohydrates (except for the starchy ones). That means they are unlikely to cause sharp rises in blood glucose, leaving you with stable energy levels.
For the challenge, all common vegetables are included except for white potatoes – but sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin, etc are all OK. We’re keeping white potatoes off the OK list because sometimes it can be easy to eat them in place of green vegetables, and they are higher on the glycemic index. I explain more about white potatoes in this post.
3. Quality meat and dairy. I’ve said before that you want your food to come from happy cows, chickens, and pigs, not sad ones. A lot of meat in the US is made in factory farms, where animals are fed “all vegetarian diets” (don’t let that fool you – chickens should actually be eating insects too) of corn and soy and pumped full of antibiotics to prevent diseases rampant in the close quarters they’re kept in. Choose organic, grass-fed cows and free range chickens and eggs. Bison is also a good option, as they are naturally grass-fed (thank goodness we haven’t put them in factories yet!).
4. Fat +fiber = fullness. Both fat and fiber keep food in your stomach longer, keeping you full longer. This is an important part of avoiding hunger.
5. Avoid “starvation hunger” or “hangry-ness”. Aside from eating fat and fiber regularly, try to eat every 4 hours or so and avoid skipping meals. It’s easier to make healthy decisions when you’re just a little hungry and a packed lunch is in the kitchen ready to be heated up, than when you haven’t eaten in 7 hours and you are dreaming of cheeseburgers and Chipotle burritos.
6. Be prepared and DIY. Making your own food at home is the best way to be assured that it is healthy. In addition, keep snacks on hand in case you need them. Almonds, dried fruit (with no added sugar), fresh fruit that keeps well (apples are good), plain yogurt, etc are all good snacks to keep on hand. If you can’t refrigerate, though, nuts are usually easiest.
Transformation Challenge Nutrition Package
During the challenge, I am offering some extra help. For $75 you will receive:
- A 3-day meal planning template for 1800, 2300, or 2800 calories to help you plan meals
- Recipes and quick, easy meal ideas
- 5 group sessions – nutrition lesson and open discussion (meeting Saturdays throughout the challenge, except 1/18 when myself and others will be competing)
- Weekly email check ins.
In addition, if you’d like to drop in to one of the group sessions without buying the whole package, you can do so for $15.
If you’d like to purchase a nutrition package, email me at [email protected]
29 Nov 2013
Fire It Up! Fire It Up!
Great work on a short week. Both Monday and Wednesday there were plenty of personal bests in both the back squat and deadlift! Wednesday night Adam “Captain America” Voci set the new gym record for Mary with 13 + 6 rounds and Sophie Hu was just 5 reps shy of tying the gym record with 8 + 25 rounds. Great job to both of you!
What’s On Tap
11/30 – Saturday
1. EMOM 20
ODD minute – 10 toe 2 bar
EVEN minute – 7 power clean, 155/105
2. Jerk – 10 minutes to work up to a max single for the day
12/1 – Sunday
Teams of 2 complete 3 rounds each alternating movements:
Deadlift hold, 245#/165#
While one athlete is rowing the 500m AFAP, athlete #2 will hold the bar at the top of the deadlift position. If the bar is put on the ground, athlete 1 must stop rowing until the bar is locked out again. The score is the total time of the team to complete 3000m.
12/2 – Monday
1. Clean – 15 minutes to work up to a max single for the day
2. 4 rounds for time
7 DB Power clean, 55/35
14 Fr. Rack DB forward lunges, 55/35
21 DB Thrusters, 55/35
12/3 – Tuesday
1. Press – 5×3
2. AMRAP 20
10 Burpees to a 45# plate
10 OH Swings, 32kg/24kg
12/4 – Wednesday
1. 5 rounds for time
10 Snatch, 135/95
20 OH Walking lunges, 45/25
2 Muscle ups
2. Handstand Push ups – 6×2 (strict)
12/5 – Thursday
1. Snatch – 15 minutes to work up to a max single for the day
2. Row 500m x 5
rest 1:00 between sets
12/6 – Friday
1. Front Squat – 7×2
4 rounds for time
27 Box Jumps, 24″
11 Squat Cleans, 145/100
26 Nov 2013
Thanksgiving marks the first feast of the many you’ll eventually have during a typical holiday season. While Thanksgiving is a time to eat good food, celebrate family and cultural traditions, and enjoy being around loved ones, it can be those things without completely derailing the diet you’ve been crushing lately. Because, the holidays don’t have to be a 6 week hiatus from all healthy habits. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track AND enjoy delicious, tasty foods this holiday season.
