2 minutes

Habits. Thanks Chris Puyear. Like everyone, I struggle to change our habits, do things better, etc. You never know where to start. Do you say, I am working out 5 days a week, hit the ground running, and a couple weeks later it is 2 days, then 1 day…then maybe sometime? We all know the struggle, no matter the change we are trying to do.

No more Facebook, I will just look for 30 seconds and 20 minutes later your stuck scrolling through mindless posts.

So what are we to do about it? Thanks to a friend I thanked earlier who suggested a book, Atomic Habits by James Clear, I have one simple, and very big takeaway from the book.

2 minutes.

The book goes into more detail and lots of helpful tips about changing habits and why we do what we do. I Highly recommend you pick it up, download it, however you read books.

2 minutes. Simplify. Make your habit or start of a habit, a small, 2 minute action.

Easy example. From Easy to Hard.

  • Put on running shoes
  • Walk ten minutes.
  • Walk 10,000 steps
  • Run a 5k
  • Run a Marathon.

As you can see, first step is to put on running shoes. Small 2 minute action. Make that a habit, then add walking (even 2 minutes)…and so on.

Exercise…change into workout clothes once that is a habit, step out the door (go for a walk)…next step drive to a gym, exercise 5 minutes, leave. Then exercise 3 times a week.

You can turn anything you want to become a habit into a small 2 minute action to start.

You get the idea. Take two minutes. Start a habit. Change your life. Like reading a blog that took roughly two minutes to read.

Make it an awesome day!

Injuries

A few years ago as I rolled into my mid to late 40s, my right knee would swell after running and/or jumping a lot. No pain. Just swell, get tight, and make it hard to bend. For a long time I would voodoo floss it, stretch it, ice it and I would get by.

I figured after a while when I could feel the fluid in it, be relatively squishy like a sponge, I probably needed to get it looked at. Now keep in mind, I do not recall ever actually doing anything to my knee injury wise. Turns out my meniscus was having issues, small tears, years of basketball, running, jumping catching up to me. I had same day surgery. That same week I still made it to the gym. I did what I was supposed to do, nothing but biking for me the first week, then maybe some air squats and light movement the second, and progress from there. Now for the most part, cartilage when it is gone, it is gone. So, my post-surgery workouts have taken on new meaning. I try to limit my jumping. Don’t run quite as much, and if I feel any knee pain, I back off, adjust, and work on a different part of my body. In other words, you can work out even if injured.

Now mine was a pretty simple and straightforward injury. Others have had a harder time, yet still manage to show up and do what they can. Best example I can give is my wife. She broke her navicular bone in her foot a year ago now. She had surgery once, didn’t heal, and is now on her second surgery recovery. She is non weight bearing for 9 weeks this time in a boot and on crutches. Mentally that is hard for her, would be hard on anyone.

Knowing the importance of being able to move, she does what she can. Where there is a will, there is a way. Perfect example is the picture below. Everything can be scaled, adjusted to fit your needs during CrossFit. The importance of moving should outweigh any excuses you can come up with. Once you finally determine that moving and getting healthy is a priority you will find a time/way to get your workout in. It will become your identity. Even if it is 3 minutes of sit ups during commercials as you watch TV in the evening or taking that lunch break at noon to come to a class or walking your dog in the evening because it is good for you and the dog. So, keep in mind, you have the same number of hours as someone who has 3 kids, 2 jobs, 1 broken foot, if they can find time to move, so can you.

Why?

So, in my many endeavors to learn, someone along the way told me to write every day. So, in an attempt to grow, my blog posts going forward will be my own. In the past I would find an article about this or that, or pay someone to have posts etc. I will write at least a part of a post every day and when I think they are good enough, I will post. So please bear with me as I grow as a writer, you will hopefully learn more about me, and maybe we will both learn how to be healthier along the way.

Sometime before social media and the dawn of serious cell phone use my stepdaughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. It is a form of autism. This was my first foray into nutrition. After lots of reading and studying about diet and your mind, we tried some diets out on our daughter. Now of course we wouldn’t be good parents if we didn’t eat the same way.  Two of the biggest things all the books etc. suggested to do first, remove dairy and wheat (gluten). Now mind you this was prior to your millions of options for gluten or dairy free, it was not fashionable, let alone accepted as healthy in the mainstream. The results, however, were eye opening. Almost all her symptoms had disappeared, she lost weight, it was remarkable. My why #1.

