The Forgotten Supplement

Sleep

We all live really busy lives. I know for most of us, myself included, that is why Crossfit appealed to us in the first place. High Efficiency workouts in a scheduled block of time. It gave us no excuse really, to block off 5-7 hours a week dedicated to our own betterment. Then most of us caught on with paleo nutrition. It appealed to me because it wasn’t a crash diet. It didn’t require me to spend ungodly amounts of money to learn about it. It was just there. For all to explore, experiment with, and reap the benefits of.

Good sleep is one of the most important elements of health maintenance, as well as athletic performance and improvement. (Rawls-Meehan 2012)

(c) Fitbomb: Check in Post

(c) Fitbomb: Check in Post

Sleep needs to be viewed as the missing capstone to your fitness. We all have changed with the addition of Crossfit into our workout routines. I can think back (8 months ago) and think of the frustrating fitness routines I was doing and getting zero results, and I look at where I am now: 25lbs lighter and two inches off my waist. I wonder why I didn’t find it sooner. Anyway, I am getting a bit off track here. Let’s focus.

We changed our excercise levels, and have become more active individuals. Our eating habits have changed as well, we spend more time at the grocery store looking for natural products with no sugar, grains, etc. Now we see our performance plateauing, maybe even becoming frustrating. Well, if you’re doing everything right nutritionally then there might be a key piece on information you are forgetting.

Sleep

Crossfit Journal actually did a great article about sleep and how it relates to our over all fitness. This is going to be my main source of information that I am trying to relay onto you.
You can find a link below in the “References” section.

Here’s the excerpt from that article that I found to be the most useful:

  • Studies have shown that athletes who consistently get around 10 (ten) hours of sleep per night show marked improvement in strength, speed, agility, and reaction time.
  • Athletes who get around 10 (ten) hours of sleep demonstrate significantly better muscle memory for movements they have learned for the day before.
  • People who don’t get enough sleep are more prone to diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and other various cardiometabolic and endocrine disorders (Rawls-Meehan 2012).
    • Wait a second, isn’t that we started exercising in the first place? So…if we don’t get enough sleep that implies that we are essentially shooting ourselves in the foot!!

That is some pretty interesting stuff huh?

Now here is my dilemma. I am a Paramedic, because of such I work two 24 hour shifts. From 7am-7am the following day. That’s two days a week that I cannot guarantee proper sleep. Those days I am at the mercy of the general public, the EMS Gods, and my overall tendency of bad-luck. Sometimes I get to bury my face in that pillow for a solid 6(ish) hours, and sometimes I can only day-dream about it at 3 in the morning. There is no rhyme or reason to it at all. So…that being said, short of a major schedule change or career change I cannot have any control over the sleep I get on those two days. I have accepted it, I will still complain about it, but there is nothing that I can do about it.

I do, however, have control over the sleep I get on my days off. I have selected not to pick up overtime on the overnight tours (11pm to 7am) unless it is absolutely necessary. I encourage all of you out there to really take a look at what you are getting for sleep, or not getting in many cases.

I plan on being much more aware of my sleeping patterns in order to truly reach my health goals.

For more information, check out this article that I used for most of the information in this post:

Rawls-Meehan, Martin (June 2012). Sleeping For Performance. Retrieved from: journal.crossfit.com/2012/06/sleeping-for-performance.tpl

May the Force Be With You…

I was aimlessly wasting time today, like it was my fucking job. (If I figure out a way to not do anything and get paid for it, I will certainly capitalize on it let me tell you).

I came across some pretty scary, annoying, stupid, and overall obnoxious stuff while surfing various Crossfit resources on the internet. Frankly, it scares me to see what it might do to the sport that we have come to love so much. A post popped up in my Facebook feed from the site “Crossfit and Paleo Resources.” The site talks about how Greg Glassman (if you don’t know who he is, you can find the Google Search bar in the upper right corner of most web browsers) is dealing with some problems with his board members (who is also his ex…hehehe):

The following quote was taken from the Crossfit New England (Natick, MA) Website:

One of the board members of this firm [Anthos Capitol], Bryan Kelly, approached us months ago with schemes and offers to turn each and every one of our 4000 affiliates into a franchise location designed to pimp supplements, clothing, and fitness industry garbage we all rejected when we first turned to this program. When we told him we weren’t interested, he went behind our backs, deceived us, and is now making a move to take what we wouldn’t give him.

