Building Confidence

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We’re at a tipping point, and a beautiful one at that.  The cycle is set in front of you every 6th week.  Every 6th Monday we get to play a new game, a new movement pattern is brought forth, a new combination of repetitions.  Maybe these 6 weeks will be better than the last, maybe these 6 weeks will be more frustrating? Who knows? But one thing can happen, and when it does I want to be a part of it.   The method behind the 6-week cycle is simply an opportunity for you to develop consistency.  When you hear a coach bring up that C word, you often get confused.  I mean we’re here to throw some weight around and get sweaty right? Not necessarily, of course we want to see you bust your beautiful butt, but we also want to develop some true kinesthetic awareness and understanding of the movements’ put in front of you.   If you were given an opportunity to learn and improve something for work, lets say a new computer program used to track data sets or inventory.  With in those 6 weeks, you would find the correct pattern to move through efficiently and confidently, to develop this consistent approach to this new software.  Why not treat your body that same way, with your brain being the computer you’re working with?   We have these 6 weeks to develop consistency, to develop efficiency, and more importantly to develop confidence.  Just because that number on the barbell may only move by 5 or 10 pounds at the end of the cycle, we can still be amped up that we now are more confident in moving that same barbell from floor to overhead, or floor to hip, or above the knee to hip to overhead.     The end game is often overlooked because of the type of game we’re playing.  We all want those precious PR’s, but developing the understanding and downloading the mental toughness and confidence to move efficiently is the more important than those 5 pounds, because we know they’re coming.  It’s just a matter of when.   -Coach Zach

Not All Calories Are Created Equal

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The golden rule of weight loss: ‘If you want to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories.” Well if that were the case, then I suppose I wouldn’t be writing this blog…but I am.   The topic of a calorie not just being a calorie could turn into a 15-page paper, but I’m going to try to keep it short, sweet, and to the point. The reason that calorie-restriction diets work short term is because they follow the basic rule of “eating less food causes you to lose weight”.  This is a true statement.  If you eat, on average, roughly 500 calories less per day, or burn 500 extra calories per day through exercise, or a combination of the two, you will likely lose around a pound of body mass per week. Here’s where it starts to get tricky though.  I just said body mass, not fat mass.  Many people stop here.  They see the scale moving down, they’re happy, but then it stops moving down.  We’re stuck now.  The scale is a few pounds lighter, but you don’t really notice much change in how you look.  And you already feel like you’re eating so little at this point (calorie deficit), that you aren’t sure how to possibly ever eat less to keep losing weight.  So what do we do now?! Enter macronutrients. MACRONUTRIENTS – What are they and why does everyone keep talking about them? Our body reacts differently to different types of food. Here is the high-level, basic break-down of the ‘different types of foods’, aka our macronutrients:
  1.  Protein -  I put this one first because it is the most important, and the most abundant nutrient in the body, other than water.
Protein replaces old cells, builds muscles, organs, blood, nails, hair, skin and tissues. You want to look “lean”?  Eat protein.
  1. Carbohydrate –  Carbohydrates are second most important because they are our bodies preferred source of energy/fuel for our daily functions and workouts.
The brain and nervous system run directly off of glucose (aka carbohydrates). They also offer a thermogenic effect that will increase calorie burning more so than a high-fat diet.
  1. Fat – Fats, aka lipids, are a misunderstood nutrient.  They carry over twice as many calories per gram compared to carbohydrates and proteins, but its for a good reason.
Fat surrounds and protects vital organs, regulates hormones, balances body temperatures, and keeps you full longer! Although the majority of your calories should not come from fats.  Somewhere around 20-30% is adequate. Okay….so how are they going to help me look great and maybe lose some weight? Think about it like this, calories help you lose weight, but dialing in your macro-nutrient ratio will help you lose the right weight (aka fat).  Would you rather weigh 145 pounds and look skinny fat with no muscle tone, or weight 151 pounds and look lean and muscular?   145-lbs Eating the right proportions of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats can help you finally reach your weight loss/physique/fitness goals.  How do you know how much to eat?  Here is a great starting point: https://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator We know how much to eat now, but how do we know what types of foods to eat to fill those proteins, carbohydrates, and fat columns? Enter Micronutrients (aka vitamins and minerals). If you were able to make McDonald’s, candy, and soda fit your macros (unlikely), you’d probably still lose some weight and see some halfway decent results.  Although you wouldn’t be very ‘healthy’.  Without including whole, unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and animal proteins in your diet, you can end up with some serious nutrient deficiencies. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, thyroid issues, vision problems, birth defects, and certain cancers.  If that doesn’t make you want to introduce the produce section into your shopping list, I don’t know what will! So do we still think a calorie is just a calorie?  I hope not.  If you want to feel better, look better, and reach your physique goals here are some main tips to take away:
  1. Try making around 80% or more of your diet consist of whole, unprocessed foods (i.e. animal proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains).
  2. Enter your information into the handy-dandy healthy eating calculator and see how much food you should be eating here:
  3. Take ONE day to enter what you eat into an app like myfitnesspal or another calorie counter.  See where you are starting, so you can know how far you need to go to get to where the calculator suggests.
  4. Don’t give up.  Results don’t happen overnight.  They take consistency, trouble-shooting, and hard work.  
 