Tip 1: Designate Your “Cheat Days”
You remember when I wrote about cheat days right? Well, if you don’t have time to read it, let me sum it up for you: cheat days have beneficial effects on hormone levels and mood that can help you in the weight loss or maintenance process – if done right. So pick a few cheat days. Maybe, say 6 over the next 6 weeks. For example, mine will probably be
This way, you have set days to enjoy holiday goodies, and the rest of the time you stick to a healthy diet of plenty of fruits and veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats, and a little dairy.
Tip 2: Cheat Right
According to the research, the best cheat day meals (to have those beneficial effects on hormones) are high in protein and carbs, and lower in fat. Keep this in mind as you eye the spread this Thursday. That means plenty of turkey, potatoes, a dinner roll, and cranberries. Go easy on the butter and heavy casseroles.
Tip 3: Keep the Veggies at the Party
I know, I know, I just said this should be your cheat day. But “cheat day” doesn’t mean “eat nothing healthy all day”, it just means there’s wiggle room. So make sure you get some veggies on feasting holidays by either eating some throughout the day (spinach in a smoothie at breakfast, raw veggies and guacamole for a snack), or include them in the meal in the form of a side salad or some green beans with toasted almonds. Not only do veggies (and fruits) have important vitamins and minerals, they also have fiber, which will help you digest all that turkey later in the day.
Tip 4: Spread it Around
My favorite thing about Thanksgiving (and Christmas) dinner is….
LEFTOVERS! What this means is, you don’t have to eat everything on the table Thanksgiving day. Didn’t make it to the sweet potato casserole? No worries, have a small taste the next day with eggs to fuel your Black Friday adventures. In the photo to the right, you can see an example of this – I paired my sweet potato casserole from a recent Friends-giving with a lean, grilled hamburger over salad.
Tip 5: Don’t Stop Moving!
This one is important for a few reasons. While I always like to say “you can’t out train a bad diet”, exercise is still really important, especially this time of year. Not only does exercise burn calories, some research has shown that morning exercise may reduce your appetite throughout the rest of the day. So get a morning workout in on Thanksgiving day (maybe a run, a bike ride, or some burpees…) before the Thanksgiving day parade, dog show, and eating begin.
26 Nov 2013
Snatch High Pull + Snatch 602X3 70 4X3 75 4X3
C&J 70 2X2 75 X2 80 3X2
BS 70 X3 80 X3 85 X3 90 4X2 LOW BAR
Clean Deadlift 80 X2 90 X2 100 3X2 ( % of your clean, slow deliberate movement, mimic clean)
Upright Row to Press 4X8
Hypers 3X10 Abs 3X20
Power Snatch 50 2X3 60 X3 70 4X3
Power Clean to Push Press 60 2X3 70 X3 80 3X2
Front Squat: (70%/5)2, (80%/4)2, (90%/3)2
Hypers 3X10 Abs 3X20
22 Nov 2013
The time is drawing near in which everyone is supposed to say what we are thankful for. I am going to kick it off by first saying that I am thankful for my wife, daughter and soon to be born daughter. I am thankful that I get to wake up every day next to my best friend. I am thankful that I get to work with a group of individuals that comprise a team that truly cares about those they serve. I am thankful that the community here at CrossFit Boston is as welcoming and inclusive as you are and that you all come in day in and day out looking to improve yourselves. It really is a dream to be able to wake up to do what I enjoy doing. Thank you all!
Week in Review
Ok…Monday! Easily one of the hardest training days programmed here at CFB. Why? Thrusters and burpees are the two most taxing, metabolically challenging movements we do in CrossFit due to the range of motion that your body travels. Wednesday was TEST day with “Diane”. I know that the ladies leader board is completely changed! Great job! Captain America has cracked the Top 5 for the men. Awesome!
Today is “Lynne”. It is a benchmark that we have not completed in the classes in more than 4 years. The Leader Board is EMPTY! Get in today and fill up the class and that leader board. Due to a scheduling conflict, I will not be able to be in tonight but Coach Adam “Captain America” Voci will be working with Coach Tito to get the PM classes covered. Coach Adam is a CF L1 Coach and trained many special forces in Afghanistan while he was serving in the military. He is also one of CFB’s top athletes.
This Week’s Schedule
Thanksgiving is this Thursday. The gym will officially be closed both Thursday AND Friday so that staff and members may spend some time with their families. Unofficially, Coach Tito is planning to come in on Thursday AM for a WOD. He will be posting details for those that interested and are staying in the area to join him. Check back here at the blog.
