Training vs. Competing

3…2…1… GO! The clock has started and you are going all out! “I’m gonna crush this WOD today!” you tell yourself in your head. You hop up on the pull-up bar and flail yourself over the bar then you hop down grab the bar and proceed, back rounded, to “clean” the bar off the floor, legs splaying open you land the bar on your shoulders. You manage to make it through the WOD RXd…. Congratulations!

But… did you gain anything from that workout or were you just competing? Either with the clock, yourself, or someone else?

There is a time for both training and competing but, 90% of the time you should be WAY more concerned with training.

Training is doing the workout with purpose and an intention to become better. Better, at the movements as well as more fit for the next time you do that workout or those moves.

Competing is doing the workout anyway you can grind through it to have a competitive time.

So, which do you choose?

Simple… if you struggle with a move and you are just coming to your normal, daily, CrossFit class. Then take the opportunity to work on that move.

Let’s use yesterday’s WOD as an example. The moves were rowing, front squats, rope climbs and toes to bar. You come in knowing that you can RX all of it but, you struggle with your kipping toes 2 bar. You can do them strict and one at a time and totally RX that WOD with a slower time.

Two things happen if you do that. First, you are not improving your toes to bar and second, you are changing the intensity of the workout by doing strict toes to bar.

Another great example, let’s say we are doing the workout Grace, 30 clean and jerks for time and 135/95. The intent of this workout is to fit in the time domain of 3-5 minutes. You come in and “know” that you can RX that weight but, it’s going to take you 11 minutes to do it. You’ve just changed the entire purpose of that workout. You’ve taken a barbell conditioning WOD, METCON, and turned it into a strength workout. So, in this scenario you are not “training” your metabolic conditioning you are just “competing” to be RXd.

You guys know, we always talk about scaling. SCALING IS NOT CHEATING! Scaling is training! Which is the entire purpose of why we are at the gym in the first place. We are training our bodies to be strong, fit, and healthy.

Need help deciding how to train better for each wod? Ask your coach! That is what we are here for. We can help you decide proper weight and the appropriate scale to help you become better.

CHANGE YOUR THINKING

Ever notice that sometimes one little thought of something leads to it being all you can think about? No?

Try this. For the next 30 seconds I want you to NOT think about polar bears. Block all thoughts of them out of your mind. Don’t think about where they live. Don’t think about how they look or what they eat. Don’t think about them at all.

Ready? Go….

So, how’d it go?

My guess is, you just thought more about polar bears than you’ve thought about them in the last week, month, or maybe years!

Why?

Because that is how our brain thinks.

Now, let’s discuss how this applies to your nutrition choices. When we go on a “diet” we typically are eliminating foods from our normal diet. Then we obsess, at times, about those foods. “OMG… I want a cupcake SO bad!” That is because that is how our brains work. What we think about becomes what we think about.

So… Let’s try this. Focus on the foods that you can have! I can have thousands of delicious foods. I am not depriving myself of anything.

I’m guessing your brain will follow you in your thoughts and it will make your healthy choices much easier.

Try it!

WHY MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER

If you keep up with what’s happening in the fitness industry at all, you know that we are inundated with a “more = more” message. More cardio. More squats. More calorie restriction. However, if you aren’t careful, the “more=more” approach can lead to overtraining, injury, and illness. So let’s discuss for a moment what is too much when it comes to exercise.

In our coaching we often see people come in and approach their workouts and diet with full on intensity. They are amazed by the initial results and, of course, want more. They throw everything – energy, time, resources – at their weight loss, strength gain, or health goals. They can’t stop talking about how great the workouts are, how much better they feel. It’s like a new drug to them.

This, all out, full throttle approach works great!

Until…. It doesn’t.

One day you wake up and find that your knees are achy or shoulder hurts. Or perhaps, you just feel run down and you have developed a bit of a cough.

Couple weeks go by and your lifts that were easy begin to feel heavy. Or maybe you tweak your back on a weight that is not heavy.

The next week you are calling the doctor or chiro to make an appointment.

So… What happened? What went wrong?

