Eat This Not That!


Easy food swaps to keep you fit.

Is there anything like a piping hot slice of pizza sliding out of the oven? How about a heaping mountain of nachos in front of you during the game or a tall stack of pancakes for weekend brunch?

As you look to improve your diet you may have struggled to give up certain foods. Knowing how to make a few simple ingredient changes can have a major impact on your nutrition and health. The best part is that you don’t have to sacrifice any of the delicious foods you love. Whether you are an athlete, a mom, a busy working professional, or maybe even a combination of all three of those, making healthy diet choices easier is something you can benefit from. Try these a few of these easy switches to make any meal healthier!

“You are what what you eat eats.” -Michael Pollan

A twist on pasta

Spaghetti dinner is a staple in many American diets but if you are focused on eating healthy you have to tread lightly. The calories and carbohydrate content of pasta adds ups quick. Even alternative pastas that are gluten free are still calorie dense foods to keep an eye on. A better choice is to try veggies like spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini. Combined with a low sugar tomato sauce and a healthy serving of lean protein pasta night can take on a whole new meaning of health.

A new slice on pizza

Pizza can be tough to navigate as your range of options is so vast. Some local joints may use great quality ingredients but still pack a caloric punch. National chains should be totally avoided with the processed ingredients and additives that make up their knock-off pies. Since most of us would love to keep pizza in our lives it is important to develop a system of eating it that supports your diet and lifestyle goals. Gluten free has become a buzzword and marketing tool used to attract new customers. I’m not here to have the GF debate about whether or not your body can digest it, I’m saying that a pizza crust made from processed starches that happen to not have gluten does not make them any healthier. Luckily you have a few options…

One method is to limit total intake, order a pizza with as many veggies and proteins on it as possible and limit yourself to one slice of the crust. Or you can try finding a restaurant that has  or making your own cauliflower crust pizza. This is a great low carb alternative that lets you reach for another guilt-free slice.

Flip what you sip

It’s easy to forget the calories that are found in drinks. A study conducted by Harvard found that women who consumed sugar sweetened drinks daily tended to consume more calories daily and gained weight. Meanwhile women who eliminated sugar sweetened beverages tended to consume fewer calories and demonstrated better body composition. Scientists believe that drinking calories doesn’t provide the same signaling mechanisms in the body as food does. Basically our body doesn’t recognize it has consumed calories and the subsequent insulin spike can leave you feeling energy depleted and hungry.

Soda, juice, and alcohol don’t really belong in your diet if you are trying to build muscle or burn fat. If you are looking for a fun drink try reaching for a juice made from vegetables like kale and collard greens, powerful nutrients like ginger root, and maybe a dash of lemon or lime juice. Kombucha, a fermented tea beverage, can be a great option as well provided you find a low sugar variety (always read the label) and of course there are many great flavored sparkling and seltzer water options out there.

The Burger Swap

One of the toughest foods to give up can without a doubt be the hamburger. Before you part ways with this American classic let’s figure out a way for you to still enjoy your cheeseburger in paradise…

There are two ways to clean up this delicious food. One way is to eliminate the bun. Replace it with a collard greens wrap or two pieces of fresh romaine lettuce. Two large portobello mushrooms can also do the trick if you have them available (Pro tip: Grill the mushrooms for 2 minutes on each side with a little oil, salt, and pepper).

The second way to clean up your burger is to make sure you have a patty made from high quality grass fed beef or organic ground turkey. Balance the fats you use as topping and try swapping out the cheese for some fresh avocado slices.

Pancake, stacked to jacked

Fluffy buttermilk pancakes or belgian waffles are a staple of weekend brunch. Instead of shooting for the white flour varieties though try a cleaner approach next time. Start with the batter. Substituting bananas and ground flax meal, almond, or coconut flour are a much better alternative. Keep an eye on the fat content if using nut flours as they are very calorie dense. Make sure you have a ratio of at least one egg per pancake or add a scoop of protein powder to the mix to keep the macronutrients balanced. Top with fresh berries and grass fed butter and avoid the powdered sugar and whipped cream. Also be sure to spring for real maple syrup over any of the high fructose corn syrup versions. It is packed full of antioxidants and so sweet that just a teaspoon will go a long way in terms of flavor.

If you want to learn more about eating healthy and getting in shape then talk to a coach today.

We can develop a plan for you to help you achieve your goals!

 

How To Master Your Mind


What do you think about during a workout?

How heavy the weight feels?

The daunting number of reps remaining or time left on the clock?

A creaky knee or that shoulder that always flares up?

Whether you’re in the gym to improve your health, gaining strength and conditioning for your sport, or you are an aspiring professional exerciser you can stand to benefit from improving your mental game. Mental Game is the self talk that dictates how you execute, the inner voice calling the shots. If there have been times in training, competition, and life where you walked away feeling like you could have performed better then maybe it is time to consider improving your mental game.

