How do you measure health?

By: 0

I had the pleasure of getting a general physical this morning; something that I haven't done in maybe 5 or 6 years. Something that is asked to be completed about once a year, with more importance the older that you get.    I had no expectations walking into this; I just knew it was something necessary being that health professionals recommend it yearly.  I mean what do I have to lose. I feel good everyday, minus aches and soreness from workouts. I sleep well the majority of nights through the week. My diet is generally good.  I have no problems moving around, but I do have some family history of cancer, heart disease, and kidney issues.   Through the course of my 45 minutes at the doctor’s office, I found out some pretty cool things today. I have a really low resting heart rate, which was actually hard for the doctors to detect. I have really low blood pressure, almost worrisome but at a very healthy number compared to my heart rate. My cholesterol numbers were great, and all of my blood work was, in my doctor’s words, "remarkable".    In times past, I'd measure my health based off of the lack of being sick through the course of the year by avoiding the common cold or a case of the flu, the amount of money spent on vitamins or supplements, my improvements in workouts that I've already tested, or simply by how clothes fit me. Now I have actual hard data that says I'm healthy. Real numbers from medical testing that says so.    I've tried my best to take care of myself, and tried my best to explain to people that this whole OCF thing is more than fitness it's a lifestyle. I guess I have the numbers to prove it now.  I have the ability to show my family that through my hard work, the funny looks for the food I eat regularly, and the amount of time I spend moving and sweating have proven more useful than I could have ever expected.   I am a man that is scared beyond measure of what illness can do to a person, let alone a family.  I witnessed it first hand; I witnessed my family being blown up by a mortar the size of a quarter inside my father’s brain.  Those feelings have never left me, so maybe that’s why I work so arduously day in and day out.  Either way, I have the doctor’s on my side to tell me that what I’ve been doing is right.   Coach Zach  

Nutrient Timing – Does it matter when you eat your food?

By: 0

Don’t eat after 6 pm.   You have a 2-hour “FREE” window after workouts to eat whatever you want, without any negative effects.   It is better to eat your carbohydrates earlier in the day rather than at night.   How do we know what to believe when there are SO MANY different opinions out there??   There are some very long standing ‘myths’ out there that I’d like to go over, and hopefully clear up some common questions I get about nutrient timing.  What I mean by nutrient timing is when you eat what throughout the day or in other words, when you take in your carbohydrates, your fats, and your proteins.     Point #1 - Late night eating does not make you fat.  Your body is not on a 24-hour clock.  What matters is how much you ingest vs. how much you burn over time.     Typically the main reason people believe in this myth is more due to the types of food they are eating late at night, rather than the sole fact that they are eating at night.     Does this sound familiar? You come home after work and are both stressed and ravenous.  You start picking at foods while you’re making dinner, you eat your dinner, and then you are in a quest for something sweet to cure your cravings.  So you eat half the bag of chocolate chips in your baking cabinet because you don’t have any other chocolate in the house.   Believe it or not, it does not matter as much WHEN you eat, it matters WHAT and HOW MUCH you eat.   Your body does not store fat more readily at night than at other times during the day.  Just make sure you are taking in the right amount of calories, and proportions of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to ensure you are reaching your goals.   If you eat all the food you are supposed to before 7 pm, then you shouldn’t be eating past then, BUT if you find yourself at 8 pm with 30g of carbohydrates and 20g of protein left to eat in your day, I hope you’re making yourself a sandwich to get you there!     Point #2 - You do not have a “free” window after your workout to eat whatever you want without negative effects.  Although, you can definitely improve your recovery and performance by timing of your food around your training.   So before you think I’m contradicting myself, like I mentioned WHEN you eat does not outweigh what and how much you eat.  Although, the timing of your foods can have a positive impact on your results as long as you have the proper amounts and quality of food in place.     If you have the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats determined in a day that you should be eating, but are trying to figure out how to split it up into your day, then here is what I’d advise:
  • Having a meal with sufficient amounts of protein every 3-5 hours.  This will prevent your body from pulling amino acids (building blocks of protein) from other muscle tissue to supply itself.  AKA - You won’t have muscle breakdown due to lack of calories and can keep your ‘gainz’.
  • Eating 3-5 meals per day will help you get the proper amount of calories necessary without feeling too hungry at any point, as well as not having to eat HUGE meals to reach your caloric goals for a day.  
  • Your post workout meal is important because this is when you are starting your recovery process.  As soon as we’ve stopped ‘gasping for air post-workout’, our recovery phase has begun.  What does that even entail?
    • Replenishing muscle and liver glycogen stores (aka our energy stores which are fueled by CARBOHYDRATES)
    • Muscle Repair which can be aided by protein intake
    • Restoring fluid and electrolytes
    • Helping the immune system to handle the damage of exercise and the stress it causes on the body (don’t worry - it’s a good stress!)
  So if you are trying to figure out how often to eat and when to eat what, keep these two things in mind:
  1. Worry first about how much and the types of food you are eating before you start worrying about the timing of those foods.
  2. Eat 4-6 meals throughout the day evenly spaced out and include a good lean protein source with each.
  3. If you are weight-training/exercising consistently, try to have slightly larger meals pre-workout (1-3 hours prior), as well as post-workout (within 90 minutes) to aid in performance and recovery.  These meals are where I would focus a larger amount of calories to restore glycogen to muscles (aka from carbohydrates) as well as aid in muscle tissue repair (aka from a lean protein source).  