The issue here is not balancing the stress of life, physical, emotional, etc.., with rest and recovery.

Exercise is a stressor.

Typically a good one but, a stressor none-the-less.

If you are exercising intensely and/or frequently you certainly can add more stress to an already stressed body. Let’s face it, we all deal with LIFE. (Relationships, work, travel, late nights, etc…)

Exercise and intensity is not a bad thing. In fact, exercise is proven to reduce stress. In terms of physical demand though we have to listen to our bodies and help our bodies recover from ALL the stress we experience.

How much recovery you need is based on a whole bunch of different factors. Namely, how much TOTAL stress you are under at any given time.

For instance, if you are up all night with a sick child, then you are late for work, you spill coffee on your pants— then you hit the gym. Chances are you will not hit a PR that day!

Furthering this example it will also take much longer to recover from the workout after all that stress vs. if you had slept well, made it to work on time, had a great breakfast and a great day overall.

With the right amount of exercise and intensity we get healthier and stronger. With too much exercise at too high of intensity we strain, stress, shut down, and BREAK DOWN!

Look guys, I’ve been in the fitness industry long enough to see this pattern repeated over and over again. Regardless of age, body type, sex, or how great of shape you are in. At some point your body says… Enough is enough and it shuts down. Most of the time that manifests itself in the form of an injury. BUT, 100% of the time there were signs and signals that the body sent out BEFORE the injury occurred. (Note: I’m not talking about some freak box jump injury, I’m talking about back aches, knees, shoulders, etc..)

The following is an excerpt from an article from the folks at Precision Nutrition:

Mission Control: Our bodies.

Overtraining isn’t a failure of willpower or the fate of weak-minded wimps. Our bodies have complex feedback loops and elegant shutdown systems that actively prevent us from over-reaching or pushing ourselves too hard.

Two systems are at play:

Our central nervous system (CNS) acts like a car engine regulator. If the engine on a car revs too high for too long, it shuts down. Similarly, if we exercise too much, our brain tries to protect our muscles by reducing the rate of nerve impulses so we can’t (or don’t want to) move as much. And we certainly can’t work as hard.
Local fatigue, the result of energy system depletion and/or metabolic byproduct accumulation, makes your muscles feel really tired, lethargic, and weak. Using our car analogy, this is sort of like running out of gas.
Training too frequently and intensely — again, without prioritizing recovery — means that stress never subsides.

We never get a chance to put gas in the tank or change the oil. We just drive and drive and drive, mashing the pedals harder and harder.

If we “lift the hood” we might see:

Poor lubrication: Our connective tissues are creaky and frayed.
Radiator overheating: More inflammation.
Battery drained: Feel-good brain chemicals and anabolic (building-up) hormones have gone down.
Rust: Catabolic (breaking-down) hormones such as cortisol have gone up.
As a result, you might experience:

Blood sugar ups and downs.
Depression, anxiety, and/or racing thoughts.
Trouble sleeping or early wakeups.
Food cravings, maybe even trouble controlling your eating.
Lower metabolism due to decreased thyroid hormone output.
Disrupted sex hormones (which means less mojo overall, and in women, irregular or missing menstrual cycles).
Here’s the thing.

You don’t get to decide if you need recovery or not.

Your body will decide for you.

If you don’t build recovery into your plan, your body will eventually force it.

The more extreme your overtraining, the more you’ll “pay” via illness, injury, or exhaustion. The more severe the payback, the more “time off” you’ll need from exercise.

That’s a bummer. Now your car has stalled, or worse — gone backwards. Argh.

So what are we to do?

Well… Sometimes, most of the time actually, less is more. The problem is not really that you are over training, the problem is that you are under-recovering.

I recently read an article from doctor that works with our elite military guys. While these guys are America’s true bad asses, the majority of these guys are suffering from chronic issues caused by under-recovery. Namely in the form of lack of sleep. It is causing, in particular, hormonal disruption. Testosterone levels of 11 year old girls vs. those of young bad ass warriors.

What they are finding is, they take these guys off of the “sleeping” pills and put them on a diet rich in whole foods and their hormone levels return to normal.

