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Not Your Typical Competition

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By Geoff Rand

If you’re searching for a different type of challenge and like rowing, the World Rowing Indoor Championships may be for you.  Coming to Alexandria, VA February 17-18, this competition requires no previous qualifiers for competitors to enter.  As in previous years’ competitions, this event is expecting 2000 athletes to compete over the two days.

Test your speed in the 500m, 1000m, or 2000m events, or show your endurance in the 20 minute or 30 minute rows.  If you’re really crazy, go for the marathon row, at 42,195 meters!

The event has numerous masters, adult, and junior divisions and even divisions for kids 5-12.  Entry is $25 for the kids divisions and $35 for adult competitors.  Registration closes 1/31.

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Even if you’re not interested in competing in this event, it may still offer something for you.  At the end of the two-day competition, they sell off all the rowers.  The rowers are purchased new for each competition, and for just $800, you get a lightly used Concept 2 rower that was only used for this competition.  The full manufacturer's warranty transfers with the unit.  A $50 deposit counts toward your purchase with the balance being due on pickup on 02/18.  Reserve yours early as they sell out every year.

They also have a raffle where $10 gets you 2 chances to win a rower.  You do not need to be present to win and two rowers will be raffled off.

For more information on the competition, raffle, or rower sale, go to http://www.ergsprints.com.

If you need a reminder about proper rowing form, check out this video.

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Do You Know How to Tie Your Shoes? Part 1

By Geoff Rand

 

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Somewhere between learning to wipe your own butt and driving a car, you likely were taught how to tie your shoes.  It’s an essential task that most of us do mindlessly everyday.  I’d venture to guess the majority of us tie them the same way, cinching up the laces, tying a single overhand knot, and finishing it up with a single knotted bow. 

While the standard way of tying a shoe might work fine for a casual walk to the store, it may not be the best choice for running or many of the activities we do in the Box, like lifts or box jumps or jumping rope.  If your shoes are laced too loose, they’re going to come untied which could cost you time in retying them during the WOD, or worse, you could lose the shoe and possibly even injure yourself.

Ok, so I’ll just tie them tighter, you say.  Not so fast.  Having your laces cinched down too tight can cause pressure points on your instep which can cause pain, fight against the foot’s natural tendency to swell on long runs, and can limit foot and ankle mobility.  I learned from long road marches in the Army that boots that were too tight caused horrible foot pain.

The key to perfect lacing is to have the shoe secure enough that it doesn’t allow the heel to rub around, which can cause blisters, while keeping the laces snug, but not overly tight to the point they are cutting off circulation.  I present Lock Lacing.

Ever wonder what all those extra eyelets are for on your shoes?  We’re going to use some of them now.  For Lock Lacing, lace your shoes up as you normally would, but skip that top “common” eyelet and instead lace through the one further towards your heel. This photo illustrates it better.

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Next, make two loops by not pulling the laces all the way tight.  Take the free ends and thread them through the loop on the opposite side.  Like this.

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Finish by tying them off like you normally would. You may need to vary the placement of the loops and what eyelets you use based on what is available on your shoe.  This video is a good demonstration of the whole method.

 

The goal is to keep the heel in place and to take pressure off the instep since you don't need to crank down on all the laces.  It is a secure and comfortable way to tie.

Lock lacing is a good general method for most of what we do.  It may feel a bit weird at first, but you’ll soon get used to it.  Lock lacing is not the only way to tie your shoes, and in Part 2, we’ll look at a few ways to help alleviate common foot problems by varying how you lace up your shoes.

Try out Lock Lacing and let us know what you thought of it in the comments.

 

Sources:

http://www.divisionstcrossfit.com/2013/08/27/how-to-tie-your-shoes-lock-lacing-and-the-ian-knot/

http://www.crossfitkoncepts.com/my_weblog/2015/05/runners-do-you-know-how-to-tie-your-shoes.html

http://running.competitor.com/2015/05/photos/3-ways-to-lace-up-your-running-shoes_128380

http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/how-to/footwear/Pages/Lacing-Techniques-for-Proper-Shoe-Fit.aspx

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Don't Call It a Resolution

by Geoff Rand

So it’s that time again when the New Year brings out the sense in many of us that we need to make lists of all the things we want to change or achieve in the coming months.  It’s so cliché.  Sorry to blast a hole in your balloon, but if you approach your resolutions like most people do, you are probably going to fail to achieve your lofty goals for 2018.

