Mental Toughness: Preparing for MURPH

By Coach Amber Hopeman

It’s been a year since we reopened our doors following quarantine.  Many of us are still working from home, homeschooling our children, and adjusting to reestablishing that human contact we so craved.  Even if we didn’t crave it, many of us realize just how much we miss it after it is taken away.  We have all had to make certain consolations, compromises, and sacrifices over the past year.  We were just trying to survive, not thrive during this time.  

Last year I wrote this blog post on how to go about mentally and physically preparing for Murph coming off of quarantine.  This year, we have a ton of new members and even though many of us have been back at this whole CrossFit thing for a bit now, it is still important to take note just how ready we are to execute probably the most popular and recognizable CrossFit HERO Workout there is: MURPH.

The basis behind any HERO workout, in my opinion is to honor those that it is named for, reaching deep within yourself to find that inner strength, remembering their sacrifice and pushing yourself most likely beyond where you think you can go both physically and mentally.  They are long workouts and meant to be grueling, but man, can they be fun!  MURPH is one of those I always look forward to.

For a lot of us, we have spent the last year doing exactly this: searching for that inner strength, achieving things in manners we didn’t think possible, surviving each day. We have come out of quarantine finding ourselves still isolated from those we work with, having to find connections in new ways and finding new ways to stay motivated.  Despite the world returning to a new normal, we are exhausted.  We HAVE sacrificed.  As a Navy veteran and former Army Wife, I will also tell you that just because your sacrifices were not made on the battlefield, does not make them any less valid or real.

So this Memorial Day, if you are in town and are able to complete MURPH, consider these sacrifices. Consider: your workload, how much you have been actually working out, have you been prepping for this workout, how much of that 20lb weight vest you normally wear are you carrying around daily now because of your diet, ARE YOU REALLY READY?  The thing about MURPH is it’s high volume.  What is your strict strength like right now?  When is the last time you attempted a high volume pullup workout?  When is the last time you ran a mile?  Attempting 100 pullups for the first time in over a month (even a week) can put some serious strain on your body.  The risk of injury is extremely high. 

Unless you are a competitive athlete (in which preparedness for this WOD should not be an issue), your goal at the gym is most likely to maintain a certain level of fitness and probably look good naked.  In order to maintain that level or even improve, your biggest goal should be to remain PAIN FREE!  So when thinking about how you are going to go about MURPH this year consider one last thing: sometimes the greatest example of mental toughness is doing what is right, and in this instance that is SCALING!  It’s easy to go HAM all the time, but is it the right thing to do?  I recognize that making the decision to scale MURPH after the year that we have been through may not be what you want to hear, but it is what you NEED to hear.

So go to the gym, do ring rows or bent over DB rows for the pullups, drop to your knees for the push-ups or with hands on a box, squat to a box or ball if your range of motion is not what it used to be.  Bike instead of run.  Grab your SwoleMate and make it a PartnerWOD.  As coaches, we want you to always understand the intent of the movement and workout so you know what level of intensity you are trying to achieve.

For those of you who are ready to tackle Murph head on: If you have never done MURPH unpartitioned, consider doing so before throwing on a weight vest and splitting up the reps.  Or wear the weight vest for the run but take it off inside the gym.  Adding weight at this high of volume without preparation will only lead to unnecessary injury.

So don’t forget the intent of MURPH, the intent of MEMORIAL DAY: to come together as a community and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  The minute you have walked in that door to the gym you have done that.  Clicking the Rx button doesn’t change that.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU THIS MEMORIAL DAY!  HEATS WILL BE AT 9:30 AND 10:30am!  SIGN UP VIA WODIFY TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT!

WAYS TO PARTITION MURPH

WAYS TO SCALE MURPH

 

Who is LT Michael P. Murphy?

Michael P. Murphy, United States Navy (SEAL)

May 7, 1976 – June 28, 2005

Michael P. Murphy (SEAL) was the officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL element in support of Operation Red Wings, tasked with finding a key anti-coalition militia commander near Asadabad, Afghanistan. Shortly after inserting into the objective area, the SEALs were spotted by three goat herders who were initially detained and then released. It is believed the goat herders immediately reported the SEALs’ presence to Taliban fighters.

