Making the most of your time at O’Hare CrossFit

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Trust us. We understand busy schedules. In fact, many of the members we have here at O'Hare CrossFit initially joined because they needed a more efficient workout that didn’t require them to be in the gym for hours at a time. That’s why we’ve put together this list of ways you can make your time at the box as productive and fulfilling as possible. HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME AT O'HARE CROSSFIT: SET A TRAINING SCHEDULE While you generally enjoy coming into the box, there are some days when maybe overtime at work, school papers, family issues and other nasty things can really get you in the mood to skip the WOD “just because.” A good way to deter the “just because” excuse is to get into the habit of coming in at the same time on the same days. Once you’ve created this habit, it becomes automatic. You’ll find yourself going to the box without any force involved regardless of the plants who could probably use watering (or any other strange excuse you give yourself.) Bottom line: A schedule keeps you consistent, and consistency is the key to forming healthy habits. TRACK YOUR PROGRESS, CELEBRATE ACHIEVEMENTS If you’re serious about hitting your fitness goal, it’s critical to track your progress. And we don’t mean stepping on the scale every morning and completely freaking out at any increase in weight. Muscle weighs more than fat, so if you’re doing it right you’ll be gaining lean muscle while you’re losing fat which doesn’t always result in seeing a lower number on the scale. Throw out that scale and buy a notebook. Keeping track of your workouts and progress will help you train with a purpose. If you did 5 back squats at 135 a few months ago, and that sequence has come up again, well now you’ll know what number to shoot higher than. Bottom line: Knowing what you did yesterday will help you be better today. COME EARLY, STAY LATE (TRAIN MORE, CHAT MORE) Many of us get into the habit of coming in on-time and leaving on-time. That’s by no means a bad habit. But to make the most of your workout, the best thing you can do is put in a little extra time before and after class. We know, working out before working out sounds like advice from a crazy person, but it’s really the key to taking your fitness to the next level. It’s no news to say that putting in some extra credit will turn you into a better athlete, but when you do it with other athletes that like to go above and beyond outside of class times, you’re fostering some really positive relationships. That’s when the true awesomeness happens. Bottom line: To get the most out of your training session, put in some extra work both physically and socially ASK FOR HELP It’s ok to admit that you feel a little intimidated to ask for help at the box. But don’t be! Even those big, huge, grunting, bearded guys were new once. Everyone has been in the same spot and there’s absolutely no shame in needing some extra help to understand a movement. In fact, that’s the sign of a smart athlete who’s on their way to big things. Bottom line: There’s no such thing as a stupid question. Except for maybe, “Can I pee before you start the clock?” We don’t like that one. ALWAYS HAVE A WATER BOTTLE CLOSE BY (ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU’RE NOT TRAINING) Are you the type to only drink water when you’re feeling really thirsty or maybe you like to chug the majority of your day’s water intake right before and after a WOD? Well, you might want to change that and here’s why. Feeling thirsty and getting dry mouth indicates that your body is already dehydrated. Dehydration can reduce the volume of blood pumped by the heart which means less oxygen to the muscles which often results in premature fatigue. And if you try to quick fix your dehydration by drinking lots of fluid right before class it can cause bloating and cramping. That’s a terrible way to suffer through a WOD. This is especially important for women. “Women are not small men,” says Stacy Sims, Ph.D., exercise physiologist-nutrition scientist. “They’re five times more likely than men to have GI problems when exercising . . . women are also more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.” Bottom line: To get the most out of your training session, stay hydrated all day long before you step foot into the box. SLEEP MORE We want you to sleep more. In fact, we insist you sleep more. We can’t stress enough the importance of getting a good night’s rest because without it, all the training and dieting in the world will just be a waste of time. It’s hard to believe that something you do when you’re not even awake can be one of the most important ways you can make the most out of your training sessions, but it’s true. To put it simply, lack of sleep stresses out your body which cases weight gain and anxiety. Bottom line: Prioritize your sleep. Prioritize your well-being. PRACTICE MOBILITY AT HOME Stretching and becoming more flexible really shouldn’t take a back seat in your plan to become a fitter you. If we could tack on an extra 30 minutes to the WOD for mobility, we’d do just that! An hour a day at the box isn’t going to undo a lifetime of sitting on your bum craning over a keyboard. Invest in a few key items for home like a foam roller and a PVC pipe to improve your range of motion while you’re watching TV or right before bed. Practicing mobility at home will improve your overall athletic ability and will decrease the risk of injury. Bottom line: Mobilize everywhere and invest in the tools to do so.    

