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.

What Are Your Goals For 2015?

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Sure, everyone wants to lose weight, drop pant sizes, feel great and just look the best they can overall; but as they say, “the devil is in the details.”

What happens when you do not have specific goals?

When goals aren’t specific, or when they do not have an end date, you are aimlessly moving in a direction which you might feel is the right way, but how do you know for sure? How do you measure progress? Are you actually making progress or are you regressing?

Why did Rocky Balboa always beat the can’t lose, on top of the world champions in the “Rocky” movies? Because he had one specific goal in mind: to dethrone the best. And to do so he would run over broken glass, climb through fire, scratch, claw, never give in, never quit, and go to hell and back to get there. You won’t have to fight Apollo Creed, Mr. T, or the Russian, Ivan Drago, to reach your goals, but you will need to approach them with the same dedication that Rocky had to becoming champion in order to achieve them.

Goals must be specific, so that you know exactly what they are and when you have reached them. I often hear people say, “I’m working out here just to maintain,” or “I’m just trying not to look any older than I already feel.” Maintain what? How you going to achieve feeling younger?

Goals must be meaningful. They must be something that you truly want and will work towards achieving. If need be, you can tie something to these to motivate you. For example, “I will buy myself that new pair of shoes if I can work my way up to getting that first muscle-up.”

Goals must be attainable. If I just started CrossFit and was working on ring rows and banded pull-ups, getting my first strict pull-up by the end of 2015 would be attainable.

Goals must be reasonable. If you just started Olympic lifting, and you have a tough time even supporting the technique bar overhead, your goal should not be to snatch 200 lb by the end of 2015. A reasonable goal would be to support an empty bar overhead with perfect form before the end of 2015.

There is a lot more to goals than just making them. To reach them you must WRITE THEM DOWN! You need to tell someone who will keep you accountable while working towards them. You must have an action plan and not just hope to get there by accident.

We as coaches would like to let you know that we aren’t just here to bark at you guys and expect you to do something we wouldn’t do ourselves. So here’s the deal. We have all come up with three goals that we will work towards achieving in 2015. We will post them on a wall in the gym and we need your help to keep us accountable.

Without further ado, here are the coaches’ goals for 2015:

Kayser

-       Snatch 185 lb
-       String together muscle-ups
-       Pistols on each leg

Lizzie

-       10 unbroken chest-to-deck push-ups
-       Strict pull-up
-       Complete my first WOD with lifting elements at Rx

Teddy

-       Earn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu purple belt
-       2k row under 7:00
-       Top 100 in my division/regions in the CrossFit Open

Joe W.

-       20 unbroken muscle-ups
-       Jerk 225 lb
-       Complete “King Kong” at Rx (3 rounds- 1- deadlift 455 lb, 2 cleans 250 lb, 3 muscle-ups, 4 HSPU)

Andy B.

-       Clean & jerk 265 lb
-       Handstand push-ups
-       Better lean body composition, less than 16%

Tracy

-       Legit chest-to-bar pull-ups
-       Deadlift 400 lb
-       Bodyweight clean & jerk

Ashley

-       Do a straddle press to handstand and a pike press to handstand
-       30 consecutive double-unders
-       5 consecutive muscle-ups

Emily

-       10 consecutive kipping pull-ups
-       Transition from firefly to handstand
-       Complete “Jerry” under 20:00

Peter

-       Snatch 200 lb
-       10 unbroken muscle-ups
-       3 consecutive freestanding handstand push-ups

Drew

-       Snatch 200 lb
-       Sub 5:10 mile
-       Back squat 375 lb

Clare

-       3 consecutive strict pull-ups
-       10 unbroken chest-to-deck push-ups
-       Clean & jerk 200 lb

Keela

-       Clean 200 lb
-       Rx WODs with ring muscle ups in them
-       Finish in the top 500 women in the North Central Region

Bobby

-       Sub 6 minute “Fran”
-       String together 3 muscle-ups
-       1 strict HSPU

Martha B.

-       100 unbroken double-unders
-       Pistols on each leg
-       10 minutes of hip and ankle mobility each day

Brock

-       Clean & jerk 315 lb
-       150 unbroken double-unders
-       30 pull-ups, 20 chest-to-bar pull-ups, 10 consecutive muscle-ups

We would like to know what you are working on as well, so we have created an email specifically for you to send us your goals to goals@twintownfitness.com. These will be posted up in the gym for everyone to see so make sure you spend some time thinking about what is important to you. When writing them please make them specific, measurable, attainable and reasonable.

