11 Jun 2014
Before your regularly scheduled blog post, a quick announcement:
SHOW TUNES WOD: Tomorrow morning, the 7 am class will WOD to a show tunes medley playlist, courtesy of long time member and local food expert Audrey. This WOD will also be a chance to say goodbye to running coach Rachel Weiker, who is moving to DC for work. Show tunes are non-negotiable but singing/dancing are optional.
I always encourage paying attention to what you eat. Read the labels on all 7 BBQ sauce bottles in the grocery store before you choose the best one. Ask the butcher if the meat is grass-fed or not, or if he knows where it came from. I even wrote about how it is OK to be a pain in the butt about your diet. But I also know that the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) has recently written about “orthorexia nervosa”, a new type of disordered eating (but not yet an eating disorder) . Essentially, orthorexia is the obsession with eating otherwise healthy foods, or a “fixation on righteous eating” (according to an article on NEDA’s website). You might consider someone who brings a tupperware of eggs, bacon and vegetables to brunch at a restaurant with friends, or someone who will not eat if they are hungry because there is nothing healthy enough around, or someone who refuses to join friend socially because they will be tempted to eat/drink something unhealthy, as orthorexic. You might also consider this person “dedicated to achieving their goals”. It seems like it’s a fine line between “a fixation on righteous eating” and simply paying attention to what you’re putting in your mouth. It’s important to pay attention, of course. It’s also important not to abandon all social interaction and beat yourself up over a cookie every now and again.
What do you guys think? Is “orthorexia” a real problem, or should we all be a little more obsessive when it comes to our food?
06 Jun 2014
I was lucky enough to take a couple of days off this week and head down to Newport, RI with my family. Jessica had a conference during the days so I was able to spend some Daddy time with my girls. A good vacation is when you can get some great rest and be in bed by 9pm. It is rare that I am able to get the same type of rest when I am home.
As athletes, we often overlook the importance of nutrition and sleep for performance. Too often we focus solely on the time we spend while in the gym. Pushing our bodies farther than before to squeeze out every last drop of energy. Now that we have Alex on board, weekly blogging about nutrition, and have held multiple nutrition challenges, everyone understands that you CAN’T OUTWORK A SH*TTY DIET.
So, that leaves us with sleep. How many hours a night do you routinely sleep? There is a ton of research out there suggesting 7-10 hours is the optimal range. The number does truly vary by many factors: age, gender, region to name a few. What is most important is the hours required routinely and any accumulated sleep debt.
For example, lets say I normally sleep for 7 hours but there is this deadline at work and I pull a couple of nights with only 3 hours of sleep. I have accumulated 8 hours of sleep debt and it will have an impact on my functions. The body is going to yearn to get back to homeostasis and your performance will suffer until it does.
Beyond just day to day performance, habitual sleep deprivation can contribute to the following:
- increased risk of obesity
- increased risk of heart problems and diabetes
- increased risk for depression and substance abuse
- decreased mental acuity
Make sleep a priority just the same as you make your training a priority. Schedule it in and don’t allow it to simply be a go to task after everything else is complete. Stop whatever you are doing and get to bed!
WHAT’S ON TAP
21 Push Press, 95#/65#
Deadlift – 3RM (20 min)
Work up to a max set of 3 for the day
Teams of 2 (same gender) Relay Style
15 Overhead swings, 24kg/16kg
15 Power Snatch, 75#/55#
21 Squats, 95#/65#
This is the CrossFit Challenge done as a circuit rather than prioritized. We refer to this as the “Vertical Tabata Challenge.”
Perform each of the following for only twenty seconds. Rest for ten seconds while quickly transitioning to next movement.
Rest for 1 minute after each round and repeat seven times for a total of eight rounds. Total your weakest output from each exercise from all eight rounds. This time your rowing score is in calories.
