Culture Trumps Strategy

I have always preached a healthy lifestyle, one with proper sleep, good nutrition and exercise (of whatever variety that may be) are paramount to both short term and long term wellness.  Why?  Because locking in on all three can trump diseases, both acute and chronic.  Nutrition, Sleep and exercise boost the immune system.  Scientific research shows that prevention is the best medicine.  The best way to fight cold and flu are preventative measures like sleep, diet and exercise.  You may still get colds, and flus, or other viruses, but the stronger your immune system is, the less of a foothold, and symptoms, you will experience.  This is without any supplementation, or flu vaccine, which I will discuss in a later blog.

High quality of life is what we are after, in both the short term and long term.  We know that we can use reactive medicine to make people live longer.  Anyone who has been in a nursing home can attest we have the ability to keep people alive with medicines and interventions, but what is the quality of life of many of those?  Is that a quality of life you would want when you are older?

The current pandemic has brought this to light even more so as it is hitting people with pre-existing conditions very hard.  The main risk factors for COVID19 are

  • Chronic lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic renal disease
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Being immunocompromised
  • Neurological disorder
  • Neurodevelopmental or intellectual disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Obesity

Alarming statistics, as 1/3 of Americans have prediabetes or diabetes.  Almost half of U.S. adults have hypertension. Fifteen percent of Americans have chronic kidney disease.  1/3 of Americans are obese (and probably fall into one other risk factor), and 2/3 overweight (and probably fall into one of other risk factors).

How many of the risk factors are based on lifestyle or lifestyle choices?  How many of the risk factors are preventable?  How many COVID19 hospitalizations and even deaths could have been prevented based on lifestyle changes?

Today I was on a remote workshop for workplace leadership and the following graphic was shown to demonstrate a key principle to running any business, but I felt it was very applicable to the issues we are seeing today.  What is the American Culture?  We have a sedentary culture of fast food, high stress and fast paced jobs, highly processed foods, reactive medicine (we have a pill for that).  Our culture has facilitated a health crisis, which we knew well before COVID19 based on disease statistics, which has been brought to the forefront even more with the current pandemic.  Our culture is potentially why America is being so hard hit by this virus.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.  Yes.  Our unhealthy culture is preventing many of strategies to reduce the effect this virus has on death rate.  Social distancing doesn’t seem to be working.  We have a population of unhealthy people, spreading an airborne pathogen, which effects unhealthy people greater than healthy people.  The older, sickest members of our population are being hardest hit, but many younger Americans are also being affected.  Why?  Culture eats strategy for breakfast.  No strategy for containment or prevention would work.  Too many Americans are kindling for the fire this virus has created.

This virus may go away, but whats to say there will not be another next year.  Those are short term problems.  Your health and fact that you are aging daily will not go away.  Want to improve outcomes and make strategies more effective? Want to improve the quality of life you have now and later?  Change your culture.  Change your lifestyle.  Make your health, your families health, and your workplaces health, a priority.   Make the culture one of health and well being.  Make the culture centered on exercise, proper nutrition, and sleep.  Make the culture proactive not reactive medicine.

Changing culture, and lifestyle habits can be challenging, but it is necessary.  That is where we would love to help!  We want you to become the healthiest version of yourself.  We want to help make the changes you need in your life, to improve the quality of the life you lead, not just today, but decades down the road.  If you need help getting on the path to better health and well being, let us know!  We would love to help!



Richard Louv coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder back in 2009.  While this is not a actual medical condition, it does describe another situation of where many humans have become mismatched with their environment.  Throughout the course of human existence, humans and nature have interacted hand in hand, however, in the past three decades, there have been an abundance of agricultural, social and technological changes that have occurred.  The proliferation of electronic communications; poor urban planning and disappearing open spaces; more street traffic; the natural world taking a back burner to reading, writing, and math test scores in public and private education; news and entertainment media magnifying parents fears by hyping up the few unfortunate occurrences of things that have gone wrong, have all led to humans, as a species, becoming more disconnected from the natural world.