Routine Breeds Success

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I wake up at one of two different times each morning, depending on my morning schedule. I get my stuff ready and I make my breakfast to bring to the gym to eat, along with all of my other meals prepped from the weekend. I workout at one of two times each day (early AM or mid-afternoon before night-time classes). I go home, I heat up my dinner, relax for a little, and I try to get to bed at a reasonable time. This isn’t my choice, I don’t even really know why I do it anymore, other than the fact that these are simply my habits.  This is my routine.  I can’t really even imagine my life without it. Success doesn’t happen overnight, heck it doesn’t even happen in a month.  It takes consistency over, and over, and over again until it is just second nature.  It isn’t easy at first, but I promise it gets easier. If I were to say I never make mistakes with my diet anymore it’d be a straight up lie.  BUT, I truly believe that the routine I have developed and the consitency that exists with my diet and exercise are what has brought me the success in weight loss and reaching my performance goals. If I over-indulge on Saturday night, and even if a not so great Saturday night turns into Sunday morning, and then the whole weekend seems like it went downhill, my routine and habits get me right back in the saddle on Monday working back towards feeling good. If I had ONE piece of advice for those looking to lose weight or reach whatever goals you may have, it is to develop a routine.  Stick to that routine for 3-6 weeks and just see what happens.  You may have bumps along the road, but don’t give yourself excuses and don’t abandon it.  You might be surprised what happens by the end of those weeks. Coach Becca

How to Kick your Soda Addiction?

