Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again. Time to find that perfect gifts for family and friends or perhaps suggest something for yourself. Here are a few items that I’m quite fond of:

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Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites has put out a great book that is half science and half cookbook. This book is filled with pictures, diagrams and methods to fine tune your nutrition. I had the opportunity to meet Diane when I was in Houston and let me tell you that she knows her stuff. Grab one for your friends and family but make sure to get a copy for yourself too!

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GORUCK Bags are second to none. They come in several sizes and are built to withstand the harshest of treatment. GORUCK products are made by hand in Bozeman, Montana. They make organizing a snap. I carry a GR2 and use it for my luggage, gym bag as well as my bug out bag. Get them at GORUCK.com.

The GORUCK Challenge Official Video from GORUCK Challenge on Vimeo.

If you’ve got a mud run fanatic, crossfitter or adventurer on your list give them the gift of a GORUCK Challenge. I’m proud to be part of the GORUCK family , something you can only obtain by finishing a challenge. This is a gift that they will thank you for every day!

BadAssChickLove – Featuring Jessica Camacho

BadAssChickLove began as a weekly recognition on twitter of the women out there who do some amazing things in the world of functional fitness and nutrition. While it will continue on Twitter, each month I will feature someone worthy of BadAssChickLove on the blog.

For the very first feature I bring you Jessica Camacho. Jessica is both the brains and braun behind the popular blog Girl Walks Into A Bar(bell). She embodies what it is to be functionally fit, working out and using that fitness to make the world her playground.

Tell us about your workouts for a typical week.

I structure my workouts according to the season. Sort of. In summer, I mountain bike and (try to) climb. In winter, I snowboard… provided I’m not nursing a sprained ankle from back tuck practice on a trampoline, like I’m currently doing right now! Despite the season, one thing is consistent: I powerlift on the regular. I like the structure of a dedicated strength program so I squat, bench, deadlift, and press once a week in that order. Wendler’s 5/3/1 works well for me, mentally, so I gravitate towards his programming. My accessory strength exercises vary according to the sport I’m playing that season. For example, during climbing months, I’ll “accessorize” with pullups or grip exercises. During riding months, my accessory work is legtastic with barbell good mornings and lunges. After strength, I’ll do a CrossFit type of metabolic conditioning but I’ll usually cap it at 10-15 minutes. That being said, I like my workouts to relate to my sports so if a movement doesn’t correlate to anything I’d use in the outdoors I tend to sub it out… like kipping pullups. :) I sub those out for strict pullups.

 What motivates you to work out?

I just FEEL GOOD after a heavy lifting session! Everything from the way I sit, to the way I carry groceries up a set of stairs just feels better when I work out. I also have a lengthy family history of diabetes and heart disease so living a healthy lifestyle is one way I’ve tried to inspire my family while metaphorically flipping amputations and cataracts the bird, if you know what I mean.

 Have you always been athletic?

Uhh… NO.  I could never clear the high jump or serve the volleyball over the net. And this one time, in 6th grade, I tried to catch a softball but it ended up hitting me in the face and breaking my glasses. My parents were like, “Give it here! We’ll just solder it fixed.” So, no. I was a total nerd growing up. But I was able to skip college-level math classes because of it so things even out, I guess!

 Tell us about your nutrition.

I would say 90% Paleo. I mean, we cook and eat Paleo, drink our coffee black, make my own shampoo, and one day I’ll have backyard chickens. But, I do save room for Mom’s homemade cultural foods or some aged cheese sprinkled on my stuffed 3-egg omelet every once in a while.

 What athletic activities do you participate in other than a typical work out?

Mountain biking, trail running, sometimes climbing, snow shoeing, snowboarding, hiking, and my husband and I just got a whole split board setup so I guess I’ll be trying to pick that up this season, too!

 Do you have any specific goals set for yourself ?

I love setting goals! I want to learn Orienteering and do an Adventure Race in 2013, snowboard Silverton with my husband by 2014-2015, and learn to surf in Costa Rica!

 What’s one thing that everyone should know about you?

I work hard and I play nice.

WHAT ARE YOU TRAINING FOR?


The other day I began to ask myself this question. I’ve been doing 2-a-days and really pushing myself to get better. The question is, what is it I’m trying to get better for? I’m approaching 40 and am not competing in any crossfit events. The truth is, I have nothing on the horizon to train for other than life. I recently trained for and completed The GORUCK Challenge and now feel that I can do any adventure race at a moments notice and even drink while doing it. Why am I training? Hell, I enjoy it for one. There are many other reasons including health, camaraderie and challenge.

 I took a hard look at my training and realized that I’m now doing it for health and longevity. Is blitzing my body with 2-a-days the way  to health and longevity? Hell no. In reality, I should be doing 3-4 metcons a week mixed in with a heavy day, yoga, walking and sprints. It’s enough to keep the competitive side of me happy and the perfect combination to keep me in good functional shape.

