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…)
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.
We talk about goals quit often in our gym, what should we be achieving, how long should it take, is it measurable?
The truth is that maybe we are focusing on the wrong things. Maybe instead the focus should be on finding our passion and purpose for being at the gym and grinding it out day after day. Maybe instead the question should not be what have I achieved in 6 months but rather what have I done every day to move myself closer towards being the person I think I want to be.
Passion and Purpose
Everyone has different motivations for doing things in life, but after 31 years of life, a shopping list of jobs, 2 extra years spent in college, and learning the hard way that life is not perfect, I’ve decided that what it boils down to for most is how do we ultimately feel about ourselves. Our self-esteem and self confidence, when we wake up in the morning feeling like we have a reason to exist and purpose behind our actions.
What does this have to do with fitness?
When I first started on my CrossFit journey 3 years ago, many of my goals looked like the measurable things that are pretty common in the fitness world. How much do I weigh, what do I look like, and how much can I squat. What I’ve come to realize, and it only took 3 years (laugh out loud), is that my purpose in the gym and what keeps me coming back has nothing to do with what I put up on the whiteboard, or how I look naked.
I DO FITNESS TO LIVE, NOT LIVE TO DO FITNESS!
And that is ultimately what the Icehouse way is all about, as many of you know.
As such my goals have changed a lot. I replaced the goal of a 225# snatch with kiss my wife 3 times per day. Do 200 unbroken double unders with read for 20 minutes per day (this one is still a real work in progress for me), and compete at a high level masters competition with read to my kids every day.
The point is that while my goals are still measurable, they really have nothing to do with me grinding it out everyday at the gym and yet they are the motivators behind my passion for fitness and health. With the change in focus, I still see the physical successes in the gym and it’s because I take the 1 hour per day 3-4 days a week to focus on me, that in turn supports growth and success in the other areas of my life.
My advice to everyone I speak with about their is health is to be selfish enough to take 1 hour of your day a few days a week to support the health and quality of your life in other areas. Find a passion for living and be damn proud of what you achieve in both worlds.
I think that we no longer need to focus on our health and wellness in the gym, but rather focus on our daily successes that we find working towards achieving life, health, and GREATNESS.
“You’re focused not on the outcome of your dedication, but on the dedication itself and person you are trying to become” Ben Bergeron, Chasing Excellence.
I’ve compiled a list of my Top 4 mobility movements that I do weekly. I have been working for months to develop a deeper squat. After spending almost 20 years in the military walking around in nothing but combat boots I have developed some pretty tight ankles. I also like to spend some quality time making sure my hips and glutes are flexible enough for squatting. Check out my favorite mobility movements below.
In addition to super tight quads, I have super tight ankles from spending almost 20 years in boots with an elevated heel. This stretch focuses more on my achilles tendon of my front leg and to a lesser extent my trail leg hip flexor and quad.
Lizard is a nice overall hip opener and complements the Low Dragon position.
Bottom of the Squat
In order to loosen up my ankles and hips I’ll hang out in the bottom of a squat with a weighted counterbalance, in this case, a kettlebell. I’ll hold this position for as long as it feels comfortable, continuing to work toward my goal of 10 minutes.
Couch is a deeper quad and hip flexor stretch than High Dragon, again, to undo the damage of sitting in a chair. I try to settle into this for 2 minutes on each leg most days after my training sessions.
Take a look at the video as I take you through my Top 4 Mobility Movements
These are my top 4 mobility movements to loosen up my hips. I use this series after I workout almost 3 times a week to keep things bendy.
Keep an up right torso and drive weight into the front foot while the back leg stays long. A stretch should be felt in the back leg quad as well as the front leg inner groin.
Start in the high lizard position. Twist body towards front leg and grab opposite leg foot. Stretch will be felt in the front leg groin and back leg quad
Set up with a tall torso with legs bent at the knee behind. Slowly overtime lean back so body drops either between the feet or on top of the feet. Stretch will be felt throughout the quad as well as the lower back which will now be in a overextended position.
