Coaches Corner

Epigenetics
By: Coach Ashley

How do our decisions affect us at the cellular level?

Don’t worry this is not going to be a cellular biology lesson by any means. The other day I was sitting in class and the discussion was genetics, but there was one topic specifically that was fascinating to me and I wanted to share it. Epigenetics…prior to class I had never heard of this word; but looking into it further, millions of dollars are being invested into this research and some say this will be more telling than studying genetic diseases. Basically what this refers to is the ability to alter genes in the DNA or mRNA without causing a mutation by either “silencing” or “turning on” these genes (mRNA is messenger RNA which is responsible for translation of genetic material from DNA to make proteins). We can do this by the environment we create for ourselves: what we eat, are there pesticides on our foods, smoking cigarettes, and other behaviors that we already knew affected our health but now we know takes effect at the genetic level. AND here’s the kicker, even though it is not causing gene mutation, you can still pass these alterations onto your offspring. Epigenetic diseases such as cancer, neuropsychiatry (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease), and autoimmune diseases are being studied as well as epigenetic changes: looking at how nurture shapes nature and the effects of social experience, diet and nutrition, and exposure to toxins cause change to our DNA.

Cancer is probably the most studied epigenetic disease and we know as a general population there are so many environmental factors that can cause different forms of cancer. It is by either suppressing or expressing cancer associated genes, which research continues to work to create a well identified list of genes that are more susceptible to changes and mutation in the setting of cancer. There also have been studies done looking at generations that experienced famine as well as generations that feasted and there were changes seen in the grandchildren of those studied. The grandchildren of those that feasted died earlier and had diabetes. Current research is being done to trace back the epigenetic changes linked to the issue of obesity and cancers in our population now.

As a community, we all strive to live our healthiest lives. This bit of information just gives us more of a reason too. This should also continue to drive us to educate those around us, especially those that can effect generations to come!

Confidence
By: Coach Cheryl

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”

Dalai Lama

One of the most important characteristic that is shared amongst some of the most successful people is self­confidence. Self­confidence is defined in several different ways. I define self confidence as the ability for an individual to believe and trust in one’s own abilities, powers, and judgement. What most people fail to realize is that self­confidence is something that can be learned. The more you practice self­confidence, the easier it will become.

How does this relate to your training? Every time we step in the gym we make a choice. A choice to approach a workout with confidence in our abilities. A choice to try something new. To add 5 more pounds on the bar, to throw the heavier wall ball, to try and do a workout as prescribed. To give 100% of ourselves to a workout. Then when the workout is over we make another choice. Our reflection on our workout is one of the most important things we can do to build our self confidence.

Do you tend to leave a workout with statements like “I suck at double unders” or “pull ups always kill me, i knew I was going to break down.” These are just examples, but if this is the self­talk you give youself when you have just thrown yourself at a workout with everything you got, what do you think you are doing for your self­confidence? This is where practice makes perfect. Easier said than done, but perhaps if we can learn to replace that negative self talk, with positive and encouraging words, we might actually leave more motivated than ever! It is easy to be confident when you feel good about a workout. It requires effort to find the positive in the ones we don’t feel we performed as well as we wanted.

Someone once told me that I will always learn the most about myself from the training days I feel the worst about myself. I believe that. Mostly because those are the days that require me to practice self confidence. Learning to replace the negative with the positive can make you stronger in ways you would not even dream of.

So next time you are having a “rough” day in the gym, take the time to really think about how you will react to the negative thoughts that will pour into our head. Find the positive in even the worst of days because they make you stronger. Remember that success does not come easy. It requires hard work, determination, dedication, and definitely self­confidence.

Looking back
By: Coach Max

As the year is coming to a close we start thinking about our goals for the year in and outside the gym. We rummage through our notebooks or search the website for our goals and compare them to our achievements. While this process is necessary to measure our progress and set S.M.A.R.T. goals for the new year, I also think it’s important to recognize others’ accomplishments. For this week’s Coaches’ Corner I ask you, the members, to post something that you saw this year at CFNE that struck you and stuck with you. It can be something like watching your friend get his/her first pull-up. It doesn’t have to be a milestone, but it certainly can be. I’ll start…

For me, this moment occurred two weekends ago. Andrew Ho came to workout at 1pm with some of the competitors. We were doing a massive barbell complex with 30 back squats, 30 jerks, and 30 thrusters. We all started together and at the end a few athletes were left finishing the last of their heavy thrusters, Andrew was one of them. Ho could have easily given up or taken more rest but instead of conceding and taking the easy way out he picked the wrench and finished strong. It was a terribly difficult workout, one that beat us all down. That day, I saw my friend grow both as an athlete and as a person. I felt so proud for him. He had grown so much during the workout.

We all grow together, so if you have any memories of your fellow athletes from this year, please post to comments.

Click HERE to see posts from that day.

Crushing your Goats
By: Coach Geoff

A couple weeks ago I had a great conversation with one of our members over how inspiring it was for her and others to see the coaches and competitors post on the blog. She seemed to think that some scores, times, weights, etc. were superhuman and that we had no weaknesses or holes when it came to our ten components of fitness.  I had no choice but to laugh and to think back to when I first started CrossFit and how hard it was for me to figure certain movements out.

I asked the coaches to tell me about movements they struggled with at the beginning of their journey into CrossFit.  Here’s a list of GOATS and how each coach made friends with their weakness and beat them to death.

Harry: OHS

The Problem – I would have to bend my arms and squat on the toes just to reach parallel. The Fix – I added OHS with the dowel during daily warm up.  Simply getting in the repetitions with the right positioning was what took me there.

Meg: Double Unders

The Problem – Stringing together consecutive repetitions during a workout.  It seemed to always be the limiting factor in workouts that slowed me down. The Fix – Completed a mini version of flight simulator 3x week (1-2-3-4-5 up to 10 and back down)

Heather: Wall Balls 

The Problem – I had difficulty being able to hit consistent good reps to the line, while rebounding rep after rep. The Fix – Worked through the following a few times a week, always to regulation height.  At the beginning it took forever but I kept at it until I completed the reps. I eventually worked up to unbroken sets by the time I finished.  5 reps @ 30# – 10 reps @ 20# – 15 reps @ 16# – 20 reps @ 20#

Max: Parallette HSPU

The Problem – Being able to move my body in a controlled area of space was a difficult task at first.  I knew I had the strength prerequisite but the technique was a different story. The Fix – Watched videos on skills and progressions. I practiced the progressions in a controlled environment on my own, outside of class. Once I learned the skills I then tested them in a metcon.

Ben: Rowing

The Problem – Being a smaller athlete, I didn’t have the power that the bigger guys did.  It was during the 2008 Regional’s where I finished all the WODs in the top 10, except for the 2K row.  After missing the podium and falling down the rankings, it was time to address the issue. The Fix – Performed a 1k before every work out and intervals a few times a week.

Rachel: Running

The Problem – Running used to scare me and I hated being uncomfortable during it. The Fix – Running intervals or distance almost every day of the week. Running more frequently made me more confident in it. I know I will be uncomfortable but being more confident in it allows me to push way harder.

Kevin: Jerks

The Problem -They we’re so frustrating because I could clean so much more than I could jerk. I just couldn’t seem to get the lockout and stability. The Fix – It took hours of practicing drills, filming and reviewing my movement. Sliding straight down a wall and up hundreds if not thousands of times, practicing footwork to targets again hundreds if not thousands of times. Now it is one of my favorite movements.

Ashley: Running

The Problem – I would dread WODs that had any sort of running greater than 200m, I was always afraid to push the runs in fear of not doing well on the other movements of the workout. The Fix – I did a lot of interval training, running with a vest or weighted objects, and used A LOT of positive self-talk while running

Geoff: Olympic Lifts

The Problem – I was limited by a few factors in both the Snatch and C&J.  My main issue coming from lack of lower body strength, followed up by poor overhead position and flexibility. The Fix – Tons of mobility on my shoulders and lats allowed me to gain better positioning without sacrificing my mid-line overhead.  While I wasn’t mobilizing I was underneath a barbell squatting 3x/week.

As you can see both coaches and competitors struggled with movements just like you when we started CrossFit, and by no means are we masters at any of these movements yet.  However, with a little bit of patience, and repetition after repetition things slowly and surely got better.  If you have a goal or a weakness that you want to turn into a strength, please find a coach and address it so we can get you on the right path.  I’m going to leave you with a little advice:

In terms of learning a new skill or improving a weakness there’s a few key points we need to remember.  The goal is to create a correct habit that can be produced instinctively under great pressure. To make sure the goal is achieved you must incorporate the eight laws of learning – explanation, demonstration, imitation, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition.

The Zone
By: Coach Ashley

To Zone or not to Zone…

This topic is definitely the buzz around the gym lately…seems a lot of people are jumping on board. During the team transformation challenge most coaches followed some variation of the zone and people had a lot of success with it. I wanted to review the basics of the zone and why it works.

The zone is nothing more than calorie restriction and hormone balance. It is quantity of food. As crossfitters, we take this one step further and add quality by zoning real whole foods: lean meats, veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar. If quantity is not taken into consideration, most crossfitters find themselves very unbalanced: way too much protein, not nearly enough carbohydrates, but usually an appropriate amount of fat.

When we eat protein, glucagon is released to mobilize energy stores. This makes sense because we know a role of protein is muscle building and repair, for example, where the body is actively completing a task. In the presence of carbohydrates, insulin is released: the antagonist hormone to glucagon. Insulin aids in storing energy (glucose) for later use. This also makes complete sense because the body calls upon stored energy for every process that it does whether it is your heart beating at rest or trying to get through Murph, this is a necessary macronutrient of the body. Finally, fat does not elicit a hormone response in the body, but it slows digestion of food causing us to feel full longer.

If I were to summarize in one sentence the above paragraphs: eat real foods together to balance hormones in the body that make us feel full longer in amounts that support exercise not body fat. It doesn’t get much more simplified than that BUT it can be applied to everyone, crossfitter or not, because it works…its human physiology.

Implementing the zone is straight forward if you keep it simple. A zone block equals 1 block of protein + 1 block of carbohydrate + 1 block of fat. So the next question is, how many blocks do I eat in a day? There are advanced calculations out there to figure out this number but I will use the ranges that Ben gave to the coaches because they are simple and they make sense. For men, if your t shirt size is small you should eat 16 blocks per day, medium 17, large 18, extra-large 19-20. For women, small 11-12, medium 13, large 14. Once you determine your number, start building meals based on how you want to break down your total blocks throughout the day. Consistency here is key, what I mean is if you are a medium male eating 17 blocks a day on Monday, then Tuesday has to be 17 and so on and so forth. Some days you will find it hard to get all of your blocks in and other days you will find yourself with only 2 blocks left and its 3:00 in the afternoon! Plan accordingly. Finally, having a zone block guide is imperative for meal planning in order to know the appropriate weights and measures to balance your meals. CrossFit Journal article 21 is a good resource for explaining the zone and has a list of foods to choose from. The Zone Diet used to have an easily accessible food list online but now it is difficult to find. I was directed to CrossFit Impulse’s website which has this list on its nutrition page. It really can be that simple…so get out your food scale and measuring cups and give it a try.

You Look Organic
By: Coach Harry

The word “organic” gets thrown around quite a bit nowadays. Food giants slap it on labels, and it’s consistently used in advertising. And it works… your instant assumption when you hear the word organic, is that the food is healthy. Or at a minimum, healthier than its non-organic counterpart.

But ask yourself for a moment… what the hell does “organic” actually mean? Organic apples, organic poultry, organic oreos? I thought my front squats the other day were organic.

Here’s the basic principle of organic farming – to produce foods without the use of man-made chemicals. Pesticide, fertilizer, hormone free… chemical free. And for a food to be legally advertised as “organic” in the US, the product must be at a minimum 95% organically produced and handled. The standards are defined by the National Organic Program (NOP).

Now let’s apply that in the grocery store…

1. Meat

In the case of animal products, organic means that your meat received no antibiotics or hormones, and was fed organic feed throughout. In the recent decades, the food industry has developed many artificial ways to alter the size, texture, and growth rate of animal products. Steer clear, and chose organic cuts when available.

Be aware however that organic meats are not necessarily grass-fed meats. Grass-fed meats will be clearly marked. With grass-fed meats providing a higher Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio, we want to keep this in mind: Organic grass-fed > organic grain-fed > grain-fed.

2. Fish

Would you guess wild-caught fish is organic? The answer is actually no. Fish gets tricky.

In 2008, the NOP decided that wild-caught fish could not be declared organic, as we can’t control their environment. Farmed fish however can be organic. Makes sense, but despite that, wild-caught fish boasts a higher Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio and is the better option. With fish, keep this in mind: Wild-caught > organically farmed > farmed.

3. Produce

Pesticides are widely used in conventional agriculture. Fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides are chemicals that the body cannot process, and ultimately these residues build up in our system. After years of exposure, it is medically known that these pesticides can lead to birth defects, headaches, and added strain on weakened immune systems.

