Learning from Failure

A quick look back   

We are going to focus mainly on what is ahead for you; the past is the past and it is best to leave it there.  However, in order to make the best start, we need to take a look at what may have sabotaged your previous efforts.

  • Impatience.  Because we live in a society that is used to instant gratification, it can come as quite a shock to find that fitness doesn’t happen fast.  I don’t care how many infomercials you watch that promise you a 6 pack in 6 weeks, it is not going to happen. There is no shortcut to fitness.  If you grew frustrated in the past because results didn’t happen as fast as you would like, prepare yourself now for a different attitude:  we will celebrate small results and be patient as the transformation happens.
  • Lack of planning. The biggest sabotage in any fitness plan is lack of planning.  If you have tried fitness and failed, it is almost certain that you came up short in the area of planning.  Without forethought and being intentional, you cannot eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep each night and stick with an exercise routine.  This time, plan before you start.
  • Support.  If you have attempted to get fit with little support, you are not alone.  Many people try to change their lifestyle on their own.  The trouble with this approach is that those around you will probably not value what you are doing.  They will unintentionally or intentionally sabotage your efforts.  For example, they may resent the time you take to workout, or they may ridicule you for the radical changes you make to your diet.  However, you will have support this time, and that's what will make you successful.

Forward from here

Today you start fresh and leave the past behind.  Yes, you may have quit during your previous attempts to be healthy.  That doesn’t matter now.  What matters is what you do today, tomorrow and next week.  

The following tips will help you make a strong start and make this time different.  

1. You know what you want; don't be afraid of the work it takes to get there.

This is where patience comes in.  

What is your dream or your goal?  Do you want to lose 20 pounds?  Do you want to run a mile?  Do you want to eat a diet that energizes you? Maybe you want to exercise for 6 days a week. 

Do not let the magnitude of your goals cause you to give up before you even begin. Recognize that this will take some time.  Every single fit person you know started from the beginning.  How did they get to their present condition?  By taking it one day at a time, celebrating every victory and getting up when they fall down. You can do the same.

2. “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” -Alan Lakein   

If you don’t have a plan, whatever you're focused on at the time will get attention, to the exclusion of other things. Without a plan, your own health will always take a backseat to what seems the most important at the moment—and that could be as simple as a television show that you want to watch!  Having a plan will keep less important things from creeping in and sabotaging your health.

Count on it:  if you do not plan for fitness and health, it simply will not happen.  This time, make a plan.  

Before you even start again, decide:

  • When and how you will get your exercise (bootcamp?  running in the mornings?  crossfit?) 
  • What foods you will eat and how you will ensure that you have access to those foods (do you have a small cooler that you can take along with you? What will your breakfasts consist of?  How much caffeine will you allow yourself?)
  • How you will arrange your schedule so that you get at least 7 hours of sleep each night (do you need to get the kids in bed sooner or prepare your lunches on the weekends to save time in the morning? 

Without a strategy, you set yourself up for failure.  Plan on succeeding!  Take some time right now to jot down some ideas to overcome the obstacles that you know will arise.  Be prepared for them, and you will breeze through them.

  1. No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it. -H.E. Luccock  

It is no secret that the biggest predictor of whether a person succeeds in their fitness and weight loss efforts is whether or not he has accountability.  I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating:  getting fit is not easy.  If it were easy, more people would be doing it!  In order to make sure you succeed this time, get some support.  That support could come from a few friends who are making a new beginning with you, your significant other or your Crossfit coach.  

New Year’s Resolutions… Love them? Hate them?

A New Year’s Resolution is something we have all heard of and very likely have all attempted, and even some of us may have achieved.  Common resolutions include fitness, food habits, quitting smoking, taking on new tasks/hobbies.  The ideas of what your New Year’s Resolution could be are limitless.

It’s common to hear that people are against New Year’s Resolutions or that they aren’t sustainable.  The most common reason behind this thought is, likely, because our Resolution is unrealistic or is such a large goal that an accomplishment is not easily felt.

For example, I will lose weigh in 2018.  Awesome! …. Well what does that look like?  What does a milestone look like?
Instead think…. My goal is to lose 10 pounds in 90 days and again what does that look like?  How will you accomplish this?  Have a plan and take small defined steps.

Most Resolutions go cold around the 3rd week.  We are a creature of habit and when we see all these changes we made aren’t changing anything yet we may say oh well.  Or an event may happen that throws us off coarse and again we say oh well.  The key will be to recognize, take note of what happened, allow yourself to be human, and move forward with your resolution from there.

Usually in a resolution you are changing something about yourself whether it is physical or mental and change alone can be extremely hard.  You're wired down a specific path or way of doing something or thinking and you are wanting to now alter that path... allow yourself to accept fault if you have a bad day and revert to your old ways.  BUT remember why you are changing what you are changing and start fresh the next minute, hour, or day.

Remember small achievable goals that you can build on …. Make a plan …. Find an accountability buddy …. most importantly Hiccups happen but they don’t define your success. 

 

Fitness Challenges – Yay or Nay?

It seems like anywhere you look on social media you will come across some type of challenge to do.  Some of these challenges are minutes long to days, weeks, or even months long.  You will see challenges involving all sorts of things from ice water, spices, food, crafts and fitness.

For our purpose we are going to chat about Fitness Challenges.  What are your opinions and/or views on these different fitness challenges?  Do you love them, hate them, think they are useful or pointless?

Our thoughts…..

Fitness challenges can be a great thing!  Using a challenge to test/increase your abilities in a certain fitness area is ideal.  Adding in an occasional fitness challenge is a good change to your fitness routine.  It keeps the variety in your fitness and helps to eliminate the body becoming complacent from a set fitness regimen.   

Some of us can find it hard to change things up or to incorporate different workout styles into our fitness.  Finding a buddy or a group to partake in a challenge with can increase your success/commitment rate and will help keep you accountable. 

Some challenges start on a certain day so don’t use that as a reason to not join that challenge once you find it.  Start from where the challenge is at or look back and start it from the beginning.  When you start doesn’t matter, what matters is that you started! 

If you are interested in a challenge we will be doing a Core Challenge for the month of December 2017 that is open to everyone.  You can find the group on FaceBook, just search CrossFit Alacrity Core Challenge.