Unfortunately, many resolutions fail.  Some don’t even make it through January.  The reasons are many.  Some resolutions are too general.  Instead of “I want to lose weight,” you need a numerical marker to hit like a number of pounds, or even better, inches, you’d like to lose per month or by a certain date. 

Other resolutions have no structured plan.  “I want to quit smoking” is a great goal, but without breaking down the idea into a meaningful plan, you are unlikely to stick with it and achieve the goal.

For your goals to be achieved, you need to want to achieve them.  It should be something you are passionate about and are motivated to work towards.  My father was recently diagnosed with diabetes.  He used that to light a fire under his ass and totally gave up sugar and revamped his whole diet.  It’s only a few months later and he has lost a ton of weight and is actually starting to wean off many of his medications under the advice and approval of his doctor.

Have some more easily achievable goals to go along with your more challenging ones.  It’s important to see some progress and achievement in your journey.  If none of your goals are being met, it’s easy to get discouraged and then abandon the whole idea.

Try to refrain from calling it a Resolution.  I’m not sure what it is, but the term Resolution just seems to have a sense of temporariness to it to me.  Your goals should be ongoing to the point they develop into healthy habits that become part of your regular routine.  That is how you avoid starting off 2019 with the same goals you failed to achieve in 2018.

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With that in mind, here are some ideas for a Lifestyle Tune Up, if you will.

1.  Bring a friend.  Introduce a friend to CrossFit.  Your friend benefits by getting to experience the same great workouts you already know about in an easier-to-get-started manner since they know you.  You benefit by getting 50% off your next month’s membership.  You also will sound less weird to at least one person the next time you brag about your snatch on Facebook.  You both benefit by having a workout partner that can keep you motivated and attending regularly.

2.  Sign up for a race.  Signing up for a race or other significant physical challenge (like the fast-approaching CrossFit Open) is a great way to stay motivated past the initial idea phase.  Having a date set and a monetary expenditure makes you more likely to want to work towards the goal of getting ready for the challenge.  Increase your chances of success by signing up with friends.

3.  Make sleep a priority.  I’ve done some recent blog posts on sleep.  The short of it is lack of sleep is literally killing you.  If you are not getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night regularly, you are shaving years off your life, making it harder for you to recover from workouts and injuries, inhibiting your gains, making yourself more prone to developing illnesses, diseases, and cancers, and a laundry list of other maladies.  Find time in your schedule for sleep.  Schedule sleep first and the rest of your day around it if you have to.

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4.  Make small changes over time.  Especially if weight loss is your goal, you’re going to be more successful if you break your goals down into smaller chunks.  A friend of mine was trying to improve his diet and chose to cut out one bad item per week.  Ranch dressing, then soda, and on and on.  Each week, he ate a little healthier.

If you need a little help with your meal planning, try Territory’s foods that are delivered right to the Box.  Your food delivery even gives you an added incentive to come into the Box to pick it up.  Win-win.   

Stay tuned for details on the next healthy eating challenge.  The Numbers Don’t Lie Challenge will be starting soon and is a great way to tune up your food intake with a program monitored by a coach, a detailed meal plan, measurements to track your progress, and a large support community of like-minded members going through it with you.  It’s a great way to try healthy eating for the first time or get back on track if you’ve strayed.

5.  Get a yearly physical.  No one wants to go to the doctor, but regular check ups and physicals with blood work are your best chance of catching an ailment early when it can be addressed, before it becomes a serious problem.

6.  Don’t forget a mental tune-up.  Finding ways to organize, de-clutter, or downsize can have huge benefits to your mental health.  When your life is less cluttered, stress is reduced, and you can become a healthier, more productive you.  Marie Kondo’s book has been used by thousands to streamline their lives by getting rid of what they don’t need. 

 

Good luck to you with whatever you call it and here’s to a safe, prosperous, and productive 2018!

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Walk This Way

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by Geoff Rand

With just a quick browse online or look at a few TV commercials, it is easy to see there are countless companies out there pushing pills claiming to cure this or lessen the effects of that, many for problems we may not even know we had.  The drug industry is one of the richest groups of corporations in our country.  That’s how they can afford all that advertising.

It’s always better to cure an ailment through a natural remedy, such as a diet or lifestyle change, than to take a drug.  Who wants to have to deal with those laundry lists of side effects from those drugs in the commercials?  You may not realize it, but you already have access to one of the best natural fixes for many health ailments, and it is free.  Just look down at your feet.