In his podcast Finding Mastery, Michael Gervais interview 4x worlds fittest man Rich Froning. When it comes to the mindset of a champion there is no one better to listen to. Rich discusses his approach to training, competition, and his journey from being a relentless individual competitor to a team champion and family man.

“In training, you listen to your body. In competition you tell your body to shut up.” -Rich Froning Jr.

Rich mentions that he hates losing. In fact, he goes so far as to say that he hates losing more than he loves winning.

This is a common occurrence in top athletes that relates back to a very basic human instinct. That is, all decisions that we make are performed in the name of avoiding pain or seeking pleasure. In this case Rich could not bear the sting of losing after a second place finish in his first CrossFit Games appearance. Even after taking home 6 titles proving his dominance as the fittest man in the world, you can still hear the bitterness in his voice as he discusses that fateful day almost a decade behind him.

What separates Rich and makes him such a great champion is what he did with that experience. When most people could have complained, or quit, or cried Rich let that experience fuel his fire. He did this by attacking his weaknesses in training so that way the next year he could show up with confidence.

Rich goes on to mention that he believed he wasn’t always the best athlete in competition but that it was his willingness to push himself harder when it mattered most that lead him to victory. This is a skill he has been cultivating his whole life. Growing up in a family surrounded by older, stronger cousins RIch constantly found himself competing.

To succeed against a stronger opponent, effort becomes of the utmost importance. Like the old saying goes, “hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” We can all benefit from this maxim and train like the underdog. In the training environment you can create situations that will push you into an uncomfortable place. The more time you spend in an uncomfortable place the less uncomfortable it becomes. This allows you to push deeper and find new thresholds.

Are there any areas in your life that you find uncomfortable? Do you find yourself shying away from those situations or coming up with excuses?

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength” -Arnold Schwarzenegger

Everyone’s favorite Mr. Olympia has the mindset of a champion, there is no denying that. As a successful bodybuilder, businessman, movie star, and governator Arnold shows us that with the right mindset we can achieve success and apply those principles to all areas of our lives.

So what does the mindset of a champion look like? Arnold suggests 6 rules for success:

Trust yourself, have a clear vision of the outcome you want and go for it.
Break some rules, be the exception, be the first, one of a kind.
Don’t be afraid to fail, if you are not failing you are not aiming high enough.
Ignore the naysayers, if you are serious about your goal there is no space.
Work like Hell, harder and smarter.
Give something back, what lessons have you learned that could benefit others?

Following these principles will benefit you regardless of your goal or undertaking. Every day is a chance for improvement and you get a fresh start right now.

Are there any areas in your life you need to start to trust yourself? Do you have toxic influences in your life keeping you from trying? What are you focused on besides your goal?

“I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot… when you think about the consequences you always think of a negative result.” -Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan was focused on making the shot
Not the win.
Not the loss.
Not the miss.
Just making the shot.

It’s a pressure cooker. To have the ball in your hands with the game on the line. Maybe you have been there before…maybe you have never been there, but always wondered what it would be like.

In life we aren’t always faced with such clear moments of decision, but that does not mean that there is any less pressure or less important outcomes. Every day there are perhaps dozens of little decisions we make that have shaped our character and crafted the life that we live.

Whether it is fighting for one more burpee in the workout, double checking our work before shipping a project, or even getting out of bed instead of snoozing for that 5 extra minutes. Each day we get the chance to take the shot. So many times though we don’t take it because we are caught up in our own heads.

By changing our focus to an outcome that we desire we invite in the opportunity for that change to occur. Our bodies adapt to the stories that our minds create.

Is your self talk keeping you from playing your best in any area? What is a new story you could tell yourself instead?

“If you can see yourself doing something, you can do it. If you can’t see yourself doing it, usually you can’t achieve it.” -David Goggins

David Goggins in no stranger to overcoming obstacles. From losing 120 lbs to becoming a Navy Seal, pull-up world record holder, and running 203.5 miles in 48 hours this man has what I would call mental warfare more than mental game.

How did he do it?

By facing his fears head on. Goggins recognized that by making decisions in fear he was headed down a path that he was ashamed of. He made a choice to become the opposite of all his worst fears, but this change did not happen overnight.

He describes the early days where he couldn’t run around his neighborhood block without stopping and returning to the couch for a chocolate milkshake. He was able to transition and improve by telling himself to be better and try it again. He internalized the message that he was not going to quit by training it every single day. Just like a muscle it grew over time. David would rely on this muscle every time he tackled a new challenge that felt insurmountable.

These are the lessons and tips from some of the best in the world. So how can you start flexing your mental muscles and change your self talk?

Next time you are talking yourself through a workout or challenging project keep these lessons in mind. Focus on the outcome that you want, not the negative result if things don’t work out. Break things down into small manageable chunks. Focus on your most immediate action and doing it to the best of your ability. And of course, work like hell. The challenges in life are there for growth, tackle them head on.

Neurotransmitters, Recovery, And Your Training


Do you ever have days when you feel like all you could do is sleep no matter how much coffee you drink?

