Angie Foree

The CrossFit Games

For the first time in CrossFit Games history, it will be televised on a national network. The Games will be broadcast through 2017 and 2018 on CBS, CBS Sports Network and CBS Sports Digital.

With nearly 400,000 athletes from more than 175 countries The CrossFit Games is the single largest participatory sporting event in the world. Being broadcast on such a national network, it is sure to bring out a few more curious souls from the shadows.

According to CBS Sports website, coverage of the CrossFit Games will debut Thursday, July 20, (8:00 PM, ET) as CBS Sports Network airs preview shows highlighting the competitors and history of the Games. Then, beginning Thursday, August 3 (10:00 PM, ET) and culminating on Sunday, August 6 (10:00 PM, ET), the Network will televise two hours of main competition coverage nightly.

Additionally, starting Monday, October 16 (7:00 PM, ET) and running through the end of 2017, CBS Sports Network will televise multiple, one-hour specials highlighting the athletes and various individual competitions from the Games. The network will also air two hours of the CrossFit Invitational in early December.

What does this mean for us CrossFit boxes on the local level. Well, my hope is that broadcasting from such a national resource will open the door for viewers to understand and respect the sport more. While the Games athletes represent “the 1%” of CrossFitters, the average person can participate in CrossFit as not just as a sport but as a life long commitment to their health.

Average Joes

Most CrossFitters do not plan, nor do they expect, to perform as an athlete at the Games level. Most CrossFitters that I have personally coached or discussed goals with, just want to feel better, and enjoy their life more. This is the 98-99%. This population is CrossFit’s target market. The CrossFit Games is a platform for the few who rise up to be competitors.

The Games will feature 39 men, 40 women, 38 teams, 80 teenagers and 240 masters all competing to be named “Fittest on Earth.” These competitors are some of the most amazing athletes in the world. Tune in and watch some of these competitors perform on this nation wide platform!

I don’t feel like training today.

A couple of weeks ago I was pretty down in the dumps. I had had an emotionally challenging weekend with a trip to Brinkley to see my dad, who is very sick with Parkinson’s. As if the disease isn’t enough, there are many underlying issues when it comes to his and my relationship.  However, with him in late stages of Parkinson’s, the emotional baggage has to be set aside and spending some time with him becomes priority.

Dragging my butt to the gym to train on Monday was a tremendous challenge. My thoughts seemed to only be able to focus on the noise in my head and the LAST thing I felt like doing was training.

How many times do we react to everything we feel? How often do we give in to something because we “don’t feel like it”. We know we should train or eat well or complete our tasks at work, or fill in the blank, but we get into this pattern of dismissing what we should do because we listen to our feelings instead of just doing. You probably don’t even realize how much you get stuck because you react to how you feel, and you then create worry, and then those emotions take over.  How many times during the day do you hesitate or doubt yourself?

Your brain is actually designed to stop you from changing or doing things that are scary or new. Your brain is designed to protect you. How does it protect you? It traps you in your head and makes you overthink EVERY LITTLE THING. The very moment you decide to do something scary, break a habit, make a change or try something new, your brain goes to work to stop you. This is called cognitive biases, also, mental noise.

I recently read the book, 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. She brings to light our reactions to our feelings and how often we choose the path of least resistance because of these feels. However, you do have a system in your head that can beat your brain at it’s own game. This, ‘5 Second Rule’ is not the, drop something on the floor, pick it up in 5 seconds and then it’s considered safe to eat. This 5 Second Rule is a tool that helps you take action and helps get you out of your head. You have to stop thinking and start living before the system in your head gets a chance to stop you. You think that you are by design an “over thinker’, well, many are, and in many cases you’ve taught yourself to be, but the good news is, you can control all of this.

  1. Locus of Control – Foundational principal of psychology which basically describes 2 kinds of people.  People who believe they have power over events in their lives, in which case, a person with an internal locus of control believes that he or she can influence events and their outcomes, while on the flip side, someone with an external locus of control blames outside forces for everything. and they believe life is just happening and they’re a victim of whatever happens to them.
  2. Bias Toward Action – is a core principle or mindset of design thinking. In the most basic sense, it means that we promote action-oriented behavior, rather than discussion based work that means you’re the kind of person who has a bias toward taking action verses a bias toward thinking.  You have the propensity to act or decide without customary analysis or sufficient information ‘just do it’ and contemplate later.

Here’s an example of the 5 Second Rule Mel uses often in the book. Your alarm clock goes off, you hit the snooze, again, and again. You are letting your brain tell you that you’re not ready to get up, you’re tired, you had a long day, you need extra sleep, etc.  With the 5 Second Rule, your alarm goes off, you count, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, turn off the alarm and get straight up.  Simple right? Well, we all know simple isn’t always easy, and that’s ok. Practice it and see if you can become more productive.  For my CrossFitters, I post the workout every night, you look at it, and you can contemplate how difficult it will be and you can mull it over and over in your head until you’ve wound yourself up so tight you can’t even sleep. Instead, look at (or don’t) and count, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and just plan to go and trust that you’ll get through the workout no matter what.

When you use the 5 Second Rule, and you physically move, your brain starts to build new habits. You can create a bias toward action by using the 5 Second Rule. Over time the more you use it, not only do you learn how to take action, but you then learn to operate with a bias toward taking action. You create immediate change in the moment but over time you create new habits and you can become an entirely different person!

Pick up Mel Robbins’ book, 5 Second Rule and let her inspire you to create the change in your life that you need to make!

Lives are Changing!

I recently pulled a few of our CrossFitters aside and asked them to share how CrossFit has changed them. It seems dramatic, I know, but CrossFit has truly made such positive change in so many lives. I hope this inspires you to make the changes you need to make to improve your life mentally and physically!

You’re never to old to be better!!

Check it out!

Special thanks to David Allen for helping me with the video!!

Ok, I Lied

First of all, I don’t love the Airdyve (AD), as a matter of fact there have been times when I have hated the AD. Wait, that too is a lie, I almost always hate the AD. Buuuuut, I have seen many benefits to its training, so in all fairness, I must express an appreciation for it.

Below are ways my fitness has improved over the last few months by training on the AD weekly.

  1. Training on the AD makes me feel like I’ve dropped into hell. I discovered cuss words I never knew existed and it just makes me an angry Angie, and I often think I will die. Yet here I am, somehow I always survive it and can live to write about it! So, you won’t die.
  2. I only thought I had been training all energy systems. Since I primarily train by myself, I don’t always train with the intensity I should. That was the first thing that struck me that fateful first day on the AD.… the absence of my capacity in an anaerobic state.
  3. My time training on the AD can span from 10 second intervals up to an hour, my engine has thus become bigger which means I have more sustainability in almost any given workout, no matter the duration of it.

    More on the Energy Systems being trained:

    • The Anaerobic A-Lactic (ATP-CP) energy system provides high bursts of start-up energy for activities that last less than ten seconds in duration. Interval training for 10 calories or less on the AD can train the ATP-CP energy system.
    • Whereas the ATP-CP system will only produce energy for 10 seconds, Anaerobic Lactic (Glycolytic) Energy System (fast glycolysis) works at capacity for as long as two minutes. As a result, waste products such as lactic acid accumulate in the blood and in muscle cells. A burning sensation in the muscle, shortness of breath and fatigue are all symptoms of lactic acid build up…this is death knocking at the door. Interval work that includes 20 plus calories can put you into the glycolytic system.
    • The aerobic system is the most utilized of the three as it provides energy for low intensity activities that last anywhere from two minutes to a few hours. Unlike the other two systems, the aerobic system requires oxygen and takes much longer to overload. Often, on my ‘active recovery’ days, I can be found on the AD for up to an hour at a time and typically watching episodes of The Office to keep my mind off of dying.
  4. I recently tested my 400 meter runs by doing multiple sprints with a 1:1 work:rest ration. Never before have I ever ran them as fast as I was able to that day. I bet I’ve knocked off at least 15 seconds off of my 400,  so it MUST be the training on the AD that has contributed to it.
  5. Best of all, my quads get swole!

You don’t have to like it for it to work

In summary, we may not always like some of our training, matter of fact we may hate it but if we just dig in and continue to work through the cussing and anger, there’s usually a reward waiting just on the other side.

 

Beware of language but pretty much how I feel….and I get to cheat and use both legs!

Sat down to make a motivational video and ended up with this. 🤷🏻‍♀️

A post shared by Derek Weida (@derekweida) on

Puzzled

We were fortunate enough to enjoy some much needed time with our grandson last weekend. Jackson is absolutely our greatest joy and we treasure our time with him. During our customary trip to Target on Saturday, he picked out a 1000 piece puzzle for us to do together. I always enjoyed putting puzzles together with my children when they were young, so I was excited to do this with him!

This would be his first 1000 piece puzzle, however, Jackson is no stranger to large tasks. He has completed numerous large Lego sets, including the 1250 piece Millennium Falcon. At 8 years old, he and Papaw erected it over a weekend.

Sunday afternoon we began facing all the pieces up and setting aside the framework. Papa entered the room, scratched his head and made a comment about how overwhelming the puzzle looked. Jackson, without much hesitation or a look up from his puzzle said, “That’s ok, Papa, we’ll do it one piece at a time.”

I don’t think Jackson quite grasped the gravity of his comment (or maybe he did) but his comment gave me pause for thought about something I’d like to share with you.

Our Tasks Are Not That Big

How often do we face something and immediately bemoan the task? We see the entire challenge and our very first thoughts are of fear, concern or stress. It happens in our daily lives with work, trying to lose weight, cleaning the garage, the house and even doing the laundry. We CERTAINLY do it when we have a challenging workout. This is NOT some sort of weird genetic condition that you have no control over, this is a LEARNED behavior!

Stop Letting Emotion be in Control

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I can’t do 100 of those!” If I write a workout, similar to this:
25 Wall Ball
10 Pull Ups
20 Burpees
10 Box Jumps
4 Rounds
Many will see the workout and immediately think, “holy crap, that’s 100 WB and 80 Burpees, I’m going to die!” What you should say to yourself is this: “Ok, this is a tough one, if fact, a terrible one, but I’m going to tackle this challenge and do the best I can with it, ONE REP AT A TIME. I know I won’t die.”

This seems like  a very simplistic approach. Guess what? It is and it’s a simple fix but you have to want to fix it and retrain your thinking.

Perceive Things Differently

“Unhelpful perceptions can invade our minds. You must train your brain to see things for what they are, do what we can, endure and bare what we must.” This is an excerpt from a book I recently listened to, The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. When we stop allowing emotion (fear) to be our first reaction, then we can stop seeing problems as problems and focus on what things really are, and typically, they’re never as bad as our emotions tell us they are. You have to train yourself to view any challenge with reason and logic. This takes practice and essentially muscle memory. You have to be willing to change your perception of things however and see things more as an opportunity and less as a problem.

To begin learning to see things differently, consider this:

Perception – see the (challenge) clearly
Action – act correctly (without emotion)
Will – endure and accept (find a way)

Stoicism

I don’t think we really appreciate stoicism enough. To appreciate stoicism is to learn to disregard our initial emotional reaction to things. This is a learned behavior and may come easier for some than others…but it can be learned. We, as humans, spend far too much time commiserating about our experiences and far too little time learning how to endure during our hardships, knuckle down and pursue without complaint. Spend one minute reading comments in a hotly debated topic on Facebook and that’s all you see is emotion. Rarely does one stop, see the situation clearly, and then act upon it correctly. Now, I’m not suggesting we all become stoics, but I am suggesting we try to see our challenges as more opportunity and less “problem”.

Challenge Completed

Jackson asked that I not work on the puzzle unless he is here to work on it with me. He said he wanted it to be something he and I do together. I respect, love and appreciate that very much, so my dining room table will be held hostage for awhile and that’s really ok by me. After all, often it’s really not the end result that we should be looking for, in the journey is where true experiences lie.