1. Front Squat – 3RM
2. Perform 2 rounds of this circuit:
Box Jumps, 20″ in 2 minutes
Lunge 2 minutes, record steps
Row 2 minutes for distance
Squat 2 minutes, record reps
Rest 5 minutes between circuits
For time & load:
15 Back squat, 15 rep max weight
10 Handstand Push Ups
10 Back squat, 10 rep max weight
8 Handstand Push ups
5 Back squat, 5 rep max weight
6 Handstand Push ups
1. Max Pull-ups – TEST
2. Power Clean max weight for 15 reps
Tabata Squats, total reps as your score
Power Clean max weight for 15 reps
Tabata Squat, total reps
1. Max Dips – TEST
2. AMRAP 20
Max reps L Pull-ups
Gym Closed for CrossFit Level 1 Seminar. Meet at Harvard Track at 9AM.
Gym Closed for CrossFit Level 1 Seminar. Meet at Harvard Stadium at 9AM.
04 Jun 2014
In a lot of science journalism, there is a lot of jumping to conclusions without really digging into the science. This week we saw headlines screaming about how diet soda can help you lose weight! So you should start drinking diet soda to beat those sugar cravings, right?
Not so fast my friend. There are a few things wrong with this study.
- The study only lasted 12 weeks, which is fairly short in terms of weight loss. Quite frankly, I don’t care how much weight you can lose in 3 months, I care how much weight you can lose in 3 years. Speaking of which,
- Several long term findings have contradicted this study, including the San Antonio Heart study, which found that every diet soda per day was linked to a 65% increase in the likelihood of overweight and a 41% chance of obesity over a 7-8 year period, and the Framingham Heart Study, which found that people who drank diet soda were still at risk for metabolic syndrome and high blood sugar.
- The study was funded by the soda industry. Now, not all studies funded by the man produce results that benefit the man, but most do.
Of course, correlation does not equal causation (unless you think the declining divorce rate in Maine caused the drop in margarine consumption nationwide), so associations between diet soda and weight gain don’t mean diet soda causes people to gain weight. But it means we should think about these associations, and what could be influencing them, before throwing a few 12 packs of diet coke in our carts. Because chemistry and biology aren’t the only things influencing weight gain, a lot of it is psychological and even economic (I addressed this a little bit in an earlier post on high fructose corn syrup). For example, some people swap regular soda for diet soda, and figure that justifies an extra cookie after dinner. Other people struggle with emotional eating, and swapping Pepsi for Pepsi One isn’t going to address that problem. On top of all that, diet soda is full of artificial sweeteners of questionable safety (especially in high doses). The point is, there’s a lot more that goes into health and weight loss than swapping one thing for another, and all of these things should be considered.
What are your thoughts on diet soda and the beverage industry’s contribution to the fight against the obesity crisis?*
*The second part of this question brought to you by the fact that I have started reading Salt Sugar Fat and am curious to hear others thoughts on the topic.
02 Jun 2014
“The greatest adaptation in CrossFit is of the mind.” -Greg Glassman
CrossFit is so physical. We push our bodies to the limit. Everyday we ask more of ourselves. We hit the WOD, some strength before or after, practice some skills, then mobilize and feed our bodies so we can come back in and do it all over again. This is what CrossFit is between 3-6 days per week.
Read that quote again by CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman. How powerful and true it is. He first made that statement while he was still running the CrossFit Level 1 Seminars around 2004. He and Greg Amundson (CrossFit Amundson, CrossFit Goal Setting, and Santa Cruz Original Firebreather) were observing seminar participants attempt muscle ups. Two males went up for the first attempt ever. Male 1 nailed it. He came down and his buddies were all congratulating him. He responded with humility I knew that I could do it. Meanwhile, Male 2 failed and as his buddies came to offer condolences, he stated that it was ok and that he knew he wouldn’t do it.
You see, you will achieve what you believe. Of course you need to have the appropriate skills and strength. That being a given, your mind will determine the rest.
28 May 2014
Two weeks ago I wrote about how there are really no sugars that are healthier for you than other sugars. The gist basically is that added sugar (so, not the kind you get from fruit) isn’t all that great for you and should be included in minimal amounts in your diet. In the comments section, coach G2 made a good point about how sometimes during longer workouts, sugar can be a good thing. To build on that, I want to talk a little about when taking some nutrition during your workout is a good idea and some of the better sources.
