CrossFit: Sport vs Exercise Program


CrossFit has exploded in popularity as a fun and effective way to get fit.

It’s popularity has evolved because it works for everyday folks who need to maintain their health but is also extremely popular as a competitive event.

Sometimes it is tough for the outside world to see the differences between the sport of CrossFit that they see on TV and the training methodology they would experience in a local gym. Let’s look at some of the key differences between the sport and the training style so you can make an educated decision on adopting CrossFit into your life.

CrossFit in any form without a doubt incorporates functional movement. Using natural human movement patterns like squatting, hinging, and pressing overhead you will experience these patterns. What varies between competition and class is the technical requirements or difficulty, and the loads used in competition. The Games you see on TV are the best athletes in the world competing head to head. In order to truly differentiate the fittest men and women they must be tested by the most extreme workouts. You will see that they perform weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardiovascular workouts but at much higher intensities and volume than a coach would ever ask you do perform in your local gym.

“Intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing favorable adaptation to exercise,” -Greg Glassman

The cool thing is you get to see your favorite athletes being pushed and tested so that they feel the workout is just as challenging as you might feel workouts are. Everyone is safely pushed and challenged to improve themselves. Reaching just a little bit further and tapping into their true potential.

If you want to try a high intensity functional fitness workout like CrossFit you may well be surprised by how friendly and welcoming the community is. You will not be the biggest or smallest, the oldest or youngest, or even the least experienced.

Training for the sport looks very different from what you may think is involved with a regular CrossFit class. Everyday the workout is different and scaled to your specific needs. You coach is more likely to scale the weights or movements in a way that is self limiting (you choose when to stop) rather than push you into doing something that is dangerous or painful.

This style of training is so popular because people are able to experience long term growth in a fun and supportive environment. If you’re ready to join a like minded community of motivated individuals then come check us out!

What's Keeping You From Achieving Your Goals?


If you currently want something in your life that you don’t have then there is a 100% chance that you are human. How you define yourself is by the action you take towards bringing those into your life. Some people make declarations about how they are finally going to make the big change
Generally, if you have a goal you haven’t achieved yet you fall into one of these three camps. 

  • You don’t know what to do and you don’t know how to do it.
  • You don’t think you deserve it.
  • You haven’t put in the work.

So what’s really keeping you from achieving your goals? Let’s find out…
1. You don’t know what to do and you don’t know how to do it.
This is generally the first challenge you encounter when you have a new goal. Luckily it is also the easiest barrier to address when it comes to making positive changes in your life. Whether you seek to earn more money, improve your health, or find your soulmate there are websites, coaches, books, podcasts, and more resources than you know what to do with. Success leaves clues and in the information age we live in you have access to the tools and resources you need to get started on the path to your goal.
“When action is our priority, vanity falls away.”  – Ryan Holiday
Let’s say your goal is to lose 10 pounds and keep it off. Like forever keep it off. Many adults find themselves at a weight they don’t feel comfortable and confident at. The problem is that if you have only ever gained weight since you were a kid and never seen the scale go (and stay) in the opposite direction then you are a total novice. Being a professional weight gainer is easy for you, you’ve done it your whole life. If you want to lose weight then you have to start fresh. It’s time to throw out what you think is true about nutrition and exercise because all of the information you have is through the lens of a person who has only ever gained weight. Let go of ego. Let go of pride. If you want to make the change then you have to start with fresh eyes.
2. You don’t think you deserve it.
This could be thought of as self-sabotage. Maybe since you were a child you have been conditioned to think a certain way. Many of the long-standing beliefs humans hold are instilled by parents, environments, or traumatic experiences. Long ago the brain accepted as fact that “this is the way it is”. If you have a long-held belief that is clashing with one of your current goals then your first order of business is to remove that roadblock. No amount of will power or strategy can overcome a fixed mindset. You are an adult and you are responsible for your own life. You have the power to change any condition that you don’t want. 
“How have I been complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” -Jerry Colonna
Executive coach and author Jerry Colonna asks a powerful question to himself and his clients. “How have I been complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” Ask yourself this question in the context of your current goal. If you are struggling to lose weight, what are the things that you have been “okay with” lately? If it’s the food in the fridge that you snack on, skipping your workout, or surrounding yourself with people who have unhealthy habits then that is entirely on YOU to change. That starts by demanding more of yourself. You have to consider yourself worthy of the goal you claim to want. When you are mentally ready to be the person who achieves this goal you will be able to receive it.
3. You haven’t put in the work.
This can be the most frustrating camp to fall into when it comes to not achieving your goals. You may be doing everything right. You hired the coach, you have a strategy, and you’re executing on it every day. So why haven’t you accomplished your goal yet?! 
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” -Vince Lombardi
Whether growing a business or growing your biceps it can be tough when the results haven’t shown up yet. So what should you do?
KEEP GOING! 
Constantly ask yourself: What else could I be doing? Continually revisit camps one and two in this post. Are there any additional resources or tools that could be getting you to your goals faster? Could you work with someone who has proven results in the exact area you are trying to grow? Are there any roadblocks you are creating for yourself? Is there an area where your behavior is inconsistent with the outcome that you seek?
Frustration or anger can itself be a powerful tool. If you are fed up with your lack of progress then you should use that as fuel for your fire. If you have the bandwidth to be upset about your situation then you most likely have the bandwidth to work harder (or smarter 😉 )
If you still don’t know why the results won’t come then you should consider working with a mentor or coach who can help you get there. A great coach will help you set up a framework for success. They will help you develop a SMART goal that aligns with your mission and current state. Understanding the time frame and order of steps necessary to achieve a goal can dramatically improve your mindset and the way you tackle each day. You can break your goal down into manageable chunks and as you check them off you will build momentum towards your big goal. The best coaches will be clear and neutral in their feedback about what it takes to get to you to your goal. 
You want to surround yourself with people who will be supportive and honest your path to success. Avoid the detractors. That includes anyone who tells you they support you, but that you can’t achieve what you want and to “get real”. This life is yours to choose and you can’t waste time with the people that will only hold you back. 

