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Why Water?

Why Water?

Why Water?

Everyone has heard the advice of “Drink eight glasses of water per day” in order to stay healthy and hydrated. We don’t need to go over that again. What we do need to think about is where water goes, how we acquire more, and why it is so important.

People don’t often think about all the ways that the body gets rid of water. There are the obvious modes of sweating, saliva, and our bathroom bodily functions, (to put it delicately), but we never stop to think about evaporation. Evaporation, seriously? And yes. Our skin being the porous layer that it is allows water to evaporate out of the body just to keep the internal systems at a normal temperature and functioning as they are meant to. The act of breathing even uses up the body’s water supply. So between just existing and eliminating wastes, the human bod eliminates A LOT of water each day. The amount of water it goes through is also effected by the climate, temperature, age, and all sorts of environmental factors that the average person, myself included, never thought about. Crazy…

When you feel thirsty after all that breathing, you could go for the obvious choice: a glass of water, which is good! Water is water and nothing will ever substitute a tall, cool drink of that clean crystal-clear. However, food contains a bunch of water, too.

Just as drinking more water instead of other liquids, such as sodas, energy drinks, juices, etc, all of which have a TON of sugar, eating water-laden foods will help the body lose excess fat by taking in more quality calories. Vegetables and fruits hold more water than the comfort foods of baked goods and sugary, creamy deliciousness. Not that these foods don’t have water, but fruits and vegetables have the added benefit of being lower in calories and fats. Water-rich foods also take longer for the body to digest, which makes a person feel fuller longer. In effect, there’s less snacking on the other stuff. Water is sneaky like that. It hides out in the health food and health-s you up, hard.

Eating water-rich foods and drinking more water greatly compliments and enhances an active lifestyle. Water keeps the body sweating, which cools down all the internal systems, from respiratory to digestive to nervous and everything in between, to keep the body functioning the way it should. Dehydration, the act of taking in less water than the body expels, causes muscle fatigue and can do even more damage to the organs since the body will try to over-allocate the finite resource of internal water. Which is why your coaches always tell you to drink water before, during, and after your workout.

Going a little bit deeper into detail, water keeps your kidneys healthy. And a happy kidney is a productive kidney. Kidneys are the waste removal organs of the body. The wastes that humans eliminate from the body are what the kidneys hunt down and kick out. This process removes the toxic matter from our organs, our blood, all of our tissues. Why did our mothers tell us to drink a lot of water when we were sick? Because water cleanses the system. Water cleans ALL. THE. THINGS. And the healthy kidneys, brought to you by water, evicts all that grime from the stuff you need.

Improved brain function, more youthful looking skin, and regular bodily functions are also benefits of drinking enough water. A decent gauge to go by: drink half your weight in ounces. So if you weigh 160 pounds, drink at least 80 ounces of water each day. Extra credit if you drink more.

Listen to your mother! Eat your fruits and vegetables! Drink your water!
In the name of science!

The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule

Like most human beings, my family has an obnoxious amount of unhealthy food ready and waiting during the holidays.  All the starch, sugar, and cream-based goodness you could ask for is just sitting there, staring you in the face.  How do you, someone with fitness and health goals on the brain, survive the temptation, especially when grandmas and aunts are personally offended if you don’t eat what they have provided?

Enter the 80/20 approach to food.  This is not a diet.  It’s a lifestyle guideline designed to focus on balance, but allow some indulgence, in your intake.  Let’s be honest, a hyper-restrictive diet that allows for no deviation is difficult/impossible to maintain.  You can’t be perfect 100% of the time.  You just can’t.  And if you attempt that 100% perfection and slip up by having one sip of soda or a nibble of chocolate, it’s very common for a person to feel guilty about what they have done.  A lot of people feel like a failure if they indulge slightly.  This can wear on a person’s mental health as well as their self worth.  

Food is delicious!  We shouldn’t feel bad for being humans and enjoying it.  On the other hand, indulging too much can have the same effect as being too restrictive: a loss of self-worth and feeling out of control.

The beauty of the 80/20 rule is it allows you to satiate your cravings for salty chips or sweet candies every now and then without compromising your entire diet.  80% of the time, (and this can be per day, week, month, what have you), consume clean food.  Clean food means unprocessed munchables.  Stuff you can pull off a plant and eat or meat, (for you herbivores, some protein substitute that’s naturally produced).  Cook this with healthy fats, spices, and herbs.  Essentially, follow Greg Glassman’s credo to eating.  We’ll discuss that further down the line.  Food for fuel!  

The other 20%, feel free to eat whatever you want.  Within reason. 

Always a catch.

Sure, nom on the good stuff, the things you have cravings for during the other 80% of the time.  However, since you are part of the community that is focusing on self-betterment, challenge yourself to select “treat food” that is on the healthier end of the spectrum.  Instead of ice cream, try mashed frozen bananas with a little vanilla extract.  No, it’s not the same, but your body will thank you later.  Instead of four slices of cheese pizza, try two slices of veggie or meat pizza.  Homemade sweet potato chips instead of Doritos.  The list goes on and on.