It’s easy to get caught up in crossfit type training and lose sight of why you are doing it. Hell, it’s fun right? I know many that have specific reasons as they compete in crossfit events, high school sports, MMA and other athletic endeavours. Some come in to lose weight and of course there seems to be a new wave of women doing it now to meet men (You know who you are, sporting Victoria Secret t-shirts and wearing all your jewelry to WOD). Yet others simply started it and are addicted.

What are YOU training for? Just trying to look better naked or perhaps you want to make it to the Crossfit Games next year? Train accordingly. Remember, if you are training for something skill specific such as tennis or MMA, make sure that you spend lots of time training those skills. There is no substitute for that. Look at your age, workload and ask yourself if what you are doing is sustainable over the long haul. If it isn’t, are you training for something? Do you have a set training period for the upcoming event? Do you have a set active recovery period after? Are you allowing enough time to train the specific skills that you will need to be successful in the event?

Each person is different. Your goals may not be mine. Know what your goals are and train properly to reach them.

The Quick Fix

“5 minutes on this machine is  like working out for 30 minutes!”, I overheard someone say last week. My son and I looked at each other and I said to him,  ” You know what’s like working out for 30 minutes?”  He replied, ” Working out for 30 minutes!” 

Quick fixes are everywhere you turn. There are pills, diets, surgery and on and on. Well I’m going to let you in on a health and fitness secret. Now if I told you to cover your screen and not tell anyone, that this was top-secret and I’m only charging you 5 installments of $19.95 for this information and for the next 10 minutes I’ll throw in some super secret fat melting pills developed by NASA scientists for a secret mission to Mars…well, you’d already be entering your credit card information. however, pay no attention to my advice because it’s based on proven science and results and I’m giving it away for free. THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS OR QUICK FIXES. You get out what you put in. 

Here are 5 simple truths:

 

1. It does really start with food (Insert credit to WHOLE9 here).  See the paleo way of eating. It works, period. 

2. Exercise. Move around a lot at a normal pace. Lift heavy things. Get some intense interval training or sprinting.

3. Stress. Get proper rest. Manage stress through exercise and  meditation or yoga. Adopt a positive mental attitude. 

4. All of the above are LIFESTYLE CHANGES. You can’t expect to put in temporary effort and get permanent results.

5. If you put as much effort into the above that you do trying to find a way around them then you will achieve the results that you want.

*This is the truth and the whole truth and nothing but the truth!  

Yoga Yoga Yoga

A little over a month ago I decided to get a little more serious about yoga by making a commitment to going to an actual yoga class as opposed to following videos at home. I purchased a package at Bindu Yoga, where several fellow Crossfit Lafayette athletes were going.

The first class nearly killed me. I stumbled into a hot vinyasa class without knowing any better. For those of you that haven’t been to one, it’s one of the more intense flow sessions with the room temperature heated. When I was done, I felt great. It was a new challenge. I was hooked!

 It’s a different environment from crossfit. The instructors are very nurturing…almost motherly (My instructors are women). It’s like a healing process for the whole body. Don’t get me wrong, you are building as well. Here is what I’ve gotten out of yoga over the past month -

1. Improved flexibility. My squat is deeper and my rack position much easier to get into. My hamstrings are much less tight than when I started.

2. Stabilizer Strength. Crossfit tends to work up/down and backwards and forwards. Yoga involves twists and other planes of motion that build stabilizer muscles. As a result, I’m stronger in my crossfit workouts as well as in other planes of motion!

3. Breathing. As a lifelong martial artist, I’ve been practicing proper breath for many years. Still going in and concentrating on my breath has made it that much better. learning to control my breath in uncomfortable positions has made controlling my breath during WODs easier.

4. Cleansing. Not that you don’t sweat a lot during your normal workouts but this is a bit different. The positions are designed to stimulate and cleanse your organs. You feel so much better!

So is yoga for you? Yoga is for everyone! Add it to your training for a month and let me know what you think.

Review: INOV8 Bare XF 210

I picked up a pair of Inov8 Bare XF – 210 shoes last week. These shoes are designed for crossfit by inov8.  If you are planning on ordering them, they run a bit narrow. I bought a half size up. In fact, my only complaint about these shoes is that they run narrow. A barefoot shoe needs to let the foot spread, period. Other than that, the shoes rock! They have great ground feel and though I had my doubts about the traction, I took them to the park to do sprints in wet grass and they performed beautifully. I did some clean and jerks (split jerks), ran a few miles and did box jumps and have been pleased.

The shoes feature a very airy mesh upper that really breathes well. They have protective plastic strips on the sides for rope climbing and a nice loop feature that allows you to hang them out to dry after you wash them. The pros certainly out weigh the cons here. It’s a great shoe and I would highly recommend it to crossfitters out there. Price point is around $120, so it’s on the upper end but with Inov8 you certainly get what you pay for.