Dining Out- BBQ


Many people think that in order to have good nutrition they are not able to go out to eat, or, they think that since they are out to eat, they need to abandon any nutrition principles they have adopted in order to adjust.  Both of these mindsets are incorrect.

I have always been of the mindset that you can eat healthy anywhere, even in a gas station in the middle of nowhere Mississippi! Luckily, Cumberland, Rhode Island, where I found myself eating is more than a stones throw from middle of nowhere Mississippi, and luckily, it wasn’t a gas station, but one of the best BBQ joints around, Gotta Q!

When you think of BBQ, one does not think of healthy options, but, there are plenty.  On this particular evening, I was pretty hungry, and thirsty, so I knew in order to balance out the carbs in my beverages of choice this evening, I would need to be diligent in my choices. I went in with a plan to stay on track and not be persuaded by the menu items which may pull me off.

Looking over the appetizer list, while there were many delicious items, many of these are fried, and carbohydrate heavy.  So while the Naked Smoked Chicken Wings were on my list, I went with a bowl of the Chicken Chili since I was going to be eating beef with the main course.

Looking at the menu, yes, you will find sandwiches and mac and cheese bowls, however, I wanted to stay within solid nutrition guidelines, so went with the meats from the smoker.  One of the benefits of smoking meats is that the fat “melts” off the meat, and are not as abundant as they would be, in other cooking processes.

I went with the Meat Duo platter and got Pulled Pork and Beef Brisket.  The meat is dry rubbed without sugar, and then smoked.  Unless I decided to add a bunch of BBQ sauce to my meal, my sugar content for the meal is minimal.  With my meat came two small sides, and I chose the Veggie of the Day, which was Broccoli on this day, and BBQ Pit Beans.

My meal was protein centered, with lean (chicken) and moderate fat meats, had vegetables, and beans (complex carbohydrates) in the chili and sides, with minimal sugar, or processed carbohydrates outside of the beer I drank.

The food was delicious.  My belly was full, and I did not have buyers remorse for gorging myself with handfuls of menu items which would derail good nutrition practices.

Every now and again, my cares go to the wind and I enjoy foods which I know are not the best for me nutritionally, which is okay, but I try not to make a habit of this.  It is about finding balance in lifestyle and health, and by going into any restaurant with a plan of attack,to keep these things in balance is a strategy for success.

Eating out can be healthy and nutritious as long as you make the choices which keep this at the forefront of your mind.  If you haven’t gotten a chance to check out Gotta Q, I would highly recommend it.  You can also order exactly what I did if you want!