Or maybe you’ve been on a new strength program for the past 8 weeks and feel weaker than when you started?

Maybe you find yourself walking around the gym in a daze not wanting to get started?

If you said “Yes” to any of these you may have experienced a deficiency or imbalance of your neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitter are chemical messengers that get released in our body. They allow our cells to communicate and work together. There are 4 primary neurotransmitters: Dopamine, Acetylcholine, Serotonin, and GABA. They are both excitatory (speed our cells up) and inhibitory (slow our cells down).

All the neurotransmitters are constantly in fluxuation and balance with one another. This can have a huge effect on our mood, energy, and ability to focus. Some activities like lifting a heavy weight or taking a challenging test use up the neurotransmitters we have on hand.

Strength coach Charles Poliquin is a huge proponent of specific program design built around the athlete. Knowing which of the neurotransmitter types you are dominant in can help you adjust loading parameters, frequency and intensity of training, and plan rest days. Even having a basic understanding of which neurotransmitter type you are dominant in will give you a framework for decision making around your training goals.

Now lets learn a little about each neurotransmitter type.

 

Dopamine

Dopamine is an excitatory neurotransmitter making it a huge factor behind your motivation towards training and activity levels. Individuals who are dopamine dominant tend to be the ones who are always fired up to exercise. They handle high volume and intensity well but tend to adapt quickly to a stimulus which can cause them to overtrain quickly if their workouts are not constantly varied.

Dopamine synthesis can be promoted by eating foods such as almonds, peanuts, soybeans, avocados, bananas, watermelon, yogurt, beef, tuna, chicken, chocolate, eggs, coffee, and green tea.

 

Acetylcholine

Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter responsible for intercellular communication between the muscles in the nervous system. Acetylcholine levels can make a huge difference in our ability to recruit the maximal number of muscle fibers. On days where you might not “feel strong” could be because your cells are having a hard time communicating to coordinate on a lift.

Meats, dairy, poultry and fish contain high levels of choline, with the highest levels coming from liver. One 3-ounce serving of meat contains approximately 70 milligrams of choline. Chocolate, peanut butter, brussels sprouts and broccoli also contain significant levels of choline.

 

GABA

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and is responsible for shutting the body down for rest and recovery. You may be experiencing low GABA levels if you find your mind racing or have trouble sleeping at night.

GABA levels can be promoted through probiotic rich foods like yogurt that improve gut health. Foods that increase GABA levels include berries, bananas, and Pu-erh tea.

 

Serotonin

Serotonin is another inhibitory neurotransmitter and really a jack of all trades. It helps regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to fatigue and depression.

Foods like chicken, turkey, salmon, beef, nut butter, eggs, and green peas all contain high levels of Tryptophan a precursor to serotonin production. One other way to boost serotonin production? You guessed it…exercise!

 

Want to talk more about training and recovery? Get in touch with a coach today!

 

How Focusing On Your Breathing Can Improve Your Fitness


Breathing is a unique process in the human body. It can occur voluntarily or involuntarily, be a conscious or unconscious decision, and is constantly responding to feedback from sensors in your body. Oftentimes are breathe is being stifled by our emotional state, body position, or

 

Posture and breath

When you inhale your diaphragm contracts and moves downward expanding the chest cavity and giving the lungs space to expand. This simultaneously lifts the ribs and sternum. When you exhale the diaphragm relaxes and expands into the chest cavity as the ribs and sternum lower.

The key muscles or primary movers in this process are the diaphragm, intercostal muscles, and abdominal muscles. Secondary mover muscles include upper trapezius, scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, levator scapulae, and pectoralis minor.

Poor posture categorized by rounded shoulders and a forward head position can cause these secondary movers to become tight and overworked. This leads to a decline in respiratory function which can further exacerbate the breathing muscles and contribute to even worse posture.

To jump start your muscles involved in breathing try out this stretching and breath practice from Jill Miller at Yoga Tune Up: The Abdominal Vacuum.

So you might be wondering why you should worry about your breath when it’s so easy you can literally do it in your sleep?

 

Let’s start with the the one we all care about

 

  1. Improved performance. A study at the University of Portsmouth showed that runners who performed inspiratory muscle warm-ups and training experienced a whopping 15% increase in performance after just 6 weeks.

 

  1. Energy

Bringing a mindful focus to breath can also help improve energy. Individuals who practice deep breathing exercises report more energy, improved mental acuity, and getting a better night’s sleep.

 

  1. Digestion

An improvement in breath capacity will lead to a healthier digestive tract. The body has more energy to allocate towards digestion and is more efficient at eliminating toxins.

 

  1. Decrease Stress

Breathing techniques that are designed to bring increased awareness the breath can carry over to other areas of life. It trains the mind to be less emotionally reactive while simultaneously reducing cortisol levels.

