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

Setbacks: A Start of a Comeback

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A set back is a platform for your comeback…. We have all walked into the gym with goals in mind.  Those goals have been set because we want to improve, succeed, feel better, look better, move better, etc. etc. etc.  Why we have come into the gym is important, but our means of coming to that why are not. Each and every one of us has been set back by something.  Either weight gain because of a traumatic event, a horrific injury that has changed the abilities of your body, mental imprisonment making the outside world unbearable.   Each set back has given you your platform to comeback; to attack a weakness, to prove a point, to make your mind up, to make your body better.  We all move with a purpose, whether that purpose is known or unknown to us.  We all strive for greatness in our own personal ways. We all love a comeback story, why not use that same mindset to make your comeback story the greatest ever told.   -Coach Zach

The Myth of Detoxes and Cleanses

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They don’t work.  So, before you go and buy another 20-day fix that promises to “reset” your body and cure you of all bad things for $129.99 on amazon, please hear me out. 
 
Unless you are opening up batteries and emptying the contents into your mouth, you are at a very low risk of developing any kind of severe chemical build up in your body.  Even if you were able to accumulate enough harmful chemicals into your fat cells, these special drinks or concoctions would not be able to clean you out.  There is sadly no such thing outside of a doctor’s office. 
 
We actually have really useful internal structures in our body (our liver and kidneys) that do this for us naturally.  They do a fabulous job of ‘detoxifying the body’ and do this most effectively in combination with:
1.      A balanced, healthy diet.
2.      Regular exercise (What up CrossFit?). 
3.      Proper hydration.
 
There is no “quick fix.”  Cleanses seem extremely appealing because they work on the simple principle that you can eat all the crap your heart desires and damage your health and then with this magical drink you are back to a clean slate! 
 
Gosh, wouldn’t that be awesome?  We could all live completely irresponsible lives, and with a few sips of some dirty grass-flavored drink, we would be back to neutral.  Sadly, we cannot.

Remember Your Why

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What’s the reason we train?  The real reason we move from part A to part B to part C.  What is the reward of meticulously following Coach Becca’s instruction through a warm up; followed up by the agonizing little details of changing hip position with heavier weights and increasing range of motion.  Each moment that we pay closer attention to, is a moment that allows us to better prepare ourselves for our everyday lives.   By no means are any of us, coaches included, expected to wake up and take our loved ones through a full warm up; changing movements from day to day based off of the little ones soccer game, while syncing schedules with the high school athlete preparing for Friday night’s war on the grid-iron.  Common sport athletes are given the opportunity to practice movements or repetitions until they are perfect on the field or on the court.  We do so in the gym with increasing weight and more challenging movements.  What is often overlooked is that practice and repetition is increasing our ability to practice this thing called life from day to day.     Without getting philosophical or deep, each day that we wake up is an opportunity to make that day better than the one before.  Each day gives us those opportunities with our families, with our friends, our careers, our fitness, and our nutrition.  The real reason I train is to be able to maintain this lifestyle I have now for as long as I can.  I push every day so I can continue to keep up with my nieces and nephews, sons and daughters, around the corner of the house playing tag or to a catch a loose ball in a pickup basketball game.   I’m sure all of you have chosen similar reasons; to set an example for your kids, reset an example for your significant other, or remind your friends and family that you’re still capable and able to do whatever task is put in front of you.  Remember those reasons; those two little feet running around the hardwood floors, those deep-rooted feelings of competitive fire still present from the rivalry of high school’s homecoming, and those astonished looks from your grandmother while helping to move that same dresser for the fourth time in two weeks.  Each opportunity we have inside the gym, is an opportunity to make those situations outside of the gym that much better.   -Coach Zach