Eat to Thrive, Not Survive


There are a lot of areas in life where “good enough” can be the goal. Ultimately you have a finite amount of time on this planet and if a task is not important to you then you want to outsource it or put in the minimum effective dose of effort so you can move on with your day. 
There are also many areas where you should put in your very best work. When it comes to movement you want to be strong and pain-free. When you do your taxes you ensure that they are accurate and timely. When you spend time with the ones you love you put the phone away and are fully present in the moment. 
One area that often gets the “good enough” treatment is your diet and nutrition. When life gets busy or making healthy choices becomes inconvenient the spectrum of foods you consume tends to take a dive in quality. Rather than let slide occur in favor of other activities that seem more important, you may find it worth your while to optimize your diet and nutrition. Here’s why: 
Even if the doctor says you are healthy, you are happy with the way you look, and you can’t stand cooking – nutrition is one area that literally transcends into ALL areas of your life. 
If you only ever aim for the minimum in your diet then you are capping your maximum potential in how much you can lift, creatively solve problems, and even love your family. 
We often treat food as an activity that gets scheduled into the day. Food breaks up the workday and provides structure in the evening. It is a social affair with the family or a way to do business. 
The foods you consume during the day are the driving force behind all of this. They not only provide the immediate nutrients needed to fuel your physical and mental performance but are also the long term building blocks for every cell in your body. Every bite you chew or sip you take is going to be broken down into the amino acids that build your muscles and organs. The fats and oils become the cell walls that handle communication between cells in your body and control processes like your immune system function and inflammatory response. The vitamins and minerals will help your body create the energy it needs to keep you moving and eliminating toxins from your body.
Scientists have even found links between our gut bacteria and neurological disease. The foods you are eating today and the way your prioritize diet could determine your likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease later in life. 
The way you choose to eat is affecting the way you live, both today and 40 years from now. If you want to be your best self for your family, your career, and the things you care about accomplishing in life then taking care of your nutrition is not a “nice to have”. It’s a must.
Not sure where to get started? Start by having a conversation with one of our coaches today. 

The cause of the Thanksgiving snooze. Does turkey really make you sleepy?


This myth started to circulate because turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which is an element of serotonin and ultimately gets converted into melatonin.  Tryptophan can be found in protein-based foods like poultry, meat, eggs, fish, dairy, and more. When comparing equally weighted portions, other foods like cheddar cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey.  Do you get sleepy after eating a slice or two of cheddar?  

In fact, there are other Thanksgiving Day culprits that are more likely to cause a post-dinner crash.  A main one being the act of eating a lot in a short period of time, especially foods that are high in simple carbohydrates.  Think of your traditional mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, bread rolls, and pumpkin pie! Add a couple of drinks, and boom! Time of a nap and rebound or round two (or was it 5?).

The holidays can also be a source of stress and affect your typical sleep and exercise routines.  Both of which can lead to your body feeling less than optimal. 

So, don’t blame it all on the turkey, which is a healthy lean protein.  Instead, aim to be picky with your choices, and really savor your favorite dishes. 

We hope you enjoy your holiday while feeling your best!  

How To Optimize Your Warmup And Cooldown Routines


Warmups and cooldowns are an essential part of training and should be given as much thought and effort as the workout itself. In fact if you’re short on time you are better off going through a proper warmup, mobilization, and stretching session than to try to get a quick workout in while skipping those other components. Let’s take a look at why these components of training and see why each one is so important and how you can optimize it.
 

  • Warmup
  • Mobilization
  • Cooldown
  • Stretching

 
Warmup
Your warmup prepares your body and mind for that day’s training. Not every day is the same and your warmup is specific to that. When planning and executing the warmup you need to consider which energy system your body will be utilizing. A max rep back squat requires very different preparation than a conditioning session with double-unders and wall balls. The warmup helps to elevate heart rate, stimulate the nervous system, and optimize the function of the tissues and motor patterns you will be training that day. This will reduce your injury risk and optimize your ability to perform. 
If you are someone who enjoys chatting during the warmup or never quite breaks a sweat then I want to challenge you to dial it up a notch. Give your warmup 100% of your effort next class and see what I mean. If you are giving your best effort in the general and specific warm-up drills you will notice a huge difference in your ability to recruit and activate muscles. This will allow you to move with better form. The efficiency of moving with better form allows to lift more weight and improve your fitness. Isn’t that why we’re all here in the first place… 🙂
Mobilization
Human movement patterns can be broken down into a few broad and overarching groups like squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, rotate and walk. When you mobilize before a workout you are addressing 
Sometimes you will accomplish mobilization through a dynamic warm-up. Taking your joints through an increasing range of motion in order to prepare them for the rigors of the workout. Sometimes you will slow down and target specific tissues through foam rolling, flossing, or distraction techniques with a band. 
Let’s say the day’s workout is to build up to a heavy single deadlift. The first step is to consider what movement patterns will be involved. In this case, the deadlift involves a hinge as the primary movement pattern. You want to make sure that your back, hips, glutes, and hamstrings are well oiled and firing before you start touching a barbell. 
Cooldown
The cooldown can and should involve more than making sweat angels on the floor. The goal is to ensure continuous blood flow to remove the toxins and metabolites that have built up during your training session. By continuing to move after a workout you are actually improving your recovery and setting the tone for your next training session. Hopping on a bike or rower for 10:00 minutes and moving at an easy conversational pace can be a total game-changer in the way you feel the next day. This habit can be hard to do at first. Instead of laying on the floor until you crush your protein shake and head out the door you will develop mental toughness by challenging your body to keep moving. There are huge dividends to this and you will notice improvements in your recovery each day and reduced soreness.
Stretching
After your cooldown incorporating stretching and additional mobilization techniques into your routine is essential to optimize recovery and performance in your next workout. When you perform an exercise your body is in “fight or flight” mode. There is a huge shift that occurs during your stretching and rolling session where your body switches back into a parasympathetic or “rest and digest” state. Stretching muscles has been shown to temporarily improved range of motion and will help you when you go to tie your shoes the next morning. By focusing on breathing and moving your tight and sore muscles you are helping to establish homeostasis and you will feel much better for the rest of the day. This is a great practice to repeat again later in the day before bed, especially if you are someone who has trouble shutting off at night and unwinding.
Today we looked at why it is so important to optimize the warmup, mobilization, cooldown, and stretching. We all love to go hard in the workout, but by focusing on improving in these areas is really how you will start to see results!