 

  1. Heart Rate

Breathing practice has been shown to lower resting heart rate and blood pressure. Try deep belly breaths where the stomach fully expands and holding in at the full exhalation and inhalation points.

 

Many breathing techniques are geared towards unwinding, shutting down, and moving away from the flight or fight response we are used to feeling. Breath work also has many powerful applications to get us fired up and improve our u

When lifting heavy weights, a full belly breath can be held inside the abdomen throughout the lift. This Valsalva Maneuver provides internal pressure that supports the spine and braces the skeletal muscle throughout the lift. Limit this maneuver for maximal exertion efforts (eg. greater than 80% of your 1rm and 5 reps or less in your working set).

Breathing can also be used to prime your body into a peak state. Using rapid forced inhales and exhales through the nostrils will stimulate the immune system, increase circulation, and leave you feeling alive, alert, and awake.

Now that you know a little about how breathing affects your daily life and the systems of your body what areas do you want to incorporate a breathing practice into? Whether its for our health, relaxation purposes, or to improve our athletic performance we could all benefit from taking a deep breath now and then!

 

Eliminate shoulder pain once and for all!


Shoulder pain is one of the most troubling ailments that can interrupt any avid gym goer. Exercise should be a place to relieve stress, build, confidence, and of course improve your health. Dealing with one more painful problem to work through is probably not going to be a big motivator for you.

The good news is that you don’t to make training with shoulder pain a part of your life. In fact if you dedicate yourself to the process you can eliminate shoulder pain once and for all.

Let’s talk about where this shoulder pain can come from from, address what actions need to be taken and the potential irritants that should be avoided. Finally we’ll take a look at some movements that can help mobilize, activate, and strengthen your shoulders. Dedicate part of every workout to improving the functionality of this crucial joint and you will change your athleticism and quality of life.

 

“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.” -Julius Caesar

 

Poor technique may load up the shoulder joint in a way that it cannot stabilize. This could cause strain and overuse of muscles around the shoulder. One common example of this is an overworked pec minor and underworked rotator cuff. This leads to rounded shoulders, and weakens the ability to stabilize the glenohumeral joint during pushing and pulling movements from the shoulder. By stretching the pec it will allow your shoulder to sit in a more stable position. By activating and strengthening the rotator cuff and scapular muscles on the back of the shoulder you ensure healthy, balanced stability and function.

Overuse could be another culprit of shoulder pain. Whether your volume (total amount of reps) or frequency (sessions each week) is too high or you are simply trying to lift too much weight can all cause problems. If you go heavy or perform maximal effort sets you may need up to 5-7 days to fully recover. If you work at lower intensity you may be able to work this muscle group 2-3 times a week. Find the right balance of volume and intensity to ensure consistent progress in your lifts.

If you are constantly running into the same shoulder pain issues then technique may be the true problem. The shoulder is the most freely movable joint in the body. This puts at the greatest risk of injury when it comes to repetitive movement with poor form. Even one session with a coach or trainer can revolutionize your upper body pressing ability.

 

Finally if you experience pain when performing a certain movement it may simply not be a good fit for you. There are infinite ways to scale the load and form of resistance to provide your body with a similar stimulus to the painful movement. Perhaps the most commons movement replacements are those that replace a fixed circuit movement such as a barbell bench press or overhead press with single arm variations using dumbbells or kettlebells. Training the arms unilaterally allows you to have more “play” in the shoulder and adopting a movement pattern that better suits your body. No compromises in strength or performance are necessary.

So let’s move on to some strategies to actively prevent your shoulders from injury. Through activation, self myofascial release, strengthening, and stretching.

 

  1. Activate

Activating the muscles for a workout or “prehab” helps your body prepare for the more demanding movements it is about to perform. It will both aid performance and mitigate risk of injury. When it comes to the shoulders

To help activate your shoulders before a workout perform these 3 upper body exercises, band pull aparts, scapular pushups, and face pulls. Perform 3 rounds of this circuit with 10 seconds rest between each movement. Keep the band resistance light enough to move with a slow controlled tempo but make sure it still challenges you. You should feel the blood flow and a warm sensation in the shoulder joint by the end of this circuit.

Perform 3 rounds with :10 of rest between movements.

A1. 15 Band Pull Aparts

A2. 10 Yoga Push Up

A3. 15 Band Face Pulls

 

  1. Roll Out

Self Myofascial Release (SMR) is a fancy name for “rolling out.” The goal is to mobilize soft tissue allowing greater range of motion and improved muscle function. You can use a foam rollers, lacrosse balls, tennis balls or any other device that allows you to access the desired body part at pain level you can withstand. Focus on breathing and eliminating abdominal pressure while you roll out to ensure the tool can work its way into the muscle.

Rolling out helps our body get “unstuck” from tightness due to sitting and positions we spend long amounts of time in. It is important to move and mobilize our tissues as often as possible to mitigate this tightness. Imagine if you were going to run a marathon with a rock in your shoe. You would never run 26 miles with that rock digging into your foot each step of the way! There’s no reason to treat your shoulder in that manner either. Stop pushing through the pain and fix the sticky points.

