Congratulations to our very own “Magic” Mike McShane for placing in the top 200 in the world in the 2016 CrossFit Games Open. Placing in the top 200 means he moves on to the next level of competition. Mike will take part in 4 workouts to try and make it to the CrossFit Games in Carson, California come July. Please make sure to give him a huge high five when you see him! This is an amazing feat for a 64 year old man who is also diabetic. His accomplishment shows that age is just a number, and hard work pays off. Congrats from all of the Coaches and members at CFA, Mike!
The moment someone walks into the gym, I'm invested...
Looking from the outside, the gym is a daunting, unfeeling, and scary place. Heavy weights, lots of equipment, loud music, sweat dripping off unknown people as they make horrible grunts and groans. Why should anyone ever walk into that mess? And why should any person care about the new person in the gym? They have their friends and cliques. The coaches have their clients and responsibilities.
CrossFit is a cult. CrossFit is a clique. CrossFit brainwashes people... why would they accept the new guy/girl?
As a coach, whether actively coaching or not, the moment a new person walks into the gym my one and only goal is to have him/her walk back out a better, happier, stronger, more confident person. I don't care if you've never done a single activity in your life or if you've been playing sports and lifting weights since you were age 2. If you walk into the gym, I want to know what you do, where you're from, who you are. I want to know what motivates you, angers you, and how to encourage you. I want to know your capabilities and push those limits so you can realize you are stronger, faster, mentally tougher than you ever believed possible.
Why should I care? What's in it for me?
Any coach, especially CrossFit coaches and most definitely the coaches at CrossFit Alpharetta, will tell you the joy experienced by any athlete in a CrossFit gym resonates to every member in the box. The exhausted, smiling groan of PR'ing Grace by 1 second. The wide-eyed disbelief of hitting a PR. The shocked expression when getting a first double-under. The squeal of joy at a successful muscle-up. It's infectious! I will HAPPILY spend hours/days/months working with an athlete just to get that momentary glimpse of self-improvement and realization that what was believed impossible is now in fact entirely do-able AND repeatable.
Why am I invested in each and every person that walks through that door? Because the investment yields successes frozen forever in my memory and etched on the walls of the gym. The investment yields better versions of ourselves. The investment yields lasting relationships. The joint investment of coach and athlete yields proud stories of self-accomplishment.
So thank you to each and every member of CrossFit Alpharetta who has decided to invest in themselves. And to each of YOU reading this who will enter that door and invest in your personal improvement. The coaches at CrossFit Alpharetta are ready to match your investment and can't wait to see what it yields.
We have all been there- in the gym at 4:30pm on the dot, set our clothes down, and half-ass it through the warmup. What we don’t realize is what we are missing by not prioritizing this opportunity to learn. Our bodies learn motor patterns- patterns that we ingrain via repetitions. Our warm ups should mimic most of what we will be doing on a given day if not the exact movements at a lighter load and intensity. This is the perfect time to teach your body to move PERFECTLY! If you can’t move with a PVC, how can you move with a barbell? If you can’t move perfectly with a barbell, how do you expect to move well with a prospective PR on your bar?
I’m sure you’ve heard, “practice makes perfect.” The truth is, “PERFECT practice makes perfect.” All you are doing by showing up late and giving a half-hearted effort to the warmup is teaching your body to move poorly.
Use this time to work on new techniques. If we are rowing 500m in the warm up, use that time to work on your rowing technique. Try to keep your back flat, and hinge at the hip. Try to stop the seat from hitting your feet. Pull straight to your chest. Listen to your coach, and work on fixing it the movement pattern here. Or, you can do the same lazy reps you normally do and never improve. When the 500m row WOD comes, you’ll naturally resort back to the movement patterns your body is used to if you don’t work on it during warmup.
Your body will always resort to it’s ingrained motor patterns once fatigue sets in. If you’ve done the work during your warmup and worked on technique, your body is more likely to learn those good patterns we desire. Good patterns equal faster work and more efficiency which, in turn, equals more fitness!
Please take a minute to examine the warmups we do and why we do them. Put effort into them, and your movement will improve! Before you know it, you’ll have that sought after overhead squat, 1:35 500m row, or whatever movement ails you today.