We all know that we already pay a premium for our experiences at Crossfit. Some of us, are lucky enough to have worked out some sort of indentured servant arrangement for membership prices, but for the most part all of us pay premiums. This is a topic that we, as a community, definitely need to stay on top of us or the world that we love could be turned into everything that we hate about the fitness industry.

This information just started popping up on the social media networks, and this thread appeared on the CF HQ Message boards. I have to admit, the conversations on this thread are inquisitive, and very professional on both parts of the Crossfit Staff and the affiliate managers tuning in for information. It is definitely worth the read.  On Crossfit New England’s website Russell Berger goes on to talk about how we need to ” spread the word, but we are dealing with a threat that must also be understood. We want you all taking a hard look at the Affiliate system and asking important questions about why it is so successful, and what we have to lose. Enough of you now know the basic facts of the issue to start forming opinions and coming to conclusions on what an Anthos purchase of CrossFit could mean for you and your Affiliate, and for many of you this is scary.”

Change, or even the thought of it, is scary. I am looking into forming my opinion about Anthos, and currently it is not a positive one.

I feel like this is a test.

It’s a test to deal as a community. Think about “normal life” when someone threatens a neighbor, or if there is a fire, or (a little less dramatic) if someone needs help watching their children who do we turn to? Each other, right? Well…this is the kind of situation where our neighbor needs us to watch over his kids. (bare with me I promise this analogy will make sense). We need to be there to support the Crossfit Community, if we can support the brand name then that is awesome. However, it is not the brand name that brought us all together. It is the desire to evolve from the fatness that brought us down in the first place. It is the desire to see each other pack on the plates for dead-lifts and see our PR’s shatter. It is the desire to succeed, and we as a community will do that with out Athos Capital.  We need to branch out and explain to people why this would be a bad thing. If they want to throw away $20 Million, then you know what…let em. Our community won’t change, just the name above our door.

Please keep in mind, I am a simple, bottom-level crossfitter. I am NOT a CF L1 Trainer, I am NOT an affiliate owner. My opinions of this potential change are that of a participant. That being said, franchising will ruin everything the Crossfit Movement was founded upon. If this allowed to happen, there will be a black hole in the “account’s receivable” office at Crossfit HQ. Affiliation agreements will flee faster than you can say…WTF?!

All I have to say is this:

To Lauren Glassmen, and Athos Capitol: You are NOT welcomed by the Crossfit Community. You are not embraced, nor will you be when you enter a box. Take your greed, and selfish desires elsewhere.

To all the Crossfitter’s out there: This is the time to show Athos just how strong a community is. Let’s make them understand, that their business is not welcomed here and affiliations across the world will loose the “Crossfit” name.

Until then, I am going to keep getting my WOD on like nothing’s wrong. You can bet, however, that I will be watching the evolution of this story like a hawk.
Take care everyone!

 

 

Stay on Top of It.

A little Tuesday Meme humor for you… 🙂

I was at the box last Wednesday, our strength and mobility work included working on Hang Clean Progressions. These progressions worked up to our 3 rep max weight (so 92% of your 1RM). I didn’t have my Weight Log with me at the time, so I went with what I thought was close to the required weight. I worked up to a weight of 145#. It felt good, and I definitely worked hard for my last few reps. After getting home, I had realized that I actually set a new personal record. It was a 45# PR! I almost actually started dancing around in excitement.

Now, I didn’t start writing this post to tell you how awesome I am. Although, let’s face it…I am kind of a big deal. Not sure if you knew that or not yet. Just kidding.

In Crossfit we use a variety of factors to quantify our training. Some of them are the Benchmark Girls (Fran, Grace, Diane, Chelsea etc), Hero WOD’s, and our 1RM (Rep Max) Numbers. Staying on top of these numbers allow you to actually see the results of your training. It’s not up to your coaches to keep track of it, it is up to you.

