Learn to LOVE the things you HATE

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In a fitness space, we often come across a list of things that we hate doing.  Some of those can be simple, like hopping on a rower for a distance or calorie mark, or something more complex as string together a long unbroken set of wall balls.  All the things that you hate doing, you probably hate because you are not that good at them.   Coming from experience, and currently having to relearn just about everything, there were so many things that I dreaded in work outs.  I would check the website, see something that I knew would slow me down to a snail’s pace in a work out and skip that day with some excuse for needing rest or having to wash my hair.   I hate pull ups, my arms are long, I do not have a lot of upper body strength and I just do not like them.  But guess what, I love pullups.  I love them because it is constant and immediate feedback for something that I know I need to work on.  If I can do several strict or string together a decent size of kipping pull ups, I am improving. You need to love the things you hate because those things are going to give you the feedback that you crave.  Your ability to overhead squat more, your ability to push it harder on the assault bike, your ability to run faster in a 300; all of that is your feedback for improvement that only you can feel and see.

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better

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“Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better”   It’s okay to have a bad day, a bad workout, heck - even a bad week worth of workouts.   I recently had a member come up to me after one of the Open workouts with the heavy snatches (in which I failed more reps than I made at the 155# bar) and told me that it was inspiring to watch me fail over and over and keep trying.  At first glance, this could probably be taken the wrong way - but then I realized how truly REAL it is to fail. And how many people think that us, as coaches, are good at everything (HAH!).       I would honestly say, from personal experience, that I have a GREAT workout once every maybe...5-7 sessions.  Most of my sessions go okay in one area, not so great in another, and maybe one movement feels pretty good that day.  I don’t always feel strong, I don’t always feel fast under a bar or in my gymnastics, and sometimes my conditioning feels like I’m trying to row at 20,000 ft elevation.   I’m never in my comfort zone, and I’m ALWAYS failing movements.  I spent MONTHS struggling through double unders in workouts with whip marks all over my arms and legs.   I spent YEARS trying to get a muscle up and failing over, and over, and over again.     I see in classes all the time when people shy away from movements and exercises because they think they aren’t good enough to do them in a workout.     If we do not become more comfortable with the uncomfortable, the uncomfortable of taking a little bit longer than someone else, or even failing a few times, then how can we truly expect progress in those areas?   So next time you want to try double unders in a workout, or strict pull-ups, or toes to bar, or whatever it may be, but you don’t think you can do all of the reps - reach out to the coach and ask how it can be modified to keep intensity and stimulus of the workout, but allow you to work on those weaknesses.  I bet you’ll surprise yourself with what you truly are capable of.   And just to end with a corny “fail motivational quote” - remember: “Don’t fear failure.  Not failure, but low aim, is the crime.  In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” Bruce Lee  

Summer Run

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Our summer series of workouts are slowly creeping into the programming.  The weather is getting nicer and nicer week by week, the garage door is open and that cool breeze is starting to creep in.  Before we know it, the walls are going to be just as sweaty as we are and the temperature will be hotter inside than it is in the desert.   Something for us to think about moving forward.  Not every work out, but most of the workouts, will have a running piece to them.  When we run, especially with movements that require hamstring usage or calf usage (think box jumps or deadlifts), our lower half is going to be hit a tad bit harder than normal.     This is the time, in late April and early May, to start developing a simple lower half activation and mobility routine to get your legs ready for those conditioning sessions.  Listed below are a couple of things to think about doing….   Calf Stretch – place your heel on the floor and get all, or the most, of the ball of your foot on a stable surface.  Keeping that leg locked out, slowly pull your upper body towards the stable surface and release the tension.  Think of doing maybe 12-15 reps per leg.   Toes Out + Toes In Walk – taking roughly 20-30 steps per leg, walk forward with our toes pointed outwards one way and your toes pointed inwards the other way.  These will make you look and feel silly, but they are an excellent way to loosen up and activate your shins.   Dead Walk – this movement requires more mental acuity than actual difficulty.  Take a small step forward, having your front leg’s heel of your foot even up with our trail leg’s toe.  Keep that front leg locked out and bend the trail leg’s knee.  In a sweeping and scooping motion, push your butt back and bring your arms towards the floor and stand back up.  Take 12-15 steps per leg.   Walking Goose Steps – walk from one end of the gym to the other, with each step creating a large sweeping swinging motion.  You should aim to kick your leg up, getting your toe even with your nose.  While kicking that leg up, contact your opposite arm’s hand.  Think that you kick with our left leg to hit your right hand.     Preparing your legs to run is equally as important as preparing your body to deadlift or squat.  Each day that you see the workout, try your best to get simple routine going that can help loosen up your legs a bit more.  Each of these movements can be completed in under 6 to 7 minutes.  Let’s get ready to attack this warm weather, and show off what we’ve worked for this winter!!!   Coach Zach

Stop and Smell the Roses

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As I entered one of my local businesses yesterday, one of the employees greeted me with a smile and said “TGIF”!  It made me really ponder why we wish our week away in anticipation of Friday?  The monotonous routine of “adulting” during the week can take a toll on us.  Some of us are mothers, fathers, business owners, caretakers, students, etc…  So it can become fairly easy to allow our lives to be controlled and dominated by to-do lists and the clock.  This is no fun for anyone.