What did we learn today…
Show up early
Look at the warmup
Set a goal during that warm up
Commitment- Have a goal, and stick to it. Whether that be showing up 3 times a week or hitting your macro goal 7-days a week. The goal is not important, but once you create a goal, be unwavering in pursuing it. Successful people do not give 50% effort and expect 100% results. In fact, they give 150% effort to achieve close to 100% results. People who are continually stuck in a rut and do not end up as fit as they want are always starting and stopping… Stop stopping! Commit and revel in the fact that you are one step closer to your goal!
Coaching- Seek out people who know more than you do, and LISTEN to them. People are experts in their field for a reason. Ask your coach questions, and when they give you answers, listen and apply them. If you are a coachable athlete, you’ll be amazed at the things you start to learn. Second guessing your coaches just puts you in no-man's-land where you have no idea where to go next. Pick a Coach you trust, and follow what they say!
Consistency- Consistency is probably the biggest downfall for most folks who can’t seem to find their optimal fitness. Rome wasn’t built overnight and neither was the fitness of any athlete you admire. Years of hard work went into creating that fitness. There are days that your hero wants to sleep in or just wants to go home after a long day, but the difference is they DO NOT DO IT! They Ranger up and head into the gym to improve themselves. Consistently showing up to the gym and putting in hard work will make better even on your worst day .
Community- Find a gym where you feel at home. Nobody can succeed in an environment where they do not feel loved. Wanting to come to the gym is half the battle. If you find a place that welcomes you with open arms, never leave that community! Forging relationships with people you sweat with is incredible. As humans age, they tend to close off their peer groups. You may meet the occasional new person at work, but new friends come very infrequently. At a CrossFit gym, you’ll find a new community of like-minded individuals. New relationships enrich people's lives and keep you coming back for more!
CrossFit- Do CrossFit! I have yet to find another program, when implemented correctly, that creates real world fitness. Are there sports specific programs that will get you to a specific goal faster? Absolutely! Is there a program out there that can get you generally fit and healthy faster or better? No, not that I’ve seen. Invest in yourself; invest in your health! We get one body, and the best way to keep it out of the shop is to subject it to constantly varied, functional movement at a high intensity… that is the definition of CrossFit.
Competition- Compete every day! Compete against others, but primarily, compete against yourself. The best way to get better is to push against YOU! Comparing yourself to others can be hard because everyone brings a different set of tools to the table. A person may have better or worse genetics, be more or less strong, be more or less flexible than the others they compete against. The true competition is pushing past your limits. When you learn to compete against yourself, you will see results.
Capacity- Gain capacity in all aspects of what we do. Get more strength, endurance, flexibility, mobility, speed, power, etc. Increase your capacity, and your fitness will improve as a result. If you can squat more, run faster, and do more pull-ups than you did 6 months ago, congratulations- you’ve increased your capacity! Capacity is key when measuring your fitness journey. Add more or upgrade tools in the toolbox we call fitness!
I figured I would introduce you to the concept of flexible dieting in the easiest way possible. By showing you a typical day of eating for me. I have included photos. What I would love for you to see is that with some planning it is extremely easy to hit your macro-nutrient goals. My food choices are far from perfect but I would be willing to bet that I am getting adequate numbers of micro nutrients as well. I am eating actual meals and not just a bunch of random foods pasted together. Here we go!
I eat this breakfast almost every day. I never feel hungry after it and the pb and j sates my sweet tooth. I use more egg whites to keep the fats down. I get a limited number of fats each day so I try not to waste them on breakfast. There is nothing worse than getting to dinner and having no fats left! Bacon is not your friend during this meal.
This meal comes 2 hours before I train and about 2.5 hours after breakfast. The goal here is to give my body easy to digest carbohydrates and protein with as little fat as possible. I want my stomach to be as empty as possible leading into training so i don't feel groggy or worse yet vomit up all my gains.
This meal has a similar goal as the pre-workout meal. I am trying to get some protein in that will be quickly broken down by the body and turned into new muscle. I am also trying to refill the glycogen that I used during the workout. Very simple carbohydrate and fast digesting protein via rice krispies treats and Formulx.
Lunch comes 1-1.5 hours after my post-workout meal. I eat a whole food meal here. Currently I am using Fresh Meal Plan as my meal prep provider. Using a meal prep service allows me to save time and energy. My meals are always at hand and I don't have an excuse to grab something on the go that wouldn't fit into my diet plan. This sandwich was fantastic!!!