With produce however, there are many types that are largely unnecessary to purchase organic. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) performed 43,000 tests for pesticides, and found that consumers could cut their exposure by almost 90% by avoiding just the most contaminated fruits and veggies. Labeled as the “Dirty Dozen”, these are the 12 most important produce to consider buying organic:

“The Dirty Dozen”

1. Peaches

2. Apples

3. Sweet Bell Peppers

4. Celery

5. Nectarines

6. Strawberries

7. Cherries

8. Lettuce

9. Grapes (imported)

10. Pears

11. Spinach

12. Potatoes

Next are the types of produce that are largely unnecessary to buy organic. These foods regularly test clean either because they have a hard outer skin, or just don’t retain pesticides well.

“Clean Foods”

1. Onions

2. Avocado

3. Sweet Corn

4. Pineapple

5. Mango

6. Sweet Peas – frozen

7. Asparagus

8. Kiwi

9. Bananas

10. Cabbage

11. Broccoli

12. Eggplant

The EWG ranked 43 foods in total, and designed a free wallet-sized list of these foods that you can take to the store with you. All they require is an email address for it. Can definitely come in handy.

End of the line – not everything needs to be purchased organic. The few extra dollars is worth it to avoid the “Dirty Dozen”, but we don’t need to skyrocket the grocery bill. Make choices as the budget allows.

Cooking Corner
By: Coach Rachel

We all do our best to eat clean and healthy but we all know sometimes it gets difficult to find time to cook in our busy lives. I know, for me, if I do not cook on Sunday’s it throws off my whole week. Lately I have been trying to make a few easy meals that I can either put in the oven or slow cooker so I don’t have to be in the kitchen all day and feel like I’m wasting a Sunday. I am going to share my “go to” breakfast. If you ask Andrew at the front desk or any of the 6:30 am’ers they can attest to the fact that I eat this same breakfast every day of the week!

Breakfast: Egg Loafs and Sweet Potato Hash

What you need:

Eggs Egg Whites Spinach Ham (or any meat you choose) Olive Oil Spray Sweet Potatoes Onions Paprika Salt Pepper Bacon Fat

The Process:

Egg Muffins: (I use disposable mini loaf tins from Roach Bros and eat half a day, I make 3 for the week)

*Spray loaf tin with olive oil

*Put spinach and ham at the bottom of the tin

*Crack 4 eggs in each tin and fill the rest of the tin with Egg Whites

*Bake on 350 for about a half hour or until cooked through

Sweet Potato Hash:

*Dice 6 Sweet Potatoes (skin on is fine)

*Dice 2 onions (or be lazy like me and get the already cut onions from Trader Joes)

*Put onions and sweet pots into a pan with bacon grease (I save the grease from bacon I cook in an old coffee container and freeze it so that I have some for cooking)

*Stir frequently on low until potatoes are tender and add paprika and a little salt

Hope you enjoy this breakfast as much as I do!

Hollow and Arch
By: Coach Kevvy Kev Montoya

Click HERE.

Livin the Dream
By: Coach Heather

People could look at my life as it’s spanned out over the last ten to fifteen years and call it dysfunctional: damaged goods, loaded with baggage, selfish.

Damaged: grew up with a full-blown eating disorder (that you never really psychologically heal from), married to a really great guy that ended up in a divorce after ten years, and not for nothing…I’m really just not all that bright when it comes down to it.

Baggage: two kids that I now share with that guy, degrees and grad school loans that I’ll owe money on for years (and, doing NOTHING professionally related to that now), parents whose health is rapidly declining because they aren’t willing to listen to what I know would make them live longer happier lives.

Selfish: constantly turning down Level 1 seminars Castro asks me to work because I don’t feel like working them, dragging my poor kids around to hoouuurrrss of training so I can stay at a competitive level (including missing school drop-off because it conflicts with team training), forcing Jonah to listen to my country music all the time even though all he wants to listen to is the stuff that his friends listen to.

But, the thing is: I know that all of this stuff has the right intentions backing it up.

Having successfully recovered from an eating disorder has, strangely, given me a really healthy relationship with food. I purely lucked out with my ex-husband. He really is a great, great guy and one of the best fathers I have, literally, ever met. Simply put, I lucked out because I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have the fairy tale relationship that I now have with Ben if it weren’t for Alex. And, me being a dumb jock somehow makes most people feel really comfortable with me. No judgement, because I have no defense if anyone ever judged me.

The schedules our kids have to keep because they have two families now is something that I really believe makes us all stronger, more resilient, and able to see how lucky we are. We have this uncanny ability to talk ourselves into believing our lives are actually better because we’re a broken family: our kids get endless holidays and birthday celebrations, we never need babysitters because there’s a whole other family to watch each others kids whenever we need them to, the kids have double the number of eyes watching over them making sure NOTHING falls through the cracks, they have twice as many role models teaching them how to live life the right way, and we’ve got four layers of parents’ patience to work through before we all start becoming “bad” parents.

The schooling I’m paying for (Accounting, English, Philosophy) helps give me CrossFit-syle ammo to go at life with. My background is broad and inclusive; I’m not great at anything, but I’m above average at everything. I just wish it wasn’t such an expensive route that took me to where I ended up.

My parents’ health is just something that I really wish was not a reality. Worse than their health, though, is their non-urgent and unfortunately lazy approach to improving it. All I can say about it at this point is it motivates me to keep myself and my family healthy. It’s a never-ending mental battle that I hope they just ultimately luck out with.

I will say this: I am selfish with not wanting to work but it is SIMPLY because I cannot get enough time with my kids and husband. I love the hour or two that I coach classes every day, but one thing I know now that two of my kids are getting older is that it really does go by faster than you think it will.

I told Castro this point blank this weekend: I decline seminars he offers me knowing that I’m actually totally available on those weekends. What’s up with that? Here’s what it is: I LIVE for weekends with my family. Ben knows that weekends are “non-separation” days. We just don’t separate from each other all weekend. We drive in the same car. We all go to the grocery store together. We sit through each other’s workouts, waiting, when we could be doing something far more productive. Castro knows that when this is no longer sustainable, then I’ll be good to go for wearing the red shirt more often.

The hours my kids sit through training IS half so I can keep competing (even though two of them are, technically, old enough to stay home instead), and half because I want them to see what hard work really looks like. I want Maya to see why being strong and athletic is more bad-ass than being skinny. I want Jonah to know there is a time and a place for Missy Elliot and Limp Bizkit. I want Bode to think that playing involves moving around and not just staring down a computer or tv screen.

And, this one may be a reach, but I really believe that Jonah’s exposure to all different kinds of music on a regular basis will make him one of those cool kids that actually likes “all different kinds of music”, not just one of those dudes that just says he does when asked, “What kind of music do you like?”. I can’t stand those people.

If you’ve actually stayed with me for this long, I’m shocked. But, here’s what it comes down to. I’m honest with myself. I know what I’m made up of. I know it’s some good and a whole lotta’ bad. But, it’s what I do with the bad that I can use to my advantage.

At the end of the day I’m asking myself this question: did I make decisions today for the right reasons or for the wrong. When you’re consistently doing things for the right reasons, it starts feeling like you’re livin’ the dream.

Plain and simple.

Livin’.

The.

Dream.

Good Eats
By:Coach Max

So we all do our best to do our cooking on the weekends for the week right? Well, have you ever found yourself mid-week with nothing but a jar of almond butter left in your pantry? If this sounds like you then this Coaches Corner is for you. When you find yourself in a pinch where do you go for a paleo-meal on the go? Below in no particular order are my top ten places to go when you need something delicious and nutritious fast. If you have others please post them to comments.

1. Chipotle (Natick) – Talk to Montoya and he’ll tell you this is the only spot to go. The “Montoya” has double barbacoa in a burrito bowl with fajita veggies and guac. It’s Montoya’s way of getting the most bang for his buck. Gosh Montoya is smart…and handsome.

2. Central Street Café (Natick) – Go here for all of your breakfast needs. Huge omelets, crispy bacon, and avocado. Looking for a meal that’ll fill you up for half of the day? Try a four egg scramble (really probably eight egg scramble) with peppers, onions, bacon, and sausage with a side of avocado and an apple with cinnamon. They will pretty much sub anything out and if you wear your CFNE sweatshirt they probably won’t ask you if you want toast with your breakfast.

3. Bill’s Pizza (Natick) – Looking for a cheat meal that won’t make you feel super guilty? Bill’s is the place for you. They offer gluten free crust and have fantastic salads. Try a spinach salad with grilled chicken or chicken salad on top. Also, there’s rumor that they might even name a pie after CFNE! If you want to give it a try it’s a gluten free Carnivore (think every meat you can think and then more) with spinach and jalapenos.

4. Morse Tavern (Natick) – Morse offers a solid bunless burger with grilled peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Order the “Geoff” and get bacon, avocado, with crispy sweet potato fries. Don’t want a burger? That’s fine; try their steak or lamb tips! Morse is always a good choice.

5. Met Bar (Natick) – Want a burger in a bowl with endless toppings? Of course you do, silly question. Met offers a full menu for the paleo diner at a slightly higher price than Morse. My go-to is a double burger (medium rare) in a bowl of mixed lettuce with guacamole, jalapenos, bacon, crispy onions (not paleo…whatevs) and two over easy eggs on top. Also, their sweet potato fries and seltzer are world class. So go to Lulu and then head downstairs to Met for a burger.

6. Zaftigs (Natick) – Go to Zaftigs for breakfast anytime. I’ve never had anything but breakfast there so I can only speak to their breakfast menu, but let me tell you their breakfast is to die for! Their fruit plate looks like a piece of art, don’t be fooled it’s not art…eat it. They do all the classic paleo breakfast orders there and have the BEST and I mean the BEST corned beef hash I’ve ever had. Completely homemade with 3 eggs on top…HOLY MOLY!

7. Theo’s Pizza (Natick) – This place has the best iceberg lettuce salads around. Go here if you’re in a pinch and strapped for time. The order here is a chicken salad with extra chicken and extra pickles (tickles) with the house dressing on the side. Theo’s will have your salad ready in 5 minutes and will cost you under $10.

8. Prime 131 Grill (Wayland) – Looking to class it up a little bit? Take off the Lulu’s (I know it’s tough) and put on some jeans and head to Prime 131 Grill. They’ve got some great steaks, baked sweet potatoes, and some good paleo-ish appetizers. Tell them Max sent you…actually don’t, they don’t know me.

9. California Pizza Kitchen (Natick) – Some people swear by this place, I’m not one of them. Their salads are ok. EC loves their cobb salad and may or may not eat it 3 times a week. Nothing special. And this one time I went with MDV and he ordered extra chicken and barely got anything extra. When MDV asked for more chicken the waiter went back and had a “long and convoluted discussion with the cook” who then awarded MDV some more chicken.

10. Samba (Framingham) – Hibachi is the name of the game at Samba. My advice, order a filet medium rare with some grilled veggies and enjoy the show.

11. Kate (Wayland) – Enough said…she rocks and cooks up a storm.

Just Breathe
By: Coach Geoff

How many of you have been in the middle of a workout or maybe even that first round gasping for air, wondering to yourself maybe I came out of the gate too hard or thinking how on earth I’m going to finish this? I’m sure we all have, myself included. Lets first look at what is happening to our muscles when we inhale and exhale during a WOD.

First off, ATP is our fuel for fire, it’s what the cells in our muscles use to create energy. It’s what allows us to CrossFit and execute functional movements at high intensity. Our main ingredient in that recipe is oxygen, which is needed to breakdown glucose and create ATP. When our muscles use up the readily available oxygen in our bodies they go into a state called “oxygen debt,” where they begin to convert glucose to lactic acid and start to fatigue. However, if they have sufficient amounts of oxygen, our muscles will not produce lactic acid as rapidly and therefore will not fatigue as quickly.

The glucose that we consume gets stored in our muscles as glycogen. Typically, our muscles have more glycogen than oxygen, so oxygen becomes the limiting factor in creating ATP, which by now we know is essential to provide energy during a workout. Our muscles also store oxygen within them using a protein called myoglobin. It allows our muscles to have more available oxygen on tap than in other cells in our body, and in our line of training our muscles require all the oxygen they can get.

The next question becomes, how do we control this feeling like we’re suffocating? Whether we’re doing a 200-meter sprint, Fran, or a longer Hero workout, my advice to you is the same. Try to regulate your breathing cycle and think more about getting a generous amount of oxygen into your body rather than counting how many rounds you have left.

During a workout, the minute we begin to start gasping for air is the minute we have to rest and recover. It’s all we can think about, not the next rep or next round but ONLY that next breath of air. I know all of us have been in this situation, we push our bodies to their threshold then we try and push further. At that point it’s too late, we either have to drop the bar or start to slow down and rest, in order to control our breathing and get our heart rate back down.

Tips & things that have worked for me:

1) Control your breathing in rhythm with your reps or movement

2) Hear yourself breath out loud

3) When running try to exhale on different foot strikes to prevent cramping on one side

4) Practice a deep diaphragmatic breathing pattern called Box Breathing.

The Essential Zs
By: Coach Harry

Next to air, food, and water, sleep is a simple must for overall health. Lack of sleep not only leads to rough workouts in the gym, but it affects our mood, our thought-process, and how we treat others. Constant sleep deprivation has been linked to weight gain, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system… the list goes on. You don’t want to be there.

We pay close attention to quality food choices – now let’s do the same for our sleeping habits. As adults, we want to aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.