Shortly after my daughter, my wife and I were coming back from one of several mini vacations to Salt Lake City to my grandparents’ house to find a note. Grandfather not feeling well, ran to emergency room. So, we head to hospital, as I am walking in off to the left with a partially closed curtain is my uncle standing with a concerned look and a doctor raising his arm up over his head as we march to the waiting room. We soon learn that the arm struck my grandfather in his chest trying to start his heart. Heart attack. He survived that but started me down another rabbit hole of learning about your heart, what blocks arteries, and how to generally prevent a doctor from hitting you in the chest. Why #2.

As you age, your perspective on life changes, as did mine after having kids. As they age and I see the things they can do (splits anyone?), and the things you can’t do (splits anyone?) you begin to ask, “How do I get better?”. Better not only for you, but your kids. What kind of example will I be? Will I be around if they have kids? What will my life look like when I am 70, 80, 90? Trying to be a good father, husband, prolong my life, and wanting to do things that I want to do and not be limited by my health, you now have Why #3.

You may only have one why, or maybe many. I believe each of us should have a why and use that to our advantage to get healthier for ourselves and our loved ones.

Make it an Awesome Day!

 

 

Why you should love the Lunge

Lunges, split squats, and other unilateral leg movements are tremendous tools for building a strong, functional, and balanced body. Yet they tend to take a backseat to the more popular lower body exercises like squats and deadlifts. Let’s explore some of the benefits of lunges, common faults, and some popular variations so you never miss a lunge day again!

Lunges are a fundamental human movement pattern and take many different forms. The movement is generally defined as a split legged stance with one foot planted in front of the body and the other extended behind the body. From this position the athlete can raise or lower their body while stepping forward to the lead leg or returning to the rear leg. Lunges require leg strength, core strength, balance, and coordination. They can be performed as a bodyweight movement, under an external load, or explosively as a plyometric exercise. There are really an incredible number of ways to perform this exercise. Depending on your goals there are many ways that training lunges can be beneficial.

If you are looking to improve balance and coordination you could train lunges with a loading pattern that increased the demand for midline stability. Lunges performed with a barbell overhead or a single dumbbell or kettlebell loading one side of the body will achieve this. Due to the stabilization and core strength required to complete a lunge variation of this sort there is a huge transfer and application to sports and life. Ensure that the load demands don’t force you into a compromised position and that you have the necessary mobility to handle the movement pattern (AKA ask coach if you’re not sure)!

To develop greater strength and enhance muscle growth select lunge variations that allow for greater external loading. A reverse lunge is a popular option for this as it allows the weight to remain in the lead leg ensuring proper form and engagement of the posterior chain. Reverse lunges can be performed with dumbbells held at waist level or a barbell in the back rack position to go hard and heavy. A good rule of thumb is to keep the majority of the load in the front leg as you perform the movement. Select a load that allows for a controlled descent to the floor allowing the knee to kiss, not crash into, the ground.

To prevent injuries, increase range of motion, and correct imbalances the Bulgarian split squat or Bulgarian lunge is an excellent choice. This exercise is performed by working one lead leg at a time with the rear foot elevated on a platform 4-6 inches higher than the lead working leg. This movement optimizes the hinge position of the hips and is greater for activating the gluteus muscles. A popular loading pattern for this lunge is with dumbbells held in suitcase fashion. Make sure to select the appropriate box height to elevate the rear leg to prevent the spine from hyperextending at the end range of motion. Take care to stabilize the lead leg and focus on balance to reap the benefits of this killer lunge variation.

If you want to learn more about the best training movements be sure to discuss your goals with one of our coaches!

The Top 3 Hacks For Healthy Eating

Not every “fit” person follows a diet.

Not every person who struggles with their body composition lacks self control.

Finding the right foods, ratios, and quantities to optimize the way you look and feel is an ever evolving process. Your body is in a constant state of change. Cells are dying and regenerating. The body we live in today is a result of many past choices. How we look and feel will be influenced by our food choices, age, gender, hormones, activities, sleep, and stress. There’s no one right answer.