Dinner comes 3-4 hours after lunch. This is a whole food meal for me as well. Fresh meal plan keeps me on track here too! I have found that the mantra of eating small meals every 2-3 hours to not be true. I believe this is an old trainers tale created to keep people from gorging themselves on 3 meals a day. This rope vieja was fantastic! Even better than it looked if you can believe that.
This meal is built to fill in the gaps from the day. Tonight I was low on protein and a bit of fat and carbohydrate. During this meal I eat anything I want that fits the macros I have remaining. I find this helps me feel like I get a treat to end the day. Some folks could use this as an excuse to go off the rails but for me, it's pretty easy not to. Yes, that is the smallest bowl of cereal ever!!!
As you can see flexible eating is fairly straight forward and simple. My meals are far from perfect and could include a bit more whole food sources. I am learning and growing on this front each day. Anyone that takes the time to eat in this way will reap the rewards of fat loss and muscle growth. I hope this post gives you a bit of insight on how I eat each day. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me!
Here are a few quick tips on how to make yourself more AWESOME
1. Show up!- Showing up to the gym is half the battle. Once you're there, all the little things that attempted to make you avoid the gym will go away. Having a membership to CFA and not using it is like Chunk eating all of Sloth’s Baby Ruth candy bars, it’s just not smart! I've yet to meet a person who has regretted showing up once the workout has ended... Unless it was 150 wall balls for time... Who wants to do that crap???!!! Get in your car, drive to the gym and add one more brick to your personal wall of Awesome.
2. Feed your body- Don't eat like a jerk. Fuel yourself correctly. You won't be awesome until you realize that eating pizza and drinking beer 4 nights out of the week is why you still have that spare tire. The weekend calories you ingest still count towards your fatness! Superman doesn't do a few WODs, eat like crap, and still expect to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and you shouldn't think you can either! Although, Superman is a huge nerd, and I'm pretty sure his MyFitnessPal tracker is perfect all day, every day. On second thought, Wolverine would totally kill Superman, and he smokes and drinks so maybe I don't know what I am talking about. If you have a mutant level healing factor, feel free to eat and drink freely. If not, stop eating like a jerk now!
3. Get a hot Fiance- I have increased my Awesome quotient by 300 degrees simply by asking Coach L to marry me. If you don't have a smoking hot fiancé, try adhering to steps 1 and 2. If you are currently in a relationship apply steps 1 and 2 to your significant other and you will also have that hot piece of arm candy. I can promise you that everyone looks better with someone hot by their side! Sorry though... COACH L IS TAKEN!!!
4. Grow a beard- It has been scientifically proven that facial hair makes you more awesome. This cannot be refuted. If the mighty T-Rex had stopped shaving, he would be sitting in the oval office today. You just can't argue science. Don’t worry ladies- I didn’t forget about you! Have your partner grow a beard, and you can bask in the splendor of awesomeness, too!
5. Squat in Spandex- Everyone knows that you need to squat- that’s not a new discovery. However, squatting in spandex gives you that little extra something. Superheroes wear spandex and so did David Bowie. If you’re mid-squat and you need to save a damsel in distress or entertain a crowd of thousands, do you really want all that fabric slowing you down? Spandex also allows you to show off all those sweet quad gains you’ve been working so hard to attain.
6. Listen to Coach Justin- He knows most things. He once put together a 1,000 piece puzzle upside down! If he can do that, I am pretty sure he can help you get stronger and fitter. The other Coaches at CFA have learned from King Awesome as well. Listen to your coaches as they are there to guide you to Awesomeness Level 9 (Level 10 is reserved for Coach Justin, aka King Awesome).
Applying these simple rules can and will change your life! Take the time to allow yourself to be awesome. Using all of your energy on that extra hour of overtime at work when you could be improving your life is just not awesome. Your loved ones will see the changes in you and will want to become awesome as well. Dedicate your mind and body to health and fitness, and you, too, can become AWESOME!
What does it mean to "do your best?" My Mother always told me to "do my best" at whatever task was at hand whether that be studying for a math test, playing a soccer game against our biggest rivals, writing a paper in college, calling clients for a job, etc. She said, "No matter what you're doing, do it so you know you have nothing left to give." I believed and trusted her guidance throughout my childhood growth and followed that advice through college and even now as a coach and athlete.