What’s On Tap
Saturday – 11/23
Complete for max reps
Row 5k, stop every 1k and perform
10 OH swings, 32kg/24kg
10 Push ups
Score is total reps completed
Sunday – 11/24
PARTNER WOD – For time & AMRAP
While Partner 1 completes a 400m run, Partner 2 will perform max reps of a Dumbbell Clean into a thruster and then switch. The workout is complete when each person has completed 4 x 400m run + max reps DB clean/thruster.
There are two scores: Time to complete and max reps. There will be a 25 minute cap.
Monday – 11/25
1. Back Squat – 3×6
2. Row 5:00 (distance)
Tabata squats (reps)
Row 5:00 (distance)
Tuesday – 11/26
1. 3 position snatch – (high hang/mid hang/floor)
7 x 1
2. 3 Rounds for time
20 DB snatch, 65#/40#
40 Double Unders
A-Unbroken Double Unders
Wednesday – 11/27
5 Handstand push ups
15 Pull ups
2. Deadlift – 3×6
Thursday – 11/28
CLOSED FOR THANKSGIVING
Friday – 11/28
CLOSED FOR THANKSGIVING
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
18 Oct 2013
FIRE IT UP! FIRE IT UP!
This is one of the biggest weekends of the year here in the Boston area as The Head of the Charles is taking place. It is the most revered regatta in the world! One of our own, Coach Pat aka “Coach Sunshine” is racing in a scull this Sunday at 8am! A group of us will be meeting to cheer him on at the Western Ave bridge before the Sunday class. Try and join us!
How did your week of training go? Did you hit any new PR’s? I witnessed a few bell rings during the classes. Speak up and share it with the group!
How about any breakthroughs? We worked on skin the cats this week. They are a great movement to develop shoulder strength and develop some greater awareness of your body when its upside down and not on the ground. It’s no secret that with all of the overhead movements with CrossFit: presses, jerks, snatches, pull-ups, etc. That the shoulder can take a pounding IF you are not proactive. So, don’t stop incorporating this movement into your warm-up and mobility.
As you are aware, we are re-organizing the gym. Along with adding some shelves, creating space, etc, we are also putting some fresh paint on the walls. Our goal is to make CrossFit Boston Iron & Grit a place that you want as members enjoying being. More than just during your one hour workout but to hang out after and sit with friends while drinking your favorite protein shake or vita coco or an adult beverage at the end of the day.
Why is this important to us? Well, its not a secret that the more frequently you are here with us, the more what we do will become a fully integrated piece of your life. Our goal is to help lead you down the path of being “Wicked Fit For Life”. Not just for today or the next day. Not even for the next year, but for life.
What’s On Tap
This week’s programming is going to have an emphasis on interval training in the MetCon. Both Tuesday and Thursday will feature this. The movements are low skill and the objective is to work at a really high intensity and then recover in between before repeating. Monday and Wednesday will be classic CrossFit MetCons.
There will NOT be any squat days programmed in strength during the week so it will be ESSENTIAL that you get 1-2 heavy squat days in on your own either before or after class. On Saturday 10/26 the CrossFit Total is programmed so we will be testing the 1RM in the back squat, press, and deadlift.
There is no programmed skill focus. Instead we will spend a week hammering the midline assistance work.
Sunday – 10/20
1. Complete as a TEAM of 2 (1 M, 1 F)
10 minutes to find 2 rep max – Front Squat
score is sum of lifts
2. Team Chipper (Same TEAM)
For time (14 minute cap)
30 gh sit ups
30 deadlift 225/155
30 double unders
30 overhead squats 95/65
30 pull ups
Men start first, then women. Athletes can’t advance stations until station in front is clear.
Monday – 10/21
1. 4 rounds for time
9 handstand push ups
12 power cleans 155/105
15 box jumps, 24″,20″
2. Snatch – 5×2
3. Midline assistance
Tuesday – 10/22
1. 5xAMRAP 3 minutes
10 Overhead Swings, 24kg/16kg
rest 1:00, add :15 to rest each round
2. Push press – 3×5
Wednesday – 10/23
1. For time
30 OH walking lunges, 45/25
30 Push ups
30 Pull ups
Run 1 mile
30 Pull ups
30 Push ups
30 OH walking lunges, 45/25
2. Midline assistance work
Thursday – 10/24
1. 5xAMRAP 4minutes
10 Knee to elbows
10 Thruster, 75/55
rest 1:00 between rounds
2. 2 Hang power snatch + 2 Tall squat snatch – 7 sets
Friday – 10/25
1. Overhead Squat – 5×5
2. TEST – 1000m row
3. Midline assistance work
Saturday – 10/26
1. CrossFit Total
Back Squat – 1RM
Shoulder Press – 1RM
Deadlift – 1RM
15 minutes to find 1RM of each lift
15 Oct 2013
Leaving the house on Monday morning without any food prepared and trying to eat healthy can be like walking into the desert with no water. As you well know, the American food environment isn’t exactly the best at facilitating healthy eating. So the best way to fuel your body for success is to…. PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME!