So what does this mean for the average gym goer? It means that ALL the stressors in your daily lives have an impact on your recovery and in turn your performance and in turn your overall health and well-being.

It’s OK to take a break! Chill out!

Go for a walk

Practice some meditation

Take a yoga class.

Schedule time for recovery

Sleep. Aim for 8 hours per night. If you can’t do that just aim for more than you are currently getting. Perhaps instead of a workout you could take a nap?

Get a massage

The point being in all of this is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. It knows when you need to rest and it WILL send you signals telling you. And you know what? It is perfectly acceptable to take a day off from your workout. You will be better for it.

*Source Precision Nutrition

THE IMPORTANCE OF UPPER THORACIC MOBILITY

As some of you know, I struggle with upper thoracic mobility, so what better topic for me to write about right?

So what exactly is “upper thoracic mobility”? Let’s break it down.

Our Upper thoracic ranges from the base of the neck and top of the scapula (shoulder blade) to the bottom of the ribcage. (Shown in picture above, highlighted in orange) Mobility is defined as the ability to move or be moved freely and easily. So being able to move freely in our upper back/neck region is great for us Crossfitters right? Right! We always want to be as limber as possible, because being stiff and sometimes even in pain is no fun. We need to be ready for anything that comes our way, and being stiff and immobile hinders that.

As coaches we see the end results of poor thoracic mobility manifest in issues with the overhead squat, front squat, all the pressing movements including hand stands, thrusters, snatch, wall balls, pull-ups, and others. Or ,even worse, we see the end result of poor thoracic mobility manifest in an injury. (Typically in the shoulder) So pretty much anything taken over head, or in the front rack, and most pushing and pulling movements can be deeply affected by the mobility, or lack of, in your thoracic spine. Personally, I really feel it, and can tell that I need work, when I squat with weight or am doing thrusters.

So how do we address our mobility issues?

Well I’m glad you asked!

There are a lot of different things that we can do to help us get better range of motion in this area. The tools I will use are a foam roller, lacrosse ball, a double lacrosse ball and a rubber bumper plate.

To begin, Grab your roller and wrap your arms around your chest and position the roller at the base of your rib cage. Stay tight, keep that “hugging position”, and extend over the roller by arching back. If you find a spot that feels tight/ knotted up, then spend some time on that spot. You’ll want to work that spot until you feel relief (arch over the roller as many times as it takes). When you feel it is time to move on, move up the back, and continue working as you did previously. As you get closer to the upper back, squeeze your butt and elevate your hips for more extension in the upper back. You can also “smash” side to side and roll out each side individually in that same hugging position. There is really no right or wrong way as long as you are in the hugging position and SLOWLY working up the back and concentrating on problem areas that you find along the way. If you need a little more intense therapy, grab a lacrosse ball (or double lacrosse ball, my favorite) and do the same movement. The lacrosse ball is harder and much smaller, which will allow it to get much deeper into the muscle and really, REALLY work those kinks out. Nothing like a deep tissue massage right? You can also extend your arms over head (hands touching, palms towards ceiling but not clasped together and elbows straight) for a different variation. Like I said you can’t really go wrong with it. Feel free to also grab a plate and set it on your chest (right over where the ball is positioned under your back) to make it even more intense!

Doing this regularly, you will begin to notice a difference in your overhead position and hopefully will feel much more comfortable when training.

Here are a couple videos explaining the above:

BETTER UPPER BACK EXTENSION-IZER | FEAT. KELLY STARRETT | MOBILITYWOD

T-SPINE SMASH (THORACIC SPINE/UPPER BACK

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to get with me at the box or shoot me an email and I would be happy to help! Maybe we could roll out together some time!

Thanks for reading!

Coach Meagan

STOP LISTENING TO THE NEGATIVE CHATTER

“Refuse to have a conversation with the narrative in your head” – Seth Godin

I’ve been listening to a book by Seth Godin, Leap First, and in it he talks at length about shutting down or not listening to the conversation in your head.

We can apply this to our fitness and overall health.