Where did the disconnect begin when you think that your best isn't good enough? Are you comparing your best to someone else's best? Why are you questioning your best? Do you think that your best is only a half-assed best? So. Many. Questions.
JournalMenu said it well, “[don’t feel] As if your best somehow needs an apology because it isn't at firebreather level. As it if means your best isn't really a big deal. Don't sit there and reduce your accomplishments to a 'just.'"
When it comes to working out, everyone has different goals. Often, we find that we are our own worst competition- we talk ourselves out of a certain movement that we see as impossible or cannot do simply because we cannot see ourselves "RX-ing" that movement. Even when you try hard, we may fail our expectations. What if you try and you succeed? Either way... Are you giving it your best? If you have just made a lift you've never made before, why are you NOT celebrating? You haven't done that before- your best was better than your last! When you push your limits and feel you have nothing left, you are doing your best.
Miranda Oldroyd is one of my favorite athletes. She found CrossFit in 2007, and she hasn't turned back since. Her words of wisdom resonates with athletes of all types saying, "I want to find out what my athletic potential is. It’s not about beating anyone else, it’s about REALLY finding out what I can do." (Station 717- Celebrity Beyond the Athlete: Miranda Oldroyd)
One of the workouts of the 2008 CrossFit Games was a deadlift-burpee workout in which Miranda (first time at The Games) completed in 5:26. That was the best she could do, and that was all she could have asked for. Fast forward to 2016, and Miranda repeated the same deadlift-burpee workout, completing it in 2:53. This. This was the best she could do. She left everything out on the floor. Do you think she reduced her accomplishments? Then, why do you? Training your brain is just as important as training your body. Stop questioning and minimizing your accomplishments. Celebrate doing YOUR best when the best is what you can give. I challenge you to give it your all so when you walk out that door, you have the confidence of knowing you did your best. Was that 55# thruster the best you could do? Was that one successful double under the best you had? If it was you’ve succeeded!
I'll leave you with these:
"Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail."
"Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later." - Og Mandino
As any avid CrossFitter knows, one of the hardest days of the week is the dreaded “rest day”. Depending on your diet plan, this could also mean a reduction in the amount of food you get to eat! So it’s a double whammy, less food AND feeling like a slug due to inactivity.
I used to be a massive proponent of working out as much as possible. Day in and day out, I’d be at the gym. At my peak, I was doing 3 workouts Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 2 workouts Tuesday and Thursday, and playing tennis and going for a run on Sunday. That’s an impressive 16 workouts plus cross-training EVERY WEEK. I’d continually brag about how much I work-out and how fit I was. I mean, really, who isn’t impressed by someone that can do a workout EVERY DAY for multiple weeks or even an entire year?!?!
Not only was I working out so much, but I was also eating “better”. I was strict Paleo, never deviating, and I felt fully satiated every day by having lots of protein bars, protein drinks, and the occasional small meal to ensure portion control. I had to have been in the best shape of my life, right? Little did I know that while my cardio and recovery were relatively impressive, I was not properly feeding my body or setting myself up for any significant gains. Sure, my lifts went up a bit and my times went down in benchmark WODs and I believed I was in the best shape of my life.
This “reality” was COMPLETELY shattered within the last 6 months. Having discovered the most important component of any training program, proper dieting/fueling of the body, I have seen the most dramatic changes. I now work-out once any given day though still 6 days a week, making absolutely positive to not do ANY sort of workout/training on the 7th day: a light jog or a tennis match is NOT resting.
Surely, my numbers have decreased and my performance is worse… NOPE!
With this proper regimen, my body has the time it needs to heal, the fuel it needs to build, and the intensity required to see the gains. At a lighter body weight (25lbs lighter), my lifts are identical to where they were at their “peak”. At a leaner build (10% lower body fat), my metcons are vastly improved as compared to my “peak”. Everything has improved and I’m working out approximately 65% less than I was at my “peak”. While my diet is a huge component of this success, over-training will never get you the results you want.
Being active is a great thing! Make sure to find an activity you love and gain a true passion for it so you can continue it for life. But, there is such a thing as excess! The human body is not built to be heavily taxed day-in and day-out. None of us are Wolverine and can heal in an instant (NERD ALERT!). Such a program could very well lead to weight loss/body fat reduction but will almost definitely also lead to muscle mass reduction. Doing so makes us no more fit, just thinner.
