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Dec 13 2013

Preventing Holiday Weight Gain

By: Coach Melissa Nunn

Image Courtesy healthyheartsnurtition.com

Tis the season to be stressed and running around to either find the “perfect present” or attend another holiday party. This time of year it’s easy to “let yourself off the hook” and miss going to the gym because of all of these previous engagements. The problem is, once you start the cycle of skipping workouts and indulging in every holiday treat it’s easy to find yourself a couple pounds heavier come January 1. The last thing you want is to lose some, if not all that you have worked so hard to accomplish this year or these last few months. Here are some helpful strategies to keep you on track with your workouts:

 

  1. Have a schedule: you know when/ where/ and what time the events you are planning on attending are going to occur. If you have a choir concert in the evening, set your alarm and get to the gym in the morning. If you have a morning function, plan for an afternoon/evening workout.
  2. Set a goal to make it to the gym a minimum of three times a week: use a calendar to mark off the days that you have attended… if you can, beat your goal, if not, feel accomplished for getting those days completed!
  3. Have friends or significant others help keep you accountable: make gym dates and agree to meet each other at them gym. Car pool and agree to pick each other up. When you know someone else is expecting you to show up, you are less likely to miss your WOD.
  4. If all else fails, do some home workouts: squats, push-ups, and sit-ups can always be done at home when you’re in a hurry. It could be a long chipper, a quick EMOM, a simple Tabata, or even rounds for time of simple bodyweight movements.
  5. Give yourself a movement challenge: set a goal number of reps to complete before January 1st of a movement that may not be your favorite, take burpees for example. Then, everyday make yourself complete a set number of reps until you have reached your goal. For example: 365 squats before January 1st. That means you have do 19-20 squats a day until you have completed all 365 squats. It keeps your body moving and you have a goal to work towards.

 

If your problem isn’t missing the gym, but controlling your appetite and avoiding office temptations and party food, what should you do then? Here are a few simple solutions to keep the holidays from turning into a time for binging:

  1. Water: before any holiday gatherings be sure to drink plenty of H2O. Not only will this help to prevent a hangover, it will also help reduce the overall liquid calories you are consuming. Greet your friends, colleagues, family while sipping on water. After enjoying a cocktail, go back to the water. Alcoholic drinks make it easy to forget what you are about to put in your mouth but by now, you should already be somewhat full.
  2. If the party has a serve yourself appetizers, find the smallest plate and fill up on veggies first. They will keep you fuller, longer.
  3. Find the item that is tempting you the most, and have one. If after the veggie sampling, and water, you find yourself being called to the little pizzas, gingerbread cookies, etc. Then indulge in one. ONE! Just the one, enjoy it; savor the sweet treat then move on. Any more than that and you’re wreaking havoc on your body: remember sugary foods (and drinks) will only inflame the body.
  4. Most importantly, the festivities aren’t about the food they’re about the people. Enjoy each other! Move away from the serving table and catch up with those you around you!

Hopefully this advice helps you enjoy the holidays with a little less stress. Remember all it takes is some mental preparation in the beginning and willpower and you can make it out of the holidays without the added weight of the over-indulging or skimping on workouts.

Dec 10 2013

Why We Squat

By: Junior Coach Tomas Frias

It should be no surprise that the squat is the most truly fundamental movement for human beings. From standing up out of a chair to getting up off the floor after you just finished getting beat up by FRAN, the squat is one of the cornerstones of life. With proper form, the squat can be tremendously beneficial and help bring about health and strength gains.

A correct squat should be performed by:
1) Starting the feet shoulder width apart, toes SLIGHTLY pointing out
2) Keeping a strong lumbar curve and upright torso- reinforcing the midsection
3) Sending the butt back and pulling (NOT dropping) the hips down between the ankles
4) Making sure that the knees are always tracking over the toes and maintaining the weight on the heels.

The squat primarily uses the hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps, but it also uses a multitude of secondary muscles such as the adductors and abductors, the lower back and the core muscles. These secondary muscles work hard to help you stabilize throughout the movement. This use of a variety of muscles turns what many perceive to be a “lower-body” exercise into a very effective full-body exercise.