There is more to reaching your goals than just writing them down. Stay tuned for a further breakdown of how to achieve your goals.

We all look forward to helping you work towards what drives you in 2015!

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!

Are your ankles affecting your squat?

1891244_880767821941415_6467677369343282556_n-2Tight ankles change the mechanics of your squat position. Tight calves, achilles or plantar fasciitis can also negatively affect your squat, but we are going to focus on ankles today.

Lack of dorsiflexion can make you weaker and more injury prone. Having tight ankles forces you to use your quads more and your glutes less.

A quick and easy way to increase ankle mobility, and give your heels a stable surface to push off of when squatting, is to put your heels onto a five pound plate. Or you can get off your wallet and go get some oly lifting shoes.

There are literally a thousand ways to mobilize your ankles, but most of our immobilities are centered between our ears. “Huh… what is he talking about?”

I’m saying that most of us choose to take the lazy route and not do anything to improve no matter how much we need it. Let’s assume that we have moved past obstacle one, our lazy nature, here are a few great videos that you can follow along with and see what is holding you up.

I would start with Dorsiflexion Test to see where you are at. This is just a snip-it, but start with your toe five to six inches from the wall. While keeping your heel completely on the ground, see if you can touch your knee to the wall.

If you cannot touch your knee to the wall, try the exercises in Ankle Dorsiflexion to start to mobilize. This video has you put a PVC or dowel on the inside of your big toe and then bring the outside of your knee around the PVC. But you can get a lot of the same benefit by placing the PVC on the outside of your pinky toe and bringing the inside of your knee around the PVC. Do each of these ten times, on each leg and retest.

Kelly Starett has a few great videos that tie everything together in your lower leg, and show you how to improve mobility for squatting. Check out Heel Cords of a Cheetah and Heel Cord Love’n.

There are also a few great exercises in Dorsiflexion for Improved Squat Performance and How to Improve Ankle Dorsiflexion & Plantar Flexion for Sprinting to work through.

If you do not know where your immobilities lie exactly, but know that there is something going on, get with one of your coaches and we can help you properly diagnose where your problem areas are and point you in the right direction for improvement.

We can all be as mobile as we want, but how badly do we want it?

How often should I work out?

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One of the fitness world’s million dollar questions: how often should I work out? Research across the industry varies, and you’ll find different answers for different workouts like weight training, cardio and aerobic activity, or bodyweight workouts, on how many times per week you should endeavor in each.

Hmmm, where could you possibly go to work out that encompasses all of this?

Fitness experts recommend anywhere from two to six workouts per week. Sources saying you should work out twice per week are the same that recommend that whole grains and pasta make up the highest percentage of your diet. Why do Americans look and feel the way they do? I just don’t understand.

There is one common theme pretty much everywhere you look: the amount of time you devote to working out depends on what your goals are.

If you are overweight, deconditioned, or new to exercising you should consider planning for a workout schedule of Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or, alternatively, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Think one day on, one day off, and repeat this cycle.

Having a routine and sticking to it, even when times are tough, is what is going to transform you to the “new and improved you.” Don’t leave your health to chance, commit to it.

Once your body’s recovery process has improved, and you can handle a higher workload, look to keeping a rotation of going to the gym on back-to-back days, then taking one day of rest.

For competitive athletes the CrossFit main site recommends three days on, one day off. This works well for workout volume and proper rest.

For any of the aforementioned routines, this snip-it from CrossFit Impulse, sums it up pretty well. “If your body is getting the nutrients it needs to perform tissue repair and fuel your workouts then you can train more often. If you eat poorly then you will inevitably train less often or with less intensity, and will require more rest when you are done. Your body also won’t get as full a benefit from the workout because you haven’t supplied it with the tools to fully adapt to the stress you provided during the workout.”

Above all listen to your body. Work through soreness and fatigue. Beware of working through pain, especially acute pain.

Train often enough to reach your fitness goals, but not too much that you overtrain or develop overuse injuries.

A goal for all of us should be to do something active for at least thirty minutes per day (stretch, hike, bike, swim, sports games, mobility, yoga, etc.).

Your body is made to move, not to sit on the couch!