When we are out for a run or in the middle of a workout and things start hurting, our brain begins to chatter. That internal dialogue is normally the limiting factor in your workout, NOT your physical condition.

In other words, your mind gives up WAY before your body does. (wait, I can’t breathe, let’s take a break, just walk for a second, etc… )

We can however, take control of that chatter. Some people are GREAT at it. Typically, it takes a little work.

Try replacing that negative chatter with positive. If you find yourself suffering in the middle of a workout try being encouraging to yourself. “Just keep going” “I got this” “You’ll be done soon”

One thing that has helped me specifically in some of the longer Crossfit hero workouts is to say…. “Just keep going, it hurts a little but, you are not injured. There is nothing preventing you from moving forward. I got this”

It REALLY does help!

Give it a try next time!

YOU HAVE POWER OVER YOUR MIND

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

– Marcus Aurelius

You guys have heard the old saying…. The mind is a powerful thing. How many of us actually put much thought in to it though.

Reality is, we absolutely should.

It is truly amazing how many studies have come out proving this concept. One Harvard study was conducted on a group of hotel maids. Despite exceeding the daily recommended amount of exercise, 67% of the maids did not consider themselves physically active. Langer, the psychologist, predicted that the maid’s viewpoints about their physical activity were making it difficult for them to lose weight.

To test her hypothesis, Langer gathered half of the maids, took their physical measurements and explained that they were exceeding the amount of exercise recommended by the surgeon general. The other half were given no information.

After a month, Langer’s team returned to the hotel for reevaluation. The maids that were evaluated and given information had a decrease in systolic blood pressure, weight, and waist-to-hip ratio. The other group’s results were insignificant.

Langer attributes these physical (and likely psychological) benefits to a simple change in mindset.

(In other words, it may be possible to THINK yourself thin!)

In another study that I recently read about they posed the hypothesis that you could maintain strength in a broken appendage simply by imagining that you were working it out. Researchers at the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute convinced 29 healthy volunteers to wear rigid elbow-to-finger casts for four weeks. Half of the group was told to do nothing, while the others were instructed to imagine they were contracting their immobilized wrist (as if they were pushing their hand really hard against a flat surface) for five seconds and then relaxing it for another five. These people weren’t actually moving their wrists (they couldn’t); they were simply imagining how it would feel if they were. They did this mental contract-relax regimen four times in a row, then rested for one minute. The volunteers repeated this sequence a total of 13 times per session, doing five sessions per week for four weeks straight.

When all of the participants’ arms were freed from their casts after four weeks, everyone had lost strength in their wrist flexor muscle. However, the cast-wearers who did not do any mental exercises lost 45 percent of their strength, nearly double the group that imagined moving their wrists. Additionally, those who performed the mental exercises also regained voluntary activation — the nervous system’s ability to fully activate the muscle — more quickly than the other group.

They’ve also done studies showing that continuing to work out one side of the body when dealing with an injury will produce similar results of those listed above. In other words, if you cannot use your right arm because of an injury, continuing to exercise with the left will actually help you maintain strength in both.

I could go on-and-on about study after study that have shown similar results. The point is, our mind is a powerful force that we SHOULD be using to our benefit. I can tell you with 100% certainty that days that I show up to the gym with a positive mindset and “know in my brain” that I’m going to have a great workout, I ALWAYS do. I also know the exact opposite, if I show up with a crappy attitude about my pull-ups or double unders, or whatever, pick a move, I will suck at them.

Now, I’m not saying that I can imagine myself to a muscle-up on the rings, or a 600lb deadlift. What I AM saying though, your thoughts can and will dictate how well you perform daily.

I don’t remember exactly where I read it but, I read this thing that said imagine you will be successful even if you don’t believe it, your brain doesn’t know the difference. I have tried it, and I believe it to be true.

Why not try it? What exactly do you have to lose?

WHY YOU SHOULD STOP TRYING TO FIT IN A WORKOUT

We’ve all been guilty of trying to “fit” our workout into our busy schedules. What I mean by that is, we make time for work, work activities, our kid’s activities, meals, sleep, eating, etc… However, for whatever reason, we seem to forget to, or choose not to, schedule the part of the day that makes us feel SO much better; the part that gives us more energy, that makes us feel good about ourselves, the part that keeps us healthy and fit enough to enjoy all those other activities that we schedule.