 

 

 

 

 

Why CrossFit Kids

I’ve been coaching kids for as long as I’ve been coaching adults. One of the focuses has always been teaching kids proper movement patterns that will translate when they get into upper grade level athletics and training. Another benefit to starting kids young is that it sets a precedence for them as they get older. Helping them create healthy habits when they’re young that could literally set a course for their future health. We’re training them academically, why not physically also?

“The needs of a second grader and high-school varsity wrestlers differ by degree and not kind; the program is scalable for any age or experience level and accounts for the varied maturation status one can find in a class full of kids. CrossFit Kids is designed to be minimalist; it allows a wide array of socioeconomic groups an opportunity to be physically fit and physically active throughout their lives.”
-Greg Glassman

Let’s take a look at what other benefits kids receive with CrossFit Kids training.

Properties of A CrossFit Kid

  1. They become proficient in 10 components of fitness, such as: Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility & Accuracy.
  2. Kids learn the ability to focus their attention on their body, how their body is moving and how to move their body appropriately. kinesthetic sense
  3. Posture naturally becomes better.
  4. Kids learn the value of working hard (not to mention learning to have fun doing it).
  5. Moving their own body weight and learning to weight lift, brings muscular development that translates in their daily lives.  (how much easier would lifting their backpack be for them?)
  6. Kids become a true athlete, not just athletic in a specific sport. Yes, there is a huge difference.

Myths

There have been many myths and misinformation passed around over the years when it comes to kids and training. Let’s take a look at some.

  1. “Weightlifting will stunt a kids growth/interfere with growth plates.” Quite the contrary, there is actually no data that supports that. In fact, there is more data that promotes (proper) weigh training. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/strength-training/art-20047758
  2. “It will interfere with my child’s sport.” With proper training, your child will get better in their sports and have a reduction in sports specific injuries. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/Sports_Injuries/child_sports_injuries.asp
  3. “My kid needs to learn leadership skills, so they need team sports.” Not all kids are cut out for team sports, this is especially true for kids with Attention Deficit Disorder. With CrossFit Kids, the kids learn how to focus entirely on themselves, how to move properly and then are given opportunities to “teach” others how to do the same. This not only increases their self confidence, gives them an opportunity to lead, and also help their friends understand proper movement technique when they see them moving poorly. https://www.additudemag.com/slideshows/best-sports-for-kids-with-adhd

Testimonies

I’ve had many kids over the years, but one of my kids I often use as an example is Sebastian. Sebastian is 14 years old and has been a CrossFit kid since about age 9. Sebastian has never played team sports. This year he decided to participate in track and field. He excelled in every area he tried out for. Although Sebastian wanted to do short distances, those spots were filled quickly with kids who could only do short distances. Since Sebastian was more versatile in his ability, the coaches put him in the mile run, long jump and anchor for 400 relay.

Sebastian continued to train in CrossFit Kids during his track season. One week (after months of begging) I allowed him to find a max deadlift. He pulled a 230lb 1 rep set, two days later he PR’d his mile run at 5:21.

Sebastian’s abilities are limitless. If your kid, Timmy, started playing baseball at 9 and has only played baseball for the last 6 years, baseball is all Timmy knows. Timmy has not gained strength, endurance, speed, or power. Timmy is not fit, Timmy just knows how to play baseball.

Sign Them Up

Our CrossFit Kids classes meet Tuesday and Thursday from 4 – 5 p.m. Kids do not need experience in anything, I will teach them all they need to know. They will learn and do things they never thought or knew they could. Watch your children grow, you will be amazed at their new found abilities! http://www.crossfitnbs.com/about-us/crossfit-kids/

All Weight Matters

As many of you know, I set out for a hike on the Appalachian Trail recently. I made my list, my pack was packed, my shoes were tied and my course was set.

We were dropped off by a shuttle and the plan was to hike north back to where our vehicle was parked in Front Royal, Virginia.  We got dropped off, LITERALLY on the side of the road where a section of the AT crosses the highway. The shuttle driver never got out, no picture was taken to commemorate the start of our trip, nothing…very anti-climatic. Confused and disheveled, I gathered my pack and poles, tried to pull myself together, only to look like a scene out of Wild with Reese Witherspoon when she’s trying to get “Monster” on for the first time and she ends up falling over. While my scene wasn’t quite that dramatic, it wasn’t far removed.

With pack finally settled on my back and poles in hand, we hit the trail. Within 2 minutes, we were at a steady incline and Ken and Kendra (and Violet her Mini Australian Shepherd) were hitting their pace well in front of me. My thoughts went to “I must be going slow, so I better pick up my pace.” Um, nope…my legs weren’t going to move any faster. So again, I thought to myself, “Ok, the first 10 minutes of anything is always the hardest, so just settle in.” Before that 10 minutes was up, I knew I was in trouble.

“This Weighs Nothing”

As I was packing and preparing for this trip, I did my do diligence with regard to making sure my backpack was weighted within the limits of a 5-6 day trip. The heaviest weight of course, was my food (and the Bear Barrel it was packed in) a total of around 15lbs. All other items were small and weighed 3lbs or less. Hammock 2.5lbs, sleeping bag 3lbs, cookware 3lbs., then came all of the smaller items that were anywhere between 3 – 12oz (stuff that “weighs nothing”). All of this totaled up to about 42lbs, which is an average weight for a 6 day hike. This is fine, UNLESS YOU ONLY WEIGH 126lbs!!!

As I was trailing further and further behind (we’re still in the first 10 minutes of the hike) the weight ratio occurred to me and it was at that moment that I started to lose my mind. If I recall, my first actual though was, “what the @#$#@%! have I done!!”

Altitude & Attitude

Ok, so I’m no stranger to physical challenges and mental toughness isn’t one of my weaknesses, so, ‘mind over matter, right? FALSE!

As I’m trudging along, I know it’s time to get my head right. “Angie, you can do this, it may be hard, but you can do this.” Ok, check. “Yes I can, let’s go!” And then my subconscious speaks up. “You have 6 days of this!” “What an ass!”….and so begins the head battle.

Thoughts like this ping pong back and forth for the next whatever seconds, minutes, hours that came. Did I mention we’re still going up?? Oh, and here’s something else I didn’t think about…ALTITUDE!!! I am breathing like I have never worked out before IN MY LIFE!!! I am thinking, “What is wrong with me??!!”  Meanwhile, Ken and Kendra seem to be on cruise control somewhere about 100 -200 meters ahead. “I’m never going to catch up to them!” “Get your attitude right, Angie.”  “I want to stop and take pictures.” “No, don’t stop, you’ll get further behind.” “Why am I so far behind??!” “Oh, your pack is too heavy, remember dummy?  and your legs are SHORT!” “No EXCUSES, GO!!” “Oh my God, just shut up.” “God…yes! Let’s pray!!”
The battle continued…

The Power of Habit

Because we had an 11 hour drive just to get to our destination, that time offered an opportunity to listen to podcasts and books. Ken had recently downloaded, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. A book I highly recommend reading. In the book, Charles discusses how cues (triggers) make our habits unfold automatically. A cue can be a pattern of behavior that consistently triggers a certain routine. The Basal Ganglia is a part of the brain that is responsible for our habits. So with this knowledge, I think to myself. “Ok, this hike is very different from your normal daily habits, so let’s give your basal ganglia time to understand this is now your new habit for the next several days”. “My reward will be an awesome accomplishment of 62 miles on the AT!!” “Ok. good…makes sense.” This worked for about a mile. “Awesome job, Angie, only 58 more miles to go!” “I totally hate you.”

Total Self Reliance

Short of a helicopter dropping a line in to rescue me (yes, that thought crossed my mind briefly) or my husband coming to my rescue (I had no phone service so that wasn’t happening) I had to rely solely on myself.

When you’re faced with challenging times, you draw from your other life challenges you’ve experienced to get you through the dark days. In my life, I have had many challenges so my bank had plenty to offer me that could help pull me further up the trail. (yes, we seem to be still traveling upwardly!)

Don’t Ride the Bus Alone

Many of you have had a lot of life struggles so you know where I’m coming from. Two of my greatest life struggles was my mom leaving when I was 9 years old and my brother passing away suddenly 2 months before his 31st birthday.

After my mom left, my dad seemed to be drawn to these women who were horrible to his kids. He married twice and both were abusive. The second step mom (his 3rd wife) was exceptionally abusive and for 8 years my brother and I both suffered from her mental and physical abuse and we watched our dad allow it (which was honestly the hardest part).

Children who grow up in abusive homes either become victims or survivors. Since I was a dirty faced little towhead country kid growing up in rural Arkansas without a mom, I’ve always known I was a survivor. My step-moms abuse set a course for my life that only made me a stronger person. It made me fierce, stubborn and gritty. My brother who was two years older than me, looked out for me as best he could but he was going through hell right along with me for almost as many years.

In 1998, my brother suddenly passed away from a work related accident. I can’t tell you how much of my heart I lost that day but a piece of it died along with him. At 30 years old, he was just getting started in life. He wasn’t married and didn’t have kids but he left me a legacy of love, acceptance and toughness that I may not have ever achieved without him. For that, I am forever grateful to him.

So I cleared my head and focused on the task at hand.  Arm in arm with my brother beside me on the trail, I found some enjoyment from the front row of the struggle bus and the hike seemed to get a bit better that day.

Fat Bastard

By the morning of day 2 my heart lightened a bit. The weather was beautiful and the sun shone brightly. The morning air was crisp and we woke up to deer meandering near our campsite. Although I had not slept well, I finally started to feel like I could accomplish this enormous task.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I decided to use a hammock to sleep in. Neither Ken nor I had ever slept in a hammock and stupidly, we tied the front of our hammocks off at the same tree. Of allll the trees around us we tied off to this cute little tree. It wasn’t a papa tree or even a mama tree, it was just a wee tree, probably just a bit older than a toddler tree.  When Ken was thrashing around in his hammock trying to get comfortable, it shook my hammock and when I went to thrashing about in mine, it shook his. Needless to say, we didn’t make that mistake again!

With some crappy coffee and a good breakfast in our bellies we were ready to set off for a 12 mile day! By this point I was getting a little help from my friends to get my ‘Fat Bastard’ on my back. After a plethora of curse words that I called my pack over the course of day 1, Fat Bastard seemed to fit her best. After all, everyone needs a trail name, right?

Ken, Kendra & Violet, and me and the Fat Bastard set out for a great day of hiking! Day 2 was my favorite day!

Postcards to Keep Me Off the Edge

Steve and I met in a bar in 1990. I was a waitress and he was a patron. The first night he met me, (for him) it was love at first sight. For me, it took a little more convincing. After we started seeing each other regularly, one thing we used to do was write little notes on bar napkins and pass to each other. This was our thing and I’m sure I still have them tucked away somewhere. Over the years we’ve mostly kept the tradition but often forget to take the time and do it.

All of my gear had been strewn across our dining table for the last month. Without my knowledge, Steve had taken the opportunity to tuck little love notes in different places in my gear for me to find. These became very valuable to me and helped me know how much he missed me and was thinking of me. I was pretty far from home so this little act of kindness and love meant a ton. I’m still working on forgiving him for the extra weigh those notes added however!!

I hadn’t had much cell service but I had had an opportunity to text Steve and tell him of my struggles. While we didn’t get to exchange much, he sent one phrase that kept me going, “your strong”. I chose not to correct his grammar but when I would think about that phrase, I fixed it in my head but more importantly, he helped ‘fix my head.’  Anytime I felt tired or was hurting from my pack, reminding myself that I am strong helped push me onward. Steve held my hand all day that day.

When the Rains Come Tumblin Down

Shortly after we broke camp on the 3rd morning, the rain set in…and it stayed.  Just when you think you’ve brought yourself out of hell, you find a new level of fresh hell. Yes please! I’d LOVE another challenge!!!
I’m prepared though, right? WRONG!