Below you will find 10 tips to increasing your quality of sleep. Choose 2-3 of these to start, and dial them in for the first week. Once you feel completely comfortable in those, add in another, and hold steady until you feel comfortable to take on another. Keep repeating the process until we reach all 10.

1. Sleep in complete, total darkness. On a hormonal level, even an inch of dim light on the body prevents you from getting the deep sleep we need. So turn off the TV, the night light, and even cover the alarm clock. Consider black-out curtains. Put anything that lights up – to include your cellphone – away in the bathroom. Simply put that temptation away to a spot you can’t easily reach from bedside.

2. Create a before-bed ritual. Just like how our CFNE warmup primes us for the WOD, a before-bed ritual will prime us for sleep. A consistent pattern here will train the body to understand that rack time is quickly approaching, and will gradually wind down in preparation. To some extent, we already do this – many of us associate the brushing of our teeth with bedtime.

Add onto that, and create a 15 minute routine that winds you down mentally and physically. Take a warm shower, change into pajamas, read a book… make it a relaxing and consistent ritual that will ease you into bed.

3. Establish a sleep-schedule. Don’t view this as an all-or-nothing ordeal. Start small – set a safe “no later than” bed time to start. But be diligent in following it. Every 1-2 weeks, reset that standard 15 minutes earlier. Now it’s 10:15 instead of 10:30. Continue the process until you’ve reached your goal.

4. Improve the quality of your bed. This doesn’t mean you need to invest in a new bed – start with new sheets. 300 thread-count sheets are worth the ~$85. You sleep on these sheets every night… it’s worth it.

5. Cool Out. According to the New York Times, the optimal temperature for sleep is around 60-68 degrees. The decrease in core temperature induces sleep, whereas a higher temperature can cause restlessness. Cooler than you might guess – but think about those colder winter nights, and how comfortable you are wrapped in several sheets. It’s cozy. No two ways about it.

6. White-noise. Turn on a fan to block out all excess noise from traffic, neighbors, and others who don’t adhere to this advice (just kidding… but not really)

7. Cut off caffeine after 2pm. The half-life of caffeine is measured at just under 6 hours. Some of us can have a cup of joe moments before bed and still find our way to sleep, but it’s beyond that. We can’t reach the deepest levels of REM sleep, where we truly reap the recuperative benefits, if caffeine is present in our system.

8. Taper down liquids after 5pm. Many of us have the (great) goal of drinking more water. Let’s frontload that in the earlier hours of the day, and taper off towards the evening. By noon, aim for 50% (or more) of your daily oz’s.

9. Naturally regulate your sleep cycle. Ever felt exhausted after a day in the sun? Ever felt restless after a day in the office? There’s a reason for that – sun light regulates our sleep hormones, and exposure during the day will help us get to sleep at night. Take your breaks outside, exercise in the sun when you can, and open the curtains at home or the blinds at work as much as possible.

10. Track your sleep. Try this for a week. Write down what time you got into bed, and what time you rose the following morning. This can be valuable data that you simply can’t remember without writing it down. How many hours did you sleep 4 nights ago?

There are a million and one things that could get in the way of a good nights sleep. I’d bet you a million of those however are actions that could wait until the following day. We need our sleep to optimize our lives.

Overnight results. For real this time.

Competition
By: Coach Rachel

“Competition!” It is a word that can be very scary. I’m sure you read that word and a few thoughts came into your head; maybe a time you competed in an event, maybe you thought of the person you compete against every day at the gym, or maybe you got nervous when you read it. In reality we are all scared of competition but at the same time it drives us. It is what makes us go faster, work harder, and why we keep going at it day in and day out.

With the competition approaching this weekend at the Reggie Lewis Center some of you are competing for your very first time and some of you are pros at this. Both athletes, the first timers and the pros, are all nervous in their own way. You are all so lucky to get to compete and I want you to keep that in mind. You don’t have to compete, you chose to and you get to compete, and for that you should be so proud of yourself.

I remember my first competition. I had just started Crossfit and swore I wouldn’t compete. I was a competitive gymnast so it was in my nature to compete but I was doing Crossfit just to “get in shape.” When the owners approached me and asked if I would do Beast of the East I was hesitant but decided to go for it. Going into it I remember only thinking, “what if I don’t do well?” I realize now and through experience the focus and thought should be “how awesome is this going to be!”

My advice to you, whether it is your first competition or your 100th competition; remember why you are doing it and why you signed up! You have worked hard and YOU ARE READY. Ready may mean coming in the top 10, it could mean you can do each movement at the weight in your division, but it could also mean you are simply ready to be in a competition with other athletes. Have fun, have no expectations, and do YOUR personal best. If you give it all you have you have already won. And also….. you get to do 5 workouts in 2 days, it doesn’t get much better than that!

My tips:

1. Sleep well Friday and Saturday night, you will be nervous and it may be tough but try to sleep and be calm.

2. Do not change your eating because you’re competing, your body is used to the way you eat so don’t change it now.

3. Warm up just as we do at the gym in class, don’t change anything. Again, your body is used to that so don’t get yourself ready an hour before an event when in class we get ready 20 minutes before.

4. Be confident, don’t let any negative thoughts creep in and when they do, push them away.

5. Control the controllables and let the other stuff go. You may have a “bad” “unfair” judge or an un-preferred spot on the floor. You cannot control that, stay focused. If you hear no rep, it IS a NO rep and move on. The longer you argue it the longer the workout will take you. Just make each movement perfect from the start to avoid this!

6. Have fun! This sounds silly and childish but it’s true. You are so fortunate to get to compete, people would kill to have the confidence and skill to be in your shoes. Enjoy and soak up every second of this weekend!

Good Luck to all those competing!

Sports Psychology
By: Coach Montoya

Top athletes in the world have high levels of internal motivation. They compete with themselves more than they compete with other athletes, and they want to be the best at what they do.

Internal motivation is characterized by:

- Enjoyment of the sport

- Enjoyment of practice and training for the sport

- A love of mastering technical aspects of the sport

- The ability to maintain motivation despite adverse conditions

External motivation includes the following:

- Participation in your sport for rewards, money, praise, fame, and trophies

Focusing on these aspects leads to:

- Peaks and valleys in motivation

- The need for greater or better rewards to sustain motivation

There is a place for external motivators but they should always be supplemental to existing internal motivation and the love of the sport.

Task orientation vs. ego orientation

If you focus on the task of getting better–on those things over which you have control–your motivation will grow. Things you can control:

- Your attitude – thoughts, feelings, and behaviors

- Your preparation

- How much and how well you practice

- Your lifestyle decisions

By keeping focus on these things, youʼll improve and, in turn, youʼll maximize your motivation.

Your focus should never be solely ego driven–winning, money, success, fame, and media exposure. These go hand in hand with external motivators.

Concentrate on process not outcomes

Controlling the controllables – you canʼt control outcomes (winning) you are at the mercy of circumstances beyond your control.

Controllables

- Attitude, Diet, Sleep, Practice, Mental training

Uncontrollables

- Weather, wins, losses, what other people think, say, or do

Effective Focus Cycle

- Effective Focus

- Calm physiological arousal

- Consistent smooth execution – Great Execution/ Performance

Relevant Points of Focus

- Attitude, goals, practice, rest, diet, mental prep, game plan, study of film

Irrelevant Points of Focus

- Your opponentsʼ actions, the venue, the fans, opinions of others

Great performers focus solely on the present moment. They arenʼt thinking about the past or future. If you are thinking about the past or future you are wasting mental energy on details irrelevant to your performance. Stay in the present moment!

Pressure exists only in your mind.

You play sports because you want to win, but this focus point is one of the greatest causes of loss and poor performance. When you focus on the process and not the outcome you dramatically increase your chances for success.

_______________________

One of the challenges when competing is that a lot of people will ask you if you are going to win. Especially if you have a track record of doing well, sometimes they will even expect you to win. It is tough not to focus on it when people keep bringing it up. The way I approach it when someone asks, “are you going to win?” I am polite about it and either respond, “of course!” secretly knowing that winning or losing is out of my control and it isnʼt the deciding factor in whether I did well or not. Or I respond, “I am going to compete at the best of my ability on that given day and accept what ever the outcome is.”

_______________________

Your self talk greatly changes the way you feel on game day, here are some examples:

Positive self talk

- I can do this – Excitement

- Iʼve been here before – Relaxation

- I can push myself harder than anyone – Determination

Negative self talk

- I have to win – Anxiety

- What if I screw up – Worry

Take a second to write out a few positive phrases you can use, and the emotion it will elicit (you can use the above examples if you want):

1.

2.

3.

Now right out a few cue words you can use to get you in the right mindset: These are the cue words I use: Relax, Breathe, Auto-pilot, Guts

1.

2.

3.

4.

Affirmations can have a huge impact on your success. When you write out your affirmation hold nothing back, the affirmation is for you and what you want to achieve. So if you want to say you are the worlds greatest or you are better than Rich Froning or Samantha Briggs then put it out there.

Here are the affirmations I used for Regionals this year:

Iʼm one of the hardest working athletes in CrossFit. Few people can match my athletic ability. Iʼm successful because I train smart, and when competition time comes, I feel calm because I am prepared.

I am calm and smooth every time I do overhead squats. I have great balance and strength in my lifts. I expect to make ever lift. The barbell will be exactly where I want it. My mind is clear and focused because I am confident in my technique.

Now write out one or two affirmations for yourself (feel free to copy or modify mine if you need to): 1.

2.

______________________

I have a sheet just like this that I printout and keep with me when I compete, if I need help focussing or calming down I find a quiet place on my own and read through it and reflect upon it. Hopefully it is helpful to you, itʼs yours to do what you want with you can use it or crumple it up and throw it away. Eitherway no matter what the outcome is, just make sure to enjoy the experience you will gain by competing and make sure to have some fun.

Respect
By: Coach Heather

Big shift from yesterday’s post.  I think it’s time we clean it up for a bit and prove that we actually are civilized humans with a heart…that just happen to fart and queef.  MAN, I canNOT belieeeeeve how hard it is to stay clean.  ANYways…

I was thinking the other day about how out of all the people in the entire world…everyone…I have more respect for my husband, Ben, than anyone else.
That’s a pretty loaded statement, because I am surrounded by very, very good people: my parents, my in-laws, incredible friends, amazing elite and world-class athletes, even my ex-husband is one of the most stand-up guys I know.  I am SO lucky to have this impressively long list.
But, truly, the one person that stands far above all the rest is the man I’m married to.  How lucky am I?  I ran into a woman who knows of Ben the other day, and ten minutes into the conversation, she says, “He really is too good to be true, huh?”  I thought about it for a second, and said, “In every way.”  I mean that.  He spends more time at CFNE than anyone else (well, Harry’s probably sabotaging that statement right now, but you get the point).  Ben is the most committed father I’ve ever known or known of.  He never, ever tries to cheat the system.  Anysystem.  I can’t remember the last time he said a bad word.  He cried once when he yelled at Jonah because he was so disappointed in himself.  Ben takes care of his employees as if they were his own children.
And, then there’s how Ben cares for me.  He gives me zero reason to ever be jealous of other women.  He helps clean up the kitchen at night so I can write for this blog…and, I don’t have to ask him to do it.  He never questions what I spend our money on.  He doesn’t mind AT ALL when I take off for a couple hours to hang out with the girls.  And, one of my favorite ways of knowing Ben cares for me is when I hear from other people about how he was talking about me to them.
All of this got me thinking about how while I’m lucky and all, I think this is how it actually should be, right?  I mean, you shouldn’t be settling for a place in your relationship where you don’t fully respect your significant other for the person they are.
But, just because you don’t completely feel that way about that person in your life, doesn’t mean you can’t get there with them.  If you’re really with the right person, the person you truly believe you were meant to be, you need to sort of lead by example.
Good people eventually follow good examples.  It just sort of happens that way.  Some people need more time than others, but it does happen.
I do believe that Ben cares for me so well in part because it is my mission to let him know he is cared for.  He knows how I think he is the most attractive man on the planet.  I try to bring him food at the gym because I know he works so hard all day that most days he never steps foot outside the gym door. I am very careful with our money because it’s just that: our money…not mine to spend as I wish.  I know it’s important for him to have time to hang out with the guys and go to Bruins and Patriots games whenever they invite him.  And, I never…ever…talk badly about this man.  Anyone that knows me knows how I feel about him.
We will occasionally read back over our wedding vows.  They remind us about how important all of this stuff is.  Respect is in there…for sure.

Intensity vs. RX’d
By: Coach Geoff

                I will be the first to admit that sometimes I get carried away and let my ego get in the way of a WOD.  Sometimes I’m a little to ambitious and go to heavy on certain movements and end up paying the price.  I am constantly learning things about myself, about programming and coaching, that I want to pass on towards all of you.  With that being said one thing I want to address is the common misconception between Intensity and doing a WOD Rx’d.

Greg Glassman, knew was on to something when he founded CrossFit and came up with the Three-part Charter: Mechanics, Consistency, Intensity.  It all starts with proper mechanics, can you execute functional movements with proper form?  Next comes consistency; can you set up in that position over and over and repeat repetition after repetition without form breaking down even when you’re tired? If you got the first two down, then and only then do we increase our level of intensity during training.