Also, be sure to steadily increase activity level. If you normally work-out 2 days a week, don’t suddenly jump to 5 days a week and expect your body to compensate. A steady growth into a more rigorous workout schedule allows your body to more effectively adapt to the strain placed upon it rather than completely shocking your system.
Give your body the proper rest along with the proper fuel to set it up for success!
Over the past few months I have been receiving several questions about MyFitnessPal tracking. I decided to make all of the information I have been sharing available in hopes that it will help make the experience more streamlined. These are just my personal recommendations and experiences that I have had while using MyFitnessPal. Others may have other recommendations so remember, these may not work for everyone. I just wanted to share my experience. Also, if there is anything I do not address here that you would like more information on, PLEASE ASK! Chances are someone else has the same question or can benefit from the information.
Weigh your food. This can be somewhat tedious but it is worth it. It depends on how strict you want to be but I have found that using measuring cups aren’t always that accurate. I was shocked to find out that the scoop in my protein container only held ~3/4 of a serving. I found this out only when I weighed the amount of powder that the scoop held. So, buy yourself a food scale and get used to weighing food out. This is the most accurate way to ensure you are getting the appropriate serving size.
Plan ahead. I like to plan 1-2 days ahead of time. I leave room for small tweaks here and there but my goal is to have the next day completely planned out before I go to bed. This prevents me from being stuck with no macros come dinner time or left with loads of one macro after using up the rest.
Eat all of your macros. Most people don’t realize how much protein and actual food they should be consuming to fuel their bodies. I always believed that eating more would make me gain weight. That, however, is not the case. We need to eat the right foods in the correct ratios. Don’t skimp on the macros – make sure you are consuming all of your macros and get as close to your goals as possible within a few grams of each. The main goal is to adjust your macros over time to fit your body’s needs. The only way to do this is to consistently hit your macro goals each day. Hold the same macros for at least 2 weeks before making any changes. And all changes should be small in nature (no more than 10g change in Protein or Carbs or 5g change in Fat and rarely to multiple groups of macros at once).
Find foods that contain just one macro or as close to it as you can get. If you find yourself in the situation that you have 50g of protein left, or 10g of fat left, etc, have some foods in mind that will satisfy one particular macro. For example: egg whites are solely protein, almonds are mainly fat, and apples/bananas are solely carbs. This type of list will come in handy pretty often when you try to round out your macro intake at the end of each day.
Limit the alcohol! Limitation of alcohol intake can prove to be quite difficult but “excessive” consumption is one of the biggest detriments to our progress. The body processes alcohol as sugar so we must account for this. Try to limit your intake to 2-3 alcoholic beverages per week and no more than one per day. If you are being very diligent with your food intake but still consuming a good amount of alcohol, you are likely not going to see the results you are hoping for. The Carbs that are listed on a can of beer are NOT ACCURATE with respect to how the body processes the alcohol. A can of Miller Lite would say 4g carbs but it processes similarly to 23g carbs. Please keep this in mind.
Use the “My Foods” and “My Meals” Functionality in MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal provides the option of saving your commonly consumed foods or meals to make it easier to populate your diary. If you normally have the same 4-5 items for breakfast, save those items as a “Meal” so it takes one click to add it to your diary instead of multiple clicks. In terms of individual foods, I like to physically enter in the macro content of my commonly consumed foods into the “My Foods” feature. I don’t like to rely on the database’s macro information because I have found that information to be way off at times.
Download the MyFitnessPal App onto your phone. I use MFP both on my computer and on my phone via the app. I like to have my nutrition information and food diary easily accessible in case my food plans change.
Eat foods that are less macro dense to help curb hunger. One of the great things about this type of “diet” is that you can really eat anything you want. The most important thing is to completely consume your defined macro number each day without going over. That means… if you want to have a piece of cake you CAN – as long as you track it. Likely, there will be a lot of carbs and fat in that piece of cake, so this will reduce the amount of fats and carbs that you will be able to consume for the rest of the day. In this situation or even if you frequently experience that you are hungry, eat foods such as kale, spinach, cauliflower mashed potatoes, broccoli, etc. These foods are lower in carbs than an apple or a piece of bread and will make you feel fuller longer.