Feeling Full on Fiber in the Fall (and all year round!)


Dietary fiber is found in a variety of complex carbohydrates and from numerous plant sources.  Sources of fiber don’t get digested unlike other food components such as simple carbs, fat, or protein.  There are numerous health benefits associated with a high-fiber diet. 

Here are some quick fiber facts!

1)       Typically lacking in the American diet.

  The average America only eats around 15 grams of fiber per day, versus the recommended 25 grams per day for women and 30+ grams for men.

2)       Soluble fiber, the kind that adds bulk to your diet.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance.  This kind of fiber has shown to help lower cholesterol levels. Great sources of soluble fiber include oats, apples, barley, peas, beans, and psyllium.

3)       Insoluble fiber, helps move things along.

  Insoluble fiber doesn’t mix with water, but instead it promotes movement through the digestive system, which helps alleviate constipation and promote regularity.  A few sources are whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, green beans, potatoes, and beans.    

4)       Add in prebiotics!

 Prebiotics are a subgroup of dietary fiber because they ferment in the gut and act as a healthy food source for beneficial bacteria in your microbiome.  You can get prebiotic effects from some whole grains and vegetables like onions, garlic, and artichokes. For a healthy gut try to include prebiotics and probiotics sources (which are fermented items that contain live bacteria) in your diet! 

Overall the simplest message is to incorporate whole foods to your typical diet.  Foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans are good sources of fiber, plus other beneficial compounds and are lower in sodium and sugar.  

Feel free to filter and fun-fiber questions at norisknutrition@gmail.com

The Hard Hat


Two weeks ago, I was given an assignment in my Goldman Sachs 10K Small Businesses program that stumped me.  I was asked to bring in an item which represented the culture of our business.  The business side and the gym community side really overlap more so than other businesses, so I was indecisive of what to bring in as the culture here represents all of us.  Did we really have anything which represented the culture of No Risk?

My immediate thought was to bring in the Level Method Bracelets, symbolizing that everyone has a place, everyone has their own starting point, and everyone has the ability to progress, and all it takes is showing up and effort.  I didn’t use this as my example when I was called on for two reasons.  The first was I wasn’t entirely sold on it, and second, even more telling, was I forgot all the bracelets at the gym, and had nothing to show.

This fortunately left me scrambling for something to present to represent the culture of the gym.  In my cohort group I am always referencing books I have read, and I have stolen ideas from, and as I was thinking of my book list, what I felt was THE ideal symbol came to me.  I had read a book about the Cornell Lacrosse team and one of their players, the consummate teammate, who tragically died on the field, called The Hard Hat.

In a nutshell, the Hard Hat is a Cornell tradition, and a freshman is selected each year to carry the red Hard Hat for the year. This player is someone who takes a blue-collar approach to the game, is driven and selfless, not the most talented player on the field, but consistently the hardest worker.   It represents going to do your job every day and not necessarily needing any type of publicity or fame.

I loved this idea of the hard hat to represent the culture of No Risk.  Each and everyone of you step into the gym anytime you show up, put on your own “hard hat” and you are ready to go to work.  You show up, work hard, day in and out, to get the results of a healthier and better you.  Each of you do it for you.  And you when you are here, do not focus only on yourself, but you also focus on the community around you.  The support everyone receives from each other is immeasurable, and the bonds you have made with your peers, through sweating through what you may think impossible, shows that we are a team, and each of us teammates.

