It is approaching two years since Carol and I started down our current path towards improved Health and Fitness and on reflection it is amazing how different things are for us and how so many of our priorities and our interests have aligned with the simple concept of trying to lead healthy and enjoyable lives. We still do a lot of other things, but improving our health is our favorite hobby. We spend hours every month reading about Nutrition, we make time in our schedules to workout, we get good sleep almost every night, we spend a lot of time preparing Paleo meals for our family and friends. In our previous lives, a lot of this would have all been painful, ‘wasted’ time...now, however, none of this is a chore - it is what we enjoy doing.
We're headed to Arlington to a Robb Wolf Paleolithic Solution Seminar this weekend (our 12-year anniversary gift to each other!), which I think officially seals the deal on our commitment to sticking with the plan and secures us space on the MotherShip. (Though I had a dream that Robb told us we should eat Pretzel M&M’s post workout...weird...).
So, what has all of this craziness done for us?
-No more Meds. None. Period. We have said goodbye to Big Pharma, we don’t want it and we don’t need it because we are not sick anymore.
-Zero Illness. Zero, I am not kidding. No allergies, no colds, no flus, no bronchitis, no nothing. 2 years, no illness. Immune system is running on all cylinders...workout recovery time is faster too...
-I am down from a career high of 299.75 # to 230-ish...Yikes...
-I can run a 5K without complaining...(...much...I couldn’t get around the track once when we started...)
-Our kids read ingredient labels, won’t eat or drink HFCS and have cut the sugar and grains back significantly
-Carol and I have a stronger relationship and get along with each other better than ever, probably because we are are both doing this together, eating correctly and our hormonal balance is closer to what it should be.
-My cholesterol is ‘excellent’, my blood pressure is back to normal from the brink of Hypertension, and my resting heartrate is about 50. I have reversed my previous path to Metabolic Syndrome. I guess I wasn't genetically predispositioned for those problems afterall...
All in all, it has turned out to be a pretty sweet hobby to get into.
Some people bake cookies and cross stitch...we like Meat, Veggies and CrossFit!
I was recently hookwinked by food label nonsense so I thought I would share this story with you. In our house, we make our own tomato sauce since most store-bought brands contain sugar and other hazards. I usually take some cans of crushed tomatoes and a can of tomato paste - add sauteed garlic, onion, spices and let it simmer for a couple of hours. I think you get the picture. One fateful evening, I realized that I had no tomato paste and 2 hungry boys waiting for tomato sauce so I ran to Kroger. In a moment of haste, I grabbed a can of seemingly innocent "Italian Style" Tomato Paste rather than plain Tomato Paste thinking that only some spices had been added to this variety of paste. Hey, I could just skip this step at home, right? Wrong! The minute I opened the can, I knew I'd been had. This tomato paste did contain some added spices but there was also a strange, glossy film over the paste - it had a funk to it. Time to investigate the label! Here's where it gets dicey, folks, so don't get tricked by label tomfoolery. Food companies are out to make a buck not to make us healthy so the cheaper the ingredients and fillers, the better for their bottom line. Check this:
Tomato Paste ingredients:
Tomatoes - yippee!
"Italian Style" Tomato Paste ingredients:
Sugar - why?
Salt/Spices - okay
Romano Cheese (milk, cheese, culture, salt, enzymes) - no dairy so this is out...
Soybean Oil - junk...an unhealthy fat, to boot...
Hydrolyzed Corn Gluten - filler
Wheat Gluten - filler
Soy Protein - filler
Garlic - sure!
Torula Yeast - huh?
Natural Flavor - does this really need to be added to tomatoes?!?
Many of us will agree that having support is key to success whether you are working out in the gym or at home trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Personally, when I embarked on my CrossFit/Paleo journey, Sean and I had to commit to it together or I would have crashed and burned hard. I used to be a lazy slacker thinking that my daily hour-long walk and an occasional run/swim would keep me strong and healthy. How wrong I was! After I had my first workout with Amy, Neil and Sean on Labor Day in 2008, a relatively "light" CrossFit workout left me staggering around the house for the rest of the day. But, Sean and I both agreed that is was just the kick in the pants that we needed to commit, together, to a long-term fitness and nutrition plan.
Meal planning, working out together and sharing in our successes and failures has made our lives not only healthier and happier but reinforced how important the support that we get from each other really is. I now see that same support transferring down to our boys. Kyle takes his workouts very seriously and is constantly quizzing me on his form and numbers in the gym. He needs some improvements in his diet but these things take time. Ethan is more playful about his workouts but shows up nonetheless and works hard.
Are you getting the support that you need from friends and family? If not, I suggest you get them involved in your long-term fitness and nutrition goals. We should all be applauded for our efforts inside the gym and out. Take someone on this journey with you!