Finding an Appetite for Life

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For as long as I could remember I have been addicted to the truth.  Being, sometimes brutally, honest with those in my life and requiring of them the same in return.  So through my shameless- truth telling, I hope that you find something of inspiration in your own life.   A couple weeks ago, in conversation, a good friend of mine, asked me what made me, only ME, happy.  After minutes of pondering, I had nothing other than other people's happiness as an answer.  This shook me to the core.   How could I not have something, not one thing, that's mine, to bring me happiness, in an otherwise joyful and wonderful life?  So I began to search….. I began to peel back layers upon layers that had been blocking me from getting to the depths of my epicenter…… my soul.  Those layers came in form of limiting beliefs, past experiences, fears, and insecurities that had been carried within me since I was a child.   I knew there needed to be change.  I made the decision to ask her, my soul, the tough questions I had been pondering.  And to listen, listen to that still small voice, inside all of us, that knows what to do.  The voice that gets drowned out by our vocal fears that tell us “we don't know what to do”.  When really, it's because we don't want to do the thing we need to or have to do.   Through various forms of art and meditation, I have embarked on the road to learning about the soul that lives within this 31 year old woman; stopping at nothing to get to the root of my purpose.  I came to the realization that if I ignored this voice within me, my journey would be incomplete.   I encourage you today to ask that voice within, whether it be your soul, god, or plain ole’ intuition….. are you the person you want to be, doing the things you want to do?   Listen to that voice and make it your own. -Coach Rocio

Break Up With the Scale

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Let me know if this sounds familiar….you’re suddenly panicked because you stepped on the scale and the number is 1, 2, or even 5 pounds heavier than you’re expecting to see.     Before I address why weight fluctuates, I want to everyone to very clearly understand that how much you weigh does not define you as a human being.  Your happiness should not be controlled by this number.     Regardless of whether you let this number affect you emotionally or not, I would like to discuss a number of reasons why it could be fluctuating and not at all related to fat gain.    
  1. Hydration Levels - Being hydrated, which causes fluid retention, can make you temporarily heavier on the scale.  On the contrary, sweating or going to the bathroom can make you temporarily lighter.
  2. Bowel Movements - Sorry to bring up the “socially unacceptable one”, but if you’ve passed a bowel movement, your scale may reflect something very different than if you’ve felt more constipated recently.
  3. Carbohydrates - They are extremely, extremely important for performance and for good body-composition changes, but they cause higher water to be used in the metabolic processes.  Higher water retention in the body = a higher weight on the scale.  Even if you had a carb meal the night before, it will affect your weight the next morning.
  4. Exercise - A tough workout that makes you sore can also make your scale reflect a higher number.  When you train tough, your muscles need repair and that repair causes water retention within the muscles (aka higher scale reading).  
  5. Hormones - Ladies, this one is for us, when our hormone levels change (aka around that time of the month), that bloating you feel means usually the scale bloats too.  No worries, this should regulate itself back out after a few days.
  6. Sodium Levels in Food - Thinking about going out to eat at a restaurant?  Be ready for that scale to probably read higher in the morning.  Restaurants put a LOT of sodium in food, which causes water retention in the body to try to counterbalance the high sodium levels.
  The bottom line is not the weight, but how you FEEL and how you LOOK.  So if you are weighing yourself, do it in the morning first thing, after you’ve used the bathroom, but before you eat or drink anything.  I recommend only 1-2x/week, but if you do it everyday, just see it as a number, nothing more.   You are all FABULOUS!  Just remember that :) -Coach Becca

Our Growing Family

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We have all been a part of something that at first seemed daunting.  Something that scared us, that caused anxiety, that caused nausea.  Those new experiences have shaped our lives for either better or worse.  We can see so many new faces going through those same emotions as our OCF family grows and grows.     The beginning process of becoming part of the O’Hare CrossFit family can be intimidating.  Walking into a new fitness arena, your personal definition of what a gym is, is quickly shattered because of the lack of treadmills, ellipticals, and free weights being scattered across a well-lit speaker filled area.  I remember my foundations class.  I walked in on a Saturday morning, scared and sweating as if I was approaching the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth.     Our new family members need us more now than they ever have before, whether it is help with grabbing a kettlebell or moving some dumbbells back and forth from station to station. Often more than not, words of encouragement move mountains.  To our faithful soldiers that come in day after day, these blue walls can only represent the sweat and tears lost in a 10 minute EMOM.     To our new friends, those same walls may be scarier and closing in faster than we remember.  Don’t be afraid to give a high five, say “Great Job!”, or move weight around with a smile.  We were all there at one point, and the people who helped us then are a part of the reason why we came back the next day with less fear and more excitement.   -Coach Zach