There are however some areas we can focus on in our journey to looking and feeling great. Here are the top 3 hacks for healthy eating!

  1. Pick your fats
  2. Eat more vegetables
  3. Protein is the foundation of every meal

1. Pick your fats
Fats stick with you. Not just figuratively, they actually make up the cell wall in every cell in your body. This affects the way cells communicate with one another as well as your body’s inflammatory response. That’s why the types and the quality of fats you choose to eat is such an important factor.

Fat Types
Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats can help provide your body with a sustainable energy source, decrease inflammation, and improve mental performance. These types of fats are found in foods such as salmon, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.

Saturated fats should be consumed sparingly. They are not all bad but high consumption of saturated fat may be linked to increased risk of heart disease.

Fat Quality
Each meal should include a healthy fat option that supports your goals. Fat quality in animal products can vary greatly depending on the conditions the animal was raised in and what they were. You are eating what the animal ate! Focus on humanely raised animal products, grass finished, and wild fish versus farm raised.

Fat amounts
Working with an experienced nutritionist is a great way to calculate your fat needs for the day. This can vary based on your body type, genetics, and goals. Try to avoid high fat meals before or after exercise to avoid any digestive issues around training.

2. Eat more vegetables
Seems like a no-brainer but when you think about your meals over the past few days how many of those contained a full serving of veggies?

Vegetables are a great source of fiber, essential nutrients, and prebiotics to support gut health. They are also always going to be your best alternative when it comes to snacking. Most of us are not going to do any sort of damage by stuffing our face with broccoli and carrots!

3. Protein is the foundation of every meal

Humans need protein. There’s no way around it. The amino acids that make up proteins (plant or animal) are the building blocks for our muscles. Without sufficient protein in the diet our bodies will start breaking down muscle, diverting amino acids to perform other critical functions in the body.

So how much do you need? This again will vary a ton based on your goals, body composition, and genetics. Once you have your protein goal determined for the day. Set a protein goal for each meal by dividing that total daily amount by the number of meals you generally eat. Don’t forget to factor in your post workout shake!

For example, if you are shooting to consume 150 grams of protein per day and typically eat 5 times a day you would aim for about 30 grams of protein at each meal. Once you figure out your numbers it becomes easy to know what foods support that quantity of protein.

There you have it, the top 3 hacks for healthy eating! If you’re trying to clean up your nutrition and fitness regiment let us know how we can best help!

3 Areas That Are Essential To Mobilize

“It’s not enough to exercise,“You have got to sleep. You have got to drink enough water. You have got to develop a practice around maintenance of your body. You have got to learn how to move right.” -Kelly Starrett

Let’s face it, there are times when movement prep and cool-down take a back seat to the actual workout. You might be guilty of jumping right into your main lift of the day because you’re short on time. Maybe your post workout cool-down consists of some gasping and sweat angels on the floor before lumbering to the parking lot in search of your protein shake?

Yes, you can make an argument about how kids don’t stretch before taking off at the playground, but with a few rare exceptions all of us need to make time for mobility if we are training hard. Mobility is equal parts injury prevention and performance benefit. If you want to perform at your maximum capability it is well worth the investment of time. I’ll give you a hint, it doesn’t take much! Let’s look at 3 major areas that can make a huge difference in mobility.

1.Ankles
2.Psoas
3.Thoracic spine

1.Ankles
Tight ankles can be a major impediment in your daily training. If you feel like you are hitting a wall in your lifts and want to improve your squats, deadlifts, cleans, and snatches you may want to give some serious attention to your ankles.

Our musculoskeletal system generates movement through the contraction of muscles on a series of levers, our bones. Some positions are more advantageous than others and our goal as athletes is to take advantage of these positions to generate more power in our lifts.

Shortened range of motion in the ankle will make it difficult to maintain powerful positions in the squat because to achieve depth the body must borrow additional range of motion. This compensation is often shown by the individual turning their feet out to the sides. This is often a less favorable position for our muscles to produce optimal force from and can increase risk of injury.