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1,000 calories a week. 273 grams of sugar, aka over 1 POUND of sugar. 2 hours of burpees (this is definitely a relative estimate). Any guesses on what we could be talking about?  Well, the title of the blog probably gives it away, but all of those things listed above is what happens when you drink 1 regular soda per day for a week.  One soda per day will add up to about 1,000 calories in the week, over 1 pound of sugar, and require about 2 hours of burpees to eliminate. If you have fitness and health goals, then soda should not play a role in your lifestyle.  Soda has zero nutritional value, it is addictive, and it contains nothing but sugar and artificial additives.  I’m sure most of us know the negatives effects of sugar and soda, but quitting an addiction or habit is easier said than done, so how do we kick that can of cola?!? I’m going to provide you guys with a few tips on how you can stay away from the Coke cans and challenge you to spend the next 2 weeks kicking your soda habit.  Don’t wait until New Years to start this resolution, start it today! Tips for Kicking the Cola to the Curb!
  1. Go cold turkey.  Don’t try to cut it down to “1 can a day”, because if you keep it in your diet, you are still fueling your cravings.  It’s just making it harder to resist them now because you are only allowing yourself 1 can per day.
  2. Create options for replacement drinks.  Often times we really just crave the carbonation of soda, not necessarily the sugar/chemicals.  Or, we just are in a habit of drinking soda at that time of the day or at that particular restaurant we go out to eat at.  So here are some options for what you can start replacing the soda with:
    1. Coffee – If you drink soda for the caffeine, try switching to coffee with light cream or a small amount of stevia/truvia.  Coffee is completely acceptable in a healthy diet, it’s just typically the add-ons we put with coffee that create the problem.
    2. LaCroix – They have a ton of awesome flavors and no artificial ingredients! Find it in the soda aisle at your grocery store, but avoid the actual soda!
    3. Pellegrino – Carbonated water, but helps with that carbonation crave.
    4. Tea – Whether it’s hot or cold, just make sure its unsweetened.  Nearly every restaurant has hot tea, and it’s a great way to having something special other than the soda.
    5. Kombucha – My favorite option!  Kombucha is a little pricey, but it is carbonated and very good for you.  It provides probiotics to help keep your gut bacteria levels healthy.  A nice little treat to have every once in awhile, if the price tag is too much!
  3. Be ready for the withdrawal symptoms.  Headaches, tiredness, cravings, etc. are all going to be there.  Try to get some extra sleep during this time if possible, and hunker down for anywhere from a few days to 2 weeks, but rest assured, these symptoms WILL subside.
  4. Pay attention to your triggers.  Do you always have a soda at 3 pm when you are getting groggy at work in the afternoon?  Or can you just not imagine life without a nice cold Coke next to your Friday night pizza?  Try avoiding the vending machine at work and pack one of the other healthy options to enjoy at 3 pm at your desk.  Or try having a different restaurant/meal ritual for Friday night for the time being.  Avoid your triggers to make the process easier.
Now that we have some methods for helping us kick the cola can, let’s accept the challenge.  I challenge all of the soda-drinkers out there to take the leap towards your goals.  For the next 2 weeks or 14 days, remove soda from your sight and try a few of the alternatives listed above.  Be ready for the fight and have confidence that you will come out on the end of these two weeks stronger, healthier, and ready to keep working closer to your goals. (You might even find your a couple pounds lighter too!)     Coach Becca

Humble Beginnings

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I sat alone this morning in a very quiet gym.  Tape unraveled on the floor, sweat dripping from my forehead, shoes thrown in opposite directions.  I enjoyed the feeling, the feeling of subtle defeat combined with heavy breathing.  I smiled looking at a barbell with weight that initially made me nervous, but I moved with ferocity and speed. This sport of fitness is something that you have to take a step back and laugh about.  We all have walked into a gym setting with the highest of hopes, moving dumb bells and barbells in ways that we thought were safe or smart.  Now my entire spectrum of what exercise is has transformed to pushing myself through barriers that once seemed unrealistic.   The fitness group was where I built a base of strength and endurance.  I was a fitness group member, moving man-makers and ring rows.  I was a fitness group member for 8 months, before my hard work with mobility gave me the confidence to make a move to the performance group.  Although this may not be everyone's goal, it was my goal to start learning the Olympic lifts and higher skill gymnastics movements.  Even now I’d consider myself a performance group member, with an asterisk next to it because I am a coach. Do not ever be afraid to take a step back to appreciate how far you have come, or how far you have to go.  I do not ever know if I will be able to be in the competition group, a goal I once set for myself knowing it was unattainable at that time.  We all have insecurity, we all look at other members wishing and praying we could move the way they do.  Sometimes those humble beginnings can fuel us to even stronger futures.   Just trust that where you are is exactly where you were meant to be and never forget to look back to where you started.  You have come farther than you may realize.   Coach Zach