Let’s break down what intensity is.  This comes from an article Pat Sherwood, wrote in the CrossFit Journal.  Pat is a Massachusetts native, Seminar Staff Trainer, and close friend of CFNE. Intensity, as we define it, is exactly equal to average power (force x distance / time). In other words, how much real work did you do and in what time period? The greater the average power, the greater the intensity. This makes it a measurable fact, not a debatable opinion. Intensity and average power are the variable most commonly associated with optimizing favorable results. Whatever you want from exercise comes faster with intensity. It’s not volume or duration or heart rate or even discomfort. Do more work in less time (without overdoing it), and you’ll get fitter faster.”

The first year of CrossFit I made the mistake and thought I needed to lift heavier to get stronger and fitter, and time didn’t matter.  I sacrificed form, and technique and eventually wound up on the disabled list.  I thought I knew everything there was to know after playing college football and lifting with a strength and conditioning coach.  Don’t get me wrong I still saw results but I wasn’t maximizing my potential as a CrossFit athlete.  During my time off, while rehabbing and recovering, I took a step back and looked at the bigger picture.  I read article after article on the journal and promised I would change my method of training.  Even today I am smarter about scaling for myself, whether it be reps, load, movements, etc. and it has paid off tremendously.

Let’s take a workout like “DT” for example.  5 Rounds for time of 12 Deadlifts, 9 Hang Power Clean, 6 Push Jerks; prescribed weight is 155/105.  The ideal time frame were looking for here is anywhere from five minutes (games level athlete) to the twelve minute cut off.  The reason we have time cap’s on workouts is to have you get that “stimulus” were looking for. You don’t have to worry about a WOD going on for an hour, so you know you have X amount of time to crank out as many repetitions as you can and push yourself as hard as you can.  We also have time caps because it helps keep all of you safe.  We want to prevent injury and overtraining as much as possible.

We’re all wired the same way at CFNE so I understand that as CrossFit athletes we always want to prove something to ourselves.  Sometimes we get carried away trying to move that heavy load, or end up moving poorly with more no reps than good ones.  Sure, we get that sense of accomplishment, but did I really gain anything physically or become any fitter, by not hitting the standard? Chances are probably not, I’m just going to be really sore and beat up the next day.

What I’m trying to say is, that you are all so lucky to be able to come to CFNE and be coached by some of the best athletes, and coaches in the world.  Ben, knows what he’s doing, so trust him and trust his coaches.  You have no idea how many other boxes around the country follow OUR programming.  Why? Because it works!! Therefore if a coach recommends you scale a weight or rep scheme to stay inside that stimulus, leave the ego at the door and listen.  Move like butter, increase your intensity and remember smooth is fast, fast is smooth. There will always be a next time and another time to PR!!

 

“Performance is directly correlated with intensity. Intensity is directly correlated with discomfort.” – Greg Glassman

 

A Tale of Two Extremes
By: Coach Ashley

10:15 pm: While most are getting ready for bed, if they are not there already, I am grabbing my coffee and heading into work.  Working on a cardiac floor, we see many different types of patients, and though the majority of our patient population is geriatric, it is still a common occurrence to have considerably younger ones as well.  This is extreme number one. 

 

The phrases: risk factors, medically manage, morbidly obese, smoker, diabetic, heroin overdose are as free flowing as Fran, Helen, snatch and burpee.  Risk factors refer to, for example, how viable it is that a patient’s chest pain is actually cardiac in nature, are they over weight, smoker, family history, etc.  Medically manage is a term we use when the heart (or any system for that matter) is beyond any other intervention than medications to control symptoms.  The other terms I mentioned are pretty self – explanatory.  There is no doubt that the body ages; that my eighty or ninety year old patients are going to have problems with their heart, and we continue to medically manage them.  But what about the forty year old patient that weights 330 pounds, has lost one leg, his eye sight, and is on dialysis all because of diabetes; and his diabetes was diagnosed at the age of 20 which means diet and exercise could have controlled his disease.  This clinical picture is not a rare occurrence; it is only one example of way too many.

 

7:45 am: My shift has ended, I’m walking out with colleagues who are heading home to bed, and I get in my car and drive to 15 Tech Circle in Natick.  This is extreme number two.  It is here that I have the privilege to coach and train with the fittest people I know.  Sometimes it seems almost surreal to me leaving one and entering the other, how could the two worlds be so different?  How can we overlap the two…not to force paleo eating, crossfitting ways on those that are unwilling but just healthier lifestyles in general?  Each and every one of us are equipped with so much information about health and fitness beyond the general population – use it.  Educate family and friends, your kids even.  Explain the value of eating the right way and exercising regularly.

 

We all know someone that would benefit from this conversation and we don’t have to be a medical professional to have it.  That may be the direction you guide them in but just start it.  There are way too many people out there that don’t make the right choices for themselves and sometimes we forget about this because every day we are surrounded by others just like us.  CrossFit is about community and expanding this beyond the walls of the gym – let’s get out there and start making a difference, empowering others with our knowledge!

Managing Game Day Anxiety
By: Coach Doole

There are plenty of ways to manage game day jitters – Music, Breathing, Positive Thinking, Visualizing yourself as different Muppets over the course of a day.  Never done the latter?  No problem, we’ll step through a typical “Muppet Progression” together:

 

The night before:   Be “Bunson” – Everyone analyzes each WOD and strategizes each movement all the way down to the transitions and chalk breaks.  This is part of what makes the Opens so much fun!! I can’t tell you how many times I come into the gym the next morning and get my mind blown by different ideas.  It’s so fun to see what people come up with. Speak with plenty of members and coaches to get their input.

 

The morning of:  Be “Gonzo the Great” or the “Swedish Chef” – Actually, be both.  Gonzo is known to be extremely optimistic and intellectual. The Swedish chef kills it in the kitchen, serving up Del.ici.ous, healthy meals.  Mel and Harry trained under the master chef in Paris in the late 90’s. They’ve passed on some of his wisdom on to you in previous posts re: game day nutrition.  There are great nuggets in these posts, take a look!!

 

Mel – http://crossfitnewengland.com/2012/09/04/wednesday-9-5-12/#comments

 

Harry – http://crossfitnewengland.com/2013/02/20/thursday-2-21-13/#comments

 

Walking into the gym: Be “Kermit” – The quintessential Muppet.  The MAN  – or whatever.  He’s one cool cucumber.  He oozes confidence.  He stinks like success. He’s focused.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it’s ok to be a splash of “Fozzie” when you arrive.  It depends on the athlete.  If you’re too tight, you may need a little bit of light joking around to relax. Not too much though, you want to be able to flip the switch and get into the zone pretty quickly.  A lot of people use music to get into the zone. It’s the only time of year I think I see people walking around CFNE with headphones on.  Set up your music before you get to the gym.

 

During the WOD – Be “Animal”.  Obvious.  However, as Ben says “Don’t blow your WOD early” and go balls to the wall from the get go (unless the WOD requires that e.g. Fran).  You want to be able to channel your inner Kermit at the beginning WOD and stay focused and stick to your strategy.  Become Animal as soon as you can.  Animal should be the main Muppet in this stage of the game.

 

Post WOD – Be “Fozzie”. The Opens are supposed to be fun and judging by the responses on the site and by the energy in the classes, the first WOD was a BLAST!  People setting PR’s, taking their fitness to a whole new level, just absolutely murdering WOD’s. Don’t be Statler and Waldorf a.k.a. the mean old men that sit in the balcony and negatively critique everything.  It’s important to recognize what went well in the WOD.  Recall what worked for you and carry that forward to future WOD’s. Acknowledge what didn’t go well but don’t dwell on it.  Keep your thinking positive to help you at upcoming events.  The opens are FIVE (5) long weeks.  Move on quickly.

 

Other things that Muppets don’t have to worry about:

 

Breathing – Pre WOD,  check your breathing.  Keep yourself relaxed.  Deep belly breathing stimulates the Vagus nerve that controls your parasympathetic nervous system – the nervous system that is dominant when you are at rest and relaxed. When the sympathetic nervous system is dominant, or when we are in “fight or flight” (aka when we are working out), our breathing becomes quick shallow breaths. So if you want to relax yourself, stimulate that Vagus nerve and breathe from the belly.  Confused?  Watch how a baby breathes.  Stomach rises up first then the chest.  Be a baby.

 

Visualization – An absolute must.  You have to visualize yourself being successful. If you have already been successful in your mind then your body will make it happen.  Think of how much better you are when you’re doing something for a second or third time around.  You’re more confident, you know what to expect.  The great thing about it happening in your mind is that you can control what happens and make the outcome a positive one every time.  Try this – Visualize yourself either in third person (like if you were watching yourself on video) or in the first person (how we normally see the world).  Start at the very beginning of the WOD before 3.2.1 GO.  Try to make everything as real and detailed as possible.  If you’re unfamiliar with the location, go on the internet and find a picture of the place so you can help create the environment.  Then go through each rep of the work out.  Picture yourself hitting each rep, making smooth transitions etc.  Make your feelings positive throughout your visuals.  When you picture something negative happening, stop, and rewind and picture it again and again until you’re successful in your mind.  If you are successful in your mind you will be less nervous come game day because you have already achieved your goal many times in your head.

 

The following points are not really techniques for managing pregame jitters but need mention because they are integral to your success in WODs and you have to use these techniques during your visualization:

 

Positive Action Words (PAW’s) – Action words are processed at a lower level of the brain – like reflexes.  The conscious mind processes qualifiers for verbs but not the unconscious.  When we say to our self in a WOD, “Don’t stop” our unconscious mind hears “STOP!!”.  “Don’t quit” becomes “QUIT!!”.  “It’s not heavy” becomes “IT’s HEAVY!!”  When you find yourself saying these things, PAW’s and pick some new words to motivate yourself.  See that?  See what I did there?  A homonym for pause?  So crafty.  So cheesy. Anyway, choose Positive Action Words – “Keep Going!!”  “I’m FAST!!” “Light Weight!” etc.  This also applies to when you are cheering someone on.  Yell positive things.

 

Positive Thinking– Another absolute must.  We talk about it all the time.  Books and books have been written about it.  You have to be positive when it’s the toughest to be positive. We have over 60,000 thoughts a day.  The best way to know what we are thinking is to pay attention to how we are feeling.  Thoughts create our feelings.  If it feels like the weights are super heavy during a WOD it’s because we think they are heavy. One of the easiest ways to change our negative feelings is to be thankful.  As soon as you start to feel sorry for yourself or self doubt creeps in, think about something you are thankful for.  I have my go-to’s.  Establish some pre WOD so you can just think about it and picture it. I will say to myself mid-WOD “I’m thankful to be able to do this.  I am thankful to have the ability to stand and walk” Over and over again. You get the picture.

 

Try some of these techniques to manage your pre game jitters.  Find what works best for you and establish a routine.  Maybe it’s coming in and meditating, maybe its music, maybe it’s playing angry birds.  It’s probably not acting like some of the Muppets…or perhaps it is?  It’s a judgment free zone. Let that freak flag fly. Find a routine and stick with it.  Routines are comforting and the opens are long.

Why are fish so smart? Give up? ‘Cause they swim in schools.  Wocka Wocka Wocka! – Fozzie the Bear

Knowledge is Power
By: Coach Ashley

I recently had an AH-HA! moment when I read IT STARTS WITH FOOD by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.  I have always been a firm believer that knowledge is power always trying to learn new things, especially those that allow me to make better decisions.

The human body is fascinating in so many ways and self -preservation is one of them.  Our body has so many hormone signals and negative feedback systems to keep us running like well – oiled machines.   In terms of day to day survival, there is not much thought that goes into it today but think back to the hunter gatherer; for them where their next meal was coming from hugely impacted survival.  What if they found food and it was poisonous or rancid, how would they know not to eat it?  For our protection, the brain adapted to certain tastes, sweet (safe to eat), fatty (good calorie source), and salty (retaining of fluids).  When our ancestors came in contact with these tastes previously mentioned, the brain created memories of the associated foods by sending signals of pleasure and reward.  Now unfortunately I am not the only one who thinks knowledge is power!  Food scientists have transformed whole foods into completely processed imposters that still act upon this ancient survival tool.  What once signaled our brains to know we were making the right choices of nutrient dense foods, today only leaves us with empty calories.  Then there’s satiation, hunter gatherers would eat until this point because their food choices created hormone balance and allowed them to feel full; today these processed foods have more calories and less nutrition therefore we overeat them.

With pleasure and reward comes emotion and through emotion habits can form.  Think about how you feel when you finish a workout…amazing because dopamine and endorphins are released causing us to want that feeling the next day and the day after that.  The same thing happens with food: when we eat candy, cake, or (insert favorite dessert here) our brain signals it is something safe to eat because it is sweet and we keep eating it as it takes a long time to feel full; dopamine and endorphins are released to create a pleasurable and rewarding memory, we feel amazing (for a little while!) and we want to eat it again the next day and the day after that.  SCARY BUT TRUE. 

Think about this…you leave work on your break and take a walk down the street past a bakery.  You smell something amazing…maybe its bread or cookies baking, chocolate melting.  You keep walking to get your lunch and head back to the office.  You spend the rest of the day thinking about what you smelled outside the bakery and decide to stop on the way home to get (insert favorite dessert here).  The power of the mind goes as far as allowing us to actually taste something purely from memory and we feel emotion associated with eating that particular food.  When you pick it up after work you don’t have just one bite, you keep eating.  And it tastes exactly like your remember it.  You even say to yourself, “oh my god this is so good!”  Sound familiar?