 

  1. Strengthen

Like an muscle group it is important to strengthen the muscles of the shoulder. The exercise you choose should strengthen the weak muscles that are necessary for optimal shoulder stability. Performing these strength building movement for 5 rounds alternating back and forth between movements

3×8 Bottoms Up Kettlebell Press take 3-4 seconds to lower the weight from the top position. IF you struggle with balancing try working from a kneeling or seated position, train one arm at a time, and keep the kettlebell light.

3×8 alternating Turkish Get Up Try breaking this complex movement into smaller pieces or work with a coach to master the technique. Your shoulders will thank you!

 

  1. Static Stretching

Part of your cool down routine should also include some static stretching. There are many debates around when and how static stretching should be performed. One study has shown that static stretching can improve flexibility by increasing passive fascicle length. Performing a static stretching routine after your workout or anytime that is not immediately preceding an event requiring maximal force production by a muscle.

Stretch the primary movers of your days workout-chest, lats, and traps are some of the key muscles to stretch since a heavy bout of training will leave them tight and could cause a temporary imbalance if not addressed. Hold stretches for about 30 seconds to ensure your brain sends a signal to your muscles that they need to stop firing and allow lengthening to occur.

If you have questions about building strong healthy shoulders don’t be afraid to get in touch with one of our coaches. We will find a safe and effective program to meet your needs!

 

5 Tips when Choosing a Personal Trainer


Let’s face it, trying to find a personal trainer ranks up there with some of life’s most difficult decisions. Choosing a college…starting a family…what to watch on Netflix this weekend?

A good personal trainer should always be a good listener, explain why you are doing specific workouts/exercises and will always prescribe a plan that will help you reach your fitness goals. Daunting as it is to choose a trainer, there are a few key areas to help you start your search.

 

  1. Experience

Experience is an important factor in choosing a trainer, but first you have to define the specific experience needed for YOU. Because a trainer has been “in the business” for years doesn’t mean they’ll know the area you’re looking to improve. Instead consider some other forms of experience:

  • Look for experience showed by happy reference-able clients. Each trainer should have stories of past clients they helped.
  • Ask yourself, has this trainer worked with people who look, act, or sound like me?
  • Look for experience outside the fitness environment. This could mean a trainer who has proven success in business, academics, military service, or personal endeavors. Top performers tend to bring their work ethic and attitude to all areas of life.
  • Look for shared experiences or similar backgrounds. A trainer who happens to be a mother of 3 children can offer invaluable experience to a new mother who is nervous about returning to training.

 

  1. Knowledge

Experience can take many forms, but you want to make sure that your trainer is in fact knowledgeable. The best trainers are lifelong learners and their resume should speak to that. If you are having a hard time locating their credentials, it’s important to ask. Most trainers will open the floodgates about their inspirations and influences. Some leading questions could be:

  • How did you start your fitness journey?
  • What are your biggest influences in health and fitness?
  • What certifications do you hold?
  • Do you recommend any websites or articles where I could learn more?
  • What systems or progressions do you use to help clients achieve their outcomes?

 

  1. The 5 Chimps Theory

In zoology, you can predict the mood and behavior patterns of any chimp by which five chimps they hang out with the most. What does this have to do with choosing a trainer? It means find a trainer who you want to be like. Consider what personal characteristics would best help you on your fitness journey:

Do you need a trainer who is serious and intense? Or are they quirky and can always lighten your mood? Keep in mind that you aren’t selecting the trainer you WANT, but the trainer you NEED!

Once you feel that a trainer has a background that aligns with your goals it’s time to explore how they engage with you.

 

  1. You’ll know how much they care!

The initial meeting is the perfect time to gauge your trainers level of caring. A good trainer takes interest in your needs and listens to your concerns. They inquire about your health and fitness background as well as relevant personal information. Expect questions about injuries, conditions, and athletic background as well.

The trainer/client relationship involves more than planning a workout routine. It involves building trust, addressing challenges, and working together towards a recognized goal. Now the trainer should set clear expectations for what you can expect from training. The approach they use should have a clear progression and benchmarks to track your progress along the way.

 

  1. Persistence trumps Intensity

As author Derek Sivers says, “If more information was the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” Most people have an idea of what they SHOULD do, but generally struggle with what they WILL do. When you begin a new routine, adherence is key. For your first month or two, your trainer should be helping you develop habits around fitness and other healthy practices. When you choose a trainer consider the factors that will encourage your training as well as remove potential roadblocks.

  • Is it a convenient commute to the gym or park?
  • How often will you be able to meet? What times?
  • Is this a price that I am able to pay for each month/week/session?
  • Is this an environment that is safe and comfortable?

It’s easy to find an excuse why you shouldn’t call, but let’s face it, you’re still reading this for a reason. You’re reading because you care, because you have a goal, because you’re ready to do what it takes.