Don’t consume all of your macros during lunch and dinner. I hate going to bed feeling hungry. It took me a bit of time to adjust to how much food I needed at what times throughout the day to curve hunger. What I found works is having a medium-sized breakfast, a small mid-morning snack, a lighter lunch, a small mid-afternoon snack and a good-sized dinner. *Keep in mind that you do not want to go to bed right after you eat dinner. Wait a few hours before going to bed after consuming your last meal.
If you are eating out, look at the menu ahead of time. Some restaurants such as Panera, Moe’s, California Pizza Kitchen, etc. list their nutritional information online. This is a convenient way to plan ahead if you will be eating out. If the restaurant does not provide nutritional information, take a look at the menu and build your meal ingredient by ingredient from the MyFitnessPal database. This is a great way for you to have your mind made up on your entrée before you arrive that includes all of your healthy adjustments. Ex: Cobb salad, add a serving of grilled chicken and grilled shrimp, dressing and croutons on the side. #AllTheProtein! Hey, at least the rest of the table won’t be waiting on you to make up your mind to order!
ASK! The coaches and network of members at the gym are a great resource. There are a few of us who are using MyFitnessPal and tracking our foods. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. We may have some suggestions to help make the process smoother. We are here to help you on your #GetFitGetHealthy journey.
Fitness challenges are a great way to jump-start our health and fitness. This is the perfect time to learn more about our nutrition and set achievable, sustainable goals for ourselves. During these challenges are when we are held most accountable for our actions. It is not as easy to cheat on our diet and workouts when we have other team members or opponents tracking our progress. Most participants see exciting results at the conclusion of the challenge but is important to keep in mind that the main objective of any fitness challenge is to apply what we have learned to develop sustainable habits that will lead to a prolonged, healthier lifestyle. Don’t make the mistake of falling back into bad eating habits and reversing all of the great results simply because you aren’t being held accountable.
Thanks to the CFA Health and Fitness Challenge, the biggest change I have made is the use of the MyFitnessPal app. Using this app to track my macronutrient intake and aim to hit my “macro” goals each day has caused me to look at food in a completely different way. I now appreciate food as a means of fueling my body; understanding this helps me to make wiser food choices. I used to believe the misconception that “eating more will make you gain weight.” However, eating more of the right foods in the correct ratios will actually help you to build muscle, lose fat, and perform better in the gym. Eating too little food isn’t going to help you get the results you are looking for!
Initially, I was a bit hesitant and reluctant to use MyFitnessPal because it seemed time-consuming. However, after several failed diets and not getting anywhere with my “If I eat less I will lose weight” misconception, I knew I had to try something else. That was when I was introduced to macronutrient tracking. I am now a firm believer in this system and recommend it to anyone who is willing to take the time to improve their diet and health. It does take some diligence and getting used to but the results speak for themselves. It is crazy what happens when you keep track of the food you put into your body!!
24 of CFA's hard working athletes and 4 of it's coaches just completed the 2015 Fall Health Challenge. To say it was a HUGE success would be a monstrous understatement. Every single person that took part made some sort of improvement. Here are some astounding stats of what can be done in 6 weeks with a little hard work and will power.
As a group the 24 participants lost a total of 122 inches! That's over 5 inches per person.
They gained 45.45 pounds of muscle or nearly 2 pounds per person. Muscle is incredibly difficult to acquire so this is mighty impressive.
They had an average 9.81% reduction in body fat per person.
The Coaches couldn't be more proud of all of the athletes that took this challenge on. Lots was learned and good habits were formed. Look out for our next Challenge to be Started in early January of 2015....
Now for the Winners
Team L- Eric, Kali, Vipin, Jamie, Tim and Erika
Team Dan- Kevin, Carrie, Doug, Amber, Kerri and Brandon
Everyone has been there... "I love these workouts! I've lost 5lbs coming 4x per week so if I just add 2 more days per week and double up some workouts, I'll get even fitter" Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. A person's body can only take so much before it starts to regress. Working out should be looked at from a global perspective. Looking at things with long-term goals that stack up over weeks, months and years. Adding more and more work will just break you which will lead to you burning out and keeping you out of the gym- all the sweet gains you desire are just a dream.