A fierce gun battle ensued on the steep face of the mountain between the SEALs and a much larger enemy force. Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates. Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.

Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire. This deliberate and heroic act deprived him of cover and made him a target for the enemy. While continuing to be fired upon, Murphy made contact with the SOF Quick Reaction Force at Bagram Air Base and requested assistance. He calmly provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team. At one point, he was shot in the back causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in. Severely wounded, LT. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.

Murphy fought on, allowing one member of his team (Marcus Luttrell) to escape, before he was killed. For his selfless actions, LT. Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 27, 2007. We honor his sacrifice and memory through The Murph Challenge. Find out more about Michael Murphy at the Memorial Foundation created in his name.

The Hollow: Part 2

The Hollow position is probably the more well known position and the one that is focused on the most when developing core strength and well it’s the position that actually creates and gets you above that bar.  But we want efficiency.  And that means maintaining the tension as we transition from the Arch to the Hollow.  Again, arms and legs are fully extended and knees and ankles are squeezed tight with toes pointed.  Ideally in this position on the ground,  one could push down on your toes and your top half would lift, moving as one shape, not breaking at any point.

Many athletes lose this shape by swinging the legs upward into a piked position, losing lat engagement when the shoulder angle closes or trying to thrust the hips toward the bar thus creating an arch again rather than maintaining the hollow position.

Again, practicing on the ground is a great first step.  Whiteboard Daily has a great diagram of progressions (see above) that you can use to build up your strength and stamina in these positions.  The key is to keep the core tight by keeping back into the floor.  Once you have progressed to the full hollow hold position, hollow rocks are a great way to practice maintaining that tension.  Want to take it up another notch? Grab a PVC pipe to simulate holding onto the rig and practice POPPING into that position as quickly as possible. 

In PART THREE, I will be discussing putting the two of these together and how they should be achieved when actually performing specific gymnastics movements such as the pullup, toes to bar and the muscle up.  In the meantime, here is an exercise you can do to build up your stamina in these positions as well as drilling a FAST and EFFICIENT transition between the two.  It’s called the LOG ROLL, and I first discovered it on BreakingMuscle.com:

This exercise is almost exactly what it sounds like. The difference is that while you’re rolling from your stomach to your back, you will be alternating between the arch and hollow, respectively. Start by finding your hollow position. Then roll left or right, transitioning into your arch position. Once in the arch position roll back left or right transitioning back into your hollow position. The goal is to be able to snap from one position to the other.

Minimize excess movement outside of the hollow and arch as much as possible. Your legs should remain glued together and you should continuously squeeze your glutes, abs, and quads throughout the movement.

Want another challenging option? Check out the Hollow Arch Pulls at the bottom of the same article by clicking HERE!

Next time you have a few minutes before class or after, try some of these out!  If you are looking for more in depth advice or training progressions, be sure to ask one of our amazing coaches or set up a personal training session.  If you are not a member, but are curious about CrossFit or learning any of these movements, be sure to check out our KICKSTART PROGRAMS.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As you might have noticed I LOVE WHITEBOARD DAILY (@whiteboard_daily) for quick and easy visual explanations.  If you aren’t already following them on IG or FB you should be.  Some other great gymnastics accounts related to CrossFit to follow are: @thegymnasticscourse @pamelagnon @performanceplusprogram @thebarbellphysio @functional.gymnastics

Photo credits:

Diagram: @whiteboard_daily

Photo: @crossfitdunwoody

Gymnastics is All about Shapes: The Arch (Part One)

By: Coach Amber Hopeman (@eat.train.mom)

Beyond strict strength, when it comes to Gymnastics it is all about making SHAPES!

@whiteboard_daily

The two major shapes we are concerned with when doing gymnastic movements in CrossFit are the Hollow and Arch positions.  In order to kip we are simply moving from hollow to arch and back as efficiently as possible.  And to be efficient we aren’t just swinging from the bar but we are actively pulling ourselves into these positions. 