So, what was the impact of this ramped-up philosophy of fitness (rather than just sports) at Naperville Central High School? Here was how it played out: this new P.E. curriculum allowed students to work out before the start of school each day. Workouts consisted of sprints and a host of other exercises performed with intensity and against a clock. (Sound familiar?) The question was whether this early morning physical activity might enable students to boost their reading ability or excel in subjects in which they were having difficulties. The thought was that this physical stimulus might create an environment in the brain that would leave it "ready, willing and able to learn".
Sure enough, students participating in this program showed a 17% improvement in reading and comprehension at the end of the semester compared with only a 10.7 % improvement for those students who slept in and attended standard P.E. class later in the day. Some students reported elevated moods and more energy throughout the course of the school day after this rigorous morning exercise. The correlation between this brand of physical education and improved test scores is difficult to dismiss.
Air squat drills with the Middle School/High School class...
While attending our CrossFit Kids Certification last February, Amy and I learned of a book entitled, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey, M.D. This book takes a fascinating look at the mind-body connection showing startling new research that proves that exercise is our first line of defense against so many illnesses: depression, ADHD, addiction, Alzheimer's - the list goes on. By explaining that our brains function just as muscles do, inactivity leads to decline. In other words, our brains wither much like our muscles would due to lack of activity. He explains that exercise actually "sparks" new brain-cell growth by supercharging your mental circuits to beat stress, elevate your mood and boost memory.
The first chapter of the book takes us to Naperville Central High School in western Chicago where a P.E. teacher, Neil Duncan, introduces an intense exercise program called Zero Hour P.E. to students struggling with academics. Tomorrow, I'll highlight the results of this program but I'll bet that you can guess that these students' grades didn't suffer...
It's Friday of Girls week here at CrossFit Blacksburg - and that can only mean one thing - Fran! This is THE CrossFit benchmark workout, so get in the box today and beat your best time! Or set yourself a time to beat next time it comes up!
There was post on the Main CrossFit site yesterday of a new world record box jump - 56". One of our own, Andrew, has a 50" jump - without doing any specific training for it! Ready to beat it Andrrew?!
Amy & I will be at the beach next week, but it will be a regular schedule here. Jesse, Carol, John & Karen will be putting you through the paces. We'll be thinking of you all from the sand!
There's been a lot of talk and questions lately about hand care - taking care of calluses, dealing with rips, and preventing rips in the first place. What we do in CrossFit is naturally going to lead to calluses, and that means you have to take care of them. You can trim them (Swiss army knife scissors are great). Use fine sand paper, pumice stone or a file to remove layers of dead skin - during or just after a shower is best. You can also use a Dremel tool at low speed with a sanding drum. Bottom line - don't let your calluses get too thick - they will tear!
The way you're gripping the bar may be the cause of some of your problem. Follow this link and click on the "Rip on Grip" video under power lifts - It may just help you out. Do a search of the CrossFit forums and you'll find all sorts of posts on
hand care. You can also tape up your hands during high volume workouts. Just pay attention to them, and do a little maintenance!
With the CrossFit Games concluding over the weekend, it seems the "sport" is gaining in popularity. There were more entrants at each of the sectional qualifying events this year then there were at the inaugural Games in 2007. The kind of growth starts to draw attention. Read this article from Forbes.com about the commercial appeal of CrossFit. Interesting...
And check out this Addidas commercial aired during the Games featuring Chris Spealler & Heather Bergeron...and yes, Heather is a Mom!
Meanwhile, we'll keep it going here in Blacksburg. Thanks to all of you for being part of our growth. We've said it before, the best part of owning CrossFit Blacksburg is the Community - meaning you!
Noggin - we've all got one, and we all do our best to put it to good use...well, maybe most of the time!
Ever wonder what role exercise plays in how well you use your noggin?
It turns out there is a perfectly named brain protein, called Noggin, that increases stem cell divisions and neurogenesis. And the best part is, exercise increases the amount of Noggin in your noggin - meaning your noggin works better! Here's the full article Phys Ed: Your Brain on Exercise. At CrossFit Kids, the high schoolers spend time at the end of class doing their homework or reading - after their workout, and their grades have gone up!
So keep coming in and working up a sweat - you're not only improving your body, but your mind as well!
Thanks to everyone who made it out on Saturday for some good food, beverages, and hanging out with some fellow CrossFitters watching the Games - a great way to spend the afternoon! We are planning on sending a Team to compete in next years games, and several potential members were seen huddling together - discussing strategy perhaps?
Congratulations to Kristan Clevar & Graham Holmberg for winning this years Games! And to CrossFit Ft. Vancouver for wining the Affiliate Cup! We hope you were able to see some of the coverage over the weekend - it was truly inspirational!
Sean getting a workout in while the rest of us watch and continue the party!