"But, Justin! I am so Elite, and I can handle more work. I am going to come back and do the workout again, and then, I'll go for a run when I get home right after I finish my P90x." In your mind, that may seem like a good idea, and it may be possible for a few weeks. The truth is that working out is a stressor on your body. Just like any other type of stress, your body can only take so much before you reach the point of diminishing returns. The "more is better" mindset also doesn't take into account the fact that your gains come outside of the gym. Rest and recovery is when you improve. You train hard and break yourself down so you should REST and RECOVER just as hard. 5 days of work with a day or two of light, easy, active recovery is the absolute most many of us can truly handle. It's science! You can push the boundaries for only so long. You'll feel great at first, but trust me... the fall is coming. If you trust that your coaches have your best interests in mind, listen to them. We want you to progress as much as anyone. Our goal is for you to progress for years to come. A little sacrifice now goes a long way for a lengthy, injury-free career at CrossFit Alpharetta.
Finding the time to cook three well balanced meals each day can prove to be quite difficult. This can lead to bad habits, such as grabbing fast food or skipping meals altogether. Both of these habits will wreak havoc on fitness and health goal progress.
One helpful technique to stay on track with consuming well balanced meals is weekly meal prep. Designate one day each week, such as a Sunday, and prepare food for the rest of the week. Lots of food can be prepared in one day and then portioned out into individual meals. These previously-portioned meals are easy to grab and go instead of having to think about what to prepare each day. Get creative with your meals by including grilling, baking, sautéing, steaming, etc. Some foods, such as marinated chicken breast, seasoned veggies, etc, can be grilled or baked and then frozen. These foods can then be defrosted the day they will be eaten. Other foods that can be prepared and kept in the refrigerator to be grabbed quickly throughout the week include hardboiled eggs, portioned out raw fresh veggies (carrots, celery, broccoli), egg muffins (*see recipe below), homemade banana nut bread, etc.
Other meal-prep ideas include buying low-fat ground turkey and forming your own turkey burgers to be quickly grilled for lunch or dinner. The use of a crock pot is a meal prep’s best friend! Grab a bunch of veggies, meat and flavorings and dump them all into the crock pot. In a few hours, you have a whole pot of food that can be portioned out for the week. If you are the type of person, like most of us, who don’t want to eat the same thing for dinner and lunch every day, freeze most of it for another week!
You will get the hang of it quickly and will definitely thank yourself during the week that you took the time to meal prep! ;)
*Egg muffins: combine whole eggs and desired veggies into a bowl, grease muffin cups with coconut oil, fill greased muffin cups ~3/4 of the way with egg mixture, bake at 3750F for 25-30 minutes. Each egg makes ~1 egg muffin.
Journaling sounds a little like something a middle school girl would do, but I believe it's just what you need to see your adulthood progress. When I first began my CrossFit journey in August 2011 (yay for my four year anniversary!), it would have been favorable if I had recorded my times, weights, and movements. July 2012 when I moved to Alpharetta, I began my journaling experience, and I have looked back at my successes, goals, failures, and PRs. Not only is it a mental triumph but also physical achievements of which I did not picture myself accomplishing. Start your journaling now. Here are a few apps for WOD tracking just in case you're not into writing it down on paper:
Beyond The Whiteboard
Upon seeing your progress, you can physically and mentally see the moments of greatness and learning from failures. Journaling will become a habit, and it's positive one you will not want to break. It's a game changer! Who doesn't want to make headway?!
People often ask, "What is the missing piece of my fitness?" They are hitting the box 4 or 5 days per week and drinking Kill Cliff and Formulx so where are the GAINZ??? It's pretty simple: most of us are under-recovering. Here are some tips to help you recover from your intense workouts.
1. Sleep- Sleep is the single most important aspect of recovery. Without adequate sleep, 7-9 hours per night, you will find that your body just won't perform the way you'd like. In fact, not sleeping enough can cause even bigger problems than not PRing your back squat. We are all busy, but you need to make uninterrupted sleep the backbone of your fitness journey.
2. Nutrition- Nutrition is right up there with sleep. If you're not fueling your body correctly, it won't perform. PERIOD. Getting ample amounts of carbohydrate and protein to support performance is a must. Carbohydrate is especially important before and after a strenuous workout. Your body's glycogen levels have been used for the workout, and it's begging to be replenished... Don't tell anyone, but coach L and I use pop tarts, muffin tops, or rice crispy treats to serve this purpose.
Protein is another important component when it comes to recovery. When we train, we break down our muscles. Taking in dietary protein, whether it be in solid or liquid form, starts the rebuilding process. Without getting too sciency on you protein is made up of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle. Because working out breaks that muscle down, you must eat protein to build it back up bigger and stronger! I advise a simple carbohydrate and protein combo as close to the end of your workout as possible. I've had extremely good luck with a diluted gatorade and protein mixture post-workout. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions on this!