To prep the ankles and increase range of motion practice sitting in the bottom position of a pistol (1-legged) squat. A pistol squat forces the ankle of the working leg to dorsiflex, or shorten the angle created at the ankle joint.

2.Psoas
The psoas is a tricky muscle that often slips under the radar. It runs from the head of the femur in the hip socket and travels up attaching to the lumbar spine. If the psoas tightens it reduces range of motion in the hip socket and simultaneously pulls the lumbar spine down and in. This usually shows up as pain in the low back.

Mobilize the psoas by exploring positions of hip extension. Think about the backswing of the leg before you kick a ball. This means creating space with movements like the couch stretch. Your low back will thank you.

3.Thoracic Spine
The thoracic spine or t-spine for short refers to the series of vertebrae the length of your rib cage, from the neck down to mid spine. As you can imagine, this area is profoundly impacted by the activities we perform and the positions we keep it in. Sedentary behavior and poor posture will cause the thoracic region to become immobile and lose its ability to flex and extend. This becomes problematic and dangerous especially when overhead movements are involved.

Just like with our ankles, a lack of mobility causes our body to compensate and search for movement in alternative areas when hitting an end range of motion. This means losing stability in order to allow for additional mobility. When the thoracic spine is tight our body finds extra space in the lumbar spine and/or scapula region. Chronic injuries and inflammation tend to spring up in these areas if we continually force this movement during exercises like the overhead press or kipping on the pull-up bar.

These are just 3 areas where mobility can make a huge difference in your performance and your health. If you want to learn more about ways to improve your mobility stop in to speak with one of our coaches today.

Trust the Prescription

You know that little 5 minute speech that the coach gives at the beginning of class? When they talk about the workout and how it should feel. That’s a pretty important part of planning out your workout for the day and will help you select the weights you use, reps you shoot for, and how to pace yourself in conditioning pieces. If you’ve ever felt a bit lost during this portion of class then this article is for you!

Let’s dive into how to approach some different types of workouts to better understand how the stimulus of each workout should feel so you scale appropriately for you. Of course, our coaches are always available to answer your questions!

One of the simplest ways to look at each workout is based on the energy system involved.

The 3 main energy systems in our body are:

  • Phosphocreatine System
  • Glycolytic System
  • Aerobic System

The differences between these systems are based on the source of energy or “fuel” for the activity. These systems are always functioning in our bodies at all times, but depending on the type of activity we’re doing one energy system may be the predominant fuel source.

Training these energy systems improve our ability to use fuel more efficiently, recover more quickly, and improve our overall health as a side effect. It’s important to know what the result you are trying to achieve is for each workout. This makes sure that you get the most out of your efforts without burning yourself out!

The Phosphocreatine system is associated with short intense efforts, usually lasting 10-12 seconds or less. Most dedicated power and strength pieces fall into this category.

An example of a workout item that targets this energy system could look like:
Build to a 3 Rep Max Back Squat with 2:00-3:00 rest between.

Another example could be:
Every 2:00 for 5 sets perform :10 second max effort assault bike sprint.

Notice how in the second prescription we chose a time domain rather a set number of calories on the bike. If the assignment was 10 calories every 2:00 you might see very different time domains based on the athlete. It might take one person :08 seconds to complete 10 calories and another person :30 seconds. This would change the energy system being trained, the rest interval, and totally change the dose response of the workout.

The glycolytic system is associated with medium to high intensity efforts that can last from :30 – :180 seconds and will taper off drastically based on how well trained an individual is. These usually show up as higher rep weightlifting sets or interval style workouts. Efforts in this energy system rely on glucose (blood sugar) to fuel the effort. They also generate lactate that the body works to clear in order to continue the effort. Adjusting the amount of time you rest.

One example of an interval workout would be:
4 sets of 10-12 reps of Bench Press with a 40X0 tempo followed by :90 seconds of rest.

Another example would be
Every Minute On The Minute for 8 rounds perform :40 seconds of Russian Kettlebell Swings.

Aerobic workouts cover the broad spectrum of workouts remaining. Most efforts lasting longer than 3 minutes will put you in an aerobic state. If you’ve ever “come out too hot” in a workout you have probably approached the workout as a glycolytic piece and when your body could no longer sustain the effort you switched to an aerobic approach.