But Won’t Lifting Weights Make Me Bulky?

From time to time I have come across people, especially women, that want to “get fit” but don’t think that using weights is a good choice for them because of the fear of gaining big bulky muscle.

The fact is that is takes a lot of work, and a lot of time, to gain big bulky muscle and for women it’s a much longer, slooowwww process than it is for men. A person seeking this type of figure will not only have training built around that goal but also their food and supplement intake would be geared toward bulky muscle as well. Occasionally you come across some folks that are able to gain the muscle with ease, and genetics will play a bit in this area also but that’s whole different topic.

The key is what are your goals.... 
-Shed weight/Trim down? Add in the weights
-Tone up? Add in the weights
-Get stronger? Add in the weights
-Play your sport better? Add in the weights
-Keep up with your young kids energy? Add in the weights
-Fill in the blank? Add in the weights :)

The point is that lifting weights is beneficial regardless of our goals, the volume/load/x wk will be the varriable. 

Although the majority of people want the loose weight, tone up, and feel good when they look in the mirror. Weights are a great addition to any workout regimen to aide in achieving these goals faster.

There is a lot of information out there about interval training and how beneficial alternating between high intensity and low intensity, during a shorter workout, can be for burning calories and overall physical fitness. Including weights into this combination and you are strengthening your body by increasing cardiovascular capacity, developing muscular endurance, and of course burning calories.

Females... no need to do any special workouts separate from the men. Things like bench press, squats and deadlifts are just as beneficial to women as men.

In CrossFit we live by constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. Some days we do 8-minute workouts with all-out effort to the opposite with a 24 minute workout with a focus on consistency and a sustainable pace. We use sport, weightlifting & throwing, gymnastics, metabolic conditioning, and nutrition to increase our neurological fitness and physical skills. In result creating the best version of ourselves.

Regardless of the type of exercise you choose to do don’t forget to add in the weights! At the very least we could all agree on the increased importance of muscle as we enter our elderly years, so why wouldn’t it be just as beneficial leading up until then?

Should I eat _______?

Its a loaded question. Should I eat this? It’s something my clients ask me often.

The answer isn’t black and white, there are no “good foods” and “bad foods”, there is only food (and food-like substances according to Michael Pollan). It all has calories and nutrients, maybe some more than others, but it acts as a fuel to get you through the day.

I like to say most foods fuel your body.
But some foods are so much more than just fuel.

Both are important. Chicken and brown rice and broccoli are going to fuel your body – to be it's best, even, in the right quantities.

But comfort food? That's so much more. That’s the stuff that eases the daydreams about what you might do to your kids if they don’t chill out soon. That’s the stuff that makes the rough days not seem so bad. But more than anything, that’s the stuff that celebrates. It celebrates life, friends, family, occasions, experiences. It feeds a part of life that is JUST as important.

So you decide, does this occasion need to fuel your body right now – or is it worthy of something special?

Whatever you decide, run with it. One thing I can promise is that the mind loves a good cake but there’s nothing that makes it hungrier than guilt and shame. So if you eat it, OWN it. Move on and prep that chicken for dinner.

Easy guide to deciding if you should eat that:
Are you SO PUMPED about eating this thing? Y/N
Is this going to be the best part of your day? Y/N
Does this look like its gonna melt in your mouth and give you daydreams for the next 2 weeks? Y/N
Are you going to feel SO DAMN SATISFIED after eating it?

If the answers are in the ballpark of “HELL YES” – eat it! Email me later and tell me how freaking good it was and how it fed your soul and you feel killer because it made your day!

If, the answers are all like “ehh, yeah, maybe, I dunno, I guess so…”
Screw it, you don’t even care about that cake! It’s not even gonna be that good and you probably have bigger goals. Fill your “ehh, maybe” times with chicken and veggies.
Save your soul food for that HELL YES feeling. Save your cheat meals and desserts for that HELL YES feeling.

Remember your goals, know them and be sure about them.
How you feel about your goals should be like, LET'S DO THIS.
The only thing that should compete with that is another HECK YES opportunity – like the best damn brownie you’ve seen all month.

Strategies is Dealing with Depression

Depression .... a word with many definitions depending on the person.  

It could mean not wanting to get out of bed, not feeling up to “facing the world”, having a plan for the day and instead you don’t want to leave the couch, or you flat out quit caring, guilt for what you’re not doing and anger about what you are doing. Lack of joy in normal activities or relationships, feeling unworthy or looking in the mirror and crying at what you see before you, it can even be an “unreasonable/un-explainable” feeling of sadness.  

Now let’s go to the dictionary for the actual definition.  

de·pres·sion. noun. feelings of severe despondency and dejection.  

Well geez what does despondency and dejection mean??  

de·spond·en·cy. noun. a state of low spirits caused by loss of hope or courage. 
de·jec·tion. noun. a sad and depressed state; low spirits. 

Wikipedia defines depression as a mental disorder characterized by at least two weeks of low mood that is present across most situations. It is often accompanied by low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, low energy, and pain without a clear cause. People may also occasionally have false beliefs or see or hear things that others cannot. Some people have periods of depression separated by years in which they are normal while others nearly always have symptoms present. 

What can you do? Well here are my thoughts and opinions on what you can do.  

  1. Get Moving.  I can’t express enough about the benefits of getting active.  Besides all the physical health benefits exercise is also one of the most effective ways to improve mental health. Part of this is due to the release of endorphin's, which acts as a mood elevator.  With regular exercise you can see an intensely positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, etc. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and improves overall mood.  I personally have made so many positive improvements in my life and I contribute a huge part of this to group fitness.  The comradery, support and encouragement is amazing.  Group fitness not for you?  Well you’ll never know if you never try.  But really the key is to just get moving and incorporating fitness into your life, whatever that looks like for you.   

  2. Opposite Action. Sound simple?  Well for the most part it is just as it sounds.  It’s a skill that was developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD. Emotions can both be positive and negative.  The key is if your emotion is a justified or unjustified.  Justified/valid emotions are healthy and can teach us a lot. An example of a justified emotion would be feeling sad about losing your job.  An unjustified/non-valid emotion would be feeling sad because your boss is having a closed-door meeting and you believe it’s about you. In this situation the emotion is unhealthy and holding you back from living your life the way you want.   