I had a pack cover so my pack would stay dry and I had a poncho so I would stay dry….my poncho worked great but my pack cover, not so much. Little did I realize that my pack was taking on rain water during the hike that day. No, I couldn’t tell that it was getting heavier, it was already so heavy I couldn’t feel my legs so whats some extra water weight!

The highlight of this day was a lodge (Skyland Lodge) we found along the way. It was a beautiful place with a restaurant and a coffee bar. We scored big time here!! The restaurant had just closed for breakfast and wouldn’t open again for a few hours (naturally) so we hit the coffee bar. “I’d like an Americano and a chocolate croissant and a blueberry scone….make that 3 chocolate croissants and blueberry scone!”

We pulled off our wet boots and wet socks and proceeded to campout….and our stockings we hung by the chimney with care.  I’m totally not kidding.  We laid our socks out to dry like a bunch of hicks. Violet nestled up to the fire to dry and rest, and I sat and dared anyone to try to move us! That was the best coffee EVER!! I found myself wondering how long it would take Steve to come pick me up from here.

Know When to Fold Em

We eventually had to peel ourselves out of the comfy lodge and get back on the Trail. I’m not sure how many miles we got in, but because we had spent so much time at the lodge we had to push on pretty hard. The rain never relented and the temps continued to drop. By the time we made it to a shelter we were sopping wet and the wind had chilled us to the bone. Supposedly, you can only get so wet and thats about as wet as you can get, right? WRONG! I promise I could have rung out my skin!

There had been a short discussion of pressing on 4 more miles to make our next day a bit easier. However, after a short consideration we collectively decided to stay the night in the shelter. Honestly, they would have had to drag my ass out kicking and screaming to get me to go one step further!

We emptied our packs to set up for the night and thats when I discovered how much rain water had been traveling with me. The saddest part was that my sleeping bag was wet. Ken built a smoldering fire out of sawdust and we all hung our stuff up to dry. My sweatshirt had gotten pretty wet so I was literally shivering I was so cold. Fortunately, I had some dry clothes. We all changed and thankfully, Kendra let me crawl into her dry (and warm) sleeping bag!

Farts & Snores

Everything dried out enough for us to go to bed and try to get some rest. The plan was to start out as early as possible (before breakfast) and get a good 4 miles in…that would get us to the next shelter.

Now, a shelter is for everyone along the AT. They’re basically 3 sided structures with a fire place or a fire pit and a  long wooden platform to throw your sleeping bag on. Not the most comfortable place but you’re out of the elements to a degree and that’s most important.  Not long after we entered the shelter, a man in his 70’s entered.  Just let that 70’s part sink in a minute. He was as wet as the rest of us and decided that he too would be staying the night. This was especially lucky for Ken because he had some additional warmth next to him that throughout the night provided him with the melodic tones of snores and farts. Ahhh nature…

I’m Done

One thing about me is that I will take as much as I can but when I’m done, I’m done. This is especially true when it comes to waiting for a check in a restaurant! It literally puts me in an anxious state when a server takes their time bringing a check to the table after we’ve long finished our meal. Now, I am a pretty patient person but when I’m done, I’m done. This hike was no exception.

I had dealt with a far too heavy pack, my second toe on both feet is longer than my big toe so those suckers had taken a beaten and were sore as hell (we eventually stopped going up and then started several sharp descends). My pack would not stay on my hips and had worn pretty intense hot spots on both hips and that started ON DAY 1!  We were not only wet but now we were so cold we could see our breath. I was struggling to keep my fingers warm and according to the forecast Kendra pulled up, the weather wasn’t going to get any better.

Mentally and physically, I was done.

We packed up early the next morning and set out to get the 4 miles in and stay ahead of the rain. After a couple of miles, Kendra mentioned to me that while it might take some convincing with Ken, she thought we should pull off the trail when we get through the next 9 miles. 9 miles ahead the AT would cross an area where we could resupply or come off the trail. I don’t remember my exact words but I think I responded to her with. “Kendra, if I wasn’t so dehydrated right now, I’d be crying. I’m done.”

When we caught up to Ken, he mentioned he thought we should pull off the trail! Hallelujah!! He actually had no idea we were about to attack him with the very same suggestion.

I’d like to say I floated those last 10 miles but no, I did not. I plodded along as best I could and tried not to fall too far behind. That was probably the hardest 10 miles of the whole trip.

True Grit

So, it’s a thing to have a trail name. A trail name can come from something you experienced along the way or something that fits a certain characteristic of yours. You typically get your trail name from someone else you’re hiking with. Ken’s trail name last year was Chief but he wasn’t too fond of it. Kendra noticed I always referred to him as Boss since we was the man with the plan and in charge. He kind of liked that name and  ended up sticking with “Boss” as his trail name. Kendra’s name came last year as well. She was going through a job change and could take an “Opt Out” option with this job change. This came around the same time Ken started planning their first AT trip. She thought, why not go?! When she ordered her first REI package for the trip, on the outside of the box it said #optoutside. That confirmed her trail name for her. Violet even has a trail name. Often, she was “Dirt in the Skirt”, but that kid can consume some junk food on the trail so “Junk Food” suits her well also.

I went through a few different trail names over the course of the week (as you can imagine). One being “Long Toe”, another being “.01 mile – bullshit”.  Apparently, no one can tell how much further we have to go and the markers say .01 mile….”bullshit” was always my response.  However, I have to say that the one that came up on the last day seemed to be the most fitting. I’m not sure if Ken or Kendra said it first but it made me tear up a bit. (or I would have had I not been so dehydrated).

When listening to the book, The Power of Habit, there was discussion about a characteristic that some people carry that help them continue to be successful, even when going through the most difficult challenges. Not everyone has it but those who do, never lose it. It exists in them as much as the blood that runs through them. Not having it is not an option. Not persevering is not an option. That characteristic is grit. So, my trail name became True Grit. I have to say, I am pretty proud of that name.

End of the Line

And so our AT adventures ended on Friday. We cut out about 19 miles early so a loose calculation was that our trip was around 41 miles of the AT. I am not disappointed as a matter of fact I think it was pretty perfect timing. By the time we got home on Saturday I as able to see some of the Beale Street event and I got to spend some much needed time with my husband.

Since I don’t have a mom to celebrate with on Mother’s Day, Steve has always been very proactive in celebrating me as a mom. If I had stayed on the Trail I would have missed a Sunday morning breakfast in bed, an afternoon with two of my children and a couple’s manicure and pedicure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I learned a lot on my first AT adventure and it’s definitely an experience for the books! If you ask me if I would go again, I will likely tell you that asking me right now is not a fair question.  If you ask me if I had fun, you will get this well rehearsed answer….something I put together during my early miles of misery.

“I enjoyed the experience but not all aspects of it were fun.”

Happy Trails y’all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m one week out from my first hike on the Appalachian Trail and I’m nervously excited! We will be in the Shenandoah Valley area of the AT.  I only decided to do this about 5 weeks ago so I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can and prepare as best as I can.  There will be three of us on this trip, me, (Ken Stewart and Kendra Robson) I’m the rookie here as I’ve never hiked or camped remotely for this long, so I honestly have no idea what to expect (or what I’m doing) but here’s my approach/plan.

Pack

REI is a lifesaver. Four weeks ago, when I walked into the REI in Nashville and said, “I’m hiking 62 miles over 5 nights on the AT, what kind of pack should I get?” They walked me over, measured me and offered up a few different options with pros and cons for each (they were probably secretly judging my naivety). I settled on the Osprey 65 because of how comfortable it felt around my hips. I also like all of the hidden pockets on the pack so small things don’t get lost in the bottom. Additionally, it’s large enough that my friends can stuff me and drag me out if need be.

Boots/Shoes

This is a largely debated topic. When I asked for opinions (prior to my visit to REI) I got advice from some in the trek shoe camp and then advice from the die hard boot campers. I understood how this is a tough decision. Boots support the ankles better as well as keeping rocks out. On the other hand, the trek shoes are lighter and quite possibly cooler. I ultimately decided on the boots. While I feel that my ankles are strong enough to handle a bit of terrain, ruining my trip with a possible sprain (if you haven’t noticed, I tend to trip around on plates in the gym) led me to the boots. Eventhough they’re quite light, I’m sure by the end they’ll feel like concrete and I’ll wish I had chosen trek shoes. Oh well.

Cooking Supplies

Getting the right cookware is a thing too (apparently). Fortunately, I was able to seek advice from an older gentleman at REI (because I had no idea what I needed).

The gentleman pointed out to me what he uses and after explaining it all to me, I thought, if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me. Sold.

Food

I’m not gonna lie, this one was a tough one for me and probably the area that made me sweat the most. For the last 11 months, I’ve led a very controlled nutrition plan with precise macros. The more research I did, the more I discovered that some of the calorically dense food many hikers eat, is no where near what my world of food looks like! Plus, I was going to have to eat oatmeal (most likely) gross.

I made a call to my nutrition coach for help and we devised a loose plan. Carb city!  The plan is to hike 12 miles/day so with a pack on that weighs about 40lbs (hopefully), I’ll be burning through some energy. Upon his encouragement, I decided to not worry about my tightly woven nutrition plan, and to just enjoy my hike and eat as needed. Snickers bar, I’m coming for ya!!

As you can see below, my food isn’t fitting in my bear canister! This is not going according to plan!

Water System

This is not as hotly debated as shoes vs boots but everyone has their system they like best. I did some research and came up with two options. Life Straw was a very inexpensive system that I could use and get to quickly if I needed to. It’s basically a filter within a straw and allows you to drink directly from the stream. When you purchase  Life Straw, the company sends one to an underdeveloped region. I love companies who do humanitarian things like this. Sold.

Additionally, I added the Sawyer System. This system got a lot of great reviews as being very user friendly. That had great appeal to me!! You fill one bag with creek water, screw the filter on the end and then squeeze it and fresh water comes out! You can fill a small water bottle or squeeze right into your mouth. There is also a nozzle that allows you to fill a Camel Back through the tube. I like the convenience of the Camel Back so it’s going along too!

Tent or Hammock

This is a matter of personal opinion, I found. Steve and I tent camped for a number of years when our kids were young, so I knew what went into tent camping. Of course, we always had our vehicle loaded to the brim and basically moved inside the tent for a weekend. Not as many comforts of home could be carried on my back so I opted for a Hennessy Hammock. This hammock got the best reviews when it came to ease of setting up. I took it one step further and added carabiners and descending rings instead of knot tying.  Hey, I know good YouTube tutorials when I see them!!  I think I better get this thing figured out this week however.

Sleeping bag, check. Hammock insulation, check. Camping pillow, check.

Clothes & Toiletries

During a recent visit with a good friend of ours who is a retired Navy Seal, he had a great deal of advice to share with me. I listened intently and took mental notes (when a Navy Seal give you advice, you take it)!  His first advice was with regard to toilet paper and body wipes. Basically, take plenty and store the toilet paper in ziplock bags in different places in my pack!  Seems legit to me. He said there were always a few guys in his platoon who failed to prepare for their bodily functions and within days would be chaffed and in pain.  I don’t need to be told this twice!  Since there will be no showers and we will only access natures toilet, I want as little chaffing as possible. Toilet paper and wipes, check, check!

My clothing is standard hiking gear that can dry easily if (when) we get rained on. I had planned only 2 additional pairs of socks but after talking with Bob, the Navy Seal, I changed that to four. The feet are always the first to suffer. Did you see the movie, Wild? Those were some rough looking feet!
Socks x 5, check.

Ready or Not!

I’m prepared as I know how to be, the rest we’ll leave to the learning curve. As long as bears aren’t involved, I think my learning curve will be ok!

Wish me luck (prayers are good too)!