Where do I start?
Before you get started, you’ll want to consider a few things, including:
- What your week looks like. How much time falls between now and thenext time you’ll have time to go grocery shopping and prepare a fewquality meals?
- What you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks between now and then. Plan meals and snacks based on your work/workout schedule, i.e. make sure you have a snack for before you train and a meal/snack after you train. For more about what to eat before a workout, go here.
- Storage and reheating logistics. Will you be at an office with a fridge and a microwave? On the road with nothing but a cooler?
Decide What to Make
Depending on where you’ll be and what you’ll have access to, start planning your meals. Below are some good healthy breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas – both paleo and non-paleo – for each of the situations I mentioned above. To help you quickly find an idea for your diet of choice, (P) stands for paleo, (R) stand for primal (paleo + grass fed dairy), and (V) stands for vegetarian.
If you’re on the road
- Green smoothie w/ 1 cup milk, 1-2 cups greens, ½-1 cup frozen manog chunks (R) (V)
- Apple and almond butter (P) (R) (V)
- 4+ ounces quality deli meat, raw vegetables w/ guacamole, fruit or cold mashed sweet potato with cinnamon (P) (R)
- Salad w/ greens, veggies, nuts, and dried fruit. (V) Add chicken (P) Add chicken and feta cheese (R)
- Beef jerky (P) (R)
- Trail mix of nuts and/or nuts and dried fruit (P) (R) (V)
If you’re in an office
Any idea above plus
- Hard boiled eggs with reheated paleo style collard greens and fruit (P) (R)
- Paleo carrot banana muffins w/ almond butter and fruit (P) (R) (V)
- Irish oatmeal w/ milk, slivered almonds, and fresh or dried berries (V)
- Tuna avocado bowls (R)
- Fresh soup from your local supermarket, reheated and eaten with aside
of fruit. Whole Foods “Mom’s Chicken Soup” or Minestrone are goodexamples. Just check the label to make sure there are no preservatives or funky ingredients, and avoid generic canned soup like Campbells or Progressive, which a. won’t provide sufficient calories and b. are sure to have preservatives and/or added sugars and likely to contain MSG.
- Reheated leftovers, such as this Paleo “Spaghetti”, crock pot Pulled Pork, Sweet Potato, & Pear Stew, or Chicken Scaloppini. (P) (R)
- Fruit with or without almond or other nut butter (P) (R) (V)
- Greek yogurt with berries and nuts (R) (V)
- Steve’s “Paleo Kits” (P) (R)
- Steve’s Paleo Krunch (warning – does not last long in the average pantry due to extreme deliciousness) (P) (R)
If you’re at home or anywhere else with a full kitchen
Any ideas above plus
- Scrambled eggs with veggies and/or cheese and avocado (R) (V)
- Western omelet with fruit and avocado (P)
- Fried eggs w/ bacon and fruit (P) (R)
- Fajitia Chicken salad (P) (R)
- Leftover, reheated meat w/ side of Kale and Dried Apples or other sautéed green/vegetable.
Any idea above plus
- Baked apple chips – core and slice apples, bake at 250 degrees until crispy, usually around 2 hours.
- Frozen grapes
Plan a head, but not too much – sometimes, leftovers get old. It’s great if you can save time by cooking an entire week’s worth of stir fry on Sunday, but not if you get sick of it by Wednesday and decide to get Burger King instead. Think about what you might want that week, and plan in some variety.
Pack more than you need – one of the top reasons people have trouble sticking to a healthy diet is HUNGER. And when you’re eating clean, it can be hard to go out and grab a healthy snack. So pack a little extra. It’s always better to leave a bag of trail mix or dried fruit at work for next week than down a bag of pretzels because you couldn’t find a healthier option at your nearest gas station.
Be aware of food safety – any meat or previously cooked items should be kept cold (in the fridge or a cooler). Any of those items left out at room temperature for over 2 hours should be discarded.
13 Oct 2013
Hey everyone! I just wanted to remind you that we have extended the Fran Challenge sign-up until tomorrow, Tuesday October 15th. The registration has been lowered to $45. Included in the $45 is a t-shirt and a pull-up seminar that will be held next weekend on Sunday. The seminar will be at 11:00 am and will teach you how to get better at pull-ups and what your appropriate scale is. If you would like to attend the seminar, but not participate in the Fran challenge, the cost will be $15 cash at the door (no exceptions). If you have any questions, please ask any of the coaches. Hope you have a week full of PR’s!