    In the later situation using opposite action can be extremely helpful.  For instance, if you are feeling sad and just want to lay in bed and decide to give in and do just that you will be reinforcing that emotion of sadness.   

    Sadness or Depression- The opposite action would be to get active, approach, don’t avoid and do things that make you feel competent and self-confident. 
    Fear – Do the thing you are afraid of, over and over.  Do the things that give you a sense of control. Make a list of small step or tasks you can do, DO the first thing on the list. 
    Guilt or Shame (Justified)– Repair the transgression, say you’re sorry, apologize, make things better, do something nice for the person. Then let it go. 
    Guilt or Shame (Unjustified) – Do what makes you feel guilty or ashamed, over and over. Approach don’t avoid. 
    Anger – Gently avoid the person you are angry with rather that attacking them. Do something nice rather than mean or attacking.  Imagine sympathy and empathy for the person rather than blame 

    I am firm believer in premise that actions proceed emotions. 

  3. Talk to your doctor and make a plan. Your doctor will be the best person to discuss what you are going through as they can recommend medication options with and come up with a plan of action.  Unfortunately, the PHQ-9 Depression test you take for “diagnosis” is dependent on your current mood/emotions and your result is a score based on the weight of each answer. 

  4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  I am a firm believer in this short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. It is used to help treat a wide range of issues in a person’s life, from sleeping difficulties or relationship problems, to drug and alcohol abuse or anxiety and depression. CBT works by changing people’s attitudes and their behavior by focusing on the thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes that are held (a person’s cognitive processes) and how these processes relate to the way a person behaves, as a way of dealing with emotional problems.

  5. Journal EVERYTHING for two weeks.  Try it and I mean everything! What did you eat, when did you eat, how long was your drive, anything different about your day, did you drink, who made you happy, did anyone upset you… etc… The first goal would to find out if there is any pattern of the items above that proceed a feeling of sadness, anger, shame etc. Or possibly this happens the same time every week, month, year? The second would be that by writing down tough feelings and events you are separating yourself from those emotional and eliminating the power they have over you. 

  6. Talk talk talk... to people you trust. Sharing your thoughts, feelings, and struggles is soooooo valuable.  It may be scary to share it out loud but you would be surprised at how understanding family, friends, and even complete strangers can be.  The other advantage is you can request that they help hold you accountable for opposite action.  My kids and husband know that they can (respectfully) call me on the carpet if I am being overly critical or cranky.  

Last but not least Know that you are not alone. You’re not. You would be surprised at how many people suffer from depression.  Some may have bouts of it a week or two here and there throughout the year and others live with it day in and out. 

Diet Reviews: Prolonged and Intermittent Fasting

As scientists learn more about the way the human body evolved, it makes sense to reflect back on how we evolved in the sense of eating and nutrition.  Not only can what we eat affect how we feel, perform, and function, but also when and how often.  This is not your grandparents' three square meals a day.

How it works:
The concept of prolonged fasting for health benefits is not a new one.  Going back to the days of Greek philosophers Hippocrates, Socrates, and Plato, fasting has been used to improve health.  Fasting is defined as abstaining from eating or drinking all or certain kinds of foods and beverages.  Throughout history, it has been used in religious observance as a form of purification.  But far before the advent of civilization, fasting was simply a time when food was not available.  In a hunter/gatherer society, this would happen regularly and is part of the reason why our bodies store fat during times when food is readily available.  The big problem is that food is pretty much always readily available in modern times.

Prolonged Fasting and Intermittent fasting are not really a diet so much as an eating protocol.  With fasting, you would not eat for a given period of time, giving your body a chance to re-tune and reset.  Intermittent fasting (IF) refers to a partial day fast that is repeated day after day, whereas fasting is for a full day or more and only repeated every week, month, or year.  Usually, the longer the fast, the more time before you would repeat the fast, although shorter fasts may be interspersed between the longer ones.  For example, an IF protocol may give you an eating window of 12 hours a day down to about four, while fasting may mean one day every week, three consecutive days out of every month, or seven consecutive days out of a year.  Because of this variation on protocols, it is essential to look at the studies conducted and their purported benefits to understand how to conduct yourself.  Some fasts allow only water, others say tea and coffee are ok, others provide a BCAA supplement to their participants.  

Pros:
Metabolic re-tuning.  Most of the reported benefits from fasting occur because of this "rest" on our metabolic processes.  This gives the body time to get the waste products, excess substrate, and broken down organelles taken care of and "refreshed."  Take for example muscle glycogen.  Not eating allows the body use blood glucose for energy without continuing to signal for more insulin, and thus insulin resistance.  This makes the body more insulin sensitive again (a good thing) so it can better use available blood glucose when it is signaled for.  There is also a reset of your immune system that helps to better fight off disease, as well as a general reduction in systemic inflammation.  More generally speaking, not eating for a day (or partial day) will obviously help you to reduce your caloric intake.  The body has a pretty good system for maintaining itself during these shorter times of no food, so you don't have to worry too much about losing much muscle.  Obviously, the reduction in calories will help you dip into your fat stores for energy.  All pretty good things, right?

Cons: The negatives of this type of eating are more for specific groups of people.  Especially with prolonged fasting, it might be prudent to consult your doctor before attempting.  Depending on your lifestyle and job, you may experience fatigue that could be problematic as your body adjusts to the lack of food.  People who are already at very low body weight, or at risk for anorexia should not attempt such a diet.  Children and adolescents who are still growing need extra nutrition and should definitely not go days without eating.  This also includes pregnant women.

Conclusion:  There is a lot of positives going on with these type of diets.  A lot of the research has been done on animal models, which is useful but must be taken with the understanding that it may not work the same in humans.  Many people have had success, but it's all about finding a specific fasting model that works well for you and is sustainable.  You can use this eating protocol with any diet, which makes its benefits available to anybody.  Start small and build up so that your body can have time to adjust.  Start with IF and a 12-hour window and work your way down if you so desire.  Try a full day fast every now and then. See how you feel after each change, and find the protocol that helps you feel your best!

How important is breakfast?

There's a lot of confusion surrounding what the topic of breakfast.  Should I eat breakfast? What should I eat? What if I'm working out? How much? What if I'm not hungry?  Let's take these one thing at a time and examine them.