So instead of justifying why you can’t right now, why it’s not a good time, why next month would be better. Think about what your life would look like if today you made the choice that changed everything.

5 “Hero” Workouts Everyone Should Try


The hero WODs were created to commemorate fallen heroes who served in the line of duty. Soldiers, law enforcement, firefighters, and first responders were some of the original inspiration for CrossFit workouts. CrossFit workouts grew out of the extreme physical demands of these heroes jobs. They also require grit, guts, and heart and we honor the memory of these brave men and women every time we participate. If you haven’t yet, here are 5 hero workouts that you absolutely must try!

 

“Kalsu”

For Time:

  • 100 Thrusters (135/95 lb)
  • 5 Burpees at the top of every minute (Start with 5 burpees. Then complete as many thrusters as possible until the minute is up. Repeat until 100 total thrusters are completed. If athlete does not finish score is number of rounds and reps completed.

This WOD is a huge mental grind. Go out too fast and you’ll pay for it but trying to pace out the rounds means more reps cleaning the bar. Try to find the sweet spot of 5 reps of thrusters per round and keep a steady pace as you work.

Kalsu was an NFL player with an extremely promising career ahead of him. After starting the entire 1968 season with the Buffalo Bills as a guard, he was named Team Rookie of the Year. Despite the promise of a legendary career, Kalsu put that aside to enlist in the Army in 1969 and was soon shipped out to Vietnam, where he lost his life less than a year later. Kalsu left behind a wife and two young children.

 

“Tillman”

7 Rounds For Time:

  • 7 Deadlifts (315/205 lb)
  • 200 meter Sprint
  • 15 Pull-Ups
  • 45 seconds Rest

This workout is designed to be fast and heavy and truly embodies the spirit of Pat Tillman. Try to go unbroken on the deadlifts and remember to relax your grip during the run. Break up the pullups as needed to ensure that you don’t hit a failure point too early in the workout, 45 seconds of rest won’t be enough time to fully recover between these brutal rounds.

Patrick Daniel Tillman (11/6/76–4/22/04) was a professional football player who left the National Football League and enlisted in the United States Army in May 2002. He joined the Army Rangers and served multiple tours in combat before he was killed in the mountains of Afghanistan. He was a recipient of the Silver Star, the third highest honor in the military, and a Purple Heart. Pat is survived by his wife Marie. He is also remembered through the foundation named in his honor.

 

“Daniel”

For Time:

  • 50 Pull-Ups
  • 400 meter Run
  • 21 Thrusters (95/65 lb)
  • 800 meter Run
  • 21 Thrusters (95/65 lb)
  • 400 meter Run
  • 50 Pull-Ups

Daniel has one of those dangerous rep schemes that keeps you right at the threshold of being able to continue working without realizing the cumulative effect of the workload. Ease into the first 50 pull ups, push yourself on the run, and go for broke on the sets of thrusters!

Dedicated to Army Sgt 1st Class Daniel Crabtree who was killed in Al Kut, Iraq on Thursday, June 8th, 2006. Crabtree is survived by his wife, Kathy, and his daughter, Mallory.. He is also survived by his father, Ronald Crabtree and his mother, Judy Ann Crabtree.

 

“Ryan”

5 rounds for time:

  • 7 Muscle-ups
  • 21 Burpees (Each burpee terminates with a jump one foot above max standing reach.)

Ryan is a classic CrossFit couplet that will rely heavily on your proficiency with the muscle-up. Take advantage of a kip to lock out at the top of the rings, the cumulative effect of 35 muscle-ups and 105 burpees do a number to your triceps.

Maplewood, Missouri Firefighter, Ryan Hummert, 22, was killed by sniper fire July 21st 2008 when he stepped off his fire truck responding to a call. He is survived by his parents Andrew and Jackie Hummert.

 

“White”

5 rounds for time:

  • 3 rope climbs (15ft)
  • 10 toes to bars
  • 21 overhead walking lunges (45/35 lb plate)
  • 400 meter run

This workout is a true total body burner that will heavily tax your grip strength and shoulders. Focus on using your legs to drive you up the rope, break up the toes to bar early, and moving with purpose through the lunges. Take advantage of the 400m run as “active recovery” and make sure to shake out your arms while you go.

U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ashley White, 24, of Alliance, OH, assigned to the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard, based in Goldsboro, NC. She died on October 22, 2011, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when insurgents attacked her unit with an improvised explosive device.She is survived by her husband Captain Jason Stumpf, her parents Robert and Deborah, brother Josh, and sister Brittney.

 

4 Hacks to a better night’s sleep


Hey there motivated individual! I have a new challenge for you. Guess what? It’s harder than any whole-food-eating, gallon-of-water-drinking, couch-to-5k challenge you’ve ever tried.

Not only that, but if you complete it successfully I promise you’ll never want to stop.

That’s why I’m challenging you to 1 month of restful nights sleep!

