Why Lifting Heavy Makes You Skinny

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I sort of hate myself for writing this title, but I figured it’d get more people to read it and then we can FINALLY debunk the theory that lifting heavy makes you “bulky”.   I know this is a discussion that has gone on for some time now, but I want to cover it here, on a personal level.   As a female, and I know that most males feel the same, we want to have that “toned, shaped, fit” look, but not build a ton of muscle.  Right?  Well here’s the hard part.  That’s impossible, because being toned and shaped means you have muscle.  You must build muscle to have this look.   So all of those magazines out there that state you should do lots of reps at lighter weights to “tone your muscles” without making them bigger is a myth.  If you do not use enough weight to challenge your muscles, they will not grow.  If they don’t grow, they won’t look any better than they currently do, EVEN if you lose weight.  This means if you continue to lift the same weight for months and months, your muscles will most likely look the same.  If you are doing a heavy triple, you should not be using the same weight as when you do 8-10 reps on a set.  CHALLENGE your muscles.  They will thank you.   The claims that state certain exercises and forms of strength training make “long and lean” muscles vs. other ones result in “big and bulky” muscles are actually pretty bogus (drugs make muscles big and bulky, not weight lifting).  Whether you do pilates, yoga, or weight-training, your muscles will come out the same.  The difference is that weight-training grows your muscles much faster than most other methods (aka quicker results!).   So the bottom line is don’t fear lifting heavy, embrace it!  Listen to your body, push yourself, and the results will come.  Take it from an ex-big girl.  Over the past 5 years of CrossFIt, the more weight I lift and the stronger I get, the smaller and leaner I become.  I can’t quite seem to think this is a coincidence (and there’s research to back me up too!).   -Coach Becca

The Convenient Truth

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Often times we try to find convenience in a world of struggle.  We never really want to hear the truth because, let’s face it, the truth hurts sometimes.  Every day it becomes easier to make yet another excuse.  “Well, I don’t drink that much,” “There are people way worse than me!” 
Eventually we believe our own falsehoods; we become that thing we detest the most.  Exercise will not solve your problems; however, it will certainly give you the clarity to realize them.
Those of you that know me, know that I do not like to present myself publically, but some things need to be said.  For instance, I see miracles every day of my life.  Those of you who come into the gym every day and try, try, and try again to be better than you were the day before…. that is a testament to the human spirit.  It is pure strength.  CrossFit is an exercise methodology; wherein, you are asked to step outside of your normal realm of comfort.  Is it a cult? 
Well, I suppose that depends on your definition of a cult.  In its most convenient connotative meaning it is a group of like-minded individuals who believe in a concept.  If our concept is to live longer and feel better than I will worship that shrine and polish that golden calf until my last day. 
There is no contrary to the need to appreciate every second of every day.  Life is a temporary privilege that consistently being expended; we are meant to work and improve upon ourselves daily.  Evolution is not a preliminary concept that highlighted under Darwinism, it is perpetual; it is innate.   Keep working hard; ultimately, it is what we were made for! 
-Coach Dave

Do you suffer from “Mom Guilt”?

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There is something I struggle with daily. It causes a lot of self- doubt and insecurity. I have mom guilt; and after all these years it has not gone away. I strongly believe that a person must be selfish sometimes and set aside time for themselves to make their health and fitness a priority so they can better serve their family and children. After all It sets a good example and there is a plethora of mental and emotional health benefits to working out.   But what good does it do if you are struggling with the feeling that you are not being the best mom you can be? What if your kids resent the time you spend away? What if people think you’re a negligent mother?  What about all the little moments you miss out on? The overwhelming feeling that your kids must be top priority always can be quite daunting and can be made worse because of cultural and societal expectations.  I still deal with this even though my daughters are teens!   The truth is that those feelings might never go away but you have to remember why you started working out and watching your nutrition to begin with.  I can guarantee being healthy for your children and family is at the top of your priorities.  When you feel the mom guilt know that it is as much for them as it is for you. Being a healthy mom is being a good mom and years from now when you’re still able to enjoy quality time with your much older kids you’ll know that it was worth it.   -Coach Susie