Should I eat breakfast?
The answer, unfortunately, is that it depends.  While we can get into other aspects with the remaining questions, it mostly comes down to this question.  Will eating breakfast help you have a more productive start to the day, and will it help you make better food decisions throughout the day? If, based on your own experiences, the answer is yes then do it.  If you're just as productive and make the same food decisions (be honest now!) without eating it, then the answer is probably no.

What should I eat?
Think about this for a minute: how much bacon, orange juice, breakfast cereal, bagels, donuts, eggs, and milk would you eat if you didn't eat breakfast?  There are entire industries built around the idea of breakfast that would lose a lot of money if people weren't eating breakfast.  Not to say that all of these are bad things, but a lot of these are sugar bombs that don't really provide you with much nutritional content.  Any idea how much sugar is in a glass of "healthy" orange juice? Almost the same amount as in a can of coke!  In reality, breakfast is just another meal.  If you can get it out of your head that there are specific foods that you can only eat for breakfast, it will really open up your world.  If you insist on eating only breakfast foods, then here are a couple of my favorites, eggs and oatmeal.  Eggs are a complete source of protein, vitamins, and healthy fat.  Oatmeal is an awesome source of complex carbs and fiber that will digest slowly and keep you full until your next meal.  Add some whole fruit to change it up!

What if I'm working out?
Let's say you go to the gym in the morning.  6 am. If you're up at 4 am, then it'll probably be just fine to eat breakfast.  For most people, about 2 hours is enough to be able to digest their breakfast to the point where it's not sitting in your stomach.  This is personal, however, as some people have a higher tolerance for this feeling than others.  The amount of food you eat should be proportional to this tolerance and the proximity to your workout.  4 am? You're probably ok to eat a fair amount of food. 5:30 am? You're probably going to want to eat a little bit less if at all and what you do eat should be quick digesting (bananas or toast is great!).  If you choose not to eat, then you should also realize you will not have quite the same performance you would following the digestion of a meal, due to less quickly available energy.

How much should I eat?
Ok, assuming you are not working out early in the morning (which was answered in the previous question), how much is appropriate?  This is going to be relative to what we discussed in the first question.  How much do you need to keep from making a sugary soda or coffee run in the middle of the morning?  How much do you need in order to have stable energy levels and make better decisions not only at lunch but also at dinner?  One study gave its participants the same amount of calories during an experiment: one group with more for breakfast and less at dinner, and the other with less for breakfast and more for dinner.  All other parts of the day were identical.  The study found a greater amount of weight loss in the group that ate more for breakfast and less for dinner.  What if losing weight faster was that easy?

What if I'm not hungry in the morning?
There are two schools of thought here.  If you are determined to incorporate breakfast as part of your daily routine, then start small, and build up the amount you are eating until you start to experience the desired benefits that we talked about previously.  Your body will adapt and start to expect food as part of its routine in waking up (think Pavlov's dogs), and you will start to get hungry.  The other school of thought is related to the idea of fasting.  Back in our hunter/gather days, there were no consistent sources of food in the way there are today.  The body is adapted to not eating, or eating less for periods of time and then eating more in times of plenty.  While actual fasting has some interesting features, it's not really a viable option for most people.  Perhaps I'll write another article someday on it someday.  The more modern day equivalent is called intermittent fasting.  It basically suggests eating all your calories within a small window of the day to better allow your body to use up excess glucose and start burning off it's fat reserves.  I'll review the intermittent fasting protocol later in our diet reviews.

Conclusion
Breakfast is often said to be the most important meal of the day.  It probably was at one point, but most of the packaged breakfast foods out there are nothing but giant sugar bombs.  Quality breakfast foods like oatmeal and eggs can provide a great jumpstart to your day that helps you feel energized and make healthier food decisions throughout the day.  I've come to realize that it is far from essential though.  Like most things it all comes down to the quality of the food you are putting into your body.  If eating breakfast helps you eat better overall, then do it.  If you're still able to get the amount of fuel and nutrients you need out of two meals, and still make healthy decisions, then I don't see that as being a problem.  Listen to your body and eat whole, minimally processed foods and you'll get yourself closer to your goals, whether that's by eating breakfast or not.

Meet our Members: Dawn Torres

Dawn.jpg

What brought you to CF Alacrity?

I had been having issues with my shoulder and knees for a while; the doctor told me that if I did not lose weight and find a way to strengthen them I would be looking at total knee replacements on both my knees within 5 years and shoulder surgery as well. CF Alacrity opened up 2 blocks from my house and I took that as a sign. I came in with my husband and talked to you, Alex, about what Crossfit is and received a lot of useful information with all my questions being answered. I then also spoke with a couple of friends who were in Crossfit at that the time and the progress they made was hard to ignore. They looked great, felt great and had more energy than they ever had before. Once my shoulder rehab was done, it took me a couple of months to sign up. I have not looked back since!

What was your first Impression? Has that changed at all?

When I walked in the first time to talk to you, I was excited, you gave me so much information and the way you explained what Crossfit was and the technical side, how you would be there to make sure that the lifts we did were done correctly so that we were using the targeted muscles and how to get the best of the workout. I was impressed and felt that you really had your member’s interests at heart, so different from your normal gyms. When I walked into the first class, I was a rollercoaster of emotions! I was scared and excited at the same time.

 
This has definitely changed; I am excited to be at each and every class, to see everyone who is there and to cheer on the class before mine. I am happy to be part of such an amazing group of athletes that have supported me and inspired me to keep going. These people have become my friends and my classes have become my “happy place.”

What are you most proud of so far?

There are so many things that I am proud of. I think the thing that I am most proud of is that I can now look in the mirror and smile. The changes are now being noticed by those that are close to me and I can actually see them. I am beginning to see my abdominal muscles where before I knew that they were there but they were no visible. My thighs are defiantly smaller and getting more defined. I am also proud of the mental changes I have gone through; I am a much happier person, I smile more and have more confidence in myself.  I have more energy to do the things that I want to do in the day. I appreciate the little things more.

What are you working on next?

