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.
Stress, it almost feels like a buzz word these days. It seems like people are always under constant pressure from all around to do more, work me and be more. Stress can take a real toll on our bodies, both physically and emotionally. Let’s dive in and talk about different ways we can manage some stress and the effects that can have on our performance.
The Stress Family
The stress family is not one to mess with especially when it comes to performance, we’re talking about anxiety, fear, pressure, nervousness and panic. There are lots of theories out there on what causes these things to arise at the onset of performance but some common symptoms include, clammy palms, negative thoughts, profuse sweating, nausea, inability to focus, and/or trouble sleeping. None of these sound like a good time. Now that we know what it is let’s talk about some ways to manage this stress.
It Starts with Awareness
It is known that some amount of stress can be a really good thing. Going into a workout or an event can cause a bit of butterflies which then turns on our “fight or flight” response, and this is a good thing. It can aid in performance and help us crush that new clean PR. When this turns bad is when we start to doubt or fill our head with negative self talk. The first step is to be aware this is happening. Once you hear that little voice start talking take a second, breath and try to find out where this is coming from. Is this your body telling you, hey you haven’t slept, you at a cheeseburger at lunch, I’ve had no water and now you want to do this? Or are you not trusting yourself, filling yourself with and then starting to panic? If this is the case it’s time to change the story in your head and start crushing some PR’s.
Managing The Story
The first part is making sure you are doing the little things outside of the gym, sleeping, eating clean foods and managing your recovery. Once that’s taken care of we need to recognize the story in our head and understand that sometimes it really is just that, a story. If all things outside the gym are on point, then take time to analyze what you are telling yourself. Yes you can do most workouts, yes some days you just need to move, yes you are a really strong human; it’s about managing the negative thoughts that create too much stress.
One of the ways I’ve found to help with this is on my way to the gym. I like to play upbeat music that helps keep my mood light, some people I know like to rock out on their way, maybe toss in some car singing and steering wheel drum set. Once you’re at the gym dive straight in before you can have all the thoughts. If you’re there early find a foam roller or do some mobility work to get the kinks out. Once in the gym I like to laugh at the barbell like it’s my frenemy. You know that laugh you give when you’re like “oh you say I can’t, watch me.” If I follow this little routine, I don’t get super stressed about my fitness and it becomes a very welcome part of my day. To recap, recognize your stress symptoms, find a routine or mantra that works for you, and keep the workout routine going.
Building every day athletes. That is one of our main focuses at CrossFit Icehouse. Every day that a person walks into CrossFit Icehouse, the goal is to prepare them for life outside the gym when they leave. One of the ways that is accomplished is using functional movements in our workouts.
Functional movements mimic motor patters that are found in everyday life. For example, when you back squat, you are building up strength to get up off the toilet when you’re 80; deadlifting is picking something up off the ground; pressing is putting an object up on a top shelf. These are all things we do regularly inside and outside the gym, you just have to keep your eye open for them.
Functional movements are safe. Watching a CrossFit workout and saying it’s dangerous could be like telling someone they shouldn’t pick up the pencil they just dropped because isn’t not worth the risk. However, someone who bends over to pick up a pencil and has never been taught how to deadlift or squat properly, could throw their back out. That’s where CrossFit Icehouse comes in. We want you to move mechanically sound through a full range of motion to stay safe inside and outside the gym.
Functional movements are powerful and create a high neuroendocrine response. You are essentially doing more good for your body when you use functional movements. Functional movements allow you to move large loads, longer distances, quicker than isolation movements. They also create a larger physical and mental adaptation in your body. So, if you want to become healthier, and look and feel better, functional movements are the way to go.
Functional movements are fun! They allow you to challenge your full body in different ways and keep you moving. You are not just moving from machine to machine in a CrossFit workout, you are the machine doing the work. There is something very special about hearing how someone’s commitment to box step-ups has made going up a flight of stairs easier, or seeing the confidence radiate off of someone’s face when they PR their deadlift. These are all fun and exciting things that happen with functional movements.
So, next time you are struggling through a workout, or perhaps are fearing coming to the gym that day to complete a bunch of wall-balls, think about how those functional movements are going to make you better at life and help you become a better athlete outside the gym.
As our garage doors open for the season, we see lots more runners and bikers out and about now that the weather finally broke. There are a lot of reasons for that, maybe they are training for an upcoming race, or maybe they are trying to kick start their fitness again that may have slipped over the winter months. Whatever it is, that’s great that people are getting out there and moving! But what happens once that race day has come and gone? Or once that winter weight is gone and you rocked your 2 piece over Memorial Day at the lake?