Scientific evidence has suggested that nature-deficit disorder contributes to a diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, conditions of obesity, and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses.   These conditions are even more prevalent in kids.  The research also suggests that lack of exposure to nature leads to the poor ecological literacy and stewardship.  By becoming less connected to nature, we become less connected to the planet, and its preservation.

By getting out and experiencing nature on a weekly basis, disconnected from technology, both mental and physical well being is enhanced.  This could be the cheapest therapy anyone ever participated in.  To help you out with some nearby nature walks, the Town of Smithfield has on their website, SEVEN SCENIC WALKS IN SMITHFIELD!

Each of these walks are scenic, relatively easy, only a few miles long at most, and easily accessible.  Make a nature walk part of your weekly activities and enjoy the health benefits of doing so!


Fruit of winter: Pomegranates! 



Pomegranates contain antioxidants and beneficial nutrients. They are great as a snack or topping on many post workout meals.

1 cup of arils (edible pomegranate seeds). 

    • Fiber: 7 grams
    • Protein: 3 grams
    • Vitamin C: 30% of the RDI
    • Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI
    • Folate: 16% of the RDI
    • Potassium: 12% of the RDI

How to enjoy pomegranates without the mess! First, halve the pomegranate.  Fill a large bowl halfway with water, invert one pomegranate half in the water and push the seeds out.  Repeat until all the seeds are out of both halves. The seeds will sink to the bottom, and the pith floats to the top.  Scoop out of the pith, then drain the bowl and enjoy the seeds! 

Avoiding Vitamin D deficiency this winter

It’s no unfortunate surprise that our December days can be cold and short. Typically meaning less time outside, and less sunshine.  A consequence to winter’s darkness could be a depletion on our vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is important for bone health and maintaining adequate amounts of vitamin D have been linked to preventing heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and many other conditions. 

We naturally synthesize vitamin D through our skin after being exposed to the sun’s rays.  Typically, we can maintain adequate levels after just 15-20 minutes of sunlight.  

Vitamin D, which is a fat-soluble vitamin, is also naturally present in a few foods such as fatty fish (ex. salmon), egg yolks, mushrooms, and soybeans, as well as in some fortified milks, orange juices, and cereals.  

Simple winter check list to getting enough vitamin D:

    1. Eat 2 servings of fatty fish, like salmon, each week.
    2. If you’re vegetarian drink vitamin D fortified milk (check the label to make sure it contains calcium and vitamin D!) and consume other vitamin D vegetarian sources like mushrooms and soybeans.
    3. If needed, check with your doctor to about vitamin D supplement options. 

Ego truly is the enemy

When I started CrossFit back in 2008, I loved everything about it.  I also thought it was about moving as much weight as you can and focused on numbers on the barbell, and wanting to get stronger to do workouts “RX” than things which actually made you stronger like technique and movement efficiency.  I also had a significant strength bias, because strength was my relative strength (no pun intended) when it came to all things CrossFit like.

My first certification in CrossFit was the CrossFit Football certification which has evolved into a separate company, Power Athlete Hq.  This certification was designed for contact sports like Football, Rugby, etc, and to me, it was strength centered, with short metcons, not a lot of gymnastics, and purposefully designed to make athletes at those contact sports.  It was not CrossFit.

At about this same time, strength centered programming became a thing in the CrossFit community after an article by Jeff Martin in the CrossFit Journal.   This programming had a two day on, one day off, three day on, 2 day off cycle with a mix of strength, shorter metcons, and a lot of gymnastics/skill development on the back end. (Please note there were many other derivations of CrossFit at this time, including CrossFit Endurance) The goal of CrossFit strength bias was to get people strong enough to use RX weights in WODs.