Start on all fours hands and knees. Reach leg behind out to a full stretched out position and then bring the leg up, under and across the body so the stomach is resting on the foot. Stretch will be felt in the under legs outside hip.
Check out the link for a full video of me getting all sorts of Stretchy!
It can be really difficult to keep your fitness goals on track when it seems like no one understands the commitment you made to yourself to make a change. Aside from the people in our community at Icehouse, who are already on their own fitness journey and share your goals, there are family members, friends, and even co-workers, who do not. The people around you generally don’t want to derail your wellness train. Think about how it looks from their perspective. Something as simple as reducing the amount of sugar we consume can look like eliminating a whole list of foods. Making time for the gym could mean no longer watching as much TV with your significant other. These changes can look drastic to others.
How Much Do You Talk About CrossFit
Often, we want to talk about CrossFit with everyone we see, and why wouldn’t you!? It has completely changed your life, you can move like you were meant to, and you feel good because you are making progress from showing up consistently. We take time out of our day to make a difference for ourselves, one hour just for us. Not for your kids, not your spouse, just for you and your health both mental and physical. What else besides work do you deliberately plan time for in your day? This one thing is so important to us that we deliberately block out time in our busy schedule to make it fit, even if that means waking up before the sun to be here, 5:30 AM people I’m looking at you. OBVIOUSLY, WE ARE GOING TO TALK ABOUT IT! Those people that tell you, “You only talk about the gym” eventually fall silent after a few months and you have made some gains. If they are good friends they notice the change it has brought to your life, and how much it means to you, and they begin to ask you about it. Maybe you gain another gym friend.
“Are You Really Eating a Salad?”
With the rush of everyday life, it is easy to get caught up in a cycle of eating out. Meal prep is a great way to make sure your body gets the fuel it needs. For something as simple as bringing a lunch we can sure catch a lot of grief though. “Woah, on a diet?” “Chicken and rice again!?” “Vegetables? What are you a rabbit?” The comments about your meal prep can be annoying at times. What these comments often mean is that they are insecure about their own choice of food and want to project it on to your healthy choice to make them feel better about their poor nutrition choices. We get that it can be hard to say no when someone asks you to go with them to get lunch. Having a meal prepped makes it easier to say, “No thanks, I brought a lunch today.” If you didn’t bring a lunch and you choose to go out, use this neat trick that I have learned. Be the first to order. That way you’re not the last one to order a salad when everyone gets a burger and fries. This throws your friends off balance and often they even make better choices. If no one else is as health savvy as you, and you are still the only one, the wait staff is quickly asking everyone their order which leaves no time to give you grief! By the time everyone has placed their order, they forget about what you ordered, and conversation resumes.
Family and health can sometimes be difficult to navigate. Especially with the holidays right around the corner. Grandma doesn’t take to kindly to you saying no to the plethora of sweets at family gatherings. There are a few tricks to keep grandma happy as well as stay on track. Snag one sweet, make certain she can see you, eat it in view, and enjoy it like you have never enjoyed anything before. Make a comment about how full you are while holding that last bite and take your time to finish. That way you have set the stage to say, “no thanks” when she comes around a second time. The third trip you can say “no thanks I had one already, they were so good!” Boom! Just like that we avoided 7 cookies for the price of one.
Another problem we can encounter at family functions is the lack of healthy options. Fruit pizza, delicious yes. Healthy? Not so much. Apples? Yes but cut up and hidden in whipped cream with snickers? Not exactly! The best way to ensure you stay on track is to prepare a healthy option to bring to the cookout or pot luck. That way you know what’s in your food, and you know there will be a good choice. If all else fails, fill up on the meat, potatoes, the carrots, and the corn. This will leave less room for the cookies and bars. Have water instead of pop or fruity beverages. With some time, your family will begin to pick up on you not choosing pop and will begin to not even ask or even go as far to say, “I forgot that you don’t drink pop.” This sets you up for success, that way you can agree, and reinforce the idea that you are the type of person that no longer drinks pop. Even the most stubborn people we know, our family, can help us on our fitness journey. They love you and want to see you succeed in anything that you do.
