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The Importance of Proper Digestion for an Athlete

The Importance of Proper Digestion for an Athlete

We aren’t what we eat, rather we are what we absorb.

The digestive system is the foundation for all other processes that take place in the body. What we put into our body is what is mainly responsible for our energy, mood, performance, and overall wellness. In today’s age, there is a huge disconnect between what we put into our body and how that can affect our overall health. Poor nutrition, and even further, poor DIGESTION are major contributors to chronic disease.

I believe that proper digestion is the root to optimal health and here’s why: digestion begins in the brain. The brain signals saliva to be produced when we begin to chew food. Our saliva contains different enzymes that begin the breakdown of food. Chewing your food THOROUGHLY is extremely important for proper digestion. Ideally, we should chew each bite around 20-30 times (the average is 4). Chewed food becomes what is called a bolus that is swallowed and moved through the esophagus and down to the stomach.

WHEN DIGESTION IS OPTIMAL, adequate stomach acid is secreted in addition to pancreatic enzymes that further break down the bolus into a substance called chyme. Chyme is extremely acidic as it moves from the stomach into the small intestine. Once in the small intestine, the acidity of the chyme becomes more neutral thanks to additional enzymes that are secreted, as well as bile from the gallbladder. These are to further breakdown proteins and fats. MOST NUTRIENT ABSORPTION OCCURS IN THE SMALL INTESTINE. What is left from the chyme is passed through the large intestine where any remaining usable nutrients and water are absorbed before being excreted from the body.

This is why a properly functioning digestive system is essential to optimal health and performance. Every single thing we eat goes through this process. We can eat the healthiest diet, but if we are not digesting properly then we are not absorbing all of the nutrients our body needs.

As an athlete, we need a proper balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates because we expend a lot of excess energy during workouts. In addition, we may also need to consume more calories to adequately replenish our glycogen stores, repair damaged muscles, nourish the body and maintain general health. The digestive tract of an athlete is put under more stress than that an individual who does not regularly train. This is why it is incredibly important that as an athlete, we have a strong digestive system to break down food properly for optimal absorption of its nutrients within the body.

Tips to improve digestion:

  1. Chew food thoroughly. Ideally 20-30 chews per bite.
  2. Eat in a relaxed state. Sit down to eat your meals without any distractions as this will let the body solely focus on the process of digestion.
  3. Drink warm lemon water before meals. This is very soothing to the digestive tract in preparation for eating and the acidity of the lemon may help with stomach acid production.
  4. Try not to consume liquids during meals. Small sips of water are okay, but avoid chugging drinks as this can dilute stomach acid.
  5. Eat a properly prepared, nutrient-dense, whole food diet. In addition to the macro-nutrients, whole foods provide many micro-nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

 

Eating Seasonally

Eating Seasonally

Eating seasonally is a great way to mix up your meals with fresh, in-season produce. Seasonal produce is purchased and consumed shortly after it has been harvested, and therefore when it is most nutritious. Even better, seasonal produce that is produced/purchased locally does not require long transport times and has moved from farm to table in a shorter amount of time.

Choosing local produce also has it’s own benefits:

  1. Beneficial to our local environment.
  2. Supports our local economy.
  3. We are able to get to know our local farmers and growers who can tell us how their products are grown and raised.

Produce that is in season right now (early September) in North Dakota:

  • Apples
  • Asian pears
  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Bok choy
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Celery root
  • Chard
  • Chicories
  • Chili Peppers
  • Chives
  • Collard greens
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Green beans
  • Green onions
  • Ground cherries
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lima beans
  • Melons
  • Mint
  • Mushrooms
  • Mustard greens
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Oregano
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Radicchio
  • Raspberries
  •  Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Shallots
  • Sprouts
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Thyme
  • Tomatillos
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Watermelon
  • Winter squash
  • Zucchini

If you haven’t been to the Red River Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 10 AM – 2 PM, I would highly recommend checking it out! Get to know the growers and support the local community. Plus, the produce there ROCKS!

Rediscovering CrossFit

Rediscovering CrossFit

I’m no different than you.  I become impatient, I allow myself to get distracted, I distract myself, I look for the new shiny thing when the shine has worn off the last new shiny thing…

If you’ve fallen off the CrossFit wagon for whatever reason and think it’s too late…keep reading, get back on the wagon, and ride with me!

I started training at Icehouse because it felt different than any place I’ve ever worked out.