“The pretense of knowledge is our most dangerous vice, because it prevents us from getting any better.” Ryan Holiday

I was a strength biased athlete, and here were these strength biased programs, and voila! Confirmation bias at its best.  I was sold.  So for the next 9 years I programmed based on my bias.  I also remember the arrogance I had in my head at the CrossFit Level 2 seminar.  Here my programming was analyzed and the verdict it was not well balanced, and too strength focused. They were wrong.  What did they know.  Except I did not follow the CrossFit Strength Bias programming as it was written, nor did I follow CrossFit Football, as it was written.  First we are open 7 days a week, and these were 5 day programs as the designers of the program wrote the program knowing recovery in between sessions is where strength gains occur. Second, the skill development and gymnastics work emphasized on each session was not emphasized much.  Third, Olympic lifts are minimized in these programs.  I winged it into my own bastardized version of the workouts I liked to do.  The way I programmed had many flaws though.

      1. Our product is coaching.  In most of the classes based on the programming there was no time or place for coaching or instruction.  Coaches sheep herded people from one activity to the next to get it all in. We failed at the delivery of the product. We tried to cram 10 pounds into a five pound bag
      2. Designated warm ups were left up to the coach to craft, usually got stale, and never had much carryover to the workout or movements for the day
      3. There was no consistency in coaching
      4. Strength imbalances in athletes occurred potentially leading to injuries
      5. Fitness imbalances resulted as demonstrated by the Level Method results. As a gym we were objectively strong, lacked relative strength, and lacked overall fitness.
      6. Strength increases happen during recovery.  If you want to get strong you should strength train then go rest.  Doing a metcon right after counteracts the strength work.  To get stronger you want the minimum effective dose not a WOD
      7. You do not need to do strength sets to get stronger.  Doing any workout with deadlifts or push presses will increase your strength.  You can get “stronger” from sets of 1,5,15 or 20.
      8. Very few people can strength train 12 months a year and continuously make gains
      9. People did get stronger at points, but the strength was not true strength.  When you train to be good at a 20RM, you get better at doing 20RM.  When you train for a 1RM you get better at a 1RM.  The strength is not necessarily transferable.
      10. Strength gains stopped when technique flaws or movement efficiency decreased since we were not drilling the latter two
      11. Strength is not fitness, getting strong is not CrossFit
      12. The RX of a workout is not the weight you use, but the metabolic stimulus is the RX.  What does an athlete doing a 2:00 Fran and one doing a 10 Minute Fran have in common?  They both are getting the wrong stimulus for the workout.  The RX for Fran is 3:30 to 6 min if we are looking for a time domain stimulus.
      13. The biggest bang for your health comes in the metcons an
      14. What was the overall goal? For everyone to get as strong as possible? What is strong enough? When does absolute strength sacrifice functional strength?

“People learn from their failures. Seldom do they learn anything from success.” Ryan Holiday

In the course of a week over a year ago, I read several articles, and listened to several podcasts which discussed programming.  One of those was a podcast with Ben Bergeron, coach of Katrin Davidsdottir and owner of CrossFit New England.  It was then that I started to come to my senses and realized, What we were doing was not necessarily true CrossFit. What we were doing was not in the best interests of your long term health.

CrossFit is a balanced program looking to increase the levels of overall fitness in ten general physical skills.  They are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. You are as fit as you are competent in each of these ten skills.  If you notice, strength is ONE of those skills.  If you look at the CrossFit Open since its inception in 2011, very few workouts of 51 Open workouts focused on absolute strength.  What I was doing was programming how I liked to train, and what I knew, not what was best for overall fitness, health and well being.  Pure strength does correlate to health but cardiovascular/respiratory endurance correlates just as much if not more.  It is the latter which moves blood markers and enhances the quality of life.  We are in the business of improving lives.

After a month of denial on my part, and after months and months of looking at various options, we made the decision to transition to NC Fit.  This program is a balanced program of all of the ten general physical skills.  There are many benefits to the program.