The Alcohol Conundrum
Living in the Midwest, it’s almost like we are obligated to consume alcohol. Maybe it’s to cope with the weather? Being a college student, it is expected that I go out Thursday through Saturday night and party. However, that doesn’t fit in with my wellness goals, and obviously wouldn’t be good for my grades. I go out on occasion, but more often than not, I’ll turn my friends down when they ask if I want to go out. This doesn’t mean that I can’t have a social life. You have options and some of them include not drinking. Be the designated driver. Paying someone to give you a ride is expensive and being the DD can save your friends a lot of money, not to mention the money you save yourself on drinks! There are a few restaurants in the FM area that offer a free meal to the DD. Even if you go with and aren’t the DD you can still have fun without drinking. If you choose to drink “Make good choices!” Being 21, the choice to not go out often has often left me feeling like I had lost many of my friends. They stopped inviting me places because I didn’t want to drink. It can be really difficult to maintain friendships when you don’t see those people often. I have since learned that if the only thing that our friendship was based on was social drinking, we probably weren’t that good of friends anyways.
While you might feel alone, know that we are right here with you. This gym is bursting with people that are on a similar journey. Every member and even the coaches face the same criticism from people that we know outside of the gym about our fitness. We are sometimes “fit-shamed.” We are criticized for making healthy choices, but we continue to make them, even in the face of doubters, because consistently making those choices is what helps us make progress. As you make progress it gets easier to make those good choices. Losing some friends because you chose to go to the gym instead is okay. For every friend that I have distanced myself from because they didn’t support my fitness goals, I have gained ten at the gym. The best part is the friends that you make here share your goals, share your drive, and will help you make good choices. If you think I’m not going to call you out for eating a cookie, while I myself am eating a cookie, you’re wrong. I expect you to call me out too. We want to see you succeed. The best part of being the fit friend is having other fit friends. Icehouse is FULL of fit friends that NEVER get sick of talking about CrossFit.
We often spend time thinking about the day’s workout, what we are going to have for lunch, and of course…work. However, we don’t give much attention to sleep. For some of us, recovery is just grabbing a protein shake after a workout and calling it good. Sadly, that protein shake may not be helping if you only get 6 or less hours of sleep a night. So, let’s bring sleep into the “light,” if you will.
The best place to start is your primary place of rest, your bedroom. Your bed should be comfy. If you are constantly waking up in pain or complaining about your bed, it may be time for a new one. Do a quick Google search on the top sleep performance beds, and purchase one that your budget allows. From there, we look to what is around your bed. It is best to not have a TV or your cell phone in your room. You want your room to be a place of rest only. If your bedroom is where you go to search Facebook, that is what your body will think that room is for. Also, eliminating your cell phone and TV from your room will cut back on your temptation to look at screens late at night. The blue light given off by cell phones has been proven to make you more alert and wake you up. If you use your cell phone as an alarm clock, buy a digital alarm clock to use instead (yes, they still make those). Just be careful how much light the alarm clock gives off. Which leads to the next thing to limit in your bedroom – light. The best-case scenario is for your bedroom to be pitch black when you go to bed. You can do this by placing black-out curtains over your windows.
Once you have your bedroom set, routine is your best friend for a good night’s sleep. A solid night routine can look like stepping away from all screens an hour before bed, turning most of your lights off and perhaps lighting a candle to let your body know it is time to relax. From there you can read a book, journal, or drink some non-caffeinated tea (or other beverage) and reflect on your day.
Overall, aim for 8-10 solid hours of sleep per night. Get your bedroom into shape, and mess around with different nightly routines that work for you. To dive further into the scientific side of a good night’s rest and supplements that can help aid in sleep, check out the link below.