So let’s break each one down starting with the Arch.  Why start with the Arch?  Because it’s the one most overlooked and when that happens a lot of power is left on the table and if not drilled at the fundamental level can prevent you from progression to higher skilled movements like the Muscle-Up.  The power comes from creating as much tension as possible in the arch to use in the transition to the hollow that will create the upward momentum we need to accomplish these movements.

By keeping the body LONG and RIGID, we create this tension.  Whether on your stomach or hanging from the bar, the position is the same: arms and legs are STRAIGHT, heels squeezed together, stomach is tight and butt is squeezed.  Lie face down on your stomach and try this. Stretch your arms above your head, keep your chin tucked.  Firstly, reach your fingertips as far forward 0as possible and just squeeze those knees and heels together.  You should feel that rigidness. 

Now just squeeze your butt.  If you have stayed long, even with this just small activation of the glutes, your feet should raise off the ground.  Now, while keeping your chin tucked, lift your chest off the ground like there is a string at the base of your neck pulling you upwards as you reach your fingers forward as far as possible.  Lift the legs slightly higher so that knees are off the ground, legs stay straight, toes are pointed. This is the Arch position.  Notice you aren’t hyperextending your back nor are you making a “C” with your body.  Try doing this a few times and then jump to the rig and attempt the same thing.  Engage your lats by drawing your shoulders away from your ears, keep the body long and repeat the same thing you did on the floor.  Notice how your body shifts without swinging, this is the tension we are trying to create.

So it’s great if you are actively engaging in kipping movements again coming off of quarantine. But remember, no one gets better at pull-ups by just doing more pull-ups, you get better by perfecting the basics, drilling the fundamentals that will translate to the power you need when executing the full movement.

Next time you have a few minutes before class or after, try some of these out!  If you are looking for more in depth advice or training progressions, be sure to ask one of our amazing coaches or set up a personal training session.  If you are not a member, but are curious about CrossFit or learning any of these movements, be sure to check out our KICKSTART PROGRAMS.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As you might have noticed I LOVE WHITEBOARD DAILY (@whiteboard_daily) for quick and easy visual explanations.  If you aren’t already following them on IG or FB you should be.  Some other great gymnastics accounts related to CrossFit to follow are: @thegymnasticscourse @pamelagnon @performanceplusprogram @thebarbellphysio @functional.gymnastics 

 

Photo Credits:

Diagram- @whiteboard_daily

Arch Photo- @crossfitdunwoody

Check Your Ego at the Door

“Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means you’re the least important person in the room—until you change that with results.” -Ryan Holiday

As someone focused on your fitness, you know how to work hard.

You show up day in and day out. You keep track of your training, nutrition, and recovery. But do all your actions truly align with a deeper goal? The one you say you want to accomplish but still feel hesitant towards. Are you truly on the path to mastery?

In his book “Ego is the Enemy,” author Ryan Holiday tackles the difficult topic of the place of ego in success. So often we become impatient on our path to success. We get caught up in what is unfair. We want to boast or show off and show the world our best side. All the while neglecting our weakness or avoiding the work truly necessary to get better.

Can you think of a time in the past few weeks when you let ego get the best of you?

At that moment, you were probably not taking the best course of action. You probably were not focused on your values, who you want to be, or on taking action toward your goals. This can be problematic if you consistently let ego get the best of you.

Wanting to be the best will make you train hard toward your goals. Thinking you are the best can even have its place. If you are an athlete, you need to go into every contest or event with confidence that you can win. But when you begin to act and treat everyone else like you’re the best…well that’s when you start running into problems.

The danger of ego is directly related to the reality distortion field it creates. You have seen examples of this in those who have achieved some levels of success. In business, music, and certainly in sport there are countless men and women who have made fatal blunders due to unruly egos. Oftentimes, they think of themselves as invincible and surround themselves with a team of people who only feed the ego and let it grow out of control.

Compare this to an individual who has their ego in check. By getting out of your head, detaching from the internal dialogue, emotional language, and most importantly, the outcomes of a situation, you will be in a much better place to decide and act.