THIS IS WHEN THE LIGHTBULB WENT OFF FOR ME!  We have the ability to control our minds, to change our way of thinking about anything, especially food.  We eat to live, not live to eat.  It’s really that simple!  It is important to understand there is biology behind what we think is just emotion driving our decisions because then all it takes is a different way of thinking and it could be a whole different outcome.

What we do in life, echoes in eternity
By: Coach Geoff

If your familiar with the quote above then you know it came from one of the best movies ever made, “Gladiator” and if you ask me I can see a lot of similarities between the film and CrossFit.  For most of us 5,000 square feet and one hour a day is all that separates us from the “norm” of everyday life.  CFNE is our Colosseum where we go day after to day to challenge ourselves physically and mentally.

In “Gladiator” all the odds were stacked against him, yet he never complained, never retreated and went into battle with one thing on his mind, to win. I know we’re all guilty of looking at a WOD, and before we step foot into the gym we start feeling sorry for ourselves.  We begin to think all the odds are stacked against us and getting through this will be absolute torture.  We sit at our desks all day catching ourselves thinking how am I going to get through this, contemplating if we should go suffer through it, or take a rest day? “Over a mile of running, “Karen” and 150 box jumps!! NO WAY, I’ll make up for it tomorrow by doing some extra stuff in the back room.” Then you hear that little voice in the back of your head saying, just go! Embrace the Suck for thirty minutes and you’ll feel better after.

You shut that voice out, you don’t give in and you walk into our Collosseum ready to tackle what seemed like an impossible task just a few hours ago.  You have made the decision to become better right then and there, you have already won ½ the battle now it’s time to test your limits, suck it up and get the job done.

Similar to the title above I’m a firm believer that what we do today, sets the tone for tomorrow.  Everyday we challenge ourselves and strive to be better then we were yesterday.  Believe me when I tell you this, it’s OK if you don’t PR every time you’re at CFNE or you missed that goal by a few minutes.  Everyone has off days; even the most elite CrossFit athletes don’t PR every time they touch a barbell.  The big difference that separates them from us is that they don’t make excuses.  They “HTFU”, they find the positive in a tough situation and come back the next day ready to kick some ass.

We don’t fold when things get tough at home or at work, and we surely don’t ever quit mid-WOD.  Remember its ok if we get knocked down but it’s what you do next that defines who you really are.  You can take the easy way out or you can crawl to your feet, stand up, take a deep breath and move forward.

Do me a favor next time you feel yourself struggling mid-way through a WOD or you find yourself having an off day.  Find the positive in what you are doing in that very moment or what you just accomplished when you are done.  No matter how off you are from a PR, or how heavy that barbell felt today, you can always find a positive in a tough situation; you just have to look deep within yourself.

The Big Picture
By: Coach Max

In the wake of the tragic events that transpired this past Monday I sat back and tried to figure out what I could take away from this sad day. MDV came over that afternoon and upon entering stated that on his way in he dropped his Iphone and cracked the screen. He didn’t care; how could he? There were far worse things that could happen than a cracked screen.

Perspective. That is what we need to take away. It’s sad that it takes a truly horrific event to give us this perspective but so be it. We are all guilty of getting hung up on the small things. Someone cutting us off in traffic, slow service at a restaurant, a minor disagreement with a loved one…the list goes on and on. We can take this one step further, inside the four walls that we call our home away from home we all at one time or another get hung up on the small things. You miss a lift, miss your PR, the weight feels heavy, your double-unders have fallen apart (never happens to MDV or Geoff), again the list goes on and on…

I will be the first to admit that I’ve got hung up on the small things on many occasions; it’s the nature of the beast. We live in the moment, and at times missing that PR by a couple seconds seems like the end of the world. The truth is, it’s not, we are so lucky to do what we do. Ben talks about it all the time, we “get to” do this, because the reality is there are some people who can’t do what we do.  The next few weeks will be easy to keep things in perspective, taking that step back and seeing the big picture won’t be a problem. It’s months and years from now that will be the biggest challenge for most of us. We will never forget what happened on April 15, how could we?

Make a promise to yourself, to see the bigger picture, understand that small roadblocks will come up and you will get through them, be happy, be thankful for what you have, find that perspective. Also, give yourself a break, sometimes you will get caught up in the petty problems, that damn clean and jerk PR was so freaking close you could taste it! When that happens, take a step back, take a deep breath, and tell yourself how lucky you are to even have attempted that lift…then come back next week and hit it!

It's Elementary
By: Coach Kevin

It’s elementary my dear Watson, or should I say elemental my dear CFNE’ers! Interestingly enough the oft-quoted catchphrase is never actually uttered by Holmes in any of the sixty Holmes stories written by Conan Doyle. Not that it matters because we are going to be talking about Elements here. Not that stuff you learned about in chem class, but the foundational CrossFit stuff you learned in preparation to take classes at CFNE.

Whether you just got out of Elements, are in Elements, or Elements was something that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, it is still valuable information. Plus upon review, if you choose to, there might be a few things that were forgotten, which is easy enough to do when you are focusing on learning a few dozen movements, haha.

So without further ado let’s take a waltz down memory lane. Here is a quick 7 page PDF cheat sheet highlighting all the valuable information you should know, study, and commit to memory!   Enjoy!!

Elements Cheat Sheet

All the best,

Coach Kev :D

P.S. You may or may not be quizzed on this stuff in class ;)

Leaving Your Comfort Zone
By: Coach Rachel

”The hardest thing to do is leaving your comfort zone. But you have to let go of the life you’re familiar with and take the risk to live the life you dream about.”  T. Arigo

Life:

Talk about getting out of your comfort zone in life. I lived in New York for my whole life, woke up each morning and drove over an hour to work and then an hour more to train. So many hours of my day were spent commuting but it got “comfortable.” This was my routine every day and we sometimes forget to sit back and make new decisions because we get too comfortable. I knew something had to change but I was scared to do it. I looked into changing careers, moving to the city, moving to California, Florida, or maybe Massachusetts but chickened out every time I went to take action. In January of this year I decided it was time to leave my comfort zone and take a chance. Many questions went through my mind…. How will I quit my job? When people ask me why I moved, what will I say? Would I have friends when I moved? I am 29 years old, is this too old to make such a big change in my life? How much am I going to miss my family? Will I live there forever and New York will no longer be my home? These questions were scary but I finally realized I would never know the answers to them unless I gave it a shot. The result… I did it and I have no regrets. I am better for it and so unbelievably grateful to have ended up where I am… and most importantly, I am happy!

GOAL FOR THIS WEEK…. Do something new in your weekly routine. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time, make time for dinner with friends or family, be brave and get something off your chest you’ve wanted to for some time, do something you have been saying for way too long and that you “should” do.

Nutrition:

Leaving your comfort zone in the food you eat. This may seem like an odd statement but again we get comfortable in what we eat. We know sometimes we’re not eating the right things or we “should” eat better or “shouldn’t” eat that extra piece of pizza. My advice… try something new… leave your comfort zone of eating. Try paleo, try zoning, eat clean whole foods for 10 days straight, whatever you choose try something new.

GOAL FOR THIS WEEK… clean out your kitchen, get rid of the things you know shouldn’t be there and replace them with one’s that should… leave your comfort zone!

Training:

How many times have you clicked on the CFNE website and hoped for your favorite movement or WOD to be posted? We all do it. I am guilty of it along with everyone else. They are the movements we love to see because we are good at them and comfortable with them.

GOAL FOR THIS WEEK… Be positive when you see something you are not so good at, get uncomfortable in tomorrow’s workout so you know you’re pushing your limits, be excited to train your weaknesses and take extra time to do them because we know that’s what will make us better!

My First Workout(s) at CFNE
By: Coach Harry

 

We have all been asked, and have asked this question. What was your first CrossFit workout? As cliché as the topic may be, I enjoy hearing those stories. They often end in a way that would turn just about anyone away from trying CrossFit(at least the normal people), but, we understand them. Over the years in the gym and in the competition setting, we most definitely have fond memories, but we will never forget our first WOD.

 

As some of you know, I have been fortunate enough to have been part of CrossFit New England for some time. But it’s been broken time. Two months ago, I returned to CFNE after having the luxury to serve four years in the USMC. And as I was going into my first class after moving back, I was thinking back to my first day at CFNE, wondering how it would compare to today. So let me lay my story on ya.

 

My first day at CFNE was in October of 2008. I like to think I’m a pretty tough guy (I just flexed when I wrote that), but I was no-doubt-about-it nervous on my first day. I had been doing CrossFit in my garage for some months, but I was nowhere near these cats. They were legit. Not only that, but the WOD was comprised of a movement I’ve never done before – snatches. So I didn’t know what to expect. It just might kill me. Only one way to find out. I asked a friend if he wanted to come along, but he couldn’t grasp the fact that I was going to drive 45 minutes to workout in a middle-school gymnasium.

 

A middle-school gymnasium… because at the time, CFNE was not at 15 Tech Circle. Ben and Heather were running morning classes (and morning only) out of Dover-Sherborn Middle School and the Nobles School in Dedham. It was down-and-dirty CrossFit in its finest. WOD on a basketball court, in a parking lot, or in a playground. Low equipment, but high motivation. What sounded strange to my friend sounded like a great time to me.

 

I got there about 30 minutes early. Annnnnd that’s a lie. I was definitely over an hour early. It was my first day! Can’t be late. So I killed some time with an iced coffee and made some phone calls. Even more embarrassing, is that I walked through the entire middle-school in my workout clothes with a water bottle looking for CFNE. Strange looks when I asked where they might be. But at last, I somehow found the gymnasium.

 

I met Ben that morning, and he immediately welcomed me like I was an old friend. I shot him an email a couple days prior asking if I could drop in, but I didn’t expect him to remember. From that alone, I instantly felt like I came to the right place. We started pulling equipment out of the storage locker, and in the process, I met about 20 people. I remember thinking about how inviting it was that first day. I compared it in my mind to the Gold’s Gym I had a membership with. I was that guy with his hat low, headphones on, looking to get after my workout with no interruptions. A bit of a 180, but, I was all about it. I felt like I had become part of something, just 15 minutes in.

 

The workout went awesome. Ben warmed us up as a group, demonstrated all of the movements, and talked strategy. It was ”Randy” – 75 power snatches for time. I got smashed. It was awesome. I don’t remember a single rep, all was a blur, but I do remember physically crawling to the back of the gym floor after finishing. Actually crawling on all fours to the door, because I was worried that iced coffee was about to show itself on the floor. But that wasn’t nearly my favorite part(should that even be a favorite part!?). My best memories of that day was surprisingly the time before and after the workout, getting to know Ben and the group. And I didn’t see that coming at all. We were all so dramatically different… there were firefighters, school teachers, stay at home mothers, college students and military. How could a workout bring us together as if we were long-lost brothers and sisters? Especially when we had such little equipment… it was just us! I was impressed, and was eager for more. For the following months, my 45 minute drive to CFNE was made without a second thought.

 

Fast forward to 2013, two months ago, when I returned to the walls of 15 Tech Circle. I had been able to work in a few visits home during my time away, but it had been awhile. Driving in for the first time since moving back, I wondered how the “new” CFNE would be.

 

It felt exactly the same. And I couldn’t be more honest. There has been some incredible additions to the gym – the client base doubled, the equipment seemingly tripled, and best of all, there are incredible coaches who could not be more passionate about what we do. But the unmistakable vibe that CFNE resonates remained there. It’s ability to bring together all walks of life in every class hour has only strengthened.

 

Heather led my first class back, and was just like day one for me years ago. Heather warmed up the class, led the mobility, and briefed the workout. All while interjecting several innuendos that only she can get away with. Felt exactly the same as the old CFNE… just a great time. And as expected, I got ca-rushed by the WOD. Mission complete. Classic CFNE. Loved it.

 

Few organizations in the world can keep their original personality intact. Time changes people, and so does money. We want it to be for the better, but sometimes, it’s not. We’ve all experienced that in some regard. Know this – CFNE has never taken a step off the path. To summarize it, I’d like to reword something. These aren’t “changes” from the old to the new CFNE. Simply because there was never such a thing of an old and new. CFNE grew and matured, much like a living person. And with that, its original personality and values will forever remain intact, regardless of the size it grows to or the materialistic changes it may undergo. CFNE will always be CFNE.

 

Alright… but there is something I have to mention before I wrap this up. The one, and the only, change I’m not so happy with – the loss of the best bars on Earth. Heatherbars!!! If that word doesn’t bring you back, then stop reading now. Because it’s for your own good! They were the most delicious snack you could ever dream of. Not Paleo, not Zone, but damn, I’m make my own diet around these if I could. It was pretty much a fourth macronutrient for us at CFNE for some time. Good stuff. GREAT stuff. RIP Heatherbahs, it was for the best.

Wise Words From Doole
By: Coach Doole

The height of the social season at CFNE is marked by a ride on the party bus to the CFNE summer social at the Kinsale in Boston.  The bus gets weird.  Last year there was a talking pumpkin and an orangutan that served us tequila shooters.  True story. If you can, take the ride in, you won’t regret it. I highly recommend getting together with fellow CFNE’rs on the regular.  Get together for dinner, catch a movie or even better take a trip together!  Just like working out with athletes more advanced in their training than you improves your performance, road tripping and vacationing with fellow CrossFitter’s push “relaxation” to the next level.