I am still working on getting stronger and my stamina; these are things that will always be a work in progress.  In terms of goals in the box, I really want to do a hand stand and get toes to bar. My long term goal, that I believe is shorter than I think, I really want to wear a bikini; it is something that I have always wanted to do but never thought I would. Here I am on the other side of 45 and for the first time in my life, I can see myself in a bikini. I can see myself walking on the beach somewhere warm with confidence.

What is your favorite CF Alacrity memory?

There are 2 things that have been my favorite memories in my 8 month membership; one: is participating in the 2017 Open Games. I learned so much about myself and how I am so much stronger I am, mentally and physically! It was like nothing I have ever experienced; the energy, the support from all the members who did not participate, but showed up just to cheer us all on, the drive of my fellow friends, it is a must experience for everyone. When it was over, I was slightly disappointed, but then excited because I know that in just a year I get to do it again.


The second is attending the Regional games this year; I felt that watching those athletes and what they are able to do, put a fire in me to keep going  and work harder to achieve my goals.

Diet Reviews: the Ketogenic diet

How it works:
The Ketogenic diet refers to a high fat, low carb diet designed to promote nutritional ketosis, or the use of ketone bodies for fuel.  Ketone bodies are formed from fat, and as such, promotes a greater degree of fat burning in the body.  

Pros:
There is some promise of very significant benefits while on the ketogenic diet.  One is that your body is more often in a "fat-burning" mode.  There is a fair amount of evidence to suggest that your brain will run more optimally on ketones once that switchover is made from glucose.  Because there are no large-scale influxes of carbohydrate, your blood sugar, and thus your energy and mood would remain more stable.  

Cons:
Anytime you are drastically switching your style of eating, it takes time for your body to adapt.  There is a phenomenon known as the "keto flu" wherein people experience feelings of nausea, brain fog moodiness, irritation, cramps, fatigue, and diarrhea as the body adjusts to the extremely high fat, low carb content.  There will also be a dip in the person's athletic performance as they are no longer sufficiently consuming the main source of fuel for high-intensity performance, carbohydrates. 

Conclusion:
The ketogenic diet has some great upside in terms of those searching for fat burning and mental acuity.  Getting into a ketogenic state is not said to be a pleasant experience, but most of that does go away and you are left with the benefits.  For this reason, I see it as being appropriate for those who are overweight and obese (with an extra thumbs up for diabetics) and are either sedentary or lightly active.  I do not find this to be an appropriate diet solution for those who do high-intensity exercise.  While the average person doesn't necessarily need a high-carb diet, they do need enough to support their activity level, and that is not supported by this diet.  Basically eliminating a macronutrient is, in my opinion, always a losing battle for those who don't live their lives as a lab experiment, and therefore not sustainable for the long-term.  Yes, this will help you lose fat, but there is so much more that goes with healthy living that I can't see myself recommending it for more than a short period (< 6 months), and probably only to those people that I listed above.  Most people will get much more out of a balanced diet that looks like this,

Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.
— Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit

Why Can't I Lose Fat?

Here’s a common scenario.  You’ve been eating healthy foods (mostly) and exercising regularly (most of the time), and while you feel better and are getting stronger, your body stubbornly refuses to let go of it’s fat!  Sound familiar?

One easy fix is to make sure you’re measuring consistently.  You are measuring, right?  To our own eyes, the body changes so slowly that it’s often impossible to see changes day-to-day.  We need to have some form of objective measure in order to see the progress.  Weight, body fat %, waist/hip measurements, and old photos are all pretty good ways to see how your body is changing outside of the lens of our daily lives.

Ok, so now you’ve been measuring.  But that stubborn body fat still won’t go away!  Let’s get into the meat (or fat!) of the problem. Hormones.  Yes, those pesky things that complicated your teenage years are still floating around in your body causing havoc.  A couple big ones that you need to be aware of are insulin and hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL).  Basically, insulin tells your body to store energy (as fat and other things), and HSL tells your body to burn energy.  These two things work opposite to each other, so the more insulin you have floating around, the less HSL, and vice versa.  Insulin is released as a result of carbohydrate ingestion.  So, the more carbs you eat, the more often you eat them, and the higher the amount of insulin that’s released (the result of more processed carbs and added sugar), the harder it is for HSL to work.  

If fat loss is your main goal, then lowering carbs is going to be more effective for your goals.  

This, however, is in opposition to performance or muscle gain goals.    High-intensity exercise, like we do in CrossFit, is run mainly on carbohydrates for fuel.  We are able to perform at a much higher level with carbohydrates in our diet, not only as fuel, but because of the hormone response.  As I mentioned before, insulin is the storage hormone.  Beyond telling the body to store carbohydrates and fat for energy, it also helps our body to build muscle.  Muscle, obviously, is essential not only to our long-term health and fitness but also to keeping our metabolism running high as we lose weight. If you were to only lose weight without working to keep your muscle, then the amount of calories your body burns on a daily basis just to keep running (your basal metabolic rate or BMR) will drop drastically.  This is why so many people who lose a lot of weight due to calorie restriction and light cardio tend to gain that weight back.  They start eating normally again, but because that’s so many more calories than their bodies are burning, they start to gain weight again.

The best way to eat according to Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, is, "Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat." That last part is easier said than done, but shows how simple good nutrition for a healthy weight actually is.  Understanding leads to better food decisions. Hopefully, this helps to kickstart your fat loss goals!

For a more in-depth look, I found a great video that does a nice job explaining it further: https://youtu.be/zcMBm-UVdII

Choosing your Scaling Option: When to Take the Next Step

KBs.jpg

While a coach can always make suggestions for you, one of the hardest decisions you face in the box is how to properly scale your workout.  You know you can do one weight, but you're unsure about the next progression up.  Should you attempt it? Should you try it and scale it down mid-workout if you can't do it.  Should you just keep with what you know you can do?  The answers to these questions come from you, and your goals.

The first thing you need to think about is why you're here.  If your goal in coming to the gym is to lose weight as quickly as possible, this is going to lead you to one answer.  If it's to get stronger, you'll have another answer.  Is RXing the workout important to you? Do you have a gym buddy you want to compete with?  Did you eat like crap yesterday?  Are you coming off an injury?  Are you struggling to focus?  Is it morning or afternoon?  These are just a few of the many things to take into context when deciding on a scaling option.