Intensity: Your Limiting Factor

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People have so many types of fitness goals:
Fat loss
Weight loss
Body Composition Changes
Strength Gains (Including Gymnastics) 
Endurance Gains
Anaerobic Threshold 
Now that we have listed out the ideal results we can dive further into the reasons for not achieving them. 
In order to achieve results you need intensity.  
Here is the definition as it pertains to physics - magnitude, as of energy or a force per unit of area, volume,time, etc.
So how is this the reason you are are not getting results? 
You may currently be working with intensity less than 1-2 times per week. I am not saying you should have high intensity workouts every session; however, pushing yourself more often will yield greater results.  Not every session requires maximum intensity; however, not every session requires you to workout within your comfort zone.  You must push out of this zone and get acclimated to the discomfort.  
By NO means do I think you should be at full intensity every session, for that would be a recipe for burnout and injury.  however, choosing two sessions out the week say to allow yourself to have a bit more intensity whether that be loading or speed will help you get your results faster.
If you training is merely a check in the box or a check-in on Facebook, you are in for futile journey. Be present and constantly strive to push your limit at the appropriate time.

Coach Angelo’s 2017 In House Competition Recap

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The 2017 OCF In-House Competition was an amazing weekend.  This past weekend marked the 5th  In-House Competition that we have had.  Each year, I can honestly say they get better and better, and 2017 surely set a new standard for next year.
First, I would like to thank Rocio and Susie for running the entire weekend so smoothly; they kept everyone on time and organized.  They did everything from judging  and scoring to laying out equipment; the weekend could not have taken place without them. Thank you both so much for making this special for us.
To the athletes, I hope you left this weekend with two things running through your minds: I had a great time and grew closer to like minded people, and I allowed competition to push me to further levels of discomfort.  Your potential is limitless and for some moments this weekend I hope you were able to taste that.
A special congratulations to all the podium finishers.  Your hard work before the competition day has proven to be the preparation you needed to excel this past weekend. Keep it up!
Thank you all for such an amazing weekend.  I am still trying to recall all of the special moments that happened. I am so grateful for you all.

What to Eat Post-Workout

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So, imagine this: we are in a high-volume, high-intensity week of the cycle and you just finished a grueling workout that had a lot of reps and a lot of weight.  Is the first thought what should I eat to help myself recover?  Well, it should be…   After a workout, our body is depleted of its energy (glycogen aka calories) and our muscles have little micro-tears in them that need repairing!  Guess what helps us repair and recover our body…?  That’s right, CALORIES!  But the right type of calories is going to be more beneficial than just any old combination that you can find.   Your muscles like both proteins and carbohydrates after a workout, so how much of these should we give our body?!   Depending on your weight and your goals: 15-35g of Protein 30-100g of Carbohydrates   Keep fats minimal because fats tend to slow down absorption of carbohydrates and protein to your body aka they slow the process of recovery.  So those beloved Perfect Foods Bars post workout?  Not the best idea…save them for another time in the day.   What types of foods can this be?! Protein Sources - Whey Protein Chicken Breast Low-Fat or Non-Fat Greek Yogurt Fish/Seafood   Carbohydrate Sources - Oats Sweet potatoes or White potatoes White Rice Whole grain bread or bagels Fruits like bananas or apples   Alright, so now when should we be eating this?!   I’m not asking you to bring your plate and fork onto the workout floor and chow down immediately after you finish, BUT the sooner the better.   Within 20 minutes - Try to get something easy to digest and simple in.  This could be your protein shake and a banana or some overnight oats!   Within 2 hours - This is when we’d want to get our next MEAL in.  Stick to again, lean proteins like the ones listed above, and a healthy starch.  Keep fats for the meals away from your workout.   Now you’re equipped to recover in the best way possible!  Fuel your body and it will repay you!   -Coach Becca