Imagine if we put ourselves up there in importance with all those other important activities. Activities that we try to fit into our day often go by the way side. They are the first things for which we decide there is not enough time for.

Aren’t we JUST AS important????

If we feel better, we WILL be more attentive to the other activities of the day.

If, at the first of the week, we scheduled our workout along with the other stuff, we’ll be FAR less likely to miss our workout.

Incentive is the key, the risk for the reward, if each day we wake up and plan our day around what makes us feel better, everyone wins!

If you feel better about you, your family life, your work life and your entire world just flow better.

Every day we wake up and worry about all our ‘to-do’s’, when in actuality if we wake up each day and schedule first what makes us feel better, and be better at life, all of the things that we think are most important will fall into place much easier.

Even when traveling, we can still schedule time for us. The workout doesn’t have to be at a box or in a gym. We all know it’s about being constantly varied anyway. How about go for a run, or do some sit-ups and push-ups in the hotel room, or 100 burpees for time (eeekkkk!).

I guarantee that you’ll feel better.

So, let’s all get up daily make a conscience decision, to schedule time for what makes our bodies work for US.

Let’s live long, healthy, and strong lives together.

Coach Kristie

BUT… OBESITY RUNS IN MY FAMILY

I saw this meme this morning that said “Obesity doesn’t run in your family… Nobody runs in your family.” My first thought was, yep, this is my family in a nutshell. The vast majority of my family and extended family is, at the very least, overweight and for the most part obese and even morbidly obese. Mom, grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins…. Name the relation and chances are I would say yep, overweight.

Here’s the thing, I could sit back and make excuses for the fact they are this way or I can speak very frankly as to what I believe the problem is. You see, we are products of how we are/were raised. Everything from our political affiliation, to our religion, to the way we feed ourselves was or is for the most part shaped by our environment. As an example, if you grew up in a Christian home, chances are you will also believe as Christians do.

So why should our food choices be any different?

They aren’t.

Look closely at what you enjoy eating or what you eat at the holidays? Why do you eat those foods? More than likely because you were raised eating that way. I’ll give you a prime example from my own experience. When I come down with a cold I crave processed carbs like a crack fiend. Popcorn, crackers, crappy chicken noodle soup out of a can, anything that is high in carbs. So, why? It’s not because my body needs that, it is not something on a biological level to aid in the healing process. It is simply the fact that when I was a child I ate those things when I was sick. They became comfort foods to me and I feel I need those when I am not feeling well. Again, a direct result of how I was raised.

How am I different now than the majority of my family? First, about 17 years ago I made a conscious choice to change my life for the better and take control of my obesity problem. I was grossly overweight, 325 pounds on a 5’8” frame. I was on multiple medicines for high-blood pressure, acid reflux, depression, and asthma. Not to mention was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Second, I had to focus on changing my bad habits. I still struggle like crazy with food. I love food. I love to eat. I can also easily consume way too much food if I’m not “on top of” my nutrition choices.

So does obesity run in my family? Absolutely. Does it run in my family because it is a disease that needs a cure? Nope. It runs in my family because poor choices. Poor choices lead to poor habits. Then those poor habits are taught to kids that in turn teach to their kids. Until that cycle is broken you will suffer from those poor choices.

Why is this so damn hard!?

Changing our diet and exercise habits are two of the hardest things to do in life. Why? Well, there are many reasons.

It’s easy for me to sit here as a coach and say “you really just need to stop eating so much junk” or “if you would just be more consistent in your eating habits and move your butt more you’d reach your goals,” or “food is fuel, don’t worry how it taste.” However, in reality…. It’s hard as crap to do those things and hard as crap to change our habits and ways of thinking. Fact is, our habits fit very neatly into our current lives and well, nutrition and exercise may throw us out of our comfort zone, or just may not fit in our current lifestyle.

I get it.

Trust me, I really get it.