Let's take an example.  You're trying to decide between doing step-ups and 20" box jumps.  You can do the box jumps, but there's 75 of them in the workout and it has a 10 min time cap.  The beginning of the session had squats, and your goal in being here is to lose weight.  In this case the answer would be to do step-ups instead of box jumps.  Given the number of them, you'll need to move pretty quickly.  Since your goal is weight loss instead of strength, you want to be able to move more during the workout anyway.  You'll be able to get further into the workout and do more work, which will serve you better for weight loss.  Now let's say there's 30 of them, and you had a full night sleep and ate healthier.  You're feeling very good and are looking for some motivation at the beginning of the week.  You know completing this will be just what you need to feel accomplished and set the tone for a great week.  Obviously, in this case, let's go for it!  We rotate the numbers on our exercises so that if you're just starting to master an exercise, you have a chance to do it in a metcon.

This is part of why it's so important to have a goal board.  The goal board reminds us that although we're here work hard, we are training for something specific.  Each workout can be adapted to your individual goals and ability levels as long as you take a moment to think about that and why you may want those things.  

Fitness on Vacation

Vacations are great.  Relaxation, seeing new sights, de-stressing; these are all things that are important to living a fulfilled life.  The small drawback is that it inevitably throws you off your routine, including exercise.  I get asked to write vacation workouts from a lot of people, and I usually have two responses:

"Do you actually want to do it?"  and
"Why?"  

These questions are to get you to think about whether this is something that's feasible given your plans for vacation, and if you're taking a vacation to relax, getting you to think about why getting in a workout is still important to you.  If you have a specific competition or date in the future that you're working towards being in specific shape, then maybe it is important enough for you to plan ahead and make time for it.  Maybe it's not really a vacation, but a work trip where you're not focused on relaxation and fun activities. In these situations, it's great to be part of the CrossFit community because most CrossFit boxes allow you to drop-in for a workout.  Find the closest CrossFit box to where you're staying, give them a call/email to let them know which class you would like to attend, and you can still get in a great workout.

 If that is the main point of your vacation then I say forget "workouts."  Do something active that you wouldn't normally do.  Go snorkeling, hiking, walk the city, explore while running, play in a park, play sand volleyball, play golf, chase your kids, etc.  It doesn't really matter, but find a way that you can express your fitness.  In CrossFit, sometimes it's easy to forget that we don't train to be better at exercise, we train to be better at life.  So go out, enjoy your vacation, do something active, and when you come back, scale your first workout(s) back until your body can readjust to the exercise.

Fear and the World of Fitness

“Most people live in a state of fear that they’ll be humiliated in some way.”
-Felix Biederman

Let that sink in and internalize for a minute.  I'll wait.

 

Fear is a tricky thing in the world of fitness.  I came across this quote in an article I was reading on Deadspin.com, and while it was part of the context of a larger statement, it resonated with me.  Day after day I hear similar sentiments to the one above echoed from people about their own fitness journeys.  It comes in many forms: I don't know what to do, it sounds hard, that sounds stupid, I can't do that, what if I can't do that, what if I can't keep up, what if, what if, what if.

This fear of the unknown in the fitness world keeps people paralyzed in a number of different ways.  For the average person, that might mean not being comfortable in a gym environment.  They see the people who are in the gym day in and day out, and think, "Oh, that person has something special that I don't have," or "I could never be like them."  That thought might be followed by an excuse or qualification.

For the person that is in there day in and day out, there's often a fear of not being able to reach their goals. "I need to be bigger, stronger, faster or I won't be good enough," or "I wish I was like my idol."  

For the elite athletes, it could be the fear of not being the best.  "What if I fail come competition day?"

It's OK.

Fear is an important driver of what we choose to do or not do with our lives so that we can be safe.  But overcoming fear is what drives us forward in life.  Putting yourself out there so you can improve yourself in a positive manner will help open you up to a world that you never even realized existed.  

I'm not talking about taking stupid risks like being afraid of hurting your back but still attempting a personal best deadlift.  I'm talking about, if you don't know where to start, work with someone who's been there already to help overcome that fear of the gym, to help you be happy with what your body can do, to become the best person that you can be.

It's OK to be afraid. And it's ok to need help.  Overcome your fear, step into the gym, and find out how much you are capable of. 

Let's talk about: shoes

AllShoes.jpg

There are several different shoes out there for CrossFit Athletes but which ones should you wear? That depends on what kind of workout you are doing. Here is a quick summary of the differences in the shoes.

Reebok CrossFit Lifter 2.0

Reebok CrossFit Lifter 2.0

Lifters aka Oly Shoes - These shoes have a higher elevated heel and fit tightly onto your foot. You'll want to use these shoes when you are doing squats, cleans, clean and jerks and snatches. Why? The raised heel allows athletes to drop lower, keep their knees out. Great for athletes with ankle mobility problems. However, you should NEVER run or do Double Unders in shoes like these. They are very heavy compared to other shoes and your limited mobility hinders that ability. Not to say you can't do them but you'll regret it quickly.

Nike Metcon

Nike Metcon

Nanos, Metcons, No Bull (aka CrossFit shoes) - These are great shoes for any CrossFit athlete. Why? They can handle both running, jump rope movements and also give you enough leverage to do Olympic Lifts like Cleans or Snatch. Would not recommend if you are going a long distance for running nor for long jump rope workouts. These are the most endorsed shoes by major CrossFit atheletes.

Nike Flex Run 2015

Nike Flex Run 2015

Running shoes - These are very flexible shoes. They give athletes the ability to shift weight from heel to toe with no resistance. While they are good for running or jump rope they should not be used for lifts like squats, cleans, press or snatch. Because the athlete can freely shift weight from heel to toe that means they are more likely to have trouble stabilizing on these lifts. If you've ever done cleaned and you put weight onto your toes, the weight of the bar will move forward, making it harder for the athlete to come out of the bottom and chances are you'll miss your lift.

source:https://michaelhyatt.com/my-take-on-the-vibram-fivefingers-running-shoes.html

source:https://michaelhyatt.com/my-take-on-the-vibram-fivefingers-running-shoes.html

Minimalist/Barefoot - There is some debate about the merits of training barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes (like Vibram Five Fingers). Sports Scientists have done studies on the health benefits of wearing minimalist shoes or going barefoot. Should you decide to try out these shoes please make this change gradual. Your stance and posture will be different from any other shoes your will ever wear. For lifting I would refrain from going minimalist except for deadlifting and the reason is because there is no protection for your feet whatsoever. For running, all I can say is take it easy early on because it is a big adjustment and unless you are only running I can't recommend you use them while doing CrossFit. Also, doing toes-to-bar barefoot hurts!