At 37 years old, with just over 1 year of training, going to 4 – 5 CrossFit classes a week…

I got in the absolute best shape of my life

  • “Fran” time was under 4:30
  • 5K Run time was just over 26 mins

I had the best body composition of my life

  • 76 lbs muscle mass,
  • 13.7% body fat

Enter…Distraction…

I should be doing more…I should be doing something different, right?…I’m bored…

  • I stopped going to classes and trained on my own most of the time, no friends
  • My workouts were a job, they were checklists to complete, no fun
  • I ate outside of my normal schedule and my normal diet more way often, no nutrition
  • I didn’t do any functional fitness outside of the gym; no play

Honestly, I took for granted the friends, the fun and the play of training in classes and let my nutrition take a dive.

…And how’d that turn out?

About as well as you’d imagine

My fitness regressed

  • Lost 90 seconds on my mile time
  • All of my gymnastics became more difficult (pull-ups, toes to bar…)
  • I felt sluggish, tired, lackadaisical

My body composition regressed as well

  • Lost over 1 lb of muscle
  • Gained 4% body fat

Now What?

Since July I’ve been training 4-5 days a week, attending 3 minimum of CrossFit classes a week at Icehouse, and getting an additional workout in, outside of normal class time if needed.

I’ve also recently added in stretching for 20 minutes 4 nights a week, playing on a  basketball court for 45 minutes 4 days a week and intentionally meal prepping every week.

…And how has that turned out?

I don’t yet have the body comp or fitness data (that’ll come with the “Fall Back to Basics 28-Day Nutrition Challenge” here at Icehouse in September)

But I’ll tell you what I do know for sure right now

I feel sore! Don’t get me wrong, the first few weeks pretty consistently, and a day or two a week even now, I feel super sore. There’s a difference to it thought, there’s a familiarity. It’s very similar to when I first started training at Icehouse. I feel my body growing stronger in places that had been neglected over the winter. It’s a good thing.

I feel energized throughout the day! I took out dairy and gluten once again. If you haven’t tried eliminating those 2 items from your diet, I encourage you to try, for 3 weeks and see if you feel a difference.

I feel connected! Workouts aren’t a job, they are an hour that I get to spend with people I really, really like, being goofy and getting sweaty all at the same time.

I sleep better, stretching before bedtime is a great way to start slowing down your mind and body before bed.

Most importantly!

I’m a better version of myself! I’m stronger now because I know that I can fall down, pick myself up and get back into habits that support the person that I want to be. It’s never too late!!

For More Info

If you’re interested in our “Fall into Basics 28-Day Nutrition Challenge” check out our Facebook Event and get all the details.

If you’re interested in jumping back into fitness yourself, take some time to schedule a meeting with a coach here at Icehouse and we’ll get you started!

The Origin of CrossFit

The Origin of CrossFit

If you’re like me, or you know a CrossFitter, we eat, breath, and sleep CrossFit.  CrossFit had me hooked from my first workout in 2010 at CrossFit St. Paul.  I had heard about CrossFit from my friends and finally had my chance to try it on a snowy February day.  At most CrossFit gyms we joke about drinking the KoolAid and today we are going to talk about what the heck this CrossFit thing is.

In the Beginning

CrossFit started in Santa Cruz, CA in 2000 by Coach Greg Glassman, soon thereafter the affiliate model was born.  In 2005 there were 13 affiliates donning the CrossFit name, and as of 2013 there are over 13,000 affiliates world wide (1). With numbers like that it seems everyone had the same reaction I did when they walked in to their first workout.  CrossFit growth started from CrossFit.com or as it’s more commonly called “main site”.  Everyday a new workout is posted on the website and there is a section for comments for people to record their scores, and that is how a community was born.

What is CrossFit

CrossFit as defined by Glassman is “constantly varied functional movement done at high intensity” (2).  What does this really mean, let’s take a look…

Constantly Varied; you’re not going to get the same workout in the same week, sometimes even the same a month.  There are 10 core movements in CrossFit and dozens of body weight movements that are rotated through to create different workouts.

Functional Movement; the majority of movements you’ll do in CrossFit are movements you should do in your everyday life, like squats, deadlifts and pressing.  The remaining movements support these 10 core movements. This allows you to do things like, play with your kids, go on a long hike, carry in all the groceries at once, and much more.

High Intensity; this one is relative which is the coolest part of CrossFit in my opinion.  It doesn’t matter who is in a class, you can have a grandmother of three, a 21 year old guy and 45 year old desk jockey in the same class.  They will all leave that class feeling the same way, the movements will have been adapted to their level but the intensity would be the same.  Each person giving their best on that given day.