That being said, I have been playing with a couple different ways to track WOD’s and 1RM’s over the past few months. I started out originally using a simple composition journal. I found that easy to do when everyone else is doing the same thing. If no one else around you is doing it, then it is very hard to have to stop between the work outs and flip through the journal. I think after a few months of trying different methods, I have finally found a system that works.

First, for the 1RM’s I use an iPhone App. This app is called “MyWOD.” Through MyWOD you can easily track everything about Crossfit. You can track your WOD’s, PR’s and Rx WODs, Max Weights, and Common WOD’s (Heros and Benchmarks etc). I like using this app specifically for tracking my max weights. It allows for quick and easy reference during WOD’s with little interruption to the flow of the class.

To track my WOD’s I actually just started using Beyond the Whiteboard (BTWB). It is a company, unaffiliated with HQ, who have developed a web based workout journal. Since my box has subscribed to the company, it allows all the members to log on and track their WOD’s weekly. The WOD’s are typically already entered into the website and all we usually have to do is add our results to the site. BTWB also allows us to track meals, and weight, as well as establish and track our goals for the year. It takes all the information and inputs it into graphical format for quick and easy interpretation of results that we are seeing. My only complaint about this website is that there no specific place to track our one rep max. If they had that, it would be probably the best and easiest way I have seen to track and manage your workouts.

While this may have been a bit of a rant, hopefully it helped you figure out how to keep track of how you’re doing. I’d love to hear from you, and see how you track your WODs.

A Breath of Fresh Air

When you hear “Crossfit,” what is your first thought that comes to mind?

For me, its the intense WOD’s, weight loss, improved self-esteem, and most importantly camaraderie. I’m here today, to share a some blog space and offer some publicity for a program that my former coaches are launching at the end of this month.

Photo Credit: Patrick Maquire (EastonPatch)

My former coaches, William Lexner and Karen Bosader opened their own box in Brockton, MA about a month ago now. They didn’t open it to ride to coattails of the current Crossfit revolution, and make some good money. They opened the box so that they can start a non-profit organization to increase fitness and decrease obesity in low-income youths. They want to be able to “increase self-confidence, and promote only the best physical fitness that only Crossfit can provide.” The coaching styles, and knowledge base that these two will bring to the area is amazing.

So you are probably wondering why I call it a breath of fresh air…huh? Well, with the recent explosion of Crossfit across the country boxes gym’s have been poping up all over the place, and people are willing to pay the money to do it because they know it’s worth the investment. Karen & Will are taking the mission of Crossfit and making it accessable to youths in the Brockton area that wouldn’t have otherwise been able to enjoy the benefits of the programming. That’s what the breath of fresh air is. Providing the coaching and nutritional advice to empower teens.

For those of you from the Massachusetts area, you know that Brockton is a pretty low income city. This information was taken straight from the Project Boost Website:

The percentage of low income youth in Brockton, MA is more than twice that of the state average at nearly 71%. Even the high school graduation rate is lower at 69.4%. Compounding this problem is the fact that nearly 40% of the youth are overweight or obese.

Will & Karen: Congratulations on making dreams a reality. I look forward to following your programming and seeing all the good that you guys will do for the youth of that city. I can only hope that more box’s around the country will see the value in this type of programming and you guys will become trend setters!

Good News/Bad News

So I was thinking about what I needed to talk about, for once I actually do not have much to say…go figure. I started my MBA program this week, and since it is all online it has chewed up a lot of free time that I used to reserve for blogging. So if I drop off the face of the WordPress earth, please forgive me and know I will be back soon.

Alright, lets get down to business here. Good News: We are coming up on the 6th month anniversary of me joining Crossfit. With that, I have some exciting facts to report. First, I am down 25 pounds since I started Crossfit. Secondly I am down 1 shirt size and 2 pant sizes. I am able to fit into clothes that I haven’t fit in for years. It is a very exciting thing when you are able to quantify the results of hard work and dedication.

