What It Means To “Go Vegan”


Documentaries like “Game Changers” have caused quite a stir in fitness and nutritional circles. The documentary advocates that plant-based diets are optimal for health. Using a variety of athletes as examples they promote that a vegan diet is the reason these athletes are successful.

But what does it really mean to go vegan? Is it the best choice for you? How do you even begin to decide?!
Going vegan is a choice to avoid all animal products in the diet. This choice could be for health, environmental, religious, financial, or personal reasons.

Many people may want to make the switch if they are experiencing digestive issues, low energy, or a health condition.
Others who may have food intolerances or sensitivities turn to a vegan diet to avoid GI distress and other unwanted symptoms.
Generally, the initial choice of going vegan makes people feel great. They may feel sharper mentally, less bloated, and energetic.
There are several potential reasons for this. By eliminating meat, poultry, fish, and dairy from the diet there are fewer options to choose from. But as time goes on some people tend to struggle with a vegan diet. One of the chief reasons for this has to do with protein consumption.

It can be difficult to consume enough protein from plant sources such as grains and legumes. You have to consume a tremendously high amount of carbohydrates to get adequate protein and this may not always be achieved by new vegan eaters.
Building muscle on a vegan diet can also be very difficult. You have to get enough amino acids, the building blocks of muscle, to grow. Since plants have lower amounts of certain amino acids they must be eaten in the right amounts and combinations to get what is known as a complete protein.

Most protein options for vegans are processed. This is the biggest problem. The main goal in nutrition is to stay away from packaged and processed foods for optimum health. As a vegan, it can be hard to get the full essential amino acid profile from foods. It requires a lot of pairing with different foods to get your required amount, and an extremely varied diet to avoid deficiencies.

The main point here is to make sure you are getting enough whole food sources as a vegan and you can be as strong and fast and any of your omnivore friends.

The best thing any vegan athlete can do is keep an eye on their blood work with their doctor to address any deficiencies early on and work with a dietician or nutritionist to accomplish any athletic goals to ensure a healthy body and mind.
One particular essential nutrient is B-12 which is found in meat. This must be supplemented if you go on a vegan diet long term.
Going vegan isn’t bad for you. It is actually a great way to give your digestive system a break. You also have the opportunity to consume more nutritious fruits and vegetables that contain vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber. Consider going vegan for a few days as a way to de-load your body’s digestive organs every so often.

If you are already vegan. Consider experimenting with high-quality meat and animal products in the diet and see if that makes a difference. Wild-caught fish and game may be handled very differently in your body than commercially farmed meats you may have eaten in the past.

Everyone human is different and it is up to use a combination of science and trial and error to make decisions for your health. If you need help getting started then get in touch with one of our coaches today!

Andrea Narvaez


Have You Met Andrea?

 

  • How long have you been a member of Nela Athletics?
Started at the original CrossFit Merge in December 2014, then became apart of the NELA family in March 2015.
  • What’s your favorite CrossFit/Ignite achievement?

There are plenty of benchmark achievements that are big wins for me, but coming back from two back-to-back injuries (shoulder and back) was one of the hardest things I’ve done thus far. I’m happy to be past that hump as it’s forced me to pay closer attention to my own patience, commitment, technique, form and mobility.

  • What are three benefits that you have experienced through working out?

Three benefits I’ve identified as important and key in my fitness experience have been finding intention in my workouts, practicing SMART goals, and working on my relationships with others in the community around me.