Winston Churchill says, “facts are better than dreams.” If you can be realistic with your current standing or status, it sets you up for true success. You will know where to leverage your strengths, how to attack your weaknesses, and a realistic view of the challenges and competition that could get in your way.

How about in the gym? Are you checking your ego when you train?

Working with a coach is one of the best ways to get a reality check. They can hold you accountable when you try to skip the warmup you should be giving more effort toward. They make sure you get deep enough on every rep of your squat.

They’re not just fitness police though. They’ll tell you when it’s time to put more weight on the bar. They’ll instruct you exactly on the strategy you need to execute in competition. They may not always give you the answer you want, but always the answer that you NEED.

If you have a health goal you want to achieve, don’t let ego get in the way. Reach out today to speak with with one of our trainers with a No Sweat Intro!

5 Common Mistakes in Low Carb Diets

High fat or low carb diets are popular choices when it comes to styles of eating. Electing to eat more fat and minimize carbohydrate intake can be a great choice if you are trying to promote lean body mass, increase insulin sensitivity, and easily maintain health.

It is important that you consult with your doctor before beginning any new approach to your nutrition. Eating a diet higher in fat, with moderate protein, and lower in carbohydrates is beneficial for some people, but it may not be the right choice for you under certain conditions. Healthy individuals, however, should consider the benefits of a low carb eating approach.

By avoiding these 5 common mistakes in low carb diets, you will set yourself up for success:

  1. Eating the same foods over and over.
  2. Insufficient Carbohydrate Intake.
  3. Missing Out on Key Vitamins and Minerals
  4. You aren’t able to hydrate properly.
  5. You don’t fuel before or replenish after a workout.

1. Eating the same foods over and over.
Lack of diversity is one of the mistakes that can occur in many diets. With low carb diets, this usually is a result of a limited range of options for fats and a relatively small amount of carbohydrate consumption. This limits the amount of foods you eat in that macronutrient.

For fats, it is important that you include fats from a wide range of products including nuts, seeds, plants, meat, and fish. You should focus on including high-quality polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that will give your body a healthy dose of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

For carbohydrates, you should focus on getting most of your intake from vegetables, low glycemic fruits and starches, and unrefined whole grain foods. This will help you meet nutrient requirements and the fiber will help prevent spikes in blood sugar that can lead to cravings and fat storage.

2. Insufficient Carbohydrate Intake.
Another common mistake in low carb diets is actually going too low carb. Consuming healthy amounts of vegetables and low glycemic fruits will provide you the energy needed to get through your day. Unless you are trying to enter ketosis, your body is running on glucose to fuel the brain.

And unless you are practiced at fasting or burning fat as a fuel source, you may experience swings in mood and energy levels by simply chopping carbs out of your diet. Most low carb diets still recommend 10-20% of intake from carbs. That means 200-400 calories throughout the day should come from carbs and it still leaves room for healthy foods like broccoli, carrots, and blueberries!

3. Missing Out on Key Vitamins and Minerals
When carbs are restricted, it can be difficult to consume adequate levels of certain nutrients. One study looked at the Atkins diet, a popular low carb diet, and found it delivered 100% of the RDI for only 15 out of 27 essential micronutrients.

Incorporating a wide range of healthy carb choices will ensure you eat a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial phytonutrients. Low carbohydrate intake may not be the best long-term plan without proper supervision and supplementation of certain micronutrients.

4. You aren’t able to hydrate properly.
Each gram of carbohydrate in the body can hold 2-3 grams of water. When we stop consuming carbohydrates, it can be difficult for the body to maintain adequate hydration levels.

Consuming salt, potassium, and other trace minerals becomes even more important when you choose a low carb diet. Focus on high-quality sea salt that will help replenish stores after sweating.

5. You don’t fuel before or replenish after a workout.
The final pitfall of a low carb/high fat diet is improper fueling before and after exercise. During bouts of intense activity the body demands more fuel to sustain intensity and output. Many folks who don’t consume carbs before a workout tend to feel weaker and sluggish during exercise. They then try to fuel their performance with caffeine and stimulants which further deplete them and place additional strain on the central nervous system. Consuming carbs before a workout will help boost performance and allow the body to train longer and harder.