When Do You Need A Sugar Fix Mid WOD?
For most class WODs, which consist of about 6-30 minutes of metabolic conditioning and 0-15 minutes of strength, you won’t need to eat carbohydrates during as long as you’ve eaten something beforehand. Generally you will need additional carbohydrates during your workout when it is longer than 60-90 minutes or very high in intensity. (I’m talking about a 7 mile run, 90 minutes of Olympic lifting, or following a 60 minute class with another 30-60 minutes of strength or gymnastics work, not 70 minutes cursing on the elliptical or bike).
Eating carbohydrates during a longer, more intense workout helps prevent drops in blood glucose and liver glycogen (stored form of carbohydrate), and may improve motor skills. What this means is, you will be able to continue exercising at greater intensity and with better coordination and accuracy over the longer term (like I said, over 90 minutes) when you eat carbohydrates during your workout than when you do not.
How Much And What To Eat
During a workout, the recommendation is to take in 30-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour, in small increments every 15-30 minutes, starting when you’re about 30 minutes in (Stellingwerff et al 2011). Carbohydrate during a workout should be taken in small amounts in 15-30 minute intervals to avoid any stomach issues.
Good food choices for the middle of a workout will be easy to digest and low in fat and fiber. Good examples include:
- Gatorade or sports drink
- Dried fruit
- 100% juice
- Flavored coconut water (the peach mango flavor is amazing)
- Energy/sport beans or candy (I’ll address the difference in a minute)
- Fruit (stick to lower fiber options or ones that you’re familiar with. Protip: if you don’t regularly eat bananas, don’t eat one while on a long run).
About those energy beans vs. candy? They provide essentially the same thing in terms of sugar during your workout. The Energy Beans cost more than the same amount of regular jelly beans, but have fewer ingredients (although most are still sugar), no artificial flavors (at least not the flavors I looked up), come in a one serving bag, and make you feel all fit and healthy when you eat them.
How do you know when you’ll need a little added carbohydrate during a workout? My answer is usually if the workout is longer than 90 minutes and higher than moderate intensity (which would be walking or cruising on the bike) or if you feel depleted or drained during your workout. Start with familiar, easy to digest foods and expedient with what works for you.
My favorite mid workout snack, despite making fun of them, is the Energy Beans or Gu Chomps (same thing as the Cliff Energy Blocks) for long runs and dried fruit for weight training. What are your go-to mid workout snacks?
19 May 2014
I have had some conversations with a few of you and a consistent remark has been that you miss seeing the whiteboard of everyone’s results for the day on Wodify.
Pocket Coach does not currently have this feature and it may be developed for it either. He is the thing; this is about you and your progress and benchmarking your loads, volume, etc off of another is NOT ideal. You may be creating a glass ceiling for yourself or you may be biting off more than you can chew.
You need to be in tune with your body and its abilities. Know ahead of time what you think you can do. Then as you are warming up make the decision if you can do more or less.
As you read this you are probably thinking to yourself, “Ok, great Neal but what about seeing everyone’s scores.” So we are bringing back the old school! Post your results daily to the blog for the day. This is how we get everyone doing it. If you train in the AM and want to see what the PM did, post your results and others will begin doing so as well.
If you have a comment about the training for the day or questions, post them to comments. This will help us understand what topics you are interested in reading about and make the blog more robust for you, The Community!
Go Post! Now Greg Williams!
Here was 7am getting after it this morning.
14 May 2014
This past Sunday, Mother’s Day, I was relaxing and watching the Today Show, when I saw something that made me do this:
Let me explain: they had a segment on cooking Mother’s Day brunch featuring Mary J. Blige’s personal chef. She was making a bunch of delicious looking stuff and making it healthy. One item was granola, using mostly nuts, dried fruit, and palm sugar. And as she’s describing the granola she keeps talking about palm sugar as “a better sugar” and a healthier sugar. Now you see why the face palm?