One of the best trips I ever took was with friends I met through CFNE.  When I first started at CFNE I didn’t talk to ANYONE.  A little secret about me – I’m shy.  Super shy, actually. I used to do the WOD’s and that was it.  Zero socializing.  Then after about 9 months at CFNE, I got a post on my Facebook wall that read  “Doole, we’re going to Vegas.  You’re coming” – Daigle.

A few weeks later we were on a 6am flight bound for Vegas for a long weekend.  No one really knew me yet, and I didn’t know them either so we got to know each other on the plane ride out there and WOW what a ride!  The rest of the trip went the same way. Three days of laughs and smiles.  Three straight days of laughs and smiles except when we asked the Vegas police if we could pose for a photo doing handstands against their truck the next morning. They were not laughing or smiling. Also there is this one photo taken of Ali and I on the last morning of the trip.  I am not smiling at ALL:

Doole and Ali

Doole and Ali

There is no off season in CrossFit (and you wouldn’t want one) but the social season is as close as it gets.  Take advantage upcoming activities planned for the months of August and September to meet new people and create new and lasting bonds with your fellow athletes. Of course, you don’t have to wait for these organized activities, unless you are shy, like me.  If you can, take a trip with CrossFitters and take plenty of pictures like these –

Daigle, Ali, Jule, Doole, & Mel

Daigle, Ali, Jule, Doole, & Mel

This isn’t a vacation photo or anything, I just thought it was funny.  Ever notice that Hamel’s mannerisms resemble John Wayne??

John Wayne & Dave Hamel

John Wayne & Dave Hamel

Those are a couple of my favorite photo’s.  They instantly put a smile on my face.

My Prescription To You
By: Coach Ali

One night last year while I was coaching, a member of my class told me that she wishes she could bottle up my positive energy and sell it. That comment kind of stuck with me. Others have asked me “Ali, how is it that you are always smiling?”. First off, I believe that positive energy feeds off of positive energy, and great things can come out of it. Being happy, silly and dancing around for no reason is catchy, right? Smiling. I smile because I am happy. I am happy because I love my job and I love everyone who I am surround by on a daily basis. Smiling is so easy and it goes a long way. One smile can brighten someone’s whole day. How cool is that? You know what I love? When you walk by a complete stranger and they smile at you for no reason at all. Pretty cool. While a lot of people think im crazy for leaving a nursing career behind to go work at a “gym”, it was the best decision I have ever made. I feel so lucky to have a job that doesn’t even feel like work. To never wake up and dread going to work. To never be at work and count the hours left on the clock until its time to go. Sometimes I forget that I even get paid to do what I do. If I won the lottery tomorrow and didn’t have to work, I would still be working at CFNE. Life is way too short to be spending time doing what you don’t love doing, or missing out on great things in life because work is miserable and too consuming. Helping people better themselves is one of the best feelings in the world. Making people happy is addicting. One of my favorite things to do is if you are thinking something nice in your head about someone then make sure to tell them!  How good does it feel when someone pays you a compliment? CrossFit has dramatically changed my life, and my perspective on life and I want that for everyone else. How fun is it to work on yourself as a person? To be a better person, to do the right thing, to treat people right and to surround yourself with great people.  There is something that I want to share with you guys that I read to myself every day. Something I try to live by. So here is my “prescription” to you…

Promise Yourself…

 To be strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature you meet.

To give so much time towards improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud word, but in great deeds.

To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you. 

                     -Christian D. Larson

It’s Only Weird if You Make it Weird
By: Coach MDV

Too often in CrossFit (and to a greater extent, life) we operate well within the safe and comfortable limits of our past experience. We push pretty hard, but we remain comfortable ; we train only on Tuesday at 9am when Jupiter is in line with Mars, and we feel ‘off’ if it’s any other time or day; we only lift to gut-wrenching, ear piercing Rock music, and we could never possibly PR to anything less; we always wear our hats, gloves, and sweatshirts to run, and we can never forgo our gear. In order to truly surpass our best, I contend that we must experience our worst.

CrossFit readies the individual user for unknown and unknowable tasks.  We train across broad time and modal domains to readily handle a variety of tasks, challenges, and situations.  The one caveat is that we train largely in a controlled environment.  More often than not, we know the workouts, what time they happen, where they happen, how hard we need to push, the apparatus involved, and the look and feel of our environment. However, unlike CrossFit, life can be unforgiving when it comes to these external factors.  Life does not care if you’re not ready, inexperienced, warmed up, don’t know how, don’t have your Skins on, forgot your belt, don’t usually run at night or never went that far. It, whatever ‘it’ that may be, just happens, and you need to be ready to punch it in the face.The more you expose yourself to different levels of discomfort, the better prepared you will be for both the comfortable known and the uncomfortable unknown.  The premise is simple, but the application can be harrowing.  Humans do not like to be uncomfortable. It goes against our survival instinct to intentionally infuse discomfort.  However, without such exposure we can fall victim to a false sense of security.  It is easy to fall into the trap of only training in your most comfortable environment or avoiding your weaknesses.
My challenge to you is to escape your comfort zone twice this week.  The changes do not have to be extreme but, they should be outside of your normal routine. Here are a few simple examples:
  1. Run outside without your sweatshirt (or, if you’re like me, run with your sweatshirt)
  2. Lift to music that you never listen to (better yet, lift to no music)
  3. Team up with someone you don’t know well
  4. Team up with someone who will push you harder
  5. Try training in a different spot in the gym
  6. Try training at a different time
  7. Experience what it’s like to train with a vest
  8. Push yourself past your ‘top’ speed
  9. Add a new movement to your warmup each week
  10. Train without your favorite pre-workout food or beverage

Post your (2) **ESCAPES** to the comments of that particular day’s workout. I will be checking all this week so please use the Astrix/Cap to make it easier for me to locate.  My one disclaimer — don’t do anything stupid in finding your particular means of escape.  Each individual’s level of tolerance is different.  Be smart about what you are testing and why. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at mdv@crossfitnewengland.com.

Caution
By: Coach Kev

I’m sure you’ve noticed, but every week a different coach writes or prepares something that is posted to the website. As my turn came up I gave it some thought and wasn’t sure what I wanted to share. So many thoughts came to mind, secrets to goal setting, Jedi mind tricks to use against your competition, neuromuscular fundaments, 8 laws of learning, or magic tricks and tips that will make you instantly master the olympic lifts, double unders, and muscle ups. Topics to learn movements, accomplish things, and ways to become a better athlete ran through my mind like a basilisk lizard, but much like a basilisk lizard running across water, these ideas went a significant distance before eventually sinking.

So what to talk about? well…

If you are a dreamer, come in,

If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,

A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…

If you’re a pretender, come sit by the fire

For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.

The Lessons

I want to talk about helping others. What you give you get and what you see in others exists in you.

Oh the great joy there is in helping others, perhaps the greatest joy! This is of course perfected when you are able to do it without any expectation of receiving something in return, but the beauty of it all is if you help others you in turn help yourself.

It’s not only what we give but what we share,

For the gift without the giver is bare,

Who gives of himself of his alms feeds three,

His self, his hungering neighbor, and me.

Often the gift of non material things are usually much more valuable. Example: teach someone to fish opposed to giving them a fish. Way more valuable! Unless of course they hate fish then in both cases it’s useless to them.

One sunny spring day in Colorado (the state I grew up in) I believe it was on a Friday, the air was crisp! Basically meaning dry and less oxygenated, living in low oxygen might explain the strange almost awkward writing style… I digress. Anyway I was faced with a situation where a friend literally came to me in tears asking to borrow money. I remember going home that day and telling my beautiful wife what had happened.

Small aside, she has the kind of beauty where she is intelligent (i.e. way smarter than me), kind, caring, compassionate, and always smells great! All great things but let’s be honest I married her because she is crazy hot! I swear she can wake up roll out of bed and her hair looks perfect.

Anyway after hearing the story she quickly exclaimed, “Oh my gosh what did you say or do Kev?”

Well since I am a firm believer of giving to others I gave him my ATM card and pin number and told him to take more than he needs… My account was wiped out and  I never saw the guy again, but I’m sure wherever he is he is super happy! …Ok, so maybe that didn’t really happen. Actually I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore? Kidding of course, my point is you don’t have to go broke giving to others.

Give time, give lessons, give smiles, and give compliments away more than the amount of leaves falling off the trees in the fall. A good little adage I like is, “be so busy giving praise to others that you don’t need any for yourself.” The kicker is? Ray Finkle. No not that kicker. The kicker is the more you give the more you get,but be careful because what you give is also what you get.

I’m confident you’ve heard the story of the little boy who in a fit of anger towards his mother ran out of the house to the hill side and shouted into the valley. “ I hate you, I hate you.” Back from the valley came the echo, “I hate you, I hate you.” Somewhat startled the little boy ran back into the house crying and told his mother there was a mean little boy in the valley that said he hated him. His mother took her son back out to the valley and told him to shout, “I love you, I love you.” The boy did as his mother said and this time he discovered there was a nice little boy in the valley saying, “I love you, I love you.” The little boy instantly smiled, gave his mother a hug and all happiness was restored!

The lesson is: what you send out comes back. What you sow you reap. What you see in others exists in you. Life is an echo.

Regardless of who you are or what you do, if you are looking for the best way to reap the most reward in all areas of life, you should look for the good in every person and in every situation. I can promise you this, if you want more out of life; more fulfillment, more happiness, more peace of mind, give more.

Assignment 1.0

Obviously with a lesson like that, I have to give out some good ol’ fashioned homework and like Gallagher taking a sledgehammer to a watermelon, it will really pound the lesson in!

Here are 5 small assignments to complete sometime in the next week or two:

  1. Email, text, or call 5 people for no reason and just give them a compliment.
  2. Set aside an extra hour for someone close to you.
  3. Do a good deed for a complete stranger.
  4. If you see someone sad, give them a smile.
  5. and gentlemen extra credit if you buy a significant other some flowers for no reason ;)

Have fun with it and enjoy the benefits!

Competition Preparation Tools
By: Coach Jen

With the Masters and other competitions coming up I thought I’d share some competition preparation tools I have used in the past. Even if you have no interest in competing in the sport of Crossfit, competition is a part of crossfit and the practice of “competition preparation” can also potentially be applied to other goals you may have.

At my first big capoeira competition I was completely overwhelmed with nerves. It was a total shit show. I got through it in terms of placing in the event, but the experience was a total nightmare, and frankly a blur. I really wanted to ENJOY my next competition and spent the following year working on figuring out a strategy to help me accomplish that goal. I use and tweaked this strategy for the following 5 capoeira World Games, and for multiple national competitions.

Here’s what I learned that helped me stay focused on my training, and manage my nerves on the day of competition.

GENERAL REALITY:

1. No matter your level of expertise or experience, or your expectation of winning or not winning, everyone who competes wants to do well. Doing well means different things to each person, but regardless we all want to feel accomplished and proud following an event. Don’t tell yourself repetitively “I just want to have fun, I don’t care about doing really well” Instead try things like… I’m excited to participate. I am working hard in my training. I will learn a lot from this experience.

2. Everyone gets nervous before a competition… every time, its normal. BUT nervousness can have physical affects on your body that can hinder your performance. (Trust me this happens…your legs can lock up, upset stomach, blurry vision etc.) Best way to manage it is to prepare for it. Figure out in advance what things help you stay calm and focused, then DO THOSE things before competing.

THINGS TO HELP STAY RELAXED ON GAME DAY

  • Make a play list and listen to it
  • Only watch some of the competition before its your turn. Just enough to be present and get your bearings on the competition. Not so much that you get overwhelmed and over-stimulated
  • Have snacks that you are USED TO EATING with you for recovery, as well as water and electrolytes. NOTHING NEW.
  • Do all the things YOU KNOW make you feel good leading up to competition day… Get in bed by 9pm all week, don’t eat sugars, get all work done for my job so there is nothing hanging over my head etc… whatever it is that you can look back on, the day of and be able to say… I am well rested, I have taken care of my body, I have trained hard for this, etc.those things NEED TO BE TRUTHS on game day. This is key to your confidence.

PREPARATION

  1. Get outside of your comfort zone. In training and in general…. go up against someone way better than you in training, train when your hungry, when your tired, back-to back trainings, late-night , when your super sore, outside when the weather sucks etc………go to that party you were avoiding, do a scheduled speaking gig, … all so you can gain knowledge about HOW YOU respond to those situations so that you can draw on that knowledge on competition day.

These experiences will boost your confidence and will teach you something new about your own strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Participated in every local and national competition that you can to gain more experience and learn HOW your body and mind react.
  1. Work on weaknesses regularly in the months leading up to the competition
  1. Regularly reminded yourself and train the things I call “the things I keep in my back pocket” Things you KNOW your good at.. for CF… maybe you know you have a solid 95# clean and jerk, or you can always make up time if there is running…. In other words THINGS YOU CAN COUNT ON. REMIND yourself of these all the time.

NEXT I DO TWO VISUAL EXERCISES: Try both

1). MAKE A CIRCLE OF CONTROL:

This activity will help you become aware of which things you can and cannot control.  Ideally so you realize that trying to control the uncontrollable leads to increased stress and frustration, as well as decreased levels of performance.