Once you can perform an air squat with solid form, you can take the intensity of the movement to next level by adding weight. Front squats, back squats and overhead squats, each offer their own extended benefits. These benefits are not just limited to strength gains. So what aesthetic benefits do squats offer? For the ladies, squatting leads to a firm core and shapely butt. For the guys, this movement more than any other, stimulates the body to release testosterone. In addition, because the squat recruits so many muscles, this exercise can also accelerate your metabolism. (Let the shredding begin)

As a CrossFitter, including back/front squatting will directly improve movements like box jumps, wall balls, and sprints. Strength is a precursor to power so naturally this translates nicely into your Olympic lifts.

Bottom line. Want to be faster? Squat. Want to be more stable? Squat. Want to be stronger? Squat. Want to jump higher? Squat. Want to have a nice booty? Squat. Get the point? The list goes on and on as to how many benefits squatting can bring to the body. No matter what strength and fitness experts agree that squats, whether with weight or not, are a movement that the human body requires to be truly fit.

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Dec 08 2013

5 Tips for Beginning CrossFit

By: Coach Jonathan Ortiz

Deciding to start CrossFit can be an exciting and nerve-racking experience. There are so many things to learn: new words like WOD and AMRAP, new movements like snatches and supermans, and a new way of eating called Paleo. The first time I walked into the gym I saw people doing exercises I had never seen before and women lifting weights that I thought would be a struggle for me. Part of me thought about reconsidering whether I was ready for this new routine or if I should take a little more time to “get in shape” before I got started.

Thankfully, I didn’t change my mind. Who knew that the best way to get started was to just start, then and there? What I didn’t realize then was that even though CrossFit is class-based, the coach was there to help me on a personal level. There’s actually no pressure to keep up with anyone else, or do something you’re not ready for. The only pressure was to be better than I was the day before and stick with it.

If I could go back and talk to my getting-start-self, here are 5 tips I would share with me and all others beginning CrossFit.

1) You’ll Find Your Own Intensity
People of all shapes and sizes, of all backgrounds and all ages come into the gym and throw down together. Because every person is different, we don’t require everyone to do the same thing. The workout is provided and led by the coach, but you determine the weight that you’re comfortable with and almost every movement can be scaled or substituted to make sure it suits your athletic ability. That being said- let the intensity find you. The workouts will be tough, but don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. It’s not about being the best or fastest on your first day, in fact it’s never about that unless you want it to be. If your goal is to be healthier, stronger, or faster, then finding your own pace and challenging yourself to improve upon that every time you step into the gym is all you need to worry about.

2) Don’t Be too Proud to Scale
Check that Ego! There is nothing wrong with having less than recommended weight on the barbell or having to change a movement completely because you aren’t there yet. Everyone knows their body and its limits, use that knowledge to help make sure that even if you change a few things, you’re still getting a great workout in. Scaling when it makes sense can help you avoid injury in the long run and actually help you improve faster if using lighter weight allows you to concentrate more on your form.

3) Ask Questions
Everyone from the coach to the person working out next to you has your back. I’ve yet to meet someone in the CrossFit community who doesn’t appreciate the hard work that goes into every WOD or who can’t relate to the struggles of a beginning CrossFitter. It can be confusing with all the lingo and acronyms that come with the programming. Ask the coach if there is anything you’re unsure of- we’re happy to help, that’s why we’re here after all. There’s no such thing as a dumb question.

4) Don’t Underestimate Recovery
It’s easy for athletes to over train. Jumping into a high intensity regimen 5 days a week right off the bat may not give you the best results – especially if your body isn’t used to working out. Start with 3 sessions a week and see how your body feels. Are you super tired, extra sore or moody? If the answer is yes, refuel your body with optimum nutrition, hydration, and some rest. As you get adjusted to CrossFit, you can start to increase the amount of days per week that you train, just remember that your body will always need at least a day or two of rest and recovery time.


5) Have Fun!