I see this on a lot of Paleo blogs too; they’ll use honey instead of sucrose, and almond or coconut meal instead of flour and proclaim it a healthy item. So now seems like a good time to tackle the “better sugar” question.
The Glycemic Index
Let’s start here with a quick review. The glycemic index is a measure of how a particular food or beverage affects your blood sugar compared to 50 grams of white bread. Low glycemic foods have a glycemic index (GI) below 55, and high glycemic foods are above 70. High glycemic foods cause a larger spike in your blood sugar, resulting in more insulin production and usually followed by a drop off. This cycle occurring over and over again can lead to insulin resistance, and ultimately diabetes. Lower glycemic foods tend to hit the blood sugar more slowly, resulting in less insulin release and a more stable curve. This graph illustrates it well (hint: you want to be closer to the blue line).
Now here is where a few common sugars fall on the glycemic index:
It would stand to reason that lower glycemic sugars like palm sugar and agave would be good for you compared to sucrose, right? Not so fast. Sugar its still sugar. All forms of sugar are calorically equivalent at 4 calories per gram, and are still a source of calories that provides zero nutritional quality (no fiber, no vitamins, no minerals, no other nutrients). Agave is highly processed, and coconut palm sugar production may well be unsustainable.
It’s kind of like what I said about high fructose corn syrup and sucrose: just because one thing might be similar or slightly better than another thing, doesn’t mean both are good for you. If you’re pursuing a healthy diet, finding the healthiest type of sugar is like finding the healthiest version of Frosted Corn Cereal – one may be better than another but neither are all that great for you. If you are making something that requires sugar, think about how you can cut back on the sweetness. Maybe add a banana instead of some of the butter in cookies or bread, which will maintain consistency and add more natural sweetness. Or check out Stevia. I haven’t done any research personally (meaning I haven’t used it a bunch yet), but I’ve heard great reviews.
What are your thoughts on sugar? Do you have a go-to type of sweetener?
12 May 2014
‘Sup peeps! I just wanted to get something off my chest.
While I love that you all come in an make mobility a part of your normal everyday routine, I would like to try to help you make the most of the time you spend mobilizing. Many of you roll in, change, and roll-out before class. Don’t roll in and roll out! Your body needs to be warm… and I mean WARM before you start. And don’t think that foam rolling is the cure for your tight hamstrings.
You should be getting hot & sweaty before your workout, then opening up joint capsules (banded distractions) then if you have a very sticky/tight spot, try spending 2 minutes doing some trigger point work on that spot, only if you’ve already gotten nice and warm and gone through some dynamic warm-up (yes, you can do this on your own before class too guys/girls).
In the cool down period following the workout you would effectively be doing an “active-cooldown.” Instead of laying on the ground, towelling off and heading out the door, spend some quality time moving and mobilizing as your body temperature returns to normal. This is where you will be addressing areas that us coaches have been telling you that you need to work on to increase you ROM. Some of that may be more trigger point or for those of you who can’t get enough of it, foam rolling work, to “unlock” areas that have knotted up during the workout. This will also assist in pushing blood through what you’ve just worked aiding in your recovery.
You can look at your mobility work as a planned session that is separate from group classes. Whatever you do, please… PLEASE don’t roll in to roll out.
Thinking of your future,
07 May 2014
Colorful plates are in these days, and don’t just mean the cool red and mint ones you can get from Crate & Barrel (although those are awesome too). I mean the “eat the rainbow” slogan is starting to take hold in the healthy eating community, and we’re packing our plates full of green, red, blue, purple, orange, and red for maximal vitamins and nutrition. No white foods on our plates!
But wait, why no white foods? Well, probably because we’ve been so conditioned to view them as nutrient void, low quality foods. And many white and tan foods are just that – like fried chicken, french fries, white bread, rice, mayonnaise, etc. But some colorful foods are not so good for you either, like ketchup (in red, purple, and green) and green sprinkles from JP Licks.
White vegetables are white because of flavenoids (a substance known to have antioxidant activity and thought to help prevent cardiovascular disease by decreasing inflammation and platelet aggregation (1)) called anthoxanthins. Some white fruits and vegetables like bananas and potatoes are also a good source of potassium, an important electrolyte in muscle and heart function.