After exercise, the body needs to refuel glycogen stores. Any carbs consumed after a workout are going to be shuttle into muscle cells and stored as glycogen for energy later. By refueling your body during this time you set the tone for your next workout.

Have you made one or more of these mistakes in your nutrition? No worries. Information is key and working with a coach who has the right information is the best way to get the results you want!

Where Does Alcohol Fit into Your Training?

Since about 7000 B.C., alcohol has been a staple for gatherings in many cultures. You may have heard that wine can be healthy for your heart, or that a hot toddy when you’re sick helps you get better quickly. Are these claims true?

Like most answers: yes and no. It depends on a myriad of things like your genetics, the way your body processes alcohol and additives, and the quality of the booze you’re consuming. So where does alcohol fit into your health? If you’ve ever wondered if you should avoid it altogether, or if you can have a glass or two of your favorite red or microbrew, this article is for you.

Let’s talk about the science of alcohol. What’s in it that gives us that fuzzy feeling? The answer: ethanol. This substance absorbs into our bloodstream and causes a “depressing effect” on the systems in our bodies. Our reaction times slow, stress and anxiety are reduced, and the body slows down.

Weightlifting and exercise, in general, generate metabolic waste for the body to process. The liver is instrumental in clearing these waste byproducts from the body. If you are working hard in your training you may be putting a hefty load of work on your liver. Make sure that if you are exercising and enjoy a few drinks, you are getting ample rest and recovery to keep your body in balance.

Calories are another top consideration when it comes to alcohol. If you are trying to lose fat then there is most likely no room in your diet for excess calories. You want your primary calories to come from lean protein, fibrous vegetables, and heart-healthy fats. Replacing some of those calories with alcohol put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies. Additionally, after a few drinks, you may become tempted to reach for foods that don’t support your body compositional goals.

The bottom line when it comes to indulging? Just like anything else you consume, alcohol should have can have a place if you keep it in balance with your health and wellness goals.

Speed Is a Skill

Speed is a skill. Here is how to master it…

Depending on your sport, or your fitness goals, the importance of speed could be a defining characteristic of your success. Naturally, track and cross country athletes want to run fast, but speed can help in almost all team and individual sports where strength and conditioning come into play. Whether you’re a running back who needs to hit the gap just a split second before the linebacker can wrap you up, or a basketball player who needs to explode past the defender for a layup, speed can be your best friend on the field, court, or whereever you’re trying to improve.

Given all else, a faster athlete tends to be a better one and luckily many of the defining characteristics of speed are skill-based. That means they can be trained and improved upon.

It is important to work with a coach who can teach you the skills and mechanics you need to learn. To improve speed, you need to make progress in the following 3 areas: strength, mobility, and mechanics.

Strength

An athlete can become faster by improving their absolute strength and relative strength to their body weight. This can be achieved through a combination of resistance training and plyometric exercises. Heavy squats and deadlifts will help develop the motor unit recruitment and ability of the leg muscles to produce force.

Plyometric exercises like box jumps will strengthen connective tissue and improve the stretch-shortening cycle in the muscle. Athletes will grow stronger and more powerful and this will directly correlate with increases in speed. Working with a coach who is well versed in speed development will help you get results quickly and stay injury-free.

Mobility

Improving mobility, the ability of your joints to move freely and easily can directly improve your speed. This is primarily due to the increase in stride length when the hips, knees, and ankles have a full range of motion. This allows for greater muscular contraction due to the body having a higher threshold for motor recruitment.

Your coach should explain the proper way to dynamically stretch, warmup, cooldown, and mobilize as a part of your program. It is important to discuss any past injuries with your coach so they can help you to the best of their ability.

Mechanics

The foundational movement pattern of running is a skill just like any other. Learning how to generate power through the proper mechanics can be a game-changer for many athletes and may make you feel like you are running for the first time all over again.

The timing, stride length, ability to change directions, and use of both the arms and legs for explosive movement are all essential skills to improve speed. Your coach will be able to address your unique needs and provide the proper guidance to dial in your mechanics.