The Eye of the Hurricane

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By Coach Angelo As some of you may know I have been on quite a reading kick this year. This has helped tremendously in all facets of my life. I’ve focused much of learning on leadership, coaching, business, and personal development. One book that I came across and thoroughly enjoyed was The Mindful Athlete by George Mumford. George Mumford is a leader in the “mindfulness” practice and has worked with many high level athletes and coaches including Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Phil Jackson. This concept of being “mindful” or being in the “zone” has appealed to me for quite sometime. I’m sure many of us have had instances when were in the “zone” but wasn’t sure what to call it. That poised state where everything is going by slow and controlled in your mind exactly how you pictured it, while the world is going a million miles an hour. It’s truly a euphoric feeling where I hope to spend many more hours of my life. But how do we get to this Zen state? Why would we want to? Let’s start with the definition Mindfulness –

A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Being in the present allows us to focus on exactly what’s in front of us. Not being concerned with your past, or the future. The task at hand. This is a very powerful concept if you think about it. Not just in CrossFit. How many times do you find yourself in a situation where your mind is elsewhere? Adding to that how well do you think you are performing that task if your mind isn’t in the present? Most likely not to your true potential. Why would you want to be mindful?

1. Higher Performance- In any task CrossFit and not CrossFit related 2. To be at peace with whatever life throws at you. Embracing “Good” and “Bad” with the same posture allows you to be more centered in every task 3. Enhances concentration on the task at hand 4. You learn more about yourself and how you react and not react to situations. You go deep. That is scary sometimes but necessary for growth.

Steps to Becoming More Mindful

1. Focusing on the present situation. Looking at it like its neither good or bad. Whatever is in front you, you adjust accordingly with no emotion towards it. 2. Breathing – Deep controlled breathes to help your body relax. Put you in the present and get rid of any feelings towards a matter. 3. Continuing to stay in focus of the present and not allowing things to take you off focus. 4. Trust that this takes time to develop. Embrace it and get a little better everyday.

The center space between stimulus and response is like the eye of the hurricane. The regular practice of mindfulness brings you back to this center space. The eye of the hurricane is calm, while everything around is in chaos. Look to find and live in that space. If you want to learn more about The Mindful Athlete and what Michael Jordan knew about success, check out this video:

Your Body Talks…Listen!

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By Coach Becca

In CrossFit – more is always better, right?  More weight, more reps, more days of training!  I mean, that’s what all the best CrossFitters and people with rockin’ bods out there seem to be doing: double days, long and torturous workouts, heavy weights, etc...

I will admit – this is absolutely how I used to think when I first started CrossFit – the more I did, the faster I’ll improve.  Gosh it couldn’t have been further from the truth. 

Here is the thing – you may think you’re different or that you NEED to work-out that much to help you reach the goals you have (weight loss, muscle gain, improving with a certain skill).  The truth is – your almost every day workouts or constant desire to push past what your body is telling you might be doing more harm than good.   

There are some things a lot of people don’t know about muscle development:

1. Muscles literally cannot grow/develop strength/get further definition without proper rest. 

2. It is during sleep where growth hormone (GH) levels are highest.

3. If proper recovery time (rest) is not given, the body cannot regenerate.

4. Proper rest time, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and recovery methods (stretching, body maintenance, etc.) all play a very important role with how well your training produces results.