 

 

 

Kettlebell Training

Kettlebell training has always been a favorite of mine. I took a course several years ago and became Level 1 Certified in Kettlbell training in 2010. Eventually, I’d like to become RKC (Russian Kettlebell Certified). Programming Kettlbell workouts in our CrossFit programming occurs at least weekly. One of my favorite KB movements is the Turkish Get Up (TGU). This movement requires (at minimum) strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. You can easily add Turkish Get Ups to your weekly warm up, or workout regimen.

The Set Up

Below, I will go through the steps for performing the TGU. These should never be performed as a part of high intensity training, but more as strength and skill development.  There is a high demand for core stability in this movement, so go slowly.

When getting ready to perform TGUs with a KB, it’s very important to get the
weight onto the shoulder properly to prevent injury. Lie on your back, roll to your side, grab the KB by its ‘horn’. The KB will rest on the back of your hand (keep your wrist straight).  While keeping the KB close to you, roll back over onto your back and then extend the arm as in a floor press.  After you complete the movement, return the KB by bringing the weight back down toward your chest, roll back to your side, and release the weight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always practice without weight first. This movement demands a lot of shoulder stability so lighter weight is best when you are a beginner.

The Get Up

  1. As pictured above, lie on your back and extend your arm toward the ceiling. This is your working arm. The KB should be locked out at the elbow and the shoulder at all times.  Bend your right leg and bring your foot near your bottom.  Extend your left arm and place it at a 45 degree angle on the ground, palm down. This arm will serve as your support arm.
  2. Eyes should always remain focused on the KB.
  3. Inhale, and slowly rise up and ‘lean’ onto your left elbow, then onto your hand. You should slowly exhale a bit of air during this transition.
  4. From here, press your shoulder into an ‘active’ position.

    Active Shoulder

Lazy Shoulder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Rebreathe and raise your hips off the ground. Remember, keep your eyes on the KB and keep the       weighted arm locked out and extended at all times. Keep your bones in a “stacked” position.

6. In one motion, sweep your left leg under your hips (so that your knee aligns under your hip). Sit up to a lunge position.

         

7. Stand up while maintaining the KB locked out overhead.

The Get Down

The movement is not complete until you return back to the lying position. You will perform the exact same steps but in reverse order.

  1. While continuing to maintain lockout overhead with the KB, step your left leg behind you like you are performing a reverse lunge.
  2. With your left hand, reach for the ground (forward in an angled position). In this position, you should continue to have your bones “stacked”.
  3. Sweep your leg back through and return your bottom to the floor. Keep the KB locked out!
  4. Lean toward your elbow, then down to your shoulder, back to the start position. (Go slowly!)
  5. Switch arms, and begin again.

How to Program the TGU

It requires a lot of muscle memory to learn the TGU. Because the body gets taken through all ranges of motion, all joints receive a little bit of a load, and they get your heart rate up a bit, putting these in your warm up is always a good choice.

Once you have become proficient at the TGU and would like to add them to your conditioning routine, consider doing these as an EMOM (every minute on the minute). You don’t have to do many, one or two in each minute, but the clock will help make sure you’re working at the task consistently.

For strength training, consider increasing load to get to a maximum weight that you can do for 2 -3 reps, resting 2-3 minutes in between for about 5 rounds.

If you’d like further instruction on these, please to hesitate to hit me up in the gym, I’m happy to help!

 

(Special thanks to Elise Lovelace for helping me with the photos. We couldn’t have picked a sunnier day!)

Softball

As I’ve discussed in other blogs, I came from a relatively active background. I started playing softball at age 10 and, since I was by far the smallest on the team, I was best suited to strap on a catcher’s mask and squat behind home plate.  My size worked for me here, however every time I went to bat, I would watch the entire opposing team move forward to field the ball. It was disheartening to say the least but I wasn’t strong so even if I made contact, the ball was surely not going far.

Since batting wasn’t my strong suit, I decided I’d at least be the best Catcher I could be. I practiced popping up out of position as quickly as possible, and since a caught pop-up foul ball in slow pitch softball is an automatic out, I worked hard to never let one drop.

Chanting at the batter to throw her concentration and becoming fluid at flipping the catchers mask off and bounding out, kept most umpires on their toes and unable to get out of my way quickly enough! My coach recognized my strengths and weakness, and helped me focus where I could be the best.
The first year I played, I was MVP.

I played off and on for next 10+ years playing women’s and a couple of co-ed slow pitch softball teams. I played almost every position (minus pitcher) but eventually settled in as a Short Stop.  My batting got better and and I even knocked a few home runs as an adult player. Softball was my first sport and I always loved it best.

Track

My Sophomore year of high school we got new football and track & field coaches. The coaches were younger than previous years’ coaches and I thought they were cute. Based on this criteria alone, I decided to try out for track. Having no idea what I might be good at (if anything) I relied on the coaches training and direction. Turns out, I was good at distance running so my event became the 2 mile run.

I had an awesome coach who taught me, first, how to believe in my abilities and second, how to be uncomfortable. He saw great talent in me and he helped me achieve my best. I ran for 2 years and during my junior year had colleges scouting me for their Cross Country programs. The summer before my Senior year, my coach got transferred to a different school. Because of this, I chose not to run my Senior year.

Although my track career only lasted 2 years, I broke our school record in the 2 mile run, and I placed 8th in the state of Arkansas. My coach’s support meant a lot to me and since I didn’t have a support system outside of him,  I just didn’t have it in me to run my senior year without his coaching.  Who knows what could have happened if I’d kept running, but thats another story for a different day.

CrossFit

When I started CrossFit (December of 2008) the coach I started with was quite different than any coach I’d had previously. Without saying disparaging things, I’ll just give him the gratitude of introducing CrossFit to me. After falling in love with CrossFit, I started coaching six months later. Although I hadn’t fully developed myself as a CrossFitter before I started to coach, I was very passionate about it and knew I could grow and learn while teaching.

Throughout my journey, I’ve had some coaching but none consistently. When I became a gym owner, and the workouts became fewer and farther in between, I had even less coaching. I had thought off and on about having someone program for me but put it off since I didn’t really know anyone who could do it or didn’t think it necessary since I had no ‘real’ goals. I also had so many other people I needed to focus on.

Cherry Picking

Like many of you all, I have many weaknesses and have a tendency to cherry pick workouts. I am not like Rich Froning, who beat the hell out of his weakness so he could be the CrossFit Games champion for four years! Alas, I am human so I avoid things I’m not good at.

The CrossFit Open is always a great time to check ourselves to see where we are. While I can do most things now, I still have a few check marks to get and I of course would like to be better at everything CrossFit!  So, once the Open was nearing an end, I asked around to see who might be a good coach for me to do remote programming with. Upon Annie Gunshow’s recommendation, I started using someone she went to college with. His name is Nate and he is a CrossFit coach in Denver.  He sends me weekly programming and I send him feedback at the end of the week. We are a pretty good match.

Now, I am forced to work on my weaknesses and while I still could cherry pick…I won’t, because what would be the point? Having a coach, even remotely, helps tremendously with accountability!! I want to do my best and not disappoint, be a weak ass, or be lazy.

Still Finding Potential

I’m in my 4th week of programming and I’ve already pushed myself further than I have before, and I am learning many new things….which is also another great reason for coaches to have a coach. We get exposed to so much more and then can pass on the knowledge to our athletes.

While I’m personally in my 8th year of CrossFit training, I feel like I still have so much untapped ability and haven’t ‘peaked’ so to speak.  Now, I am realistic and I don’t anticipate ever going to the Games as anything other than a spectator, but I do think a great coach can help you find and bring out the absolute best in yourself, and isn’t that what we all want?

I look forward to continuing to find the best in you as I learn through Nate and he helps me continue to find the best in me!

 

A Legacy

She was of sound mind and body until the last 2 weeks of her life. After a brief illness, she passed away Saturday, March 18, 2017.  My husband’s grandmother “Rene” lived to be 101 years old.

Rene was the type of person everyone knew and loved. She always made a phone call to each of us on our birthdays and special occasions. She wrote us letters, and when the children were young she would have a note tucked inside the envelope for each one of them and they were always specific to what was happening in their lives at the time. “Cody, how do you like 2nd grade.?” “Loren, are you making friends in middle school?” and “Holli, did you enjoy your field trip last week?” You always knew she loved you and was genuinely interested in your life and how you are doing.  Most recently, (one week before she passed away) Rene asked me, “Angie, well how do you like your new job?”  I said, Rene, I love my job. She smiled and said, “I’m so happy for you.”  She meant it.

Writing, A Lost Art

Rene was the matriarch of the Foree family. She had been a widow for 40 years and lived alone.  Despite this, she seemed to always have a constant joy in her mind and in her heart.

Rene wasn’t concerned with social media, the Internet, or any ‘program’ on TV after Wheel of Fortune. Her furniture hadn’t been update or replaced in years and she could care less about owning a computer. She did understand the importance of these things in other peoples lives, however, for Rene, she was happy living simply.

After the funeral, the grandkids went through some boxes of memorabilia and found a stash of letters she had written to her husband, many years ago. They were sweet love letters that updated him on the children and how much she missed him. I don’t know if she had written them after he passed away or if he was on a trip, but her words connected her to him and thats what mattered.

Rene also journaled. When her first great grandchild was born she wrote about her in detail in her journal. When you read it you could feel her pride and love for this child. There was an endless amount of letters and momentos Rene held onto over the years. She was asked by one of the grandkids years ago, “Rene, what are you going to do with all of these things?” Her response, “Oh, y’all just have fun going through it when I’m gone.” I believe they will.

Leaving Nothing Undone

The old adage is quite often true, you don’t know what you have until its gone. I think we thought Rene would be with us forever. She was such a constant in all of our lives that we just felt she would always be there. Now that she’s gone, there is this huge void that will forever exist.

Born durning WWI and having lived through WWII, Rene knew that the many blessings were found in each other, not in objects. She knew what mattered and what didn’t. She was unchanged by an ever changing world and she was steadfast in her love of God and family. God blessed her tremendously and then he took her home.

At the graveside service, her first born great-granddaughter ready the following poem that was written by Rene. I think this sums up how Rene lived.

“Time is not measured
by the years that you live
But by the deeds that you do
and the joy that you give
and each day as it comes
brings a chance to each one
to love to the fullest
leaving nothing undone.”  -Irene Foree

Who Will Write the Letters?

There is nothing like receiving a handwritten letter. That is one of the things we will all miss the most from Rene. Who will write the letters now? Well, I think I will begin, and I challenge you to do the same. Write a letter weekly to someone you love and watch how your words connect you to them. Maybe not now but sometime in their lifetime those letters will be the tie that binds, from their heart to yours.

Irene Bonner Foree March 14, 1916 – March 18, 2017 (Steve & Cody Foree)

Bone Health

We all know the benefits of a strength and conditioning program from a muscular standpoint, but let’s pause and think about the benefits your bones receive.

Our bones are living tissue and constantly changing. From the moment of birth until young adulthood, bones are developing and strengthening. Peak bone mass occurs in our early 20s when our bones are at their most dense.  As we age some of our bone cells begin to dissolve bone matrix (resorption), while new bone cells deposit osteoid (formation). This process is known as remodeling.  When the osteoid becomes mineralized it and the adjacent bone cells develop into new bone tissue.

When you put stress on a bone during exercise, bone cells respond by creating more bone tissue. The bone-building process is called osteogenesis. If bone loss outpaces the growth of new bone, bones become porous, and the density and the quality of the bones are reduced. This is known as osteoporosis.

As bones become more porous and fragile, the risk of fracture greatly increases. Bone loss occurs silently and progressively, with often no symptoms until the first fracture occurs.

Who is at Risk?