3. Chiropractic/Massage/Etc.- We are asking our bodies to perform like athletes. In order to get the most out of ourselves, we must realize that being active has a price. Your body will get tweaked and injuries may happen. The best way to combat these is to use the help of a professional. Look at any pro-sports team, and you'll see an army of massage therapists and chiropractors helping to keep these athletes finely tuned. We are no different! You can't expect your body to perform like a race car if you treat it like a 1978 Ford Pinto.
4. Stress- This is going to apply to 99% of us. We all have stressors that weigh on us. Stress kills your recovery. Do your best to leave your work at the office if possible. Take some time to meditate or do something tot relax you. Living in a state of constant stress is toxic to the human body. Trust me- I live it! Stress raises cortisol, and cortisol promotes body fat. In turn, this is why some of us have that pesky pooch around our waist that we can't get rid of.
We can all take the steps needed to recover better. This is just the tip of the iceberg! Look for more in-depth articles on each of these topics in the not-too-distant future! For now, take a nap, and we will see you in the gym!
The deadlift is the most powerful lift anyone can employ when doing CrossFit. The load will be higher than anything possible with any squat or overhead lift. By employing the largest muscle groups (posterior chain), one is capable of lifting a significantly greater load, often 1.5x to 3x his/her bodyweight.
With this increased load comes a significant amount of danger if done improperly. Any deviation from center during the lift (bringing the bar out and around the knees) greatly increases the torque/load on the lower back. Loss of tension or stress within the posterior chain (rounding the lower back) will also greatly increase the torque/load on the lower back. Both of these culminate in a nice "pop" emanating from the lower back and rendering the individual severely limited for 3-8 weeks.
As a victim of this terrific "pop" sensation (twice... learn from my mistakes...), I fully understand the fear associated with the lift. So, how do you avoid this horrible noise? If you have any fear of deadlifts but want to improve that number:
- Work first on perfecting technique (60% 1RM or less, small sets)
- Practice explosive movement with "Speed Deadlifts" (ask a coach) at 50% 1RM or less
- NEVER "power through" a lift, it's not worth it...
With a little technique work and putting that ego in check, the deadlift will turn into the safest lift you can do and the fear will shift to a healthy level of respect, a necessity when doing any powerlifting.
It's time for the CFA Healthy Eating Challenge 2015 v2.0! Summer is over, and it's time to lose that vacation weight and get in shape before those dreaded holiday meals start.
When: Monday, August 31st- Sunday, October 11th
Cost: $75 per participant and $25 for each of the two dunks (to be paid directly to the dunk truck operator)
Dunk Truck will be at CFA Tuesday, September 1st in the evening. Look for the sign-up sheet near the whiteboard. Measurements will also take place on this date.
What: The Challenge will last for 6 weeks, and you will be scored in 4 Categories: Gym Attendance, Bodyfat % lost, Total Inches Lost, Lean Muscle Gained.
Members opting to do the challenge will be allowed to attend unlimited classes during the challenge. There are NO EXCUSES for inability to gain attendance points as video submissions of workouts are acceptable as well!
We will have larger teams than last time- having a member who does not "pull his or her weight" will not be as much of a factor. You will also have a coach as a team captain whose stats will count towards your score!
Attendance points will be accumulated as follows: 1 point for the first 4 days of attendance and a 2 point bonus for a 5th day. There is no extra credit for a 6th or 7th day.
There will be some fun bonus point opportunities as well. If you don't have Facebook, you'll need to get it as these will be announced in our CFA Health Challenge Forum.
Fresh-N-Fit Cuisines have offered a 5% discount for a 1-week food order or 10% for a 4-week plan. Coach L and I have been eating these meals for a few weeks now. They are calorically balanced and delicious! The meals will be available for pickup in the gym after labor day.
Coaches will be available for help! Ask questions you have on how to eat well. The goal is not to have a crash diet, lose muscle and then, put all the weight back on as soon as you're finished. What we want is for you to learn how to eat a balanced diet and change your life forever!
This should be a lot of fun, just like it was in February. Feel free to reach out to Coach L or Coach Justin with any questions. Good luck trying to defeat our defending champions... The 3 Amigos!