What’s that you say? You wonder what the bad news could be? Well here it is: Bad News, I have fallen victim to one of the oldest overuse injuries in the book. Tendonitis, of the internal hand/thumb area. Well, technically speaking it would be more tendonosis. Seriously, a thumb. I had been feeling pain for about a week in my right hand and started to notice a very large decrease in my ability to support heavier weights that involve front rack, ie Front Squats, Clean, Snatch etc. I ignored it at first because I figured I was just working thru already established mobility issues in the same hand/wrist.

This is my brace, that I am supposed to wear “most of the time, but not continuously”

I got seen by a Phyician’s Assistant at my PCP’s office because my regular MD was not available. Want to know what was entertaining? Trying to explain to her, what Crossfit actually was, I was trying to gauge how much alteration to my routine I would need if any, and I am quoting what she said back: “Aerobics should be fine but I would caution you getting too worked, just make sure you get plenty of rest and hydration.” I almost had to laugh, well…I did laugh but that is neither here nor there. She wanted me to completely stop all physical activity and get occupational therapy for my hand. Well…I will go to OT/PT whatever it ends up being, but I am just going to modify the workouts so I don’t blow out my hand.

As you can see I am cursed to a semi-permanent brace for the time being. I did find it funny when they told me to wear it while at work and such but not to wear it 100% of the time. Me, being the wise ass that I am asked the PA what I should actually do at work with lifting. It was then that she asked me what my career was and I told her how I worked in Emergency Medical Services as a Paramedic. I explained how I had to lift, move, and potentially compress patients all day long. She then had a this brief pause, where I actually debated if she was having a stroke by the odd sideways glance she gave me. Then she asked me the question that really proved to me my copay money was well spent…”Well do as much as you think you can do.” Isn’t our healthcare system great? Her perfessional medical opinion was passed along to my judgement and telling me to do what I felt comfortable doing. Let’s be honest folks, that was going to happen anyway, but at least make it look like you care.

Most of the next week will be spent catching up on school work, and figuring out how to scale WOD’s so I don’t cause more injury. Until next time people, take care!

“Born to Run” By Christopher McDougall

So along with starting Crossfit, a lot of other things started changing in my life for the better. First of all, I started reading for fun! I never really did that before. It was all mindless entertainment on the television because it was just that, mindless.I am going to start a new section to this blog that will specifically have to do with book reviews. This is the first of what I hope to be many posts.

A few of us were casually chatting in the box about workouts that we could do while traveling. My coach suggested I read a book called “Born to Run” by Christoper McDougall. At first glance I had to laugh. The title in and of itself was enough to turn me away. I thought “Look at me, I wasn’t born to run. I was born to do anything BUT run.” Well, the next week I was flying down to Florida for a vacation with my girlfriend Catherine and then it happened. I got hooked on the book.

McDougall is a former war correspondent and currently is a contributing editor for the magazine Men’s Fitness. He is an avid runner who lives in rural Pennsylvania. Let me tell you, this book had me hooked from the first click open on my kindle. He talks about how his own personal running form had brought him to a point where he was suffering from chronic stress injuries, and was buying expensive orthotic inserts for his shoes. The story talks about his search for the Tarahumara people. You can read more about the Tarahumara people from WIKIpedia by clicking here.

The Tarahumara people are basically a forgotten tribe (by modern civilization) who resides in the canyon’s in northwest Mexico. They are now known for their long distance running ability. We are talking 100k plus running abilities here people. This was one of the most interesting thing’s I found about this book. I enjoyed hearing about how the Tarahumara lived off the lands, appreciated life, and most importantly their ability to run ungodly distances without as much as a slab of rubber and some leather around their feet.

It is impossible to describe the impact this one book has had on me. I am not speaking in a mushy emotional type way. I am speaking in a way that motivates you to perform better. It motivates you to go out there and accomplish your goals, and the only excuse that you have is yourself. It showed me a lot more about the kinesiology behind our running practices. Talked about how arch’s aren’t supposed to be supported, and how pronation within certain limits is natural and should be embraced. I have never had a book actually make me want to change the way I try to run until now. I am looking into transitioning into barefoot running and I cannot wait to see the results I could get out of it.