There are two categories of risks when it comes to osteoporosis. Fixed risks and modifiable risks. Fixed risk factors cannot be changed but we need to be aware of them so that we can take steps to reduce bone mineral loss. Often referred to as ‘secondary risks’ the factors may include the following:

  • Age
  • Female gender
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Previous fracture
  • Ethnicity
  • Menopause/hysterectomy
  • Long term glucocorticoid therapy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Modifiable risk factors directly impact bone biology and result in a decrease in bone mineral density. These include:

  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Low body mass index
  • Poor nutrition
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Eating disorders
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Low dietary calcium intake
  • Frequent falls

You’re Old Enough to be Concerned

“Osteoporosis is something elderly women are at risk for.”  Don’t think you have time to wait, because that is not always the case. According to the most recent data available from the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about 12 million people in the United States age 50 or over already have osteoporosis, and another 40 million have low bone mass.

Though osteoporosis among women younger than 50 is considered rare, a study conducted at the University of Arkansas found that it’s a greater risk than most women realize. Information on 164 college aged women, showed 2% had bone densities low enough to be considered osteoporosis, and 15% were low enough to be in osteoporosis risk range.  About half of all women over the age of 50 will have a fracture of the hip, wrist, or vertebra during their lifetime. Spine fractures being the most common.

Not a Woman’s Disease

Men, you are at risk also! Bone loss in men usually occurs later in life compared with women, but men can still be at high risk for osteoporosis. By age 65, men catch up to women and lose bone mass at the same rate.

It is estimated that by 2025, the total number of hip fractures in men will be similar to the current number reported in women. Perhaps because men are generally older than women are when they have a fracture, men are often more severely disabled.

What Can You Do?

First, talk to your health care provider about proper nutrition, supplementation, (Vitamin D & Calcium) specifically.  Second, get yourself to the gym!!  Exercise plays a key role in adults preventing bone loss and maintaining muscle strength and thus helps prevent weak bone and falls as we age. The best exercise to prevent osteoporosis is weight-bearing exercise that works against gravity. Weight-bearing exercises can include walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, jumping rope, and dancing. A second type of exercise is resistance exercise. Resistance exercises include activities that use muscle strength to build muscle mass, and these also help to strengthen bone. These activities include weight lifting, such as using free weights and weight machines.. Of course, exercise has additional benefits in older people as well because exercising increases muscle strength, coordination, and balance and leads to better overall health.

If You Have Kids

Something to consider if you have children: according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, it’s estimated a 10% increase of peak bone mass in children (through exercise) can reduce the risk of an osteoporotic fracture during adult life by 50%. Remember that you’re raising adults, so give them a firm foundation through proper nutrition and exercise so that they can love a long and health life!
References: International Osteoporosis Foundation, MedlinePlus.gov, emedicinehealth.com, everydayhealth.com

“Be Better”

If there was only one thing (as a coach) I would want for each and every one of the people I train, it is this:
Be Better.
“I come to classes 3-4 times a week, I work hard, I move the most weight I could possible move, what more do you want from me?” What I want is for you to do it better. I want you to be relentless in your pursuit of fitness and I am going to be relentless in helping you achieve “better”.

There is ALWAYS something we can improve upon and something we can do better!

Get Your Elbows Up

This cue, along with many others you have heard me say a thousand times…I may even give you the same cue a thousand times in the same workout! You may get tired of hearing it and that’s ok.   I’m never going to relent and you really don’t want me, because if you didn’t want to be better you wouldn’t be here.  Each of us is seeking an awesome and healthy lifestyle and it feels good to be a hundred times stronger and faster than our peers. I know I relish in it personally! Well, you didn’t get where you are without being relentless in your pursuit, nor did I.

I’ve had several CrossFitters for many years and it’s awesome to have so many CrossFitters long term, but no one moves perfectly, including me! I am always going to do my best to get a little bit more out of each and every one who enters in my classes, including (and most especially) the veterans! If you look awesome in a workout, you probably won’t get a gold star, I’m probably going to try to get a little bit more out of you and I am going to expect you to try to get a little more from yourself.

I understand that some days we are just at a point where we can’t move any more weight for the day or we can’t seem to move faster in a workout. What I want you to do is just move the weight or yourself, better.  Get tighter, brace harder, twist more….you get the idea here.

Complacency Sets In

When you don’t push yourself to be better, then what you’re doing is allowing complacency to set in. You’ve told yourself that you’re ok with mediocrity and you’ve gone so far as to allow yourself to even believe that you can’t be better.  Once we settle in our mind to the thought, “I just can’t do it.” You’ve started the slow descend into death. Death of your mind comes first, then it takes over your body little by little until you’ve talked yourself into staying on the couch…or worst, returning to the couch.

Communication is Key

I often find myself giving cues only to watch them come out of my mouth and drop onto the floor.  There have been a few days recently where I felt invisible. It is imperative that we have good ‘coach/athlete’ communication. There is nothing more frustrating than a coach giving a cue and feeling like we’re being ignored. If the cue isn’t understood, then state so as no one is a mind reader. It is often said that the best cues are quite simply…the ones that work.

Be Awesome

If we seek everyday to be just a little bit better than the day before or the week before, then at the end of the month we can look back over that month and feel very good about our progress. This progress may be very subtle and you may be the only one who notices but isn’t that what matters most anyway?

Stay relentless in your personal pursuit because to be awesome, is to be better!

How to Be A Great Swinger!

Kettlebell swings are personally one of my favorite exercises.  No matter your fitness level, you can learn to swing properly and efficiently.

Swing Stance and Set Up

Start with placing your feet slightly outside hip width. Your stance should be more narrow than a squat stance, with toes pointing forward. From this position, you will “hinge” your hips back, and allow a slight bend in the knee or “soft” knees. If you are unfamiliar with a hip hinge, (in its simplest form) visualize this. You’ve got both arms full of groceries and you need to shut your car door. Without thought, you abruptly press your butt towards your car door and shut it. You’ve probably done that a thousand times. This is ‘hinging your hip’. Read more about hip hinging in Bobby Scott’s article: https://www.nbsfitness.net/hip-hinging-important/

Your shoulders should be above the hips, and the hips above the knees. Your spine maintains a neutral position.  I often see people make the mistake of setting up their swing with their legs in more of a squat like position or allowing the knees to travel forward. This is incorrect.  Setting up this way inadvertently puts pressure on the knees and loads the quadriceps.  Over time this can create a sheering on the knees and that would be unpleasant. Furthermore, we want the hamstrings, glutes and adductors involved in the work, not the quads.  Additionally, the shins should be as vertical as possible.

Good hip hinge!

Not good! Knees are forward and hip is too low.

Upper Body Set Up

As stated above, your spine will be in a neutral position and it will maintain this neutral position throughout your swings. You will press your lats back and down. This is a very important step but sometimes its hard for us to figure out how to contract our lats, so try squeezing your spine with your shoulder blades. Creating tension here will keep your low back safe and out of trouble. Keep a ‘proud chest’, head up, and eyes fixed straight ahead.

Get Started

You will start the swing with the kettlbell on the floor about one foot in front of you. Starting the kettlbell here will help to create momentum before you start swinging.  With your body positioned as stated above, reach forward for the kettlebell and grab by the ‘horn’.  You will ‘hike’ the kettlebell.  The inner part of the forearms will be hitting very high near the groin and the bottom of the kettlebell will be pointing behind you, not towards the ground. You will now press your heels into the floor and quickly bring your legs and hip to full extension, making sure to contract the glutes. The kettlebell should swing to about eye level. As gravity brings your kettlebell back down, hinge your hip back to start position so you’re ready to re-engage for another swing.  The arms really have little power. The force that you are creating be pressing into the floor with your feet, transferring that force with the quick extension of the hip will allow the arms to rise on their own, thus allowing the kettlbell to rise.

“Hike” the kettlebell.

Breathe

Let’s talk briefly about breathing. Creating a rhythmic breathing pattern will allow you to perform more swings in a given set, as it will allow you to have a bit of control over your heart rate.  Inhale when the kettlebell is at the bottom in the ‘loaded’ position. Exhale as you come into full extension. It will take time to learn the breathing pattern but with practice, you’ll get it with no problem!

Benefits

Some of the benefits to learning kettlebell swings and incorporating them in your weekly routine include an increase in your aerobic capacity, your anaerobic capacity, as well as your muscular endurance.  To increase your aerobic capacity, use a light kettlebell and perform high rep sets of 50 or more to give your heart and lungs a good workout. A good goal would be to get to 500 – 1000 reps.  For an increase in your anaerobic capacity, use a heavier kettlbell. Swing for 30 – 90 seconds, with an equivalent work/rest ratio.  Your heart rate will increase dramatically! Muscular endurance is your ability to generate max muscular contractions for extended periods of time. Perform moderate to high reps using a moderate weight,  combined with short rests. Your glutes, hamstrings, quads, lower back, shoulders and arms all work together effectively and efficiently during kettlebell swings so over time you will strengthen each of these.

Meal Prep is Key!

Since starting with a nutrition coach nearly 9 months ago, one thing quickly became abundantly clear….I had to plan if I was going to be successful.  Meal prep has been the absolute key to me successfully losing 22 pounds and leaning out all over.
Like many of you, I have a pretty busy schedule. My feet hit the floor at 4:30a.m. and they come off the floor at 8:45p.m. The hours in between are spent on coaching adult classes, training individual clients, coaching CrossFit Kids, programming, getting my own workouts in, among other things. I do not have time to worry daily with what I’m going to eat for any of my meals, so I get it all done on Sunday afternoons.

We had our grandson over this past weekend, and not wanting to take any time away from him, I waited until later in the day to get our meals done. Steve left to take him home at 3p.m. so I started then. Wanting to make sure I finished in time to watch the Super Bowl, I had 2 hours to work with.

Make Your Meal Prep Flow

I get a little better each week I prep, but it’s like anything else, it takes time to learn what works and what doesn’t.  To keep it simple, I typically have the same thing for lunch each week, changing it up weekly. This week’s lunch menu consisted of, ground turkey, rice, green beans and mushrooms.  We have a rice cooker that takes about 30 minutes to cook just about any amount. While the ground turkey is cooking, I load my vegetables and rice in my containers.

Since I’m tracking my macro intake, my container goes on the scale and I use the tare function after adding each ingredient, making sure each day is the same. I track using My Fitness Pal so I enter the data one time and then copy it for each day of the week. This makes it so easy!

In next is the cooked ground turkey and thats it, in the fridge they go and my lunches are ready for the next 5 days!

Breakfast is pretty simple for me also. Typically I will have 5oz of egg whites every morning, either 3 slices of turkey bacon or 4 pieces of Canadian Bacon. On heavy training days, I’ll have pancakes.  On lighter training days, I’ll have a few slices of Pepperidge Farms thin sliced toast. I cook the egg whites and pancakes ahead of time as well. I’ll pop the pancakes in the toaster to heat them and that works perfectly.

I’ll add a little shredded cheese to my egg whites or hot sauce depending on what my taste buds are up for.  Enter in MFP, copy for the week and I’m all set!

The last thing to prep is our dinners. Often we get both of our crock pots going with chicken (seasoned differently). This week we decided buffalo chicken strips would be delicious! This particular recipe called for the strips to be skillet cooked. That took about 20 minutes.

Most of my meal prep was done by the time Steve got back from taking Jackson home. He wanted sweet potato skins for the Super Bowl so I had also preheated the oven and had the sweet potatoes washed and ready. He finished off that project and the leftover sweet potato we had for a couple of our dinners this week. We also added another vegetable each night.

At 5p.m. I was finished and sat down to watch the Super Bowl….well, until 8:45 anyway! 🙂

Keep it simple

My advice for starting out is to keep it as simple as possible. I’m personally not interested in complex recipes or casseroles as they’re too hard to track in MFP. I like shopping and cooking in macros: carbs, fats, proteins. This allows me to be able to weight my food and keep it accurate.  Depending on what your personal goals are, you may not need to go to the extent that I do, but this is what works for me!

Share your meal prep ideas in the comments below!

It’s been a month since you made your New Year’s Resolution. How are you doing with it?