A classic benchmark workout that require an aerobic effort would be:
Cindy, Complete as many rounds as possible in 20:00 minutes of
-5 Pullup
-10 Pushup
-15 Air Squat

If you are not able to sustain that number of reps or continue completing the movement safely for 20 minutes at a steady pace then you can explore scaling the movements, repetition numbers, or shortening the time domain.

Each day’s class might contain one or more elements of these types of training. There may also be a skill component to a workout that may not be targeting a response from any of these energy systems and is instead geared towards improving movement patterns and transferability of key skills.

Questions about scaling? You know where to find us!

4 Ways to Eat Better Without Going On a Diet

When it comes to improving your diet you might always try to do a complete overhaul. You revamp the foods you eat and the behaviors and rituals you have around eaten. Then you get busy or life gets in the way and you’re right back to square one.

Rather than try to do a full 180 on your diet consider making some changes that are sustainable and easy choices. Here are 4 ways to eat better without going on a diet!

Stop drinking calories
Swap out your condiments
Choose “real” foods over packaged foods
Use Hand measurements for portion control

Stop drinking calories
Liquid calories can add up quickly as they are usually high in sugar. Even beverages like juice can contain 3-4 tablespoons of sugar in a bottle. Not only that, but calories that you drink are not recognized the same way by the body as calories being consumed and people who regularly drink sugary beverages tend to overconsume calories.

If you are looking to clean up your diet aim for non-caloric or low-calorie beverages like green vegetable juices, sparkling waters, and unsweetened coffee or tea. Try to avoid adding sweeteners back in including artificial sweeteners.

Swap out your condiments
Condiments can be an area for quick wins. There are simple trade offs you can make that exchange empty calories like sugar and unhealthy fats for nutrient boosting options that burn fat and boost your health! When it comes to choosing healthy condiments you want to consider the macronutrient value and micronutrient value while also considering the quality of the ingredients.

Macronutrients are the amounts of carbs, fats, and protein in a food. Since condiments are used to add flavor, most of the unhealthy options will create flavors by adding sugar and fat-keep an eye on these numbers when topping your salad. An example of this would be a ranch dressing that is high in sugar and made from soybean oil.

Micronutrients are the non-caloric compounds in foods like vitamins and minerals that are important for your health. Look for condiments and toppings that are high in vitamins and minerals. You could look at topping your tacos with fresh guacamole rather than sour cream and cheese.

Choose “real” foods over packaged foods
Real foods like meats, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits are a great way to improve your health. Simply put, choosing these foods over packaged and processed options is going to be your best option for the majority of the time.

When you eat real foods you avoid foods with a high glycemic index and will spike blood sugar. Real foods also contain higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to help your digestion and energy levels.

Use Hand measurements for portion control
If you don’t want to follow a specific diet then using some simple hand measurements to monitor the amounts of foods you eat can be a great option. You can always learn more and improve your food choices, but learning how to moderate the amount of food you eat can get you on the right track.

Women should aim for a protein serving the size of their palm with each meal 1 fist of vegetables with each meal, 1 cupped hand of carb dense foods with most meals, and
1 entire thumb-sized portion of fat dense foods with most meals.

Men can shoot for 2 palms of protein dense foods with each meal, 2 fists of vegetables, 2 cupped hands of carb dense foods with most meals, and 2 entire thumbs of fat dense foods with most meals.

There you have it. 4 ways to eat better without going on a diet. If you need help making healthy choices in your diet just let us know!

The Top 5 Functional Foods

If you’re more couch potato than health nut you want to take advantage of all the tips and tricks that you can. If you forget to take your vitamins or would rather skip the extra burpees then there is a great way to improve your health with 0 extra effort!

Functional foods are foods that have a health benefit beyond just their basic macronutrient content. Since eating is something you have to do, it makes sense to eat foods that give you the most bang for your buck.

Here are the five most important functional foods you can start adding to your diet today:

1. Green Tea
2. Sauerkraut
3. Blueberries
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
5. Turmeric

1.Green Tea
Rather than reaching for that second coffee try having a cup of green tea instead! Green tea contains many polyphenols like EGCG, a catechin containing antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits. Green tea can give you a mental with the potent combination of theanine and a low amount of caffeine. This helps you stay alert and focused without getting the jitters and an eventual crash. Try brewing a cup of green tea when you need a pick-me-up.