  • How has your life changed from when your first started to now.
Investing in my own wellness and fitness has been forever changing. I’ve seen incredible changes in my body composition, physical and mental performance, confidence in and out of the gym/box, and I’ve learned to face problems (personal, mental and physical challenges) head on. There’s still so much more I would like to improve, and I can’t wait to see what else comes my way.
  • Have you had any physical changes that you noticed? 
I’ve seen my body transform in all ways, shapes and forms. It’s amazing to look back and think of my initial muscle gain, to building my strength and change in my body composition when I wasn’t paying attention to my nutrition, and finally to where I’m at now where I’ve married both my dedication to strength training and muscle gain. The human body is a marvelous thing.
  • What is your favorite part of the NELA Athletics experience?
Aside from the wonderful and supportive community at NELA Athletics, I greatly appreciate having a space where I can zone out and unplug from the world. Being placed in a literal box of a gym to push yourself physically and mentally has led me to believe I also have quite the spiritual experience in the gym. I’m either facing a mental fear, fighting to keep my breath going, or honing in a goal. A lot of my experience at NELA is mentally stimulating and I love it.
  • What are some hobbies or activities you are into besides CrossFit
I thoroughly love going to the Disney Parks, watching sci-fi/thriller/drama shows with my husband, watching Disney/Marvel/Star Wars anything, chatting and having coffee with my family, and the occasional show.
  • The zombie apocalypse is coming, who are three people you want on your team?

Well, that one’s just obvious….

  • If you could be in any movie, what would it be and what character would you play?

Captain Marvel and I’d be her other best friend. I’d need to have superpowers though.

Tips For A Balanced Lower Body


After an intense workout of front squats or thrusters, you may have felt that burning pumped up sensation in your quads. Your pants are tighter and you can no longer put your phone and keys in your front pocket for fear of getting them stuck. 
The quadriceps and hip flexor muscles on the front of your legs are responsible for extending the hip and knee joints. They have tremendous potential for growth and get a great workout from movements like front squats, step-ups, and walking lunges.
Having powerful quads is not a bad thing by any means. In fact, the greatest Olympic weightlifters, cyclists, and speed skaters have huge powerful quad muscles. 


Some folks have very powerful quads but have issues recruiting the muscles of the posterior chain.  They allow the quads to handle all lower body movement. Having poor form can also contribute to you being quad dominant. If you are an athlete who notices that your weight is often in your toes you may be prone to this imbalance. If the coaches are always telling you to “get in your heels’ this is probably the correction they are cueing. 

The top priority in a training program should always be safety and function. That’s why using compound movements like squats and deadlifts provide excellent returns. In terms of strength building and promoting lean body mass they provide the most bang for your buck. People who focus too much on a single movement like squatting may be neglecting movement patterns that would keep them strong and healthy.

You should have an equal ratio of squat and lunge workouts to hinge and deadlift workouts. If you are quad dominant or lacking in the posterior chain department then that ratio should be 2 to 1 in favor of the hinge and pulling movements. As you are able to better recruit and develop the glutes and hamstrings then you can start to balance out the program you are following. Not only that but building a stronger posterior chain will make all of your lifts more powerful and you will look and feel better too!
Deadlifts, RDL’s, Kettlebell Swings, Good Mornings, Reverse Hypers, and Hip Thrusts are all excellent for beefing up those glutes and hamstrings. You can also adapt movements to make them more favorable to the posterior chain. Low bar back squats and box squat variations recruit more posterior chain than front squats do. Reverse lunges instead of forward or walking lunges will also be a better option to help you stay in your heels.

If it looks like you have a second kneecap then you might be in the running for quad dominance. Our training programs contain constant variance to make sure you are improving in all areas and eliminating weaknesses. Our coaches can help you through a series of assessments to determine what to focus on and how to get your body strong, healthy, and balanced.

Tim Dove


Have You Met Tim?

 

  • How long have you been a member of Nela Athletics?

Since it started, before that it was Crossfit Merge.

  • What’s your favorite CrossFit/Ignite achievement?

Finally able to snatch bodyweight!

  • What are three benefits that you have experienced through working out?

Leaning out, becoming more flexible, being semi-athletic.

  • How has your life changed from when your first started to now.

Become much more conscious about what I eat, both good and bad, and how it effects my physical capabilities just as much as my weight.