I hope that you’ve made it a full month. I hope that you’re holding steadfast to your resolutions and your commitment and I hope you continue to be successful every day! On the other hand, if you’re reading this and you’re slowly sinking into your chair because you gave up after 2 weeks, take heart. You can turn things back around for yourself!

People say you should take one step at a time, that you should be here – now, because this is all we can handle. I don’t always subscribe to that belief. I think we should always be thinking one step ahead, and in this particular case, one year ahead.

Before moving ahead, lets look back.

Where were you one year ago? Were you grappling with the same weight/fitness issues you’re grappling with now? Did you make the same resolutions this year as last year? Or did you decide you didn’t want to make a resolution (since it didn’t work out for you last year)? You’re looking back now and you’re where you were then. You quit 2 weeks into your commitment to make your life better, how unfair to your future you. Now what?

It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, what matters is where you’re going.

So often when I have prospective CrossFit clients, they are typically mentally stuck in one of two places: “I was a high school super-athlete” or “I haven’t lost the baby weight (he’s 10 now) and I just want to get toned.” My response to both is the same, “it doesn’t matter where you’ve been, it matters where you’re going.”
While my response is the same, coaching each of these types of individuals is very different. A HS super athlete wants to go 100% and they still view themselves as having the ability to move a house, not taking into consideration the last 15 years of the sedentary lifestyle he/she has lived. It’s my job to help them slow down, learn how to move properly, and find in them a new super-athlete.

The other individual is much different. She’s tried everything from Zumba to Billy Blank’s Tae bo. When she and her friends joined a local gym together, they all eventually fell away.  Motivation has left her and she has all but given up. She wants to do something but “nothing works”.

Here’s where I come in. “Do you want to look back one year from today and see how much time you wasted because you couldn’t check your ego? or because you weren’t willing to let go of the past and dig in? or because you were afraid of being a bit uncomfortable?

Fitness is not for the faint of heart.

I’m not sure who coined the phrase, “Life is hard, but it’s even harder if you’re stupid.” While it definitely has it’s place in our society, I think this does too. “Life is hard, but it’s even harder when you’re not fit.”

If at the end of 2017 you want to look back upon it with a smile on your face and as a major achievement to your new fitness, then let nothing hold you back. Make change now and let’s see where you can be in one year!

One of the questions I’m asked on a regular basis from someone new to CrossFit, or someone considering CrossFit is, “how many times per week should I come?”.

If you are new to CrossFit and your body is trying to adapt to the new movements you are learning, then 2-3 times per week is good for the first 3-4 weeks. After that, you need to be in the gym 4+ times per week, and here’s why.

From a beginners standpoint, you are often very sore when starting CF and it takes a few weeks for your muscles to adapt to the new stresses.  Coming consistently will aid greatly in your body adapting to the work.  If you skip a week, your body has to basically start over.  Also, there is a huge learning curve to CrossFit. There are (at minimum) 50 movements you will be learning and performing on a regular basis. While many of them will have the same foundational set up, the execution may be different, for example,  if today’s workout calls for shoulder to overhead, that means you can use any overhead pressing movement you’ve learned to move the barbell in the overhead position. It is important for you to be familiar with all OH movements so you will be able to use the best method to complete the workout. If you’re not coming regularly, you will feel lost during a similar workout.

Another reason to get to the gym more often is for adaptation.  Adaptation refers to the process of the body getting accustomed to a particular exercise or training program through repeated exposure. As the body adapts to the stress of the new exercise or training program, you become better at executing the movements.  Now is when you will be able to increase your weights and intensity and you will really begin to see and feel the results of your work!

Think of it this way.  Compare working out to eating well. If you eat one or two healthy meals per week, you’ll feel pretty good for a few hours after each meal and you’ll feel good about your accomplishment, but it really isn’t going to make a difference to your body overall.  The same is true with your workouts, one or two workouts per week might make you feel good for the day but it really isn’t going to make a big difference to your overall fitness.

Now, having said that, if 2 workouts per week is all you can possibly fit in then that’s fine and certainly better than nothing!  However, keep in mind that your progress will be slow and achieving the higher technical movements could be virtually impossible.

This is what my typical workout week looks like:
Monday, powerlifting workout.
Tuesday, CrossFit workout with skill work.
Wednesday, powerlifting workout.
Thursday, active recovery -1 hour of mobility (minimum) + cardio (typically 3 mile run)
Friday, powerlifting workout + CrossFit metcon
Saturdays typically alternate between powerlifting workout and CrossFit workout depending on what I have planned with my husband/family for the day.
Sunday – rest.

This may seem like a lot but over the last few months, my body has adapted to this type of training schedule. I get 7+ hours of sleep/night, my nutrition is spot on and I rarely drink alcohol.  All of these things play an important role in my body’s recovery process.

For me, fitness is a lifestyle I have chosen and I will make all other things in my life fit around my lifestyle.

In my experience, people who struggle with making it to the gym more than once a week have not yet chosen fitness as their lifestyle. They try to fit it in when it’s convenient and that never leads to longterm progress.

My husband and I decided a long time ago that we would not be the parents or grandparents that sit on the sideline and watch the kids play.  Case in point, this weekend we took our 9 year old grandson to Jumping World. If you’re not familiar with it, its a huge building with giant trampolines, located off of Sycamore View Rd.  A ton of fun!  We paid for an hour of jumping for the 4 of us, Steve, me, my gs, and his friend. Of the 150+ kids that were spread out throughout the trampoline park, there were probably only 2-4 other adults jumping with their kids.  All others were sitting on the benches or couches on their phones.  When I took a short break, I sat down on a bench beside a very obese man and overheard this conversation. The mans daughter (about 5 years old) approached and said, “daddy, I don’t have anyone to play with” to which he responded, “go make a friend”.  My heart sank as she walked away. Missed opportunity. He honestly would have had a heart attack if he had started jumping.  He, as many others, chose the easy way out. Get fat and do nothing about it.

Make your fitness your lifestyle! Prioritize it and it will pay off for you now and in the long run!! Get better at CrossFit and watch your whole life get better!!

 

 

The first ever CrossFit Games was held in 2007 in Southern California at what is knows as, “The Ranch”. Anyone could sign up to compete. This was the workout for the 2-day competition.

Saturday
Event 1
For time:
1000 meter Row
then, 5 rounds:
25 Pull-ups
7 Push jerks (135 / 95 lbs)

Event 2
Trail Run (Approx. 5k)

Sunday
Event 3 – CrossFit Total
Back squat – 1RM
Press – 1RM
Deadlift – 1RM

In the 2008 CrossFit Games, the participants were capped at 300 and were “first come, first serve”.

2009, was the first year one had to qualify to participate, however teams were still first come first serve.

In 2010, an additional round of qualifying was added, sectionals. Once you made sectionals you could advance to regionals and then on to the Games. This was also the first year for a Masters Division.

Due to popularity and growth, in 2011, the CrossFit Games season included three stages for competitors. The “Open” (first stage of the qualification process) was created as an online format to facilitate participation by athletes worldwide. During the Open, a new workout is released each week on Thursday night (for a total of 5) and athletes have until Monday evening to complete the workout each week and submit their scores online, with either a video or validation by a CrossFit affiliate.

Anyone aged 14 or older can compete in the Open. All you have to do is sign up at Games.CrossFit.com and log your score each week.

Since 2015, the Open has offered a scaled option in addition to the prescribed workout. This option makes the all-inclusive event even more accessible to the masses.

At the end of five weeks, the fittest move on to the next stages of competition: The Regionals and The Online Qualifier.

In 2011, 26,000 athletes signed up to compete in the “Open”. In 2012-2016, participation was 69,000, 138,000, 209,000, 273,000, and 324,307 respectively. In 2016, 175 countries were represented by registered participants. Needless to say, the sport has continued to grow in popularity!

The CrossFit Open workouts are hard, very hard and are typically a combination of strength and skill. The number of reps often occur in an ascending fashion with a short amount of time on the clock to get as far as you can go. This is (by design of course) to increase the intensity of the workout.

If you’re an average CrossFitter (like me) why register and participate in the CrossFit Open if you know there’s no chance in hell you’ll make it any further?!  Because it is in the Open where people find their threshold and ability to push through the pain. It is in the Open where you get your first Muscle up or your first pull up, or your first Clean at a weight you never thought possible. The Open is where you exceed your own expectations and find out what you’re truly made of. The Open is where the community you’ve worked out with all year long, the community that has shared in your joy and in your defeat comes together to grind and push the boundaries of your personal fitness.

For 5 weeks, beginning on February 23rd, CrossFitters worldwide will be glued to the CrossFit Games website to hear the first Open workout of the 2017 CrossFit Games season be announce. We will watch as 2 athletes go into head to head competition to see who can go the farthest/fastest to be the best. CrossFit NBS will then program the exact workout for our group to perform every Friday night for 5 weeks (with the exception of the 1st one as I have to be out of town..we’ll do it on Monday). Often, a workout is repeated from the previous year so you can test your fitness and see how far you’ve come in a year.

The workouts are scary and they make us nervous, but completing them (no matter what level) make us proud!

If you happen to be in the gym on the nights our CrossFitters tackle the workouts in the Open, cheer us on, give us high fives and push us to finish at our best! This is our opportunity to prove our fitness!


“CrossFit is dangerous”, “CrossFit is scary”, “You can get hurt in CrossFit”. These are all phrases I hear consistently.  Quite honestly, there is little in this life that irritates me more.

During a discussion with my mother in law at Christmas, she made the statement that I would get hemorrhoids from lifting weight and that I’m going to get hurt. My response, “Where did you hear that?” Her response, <silence>. Seriously? No need to worry about my butt hole.

Frankly, I’ve done CrossFit for 8 years now and I’ve sustained only 2 injuries. One wasn’t even related to CrossFit, the other was an injury that stemmed from a lack of taking care of my own mobility.

So where do these CrossFit fears come from? Let’s start with defining fear. “Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.”

“Real or imagined”. Let’s start with “imagined” fear. Imagined fear is something we create in our head. Imagined fear is unfounded fear. It is trumped up in our mind and it has no root. It’s an expectation that something bad is going to happen. From a CrossFit standpoint, I can imagine that the thoughts would go something like this: “CrossFit is so intense and the coaches make you go all out and no one cares about your form. I’m not getting hurt, CrossFit is dangerous.” Now, if you’ve never tried CrossFit, how did you come to that conclusion? Something you saw on the internet? YouTube? Your friend got hurt at CrossFit Somewhere, so you know you’ll get hurt too?

Are there risks associated with exercise? Absolutely. There are risks associated with doing nothing as well,  but let’s not go from one extreme to the next.

I did a little research to find out what the most injury prone exercises and sports are, here are the results via good old trusty Google.

As reported by generationiron.com, the top 5 most dangerous exercises are:
1. Bench Press
2. Leg Extensions
3. Lat Pull Downs
4. Deadlifts
5. Squats

If you’re like me, you read that list and thought, “what the hell are they thinking, I bench and do leg extensions all the time and I’ve never been hurt!”. If you go to their website and read why each movement is “dangerous”, you will quickly learn how preposterous the suggestion is that these movements are dangerous. However, I am sure there have been injuries that have occurred in each of those areas and now they are automatically listed as “most dangerous”.

Another Google search turned up “5 Lifts that are Not Worth the Risk” by mensfitness.com.
1. Upright Rows
2. Snatch
3. Overhead Squat
4. Dumbbell Fly
5. Banded Good Mornings

Men’s Fitness laid out why each of these are dangerous, including the banded good mornings, “because the weight is loaded directly on your spine even a slight breakdown in form can result in serious injury. Spinal injuries are, in some cases, lethal.” Anyone reading this has most likely performed a banded good morning and other than snapping yourself with the band, you’d have to be a big moron to seriously hurt yourself with them!

