Monday, June 11, 2018

Nutrition Update part 2

Went off the rails a bit after making some progress, failure is part of the learning process, embrace it.  If being disciplined were easy, everyone would do it.  Weighing and measuring your food is not easy, but necessary if you expect consistent results.  Here is what I have learned during my short experience with the zone:
1.  The timing of your meals is really important.  If you wait until you are actually hungry, you are setting yourself up for failure.  I can't go more than 3 hours without some type of satiating protein and fiber.
2. Don't eat out of balance.  If you are supposed to eat 3 blocks of the macros, eat 3 blocks.  Having more carbs or no fat and then trying to play catch up later in the day doesn't work.  There is a hormonal response that happens when you keep your macros balanced and this is the only sustainable way to keep making progress.
3.  You will always eat more or less than you need if you don't weigh and measure your food.  Keep yourself honest.
4.  You are going to fail.  Accept it as part of the process and then move on.  Perfection doesn't exist, think long term habits not short term success or failure.
5. Pay attention to the signals your body is sending.  For whatever reason, I find that eating my 16 blocks happens best within an 8-10 hour period of the day and then I stop eating.  For some people, grazing and spreading their blocks out over 12-16 hours works best for them.  It is not about a one size fits all prescription.  Find out what works for you and then stick with it.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Nutrition Part 1

I am currently on a personal quest to dial in my own nutrition.  I figured I would document this journey as I go along and maybe it will serve as a reference point for someone else. 

Nutrition is a tough area to really dial in, and it is true that you cannot train enough to compensate for a bad diet.  I decided to go back to the basics and look at my CrossFit Level 1 Training Manual where I was reminded about the Zone diet and the importance of balanced macro nutrients at each meal. I have dabbled with the Zone Diet before, but I am looking to really dial it in over my summer break when I am not teaching and coaching students. This will give me more time to do some food prep which includes weighing and measuring my food.  I am hoping to have some sort of rhythm going into the next school year so that I can keep the momentum going and successfully transfer that experience and information to my student athletes.  I don't want to overwhelm anyone here, so let's start with the basics.  The Zone Diet is made up of blocks/portions of Proteins, Carbs, & Fats.  Depending on your lean body mass, you can roughly calculate the number of macros you need to support lean muscle while decreasing your body fat.  A block consists of 7 grams of protein, 9 grams of Carbs, and 3 grams of fat.  It is really important to track your Body Fat % so that you know if you are losing fat, gaining lean mass, etc.  Once you know your lean mass, you must define your activity level.  If you are an average CrossFitter and perform 4-7 workouts per week, use the following formula to start and then you can dial it in further once you have established a baseline.

Lean Mass x 0.7 / 7  

For me personally, this equates to 161 lbs of lean mass x 0.7 / 7 which equals 16 blocks of protein/carbs/fats per day.  This is where I am starting to establish some kind of baseline before making slight adjustments based on increases or decreases in training volume, workout performance, and measurements (body measurements, body fat %, BMI, lean mass, etc.).  I'll let you know how it goes and hopefully give some useful tips along the way.

Go Fund Us!

We need a space that is dedicated to Vision CrossFit students. A space that can house squat racks, ropes, rings, barbells, rowers, assault bikes, plyo boxes, and all our CrossFit equipment (currently stored in my science lab).  A building that allows students the option to not workout in 20 degree weather in the winter and mid 90's in the fall.  Some students in our program have started a go fund me page.  Here is the link:

Thanks for your support!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Varsity Letters in CrossFit

The Sport of Fitness!  In an earlier post, I gave several reasons why CrossFit should be considered a sport based on the definition of sport.  While in high school, students can letter in everything from Football to Drama and a whole host of activities. Naturally, I thought it was reasonable to give students an opportunity to earn a Varsity Letter in CrossFit. 
The 2018 Open season was our competitive season this year.  In addition to extra workouts and training outside of school with our partners in the CrossFit community, these students worked so very hard and can truly be referred to as "athletes." These students earned the first ever Varsity letters for CrossFit out our school.  So proud of them! Not all students earning a letter are pictured here, but we had 16 students earn their letter this year.  Congrats to this inaugural group.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Competition is good for the soul!

We compete everyday at Vision CrossFit.  Competing against each other, against the clock, and against ourselves.  It's really nice though for students to be able to compete against other athletes around the world, in their age group, during this year's CrossFit Open.  Last year we had 6 people compete in the CrossFit Open and this year we had 15 athletes compete.  The students did amazing! We had 3 students place inside the top 10 and several more inside the top 20 of the scaled West Coast region, not considering most of them competed for the first time. 