  • Have you had any physical changes that you noticed? 
I have added more muscle mass and leaned out over the years. If anything, it has kept me from adding too much weight as I love food, and sugar…and food.
  • What is your favorite part of the NELA Athletics experience?
It keeps me on a schedule inside and outside of the gym.
  • What are some hobbies or activities you are into besides CrossFit
Playing in bands, have a dog, eating food.
  • If you could be in any movie, what would it be and what character would you play?

If you could be in any movie, what would it be and what character would you play?

Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep

3 Exercises to Fix your Lower Back Pain


The body thrives on balance. Our muscles and joints are happiest when they are getting equal and total range of motion. The spine is no different and since it’s range of motion is smaller than most other joints, imbalances can be felt more intensely.

The spine requires the stability of the supporting muscles that surround it to keep up upright and mobile. When a link in this system is weak, the body will compensate in order to expend the least amount of energy. 

A common issue seen causing that dreaded lower back is due to tight hip flexors, tight spinal erectors, accompanied by weak abs and glutes, also referred to as the lower cross syndrome. The tightness of the body in one area causes another area of the body to become weak. 

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Buddhist Proverb

 

Mobility - CrossFit Eagle Rock

So how do you fix or prevent this? Here are three things you can do today to make sure your glutes are firing, your core is tight, and your hips and back muscles stay strong but supple.

  1. Single leg glute bridges, to strengthen the core & glutes. Aim for 3 sets of 15 on each side. Plant the bottom of your feet and palms firmly on the floor. Stack knees above ankles. Lift one foot off the ground and perform a single glute bridge with the other, pressing firmly into your palms, shoulders, and foot to take any pressure off the neck. Try to get the hips as high as possible, then lower to the ground.
  2. Couch Stretch, loosen the tight hip flexors Aim for 2 minutes on each side. Using a couch or a bench, get into a low lunge in front of your object of choice, and the goal of this stretch is to use the front leg to support your weight as you put your back foot on a couch or bench and get your knee as close to the couch or bench as possible to stretch the hip of the back leg.  
  3. Supine single-leg twists to loosen the tight muscles in the lower back.

Lay on your back, hands out to a T, and legs together, bring your right knee up to your chest and let it fall to the left side of your body. Try to keep the spine stacked in a straight line. Repeat on the left leg, bringing left knee to chest then letting it fall to your right, knee resting on the ground or a block. Spend at least a minute on each side.

Incorporate these exercises and stretches into your routine to help ease and prevent lower back pain. As always if anything causes pain, don’t do it and always consult your doctor before trying new things.

4 Ways to Save Your Joints


When you are dedicated to your training and putting in the hours to achieve your goals then there is nothing more frustrating than joint pain and inflammation. It almost feels like your body is punishing you for working hard. No fair, right!

Rather than make excuses about your pain or backing off on your training you may want to consider some new techniques to mitigate the damage from these patterns of overuse.

 

1. Focus on form
2. Make intensity your new volume
3. Recover Harder
4. Hit the Supplements Aisle

1.Focus on form
If you are training often and hard then even the slights inefficiencies in your movement can turn into nagging injuries over time. Before you put in all that hard work you owe it to yourself to work with an experienced coach to refine your movement. You will make progress faster and stay healthy in the process. Slow down, not every day is a competition.

2. Make intensity your new volume
Sometimes the body simply needs a break from volume. All athletes in any sport go through periods of alternating intensity and volume throughout the year. They have different rhythms and protocols for preseason, in-season, post-season, and off-season training. Try backing off on the volume of your training and focusing on higher intensity pieces instead. For lifters, this could mean performing fewer sets or reps and using a higher load, shorter rest times, or a faster tempo. Runners might try lower mileage with weeks and adding a sprint workout 1-2 times per week instead.

3. Recover Harder
Training hard without the proper recovery techniques is bound to beat you up and becomes unsustainable long term. Make time for massage, foam rolling, stretching, yoga or mobility sessions, sleep, and any other recovery methods that can improve your performance. Sometimes the most beneficial thing you can do is stimulate your parasympathetic nervous with these recovery techniques to let your body’s natural healing mechanisms kick in.