      1. It leaves time for coaching by the coaches as it is well designed and thought out to maximize coaching for each athlete to focus on the movements and cues and improve technique and efficiency.
      2. The warm ups are designed with the days work in mind.  Some warm ups are longer on purpose as the focus of the day needs you to be warm and ready to attack it, some warm ups are shorter if there is more instruction or strength sets.
      3. The program has different focuses at different times of the year.  You will see more traditional strength in periods not near the Open, and in the Open Pre-season more skill focus, less strength and more Open like conditioning (this year we had two Opens so we had two periods of this).
      4. You will see balance in all ten general physical skills
      5. You will see more skill work and opportunities to work on technique and movement
      6. You will see benchmark tests so you can consistently monitor progress, along with the Level Method tests.
      7.  You will see more recovery built in

You can get stronger without doing designated strength sets.  This has been proven in the research literature time and again, there are many rep ranges and volume ranges and workouts which will Ultimately build strength not just designated strength sets.  Every rep does count as well in the quest to get strong.  All those empty barbell warm up reps puts the muscle under tension and enhancing strength.

If you feel you are not making necessary strength gains with the current program here are some steps to optimize your progress

    1. Attend 4 classes as week
    2. Make sure you get 8 hours of sleep a night
    3. Foam roll or do other self care after workouts
    4. Eat a balanced nutrient dense diet of non processed food that consists of 1 gram of lean protein per lb body weight daily, copious vegetables and starch around exercise, in at least three meals and two snacks a day
    5. Consume a post workout protein shake

If the above are not taken care of, strength sets or no strength sets you’re minimizing the results and progress you will see at the gym.

If you would like help on nutrition or obtaining a personal goal, and want to set up a goal setting session or a nutrition consult please let us know and we will be happy to help

Embrace your own winter hygge! 

What is hygge? (pounced “hoo-ga) 

It’s a Danish concept of feeling cozy and peaceful, as well as enhancing one’s wellbeing by enjoying the simple things in life.  The act of hygge might be a reason why Denmark is commonly ranked one of the world’s happiest countries, even though their citizens endure brutal winters. 

This New England winter: embrace your own version of hygge! You work hard on your health at No Risk Crossfit, and hygge is another way you can improve your overall wellbeing and happiness.  

Examples: reading a book under a warm blanket, sipping delicious tea or coffee, or creating a relaxing atmosphere by lighting your favorite candles.  

Is it hygge? 

Overall, it depends on what brings you joy but below are some key points.

What’s typically not hygge:

    • Being glued to your phone is not considered a peaceful activity. It can be distracting but not an act of hygge. 
    • Purchasing something just because it’s trendy.  It’s all about creating the most peaceful atmosphere for yourself, which could involve some new finds but really the beauty is in simplicity. 
    • Hibernating indoors alone all winter.  It’s a balance of treating yourself to personal time, but also getting out and enjoying your surroundings (even in the winter!) and spending time with loved ones. 

Instead it’s more along the lines of: 

    • Getting together with friends and family.
    • Making a classic family winter recipe.
    • Enjoying a relaxing evening by a fireplace. 

We hope you can take a couple moments to enjoy some simple pleasures this winter! 

(Another example: adorable baby Yoda practicing hygge)

Clean Up Your Grocery Cart

Ever find yourself in the grocery store wondering exactly what to buy to make healthier choices? There is so much confusion about what you need to do and which products are the best.

You choose items that say things like “low carb,” “low fat,” “no added sugar,” and “sugar free,” but you just aren’t quite making progress. You aren’t sure if these items are an improvement, but you need something that is EASY? Well, keep reading for a list of items that will help clean up your grocery cart.

The BEST tip that everyone should follow is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store first! Fill your cart with fruits, veggies, and lean meats. In most places, all of these items are NOT down the aisles, they are all around the edge, or perimeter of the store. Once you have finished shopping the perimeter truck down the aisles for these staple items:

  1. Snack Bars (Rx Bars or Low Sugar Kind Bars). General guidelines is to look for 7-14 grams of protein, 9-18 grams of carbohydrates, and 3-6 grams of fat.
  2. Low-Calorie (lower sodium if you have high bp) frozen meals. Pair with salad, fruits, or veggies.
  3. Deli Meat (low-sodium).  Pair with avocado, salad or veggies and fruit for a quick lunch or with hummus for a quick snack.
  4. Pre-cooked brown rice and quinoa (you can save up to 45 minutes by doing this).
  5. Black beans in a can are a great source of fiber.
  6. SALSA!! It goes great on everything and is naturally low calorie.
  7. Frozen steam fresh veggie bags. Just pop them in the microwave or a bowl if you worry about plastics.
  8. Dark Chocolate with 70% or more Cacao to curb a sweet tooth.