I had to Google, “Is CrossFit Dangerous” before I got results that even mentioned CF specifically. My search returned topics such as:
1. My Workout From Hell (The Dangers of CrossFit)
2. The Great Injury Debate, Is CrossFit Dangerous?
3. The Controversy Behind CrossFit
4. CrossFit: The Good, Bad & Ugly
5. Is CrossFit Dangerous? The 5 Shocking Truths You Need to Know

These articles are basically accounts of different people’s personal experience with CrossFit workouts. Now, if I were looking to vilify CrossFit, there are certainly enough examples to support my negative assumptions. I don’t have to actually have any experience with CrossFit, as the internet tells me all I need to know about how bad it is and how dangerous it is. All of the YouTube ‘CrossFit Fails’ alone can help you draw a “it’s dangerous” conclusion.

Case Closed. CrossFit is too dangerous for me.

Wait, no it its not.  Know what is dangerous? Bad coaching and people who don’t listen. That’s it. Plain and simple. I will not defend all CrossFit coaches and pretend that all are great. When you have a sport that has grown in such rapid proportion as CrossFit has, you will most definitely have some poor coaching that develops along the way. Quoting from an aforementioned article, “So, on top of having an already overly-strenuous, very high intensity program that sets you up for injury to start with, most people are doing the lifts and other exercises all wrong, and there is no one there to correct them.”  It’s blanket statements like these that give CrossFit the label of ‘dangerous’.  If in fact this is someone’s actual experience, it is unfortunate for him and it is unfortunate to the sport and unfair to those of us who work hard at being great.

I’m not here to argue the numerous negative comments CrossFit gets. What I am here to do is to educate. Therefore, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention, REAL fears and REAL concerns. Can you get hurt doing CrossFit? Absolutely. There are many exercises that fall under the umbrella of CrossFit. When you have a multitude of exercises to learn, the possibility of injury will increase. The heavier your bar gets when you’re squatting, the higher your probability of injury also. The more you run, the higher your risk of injury. There will always be risks associated with exercise.

While researching for this blog, the majority of the articles I reviewed discussed “intensity” as being the most common cause of injury in a CrossFit workout.  What you need to know is that intensity is actually the very last element added when learning to CrossFit.  It is imperative that one understands that intensity does not come, nor is it expected, until proper mechanics have been developed and movement patterns have become consistent. A good coach will never push you into intensity before you’re ready. In my experience, most CrossFitters push themselves into that intensity on their own. I have stopped many CrossFitters in mid workout when they turned up the heat on themselves and sacrificed form for speed. As important as it is to have a good coach, it is equally as important for one to be coachable.

So if you are afraid of CrossFit because a friend of a friend said it was dangerous, or you read it on the internet, considering trying it for yourself before dropping it into such harsh judgement.

 

 

Kipping Pull Up – The Final Chapter

You’ve established a superman (arch) and the hollow position and we’ve taken that movement onto the bar. The next step is actually getting the pull up.

Part of the goal when working the Superman/Hollow position is to generate enough force that you create horizontal momentum.  At the apex of the hollow position  you become weightless.

It is here where your hands may actually release for a nano-second. Instead of allowing them to release, you’ll re-grip and pull yourself to the bar (just below the chin). When you begin working to this point, it would be beneficial to hold that (chin over bar) position for a count of 3 seconds, and then release yourself back down. This will help build the strength you’ll need to string the pull ups together.

To begin syncing your kipping pull ups, when you are at the top in that ‘hold’ position, you will push yourself straight back and away from the bar. Doing so will allow your body to go right back into the hollow position and re-generate the horizontal momentum you need to repeat the movement. If you don’t push away from the bar, you will drop straight down, thus needing to restart the kipping movement.

I suggest practicing 2-3 reps at a time when starting out. Any more than than and you’ll fatigue quickly. Keep in mind, the tighter you maintain your body, the more force you will be able to generate with your hips. More force translates to getting a bit higher on the bar.

Let me also state that I typically require my females to be able to do 2-3 strict pull ups and males should be able to do 3-5 before I teach the kipping pull up. Shoulder stability is a must! Without stability in the shoulders, kipping pull ups can cause injury.

If you would like my help in learning the kipping pull up, please hit me up! I’m always happy to help!

 

Your mind can help you or hurt you

On any given day in any given situation, our mind will set us up for failure or success. A negative mindset in social situations may go something like this: “what if they don’t like me”, “I hate what I’m wearing”, “Why am I here, this is stupid”. Sound familiar? We do it to ourselves all the time. We also do it in the gym. “This WOD looks terrible today, I’m going to suck”, “I can’t do that many double unders, I’m not going”, “I can’t do toes to bar so I’m skipping it”. Fail, fail, fail. Your mind failed you before you ever gave your body a chance to try.

Without a doubt, having the right mindset is a primary factor in determining your confidence and your success in any given area. For this discussion, we’ll keep it specific to CrossFit. It is important to think of your mindset as a muscle.  You can train it to be stronger. If you constantly allow negative thoughts and emotions to come into your head and bounce around before or during your training, you’re exercising a negative mindset. If this has been your habit for some time, it will take some time to retrain your thinking, just as it does retraining bad habits we get into in our physical training. Essentially, we have to retrain motor patters. The good news is, it can be done.

St. Jude Half Marathon

Last weekend I ran the St. Jude Half Marathon. I didn’t really train for it and was only partially prepared. However, since I’ve ran one before I knew what it was going to take mentally for me to get it done. I had my nutrition lined out perfectly, I had the right shoes, the right clothing, my music set, the right friends encouraging me and my overall fitness as a foundation. All of these things were going to be the key to me being successful.  During the St. Jude race, it takes 2-3 miles for the pack to thin out a little before you can really take stride. Since there’s so much going on, I decided to keep my music off for awhile. I know a lot of people enjoy running without music. They take in the scenery, take time to mentally reflect, breathe, and whatever else they do. I’m not that way. I like my tunes in my ears so I don’t have to hear my own thoughts and heavy breathing! After about 3 miles I decided to plug in and get into my zone. Well, guess what, I couldn’t connect my bluetooth! I tried not to panic but all I could think of was, “Oh my God! I’ve got to listen to this shit going on between my ears another 10 miles!!” Then I thought, no, no negative self talk. “But your feet are going to get tired.” Not listening. “You didn’t train.” “You suck.” “You’re slow.” Not listening, “I’m strong.” “My training is good.” “My nutrition is great.” “You might die.” NO. “I’m awesome and I’m going to smash last years time.”

Sound like a familiar discussion between your ears?
Here’s an excerpt from the book, The Invicutus Mindset:

“It’s easy to feel invincible, strong and courageous before you confront an obstacle. But true mental fortitude is revealed during the worst of the ordeal, when it appears that nothing is going your way and that there is no end in sight. An individual’s outlook and resilience during the worst of times is the difference between those who succeed and those who succumb.”

Training your mindset muscles

So how does one train the right mindset? How do you develop your inner drive, the ability to stay positive and push on? The key lies deep within each and every person, but before we can answer the how, you need to answer the why. Why is strengthening your mindset necessary?

For the next few miles of my race, I only had my thoughts inside my head. I made up my mind that no matter what, there would be no negative self talk. I knew I couldn’t finish where I wanted to if I allowed it to seep in. So I thought about my training. I thought about how strong I’ve been feeling lately. I thought about my training partners and how they were helping me (probably way more than they realize). I remembered that I was running with 20 pounds less weight than last year and that put a little pep in my step. I thought about a 21 year old cancer patient and friend of my daughter. He’s literally fighting for his life and losing his battle. “Surely you can run for him, Angie.” and so I did.

What is important to you?

What are your goals? What will it take for you to reach your goals? What matters to you? When you figure that out you’ll know exactly how to develop the proper mindset to support those goals. No goals were ever achieved from a weak mindset.  Strengthening your mental toughness inside the gym will create an indestructible mindset in all facets of your life.

As it turns out, I eventually got my music connected and I finished the half marathon with a 30 minute PR.

invictus

Last article we established that the hollow hold position is the most fundamental movement in creating success in kipping pull ups.

This article we will add the arch or ‘Superman’ positon, which is the opposing position to the hollow hold.

Hollow hold
hollow-hold

 

 

 

 

 

 


Superman

superman

It’s important to maintain contraction throughout your spinal erectors, glutes and ham strings in this position while simultaneously pressing the shoulders open. This position can be exceptionally challenging for those who have poor shoulder mobility. I recommend practicing with a PVC pipe and partner until your shoulders are open enough to bare weight (hanging from the bar).

Bar Hangs
Now it’s time to move to the bar.
I actually prefer a grip with the thumbs over the bar (monkey grip) as opposed to around the bar, this allows the lats to get more involved. However, for safety sake, I often ask that the thumbs be wrapped until proper grip strength has been reached.

Hollow
When in hollow position, maintain contracted abs and think of pushing the bar away from you.
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Superman
When in Superman, remember to maintain contracted erectors, glutes and hamstrings and press open (through the shoulders) as much as possible.

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Practicing hollow hold/Superman on the bar will take a bit of coordination but with some practice, it will come together.
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Feet should always be together and there should be no ‘angles’ in either  position.

Knees and Hips should not be bent
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The hip is your power source in the kipping pull up. Any time the knees are bent, you are removing the hips’ power and transferring that power to the feet.  This will result in a kip, but is very inefficient.

Now that we have learned how to create momentum on the bar with the Superman and hollow hold, next article we will discuss how to transfer that  momentum into a pull up.

That’s what most of us trainers/coaches would like to hear!  Instead, we hear about the 99 problems that have been keeping you FROM your fitness!

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Warning!!
This is one of those tough love blogs that no one likes to read but that everyone needs to read, especially if you’re currently making every excuse about why you can’t get your workout on.
So, hide your toes because I’m about to step on them.

  • “I’m busy”
  • “I’m going to get started soon”
  • “I don’t have the time”
  • “I don’t have money”
  • “I have kids”
  • “I’m not motivated”
  • “I need to get in shape first” (yes, several have said that)
  • “My work schedule sucks”,
  • “I’d have to come in too early”
  • “I don’t know what to do”
  • “I have a stressful job”
  • “My trainer is too hard on me”

Etc….you get the picture. These. Are. Excuses. I can give you another 89 of them if you’d like. The real ‘problem’ is not in the above mentioned problems, it is because you are not committed to your own health and well-being. You don’t place your health as a priority over everything else in your life.

Time is precious and there are only so many hours in a day. However, out of 168 hours in a week, I can almost guarantee you can find 3-4 of them to spend on your health. How many hours of TV do you watch per week? How much time do you spend on social media? A 2014 Business Insider Poll reported that American’s spend 2.82 hours/day watching TV and only .29 hours spent on exercise and recreational activity. Giving up 90 minutes of TV time to dedicate to your health is NOT a huge sacrifice, however, chosing the TV over your health is sacrificing your health!

What I hear more than anything is the excuse, “I’m not motivated or, “I need motivation.”

Merriam Webster defines motivation, as “the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something”. Ok, so let’s put this in perspective. You’re telling me that you need someone to give you a reason to improve YOUR life??

  • The desire to have a healthier future you isn’t enough?
  • Combating disease through a healthy lifestyle isn’t enough?
  • Maintaining muscle and bone mass as you go through the aging process isn’t enough?
  • Investing in enjoying time with your children, grandchildren and future grand children isn’t enough?
  • Exploring the world like only fit people can, isn’t enough?

You don’t need motivation, you need committment! You are only going to get this one body, that’s it. What you decide to do with it is entirely up to you. You may have to get creative with your time and your finances, but doing so can and will ensure that the body you do have will be healthier and take care of you longer!

Instead of creating 99 excuses why you can’t workout or why you haven’t made it to the gym lately, list 99 reasons why you should workout, hang it where you can see it everyday, and then commit to yourself.