 

Take a second second to stop and smell the roses. We live and do the best we can with what we have but forgetting, and often never realize, that it's all so perfect. It is us, and only us, who are solely responsible for the outcome of our lives and how beautiful we actually make it.  How much we actually live it.

 

Let gratitude take over.  Let us not wish for things we don't have and begin to replace our “im sorrys” with “thank yous” now and moving forward.  Allow yourself the opportunity to live a happier, more fulfilled life and deepen the relationships that surround you.  In addition, this will open the door to so many more quality relationships that will add to your new outlook.

Allow the people around you to receive your gratitude instead of your negativity.  Be the light and you will attract light in your life as well.   Coach Ro

Sleep Talking

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Now that the seasons are changing, the weather is slowly starting to level itself out, and days are damper than in times past.  How this will affect your training sessions and how this will affect your daily routines can be noticeable, and noticeably apparent with some of us.  I think the most important thing that we can start paying attention to is our daily patterns and routines.     Without getting super scientific and turning this into a research paper with several sources, internal citations, and a works cited page; I need to confess something.  I have been extremely worried that I am going to gain weight, but in a weird way.  I know that I am losing weight right now, the number on the scale is going down.  The weight gain that I have been worried about has been fat, meaning I am losing muscle and getting a bit plumper in certain areas.     I am a male, who is extremely self-conscious of how he looks and is constantly criticizing himself.  After hurting my knee, and subsequently needing surgery, I began to think of all of things that were going to change.  Having to reteach motor patterns, squatting to a parallel position for months to come, learning how to run with proper form all over again.  Above all, having to worry about getting skinny fat, a term that cannot be taken lightly.   Being the nerd that I am, I’ve researched and researched things to expect.  What these medications are going to do to my gut bacteria, how the internal trauma created by a surgical procedure and low levels of anesthesia are going to affect my nervous systems ability to cope with future pain under positive stress measures, and above all what can I control now that I am in this rebuilding phase.   Because the seasons are changing, because it is now brighter longer throughout the day, now is the time to create a simple and realistic routine to follow every day.  “Even a single night of total sleep deprivation can influence energy expenditure and metabolism; in subjects with 24 h wakefulness, resting and postprandial energy expenditure were decreased; morning plasma ghrelin, nocturnal and daytime circulating thyrotropin, cortisol, and norepinephrine concentrations were increased” (Kim, Jeong, and Hong).  In simpler terms, one night of bad sleep can significantly affect how your body performs the following day, and couple of days after that.     I encourage all of you to start taking a better tally of your daily routines, and this is not just from a nutritional stand point.  Some of us probably could do a better job of getting into a rhythm with our schedule, and understanding that getting into bed every night at the same time plays such a vital role in our ability to function the next day. -Coach Zach   Work Cited Kim, Tae Won, Jong-Hyun Jeong, and Seung-Chul Hong. “The Impact of Sleep and Circadian Disturbance on Hormones and Metabolism.” International Journal of Endocrinology 2015 (2015): 591729. PMC. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

Focus on One Puzzle Piece at a Time

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In a perfect world, we would all be blessed with proper balance, muscle activation equal to both sides, and core stability. Few are naturally given this symbiotic structural balance.  
 
CrossFit does help improve many areas of fitness but not all of them. Those with nagging injuries, muscular imbalances, and poor activation we may need a training model that focuses more in muscular isolation. 
 
OCF Body & Shred are versions of functional bodybuilding. Many of us hear the word bodybuilding and think aesthetics. You know, ripped abs, and front double bicep pose Arnold style.  
 
The truth is isolation work found in body building can be bring up lagging areas to make the body as a whole much more balanced, rehab injury, and in fact reduce the chances of injury. 
 
The body is a very interesting machine. When fixing your car, if your engine needs work, you would you put more work in the engine, not just the car as a whole. Functional bodybuilding is no different.  
 
After nearly 10 years of working with CrossFit athletes, our program was designed to not only make you look amazing, but to injury proof your body and possibly rehab lagging areas that we have seen time and time again in CrossFit. 
 
This is not only for super competitive athletes but athletes that would like to be more balanced and stable. This will lead to better overall performance in the CrossFit. 
 