What's even more unbelievable is that these students have very limited exposure to some of the barbell movements that showed up in several of the workouts, because we don't have the space or equipment at Vision Charter.  We drill these movements daily with sandbags, dumbbells, kettlebells, and pvc pipe.  These movement patterns take time and the students did very well, but I long for the day when we have this equipment on campus so that they can reach their full genetic potential within their fitness journey. 

Congrats to all the Vision CrossFit athletes that competed and thanks to our partners around the valley at Snake River CrossFit and CrossFit Fireside who were willing to help my athletes throughout this year continue to get better.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Magic 8 ball says Yes!

A Revolution in Physical Education? Check this out!

I did my student teaching while pursuing my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology Education in the Spring of  2000.  My teaching assignment was simple take a bunch of 7th & 8th graders, in a very traditional physical education class,  and help them pursue a life of  health and fitness.  I was pretty certain that I could persuade my students to do this using things that motivated me like organized sports. Easier said than done, not much has changed in the last 50 years, minus the required T-shirts and short colored shorts (I am visualizing the Wonder Years here). Teach students how to shoot a basketball, run a mile, dodge or catch a ball, and help them learn a variety of other sports related skills as if we are the farm system weeding out the strong from the weak for our varsity sports rule the day.  There is nothing wrong with that, I really enjoyed PE and sports when I was in school.  I would jump at the change to be competitive in anything because that was my DNA. Not all of my classmates felt the same way, I couldn't understand why.  I guess the real question has less to do with traditional PE methods and more to do with whether or not our students health and fitness  are benefiting from programs that haven't changed a whole lot in the last 50 years.  If Physical Education exists to educate students to be more fit, then why are students and young people becoming less fit.  I know there are host of other variables that can have an impact and I don't mean to simplify it.  The reality is that if something is working, then we would have data to back it up.  Our kids are not getting more fit and we have a health crisis on our hands.  PE programs are being cut, kids are taking online PE, Physical Education is no longer a requirement for graduation, and our students are battling chronic disease like no other time in history.  We have to evaluate what we are doing and then decide if it is having a positive impact or are we failing our students.  Is the goal to teach every single kids how to throw a baseball, or is it to teach every single kid how to take control over their own health and slap chronic disease in the face.  I believe it is the latter and that is why I believe we are on the verge of something transformative.  I cannot predict the future any better than the Magic 8 ball that I used to own, but I do believe that CrossFit in our schools might be a part of the fitness revolution.  Not everyone will like it, but who cares, when did anyone get excited for change.  We are all nostalgic and we all long for the old days, but results will speak louder than the naysayers.  My Magic 8 ball says "Yes" bring it on! Let's do this and lets help our kids take their health back.

Friday, January 26, 2018


Wow! Two blog posts in one day, that is a PR.  Whenever I review something, I like to write about it because it solidifies my knowledge on the subject and reminds me that I need to be relentless when coaching that particular movement.  I have been thinking a lot about torque lately, specifically how it relates to the shoulders.  My shoulders are messed up! I believe it is primarily due to poor coaching when I was in high school as it related to push-ups, bench press, or any kind of overhead pressing motion. Go to your local school and watch a kid do a bench press or push-up for that matter and you will be appalled.  If you are coaching, and especially if you are coaching kids, be relentless when it comes to this issue.  Shoulder pain is the worst and fortunately it can be avoided if proper cues are consistently given.  Below is a checklist of cues that seem to work for me when I coach my teen athletes, find the ones that work for you.
If it isn't working, find something that does:

  • Screw your hands into the floor (visual and verbal cues work here).
  • Pull your shoulders back and down (visual and verbal cues seem to work here).
  • Pinch your shoulder blades (tactile cues work here). 
  • Break the bar on the way down and pull the bar apart on the way up (as it relates to pressing especially on the bench).
  • Elbow pits forward (visual and verbal cues here).
  • Elbows in or back (visual and verbal).
Remember that you are saving these young people pain in the future and teaching them to actively engage the proper musculature while preserving the soft tissues in the long run.  Also, if results are motivating, that which is mechanically sound will ultimately lead to greater performance in the long run.  

Healthy Teens are Happy Teens!

What you don't see in this picture is the grueling workout these high school students just completed with our friends over at Snake River CrossFit (shout out to SRCF).  Each round of 2 minutes started with two rounds of Cindy, as a buy-in, followed by a max set of clean and jerks.  They got to rest a whopping 2 minutes and then repeated this cycle another 4 times.  You really wanted to leave a minimum of 30-45 seconds left for the barbell work, which means some blazing fast rounds of Cindy.  What I find fascinating about this generation is that they actually enjoy the work! Yep, I said it, teenagers like to do hard work.  Maybe the problem was never the so called "lazy teen," maybe the problem was the archaic methods that seem to persist in physical education programs, globo-gyms, and other conditioning programs around the world (I feel like I can say this, because I taught PE, did personal training at several gyms, and coached both basketball and football so I am just as guilty). Maybe we just need to re-think things, implement sounds methods of training like CrossFit, and then watch kids have fun and get fit at the same time?  Go ahead, try it, it works, and I couldn't be happier with the results!~

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Is CrossFit a real Sport?