A lot of people will start working out with some sort of a goal be it to just finish a 5k without dying, or to like what they see in the mirror a little more. But what people often lack are longer term goals, or any reason to keep them going to the gym or heading out for those runs once that initial box has been checked. As a former (extremely slow) marathon runner I was in that cycle for years of feeling better and looking better briefly, then quickly face planting off the wagon the day after whatever race I had trained for.
The days have become much easier to stay motivated because I have changed three things. They seem simple, but making the mental transition for all of them definitely took some time (especially #2). Here are my three tips on how to get on a healthy path, and actually enjoy the journey too!
Find something you actually want to do
I know I know, everyone says “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Blah Blah Blah. Well I’m here to tell you if you find something you love, you will still work your ass off, BUT you will actually want to do it.
I put in soooooo many miles training for races I didn’t really want to do because I thought that is what you are supposed to do. I liked weight training but it was lonely being in the weight room as a lady so I’d opt for the cardio bunny route because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. I HATED IT! I think a dreadmill (whoops, I mean treadmill) minute is maybe the longest minute known to mankind (only 2nd too a microwave minute). Finally a friend convinced me to try CrossFit, and I found what I had been missing since being a high school athlete almost instantly.
What I love is always having something to improve upon. There are still the boxes to check, but they are always followed up with bigger and more badass boxes to work towards! Oh you got pull ups figured out, now let’s work on muscle ups. You can run a half mile without stopping, now let’s work on getting that time a little better. You can do box jumps to 20″, let’s work towards 22″! There is always something more to improve upon in the gym, and your weight and pant size improve as side effect instead of being front and center.
Break up with your scale
This probably took a solid year to truly end that toxic relationship, but oh to be free! I have always had an “athletic” build, and had always been self conscious of it, because I am not supposed to weigh more than a buck twenty at 5′ 4″ (my soccer thighs probably account for half of that on their own). After that first year of CrossFit and the scale strike I finally realized that I was actually able to eat food instead of be on some ridiculous diet, and I fit into some of those ol’ college jean! And best yet I felt amazing!
Around that time I took a health assessment at work and my BMI came back as overweight… WHAT THE HELL?! I would get regular emails from my insurance company asking me “how my weight loss was coming.” SERIOUSLY? That one almost sent me running back to my scale but then I realized I can lift more, run faster, eat better, get better sleep, and actually FEEL good. That scale was full of crap and so was that health assessment. As hard as it can be, focus on how you FEEL instead of what you weigh! The fit of your clothes and the way you feel is a way better gauge than the numbers on a scale.
Surround yourself with like minded people
In a world where you are judged more for eating a healthy meal at lunch that for crushing a Big Mac, this can be challenging. BUT, if you can find some supportive folks to go through this fitness journey with, it will make it so much easier to stay accountable. Yes I know Planet Fitness costs $10 a month but when was the last time you went there? Does anyone give a shit when you don’t show up for a week? A month? A year? No. They actually prefer it (more pizza and bagels for to go around!)
Find a gym, a class, a biking club, SOMETHING that you enjoy and can do with supportive people that will help keep you accountable. There will always be days or weeks where things just aren’t going your way and you fall of the wagon or out of your routine. Having someone to say “missed you at this week’s ride” or “let’s catch up the 5:30 class tomorrow” can be what you need to make that day or week you missed not turn into a month or even year. The community at Icehouse is my favorite part, it’s so great to be surrounded by like minded folks both pushing you harder when you are there, and keeping you coming back for more when you are not.
I booked a flight the other day and just before you hit “complete order” there’s a little button that says,“no refund”. It really got me thinking about the gym and fitness in general. There is no return policy on this good ol’ life of ours, we don’t get a redo (beliefs pending on this one). I think Socrates said it best “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” This is one of my favorite quotes because it’s so true.
CrossFit gives us that path to explore what our bodies are capable,it gives us knowledge of how to use this very powerful machine. It seems the one thing getting in the way of finding our true human potential is in our mind. What if we took that out, what if we really got real with ourselves. Are you happy with where you are in fitness, career or life overall? If the answer to that is no, are you on the path to making it a yes? If the answer to that is no maybe it’s time to get there.
At CrossFit Icehouse, in this tiny box on the edge of downtown, that’s what we do. We help you find that path. All that you have to do is walk in the door. There is no return policy on life. We as a community, can help become as strong as you want to be.