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.
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.
Sugar is everywhere these days. It’s not just in your common violators like ice cream or pop. It’s also in foods labeled as “health foods”, such as protein bars, smoothies, sports drinks, and basically any item labeled as low fat. So why is this a problem? Well, if you have been through our 6-Week Challenge you have probably heard why sugar is causing problems, so in case you have forgotten or need a refresher, this is for you.
Junk In, Junk Out
Too much sugar has been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease – all things that we are fighting against at CrossFit Icehouse. You have probably heard it before that you cannot out work a bad diet. So even if you are going to the gym 5-7 days per week, but you are eating and fueling yourself with junk, you will get the health results of eating junk.
So, how much sugar is a safe amount? The World Health Organization recommends that sugar be no more than 5% of your daily calorie intake. This works out to be about 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar to no more than 100 calories/day or 6 teaspoons for women, and 150 calories/day or 9 teaspoons for men. In Greg Glassman’s Fitness in 100 Words he says, “Eat meat and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar”. He does say “no sugar”, but that is with the idea that you will be eating good quality whole foods that have a normal amount of natural sugar in them.
Good sugars can be found in almost all whole foods, especially fruits. The reason we want to get most of our sugar from these sources is because the sugar is supported by fiber, water and nutrients that keep your blood sugar levels from spiking like they do with added sugars. However, too much fruit could be a bad thing as well. Primarily if you pack a lot of fruit in a smoothie. Blending up fruit breaks it down further so that your digestive track doesn’t have to do as much work, thus increasing the blood sugar spike. So, do your best to eat fruit in its whole state and don’t over pack a smoothie with more fruit than you normally eat with a meal.
We know too much sugar is not good for us, we have an estimate of how much sugar to eat and we know what sources to get our sugar from. It is our responsibility to make sure we are not harming ourselves with too much sugar. However, you are not in this alone. If you struggle with binging on sweets or having too much sugar, reach out to someone who could be your accountability partner. You could also talk with a coach or sign up for Precision Nutrition Coaching to help dial in those cravings. Overall, try and pay attention to food labels and become an informed consumer.
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.