Prepare for Victory

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Last week we went over how to go about choosing goals for the New Year.

If you really want to achieve your goals you need to be specific, and also have something that is reasonable, measurable, and attainable. Pick something that is going to drive you until you have achieved it.

Do you have an eerie feeling when you think about your goals? Oh man, why did I tell everyone what I want to work on, because I don’t even know how to get there? I’m not even sure where to start?

Any goal that has ever been written looks overwhelming to begin with, so thats why it is important to break them down into small actionable steps. There was a great article on TED Talks earlier this week, where Kelly McGonigal, a psychologist at Stanford University, mentioned to focus on the process, not the outcome.

“People often get lost thinking they have to change everything all at once,” says McGonigal. “But small changes can pave the way for bigger changes.” Ask yourself, what is the smallest thing I can do today that helps me reach my goal? For example, if you’re shy and you want to be more outgoing, you might accept someone’s invitation to lunch or say hi to someone you usually walk past in the hallway. From there, just follow the breadcrumbs — one small choice after another.

“You can make very, very small changes that are consistent with your big goals without having to understand how you’re going to get to the endgame,” says McGonigal. If you make daily choices that are consistent with your goal over and over again, you will eventually reach it

If your goal is to do one strict pull-up, actionable steps may start with nothing but ring rows for the first 2 months of the year. While doing your ring rows you can constantly challenge yourself, but you have to make a conscious effort to do so. Start your ring rows at a forty-five degree angle to the floor and slowly inch your way closer to parallel  to the floor.

The next step would be to move to banded pull-ups. You may have to work on them on your own time, before or after class. I promise that these guys will not care, as long as you stay out of the way. Everyday that you enter the gym, do not leave until you have done five sets of five pull-ups. Every week or so shoot to decrease the tension of band that you use.

There are many areas in which you can improve towards getting that pull-up. If you need help with it ask a coach to put together a plan with you.

In addition to breaking your goals down into actionable steps, there are other ways to move towards reaching your goals. Maybe your goal is to be able to do a snatch with an empty bar, but you lack the shoulder mobility to do so. Something that you need to improve would be your mobility. Your coach can help you with movements to increase range of motion. Yoga should be a part of everyone’s weekly routine if you lack the discipline to spend adequate time on mobility.

Lastly, just by coming to class consistently our programming will help you in ways that you will only notice when you start tracking your progress. And unless you are a direct descendant of Nostradamus, and you can accurately predict what your fitness level is going to be at any given time, it is mandatory that you enter every score into Beyond the Whiteboard!

It is not too late to get your goals for 2015 sent to us. Email them to goals@twintownfitness.com

Eat Well – The Nutritional Challenge That YOU Need

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Eating well is a constant challenge. We live in a world where gluttony is the norm and the worst food for you is the cheapest to get and easiest to find. Despite the challenges that eating well presents, there truly are countless benefits for those dedicated to putting their diet first.

This January we are kicking off our first nutritional challenge in quite some time. Our past events were plenty successful, but unfortunately the benefits were usually only as long-lasting as the challenge itself. So this time we are taking a slightly different approach.

Everyone’s body reacts differently to certain foods. A certain food might sit perfectly fine with some, while leaving others with major digestive issues. It is crucial to plan for these differences. This is why we will follow an approach outlined in Chris Kresser’s book Your Personal Paleo Code, where we will use the foundations of the paleo diet to figure out which foods work best for you.

The challenge will last six weeks. During the first four weeks we will reset our diets by eliminating anything that could be problematic. The last two weeks will be a trial period where we systematically reintroduce the foods that have been removed to see how our bodies tolerate them after we’ve gone without them for a month.

I’ll be the first to admit that this will not be easy. However, the knowledge that you will leave with at the end of the six weeks is something that you can use to inform your eating choices for the rest of your life. Worth it? I think so.

Preparation and community are the two pieces that will make or break our collective success, so we are going to host group gatherings every Sunday night to hang out, eat amazing food, and answer questions that come up over the previous week.