Don't worry! You don't have to get a pair of each shoe, don't go out and break the bank just yet. A pair of Nanos, Metcons or No Bull shoes are great all around shoes for the stuff we do in CrossFit.

One last thing: remember to clean your shoes out every now and then or else you'll end up with very stinky shoes!

Meet Our Members: Cason Herd

Cason.jpg

What brought you to CF Alacrity?

A family member had tried it out and suggested that I give it a go, one day they finally broke me down and I went with them.

 

What was your first impression? Has that changed at all?

My first impression of CF was what I saw on TV and the internet, everyone making fun of CrossFit people and such for always talking about how they do CF.  Well after my first couple of sessions I started to really like it.  I liked the intensity of the workout and the people I was working out with.  Now after over a year of being with CF Alacrity I see why people talk about CF the way they do, because it’s awesome.

 

What are you most proud of so far?

I’m most proud of getting back into shape, I recently passed the ORPAT with time to spare and just completed my first Spartan Sprint with a 2:29:13.


 

What are you working on next?

I am going to continue with doing these 5k obstacle courses, I’m looking forward to October 7th Warrior Dash.


 

What’s your favorite CF Alacrity memory?

It must be the first Murph workout (our long annual Memorial Day workout) we did at CF Alacrity.  I just remember everyone pushing themselves to the absolute edge and everyone being there rooting each other on. I remember being absolute wiped out afterwards but feeling so satisfied.

We have a new personal training studio!

CrossFit Alacrity Personal Training Studio Space

Our new studio will give us the chance to host private personal training sessions throughout the day.  

So why should you do personal training?

Personalized programming - Group class programming has a very broad goal - general fitness.  We are trying to get you as good at as many different things as possible.  In doing this, you are exposed to many different elements (some of which are more difficult than others), but we don’t have enough time to really practice those more difficult skills regularly enough to make fast improvement. If you want to advance a very specific element of your fitness more quickly, then we need more specialized programming. Maybe you want to get your first pull-up or muscle-up, do more specific training for your upcoming 5k, or maybe you're looking specifically for weight loss. While all those things will happen on a very gradual level with group programming, personalized, targeted training allows us to target those specific elements and improve them at a much faster pace.

Flexible Scheduling - Personal Training sessions are determined in advance with a Trainer based on your schedule. If you can’t make the specific time that a class starts on a certain day, personal training opens up more options for you to still workout. Or, if your time is more limited, you can get in a quick 30-minute session instead of committing to the longer hour time frame. With a specific schedule set in advance, you are also more accountable. Group classes require you to sign up, but you know they can still go on without you. Late for a PT session? You better believe your trainer is going to be calling, wondering where you are.

Individual Space and Attention - Are you not a group person? Or do you feel nervous and unprepared within a group setting while working on something? Personal training can offer a more comfortable, relaxed setting for many people. It’s ok to need help but not want other people working out with you. 

Feel like you’re lost in a world of fitness jargon and want someone to explain it to you? Having the full attention of a trainer allows you to feel comfortable asking for help at any and every point you need it. Do you have an injury that requires more specific exercises or attention? Injuries can be a major sticking point in a person’s fitness journey, but Trainers are knowledgeable enough to help you work around them while they heal. You may feel like you have to push through it if you’re in a group, but individual space and attention gives a trainer enough time to make sure that the workout fits you, rather than you trying to fit the workout.

Interested in setting up a personal training session? Email us to schedule a time with a trainer!

Rates:
1 hour is $75
30 minutes is $40

How to Finally Crush Your Fitness Goals in 2017

You've probably made plenty of New Year's resolutions in the past before.  Fitness resolutions like dropping 10 pounds or getting ripped are probably the most common and most desired outcomes of a revamped fitness routine.  Maybe you've even gone into the weeds and researched the best diets and exercise plans available.  So what's missing?  

Your own dedicated coach is probably the most knowledgeable person to keep you accountable

Your own dedicated coach is probably the most knowledgeable person to keep you accountable

For most people it's accountability.  No matter how fit you get, you need to have someone who helps to keep you accountable to your goals.  An objective opinion of someone besides yourself can help you make logical choices that will keep you on track to meet your goals.  Most people try to shy away from accountability.  If you tell someone your goal, then you will feel more obligated to meet that goal.  You no longer have the easy excuse of "not having enough time" or "being too tired" because you know that your "accountabil-a-buddy" will call you out and let you know that you can't give up that easy. If you actually invest in that goal and hire a coach who is knowledgeable, then you remove one more excuse from your arsenal, "not knowing what to do."  They can write your workouts for you if they're a fitness coach, or guide you through proper eating if they're a nutrition coach.    All you have to do is follow their instructions.  Simple.  Not easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.  Make this year the year you become accountable.  Make this year the year you finally crush your fitness goals.  

If you're ready to stop making excuses and finally crush your fitness goals, you can get started today with a No Sweat Intro.  Talk face to face with a real person and find out how to make 2017 the year you finally get in the shape you want.

Why is Nutrition the base of the CrossFit Hierarchy (aka why is nutrition so damn important)?

Why is Nutrition the base of the CrossFit Hierarchy (aka why is nutrition so damn important)?

First off, a primer.  When CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman was formulating the methodology of CrossFit he came up with a pyramid that represented the most necessary to the least necessary fundamental parts of fitness.  At the base of that pyramid is nutrition.  On the next level up is metabolic conditioning; in the middle is gymnastics; second from the top is weightlifting and throwing, and at the top is sport.

Why Is CrossFit So Expensive?

CrossFit has two major barriers that prevent many people from trying it.  The first is that the average person has heard of CrossFit, but doesn’t understand what it is, or how it’s different from other forms of training.  To explain CrossFit could take one sentence or a hundred, but I have a more dedicated article on that here.  Understanding a little bit about it is essential to the second barrier, cost.  No matter how many times I explain CrossFit and its benefits to people and no matter how enthusiastic they seem about it, for many, they look at the monthly membership fees and all of that goes out the window.  This is unfortunate, but a little more explanation may help to ease those fears.