For my entire life I have battled an addictive personality and numerous addictions. (Alcohol, narcotics, prescription drugs, smoking… you name it I’ve done it, enjoyed it, and tried to be the best at it.)

With that being said, I’ve grown a lot, learned a lot. If you know me, chances are you can’t imagine that I was ever that person. Now my life revolves around health and wellness and helping others. The opposite of all those things that I listed above. So, what happened, what helped me change my habits to healthy ones?

The first thing is I determined my WHY. (NOTE: I didn’t realize this at the time) I truly wanted to change in the past but, honestly, I had no motivation to do so. Like I said, I enjoyed being that person that partied like a rock star, literally. Then, my wife and I got pregnant with our first child and that was my why. Why did I want to change? Because, if I wanted to be around to see my kids grow up, I had to not only quit the drugs and partying, but also I needed to lose about a 130lbs. (Yep, I weighed 325lbs and yes, I am only 5’8”) And I did, and for the most part I have kept it off for almost 17 years now.

The struggle is real!

Thus began the struggle that I STILL face daily. I’ll be real honest here, my self-image is terrible; still to this day! If you guys have ever read my blog post about my social media name, Trainingthefatkid, you know that to this day when I look in the mirror I am still the same person that I have ALWAYS been. The little fat kid that was made fun of most of my life because of my body.

It is HARD to overcome that. In fact, I haven’t entirely.

But, daily I try. Daily I choose to get up and work on me. Now, I’m not saying that I spend all day wallowing in my misery. In fact, it is not like that at all. But, I do struggle and I do think about how I can be better every day.

Let’s stop talking about me…

Change is hard. Very hard. I can throw out things like “you got this” “you can do it” but, maybe you don’t. Maybe you need your why? Or maybe, rather most likely, what you need is baby steps.

If you are going to attempt to quit smoking, give up soda, eat more protein and veggies, cut calories, exercise more, and call you mom daily, chances are you will fail. Why? Because, this will overwhelm you. Studies show that the more things you try to change at once the less likely you are to succeed.

So… baby steps. Perhaps, cut that soda to once a week, let that become a habit, then work on adding more veggies, when that becomes a habit, maybe add 10 minutes of exercise per day. Baby, steps.

Another thing, and this has been super hard for me, STOP beating yourself up if you slip up. You know what, it’s ok if you had a piece of cake at your sister’s wedding! It’s your sister’s wedding for Pete’s sake! Move on with your life.

Now, I am not saying that because you had cake you can get away with eating cake every day. That would be a poor choice. What I am saying is, relax! Enjoy life! Make gradual changes toward healthy choices that will make you a better person. Work on your body, but also, work on you mind and soul! Nourish your spirit with positive people and positive thoughts.

WHAT WILL YOU “LOOK” LIKE ON MARCH 11?

Just for a minute consider something…

Consider who you want to be on March 11.

If you were at the very top of your health and well-being, what would you feel like? What would your family members and friends say about you? How much energy would you have?

So fast-forward and paint yourself a picture: What do you look like on March 11?

That’s what the Whole Life Challenge will do for you when you join my team and make a commitment to replace a few bad lifestyle habits with good lifestyle habits. (You can learn more about the Whole Life Challenge by WATCHING THE VIDEO HERE.)

Once you watch the videos, you can join my team here: HTTP://WWW.WHOLE.LC/WLCNY16/PT/LOUDHOUSECROSSFIT For eight weeks, starting on January 16th and ending on March 11th, we’ll work on all the areas of our well-being—like nutrition, stretching, exercise, for starters.

The Whole Life Challenge is basically a game that challenges us to “try on” a whole life of health and fitness for eight weeks. As a team, we can win points and lose points (hopefully we’ll win more than we lose). And the prize is … Well, it’s who you are on March 11th. (…and a few others from Loudhouse CrossFit)

I hope you’ll watch the videos and join my team. In fact, I WANT you on my team!

Watch the video: HTTPS://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=XBICEMIO-SK

To join my team: http://www.whole.lc/wlcny16/pt/loudhousecrossfit

Our Team’s name: Loudhouse CrossFit