If you are serious about improving speed to achieve your goals, seek out one of our coaches to develop a training plan to reach your goals.

5 Exercises to Fix your Lower Back Pain

By Emma Stewart

The body thrives on balance. Our muscles and joints are happiest when they are getting an equal and total range of motion. The spine is no different and since its range of motion is smaller than most other joints, imbalances can be felt more intensely.

The spine requires the stability of the supporting muscles that surround it to keep up upright and mobile. When a link in this system is weak, the body will compensate in order to expend the least amount of energy, and injury may occur as a result.

Although there are various factors that contribute to the development of low back pain, some of the common culprits are: tight hamstrings/glutes/hip flexors, weakness in the core/glutes, and lack of spinal mobility.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Buddhist Proverb

So how do you fix or prevent this? Here are five things you can do today to make sure your glutes are firing, your core is tight, and your hips and back muscles stay strong but supple.

  1. Lower Trunk Rotations (15-20 repetitions to each side)
    Lying on your back with your knees bent, gently rotate your spine as you move your knees to the side and then reverse directions and move your knees to the other side. Hold 3-5 seconds here. Repeat as you move through a comfortable range of motion.
  2. Couch Stretch (3-5 repetitions on each leg)
    Kneel on a pillow or couch cushion facing away from your couch/chair. Lean forward and put one foot on your couch. May hold onto a chair/foam roller for stabilization. Stretch should be felt in the front of the thigh of the leg that that has the foot on the couch/chair. Hold 30-60 seconds. Remember to keep your low back in a neutral spine position (do not over arch/overextend your back).
  3. Hamstring Stretch (3-5 repetitions on each leg)
    Lie on your back and place a stretching strap on your foot. Pull on the strap to assist in raising your leg up for a stretch to the back of your leg. Keep your target leg straight to slightly bent the entire time.  Hold 30-60 seconds.
  4.  Posterior Pelvic Tilts (30 repetitions)
    Lying on your back with your knees bent, gently flatten your back to the table and roll your hips up. Hold 3-5 seconds in this position. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat. You should NOT be holding your breath during this exercise.
  5. Clamshells (3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side)
    While lying on your side with your knees bent, make sure that your shoulders, hips, and feet are aligned in the same plane. Tie an elastic band around your legs, just above your knees. Draw up the top knee while keeping your feet together. Do not let your pelvis roll back during the lifting movement.

Incorporate these exercises and stretches into your daily routine to help ease and prevent lower back pain. As always if anything causes more pain or feels uncomfortable, consult your doctor or local physical therapist for further assistance.

Want to learn more about how to improve your overall physical functionality? Schedule your no sweat intro and meet with one of our amazing coaches today!

Make Your Breakfast 10% Better

You’ve heard it before. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” A healthy breakfast can support your physical and mental performance. If you are trying to excel, grow, and make changes to your body or in your life then you need the proper fueling regimen to get you there.

Have you ever crashed during your workout? Felt mentally foggy or weak on a particular day? There’s probably a correlation with your nutrition. Whether it can be drawn back to the day’s breakfast or the long-term effects of nutrition choices, you can probably find a link.

To get the results you want, you need to pay attention to your nutrition. In this blog, we’ll be focusing on how you can make your breakfast 10% better. There are so many benefits of eating a healthy breakfast. Of course, improved performance is one, but eating breakfast has also been shown to reduce food cravings later in the day. It can also improve mental clarity and boost energy.

Our bodies are complex machines and our breakfast impacts the way our body operates for the day. Eating breakfast affects neurotransmitter production, electrolyte balance, blood sugar levels, and more. Our bodies operate the best with certain types of fuel and the right ratio of carbs, fat, and protein to perform at their best.

But not all breakfasts are created equal. So what are the makings of a great breakfast?

Choosing high-quality proteins, healthy fats, and low glycemic carbs is a great start to make your breakfast 10% better!Increasing protein intake is one of the best decisions you can make for your nutrition, especially at breakfast. Protein contains high-quality amino acids that will keep you satiated and prevent cravings later in the day. Try to eat some solid protein such as meat or eggs. If you need a quick option try keeping hard-boiled eggs and greek yogurt on hand. They are easy options to scarf down quickly or grab on your way out the door to work. Protein shakes are also good but whole foods are best.