Food Addictions: Why They Exist and How to Control Them

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Have you ever found yourself fighting to keep from eating the whole bag of broccoli?  Probably not.  What about struggling to put down that box of Oreos?  Or that bag of chips?  Sounds more like it, right? Scientifically, foods which include high palatability like sugar, high-fat, or high-salt foods can cause an alteration of chemicals in the brain and develop physical craving for these foods.  The reasons for why an individual may crave foods, or even have an addiction to food, can vary, but most often it stems from a response to an emotional trigger. Many people say that foods are as addictive as certain drugs, and this can be very much true, but before that food became addictive, there were most likely triggers in place in terms of emotions felt, or situations you found yourself in, that produced that need for that particular food (or drink). Some signs to look out for if you feel you struggle with cravings or addictions are:
  1.     Seeing foods as “good” or “bad”
  2.     Eating in secret or sneaking food into your day
  3.     “Rewarding” yourself with food
  4.     Feeling disgusted, guilty, or upset after eating
It is not abnormal for these feelings to happen, and you are not wrong for feeling this way, but they can turn into detrimental habits to your health both physically and emotionally.  Enough with the reasons WHY we crave these foods, how can we kick these nasty habits and finally move forward towards our goals?
  1.     Set boundaries with unsafe foods – Typically, if something is a “trigger” food, these foods must be removed from the diet completely.  If you tend to binge eat ice cream when you get upset or are stressed, then it’s best to not keep ice cream in the house.  It must be relearned how to manage these foods in a healthier way, but before that can happen, you must abstain from them for some time.
  2.     Learn healthier coping strategiesStart paying attention to what causes your cravings.  What place are you in?  What emotion are you feeling?  Figure them out and start building different responses.
  3.     Distract yourself – When you feel those cravings coming on, go watch an episode of your favorite TV show, go for a walk or to a class at OCF, organize something, take a nap, or drink a whole glass of water!
  4.     Make yourself happy – Cravings and addictions are usually associated with negative feelings or moods.  Also, it is literally impossible for your body to create cortisol (our stress hormone), when you are laughing.  So do something you love!
  5.     Try replacing it with a healthier option – Instead of eating a whole piece of Portillo’s chocolate cake, why not try just having a little square of dark chocolate to curve your sweet tooth?  Or instead of a glass of wine at night, why not try some hot tea or even kombucha in a wine glass??
So before the “Holiday-15” get the best of you, work on breaking up with your cravings or addictions and roll into 2017 healthier and happier!

Health or Addiction?

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Are you an addict?  I am sure that many of us think of addiction and immediately think of that addiction being to drugs, or alcohol, or another life-threatening substance or activity.  In that case, I’m sure most of us would probably answer no.  Although, have you ever considered the fact that working out could be an addiction? In our social world, everything portrays exercise as being what everyone should do more of; very few people ever consider the fact that it could be harmful in high dosages similar to the other notorious addictions.  When does it cross the line of turning from a positive to an obsession? Have you ever found yourself at the gym 7-10 days in a row without a break because you just can’t imagine not working out?  Have you ever had an indulgent meal and told yourself you HAD to work out the next day due to guilt about the calories you consumed? Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and disliked what you saw, so you try to fix it with beating yourself up in the gym? Exercising is meant to help us reach our goals, to be healthy, and to move better.  Exercise is not meant to be a form of punishment, or a way to “fix yourself”.  Consider some of the following statements when deciding how to include fitness in your life:
  1. You are perfect as you are. Never stop striving towards the best version of you, but first you must accept and love yourself as you are. Self-love is so important in this world.
  2. Your body cannot produce muscle growth/development without rest. Rest days are necessary for progress. Your body produces the most HGH (human growth hormone) while at rest.
  3. Exercise produces high stress levels, which in small doses is helpful to the body, but as a constant can be just as harmful as a consistently stressful job.
As with most things in life, exercise can also follow the rule of “more is not always better”.  I’m not saying working out 1x a week is better than 5x a week, but I do want you to consider if your relationship with exercise is a positive one or if perhaps we need to revisit and restructure our “why”.   -Coach Becca

Take the Leap

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Stop telling yourself that you're going to wait until you're ready. Guess what..... If you feel like you're NOT ready.... You already are!  People that created anything in this world, didn't know what they were doing or even how they were going to do it, but they started. Often times, we psych ourselves out of doing something that excites us, by reciting over and over, all the reasons why we shouldn’t.  We portray fear that comes in various disguises: doubt, perfectionism, guilt, insecurities….that make it real easy to avoid making the decision to take that leap.   You will never have the time,  make the time.  You will never be fully educated, understand that your participation in this journey is half the education that you will need.  You will never know what to expect, accept and adjust accordingly.   You are worth it, and are being summoned to create and experience.  Accept the invitation and just show up. -Coach Ro

Holiday Drinking – What are your best and worst options?