We are fortunate enough to have our friends at Origin Meals on board to help too. Everyone that signs up will get three pre-made, challenge-approved meals on the night of our first get-together. Origin Meals will also provide information about how their meal plans work, and will supply free samples of their culinary awesomeness.

We will provide all of the details on what you can and cannot eat at the opening night get-together of the challenge. My challenge to you: sign up!

Here are the details:

Sign up on Zen Planner
$50/person (includes introductory week meals from Origin)
Opening night – Sunday Jan. 4, 6:00pm
Superbowl party – Sunday Jan. 25, 5:00pm
Closing Party – Saturday Feb. 14, 4:00pm
Weekly get togethers will be on Sundays at 6:00pm throughout.

Honey Sesame Chicken

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This honey sesame chicken recipe is a great way to add some variety to your meals. It’s not tricky to make and is much better for you than the restaurant variety since it’s free of the commonly used sweeteners. Give it a shot!

What you’ll need:

4 chicken breasts
1 egg
1/4 cup arrowroot starch (available in the bulk section at local co-ops)
1 tbsp, 1 tsp coconut oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger root
1/4 cup honey
3 tbsp coconut aminos
2 tsp sesame oil

How to make it:

1. Cut chicken into 1″ cubes, then toss in the whisked egg.
2. In a bowl, toss the chicken with arrowroot starch until all pieces are evenly covered.
3. Fry the chicken in a pan (using the tbsp of coconut oil) for 7-10 minutes, or until cooked through.
4. While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. Combine 1 tsp coconut oil, garlic, grated ginger in a pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add the honey, coconut aminos and sesame oil, and whisk together.
6. Whisk 1 tbsp water with 1 tsp arrowroot and add to the pot. Then stir occasionally as the sauce heats and thickens.
7. Once the sauce has thickened, pour it over the chicken until all pieces are coated.
8. Serve over steamed broccoli with some sesame seeds on top, and you’re all set.

This made a good amount of food, but it went fairly quick. If this sounds like something you’re really going to like, or if you’re cooking for more than a couple people, I’d recommend doubling the recipe. Enjoy!

Need Something Easy In the Morning?

Breakfast Casserole

What do you do for breakfast when you are in a rush? Do you grab a banana, eat a quick yogurt, or do you just get caffeinated and try to make it through until lunch?

Most of us are in a rush in the mornings, but all of us need fuel for the day. Something that works well for me, so that I don’t always need to be cooking in the mornings, are egg bakes. There are many variations but most paleo options have similar ingredients.

What works well for us is preparing this on Sunday so that we don’t have to slave over the stove on weekday mornings.

Here is one that we made recently that was quite tasty. We used turnips, but a safer bet if you haven’t tried an egg bake before may be rutabagas or sweet potatoes.

Ingredients

- Coconut Oil
- 3 turnips, 2 rutabagas, or  2 sweet potatoes- your choice (peeled)
- .5- 1.0 pounds of ground pork or beef (we cut the casings off of 3 spicy italian sausages)
- 4 scallions, green parts only (chopped)
- 8 eggs, beaten

Breakfast Casserole

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Grease a baking dish with coconut oil
3. Grate the root vegetables or use a food processor
4. Brown the meat with a little oil in a large pan until not quite cooked through
5. Then toss in rest of ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes
6. Spoon into baking dish and cook for 45 minutes
7. Enjoy for the next few days!!!

Play With the Hand You Have Been Dealt

10641030_884241811594016_3771034519819827184_nIf you have been to the gym in the past two months, you likely have seen this guy. He is the type of dude that will walk up to you when you walk in the door at 5:25am and introduce himself. He always has a confident, positive mood that makes people feel comfortable. His work ethic never waivers. He doesn’t sacrifice form to move faster, because he wants to get better.

This handsome gentleman is Scott McMahan. Scott has been an athlete most of his life. He waterskied for the University of Colorado all the way through college.

In the summer of 2009, while waterskiing, he was going around a buoy like he had a million times before when out of nowhere he felt a pop in his shoulder area. He tore his pectoralis minor right off his shoulder.

After the incident, Scott had a surgical consultation where the doctor said there wasn’t anything that could be done to reattach the muscle. In the doctor’s words, “it would be like sewing ground beef back onto a steak.”