For us it’s a Blue Hard Hat, with our Logo front and center.  You will see it on the desk when you walk in. Let it remind you that you are here to go to work.  You are working on yourself to be better today that yesterday, and that job is never going away!  I also feel that this represents all of us so much, that we will annually have a Hard Hat award, and give it at the Christmas Party to the Male and Female members of the gym who we feel are the representation of hard work and accomplishment for the past year.  We will start this year, and I already have some ideas for candidates, but would love your opinion.  So, if you would like to nominate someone for the Hard Hat Award, please let me know via email, info@noriskcrossfit.com, who and why you feel they deserve the award.   Nominations due by Nov 22.

Is Sleep Affecting Your Weight


Is Sleep Affecting Your Weight? 

Did you know that sleep affects your metabolism AND ability to lose weight? Sleep allows our bodies to recover from stressors such as work, working out, emotional stress, and so much more. Starting your day without enough recovery encourages a cycle of high-stress levels and bad behaviors, keeping you in a negative frame of mind and possibly even leading to poor food choices.  

When you are well-rested, your body is more likely to run properly encouraging weight loss and supporting your metabolism. Take a moment to think of all the times you are getting less than 6+ hours of sleep-is it occurring regularly? If so, you could be hindering your progress by not getting enough sleep.   

Here are some tips to help improve your sleep: 

  • Try having some casein or yogurt before bed 
  • Turn the TV and all other electronic devices off 30 minutes before bed (Read a book instead) 
  • STOP drinking water an hour before bed 
  • Keep your routine SEVEN days a week 
  • Avoid eating within 2 hours of your bedtime 
  • Try drinking some hot tea

Avoid these things before bed: 

  • Sugar 
  • Caffeine 
  • Chocolate 
  • Alcohol 

Regardless of your schedule, these tips can be very beneficial, but for you night workers, here are some additional tips: 

  • Don’t postpone sleep; you will become more awake the longer you stay up 
  • Set aside 7-9-hour blocks for sleep–it may take you longer to wind down so you may need more time. 
  • Make sure your thermostat is set to cool; we rest better in cool environments 
  • Use blackout curtains to keep your room dark. 
  • Try to keep a regular work and sleep schedule, consistency is key. Avoid rotation shifts and break up the number of nights you work in a row. 
  • Share your sleep schedule with others to minimize the number of calls and messages being sent during your sleep time. 

Use the tips above! Especially #7, avoiding sugar and caffeine while at work can aid in falling asleep faster and resting better. 

3 Considerations During the “Long Haul”


Many of us are focusing on taking a long-term approach to our health and fitness, as well as working on sustainable healthy habit formation. Awesome. Way to go!!

When it comes to staying focused on the goal of taking a long-term approach to your nutrition, here are 3 thoughts to munch on:

  1. Inner Monologue:  This is a great time to take an honest look at yourself and your inner monologue.  Your inner thoughts affect your outward attitude and your actions. How you feel about different situations may impact how you react to different situations and as a result, impact your nutrition choices. Take a moment to reflect on your inner thoughts and how this may impact your nutrition. When you get stressed, what foods do you turn to for comfort? Gain some awareness of how you react to stressors and how this stress impacts your nutrition.                                                                                                                                 Take this a step further. If you do turn to unfavorable foods for comfort, is there an alternative behavior that is healthier that you can engage in at an earlier point, before resorting to the foods?
  2. Focus:  What are you focused on right now? What are your short and long term goals that you are shooting for?  Are you looking ahead to areas of your week that may be busy and making plans to stay on track with nutrition rather than resorting to convenience foods? What’s your ultimate long term goal and what are things you can do today, this week, this month to accomplish that goal? What are other behaviors that you can engage in (examples: sleep, exercise, meditation) to better your chances at staying on track with making healthy food choices?
  3. Reflection and Evaluation: Reflect on the past few months. Do a self evaluation. Since the start of your journey, how have you improved? What are your bright spots when it comes to improved eating habits? Give yourself credit for the things you are doing well. 

What are some areas you have yet to improve and want to work on? Get ready to crush these action steps and show improvement on these, while staying consistent with the behaviors that are starting to become routine.  

Challenging your inner monologue, staying focused, reflecting and self evaluation will help us stay committed to working on our health and wellness goals, and will help you get through the “Long Haul” of this part of the year.  

With commitment to these areas, you will be an improved version of yourself with feelings of confidence for the long term.

Be well!