Surprisingly, I don't get asked this question a lot. Rather, someone usually just tells me that CrossFit isn't a sport even if I didn't ask for their opinion. Typically, it is someone who doesn't understand the CrossFit methodology or they have a preconceived notion/misconception about CrossFit, because everyone tends to be an expert in everything nowadays.

Before, I started teaching CrossFit to students at Vision CrossFit, I taught high school science and I still do in addition to coaching two CrossFit classes. As a science teacher, we often ask our students to collect data and then use the patterns they see in the data to make a claim that answers a question about a puzzling phenomenon. Often, what we unfortunately see in the real world is that people will come into an argument with a pre-existing claim that is only supported after they have cherry picked the data that supports the claim they are already espousing. This isn't the best way to arrive at sound conclusions regarding anything in life.

There are lots of definitions for the term "sport." Most of them generally state something similar to The Oxford Dictionary which states that sport is "An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment." Hmmmm, physical exertion, skill, competition? Let's take a look at these criteria more in depth and see if we can arrive at the same conclusion.

1) Is CrossFit and activity? The obvious answer is yes. CrossFit is an activity that combines other activities such as gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting, power lifting, and monostructural activities (like running, cycling, rowing, swimming, etc). I find it interesting that if you isolate any of these examples like "gymnastics," you will have a hard time finding someone who doesn't consider gymnastics to be a sport. Even combining some of these activities like swimming, cycling, and running in Triathlon constitutes a sport. Any one watch the "run swim run" or cycling events in the games this year?

2) Does CrossFit involve physical exertion and skill? Once again the obvious answer is yes! If you have any experience at all doing one of the many CrossFit Wods out there, you will probably concur that it requires a tremendous amount of physical exertion. There aren't many things out there that will leave you as physically exhausted as a CrossFit workout in such a time duration. By the way, this is coming from someone who has played organized football, soccer, baseball, basketball, run track, surfed, skated, and was even on the high school golf team. None of these sports even came close to the physical exertion required to do CrossFit. Does it require skill? Ummm, Yes! Have you tried to perfectly execute a full snatch after running a mile, or tried to string together ring muscle ups after rowing a 2K? Skill after skill after skill, constantly honed and constantly in need of improvement. Handstand walks, muscle ups, clean and jerks, etc. It didn't take me long to learn how to catch a football or hit a baseball, it feels like it is going to take a lifetime to perfect the multitude of skills need to be a great CrossFit athlete. By the way, I still can't do muscle ups after 3 years of doing this, more strength and skill required I guess.

3) In CrossFit do individuals compete against each other as individuals or do teams compete against other teams? Sounding kind of redundant here, but Yes! Every day you compete against others at your box writing times and other quantitative objective measurements on the whiteboard. Sometimes you compete using apps like beyond the whiteboard or against others who are posting workouts on CrossFit's main site. There is also a competitive season, there is the world wide open that begins at the end of February, regionals in the Spring and early Summer, and of course the CrossFit Games in August. Too many other competitions all over the world to list, just Google it. You can compete as an individual or in team competition. With the growth that has happened in the past 10 years, take your pick. Bottom line, anyone who does CrossFit knows that it is a competition even if it is only a competition with yourself to improve your times, weights, reps and skills which are quantitative measurements and not subjective.

4) Last, but not least. Do CrossFitters compete for entertainment? I wouldn't necessarily say that CrossFit is fun, it isn't always fun, but I guess it depends on who you ask. I know I typically tune in to watch the CrossFit games every summer. There is something cathartic about seeing people suffer and being able to relate to that suffering. I guess that is why communities form so quickly around CrossFit. I guess that is why when you watch the regional competition, like I had the opportunity to do in Portland this last summer, the crowd cheers even louder for the last person to finish the workout than they did for the person who finished first. Which leads me to my final point. I have never seen sportsmanship like I see in this young sport. It is built around mutual suffering and builds community and a drive to be the best you can be unlike anything I have ever experienced.

In conclusion, is CrossFit a sport? Yes! Will people still argue that it isn't? Yes! Do I care? No! I want to surround myself with positive people who make decisions based on experience, facts, and data. I don't want to be surrounded by negative people who have to drag others down because they are unhappy with their life. I don't usually rant in these blogs, but oh well it needed to be said.