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It’s that time of year again!  You’re either drinking in celebration or you are drinking to get away from your crazy in-laws. Either way, alcohol is usually a part of the holidays, but we don’t want weight gain to be as well.  
 
So when you are thinking about what your go-to beverage will be over the holidays, keep this information in mind.  When you are taking in alcohol, it is technically not a protein, carbohydrate, or a fat.  It is simply calories.  So, how do we account for them then to not ruin our progress?? 
 
If you are trying to track your carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in myfitnesspal or another calorie-counter, you need to account for alcohol as a carbohydrate or a fat (it cannot be a protein) -  
Carbohydrates = 4 calories/gram 
Fats = 9 calories/gram
 
So for example, if you are consuming 120 calories of wine, that would either equate to:
120/4 = 30 grams of Carbohydrates 
OR
120/9 = 13.5 grams of Fats 
 
If you want to enjoy that wine or beer, just know you may need to skip the buffet for the second go-around.  Now that we know how to track our intake, how do we know what the best options are for alcohol? Here is a little run-down of some of the worst and best options.  I also included a couple of recipes for “healthier” version of our favorite drinks.   
I would suggest either drinking it on the rocks, or adding some low-calorie or no-calorie mixers to it for your “healthiest” option; however, you want to always consider your sobriety as well.  A squeeze of lemon or lime or a zero-calorie soda or seltzer water is going to be your best bet.  
 
Here are a couple of my favorite homemade drinks that are spins on the old-school favorites, but without all the sugar/calories:
 
Diet Moscow Mule –
1.5 oz. Tito’s Vodka + Diet Goslings Ginger Beer + ½ lime squeezed + La Croix Peach/Pear Flavored Soda Water + Ice (Only 150 calories!! A typical Moscow Mule can run you 250-350 calories).
 
“Paleo” Margarita - 
1.5 oz. clear Tequila + 1 lime squeezed + La Croix Lime Flavored Soda Water + Ice (Only 150 calories!)
 
Happy Holidays!!
 
Disclaimer: If performance or physique are your goal, alcohol should not be a large part of your diet, if at all.  Alcohol stunts muscle growth, has shown to slow the metabolism of fat, and tends to lead to poor food choices.  Drink responsibly.
 

“You Are Worthy”

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“You are worthy as you are, exactly as you are.” 
 
By definition, body image is the way you see yourself and imagine how you look.  The sad thing about this is that so many of us have a negative body image even though we are the ones in control of it.  
It seems so simple.  If you could control your happiness, you would think that we would create a life full of it, right?  Wrong. There is this other little thing called society that tends to shape a lot of who we are.  We are becoming more and more of social beings with each generation, so it is no surprise that how society perceives us today affects us in so many ways. The social media platform in particular has become the main driver of what we should look like by blasting images of perfect bodies all over our computer and phone screens.  We then turn around and search to find those same idealised characteristics in ourselves, and when we don’t see them, we slide further and further into the dark side of negative body image.   Although most of these perfect bodies are unrealistic and genetically unattainable, they are made to seem normal and achievable.  Before I go any further, I want you all to understand you are capable of amazing things if you choose to go after them, but only base your success on YOU, not how you measure up to others.   So stop looking to be someone else when you are YOU, and only you.  Understand that a beautiful, healthy body can come in so many different shapes and sizes.  Your physical appearance says nothing about your character or value as a person.  I challenge you to start loving yourself again.  I know it can be much harder than it seems, but know that you are worthy; you are worthy of love, acceptance, happiness, and confidence.  You just have to start believing that daily. Here are some things that can help:
  1. You were born you.  Whether that was thin, tall, short, round, black, white, or green.  Embrace who you are and work to be the best version of YOU because you were not meant to be anyone else.
  2. Surround yourself with people who are positive forces to have in your life.  Others who have a healthy relationship with food, with activity, and with themselves.  
  3. Stand in the mirror each morning and TELL yourself out loud one thing that you love about yourself and that you are worth love.  
Love yourself for you who are, and if you want to change, then change.  But don’t change because you hate yourself, change because you love yourself enough to want better.     -Coach Becca