2. Sauerkraut
This sour fermented cabbage dish ranks high on the list of functional foods. High in vitamins A, C, K, and folate, sauerkraut can boost your immune system and support brain health. It’s also high in fiber which can help support your gut bacteria and improve digestive health. Sauerkraut also contains glucosinolates and ascorbigen, compounds that are known for their anti-carcinogenic properties. Add sauerkraut to sandwiches, salads, or have it on it’s own!

3. Blueberries
Blueberries are a powerhouse fruit that make for a great snack at any time. They are low glycemic so they won’t have a big impact on blood sugar and have numerous health benefits as well. Blueberries get their rich dark blue color from their abundance of anthocyanin which explains their high antioxidant content. Anthocyanins reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and cancer. Add frozen blueberries to your favorite smoothie and keep fresh blueberries around for snacking.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is often considered to be an old wives tale, a home grown remedy that will fix any ailment. It may not be a cure-all but Apple cider vinegar is certainly a functional food you can benefit from. Produced through fermentation a combination of yeast and beneficial bacteria called the “mother” float in the beverage containing B-vitamins, probiotics, and polyphenols. Research has also found that taking 20 grams of apple cider vinegar significantly lowered post meal blood glucose levels. If you need a little help with digestion try adding some apple cider vinegar to a glass or water or mix it with olive oil for a tangy salad dressing.

5. Turmeric
Turmeric has been a staple in Indian cooking for thousands of years. It contains a compound called curcumin which has been shown to have numerous health benefits. Curcumin is a potent anti-Inflammatory, that may also help with chronic disease, depression, and possesses anti-carcinogenic properties. It has also been shown to boost brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a type of growth hormone that functions in your brain. Don’t be afraid to get your curry on!

There you have it, the top 5 functional foods you should add to your diet today!

Conquer COVID-19 with Vitamin D

Facemasks have become the new normal, but are you doing everything you can to stay healthy? Now that the world is starting to open back up, you may have some anxiety about what you can do to help protect you and your family from contracting the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus.

A recent discovery made it clear that supplementing Vitamin D could help stave off this unwanted virus. How do you know if you need to supplement this essential vitamin? Let’s dive into the function of Vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that your body needs to function optimally. It’s generated in skin by UVB rays that come from the sun hitting your skin.

The catch is that you have to absorb the right amount of sun and have it actually penetrate the skin to have this vitamin do it’s thing in your body. Vitamin D has many other important functions, but most importantly for covid-19, is how it acts on your immune system.

Here’s an excerpt from the renowned Dr. Rhonda Patrick investigating and involved in the research during this pandemic:

“Since vitamin D insufficiency is widespread (and perhaps exacerbated in quarantine conditions, due to limited sunlight exposure), supplemental vitamin D might be a viable means to increase vitamin D to sufficient levels.
Maintaining a healthy vitamin D status, an imminently solvable but often ignored problem, may turn out to be an important factor in protecting against susceptibility to lung injury in COVID-19.” (FoundMyFitness, Dr. Rhonda Patrick https://www.foundmyfitness.com/episodes/vitamin-d-covid-19)

Most people have insufficient levels because we wear clothes, work inside all day and wear sunscreen to protect our skin. This will block your absorption of UVB rays making you susceptible to Vitamin D insufficiency. In fact, 70% in the US have this insufficiency, and 29% of the US are actually deficient. Not to mention if you live in the Northern latitude states, above the 37th parallel, the risk of deficiency increases causing a myriad of other health issues aside from immune function.

So what can you do? Daily supplements of Vitamin D for you and your family have been shown to greatly reduce the risk for acute respiratory tract infections.

If increasing your immune defense system doesn’t turn you on, did you know that Vitamin D wards off depression? Depression rates have increased an astounding 65% since the beginning of the pandemic. With most of us quarantining and forced to stay inside, I’m sure you can see how easily this can happen. If you’re not into supplements, think about adding salmon in your diet a few times a week, a food extremely rich in Vitamin D. Stay healthy and happy, folks!