Some white fruits and vegetables have even been given the impressive label of “super food”. Some of these include:
- Bananas – bananas are high in potassium and are a great pre or post workout snack due to their carbohydrate and potassium content.
- Garlic – garlic, as well as onions and leeks, is high in allium, which has been associated with protection against colorectal and gastric cancers (2).
- Ginger – often used as a flavoring, ginger has been associated with such benefits as reduced inflammation in the colon (a precursor to colon cancer), decreased muscle soreness after exercise, and nausea among others (3).
- Cauliflower – in addition to all the antioxidants, cauliflower is also a cruciferous vegetable high in fiber, and as a bonus it’s super versatile (you can even make rice and “mashed potatoes” out of it).
Also don’t forget about potatoes. They aren’t as bad as you might think (if prepped the right way).
02 May 2014
Fire it Up Baby! This has been a tough week of training. The tempo squats were brutal and fun at the same time. Only a CrossFitter would combine “brutal” and “fun” in the same sentence. This upcoming week is promising to be just as challenging in a totally different way. More on that later…Shirtless Bob was so fired up he sent me this pic from the CrossFit in Rome!
STRENGTH CHALLENGE AND HYDROSTATIC WEIGHING
This upcoming weekend is the Hydrostatic Weighing with Fitness Wave. As of now there are many spots still available. Friday is almost filled up but Saturday is pretty wide open. Here is the link so you can sign up. Be sure to mark whether you are participating in the challenge or would just prefer the hydrostatic weighing.
So, WODIFY is out and Pocket Coach is in!
MemberGuideToPocketCoach This is the link to download a PDF explaining how to use Pocket Coach. Of course the coaches are also available to help you!
This upcoming week’s programming: I have been testing out the next week’s programming for the last few weeks. I did this regularly when I first started out but it has been some time since I had done as frequently as I have been. I started doing this again so that I can better communicate to my coaches and interns what it felt like and the flow of the class should be, etc. This will allow them to better communicate to you as a member what to expect, how to scale, where to push and where to back off. Let me know what you think.
For TOTAL weight:
Deadlift 5-4-3-2-1 reps
Rest 5 minutes
Box jump (20″ box) 50 reps (step downs only)
Rest 5 minutes
2 rope climbs
**Overhead Lockout with a plate – 45#/25#
This is done with a partner. Partner 1 performs the 800m run and rope climbs while partner 2 completes the OH lockout with a plate. When each person completes the run and 2 rope climbs, you have completed 1 round.
Rest 5-10 minutes
Bench Press – work up to a 10RM
1. Back extension 15-15-15 slow and pretty. Snake or wave up.
2. Dumbbell Thruster from 10″ box – 20-15-10 max weight each set.
No “rocking up” or “plunking down”.
3. 5 minutes Max double unders
1. Muscle snatch – 15-12-9 reps with same load and 1 minute between sets.
2. Five supersets of back extension and sit-ups. Make each exercise slow and tough.
3. Muscle snatch – 15-12-9 reps with same load and 1 minute between sets.
1. Time five muscle-ups and 50 box jumps on 20″ plyo box.
Stretch/rest 20 minutes.
2. Time five muscle-ups and 50 box jumps on 20″ plyo box.
We’re interested in both times and decay rate from first to second effort.
If you can’t do muscle-ups, substitute fifteen pull-ups and twenty dips for each muscle-up. Must step down from the box.
Warm-up with about ten minutes of EASY rowing. Then…
1. Row a 1K for time. Submit time.
2. Squat (10″ box squat) – 5-3-1 reps
Submit total weight for all three sets.
1. Dips 5 x max dips.
Total the five sets. Note assistance if needed.
2. “Julie G” – 3 rounds for time of:
Snatch 1/2 body weight, 10 reps
Powerclean 1/2 body weight, 10 reps
20″ box jump, 15 reps (step down from box)
Saturday 5/10 – CrossFit Total
Back Squat – 1RM
Shoulder Press – 1RM
Deadlift – 1RM