Here are some of the reasons I live a fit and healthy lifestyle and workout on a regular basis:

  • To defy my age.
  • I enjoy the challenge.
  • I can do anything with my grandson he asks me to do. All other grandparents I see are sitting on the sidelines.
  • Being overweight and unfit is not fun.
  • I like being strong.
  • I like to continue to find my potential.
  • I like the comraddery of like minded people.
  • I sleep better after working out.
  • My mental health is vastly better because I workout and stay fit.
  • Muscles are pretty!
  • Fat is not pretty!

Creating a fit and healthy lifestyle for yourself should ALWAYS be your number 1 priority!
Make your list, get committed and get in the gym!! I’ll see you there!

 

While scrolling through Facebook this morning and thinking about what I wanted to blog about, I couldn’t help noticing the consistency in disdane for Trump/Clinton up and down my newsfeed. It’s nothing new, its been that way for over a year. Pictures of newborn babies and my friends out having a good time have been replaced by Clinton memes and Trump protesters. Funny cat videos have been replaced by photos of men and women conceived through rape who went on to be famous. Everyone is trying to make their point about something. To prove their favorite candidate is better, often by tearing the other candidate down. I don’t have to paint the picture further, your Facebook feed looks the same as mine.

There are certain issues I feel strongly about, but for the most part I keep my opinions to myself unless someone asks me how I feel about a particular issue. We won’t really go into any of that here, as that would make my blog no better than my newsfeed and that’s not my point.

Regarding my point, lets get to it. This week our country will select a new president. We will have a new leader of our free world, a new head of state. The campaign reteroick will be over (thank God) and the new commander in chief will prepare to take his/her seat on January 20th. Some will be happy, some will be pissed but what we all will be is….in it together.  We will all share in a choice. Regardless of who wins the presidency, we get to choose whether we will unite as a country or continue to divide ourselves. Choosing to support the new resident of the Oval Office doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with their platform or that you’ve switched teams, it simply means you have chosen to respect the position. I think, as a nation, we have lost repect for our government in many ways, and that disrespect continues to divide us.

We live in an awesome country and we have so many freedoms that we take for granted every day! The fact that we can even exercise our right to vote is a freedom that not everyone shares! Imagine living in a dictatorship!

Now, we have had some great presidents and we’ve had some terrible presidents too! It’s fair to assume the next four years will fall somewhere in between. One fact remains for me however, I love my country and although I don’t always agree with some of the decisions made (as well as getting down right embarassed at times), I will always stand with my hand proudly over my heart every time the National Anthem is played or our beautiful flag is flown. At the very sound of the Star Spangeled Banner, my eyes well up with tears and my heart fills with pride. Regardless of our choice of presidency, I will still stand with my country and I challenge you to do the same.  Be proud of who we are, stand together.

Star Spangled Banner (Military Tribute)

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Two weeks ago one of my CrossFitters from Wolf River and (a very dear friend) was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went in for a routine mammogram, a lump was discovered, testing was done and cancer was also found in her lymph nodes. Simultaneously, she is dealing with a lumbar disc issue. She is in a lot of pain and needs surgery to repair it, however, that will have to wait, because cancer doesn’t. As I write this, she is having her first chemo treatment.

My friend has gone through a plethora of emotions, as one can imagine. She lost a sister to lung cancer years ago so that alone is enough to make fear her primary emotion. While fear is there, it has not dictated her attitude.

Last Sunday, she had a party. A gathering of her close friends to hang out, laugh and have a good time. It was not a somber time. It was a celebration of strength. A celebration of “let’s do this”.

We are faced with so much adversity in our lives. Challenging medical diagnosis, job loss, divorce, deaths of friends or relatives….it’s all part of living.  Like it or not, we are also getting older. These things we can’t always control, however, we do get to choose how we deal with each of them.

“Positive emotions promote discovery of novel and creative actions, ideas and social bonds, which in turn build that individual’s personal resources; ranging from physical and intellectual resources, to social and psychological resources. Importantly, these resources function as reserves that can be drawn on later to improve the odds of successful coping and survival.”  Barbara L. Fredrickson

Dr. Fredrickson’s research shows that positive emotions fuel psychological and physical well- being. The Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions : “The theory, together with the research, suggests that positive emotions: (i) broaden people’s attention and thinking; (ii) undo lingering negative emotional arousal; (iii) fuel psychological resilience; (iv) build consequential personal resources; (v) trigger upward spirals towards greater well-being in the future; and (vi) seed human flourishing.”

I’m not suggesting that we wake up every day paint on a happy face, ignore our pain or ignore our feelings. We must face the situation, feel the feels but then choose to continue living and choose not to stay in the hole life created.  Choose joy. I know, its way easier said than done. Sometimes we have to fake it until we make it…..but we will make it.

In two weeks, my friend is hosting her own hair cutting party. For a $50 donation to St. Jude, we get to cut a lock of hair. She is creating something good, out of something bad.  In her words, “I may be crazy but I feel like this is just something we have to go through, get to the other side, and move on!”

Choose positivity and pray for my friend.
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Scott Hamilton’s latest check up and attitude on life:
“I choose to truly — in everything that we do — celebrate life,” says Hamilton. ”

The kipping pull up is perhaps one of the most sought after gymnastic movements in CrossFit, but can take quite some time to learn. While it may appear as though one is just swinging on the bar and pulling up, there is actually a lot of technique involved. Strength and patience are also key elements to the learning process.

Over the next several articles, we will discuss the progressions of the kipping pull-up.

Today, we will highlight body position by learning the hollow hold. This alone can be a difficult position to maintain, so becoming proficient here will certainly help your development process.

Set Up:

Lie on the floor in a supine position, bring your knees to your chest and raise your shoulders slightly off the floor.  Your lower back will become ‘attached’ to the floor.
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Hollow Hold

While maintaining that position, extend your arms overhead (biceps near the ears) and lengthen your legs while keeping your feet together. Your hands should be about 12-14” off the floor, your feet, 8-10” off the floor. When in this fully extended position, your low back should maintain constant contact with the floor.  Practice this position by consistently holding for 30 seconds to a minute. You could easily add this into your warm up routine. If you find that this position is too difficult to maintain, bring the arms back down and bring your knees back toward your chest as in the above photo.

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Add Tension

Continue to master this isometric hold under tension. Add tension by placing your hands under a heavy object and pressing gently against it to add resistance. You are building core strength from this movement that will translate into your pull ups.

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Hollow Rocks

While maintaining the isometric hollow position, begin “rocking” your body, mid back to butt. You’ll want to practice this movement for some time before moving into our next steps. I like to practice these by performing for a certain about of time, starting off, with 15-20 seconds, increasing gradually from there. You could also do them in sets and reps, ex: 3 x 15 with a 30-second break in between.

Next article we discuss adding the “Superman” element, and moving onto the pull-up bar.

My Journey with Nutrition

I grew up a skinny kid. I was shorter than my classmates and I was, by far, the tiniest. I could eat anything I wanted and never gain an ounce. Being small was great when it came to distance running or filling the catcher position for my softball team. My friends fondly referred to me as “Shorty”, “Short Stuff”, and the ever-popular, “Pygmy”. For me, a growth spurt didn’t occur until after graduation.

As I aged, I never considered myself as having a weight ‘problem’, but after having each of my children, I always managed to keep an extra pound or three.  When I started CrossFit I adopted the Paleo diet, “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar”. I was able to drop weight, added muscle, and found my abs at about 40 years old. This worked….until it didn’t.

When I opened my gym in 2012, my level of stress increased. My meals were still “healthy” but higher in fat, and usually accompanied by delicious craft beer or vodka (my personal favorite beverage). In 2014, add in a thyroid disorder with hormone imbalances and the scale got ugly.

Society would have you believe that when women reach a certain age we should, in essence, settle in with our bodies and accept ourselves with a little extra weight. OBVIOUSLY, “women over 40 are less active”, “metabolism slows”, and we should “eat more fats because they are good for you”, blah blah blah. We’ve all heard it and I almost started accepting it. Now, there are physiological changes as the body ages and we all know that.  Genetics do play a factor in how we age as well, but let’s not get too sciency here and overthink things. I was getting heavier because I was overeating and drinking too much. My thyroid disorder made a serious impact but I can’t blame it entirely. I was mismanaging myself while trying to take care of everyone else. I needed to make a change but didn’t know how.

As I approached my 47th birthday in May, I started researching how other CrossFitters my age were training/eating. I came across several ‘before and after’ pictures on a CrossFit Masters Facebook Group. The ‘before’ pictures looked like me, the ‘after’ pictures looked like what I felt (and hoped) I could get to. The best part was that these people were my age and older!!

The day before my birthday, I hired a nutrition coach I intentionally created my start date at that time so I could avoid birthday cake. Ahhh, cake! It’s one of those foods I can resist…unless I take a bite. After that first bite, I’m like an episode of Man Vs Food when they put a 5-pound burger in front of someone with a timer counting down to see if total domination can occur.  I always win with cake. Thus the need for nutritional coaching!

So my journey began. Macros here, macros there. Reduce my fat intake (it was a lot), increase my protein, increase my carbs, learn to plan better, don’t go out with drinking friends. Admittedly, I didn’t do very well in the beginning and I didn’t stop drinking either. My progress was very slow.

Currently, I’m in the middle of my second 12-week cycle and I have certainly gotten a better handle on things! I’ve lost a total of 15 pounds, 12 inches, 2 sizes, and probably a few drinking friends. Focusing on my nutrition over the summer also helped me manage the stress and transition of selling my gym.
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Let’s be honest, taking account of everything we eat can often be challenging, however, the positive results far outweigh the time in calculations and preparations. The changes I have experienced have not only occurred on the scale and with a tape measure but also in how I feel about my body as a 40+-year-old woman.  How I feel during workouts and recovering from workouts has also improved tremendously! I haven’t reached my goals quite yet, so the journey continues, however, I think I’m off to a good start!

Don’t get me wrong, I love food trucks, fried chicken, and vodka, but if I’m going to indulge I try to plan for it and decide if it’s REALLY worth it!

 

I started CrossFit in December of 2008 and began coaching in June of 2009. Prior to CF, I had been active with roller derby and running. I  worked out at ATC for awhile and even did a short stint with P90X. When I started CrossFit I had not even heard of it and I certainly didn’t understand what I was getting myself into. All I knew was that I was doing something different every day, it was extremely challenging, (grueling at times) and I was terrible at it.  At the same time, oddly enjoyable. Go figure.

I didn’t start out in an already established gym with a seasoned coach.   My son (who was 15 at the time) and I did CrossFit under a personal trainer and we were his first CF clients. When I look back on that time, knowing what I know now, I wonder how I didn’t break and I certainly don’t know how I ended up loving it! The early days were rough!

We have learned a lot over the years. Under the right trainer, CrossFit can be a very positive experience, especially for beginners.  Despite ones background, beginning CrossFitters need to start out slowly. Learning proper mechanics and then consistency in those mechanics is imperative. While CrossFit thrives on intensity, there is no place for it in the beginning stages. Intensity will come, learning proper movement patterns comes first.

CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. These are the core movements of life. We switch things up daily, and that keeps the workouts interesting. We hit all major and minor muscle groups and we train all 3 energy systems. I often tell people that CrossFit never gets easier, you just get better at it. We pride ourselves on GPP. General physical preparedness…for nearly anything.

In December of 2009, I decided to test that GPP and run a marathon. It had been on my bucket list so I thought, why not? With CrossFit on my side and a few 8-10 mile runs, I ran the St. Jude Marathon. The first half felt really good and my time was around 2:15 at the 13.1 mile marker. The last half got pretty rough, as I started cramping up. I ended up with a 5:25 finish. Not a stellar finish, but a finish nonetheless!

Do I recommend testing your GPP like that? No, not at all! However, CrossFit had strengthened me enough to tackle those 26.2 miles in a way I had never thought possible.

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One of my roller derby teammates working out a glute cramp at mile 18.

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Finally! Made it!!