4. Give your body what it needs to repair itself
There are tons of great supplements that can help with joint health. Fish oil and omega 3’s provide a healthy inflammatory response in the body amongst many other health benefits. Glucosamine and Chondroitin provide the building blocks for joint repair. Tart Cherry Juice extract has been shown to reduce muscle soreness after a workout. Give those a try to start!

Don’t let joint pain stop you from moving and doing the things you love!

5 Tips to Help You Change with the Season


As the weather turns colder, many of us tend to let our health and fitness routines take the back burner for a few months. Whether you are feeling rundown or beat up from two CrossFit Open cycles in one year or just trying to escape the holiday season without eating too much pie. It is important to recognize what the change in season can mean for you in your training and health.

The winter months bring about changes in our training routines, daily habits, and nutrition. Rather than take a hit and accepting that this is a time to let yourself slide (because you’ll make it up and get back on track in January) what if this year you made a plan to do things differently.

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” -Jim Rohn

Here are 5 Tips to Help You Change with the Season!

  1. Eat more vegetables and healthy fats.
  2. Go for a walk during the daytime.
  3. Break a sweat every day.
  4. Stay Hydrated.
  5. Structure your day for success.

Eat more vegetables and healthy fats.
During the summer months, there seems to be an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables around. In the winter we tend to shift towards more comfort foods, foods that are preserved or packaged and are easy to prepare. Focusing on incorporating more vegetables in your diet will help you get the essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and micronutrients that you need. Omega-3s found in fish oil can help with skin health, heart health, and has been shown to support

Go for a walk during the daytime.
Getting outside for a walk during daylight hours can be extremely beneficial for your body and mind. Even if we can’t get Vitamin D from the sun during the winter months we can still benefit from its exposure. Walking can help improve metabolism, boost mood, and be a much better pick me up for your energy than coffee. Doing it in sunlight is proven to be one of the best ways to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that gets people run down in the winter months.

Break a sweat every day.
Prioritizing fitness may actually be more important in the winter than the summer. We naturally find ourselves more active during the summer months, enjoying the weather at the beach or on a hike or a bike ride. In the winter we tend to hole up indoors. Those hours of walking are replaced with hours of Netflix bingeing and lo and behold we start to get soft and complacent.

Stay Hydrated.
In the winter months, you may never feel the need to quench your thirst as you do on a hot summer day. Most folks tend to stay on the dehydrated side. Sweat also evaporates in the cold dry air, so many people are less likely to replenish fluids after exercise. Be sure to set daily hydration goals for yourself. Setting alarms on your phone to get up and grab a drink of water is a great way to accomplish this.

Structure your day for success.
One of the best ways to take charge of your health during the winter months is to plan out your day. Set yourself up for success by incorporating healthy habits and avoiding the detractors is key. Plan to have a big healthy salad before showing up to the holiday party where you know there will be tons of desserts. Book a fitness class, yoga session, or plan to meet a friend during a time you would normally just watch TV or surf the internet.

If you want to stay in control of your health this winter and have questions about how to eat, train or plan let us know!

Whitney Overcomes the Darkness


Whitney Cline has been a regular at our gym for years, but aside from her strength and impeccable fashion, many of us don’t know much about her. In this episode she opens up about overcoming her difficult childhood, her repeated encounters with addicts, and what it finally took to love herself.

Check out this episode!

Whitney Overcomes the Darkness


Whitney Cline has been a regular at our gym for years, but aside from her strength and impeccable fashion, many of us don’t know much about her. In this episode she opens up about overcoming her difficult childhood, her repeated encounters with addicts, and what it finally took to love herself.

Check out this episode!

Whitney Overcomes the Darkness


Whitney Cline has been a regular at our gym for years, but aside from her strength and impeccable fashion, many of us don’t know much about her. In this episode she opens up about overcoming her difficult childhood, her repeated encounters with addicts, and what it finally took to love herself.

Check out this episode!