Spread out your 20%, too.  Instead of being healthy and consistent through the week then gorging on the weekend, allow yourself a small treat each day.  Small.  Did I say small?  A SMALL treat each day.  And while you’re enjoying a SMALL indulgence every day, make healthy, clean meals that taste good.  Do your research.  Find recipes that include foods that you know you like.  Take time to prep them for the future so you don’t deviate from the 80/20 world into the 50/50 world.  

Other than the 80/20 allowing for little bits of happiness each day, it is also sustainable.  This is a highly functional method of thinking about food consumption.  When you eat primarily healthy food, you will see improvements in athletic performance, brain function, and bodily function, such as digestion and respiration.  At the same time, acknowledging your cravings and being in control of them keeps you from going crazy with said cravings.  Guilt will be less and less of an issue because you know you are fueling your body more than you are spoiling it. 

Take the time.  Prep your food, prep your snacks, prep your treats, and don’t worry.  You got you.  

The Importance of Sleep

The Importance of Sleep

As I get older, one of the things I appreciate more and more is sleep. Yes, sleep. Not just for the ability to completely relax and shut off my brain, although those are the primary reasons that I enjoy it. Sleep performs multiple other functions that lead to a more productive and fulfilling life.

Sleep helps with concentration. This is a no-brainer. If you’re at your desk during the day and you start to lose focus, daydream, or do the recognizable head-nod, it’s probably because you didn’t get enough good sleep during the night. Just like a fatigued body doesn’t perform as well as a rested one, a tired mind doesn’t think as well as a rested one. Getting enough quality sleep sharpens the mind so that daily tasks, even the tedious ones, stay crystal clear.

Sleep speeds up recovery after workouts and makes you a better athlete. That downtime of 8 hours at night requires nothing of the muscles. This means that blood full of oxygen and nutrients can flow uninhibited into worn out tissues. Sleep is shown to reduce inflammation and cool down an over-worked body. It’s a paradox, but as long as you’re sleeping, you’re working to repair and re-energize so that you can take on the next day. If you miss sleep, you’ll likely feel even more sore and tired after a hard day at the gym.

Sleep regulates your metabolism. Interestingly enough, the area of the brain that controls sleep also controls your metabolism. When a person doesn’t get enough sleep, (Coach Emily is a good example), they tend to make unhealthy food choices. It’s kind of linked to the grumpy-tired mentality of, “Screw it, this is yummy.” Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway, if the body doesn’t get enough rest, the metabolism gets wonky. It doesn’t burn at as high a rate as it could if the body was well rested. Just like tired muscles, a worn-out metabolism won’t perform. If you’re trying to lose those last 5 pounds that just keep hanging on, make it a priority to get quality sleep at night. Chances are, that weight will disappear more quickly than living on a treadmill.

Sleep makes you more creative. A refreshed mind is capable of more complex thought and critical thinking. Everyone has heard the wisdom of, “Go to bed. You’ll have an answer in the morning.” This isn’t just for advice or decision-making. Getting sleep allows a person to see problems from different angles, and thus makes them more capable of problem-solving instead of problem-dwelling. And let’s not forget dreams. Some of the most creative phenomena for mankind are dreams. A whole artistic movement was founded on the impact of dreams (surrealism).

Sleep reduces stress. Not just in the fact that everything is shut down when you’re sleeping. After taking that power nap, or even sleeping on something, a person is generally more willing to look at a situation with a level head instead of being overloaded with emotion. Stress is emotional and, as humans, we are slaves to our emotions whether we like it or not. Allowing ourselves a break from our emotions via sleeping calms us down, letting us see things more clearly.

With all these benefits of sleep combined, sleep can be credited with lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease, and can reduce your risk of depression. Just to name a few. Sleep is the most basic natural-healing regimen.

To make the most out of a night of sleep, set up your bedroom specifically for sleep. Make sure it’s dark and quiet. If you need white noise, try a fan or sound-machine. Ensure that you will be comfortable. Get a good mattress, supportive pillows, maybe even weighted blankets. Stay away from screens for at least 30 minutes before sleepy-time. TV and cell phone usage immediately before bed stimulates brain activity, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Train your body to learn that your bed is for sleeping. When you hit the bed, you are going to sleep.

Sleep is the one thing that requires zero work but gives 100% return on investment. Get ready. Set. SLEEP!

Why Flux?

Why Flux?

As a coach, I am biased towards the greatness of Flux.  I know that it creates flexibility in a stiff frame, builds strength in under-worked muscles, and develops stamina in a tired body.  Flux proves itself both as a supplemental program or as a stand-alone regimen again and again. (more…)

The Middle of Fitness aka The Process

The Middle of Fitness aka The Process

You are sitting on the couch having never worked out, you are newer to the gym and trying to figure out this whole CrossFit thing or you have been working out for years, this is a repeatable process.  The journey from you to your goals, you have goals right, is rarely ever a smooth forward path.  You have to celebrate the process, the journey that’s making you a better you. (more…)

Purpose and Passion

Purpose and Passion

A lot of times going to the gym can seem like a hinderance. Like what does one hour in a day a few days a week sweating like crazy, getting crazy motivated by a coach, and even sometimes pushing my body to a place of discomfort really achieve in the grand scheme of things. After all of that I still can’t do double unders, pull ups seem impossible, and I dont have the washboard abs or waistline that I want even after 6 months of solid work. (more…)