The injury put him out for four months, where he did a lot of physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles. Due to his hard work and commitment to rigorous physical therapy, Scott still skis regularly and also competes from time to time.

He says that the injury hasn’t so much affected the pulling motion, but he feels pain and weakness during pushing movements like the bench press and push ups. Still, Scott hasn’t stopped working out since his injury.

What I really admire about Scott is that he doesn’t let his injury define him. He was dealt a bad hand but he chooses to work through it. Scott will always be successful because he chooses to see no other option.

Scott, it has been fun to have you as part of our community. Keep pushing yourself and having fun!

To carb, or not to carb

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There is a common misconception that following the paleo way of eating also means you need to stay away from carbohydrates. While this is most definitely not the case, I can understand where some of the confusion comes from.

Following these guidelines is not nearly as much about how much of a specific nutrient group you eat as it is about the quality of the source. With foods like most grains and legumes doing more harm than good to most people’s digestive systems, it is generally recommended that we go without them. Because these foods are very carb-dense, elimination of them can lead to a reduction in your overall carbohydrate intake. This is not a recommendation to go without this important nutrient, but rather a side effect of getting rid of these problematic foods.

Especially if you are following an intense exercise regiment like CrossFit, carbs need to be a regular piece of your diet. It is getting them from a source that works well with your body that can be the tricky part. Everyone’s requirements can be different, but generally having a few servings of fruit, lots of veggies, and some root vegetables on a daily basis (especially immediately following your workouts) leaves most people with plenty of carbs for their body’s needs.

How is your relationship with sleep?

10653734_887950794556451_8639299496106600015_nWe have all heard the recommendations for the amount of sleep you should get nightly numerous times: between seven and nine hours depending on the individual and other variables involved.

If sleep were a line of credit, how often would you be borrowing against it for each hour you under slept?

Are you in serious sleep debt? Do you forget what it feels like to even get a night of “average sleep?”

Harvard Health Publications says, “Once sleep deprivation — with its fuzzy-headedness, irritability, and fatigue — has us in its sway, we can hardly recall what it’s like to be fully rested. And as the sleep debt mounts, the health consequences increase, putting us at growing risk for weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and memory loss.”

Studies done by Penn State University College of Medicine, talk about how we cannot fully recoup our Workweek Sleep Deficit just by sleeping in on the weekends and napping.

Another article by the “Sleep Doctor” himself, Michael J Breus, talks about a few other factors you are facing because of not getting the proper amount of sleep, including:

  • Diminished cognitive performance
  • Reduced alertness
  • Increased inflammation
  • Interference with healthy immune functions
  • Triggers metabolic changes
  • Impulse to overeat
  • Increased insulin resistance
  • Disruptive hormone levels
  • Elevated blood pressure

Now think about how this may affect you in the gym. Our workouts are demanding enough to stack the odds even more against us by not sleeping enough.

There are plenty of things that life can throw at us, but typically, for most of us, it is no more than a night or two off the beaten path of our normal sleep pattern (parents of new borns not included) that throw us off our game.

If you are looking for results in the gym, sleep should be pretty high on the totem pole of priorities. Help yourself out by going to bed around the same time every night. Stay away from electronics up to two hours before bedtime. Sleep in a cold dark room.

If you are no longer in college your motto shouldn’t still be, “I can sleep when I’m dead.” In this world of instant gratification, sacrifice an episode of Game of Thrones and set yourself up for success tomorrow!

Holiday nutrition game plan

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It’s that time of year again; the holidays are right around the corner!

The holidays are a fun time of year filled with family, friends and festivities, but they also present a challenge when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet. Bad food choices are everywhere you go from late November through the new year. But if you come up with a game plan, and have self-discipline, this year’s holidays can be stress free when it comes to your diet.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the holidays and hit 2015 with your nutrition in check:

Don’t go it alone. Enlist a family member or friend and hold each other accountable for your holiday eating habits. This doesn’t mean guilt one another when you drink too much eggnog, but if you have someone you’re accountable to you might think twice before reaching for that second piece of pumpkin pie.