While this is NOT a comprehensive list of items to buy, it is a great start! Making small sustainable changes is the best way to achieve progress and keep it! If you need more accountability and help to make changes to your nutrition, book a free nutrition consult by clicking the tab under nutrition in the header!

Kristin’s Story

In 2016, I made the decision to get weight loss surgery.  I was 51 years old, 5’ 11” and over 350 pounds. I struggled daily to do the simplest things.  Getting out of a chair, climbing stairs. I fell down once and had a real tough time getting up again.  I didn’t travel any more. I wasn’t enjoying life. I drank too much. I ate too much. My cholesterol was way over 200, I was pre diabetic.  I continued to gain weight and the thought of getting to 400 was possible and scared me to death.  

The decision for the surgery was scary but necessary.  I wanted to get better. I wanted to be a better mom to my son.  It meant giving up alcohol, carbs, had to work out regularly. Bariatric surgery isn’t a cure, it’s a tool.  You can’t do this if you are unwilling to change your life.  

Getting the surgery isn’t an easy process.  It’s lengthy and expensive. It’s a year of tests both physical and mental – group therapy, seeing a psychologist regularly, going to a nutritionist bi-weekly, surgical courses to make sure this process is right for you.  But I was determined. I passed and was granted permission for surgery.  

Two weeks before surgery is fasting.  No solids at all. This is to shrink your liver.  I lost 22 pounds in two weeks – I stuck to my diet. I didn’t cheat once, and I was proud of myself because I knew I could do it.  

The funny thing going through this process is figuring out why I got this way.  I was always a skinny kid. I packed on the weight after the birth of my son and continued to gain.  Going through the psychological process I realized how miserable I was in my marriage and how unhealthy it was.  It was abusive. Verbally and emotionally. I had to get out. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I knew he would have a hard time letting go.  

I started to put myself first for a change.  I followed my diet, I started working out with a trainer.  Crossfit was intimidating to me. I didn’t think I could do it.  I started working out three days a week at No Risk CrossFit and following a nutrition program from Precision Nutrition with Judah.  I started to really enjoy it. Going to No Risk saved me and really gave me a confidence boost.  

But then my life just fell apart.  Or should I say I hit bottom. I asked for a divorce and my ex just went off the deep end.  He’s an alcoholic and when I asked for a divorce his drinking got really bad. So did the abuse.  He stalked me, threatened me, harassed me, left me with no money to pay bills. It was months of hell.  I was scared for my life. I thank God for the people I had in my corner. My family, my friends, co-workers, NoRisk coaches got me out of my worst days.  

I was unable to continue working out because I had no money.  Unfortunately, with the stress I was under, I was unable to continue following my healthy lifestyle.  I either didn’t eat at all or when I did eat, it was junk food because I couldn’t get myself to cook anything.  I did the best I could, but I stopped losing the weight. While I had lost 110 pounds, and still wanted to lose another 75, I hit a weight loss plateau, however, during all of this is I haven’t gained any more weight.

I’m divorced now, I’m moving into an apartment with my son, my ex stopped drinking and we are getting along better.  He thought that if he stopped, we would be a family again. In the past, I probably would have gone back to him, but I realized how much happier I am on my own.  I will get back to my healthier habits once I move since my place has an onsite gym and the stress of living with my ex will be over.

I’m not promoting weight loss surgery as the answer.  I mention it because it helped me start the process of having a healthy mindset.  It was a long and painful process of self-discovery, but I realize now what I can do and how strong I really am, that I can be confident and there is nothing wrong with putting myself first.  I didn’t think I had it in me, that I could do this. Figuring that out took me a long time and a lot of work. I can finally say, I’m proud of myself.