Breaking up the puzzle, fixing a piece or two and then laying it all out together will be the ideal way for you to feel great while having longevity in your fitness and overall wellness. 
-Coach Angelo

Nutrition, Weight-Training, and Cardio – A 3-Legged Stool

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Nutrition, Resistance Training (aka weight training), and Cardio are like a 3-legged stool.  They are all important in reaching your goals and you cannot have the stool with only 1, or even 2 of the legs.   We’ve all heard the saying, “You can't out-train a bad diet”, and for the majority of the population, this is true.  Nutrition is THE most important leg of this stool, especially for beginners. This may be a personal opinion, but I bet you’d find some good research to back it up, here is the order of importance on these 3 legs of the stool:   #1 - Nutrition Training is simply in vain if you do not have a proper diet to go with it.  With beginners, you are even MORE likely to see larger progress with nutrition change than with a training program change.
  • Problem #1 - You may be eating too much. The “bulky” look that all females are afraid to get from weight training.  It doesn’t actually come from the weight training, it comes from eating too much.   You need to eat just the right amount to develop and maintain muscle, but not develop any additional fat.  This is why nutrition is so important.
  • Problem #2 - You’re eating too little. Muscle tissue NEEDS calories to grow and maintain.  It is also more active than fat tissue.  So the more you have, the faster your metabolism is.  Muscle tissue actually burns calories at rest to maintain itself.  So you WANT muscle, and muscle needs calories, but the right amount.
  • Problem #3 - You aren’t eating the right types of foods. The types of foods you are eating can be just as important as the amount of foods you are eating.  High-sugar, chemically-ridden foods can cause inflammation in the body and lots of bloating (aka feeling and looking puffy).  Eat a diet of whole, unprocessed foods and reap the rewards!
  #2 - Resistance Training Weight training, or any type of resistance training is the #1 way to train to get leaner.  You simply do not build muscle doing only cardio.  Cardio can actually have a NEGATIVE effect on building muscle (see below about cardio). For our muscles to grow and develop, we must challenge them.  That means lifting weights that feel challenging, and doing sets of reps that almost get to failure!  When we push our muscles to their limits, they will need to burn more calories to repair them and rebuild them stronger.  Meaning we are growing and maintaining our current muscle at the same time as we are burning fat to restore them.  A double win in my book! So next time you want to grab the “light” pair of dumbbells, consider pushing yourself today, and tomorrow…   #3 - Cardio The “holy grail” that we all hold so dear to our hearts.  Cardio definitely has its place in burning fat, and it can make us feel great at the end of the workout, but sadly the majority of common gym-goers WAY overdo the cardio.   Cardio helps to get your heart-rate up which can help to burn additional calories, but keep it in small doses. Remember above how we talked about how cardio can have a negative effect on muscle growth?   We’ll give you an example… You know all those girls at the gym that sit on the treadmill for 45 minutes every day and look the same?  That’s because excessive cardio (aka 45+ minutes of steady state) becomes catabolic to your body.  It will start to eat your muscle for fuel instead of food recently eaten or fat stores.     So next time you finish up your workout and think, “Let’s get some tacos, we deserve it”, think about the gains your hoping for and the goals you’re working towards.  All 3 are important and it can’t work without any of them!   -Coach Becca

Just Let it Flow

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I swear we lose our minds with the amount of time and energy we spend worrying about things that are out of our control.  In a world where instant gratification is the new norm…. We know what we want and we want it now!  Unfortunately, when things don't go our way, we obsess over the possible reasons why or fall into a state of self pity, misery.   You CAN change this so that you spend your time on things that you ARE in control of.  Worry less and let it evolve, whatever “it” may be.  The moment you focus more on the positive, instead of the negative, everything will fall into place the way its suppose to.   Take a step back, and just let it flow.  In fact, take the opportunity to use that time you would have spent fixated on the uncertainty of a situation, towards something useful that IS in your control.  For instance, do something you’ve been wanting to try or start a project you have been postponing.  This will serve as a surefire way of feeling more at-ease and provide an amazing opportunity to appreciate the good things in life by being good to yourself first.

#17.DONE – What now?

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What do we do now?   Most have us have experienced the CrossFit Open’s for our first time this year.  Whether that was during a Friday Night Lights event or one of our Friday classes.  The Opens are a very special thing for CrossFit athletes.  They signify the beginning of the Games season.  They are the culmination of the past training year, all the two-three-and four-a-days, the long work outs early in the morning by your lonesome with Phil Collins blaring out of the speakers.  But for us mere mortals, us normal folk who attend a class every day or every other day, what do we do now?   Most of us are not Regionals athletes, and that is more than okay.  We come in day after day working on the finer things in our programs, getting stronger and more efficient.  We prepare ourselves for the world outside of our CrossFit fortress.  But now is a critical time, for all of us.  Some skill or some movements may have exposed a weakness or inability to perform under duress.     This is a perfect time to start mapping out your next coming months, to sit down with your head coach and really dig into what your goals are moving forward.  Some of us may need to dial in the nutrition, or some of us may need to become more efficient with our gymnastics.  Everyone has different goals and we all want to get better, so why not take some time to reflect about what the Opens did for you and see where you may have some holes that can be filled in.     I encourage all of you to explore what your personal definition of fitness is, and what new standards that definition holds for these next coming months.  Explore opportunities with our coaches, think about taking on the challenge of a personal accessory program or even individual programming.   Now is the time to start moving forward and onward, to a bigger and brighter future.  I am proud of all my OCF Warriors, for not just attacking but moving past with persistence and pride, through the 2017 CrossFit Open’s.  Let’s set the plan, TOGETHER, to make you a better version of yourself for 2018!!!   Coach Zach

How do you measure health?

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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