Break the Mold

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When I walked into O’Hare Crossfit for the first time and saw all the strong women of different shapes and sizes I was immediately inspired by them (and intimidated).  I had never seen so many “girls” lifting an actual barbell and doing pull-ups, real pull ups. I thought I would be judged by them for not being able to lift ten pound dumbbells or having to do jumping pull-ups off a box.  I could never aspire to look like them or perform any of the movements as they could. My goals were to get in shape and feel better about myself. That was it. I was not going to strive for anything more than that. What would be the point of it? I could only do a limited amount of things and that was it. Well that attitude didn’t get me very far with my goals.  It also didn’t last long because I decided I wanted that strict pull up.  If I could do that one pull up I would be satisfied. I had to ask for help from the coaches and see how I could increase my strength. I worked on my strength and progressions every day before and after class. It was a struggle.  After a few weeks I surmised that some people had that strength and others did not. I was one of the others.  But I kept on and the glorious day came when I got my strict pull up. Yet, I was not satisfied.  I then wanted to knock out more at a time, I wanted to become more efficient at other movements and then I wanted to learn how to lift with a barbell, and so on. I’m glad now that I pushed myself at things I thought I could not do.  It has been a difficult yet highly satisfying road for me considering my un-athletic background.  The more I attempted the more I failed but then at some point the goal gets accomplished and there is no better feeling than that.  The best part of this is that the more work I put in towards a skill or weight I had never done before, is that the more in shape I got and the better I felt about myself.  Those were my only goals in the beginning and they have never wavered since then.  Do not be afraid of putting in a little extra work for some skills, even if you think everyone can do it and not you.  Those are the things that change your body and mind.   -Coach Susie

3 Tips on how NOT to Lose it this Summer!

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Well it’s about that time. You know, when the sun is out later, there is a party or fest every weekend, and vacations to be had.  
 
Summer is a beautiful time of year especially if you live in Chicago.  How do you enjoy summer and it’s festivities without blowing all the hard work you have put in all winter? 
 
Here are 3 tips:
 
1.   Intermittent Fasting: If you are going to go to a party, drink a little, eat without guilt or counting try intermittent fasting. Wake up, and try not eat for 4-6 hours. When you do eat, keep it light especially in the carbs (save those for later) and then go out have some fun and know you’re not completely blowing your nutrition.
 
2.   Do something active outside.  There is more to fitness than the gym. Go to a park and play for an hour, play catch, ride a bike, go for a hike, the possibilities are endless. Check out this blog for more info about that - http://oharecrossfit.com/with-the-weather-getting-warmer-its-time-to-apply-your-fitness-outside-of-your-big-sweaty-box/
3.   Monday - Thursday stay in non-summer mode. Hit those 4 days as hard as you can in every aspect, training, eating strict, and recovery (stress, hydration etc). 
 
Let the summer be a time to celebrate and enjoy not set you back to a Fall full of guilt. 

Accepting the Ebb & Flow of Motivation

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Feeling motivated and excited about training is a great feeling.  We are engaged, almost in a flow-like state during training; wherein, we are not allowing any exterior distractions into our focus.
Does this myopic focus last forever?
Speaking for myself, I sometimes lose focus and motivation, and I am willing to bet you do as well.
So what do you do when you are feeling the lack of motivation and CrossFit is the last thing you want to do?
The game is about staying the course, trusting the process, and not allowing your negative attitude to grossly impact you.  There will be some days that you feel like you are going through the motions; however, that does not mean progress did not lie in that session or sessions.
Most journeys in life are a test of endurance; fitness is the same.  I’m not taking about endurance of breathing in longer workouts,; I am referring to the endurance of being able to trust the process, and yes, at points suffer to get through them.
If you are going  through this right now, take this as a plea to stay the course, trust the unfolding, and realize it will come back with  your consistency and effort. If you are riding high right now, enjoy it, soak it in, and know you are armed with the knowledge to handle the road ahead.
You must endure; struggle is merely life's toll.

The Dance That is Scaling

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Scaling a workout is necessary sometimes; however, it DOES NOT mean you are not good enough, not capable, or a failure.
 
Consider that each workout is written to provide a certain feeling or stimulus.  Certain time domains, loading parameters, and movement selections are catalysts a programmer uses to develop a certain stimulus in every workout they write. 
 
How does this play into class? If a workout calls for five minutes of grueling work, focus on that goal versus the perceived inadequacies you are feeling about scaling a workout.  Doing a workout RX or scaled is erroneous if the workout achieves the necessary reaction within your physical and mental state. 
 
That is and was the beauty of CrossFit. We all can “go there” together; even though, we have different abilities. 
 
Scaling is like a dance, you need to know the steps and who your partner is. If a coach asks you to scale, they are simply asking you to adjust a couple steps in the dance; they are not saying you are not able to dance.  
 
Understand that everything is about getting a certain feeling, and focus on how your role in the dance can be done perfectly relative to your abilities and goals.  
-Coach Angelo