  • Draw a circle and inside of the circle write down all the things that YOU CAN CONTROL in relation to the competition……
  • Then outside the circle write down all the things YOU CANNOT CONTROL… then FORGET about these things. YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THEM SO THEY ARE NOT IMPORTANT TO YOUR PREPARATION.

EXAMPLE:

  • Defined goals for the event
  • Sleeping 8hrs/night,
  • Recovery/ hydration;
  • Nutrition,
  • Training Schedule
  • Contact with a coach
  • Time management: balance training w/ other responsibilities
  • Weather at competition;
  • Other competitors;
  • What WODS are
  • Heat assignment
  • IF I’m going to have my period or not that day… YEP its on there 

2). Grab a piece of paper and segment it into FOUR columns.

At the top of each column write these words:

  • What do I Want?
  • What do I know (reality check)?
  • What am I afraid of?
  • What can I do to counter fears?

The first three columns are not interrelated. Do the 4th column LAST, and fill in things to counter your own fears from column 3.

Then without too much thought fill in these columns as they relate to your participation. This exercise will be, and should be different for everyone but here is an example…

 

What do I Want?I want to: What do I know (reality check)? What am I afraid of? Actions to counter fears
Stay present throughout the event. I train hard year-round and I love this sport Getting injured Stay focused and sharp, trust my gut, visualize each movement done perfectly
Leave inspired I am a role model in the sport REGARDLESS of the outcome of this one event Disappointing my team-mates; coach My coach is proud of me, has helped me get here, and wants me to compete.
Leave with no regrets I am my biggest critic Getting a cold before the event Sleep, take Vit-C, don’t give in to pressure to hang out the week of the events, stay hydrated and warm
Mange my nerves I am strong and fit Am not up to par with athletes in my level I have excellent technique way better than most; I am small but fast; I might be older than my opponents BUT I am experienced and mature in my game.
To make it to the finals I am always excited when its over
To place in top three females Its never easy BUT that is what makes me love it!

 

REFER TO THIS THROUGHOUT YOUR TRAINING AND ON GAME DAY. This exercise ultimately helped me because it was a constant reminder of the positive things that I bring to the table, alleviated nagging self-doubt, and helped me stay focused on game-day by giving me positive reinforcement. HOPE THIS HELPS. NOW GO GET IT CFNE!

Stay positive, Set PRs and Punch WODs in the Face
By: Coach Max

Who’s ever heard someone (mostly parents or teachers) say to you “you have to fake it until you make it”? Well, while I don’t believe you should ever fake anything I am a firm believer in staying positive through tough times and tough WODs even if the situation seems bleak. Ben talks about this all time, staying positive and using positive self-talk to get yourself through that last 400m run or get that last round of pull ups unbroken. Let’s take this one step further, before a WOD what are you saying to yourself? I have absolutely no scientific evidence to back up my claims, but I know that if you are standing around before the WOD saying “this WOD is going to suck” I’m almost positive that the WOD will definitely suck. Let’s flip that around, if before a WOD you say “I’m going to crush this WOD” or “I’m fast, I’m strong, I’m prepared for this” you will more likely than not move better through the WOD. Will the WOD still be tough? You bet your ass it will be!

Are any of these WODs easy? No! Would you like them to be easy? No! We all have different reasons for Crossfitting, we are all at different ability levels, from the elite of the elite to the weekend warriors. One thing that we all share no matter what level we are at is the experience of tackling a WOD. My advice is make it easier on yourself, don’t defeat yourself before you get started.

This strength period is a perfect example of what positive self-talk can do for you. We have been squatting a lot…a whole hell of a lot. There is nothing quite like the feeling of getting under a heavy bar, squatting it below parallel and literally getting your ass out of the hole. You all have been setting PRs on top of PRs and I’m sure it’s not from standing in front of the bar before and saying “dear Gawd this is a ton of weight, I’ll never be able to squat it”. Hell no! You stand at that bar and channel your inner Geoff and say “EASY DAY” or channel John Doole and yell “I’m going to F@#KING SQUAT THIS S&!T!” or my personal favorite “LIGHT WEIGHT!”. Do yourself a favor, be positive before your WOD, be positive during your WOD, and be positive after your WOD. After might be the hardest part sometimes. There are going to be days when you don’t set a PR or you fail on a lift. It’s just a fact; this is the roller coaster ride of Crossfit that we’ve all decided to ride on. When one of these days happens it may seem impossible to find something positive to hang your hat on, but know this, you are fitter than you were yesterday, you did something others won’t, and you took yourself out of your comfort zone and laid it all on the line.

So today before you attack this WOD tell yourself how strong you are, how you are going to crush this WOD, how you are going to punch this WOD in the face. During the WOD stay positive, and after find that positive whether it’s glaring like a new PR or as subtle as a faster first 400m run in Helen and put it in your pocket. Get after it CFNE!

Mental Toughness
By: Coach Geoff

“I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it” – Mark Devine

Whether you’re a competitive CrossFit athlete, Coach, Mom or Dad looking stay in shape or individual just looking for a healthier way of life, CrossFit has it’s own meaning to you. I started CrossFit to help me become a better athlete and help prepare me for whatever life may throw my way. However, over the past year and a half CrossFit has become a way of life, its something that I look forward to every minute of every day, not only as a competitive athlete but more so now as a Coach.

Although every CrossFit Coach brings his or her own unique personality and coaching style to their class, we all share the same end result. Hoping that athletes can walk out of the box learning something new and have a sense of accomplishment. Always moving forward and ready to tackle another day.

I pride myself, and my coaching philosophy on “Mental Toughness.” This is a characteristic that every one of us posses, but may be hesitant to go out and find. I mean who really wakes up everyday and say’s “OK, today I’m going to put myself outside my comfort zone and see what I’m capable of?” Not too many of us do, until we check the WOD online or actually walk into the box dreading the workout to come. At that point you’ve already won half the battle just by showing up and telling yourself that you’re ready to see what you’re made of. On the other hand, I can’t blame you for not wanting to crossover to the “dark side,” it’s a down right nasty and painful feeling that we don’t want to experience. However, crossing into that place and being able to harness your emotions and pain, and turn them into a positive can do amazing things for us. It may allow some of us to PR for the first time, complete a WOD Rx, or find a piece of yourself you never thought existed and allow you to accomplishing something that you never thought was possible.

Over the past year I have been a student of SEALFIT Founder Mark Devine’s “Unbeatable Mind Academy.” Mark Devine is a former US Navy SEAL, owner of SEALFIT and US CrossFit in Encinitas California. Mark has devoted his life beyond his service to Country to helping individuals like myself prepare for Special Forces Schools. He has not only helped hundreds of today’s modern day Warriors succeed in training but he has helped fortune 500 executives become more successful, worked with CrossFit Games athletes and even help stay at home soccer mom’s push their physical limits. Now, you’re probably wondering what do these different types of people have in common? The answer is, being able to train, develop and take full advantage of our most powerful and strongest muscle in our bodies, our brain.

I would like to share with you one of Mark’s tools that has helped me not only become a better CrossFit athlete but help me help me accomplish something that I thought was beyond my physical limits. A 24 Hour Obstacle Course Race know as the Worlds Toughest Mudder in the middle of December.

The “Big 4” of Mental Toughness

 

  1. GOAL SETTING
    1. Not long term goals (e.g. become a millionaire)
    2. Narrow your focus to the immediate future and/or task at hand – how exactly am I going to get through the next hour, WOD, evolution, meeting, etc.
    3. Set small victories and achieve those
      1. These add up and help you reach that main goal you set
        1. 100 burpees for time = 10 sets x 10 reps seems much more manageable, minimizing rest in between each interval

 

  1. AROUSAL CONTROL
    1. The feeling you get before a WOD, business meeting, date, etc.
      1. Cold sweats, butterflies, nauseous, increased heart rate, panic
    2. Focus on your breath control
      1. Inhale 4 seconds and exhale 4 seconds and repeat for 6 minutes
      2. During a WOD is much tougher, but don’t think about the remaining 70 burpees you have to complete but focus on breathing and keeping that in rhythm.

 

  1. VISUALIZATION/MENTAL REHEARSAL
    1. See yourself running through the movements either in first person or as you see yourself as a bystander.
    2. Run through the task at hand before you begin and how your going to get things completed.
    3. Focus on the smells, the sounds, the people around, and how exactly you are going to move through the WOD. This could also be used for a presentation to an audience as well
    4. When you hear that 3-2-1 GO! Now your ready to run through the WOD a second time

 

  1. SELF TALK + vs. –
    1. Eliminate the voice of negativity
      1. When you start feeling sorry for yourself or when you want to give up say to yourself STOP! Or CANCEL!
      2. Hit the reset button and create your own cheering section within
    2. Positive Reinforcement
      1. “I can do it”, “this is nothing” or my favorite EASY DAY!

Now you don’t have to come into CFNE tomorrow and try testing this method out but try taking one piece away with you and apply it to your next WOD, or when you feel like giving up and have nothing left in the tank. I hope this insight can help some of you take your training to the next level or improve you’re everyday way of life.

A Promise To Your Coach and Your Critic...
By: Coach Ben

When was the last time you looked someone in the eye and made them a promise?

Promises are powerful motivators.  When you make a promise, large or small, to someone else you will go to great lengths to fulfill your end of the deal.  Promises are important.  Promises that are fulfilled lead to trusting/loving relationships, while broken promises create doubt and insecurity.  One of the important steps in making deposits into the Emotional Bank Account is following through on promises.

What if you had the opportunity to sit with your biggest coach and make a promise to them?  How cool would it be to have that coach with you every moment to direct and motivate you towards your promised goal?  What if you could look in to the eyes of your biggest critic everyday and prove them wrong?  How powerful a statement would that be?

You have that opportunity everyday.  No coach or critic has more communication with you than YOU.  You are your own biggest coach and critic.  Take advantage of this realization and opportunity.  Every morning while brushing your teeth in front of the mirror think about something you want to accomplish that day.  Once you’re done with your teeth look yourself eyes and promise yourself, OUT LOUD, that you will accomplish that goal.

My advice is to start small – “today I will take the stairs instead of the elevator,” “today I will drink water instead of soda/juice,” or  “today I will go to the gym.”  Little promises that are kept build self-confidence.  Self-confidence that you are mentally strong.  Self confidence that your inner-voice is a coach and not a critic.  Self-confidence that you will accomplish what you set your mind to.  Before long you can challenge yourself with bigger promises – “today I will not eat anything processed,” “today I will run for 1 mile before class,” or “today I make it home for dinner with my family and tell them I love them.”

Allow your inner voice to coach you and prove to your biggest critic that you are strong willed, determined and capable.  Start small and become something amazing.

Game Day Nutrition
By: CFNE

Athletes constantly ask what they should eat on Game Day. To help answer their question, some of CFNE’s Games athletes have weighed in on the subject with their personal nutrition regimens.

Lisa 8

- Prefers small meals of protein and carbohydrates. Too much food can cause cramping or nausea. – Brings options to ensure there will be something she’ll be able to stomach. Lara bars, Polito bars, chicken, eggs, mango and protein powder. – Typical pre WOD meal: 1 egg and part of a protein shake mixed with fruit. – Post WOD: Finish shake. – Between workouts: 1.5 hours pre WOD 2, small salad with lean protein. – Hydrates with Ultima two weeks before event and day of

Derek – Just carbs and protein like chicken with grapes or watermelon

James – Does not introduce anything new – Eats smaller meals, 1.5 hours before WOD – Eats carbs and protein – Protein shake if feeling queezy after a WOD – Hydrates with water and stays in the shade

Ben – Breakfast is a must. Consists of eggs, sweet pots and maybe an avocado – Pre WOD: Fuel For Fire and a coconut water if it’s hot – Post WOD: Fuel For Fire and some protein or BCAA’s

MDV – Basic: protein and carbs, like chicken and an apple – Snacks throughout the competition, no full meals until day’s event is over

Ali – Pre wod about 2 hours prior: 2 scrambled eggs, 1/2 sweet potato – Post wod: Protein shake, 1/2 apple or 1/2 sweet potato – Second Pre wod/snack: Fuel For Fire – Lots of hydration days leading up to the competition. – Keep it simple and easily digestible. – Not the time to introduce anything new to diet.

Mel – Pre WOD: Scrambled egg and a Fuel For Fire – Post WOD: Scrambled egg and a Fuel For Fire – Simple and no solid foods. – First real meal is at night after the day’s events are over

Each athlete chose a lean protein for muscle repair and recovery. Plus a high glycemic carbohydrate (fruit and/or sweet potatoes) to replenish glycogen stores. Fat’s primary roll is satiety and is not necessary or can make you feel sluggish on Game Day.

So, when you pack your cooler for the Garage Games this weekend, have in mind Ben, Lisa and Derek’s routines but be sure to choose proteins and carbs that work for you. And most importantly, nothing new should be introduced to your diet. Stick with what you know.

Hand Tears
By: Coach Max

OUCH!!!

There is nothing like the feeling of doing tons of sweet kipping pull ups, chest to bars, or toes to bars. On the flipside there is nothing quite as terrible as tearing during one of these movements. The only thing that might be worse is knowing that you have one, two, or three rounds left of hand torture to make it through. In this post we’ll talk about preventing and caring for your tears.