Last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy your WOD. CrossFit never gets easier it’ll just suck a little less. That’s what you’ll learn to love though- that challenge and subsequent feeling of accomplishment when you conquer workouts and start to do things that you never thought you could. Set goals for yourself and celebrate your accomplishments- you deserve it!

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Dec 02 2013

CrossFitting While Pregnant

By: Coach Blanca Reyna

“Eight months pregnant with baby number 3 and CrossFit has been my sanity. I have been CrossFitting for 2 1/2 years and … strongly believe that pregnancy is not an illness, but a time to relish in your body’s capabilities to kick a**.” (Photo: Nick Stern, Caption: Lea-Ann Ellison via CrossFit/Facebook redacted by TheBlaze

Over the last few months, CrossFitting while pregnant has received more media exposure than ever. The commotion started after CrossFit Headquarters posted a photo of a woman, Lee Ann Ellison (pictured left), completing an overhead squat during her eighth month of pregnancy. She then found herself in the middle of a heated debate.

Now, if you’ve never done CrossFit before, we certainly aren’t recommending that you jump into a routine like Lee Ann’s. In fact, if you did, it could certainly be a risk. If you have been doing CrossFit for over 6 months, though, and your body is adjusted to a higher-intensity style workout and the use of weights, you can definitely continue your routine (pending doctor’s thumbs up)- just at a new level and pace.

Your first step before continuing with your training should be a consultation with your doctor. If you are healthy and CrossFit has been a regular part of your routine, most likely you’ll be cleared to continue, but don’t take any chances or make any assumptions. Some women may have a medical condition in which exercise can be harmful to them or their baby. If this is the case, your doctors may prefer a more conservative style of exercise or even none at all.

Once you’re cleared to come back to the gym, though, you’ll need to do so with a new mindset. Granted, tons of aspects of your life are already changing, but now your WOD will need a little readjusting too. Over the next 9 months, you’ll need to listen to your body more than ever. Rest will become a growing necessity. Time and load will become of less concern in your performance, and forget about shooting for a PR anytime soon.

One of the great things about CrossFit, is that even though our programming is class based, having a coach provides an individualized element. Your coach can work with you to help you find your new level of intensity, as well as modify any movements which we and your doctors will recommend you avoid.

Initially, you’ll need to start off carefully. Your baby’s most critical development will take place during the first three months of pregnancy, so here you’ll need to take it slow. Avoid high-impact movements like box jumps, rope climbs or double unders, as well as movements that overly strain your abdomen like going heavy overhead or GHD situps. The chance of miscarriage drops considerably after your first trimester, but these movements should be avoided for the duration of your training while pregnant.

As you approach your second trimester, you’ll probably be feeling a little healthier and more energetic. As morning sickness and fatigue fade, you’ll be excited to start approaching higher intensity, but do so a little at a time. As for modifications, you should now be eliminating situps altogether as well as most Olympic Lifting where you catch the lift in a squat position- again avoiding undue strain overhead and jumping into a high-impact landing/catch. Weightlifting done during this phase should be at a weight that you determine to be manageable for an extended amount of reps such as sets of 10, 12, or more. Do not attempt 3 or 5 rep maxes.

Finally, in your last trimester, you’ll be getting anxious for delivery. At this stage, your physical state may be a little more challenging than your second trimester as your belly begins to grow. During this stage, you should start to lower your weight during the WOD and avoid any movements where you may lose your balance including burpees.  You should feel free to use a kettlebell in place of a bar where your body now interferes with natural bar path.

Overall, just keep in mind that pregnancy is the time to take care of your body. Enjoy your workouts, stay healthy and happy. Remember not to get overly concerned about how you’ll lose the weight after delivery- we’re here to help when that time comes. Don’t try to overwork yourself now, to avoid having to work it off later. Being pregnant is natural and completely wonderful, more than anything you should be excited.