So why is that so hard? Because for some reason our culture idolizes the overworked, overtired, puffy eyed stories of grinding day in and day out with insufficient sleep. We seem to overvalue sacrifice and undervalue our bodies. Not only that, but I think we all forget what it feels like to operate as our 100% rested and ready to go selves. I promise that if you invest in your rest you’ll never want to go without it again.

Let’s dig in to some techniques to help us prepare for an awesome night’s sleep!

 

Optimize Your Environment

Do more of this:

 

Make it dark

Our bodies sleep cycle is regulated by a hormone called Melatonin, produced in the Pineal gland. Melatonin is released as the day grows dark and tells our bodies to begin shutting down. Any exposure of our bodies to light will reduce the release of Melatonin and could potentially disrupt the sleep cycle. Try blackout curtains, removing any sources of light in the bedroom, or even a sleep mask to really turn out the lights!

 

Turn down the thermostat

As drowsy as it makes us to sit by the fire, it actually isn’t ideal to be in a hot environment for a good night’s rest. According to Dr. Peter Attia, “the lowering of our body temperature at night is a cue for our brains that it’s time to go to sleep and increases the proportion of time we’re in delta-wave (translation: deep) sleep.” So what’s the ideal temperature? Most studies show that 68 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleep.

Don’t do that!:

 

Checking email before bed

Technology and sleep appear to be mortal enemies. A very “neither can live while the other survives,” Harry Potter/Lord Voldemort type of scenario. Staring at a screen make our bodies think we still need to be alert, active, and ready for action. AKA not drowsy, calm, or relaxed. Best practice: No screens in the bedroom. Turn off phones, computers, and television 30-60 minutes before bedtime to let your body know it’s time to shut down.

 

Smart Consumption

Do more of this:

 

Eat protein before bed.

To ensure a restful night of sleep it is important to be aware of how we’re fueling our bodies throughout the day.Some studies have shown that eating a high protein snack before bed

resulted in significantly fewer wake episodes compared to carbohydrate based snacks or a placebo. Try a protein shake, a late night omelette, or some greek yogurt and peanut butter to fuel your slumber.

 

Don’t do that!:

Drink coffee after 12pm.

Caffeine can have seriously disrupting effects on your sleep.Try to avoid alcohol, tea, and any beverages that alter your state, dehydrate, or have you running to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

 

Develop a Routine:

Do more of this:

 

Set a bedtime alarm.

We are creatures of habit and our routines have a profound effect on how our bodies behave. By scheduling out a bedtime routine each night our bodies will be primed for a great night of sleep. Try setting a bedtime alarm 8 or 9 hours before you wish to wake up. This is the cue to start your bedtime routine. Put your cellphone away, take care of your bathroom business, and settle down in bed with a fictional book or a journal to reflect on your day.

 

Don’t do that!:

Wait until you’re tired.

Consistency is king when it comes to a good night’s sleep. If you want to wake up rested you have to exercise the discipline to shut down at a reasonable hour each night. Whether it’s turning off the TV or signing out of work emails, it has to be an active choice. If you continue to stimulate your mind, it won’t be able to recognize that it has to shut down for the night.

 

Use your physiology to unwind

Do more of this:

 

Stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system

Our bodies respond to the environment and are always in one of two modes.

Sympathetic aka “Fight or Flight”

Parasympathetic aka “Rest and Digest”

We can hack our parasympathetic nervous system to initiate the healing benefits of our rest and digest state. Try taking a hot bath before bed, gently massaging or foam rolling your muscles, or practicing long slow deep breathing.

 

Don’t do that!:

Strenuous Exercise

Exercise is incredible and will often help promote a deeper sleep. However don’t try to squeeze your workout in too close to bedtime. Training will ramp up your bodies Fight or Flight response and it may take some time to wind down after the fact. Try to wrap up your workout 2 hours before bed and you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time.

 

How Eating Better Makes You Feel Better



Nutrition is an individual journey. We owe it to ourselves to determine which foods and what style of eating works best for our bodies. Just like learning any new skill, nutrition takes practice.

The goal should be to develop an approach to eating that makes you feel great, maintain a healthy body, and achieve your goals. We all run into moments of weakness around food, but if your current diet makes you feel angry or sad on a daily basis it’s time for a change.

Let’s take a look at some different ways that eating better can make you feel better:

 

Improved mental function


Our brain is the control center of the body and just like our muscles and organs it requires fuel to keep it going. In fact, some studies have shown that the brain uses up to 20% of our body’s daily energy.

Focusing on eating to improve our brains function is a great way to feel better. 
The brain loves wild fish like salmon and mackerel. That’s because these fish contain omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA. DHA helps our brain send signals to our body and improves our memories. Try adding 1-2 servings of wild caught fish each week to get an optimal dose.


The foods we eat determine the way our body and mind perform. Next time you reach for that donut try to picture how your brain will run using the donut as fuel. Instead look for some fresh veggies and hummus, a handful of nuts, or a stick of turkey jerky to give your brain some jet fuel to run on.