Moderation is key. It’s okay to eat bad food sparingly. Maybe one slice of pie per week, or whatever makes sense for your situation. Enjoy the holidays but don’t go off the deep end.

Work out. Stay active with backyard football games, hockey on the pond, family plank challenges, or whatever makes you sweat. In other words, don’t stuff your face and sit on the couch. Keep moving.

Drink a lot of water. Drink a glass of water before meals. Water is essential to digestion, but it also makes you feel full.

Opt for smaller portions and eat slowly. Try to fight the urge to go to pound town and inhale your food. Chew and enjoy your food.

Don’t binge on alcohol. Liquid calories are the worst and quickly derail your healthy nutrition habits.

Eat until you are satisfied, not full. After you eat, wait fifteen minutes and drink more water. Then, if you are still hungry, eat some more.

Don’t stress, it’s the holidays. Come up with a game plan to make good decisions and follow-through.

Stay tuned for details on our 2015 Nutrition Challenge.



Thanksgiving without the hang-over

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Sure, this recipe doesn’t have the mashed-potatoes and gravy with turkey and stuffing, but it leaves the same after affect where you want to just keep crawling back for more.

Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash- Here are the ingredients, how we cooked it and I would encourage you to put your own little touch into it:

2-3 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed (the recipe we had called for two squash, but we had extra stuffing and wished we would have had more squash on the ready).

1 small head of cauliflower (don’t get one that’s too big)

1-1.5 lb. of ground beef

1 package of mushrooms (any kind will do)

2 apples, diced

1 yellow onion

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

2 Tbsp coconut aminos

1/4 cup coconut milk

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 dried minced garlic

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Cut squash in halves and remove seeds. Place the open side on your baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes. You’ll know it’s done, and you’re good to go, if you press on the outside and it gives a bit.

3. Rice your cauliflower in a food processor, while you cook the squash.

4. Add cauliflower to a saucepan over medium heat, along with 2 Tbsp of water and 2 Tbsp of coconut aminos. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the cauliflower shrinks down a bit.

5. While the rice is cooking, add chopped onions and apples to a large skillet. Cook for about 3 minutes then add ground beef. Cook until beef is cooked through half way, then add the mushrooms.

6. Let ingredients cook down for a bit longer, then add the seasonings from above, coconut milk, and vinegars to the saucepan. Mix throughly.

7. When both the cauliflower rice and beef mixture are done cooking, combine them – either in the large skillet or large bowl and mix them up.

8. Once your squash is done cooking, flip over and add your concoction. Sprinkle pecan pieces on the top of the stuffing and cook uncovered for 8 minutes.

Have fun and don’t worry if you eat it all in one sitting!

One Foot in Front of the Other

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I’ve heard people say that injuries are inherent in training. While I understand the point that they are trying to make (at least in the case of professional athletes), I disagree with that generalization. If you are paying attention to proper technique, taking care of yourself outside the gym, and maintaining a balanced recovery schedule, there is no reason you should plan on getting hurt.

That being said, sometimes it happens, unfortunately. And sometimes to those that are in the best shape. If you are working out to live a long happy life as a strong person (you are!) then the trick is to not let an injury completely sideline you while it gets better.

I follow a long-time crossfit.com contributor named Pat Sherwood on Instagram. A few months back he was in a motorcycle accident that left him with a separated AC joint – an injury that for most would mean a lot of time away from anything workout related. I was very impressed not only by his motivation to keep active while his shoulder healed, but also by his humility in accepting that scaling options were going to be common for him to prevent any further issues with his shoulder-on-the-mend. He posted this video on his page showing some of the ways that he was staying productive through his healing.

Just so we’re clear, I am NOT saying that you should be further challenging yourself in an area that is recovering from an injury. If a doctor has told you to stay off it, do that. I AM saying that just because you have some current limitations, you do not have a pass to become a couch potato and undo all the work that you’ve put in.

Remember that our staff is here to help! If you ever have questions or are unsure of something that has been problematic for you, please don’t hesitate to ask us about it. It is our job to keep you safe and we are here to accommodate the needs of all the different athletes that we work with!