As always, listen to your body and know when to get in touch with your physician. Call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • pain anywhere in the body, but especially in the back or pelvis.
  • excessive fatigue
  • severe dizziness, nausea or vomiting
  • shortness of breath
  • vaginal bleeding
  • difficulty walking
  • contractions
  • reduced fetal movements (learn to monitor your baby’s movements , but remember that the baby is usually quieter the more you ‘re active )
  • heart palpitations or rapid pulse, even after resting
  • Rapid weight gain (more than 6.5 pounds per month) or too little weight gain (less than 10 pounds at 20 weeks into the pregnancy)

Any of these symptoms could be a sign that something is wrong with your pregnancy. Don’t wait for your regular prenatal visit to talk about it. Every woman and every pregnancy is completely different. Many women have successfully maintained a CrossFit regimine while pregnant including me! Four months after I started CrossFit in 2009, my husband and I found out we were expecting. I loved training so much though, that I did not stop until my 8 1/2 month mark. After having our daughter, Zoey, I was able to return to working out six weeks later. We also have two expecting girls at CrossFit 915 currently training! One is enrolled in CrossFit and the other is an avid FEMMEfitter. Both are doing awesome!

You can also read an update on Lee Ann who delivered a healthy baby boy in November here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2512353/Pregnant-body-builder-mother-gives-birth-healthy-baby-boy.html

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Nov 25 2013

How Much Water Should a CrossFitter Drink Per Day

By: Coach Ale Montalvo

“So, exactly how much water am I supposed to drink a day?”

This is a hard question to answer as the amount of water that our body requires on a daily basis depends on several factors. From elevation, to physical activity, and body composition, the exact amount of water we need each day can vary from person to person.  Growing up, we always heard that the rule of thumb was to drink 8- 8oz glasses of water a day, 64oz total.  However, this was nothing more than a guideline, and this may not necessarily be the right amount for you, particularly being a Crossfitter or Femmefitter.

Throughout the day our body naturally loses water. As an athlete, our water loss levels increase as strenuous exercise promotes fluid loss, increasing the risk of dehydration. It also doesn’t help that living in El Paso, fluid losses are accelerated due to our warmer climate and high altitude. It has been found that by the time your mouth gets dry and your brain tells you that you are thirsty you are already approximately 2% dehydrated (minimal dehydration). That is not taking into consideration how long it takes you to replenish your water levels. Just to put things into perspective, a small amount of water loss can significantly impact performance, energy, and even mood in a negative manner; this means that that “measly” 2 percent loss can be responsible for the extra 10-15 seconds it took you to complete Fran or may be the reason why you missed that PR today.

Before gauging water consumption, it is important to understand that our body is composed of over 60% water; that’s a big chunk! This is why it is so important to be well hydrated at all times, not just right before or immediately after a workout. Doing so allows for proper functionality of all the systems in our body. We want to do everything in our power to help us reach our best times and best lifts. That is why a more accurate guideline to follow regarding daily water intake would be:

 

 

Although only a guideline, this formula introduces a different factor which is weight, which helps individualize water intake. If we can maintain this intake level, it should mean that we have accounted for natural water loss. Add another 10-20 percent to this number depending on your activity level and you will have accounted for the water loss that occurs during your workouts. Taking this a step further, a good rule of thumb to follow is 5 clear urinations per day, 2 of those coming after your workout. Grossed out? Don’t be. It is actually important to look at your pee as the color  is a good “right off the bat” indicator of how dehydrated your body is.

With all that being said, my recommendation is to make it easy for yourself. Rather than worrying over how many ounces you’ve consumed on any given day, just go out to Walgreens and buy yourself a gallon of water. Now read it again, yes a gallon of water, not tea, not Coke, not milk.  As silly as it may look, carry it everywhere with you and force yourself to drink it dry throughout the day. If you go through one gallon, refill it and keep drinking. Make conscious efforts to drink water often (including at restaurants). If, for instance, at work it becomes hard for you to keep getting up to get your glass of water, take your gallon and keep it at your desk. Just remember that water intake is going to be essential to your good health and that all the rules of thumb and equations out there, including the ones aforementioned are simply guidelines. Only you are responsible for maintaining that balance of water fluids in your body – so drink up!

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