 

 

 

Thinking of a New Year’s Resolution? Some “Paleo” Tough Love

So you want to go paleo? What does that mean exactly? In my workshops I teach the three pillars of paleo -

Nutrition

Fitness

Sleep/Stress Management

Going paleo is about doing all three. Have an excuse as to why you cannot attempt to commit to all of these areas? Stop reading here. There are plenty of diet plans out there where you can eat processed, pre-packaged foods and feel hungry and generally not satisfied all the time. You’ll also want to  join your local globo gym and hit that exercise machine until your cortisol levels are through the roof. Get a month to month membership because you’ll be done by March. If being hungry, not enjoying your food (Don’t kid yourself, that crap in a box sucks.), feeling tired all the time in order to see numbers on a scale is your idea of a Happy New Year, then please do not read my articles. There are people out there waiting to take your money sucker! See you back here this time next year. Want to improve body composition, feel better, be stronger, look better naked and have a better sex life? Sound too good to be true? Read on.

Still with me? Good! Here is the low down.

Nutrition – Eat a paleo diet. It will give you consistent energy levels, improve body composition, reduce inflammation and generally make you healthier. This means:

- No Grains

- No Dairy

- No Legumes (including peanuts)

- No Added Sugar

- No Processed Foods

If you’re asking questions like “So can I have quinoa?” or “I can’t have peanuts but what about peanut butter?” then please get your head out of your ass and use some common sense.

Please see my article on “the paleo diet simplified”  for more info. I recommend reading The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf so that you can understand the science behind all of this. If you understand  the why then you will be more likely to stick with it. Not a big reader? Check out a Balanced Bites workshop  with Diane to get the science behind the nutrition. Or contact me to schedule a workshop or phone consult. You may fall into the I don’t want to know the science stuff yet but am committed to trying it out to see if it works. If that sounds like you then check out Whole9. Dallas and Melissa have a program called the Whole 30 that is a “just do it” program. It gives you the how and leaves the sciency stuff to those more interested in that. I applaud their requirement of 100% commitment. That’s just what it takes to get started! 

Fitness 

Get functionally fit. What is functionally fit? Check out this guest post from Clifton Harski. I suggest checking out your local crossfit. Make sure that your trainers know what they are doing. A level one crossfit certification is meaningless. If you have a grand to blow you can get one. That being said, there are lot’s of great crossfit trainers out there that have a vast amount of knowledge. Talk to their clients or ask for references. Do they have any other certifications? What is their background? If you have more than one to choose from in your area, visit several. See which one you like best. Don’t let distance be the deciding factor. Other options are locating an RKC trainer in your area or attending a MovNat workshop. You may also be fortunate enough to live near a functional fitness gym that is a former crossfit affiliate or that has great programming such as Gym Jones, Catalyst Athletics or NorCal Strength and Conditioning

Sleep/Stress Management

Sleep 8 hours a night if possible in a dark room.

Read “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” 

Spend 10 minutes a day of quiet time.

Real Men

I saw a post on twitter a last week asking “What ever happened to real men?” It got me to thinking and although it may be a little off my normal topics, I realized that I had some things to say. First of all, real men still exist. Just visit a local crossfit or artofmanliness.com to see evidence. 

I think it’s clear that the skinny jean wearing crowd are generally not considered real men. So I’ll skip that group.  There is a group that “THINKS” that they are real men but I beg to differ. 

Here is the profile – May be fat, lazy and/or  lacking skills. Often a poor dresser. Lack game.  They often like to poke fun at real men things because they cannot or are to lazy to do them. No doubt you’ve met some of these guys.

Real Men

1. Barring any physical disability they should be able to get off of the sofa with out the aid of their hands. 

2. Have seen their penis in the last year.

3. Can build stuff.

4. Can survive in the wild.

5. Can defend themselves.

6. Are well read.

7. Can cook ( you don’t have to be a gourmet).

8. Have the respect of their peers.

9. Are honorable.

10. Keep their body and mind in good functional shape. 

11. Treats others with respect, even if they can be of no possible use to them.

In The Spirit Of Competition

This Saturday athletes from area crossfit boxes gathered at Ragin’ Crossfit to compete in the First Annual Ragin’ Crossfit Games. As with all Crossfit competitions that I’ve attended, the sense of community was strong. Friends from different boxes visited, competed with and cheered for each other. Athletes gave everything they had and inspired those who were not competing. I’ll bet you see some new PR’s next week among those observing. Here are some scenes from the competition. 


David makes the 70lb kettlebell look easy


Future Competitior!


Judges Count The Reps


Jay Grinds Out Another Rep


Prowler Push

Sled Pulls

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Sled pulls. There is no other exercise which makes my legs hurt so much for so long. They make me wanna puke. Still they will make you stronger and faster. It’s worth the pain. Go get you some sled pulls!

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