People who consume liquid protein in the morning don’t get the same satiety benefits and still tend to overeat later in the day. Use protein shakes only if no other options are available or you are going to exercise first thing in the morning and need something fast digesting.

For fats look for foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados. These foods provide healthy monounsaturated fat and are chock full of vitamins and minerals as well. Rotating through different fats will ensure you have diversity in your diet and prevent excessive intake of any one food. A handful of nuts, an avocado, or some chia pudding are all easy grab and go options for healthy breakfast fats.

For carbs at breakfast, you should take a “less is more” approach. Focus on low glycemic carbs such as leafy greens and broccoli. Dark berries are also a great choice when fresh and in season. This will give you some additional fuel for your day. Try to avoid highly processed foods that will spike your blood sugar and have you craving carbs and making energy levels crash throughout the day.

Not a fan of breakfast?

There can be benefits to intermittent fasting too. Just recognize how your body feels and performs its best. For some people that is 5-6 small meals per day. For others, a big lunch or dinner is all it takes. Focusing on high-quality whole foods, getting enough protein and heart-healthy fats, and calibrating carb intake based on your activity levels.

For more nutritional and training strategies, get in touch with one of our coaches today!

Sugar: An Athlete’s Survival Guide

As an athlete or someone who cares about their health and fitness, it is important to make nutritious dietary choices.

One of the biggest battles faced by Americans today is contending with the high amounts of sugar that seem to be everywhere in the foods we eat. Sugar seems to sneak its way into many of the foods and drinks we consume daily without us even realizing it. This can be detrimental to our health, training, and body composition goals because sugar can provide unnecessary calories, impact our mood, alter cognitive function and energy levels, and impact so many other vital functions in our bodies.

What is sugar?

Simple sugars are the most basic form of carbohydrates known as a monosaccharide. You will often hear these referred to as glucose, fructose, and galactose. These ringed structures are also the building blocks for larger compounds such as disaccharides like sucrose (table sugar), and polysaccharides like starch (foods like potatoes, corn, and wheat).

What does sugar do to my body?

Our body actually runs off the simple sugar known as glucose. With the exception of individuals in nutritional ketosis, our bodies actually require sugar to perform vital functions to survive. Our brain is the biggest sugar user in our body and consumes approximately 120 grams of glucose daily, that’s about 420 calories worth! That glucose can come from our diet or gets produced through a process called gluconeogenesis in the liver.

Even though our body loves glucose it needs to moderate the levels of glucose in the bloodstream. A steady stream of glucose is preferred to large amounts because consistent excessive amounts can cause problems in our bodies. It’s like filling up the gas tank in your car. You need to put in the proper amount of fuel and have a maximal capacity for storage. You keep the fuel in the gas tank even though there is more room in the trunk of your car. If you fill your trunk with gasoline it would no longer serve its useful purpose as fuel and would be very dangerous.

What if I have too much Sugar?

To prevent our body from excessive glucose levels in the blood we have the hormone insulin to help store the glucose we don’t need as fat. This is like having those handy little red 5-gallon gas containers. When the tank of the car is full we simply start filling our storage containers to save energy for later. Having a little bit of extra fuel on the reserve is always nice, but we don’t need to store extra fuel every single day or we end up with a problem.

So when can I have sugar?

As an athlete sugar is important for refueling our body after exercise. This makes sure that we have enough fuel in the tank the next time we want to go for a drive. If we want to drive fast and race however we don’t want to carry any extra storage containers in the form of fat. That will only impede performance. Most of our diet should consist of healthy fats, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates in the form of vegetables that will not spike our blood glucose levels.

If you have questions about the optimal food choices for your diet to optimize performance you need to work with an experienced coach who gets the best out of athletes. Nutrition is a highly personalized journey and can take some refining and tweaking to optimize. Once you dial in what is best for you there is nothing that can get in your way!