CrossFit has a couple of key factors that make it a better quality product, and thus worthy of a premium price tag.  These are related to its coaching, atmosphere, and quality of service, as well as some city dependent factors.  

Coaching and Programming:  CrossFit classes are considered to be small group personal training.  This means that a small number of people come together at a single time to share in the cost of personal training services.  This lowers the cost per person and allows the trainer to help more people, a win win for a skilled trainer and his clients.  The beauty of CrossFit programming is that the movements are applicable to any fitness goal.  A trainer is able to use the same daily workout for all the clients and scale that workout to the individual client’s ability level and needs.  As CrossFit founder Greg Glassman put it, “The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree, not kind.”  This is a key point, because in reality almost all CrossFit gyms post their basic workouts online for free.  There is no charge to access them, so an experienced individual has access to an abundance of programming.  However, most people are not knowledgeable enough about exercise to be able to get the most out of them, so there is a need to have an exercise professional interpret them in order to complete the workouts safely and effectively.  

These workouts are also complete.  CrossFit classes are designed to compliment each other, not only within a single session, but throughout the week, month, and year.  Within a single workout there is a warm-up, movement preparations and practice, skill/strength development, metabolic conditioning (aka metcon, workout of the day, or WOD), and cool down.  All these parts are essential to safe, well-rounded fitness program, and yet are rarely seen in any commercial gym or traditional group exercise class.  Beyond that, a week’s worth of classes are designed to have complementing movements so that members don’t repeatedly train muscle groups that haven’t had a chance to recover from previous workouts.  Further out still, coaches will program concentrations on specific skill or strength exercises, to make sure members are getting adequate practice and time to improve upon them.  All these factors speak to the value of working with highly trained fitness professionals.

Atmosphere:  One thing that seems to be highly important to success, and yet almost completely overlooked in the world of fitness is social support.  Talk to almost anyone who has had any measure of success with maintaining a physical practice and there’s probably some social support network behind it.  A new mothers running group, a husband and wife that go to the gym together, a kids soccer team, a bunch of bros at the gym, a fitness challenge, yoga, pilates, spin, bootcamp classes, even workout DVDs all are forms of social support.  They engage others to form a group of people all working towards the same goal and use each other to motivate, compete, hold accountable, and simply be around other people.  Humans are social animals, and crave the interaction with other people.  CrossFit communities have naturally developed to take this to the next level.  CrossFit is hard, there’s no doubting that.  That’s why it gets results!  But there’s something about doing the same workout alongside others who know exactly what you’re going through that makes it feel much more doable.  This kind of friendly competitive atmosphere helps us to push to be the best we can be.  You might find your motivation in being the fastest person in your class, all the classes, or faster than your friend.  You may find motivation in being a little stronger than the last time you did an exercise, in completing a skill based movement for the first time, or working through the progressions to be able to complete it.  Whatever goals members hope to achieve, even if it’s simply trying to find a fun way to stay active, they can find a way to stay motivated and enjoy improving their fitness in a CrossFit gym.  Even for those that don’t think they would like a group setting, you are able to come in and be motivated by what others have done and are doing, even if you choose not to directly interact with them.  Do not underestimate the power of a like-minded group of people in keeping each other accountable towards their goals.  CrossFit preaches an accepting environment that says come as you are, do what you can, and always keep trying to improve in all areas of your life.  This is the driving force behind it’s success.

Quality of Service and Other Factors:  In this section, I want you to think about what you really want out of your experience with fitness.  Now think about what it is that you’ve actually gotten from other gyms and fitness programs.  Doubtless, you have certain fitness goals that you would like to achieve, weight loss and muscle gain probably being the most common answers.  What if I told you that you could lose fat, gain muscle, not get bored with doing the same thing every time, and have fun doing it with people that could become very close friends?  This is the norm in a CrossFit gym, rather than the exception.  This is what keeps people talking about it, doing it, and finally getting what they want out of fitness.  CrossFit is an investment in yourself.  Yes, it can seem like a lot of money, but it’s also a commitment.  Do you think you’re more likely to make time to go to the gym if you pay $150/month or $10/month?  You only get one try, so wouldn’t you rather pay the money now and have a strong healthy body to use your whole life?  The alternative, unfortunately, even if you’re not obese, is a slowly deteriorating body and mind that leaves you with a much lower quality of life in your middle and senior years.  Obesity only serves to exacerbate that even further.  Do yourself a favor and invest in yourself now, because sooner or later you’ll have to pay.

Beyond that I want to make sure to mention prices are also a function of location.  It’s not really possible to compare the prices of one CrossFit box to another, so try not to make that a deciding factor.  Yes, a box in New York City will be more expensive than one in the middle of nowhere.  Rent is more expensive and space more limited in some locations than others.  Most of the time, you will get what you pay for too.  If a certain box has the lowest price in town, it’s probably because they don’t think their coaching and service can match up to the others, so the only way they can compete is on price.  Almost every box has some sort of free trial program, so take advantage of that, and use that to help determine if it’s worth the price.  

Ways to make CrossFit more affordable: Let’s take a look at some numbers that make the price seem more manageable.

Here’s two common things that people will spend money on.

Coffee $4/day * 30 days = $120/month

Eating Out 18.2 meals * $10/meal = $182/month

Even if you only reduced these expenses by half, you would have made up enough money for a CrossFit membership.  Now let’s look at some of the hidden costs that could await should you choose not to live a healthy lifestyle.

Hidden costs

$44,820.00: Average cost for heart bypass surgery

$10,000: Average cost per year per person for treating complications related to diabetes.

$10,000/12 months = $833.33/month

$1,500.00: Average cost more per year obese patients pay for health care

$1500/12 months = $125/month

$147 Billion: Direct and Indirect costs America spends each year on obesity

$147,000,000,000/318,900,000 people = $1307.62 per year/12 months = $109/month

These are only a few small examples, but I hope you can see that the benefits far outweigh the cost.  Invest in yourself. Come as you are.  Do what you can.  And always keep trying to improve in all areas of your life.