Keep that Fire Burning

By: 0

Keep that fire burning.  Don’t lose that spark.  And if you do for what you’re doing currently, find it in something else.     With so much talk going into the 3rd week of the Open, I felt it was important to present a different perspective.  As a 5x participant, the meaning of it has shifted throughout the years.  It has become a way for me to re-ignite that spark, and has represented a time of reflection and reinvention for me.  Every year, I put myself in position to not only challenge myself and face any fears that I may have surrounding gymnastics movements, a major weakness of mine, how long a workout will be, or how much it’s going to suck… but inadvertently, I set myself up for success, in feeling a sense of empowerment and accomplishment at the conclusion of each season.  Every year, I feel better  and have been able to do something I was not able to do the year before, and that fires me up.   So to all my peeps doing their very first Open that didn't get to see a pull- up in last weeks workout, dont sweat it…it simply serves as a reminder that there is work that needs to be done.  We all started somewhere and consider this…. You are already successful and have so much to be proud of; you have completed 2 workouts in a competition that you never thought yourself capable of doing.  You stepped outside of your safe zone, not knowing in the least what to expect, and in case you haven't heard, thats where the magic happens.   Coach Rocio

Jitters

By: 0

Jitters are good, we like jitters….   A coach that I really looked up to told me a long time ago, that if you aren’t nervous about the game then you don’t care.  That is something that has stuck with me for years to come.  Granted that was a sport’s related reference, but its impact has carry over far beyond its reach.     Right now, all of us get nervous, about a myriad of different things.  I am at a point where I am very nervous about my future.  I have invested a lot of money in my education, to make something of a once college drop out who fought with his mother to tears about finishing his associates degree.     Some of us are nervous about going on first or second dates with a new found acquaintance.  Some of us are nervous that our low monthly income won’t allow us to afford some of the finer things that we have kept our eyes on for months on end.  Some of us are nervous about this whole thing called the CrossFit Open.   It is good to be nervous, it means that you care.  It means that you have worked so hard to a point where the outcome that you are about to receive will impact you.  Whether that be leaving a first date thanking god that you survived, or paying for a dinner that was a bit fancier than normal.  Or even surviving Open Workout 17.3.     If I were to offer any type of advice, it would be to remember that you’re doing what you do because you love yourself and you care about what will happen to you.  Not every scenario that presents itself will end with dire repercussions, but there will be some that challenge you as a human being and as an individual.  Those are often the one’s that you learn from the most.   Coach Zach

A Letter to All First Time Open Athletes

By: 0

Dear first timer,   Congratulations on having the courage to take on your first CrossFit Games Open.   Signing up and performing all five workouts is in itself is an accomplishment.   Now, I would like to give you some hard truth.   Please realize that this comes from a place of pure love without malice.   99.9999999% of the world will not be moving on to the regional, and an even smaller percentage will be going to the games.   The games athlete is the anomaly not the rule. Your journey in the open has greater reaching ramifications than making it further in the games season; rather, it is a quest for self-actualization.  Step back and come to the realization that you are doing this for the fulfillment of accomplishment, to have fun, to be apart of your community, and to test your fitness against a larger group of competitors and athletes. You are doing this to better yourself and see this task through to the end.   The open is a cathartic experience that will change you and how you view yourself both physically and mentally. If you do not enjoy every aspect of these five weeks, then you are truly cheating yourself out of the intended experience.   Avoid negative self talk, block out doubt and nervousness and allow yourself to be you within the workouts.   Focus on your own private victories and take great pride in them.   If everyone could do it than everyone would!   These five weeks will fly by just as fast as they came.  It will be the end of March in a blink, and all you will have left is the memory of your experience and the thirst to do it again next year.   Take time to reflect during these five weeks on how adversities you have conquered translate to your everyday life.   The remnants of the open should not be heartache and torn hands, but it should be a new found sense of self.   The CrossFit Open scores do not define you as a person, but your participation speaks volumes about your strength.   Whether we are games athletes or scaled athletes, we are measured on our attitude, determination, and willingness to stare down vulnerability and tell them it get the f@#$ out of our way.   Please keep that in mind.   Good luck to everyone competing this year. Please know that I am truly proud of each and every one of you.   Love you all, even if you can’t do a muscle up 😃 Coach Angelo Sisco

Nutrition Tips for the CrossFit Open

By: 0

The CrossFit Open is finally here! On Thursday night, the first Open Workout for 2017 will be announced, and we will kick off with our Live Announcement right after, and then Friday Night Lights this Friday!
 