Why Does CrossFit Work

If you ask most people who do CrossFit why it works they’ll tell you it’s the community.  For some it’s having a friend in class to chat with and have fun with during the workout.  For others as Glassman says “it’s agony coupled with laughter” (3), it’s that push of competition combined with hanging out with your friends that keeps people coming back.  The methodology of movement coupled with intensity are what drive body composition and get people feeling better.  Fitness works when people stay consistent.  CrossFit generates that through quality coaching, meeting new people and finding out how strong you really are.

Sources:

  1. The Business of CrossFit: An Update on the New Market Research. www.rallyfit.com. Retrieved 07.29.2018
  2. Understanding CrossFit. CrossFit Level One Handbook. www.crossfit.com/seminar. Retrieved 07.29.2018
  3. Greg Glassman – Defining CrossFit. www.crossfit.com/journal. Retrieved 07.29.2018

 

 

4 Ways to Keep Summer Simple

4 Ways to Keep Summer Simple

The summer can sometimes be a roll of the nutrition dice.

You may have a summer full of travel, outdoor parties, and schedule inconsistencies. These types of summers are memorable but can make it hard to stay on track with nutrition. Or, you may have a summer with a lighter workload, no school commitments, and a lot of extra time to commit to fitness and nutrition.

Regardless of the type of summer you have, there is no reason to stray from your plan for an extended period of time. After all, you do not want to reverse all of the amazing progress you have made so far.

Here are 4 ways to enjoy your summer and events, while still maintaining your progress and building healthy habits.

  1. Continue to track in MyFitnessPal:  People who track are more likely to stay on track. Don’t avoid entering meals if you “went over.” That’s okay! Have your treat and move on, but be aware of where you are.
  2. Eat vegetables first: For every meal, continue to fill up on vegetables first. By doing this, you consume fewer calories in the long run.
  3. Plan ahead for travel meals: If you are traveling, think about meals ahead of time. Pack non-perishable snacks such as RX Bars, turkey jerky, and whey protein. Make sure you always have a quick snack for when you are hungry.
  4. Monitor your alcohol intake: Keep an eye on the amount of sugar in your drinks. Avoid sugary, premixed drinks and stick to clear liquors or wine. This will help cut your sugar and calorie intake.

If your summer means a shift in your routine, use it to your advantage. How can you use this opportunity to build good habits?

I Gave Up Coffee…Here’s Why

I Gave Up Coffee…Here’s Why

If you have been to one of my classes at some point you know my coffee cup was never very far away.  I’ve read the blogs and listened to the podcasts that say “a coach should never be drinking coffee during class.”  I thought that was cute, coffee is life…well was life.

It Just Happened

I woke up on a Monday, looked at my partner, and said “I’m done with coffee.”  You can imagine the shock, we have a coffee pot, French press and Nespresso in our 5’ x 6’ kitchen.  We have a small space and prioritize coffee.  I would usually have a coffee with a shot of espresso in the morning and then another coffee or latte in the afternoon.  Sunday’s were a day of caffeination, I would drink coffee pretty much all day.  It was magical!

A Little Bit Nerdy

Coffee, at roughly 200mg of caffeine for 10 oz, can keep cortisol levels elevated.  Cortisol is a hormone that helps our body respond to stress. If your cortisol levels stay elevated, meaning you stay stressed, it can have very negative effects on weight training, body composition and recovery.  Long story short high cortisol levels mess with your gainz, no good!

Saying Goodbye

If you’ve been anywhere in the United States you know, it was a Long winter.  I was living on coffee.  We made some changes at work, I have been doing some really deep emotional work and it was cold, like really cold, I was in a full stress spiral.  I went three full months with very little sleep, two colds, two flus and I was a wreck.  It was time to control the things I could and that meant no more added stress, coffee had to go.  I needed to give myself the best chance I could to sleep, to restore, to let my body and spirit breathe.

Life After Coffee

For the most part, my life has been caffeine free.  I will have a matcha or a green tea from time to time and with a drastically reduced caffeine intake I can sleep.  I woke up the second morning and told my partner “if this is what sleep is like, I’ll give up coffee forever.”  I’m still working hard on the other ways to manage stress and do the work I love.  I’m also working with Coach Anna on my nutrition and it’s been a game changer, check her out!!  If you find yourself in a stress spiral, check in with yourself, what are the things you need to do to help yourself out?