When we train hard, which I know you all do, we are conditioning our body – which helps our bodies to:

-Improve efficiency of the heart

-Increase capillary size to help blood flow and oxygen levels

-Increase glycogen (energy) stores

BUT – if proper recovery/rest time is not given, then our body cannot produce these results, or they are produced to a lesser extent.  The body will store less glycogen, your performance will plateau and possibly even decline, and worst of all – you run a greater risk of injury.  None of these things sound very good – right?! 

So how do we start learning to listen to our bodies – how do we know what they are saying?  Some signs of over-training include:

-Easily irritated – Know whether you are generally an easily annoyed person, or if you truly see a significant difference in how quickly you have been snapping at people lately.

-Mood Swings – Again, are you usually moody – or are you just straight up crazy lately!? When was the last time you took a rest day?

-Trouble SleepingYou need sleep to recover, but if you haven’t even been able to get much sleep because you keep waking up in the middle of the night – might be time to take a rest day.

-Loss of Desire to TrainSometimes a simple day off can make all the difference in KILLING your workout the next day. 

So next time you feel run down, overly moody/irritable, or have a crappy training session – take a look at when the last time you took a day off was.  Or better yet, develop a routine if possible with days you train vs. days you rest – try to have at least 1 rest day every 3-4 days of training.  Especially if you feel like those specific training days have been especially hard. 

All in all – listen to your body and treat it well (sleep, nutrition, rest days)!  It will thank you with better endurance, strength development, and a rockin’, defined physique!

Action Expresses Priorities

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By Coach Zach Riberdy Action expresses priorities. - Mohandas Gandhi When thinking of what makes something a priority, your individual approach is a determining factor. I have a tendency to make priorities more personal, which allows me to create a bond with them. Everyone has different priorities; all of them are very grounded and fundamental. When I say that, I do not mean that certain priorities are more important than others. What I mean is that our core priorities tend to be the same; i.e. work, family, friends, religion, etc. When a new opportunity presents itself, something that can potentially have a lasting effect on a person’s life, the idea of making it a priority can be hard and intimidating. Trying to find time or make time for it, realizing the amount of dedication it may take or the sacrifice that needs to be put forth. Every reason, whether valid or a meager excuse, plays a vital role in turning a new activity, relationship, job, whatever into a priority. Every day, more and more people allow a negative thought spiral turn something with positive energy into another form of “Well I wanted to do this, but…” Most people, myself included, have a tendency to be reserved when approaching new challenges. CrossFit can and is one of those things. Joining a new gym, having to get used to an entirely new system of training, having to get used to an entirely new group of people; all of these things and a list of others present a potential hurdle or negative thought loop that could cause you to regretfully say the phrase “Well I wanted to, but…” This is when the importance of placing value into a priority becomes necessary. Holding onto something of value, from a personal memory to something of monetary wealth, the value is what keeps it close to you. Why not make your own personal well being just as valuable? Taking the time out of a busy schedule to make a commitment to yourself will add value to what you are trying to reach long term. That same value will then translate into the importance factor, which will directly lead to making your everyday fitness goals a priority. Make your CrossFit priorities match your personal goals. I have never heard from someone that hard work put towards one priority did not transfer over into other priorities in their life. The more value placed in priorities, the stronger the bond is held within them. The strength of the bond with that priority, the closer it is to your heart. This ultimately brings with it the greatest the reward. Seeing a child walk across a stage to receive a diploma, doing your very first pull up with no assistance, eating a series of healthy well balanced meals for a long duration of days turned into months, going back to school to get a degree that should have been completed years before, signing up for a 3 day commitment to a brand new gym with all new programming, or finally getting the courage to move a barbell in a direction you never thought imaginable. Every day activities hold the ability to make you humble, grateful, scared beyond belief, or bursting with pride. The strength of the bond to that activity is what makes it a priority. Allow your actions to grow stronger so they may demonstrate your priorities to more than those close to you on a personal level. Let the strength of those bonds be your reasons to taking charge of your life, and not letting life take charge of you. It is very easy to follow someone else’s lead, but often times being the example has so much more benefit.