 

Add Muscle, Burn Fat

The battle to fit back in those jeans from college starts and ends in the kitchen. No amount of exercise can overcome an unhealthy diet. Figuring out the right foods in your diet is the key to unlocking your ideal body composition. Imagine how good it would feel to go out on your anniversary wearing the suit from your wedding rehearsal! Protein is known for building muscle but it can do more for your body than help you recover after a workout.

Set the bar at breakfast. A high protein breakfast is one of the best ways to improve body composition. Studies have shown that consuming 30g of protein at breakfast helps with satiety and improves glycemic control. This means less desire to snack on high carbohydrate or sugary snacks later in the day. One study showed that participants who ate a high protein breakfast on average consumed 441 calories fewer each day!

 

Foods that light you up

Eating is often thought of for fueling performance, but food plays another important role as the building block of our cells. Certain foods help build healthy hair, skin, and nails.

If you’re looking for a youthful glow and to get carded until you’re 50 try these 3 superfoods:

  • Avocado. Rich in vitamins A, D , E, and many phytonutrients; avocado promote supple skin, help prevent environmental damage and prevent signs of aging.
  • Bell peppers are high in vitamin C, an essential nutrient for forming collagen which holds hair particles together.
  • Lentils contain Folate, a B vitamin needed to repair cells in your fingernails and skin.  

 

Get Creative


Preparing meals from whole foods can be a fun and relaxing part of the day. Learn how to season dishes using herbs, spices, and complementary pairings. This eliminates “empty calories” from your diet that show up in sugary sauces and dressings.

One thing that may help with meal prep is already have the meals that you want to eat planned out before you go to the grocery store, so that way you know exactly what you need instead of wondering and finding yourself in the cookie aisle.

Eating is a time for bonding and camaraderie, get together with family and friends to create a new dish. Focus on great conversation, chewing your food, and turning off the TV and electronics. By giving new meaning and tradition to your meals, eating can be a source of enjoyment beyond just the food.

 

“It’s Gotta Be The Shoes”


Our feet are an essential part of daily life, let alone working out. Having the right footwear to protect your feet is the key. Most athletes go-to is running shoes. Which, if you’re running late because of traffic or just life in general and that’s all you have in the car, it’s perfectly fine, but if you’re really serious about getting fit and staying injury-free, you probably want something a little more specific. Let’s dig in to see what shoes are best recommend for working out depending on your particular gym needs.

 

Best Shoes For Running

Running shoes are built for heel-to-toe movement and the higher heel drop in running shoes comes from added support and cushioning. For the people with flat feet, shoe companies make specially tailored motion-control shoes that are heavy, stiff, and less flexible. These shoes offer a greater support to the inner part of the feet. Some athletes with flat feet might have a pronation problem. Pronation is the way your feet roll when you run or walk. It is basically the inward rolling motion of the joint located below the ankle. For higher arched feet, there are neutral shoes that are very flexible and have extra cushioning. For the feet with a normal arch, there are shoes with moderate arch support and midsole cushioning.

Best Shoes For CrossFit

CrossFit shoes are designed to have your foot feel like it’s on the ground, not on a cloud or a marshmallow, stability is key. Muscle gain does not just means biceps and quads, you want your foot to get stronger as well, and wearing shoes that have your feet closer to the ground will allow your feet to do so. You always hear a coach yelling stay on your heels, when it’s hard to do when your running shoes are designed to put you on your toes. Shoes that are designed specifically CrossFit keep that drop to a minimum, preventing you from pitching forward onto your toes during your lifts. A firmer sole allows better transfer of energy and stability when squatting, cleaning, deadlifting, and snatching, a soft, squishy soles in running shoes will mute your power and create an unstable surface especially on the days you want to hit a PR.

Best Shoes For Weightlifting

Some of us like to throw around a barbell, but when it gets heavy often times mobility becomes the problem. Weightlifting shoes is a great investment for weightlifting. The most recognizable shoes are designed for Olympic lifts. Example’s are the snatch and the clean and jerk, which have thick soles and high, solid heels. The shoe’s are designed with a raised heel which allows for a deeper squat while still staying upright through the torso also increases balance and ankle and shin mobility.That does not mean totally abandon your normal workout shoes to gain flexibility. Yes, weightlifting shoes are great but you do not want to depend on them just to get in a good squat position. On the other end of the spectrum are flat-soled shoes, which are ideal for deadlifts because they will maximize a your contact with the ground and can really drive through your heels.

With that being said, there is a time and a place for each of the shoes, it all depends on the work out.  If you’re doing the hero wod Murph, you are running 2 miles in the workout, running shoes are great. Another popular workout is Fran, 45 thrusters and pull ups in total, weightlifting shoes would be a benefit in the squat position. Finally, Diane, a total of 45 deadlifts and handstand push ups, perfect time to pull out the CrossFit shoes. Having all three will allow you to maximize your fullest potential.