Ok, let’s start with preventing tears. There are many schools of thought on how to prevent tearing. The most basic prevention method would be a Ped Egg or pumice stone. Use the Ped Egg/stone in the shower or soften your calluses in the sink with warm water and use the Ped Egg/stone to grind down your calluses. WARNING – Careful when using the Ped Egg/stone as you might shave your calluses too low and create a tear.

Ped Egg

Pumice Stone

I’ve seen a video of someone using wire clippers and a dremel to trim calluses. This seems a bit extreme and also may be dangerous.

YIKES!

Dremel

You can experiment with different files, stones, and callus filers and see what works for you. Lastly, Corn Huskers Lotion will help toughen your hands. Apply in the morning and evening after showering. This lotion is much better then the alternative that bare handed batters have been using for years to toughen their hands (pee). In the end we can only do so much to prevent tearing. If you’re doing lots of pull ups you are bound to tear at some point, but let’s do as much as we can to prevent that from happening.

Corn Huskers Lotion

Alright, now that we’ve addressed how to prevent tears let’s start talking about caring for your tears. First thing to do is complete the workout with the bloody stumps that used to be your hands. Kidding! If you’ve torn you need to immediately clean the cut with soap and water and this is a personal preference, pack it with salt and run warm water over it. Yes, it will hurt, but it helps the healing process. So toughen up buttercup. If there’s a flap of skin still attached try and tear it off or cut it off with a pair of sterile scissors. Next, apply some bacitracin and cover with a band aid. Be smart about your tears, don’t come back the next day and do some pull ups without covering your tear with first, a band aid and second, some type of tape or pre-wrap. The pictures below are everything you need to care for and WOD with a tear.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

I find that Band-Aid Tough Strips are the best for covering a tear. Specifically the “H” shaped ones as they will wrap around your finger. Only downside is that Band-Aid does not make a package of only “H” shaped band-aids.

Step 4

 

The final step is using tape or pre-wrap to cover the tear. If you find yourself having to get back on the pull up rig before your tear has healed completely I recommend making some tape grips. Here is a link for a video teaching you how to make the grips.

Tape Grips

Tape Grip

Alright I think that about covers it. Now go out there and enjoy those pull ups, chest to bars, bar muscle ups, and toes to bar…tear free!

Born To crossFit
By: Coach MDV

Maya moves toward the loaded barbell with the utmost concentration. The lift is to be a squat clean, and the bar is setup with more weight than she has ever cleaned previously. She looks calm, almost peaceful; however there is an unmistakable air of intensity. She rolls her hands on the bar and engages her hook grip. For a few moments you think she might be fazed by the lift as she readjusts her hands, but you are wrong. With one last audible breath her performance begins, and she executes with precision setting yet another personal record. Maya is eleven years old. You are probably thinking she’s a natural, born to lift and a child prodigy. Her talent is undeniable, but was she simply born with the gift?

Maya is the daughter of Heather Bergeron. Heather is one the most well respected CrossFit athletes on the East Coast. Heather’s resume boasts an 8th place individual finish in the 2010 CrossFit Games as well as countless other accolades. Heather is also a trainer on CrossFit’s Seminar Staff and co-owner of CrossFit New England (CFNE) along with her husband and Maya’s stepfather, Ben Bergeron. Ben’s resume is equally as impressive as Heather’s. In addition to being a trainer on CrossFit’s Seminar Staff, Ben coached team CFNE to overall victory at the 2011 Game’s as well as crowning a male and female master’s champion in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Ben is widely recognized one of the greatest CrossFit coaches on earth. His knowledge and passion for CrossFit distinguishes Ben among his peers and places him in rarified air in the sport.

When viewing the video of Maya’s squat clean the vast majority of us sit in wonderment. Perhaps some of us frantically press replay to dissect her lift; while others simply throw their hands in the air. In the 20-second video, we witness a masterful performance. Although not 100% flawless, Maya’s effort is close, and many older athletes may indeed be frustrated by the young lady’s effort. The mind runs:

How can an 11 year-old girl move like that? How can an 11 year-old girl move better than some of the best CrossFitters? How can an 11 year-old girl move better than me? How can an 11 year-old girl make it looks so easy?

The answers to these questions are predictable – she is a natural or she was born that way. In the presence of excellence, we are quick to assign innate giftedness to the performer. Without diminishing Maya’s performance in the least, did we just run into the tip of the iceberg? Let’s chat…

Matthew Syed discusses athletes, musicians and professionals at the pinnacle of their respective fields in his book Bounce. The question posed by Syed deals with the idea of talented individuals being born excellent or predisposed to greatness. Syed argues that rather than innate talent, the vast majority of masters and prodigies achieve greatness through thousands of hours of purposeful practice and in most cases a set of unique circumstances. Purpose is an essential element of Syed’s argument for practice. He insists that the pure accumulation of time is not enough to spawn mastery. The practice must be focused and purposeful. After all, if practice alone equates to greatness we would all be world famous formula one drivers. However, when we drive we are anything but focused and purposeful.

When we witness a professional at the top of their game Syed offers that we are actually just seeing the ‘tip of the iceberg’. As we assign labels like ‘genius’ or ‘natural’ we discount the thousands of hours of practice (10,000 Syed cites, to be exact) and the circumstances responsible for the individual’s success. Syed’s work is rife with examples supporting his argument. My intention is not to convince the reader of Syed’s theory. Rather, my hope is to generate thoughtful discussion on the topic and compel the reader to think about talent, success, and excellence.

Maya’s practice in CrossFit can certainly be described as purposeful. At the age of five Maya began her CrossFit journey. She immediately began training with her mom and Ben becoming the beneficiary of quality feedback and a high standard of development. While most five year olds prefer learning through cartoons, Maya began learning through the sport of CrossFit. She studied human movement, learned to see flaws and efficiencies, and even began to coach alongside Ben and Heather. As she grew, so did her CrossFit acumen. Maya watched, listened and studied the actions of Ben and Heather as they trained for and competed in the CrossFit Games. The level of exposure to elite training pushed the young girl past her comfort zone and cultivated her drive for excellence. Maya soon became an impressive athlete in her own right, and her own commitment to physical training is no short of spectacular. She is highly conditioned and spends dozens of hours each week at CFNE. She learns and plays new sports, and through her own volition, spends much of her free time watching CrossFit greats compete daily at CFNE, Reebok ONE, or via CrossFit.com. Maya may very well be the hardest working pre- teen in the Northeast.

By no stretch of the imagination, the girl grew up in a unique environment. Maya is a part of one of CrossFit’s founding families and was raised by arguably CrossFit’s greatest coach-athlete couple. These circumstances are undeniably special. Maya is intimately exposed to the training methods of CrossFit’s fittest individuals; all the while, accumulating thousands of hours of practice. In addition to her immediate family, other CrossFit greats reside in close proximity and surround Maya on a daily basis. The Northeast, Massachusetts in particular, is quickly becoming a hub for elite CrossFit training. EC Synkowski, James Hobart, Mel Ockerby and others are CrossFit sounding boards and coaches for Maya. Beyond the bountiful Northeast, visiting athletes, coaches, and even CrossFit’s Director of Training, Dave Castro, have come to know and work with Maya. On any given night, the Bergeron’s dinner table is the proverbial who’s who of CrossFit. While the discussions at dinner may not start with the topic of CrossFit, they usually get there eventually.

The preceding paragraphs discuss a set of circumstances and hours of purposeful practice that might not immediately come to mind when we see Maya perform. It may be the tip of the iceberg we see in the 20-second video, but the unseen circumstances and hours of practice could be the iceberg itself. Maya is completely immersed in CrossFit and has been for years. She owns more experience than some of CrossFit’s most seasoned athletes and coaches, and yet she’s not even in high school.

Although it may be difficult (perhaps impossible) to pinpoint the exact number of hours in Maya’s CrossFit education, let’s do some simple math anyway. We will average (1) hour of training for (5) days a week for the past six years (some days she trained much more, other days less; a rough but conservative number) – 1560 hours. We will triple that number, (3) hours a day (5) days a week, to include every video watched, dinner conversation had, discussion participated in, seminar attended, competition attended, sound byte listened, class watched, class coached, class taken, programming overheard, and movement practiced for the past six years (again, a rough figure but realistic for her circumstances) – 4680. Combining the numbers we see that Maya potentially accumulated 6240 hours of purposeful practice in CrossFit. Let that number sink in for a second. Now get ready. If you are casually doing CrossFit for (1) hour, (3) times a week, it will take you the next 40 years to accumulate the number of hours Maya currently owns in CrossFit experience. In the same time you could have a full career, raise a family and retire.

Syed earmarks 10,000 hours as his benchmark for mastery. A number he borrowed from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, a work that deconstructs success in a similar fashion. Gladwell argues the success of persons like Bill Gates, The Beatles and others has more to do with “where those individuals are from” than “what those individuals are like.” Similar to Syed, Gladwell argues “they (the successful) are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that all them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.” Maya may very well be one such beneficiary in the field of CrossFit. She may not be at Syed and Gladwell’s 10,000- hour mark yet, but if her numbers stay constant, she will exceed that figure by 2015. If we accept the argument in favor of purposeful practice and circumstance, imagine how you may feel about your squat clean compared to hers in three years – scary stuff.

I chose to write on this subject for three reasons: first and foremost, my admiration for Maya as an athlete (girl is an absolute rock star, go shake her hand); second, for my interest in the idea of talent and excellence; and, finally, for my distaste of the words “I wish.” Too many times in CrossFit and life, we wish. Whether it’s wishing for more pull-ups, better fitness, a happier marriage or greater success it’s really all the same. My contention is that wishes won’t get you anywhere. The road to excellence, whether professional or personal, takes hard work and practice – hours of it. As the saying goes, ‘aspiration without perspiration is meaningless.’ So get out there, work hard and make it happen.

My hope with this essay is to help you stop wishing and start purposefully practicing the skills necessary to achieve your personal goals. Before I conclude, it is necessary to briefly address the different measures of success CrossFit. Maya is a unique case and might seem somewhat overwhelming for some new to CrossFit. Make no mistake, she is developing at a level far above the norm. If she chooses to continue along this path, she is on her way to a career in the sport of CrossFit. I fervently believe that CrossFit can and should be impactful, healthful, and meaningful for each individual irrespective of age, sex, or level of fitness at the outset. I do not value achievements by Game’s champions over the achievements of athletes on day one. Each and every day that you come to CrossFit and give your best effort, you are getting fitter. No matter the size of the steps in the journey toward fitness, each step is a tremendous achievement.

Flexing Your Gratitude Muscle
By: Coach Ben

As you guys know I love coaching.  I want every member to get stronger, fitter and faster, but I also want everyone of our members lives to improve outside the box as well.  I talk a lot with the classes I coach about the power of positive thinking and tactics to use inside and outside the gym to improve your performance and improve your life.

Today I talked with my classes about “flexing your gratitude muscle.”  This is a concept I got from Tim Sanders in his book “Today We Are Rich.”  Everyone knows the feeling of gratitude – it feels good, like things are lining up for you.  You have more opportunities, better luck and more abundance in you life.  We want that feeling as much as possible, but the important realization is that gratitude isn’t a feeling…it’s a muscle.  And just like all your other muscles it needs to be worked or it atrophies.

Here are two tactics I have been using to flex my gratitude muscles that I suggest you do.

1.  Every morning, while you are in the shower alone with your own thoughts, think about two people that helped you in some way the previous day.  This will start your day on the right track – with the feeling of gratitude.  You will feel more energized, and like the world is presenting more opportunities for you.  This morning I thanked Heather’s parents who came into town and watched the kids so I could go on a romantic dinner with my beautiful wife.  I also thought about and thanked Ali for bringing up a few new ways that we could improve the gym.  What a nice way to start the day…

2.  Turn “have to’s” into “get to’s”.  Instead of saying, “I have to drive the kids to camp today,” or “I have to go to work today,” or “I have to go to the gym today,” say, “I GET TO….”  How many childless parents would give anything to have the opportunity to drive a child to camp.  How many unemployed people are dying for the opportunity to earn a paycheck.  How many other people have the opportunity to “Get To” work out at one of the best gyms in the world with some of the best coaches and best people in the world.

Recognize the abundance, good fortune and opportunities you have.  Don’t let even the smallest of things pass by without recognizing their beauty, importance and worth.  Find the silver lining in all situations.  Exercise your gratitude muscle and live a happy more productive life.

There is no SHOULD
By: CFNE

Never use the word “should.”  “Should” implies failure.  If you say, “I should go to the gym today.”  You are implying that you won’t.  Instead, say “I WILL go to the gym today.”

How did you do in 12.2?  “I got 75 reps, but I SHOULD have gotten 80.”

This statement implies failure.  You got 75 because that is the most that you could have possibly gotten given your situation at that time.  Next time you might be able to do more, but that is because you are in a different situation.  You have the advantage of already doing the WOD once and have more knowledge, skill, pacing, confidence, etc…

If you say, “I should have…” you are saying, “I was wrong” or worse, “I didn’t try.”  We always give everything we have to every training session.  We are Champions.  There is no should.  The only thing that counts is what you do, not what you should do.

NO EXCUSES!