Although we cannot yet prepare for the workout (since we don't know what it is yet), we CAN start preparing with our nutrition.
 
I'm not saying you'll make any HUGE differences in your performance in just 1 week of eating well, BUT here are some tips to make sure you're feeling your best when you go to attack that workout this weekend!
 
1. Not much should change - If you've found something that works for you prior to a workout, then don't change much. Keep things pretty similar.
 
2. Hydrate - Most of us are walking around dehydrated, and if they announce another 20 minute AMRAP for that first WOD, we could be in trouble. Start TODAY and make sure you're drinking plenty of water leading up to it.
 
3. Pre-Workout - SOME caffeine is good, it has shown to aid in perceived exertion and physical performance, but don't overdo it or else you'll be running to the bathroom right at 3-2-1 GO. Think maybe 1 scoop of Aminos with some water or easy digesting carbohydrates 1 hour prior to sip on.
 
4. Eat last meal 2-3 hours prior to workout - Depending on the intensity of the workout, I'd get in your last meal 2-3 hours prior to the workout so that you are not feeling heavy or left with an upset stomach come the start of the workout. Keep this meal mostly carbohydrates and some protein, I'd stay away from a lot of fats.
Then 1-2 hours prior to workout, consider a small snack that is easy to digest or some liquid BCAA's/Carb mixture to sip on.
 
5. RECOVER - Make sure you're taking in some carbs and protein as soon as you can handle it post-workout. Then getting in a solid meal within 2 hours after the workout to help you recover for the next one!
 
 
I will be posting more specific tips each Friday to help you make sure you are fueling properly for that workout and performing your best!
Coach Becca Chilczenkowski

Jump In

By: 0

Some of us are nervous about this thing called the CrossFit Open.  I get it, it’s new because we’re new, it’s off putting because we’re stepping out of our normal class routine, and well it’s probably going to be hard.   Here are my thoughts, and they are pretty simple.  Remember when you were a kid and that nervous excitement of going to the pool on that first day of the season.  You remembered how to swim and jump in and pull a solid 360 can opener.  That is exactly how I feel about the CrossFit Open.     We all know how to work out, we all know that we like to exercise for time; rip your shirt off, throw on your floaties and sign up for the Open.  This is an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than you think; bigger than the Wolfpack, bigger than OCF, bigger than any part of any gym in Illinois.     Shake off your nerves, take a deep breath, get in line at the diving board and jump in!

5 Signs You’re Not Eating Enough

By: 0

In the world of dieting, it unfortunately seems to be preached that “less is better”.  Less calories, less carbohydrates, lower-fats, lower-calories, lower everything…except exercise, always do a lot of exercise (sound familiar?) Here is the main problem with this methodology: when you are in a chronic state of under-eating, and you start to plateau with weight loss, but you’re not yet at your “goal weight” or you don’t yet have the body you desire, where do you go from there?  Do you exercise 4 hours a day instead of just 1?  Do you cut calories even more?!?  How can you possibly eat less than you’re already eating?  You can’t…or at least your body isn’t going to do what you want it to do if you go there. So here are a few signs that I tend to see with my clients who are under-eating:
  1. The scale is stuck- This tends to go right alongside exercising too much. A lot of people actually start to see the weight increase when they drop their food intake and start working out more.
This also tends to be very common if you are eating very low-carb. Here is where the problem lies: large calorie deficits (think over 300-500 calories per day) alter your body’s metabolism to keep your body in homeostasis.  When our body makes major changes like big calorie deficits, it will make changes to other systems in our body to accommodate (i.e. thyroid, adrenal, reproductive).     2. Mood swings are a common occurrence - Do you find that you are constantly “hangry” aka angry because you’re hungry? With inadequate food intake, many find that their emotions are on a never-ending roller coaster.  The brain needs blood sugar to function optimally and if it doesn’t get it, then our cognitive system will start to fluctuate.  When this system gets out of whack, so do our emotions, our attention span, our stress, and our aggression.     3. You have trouble sleeping - This is very common in individuals who are undereating because the lack of blood sugar in the system. If our blood sugar levels are not high enough, then it will drop even more so overnight (since we are in a fasted state), and this will cause your body to search for energy (aka stored glucose) from the liver. Although, if we are always under-eating, the liver won’t have what it needs to keep the blood sugar stable and then stress hormones get released (adrenaline and cortisol).  This can cause you to wake up. How do you stay asleep?  Eat enough overall, but a bedtime snack of some carbohydrates can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.     4. You are constipated - Sorry for the TMI, but someone had to say it. Our feces are made of waste from the digestion of food, but if we aren’t eating enough food, then guess what?  Our body won’t have much to make. Also, another reason of much more importance is that food gives us vitamins and nutrients.  When we lack these things, our thyroid suffers.  With the under-regulation of T3 (a thyroid hormone) from under-eating, we can experience a lot of symptoms of hypothyroidism, one of them being constipation.     5. You’re always cold - Take this one with a grain of salt - we live in Chicago, and its winter-time. BUT, low calorie intake can cause a drop in body-temperature, and it’s not just because you don’t ‘have enough body-fat to keep you warm’ theory that a lot of people mention. Calorie intake causes a process called thermogenesis which is the breakdown of those foods by the body (which also burns calories in the process). So if you’re experiencing any, or all, of these things - take a close look at your diet.  Or better yet, find an outside source that would have an educated, unbiased view at how much you should really be eating to reach your goals and feel your best.  EAT BETTER, NOT LESS!