The book left me with a bunch of favorite quotes, which are all neatly bookmarked and highlighted in my Kindle Fire. For now, I am going to leave you with one quote. It is my favorite quote.

But the American approach—ugh. Rotten at its core. It was too artificial and grabby, Vigil believed, too much about getting stuff and getting it now: medals, Nike deals, a cute butt. It wasn’t art; it was business, a hard-nosed quid pro quo. No wonder so many people hated running; if you thought it was only a means to an end—an investment in becoming faster, skinnier, richer—then why stick with it if you weren’t getting enough quo for your quid?

This quote goes so far beyond being applicable to running. It’s applicable to our societies approach to fitness in general. All too often are we simply concerned with the immediate effects of what we do, we want it done quickly for the least amount of work possible. In some cases, there’s pills to make it happen for us. Picture fitness as an art, something to be enjoyed, and the benefits will follow. Trust me.

Something’s missing….

Good Sunday Morning everyone!

To all the Father’s out there, Happy Father’s day.

So I started at a new box at the beginning of this month. It has been kind of a rough transition for me for a bunch of different reasons. I am going to talk about atmosphere, equipment, facility, and coaching. I can’t decided if this place is too “post-bok” for me or what.

Atmosphere is interesting. Due to my schedule I am usually restricted to the morning WOD’s. I call it the hour of the soccer mom’s. I usually go for a 0900 hrs WOD. The class size is extremely manageable and allows for individual coaching with little effort. It isn’t really a social group, but that may also be because I am the new guy. Definitely a problem I didn’t have at my last box. That is starting to improve, but it is frustrating.

Since AE Crossfit is part of the Athletic Evolution training facility, the equipment is new and expansive. Options are endless, thanks to their two different indoor turf areas. The only thing I could really complain about their equipment is that they have no rowers. I didn’t really think about it until I was craving some rowing work and I looked around for them in the box (and their training side). I couldn’t find a single rower. Now, AE Crossfit is a new box, it opened back up in Nov/Dec of 2011. I understand that you need to work out the kinks in the process, but I was beside myself that there were no rowers. Luckily the WOD’s have successfully distracted me from that.

Finally, coaching. I have only worked with one of the coaches for the gym. That beings said my opinion of the coaching can be a bit one-sided and may not be fair but its my experience thus far. I have worked with a coach who appears to be very knowledgeable in the ideals of Crossfit. He has a strength and conditioning and sports medicine background (at least that’s what he says). He is helpful when he notices a problem with your form or technique. The only thing that bugs me, and I mean REALLY grinds my gears about him is the cell phone. In 5 out of my first 6 workouts, after the WOD is done, and he shuts the music off, he is texting while leading stretching. It would be fine if he was able to master the art of multi-tasking but it seems like this is a skill that he needs to practice. He can get very easily distracted (via the phone or talking in person) and will leave us in a stretch longer than needed.

I am gonna take some time and walk through a typical hour at AE Crossfit. We all come into the box, put our names up on the white board, and move over to the turf for a dynamic warm up. The warm up usually consists of running laps, with burpees, jumping jacks, air squats, spider man stretches, and inchworms. It definately gets your heart rate up, and gets you ready for the WOD. Next we move onto the skill/strength session. This is usually the only part of the workout that leaves me unsatisfied. There is usually one strength movement (bench, squats, snatch, push press etc) with a weight of your choosing, combined with a mobility component. I can see the value in it for beginners, but it seems to be a bit lacking. I am also used to doing Wendler Cycles at my old Crossfit Box which I LOVED.

Now with that being said, it should be known that I don’t really want to leave. I just would like to see some improvements at the box that could really improve their performance as a box. Also, they all gave us new scan tags to check in when we come to the BOX. I think they are pretty funny, despite the globo-gym feel it gives off…take a look.

I am happy to say that I am member # 047!

Now, with all this bitching and moaning. My question is how do you approach the owner/coach about where the programming is going? This is something I haven’t had to deal with at my previous box. I was lucky to have a myriad of coaching styles and knowledge bases to pull from. Some were really good with nutrition, some with strength and conditioning, and some have it all going on.

Maybe I am just being hypercritical?