Tips for Staying Away from Sickness

By: 0

We’re in that time of year when you can expect sickness to inevitably make its campaign on your compromised, sleep deprived, holiday food filled body.  All of us can think of at least 3 people right now that are feeling some kind of way; her sinuses are bothering her, his chest is congested, she feels like she got hit by a bus, etc., etc. As a person who is coming in contact with multiple people everyday, I take pride in my health because if I feel like crap then it is hard for me to give the best experience possible.  That is not fair to them, and as someone who takes pride in being on their "A" game at all times I need to be happy and healthy everyday. Here are three things that I pay attention to everyday that helps me stay healthy and moving from task to task, hour to hour.  
  • Pay attention to how much water you’re consuming.
With the weather getting colder, our bodies need to be hydrated even more.  Our central nervous systems are fighting like crazy just to keep us warm through these cold months, on top of any potential disease or virus making a guest appearance in our system.  Keeping fully hydrated will help with keeping our bodies warm and let the inner workings of our body do what they are supposed to do with no concerns to staying warm.  
  • Start using probiotics.
I have never been one to push supplements on anyone, knowing that every case is different.  I may need a square to help me and you may need a circle to help you.  Each person is unique.  After doing some research, reading article after article from trusted sources, the better you take care of your gut the better you feel.  Not only does this aid in digestion and gut relief, but it also has direct correlation with taking care of other bodily functions.  Good probiotics are pricey, but I promise the investment in these pills with regular habitual usage will save you on package after package of Nyquil.  
  • Start eating more vegetables.
Everyone should increase the amount of veggies they eat everyday in my opinion.  We, as people, do not consume enough vegetables.  Think about it, when has a doctor ever told anyone “You’re eating too many veggies, son.  Let's cut that down.”  With so many things compromising your system daily, now is a perfect time to increase the nutrients your body is ingesting naturally and organically.  Leafy green vegetables, root vegetables, and citrus are all great sources of power packed nutrients and antioxidants that can help keep your immune systems strong when your workplace is packed with runny noses and poorly circulated air.

Apprehension

By: 0

We all have tendencies to keep things to ourselves.  It is not easy to have the courage to open up, about things that you would not normally talk to anyone about.  In those feelings of anxiety, those feelings of apprehension, those feelings of vulnerability, those feelings of loneliness, those feelings that make or break your relationship with those around you, we’d like to know to help you be a better athlete.   I come from a background of quietness, and also some depressed days.  I have had a poor habit, since a very young age, of keeping things to myself; and letting them eat at me day after day.  Whether that is something simple that happened between my brother and I in a brother vs. brother argument or something like a family member’s passing away.  I have always been one who keeps his emotions to himself, but other’s around me have noticed and noticed quickly because body language tells all.   These feelings and emotions need to be exposed and exposed quickly, whether you feel ashamed or embarrassed.  As a coach, reading a person’s body language is half of the battle.  This helps us with so many variables when moving into a class setting.  We as coaches have so many things to focus on, and there are days that we need to be able to coach you differently than the day before.     I’m not going to ask, ever, for someone to talk about something they are not ready to.  I’m getting more along the lines of letting me or someone else know that you are having a rough day, a rough couple of days or a rough week.  When I go through times like that, I make it a point to let those around me know that I’m off.  It takes courage and it takes some ego swallowing to do so, but that could make our hour together easier on the both of us.   -Coach Zach