It may seem surprising, but regular walking is one of the best and easiest ways to improve and maintain your health.  One client of a personal trainer saw a decrease of 2% in body fat from doing nothing more than walking just under a mile a day.  Some benefits, like increased calorie burn may be obvious, but there are many more benefits to walking. 

Improved digestion and reduction in bloating is something to keep in mind with the holiday meals upon us.  Take a brisk walk immediately after your meal to reduce the negative effects from it.

Brisk walking can also improve insulin sensitivity, reduce blood pressure, and lower your risk from stroke.  Walking can also help aid muscle recovery from the increase in blood flow.  Walking also improves recovery from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).  Studies also show that walking can decrease joint inflammation and strengthen bones.

Regular walks can also prevent the development of varicose veins, as well as boost your mood and help you be more focused and productive.  Walking can improve your sleep and give a boost to your immune system, which will help keep you from getting sick.

Former pro body builder, Stan Efferding talks about his walking regimen in this video.

Stan was able to lower his blood pressure and cholesterol and increase his insulin sensitivity, which resulted in a 50-pound loss in weight in just a few months.  His method is to walk after breakfast, after a daytime meal, and before bed.  He breaks his walking up into 10-minute walks, each done right after a meal and even does this after meals out.  He finds that these walks after eating at a restaurant keep him from overeating or wasting time on his phone, and aid in digestion.

Stan talks about studies that show that we are unable to undo a day of sitting with just one exercise period, say, after work.  Movement throughout the day is key to fighting the negative effects of sitting all day.  Regular walks will help accomplish this.

Your walks should be brisk.  Move at a pace that gets your blood pumping and makes it challenging to carry on a conversation due to your rate of breathing.  Breaking your walks up into 10-minute chunks for a total of 30-40 minutes a day helps keep you focused and makes the task seem less daunting.  Bring water with you and double up your healthy activities.  You may be surprised to see how easy it is to improve your health if you Walk This Way.

Sources:

http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-benefits-of-a-10-minute-walk

https://www.prevention.com/fitness/benefits-walking-every-day

 

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Sleep on It, Part II

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by Geoff Rand

In Part 1 of Sleep On It, we explored the effects of lack of sleep and explained why it is so important to get adequate sleep, not only as it relates to seeing results from your workouts, but also as it pertains to your overall health.  For many, making a few daily schedule adjustments may be all they need to get a few more hours of shuteye.  But what if no matter how much you sleep you are still waking up tired?

It is estimated that 22 million Americans have sleep apnea and up to 80 percent of the cases of moderate to severe sleep apnea go undiagnosed.  Many people just accept that they or their partner are loud snorers and fail to recognize sleep apnea for the life damaging and life shortening disease that it is.

There are three types of sleep apnea.  Obstructive sleep apnea is caused when the tongue and soft palate collapse during sleep and block the airway.  Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.  Complex sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.

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There are many causes/risk factors of sleep apnea, but the most common are weight gain and obesity, smoking, and large neck circumference (17 inches for men, 15 inches for women).  Note that the large neck circumference risk is not necessarily due to obesity.  Muscular body builders are just as susceptible to developing sleep apnea even though it is not fat surrounding their airway.

So how do you tell if you have sleep apnea?  Only a doctor who specializes in sleep medicine can definitively tell you if you have sleep apnea and diagnose the severity of it, but it’s worth getting checked out if you have one or more of these symptoms:

Loud snoring/choking while sleeping        Frequently waking up tired

Falling asleep while sitting in traffic           Waking with a dry mouth or sore throat

Waking up several times a night                 Difficulty concentrating

Frequent heartburn                                     Memory problems

A sleep medicine doctor will conduct a physical evaluation of your condition and likely schedule a sleep study for you if your symptoms warrant it.  The sleep study can either be in a special sleep study facility or an at-home study.  The at-home study wasn’t available when I did mine.

In my sleep study, about 20 wires were attached to my head chest and leg and a box that they all fed into sat on the nightstand next to me.  Being hooked up to all this, sleeping in a strange bed and place, and the time of the study (much earlier than I usually go to sleep) all combined for a horrible night’s sleep for me.  I did get a couple hours of sleep and that was enough to compile adequate data to diagnose me with moderate sleep apnea.  Had I been able to sleep longer, they would have woken me up to fit a CPAP machine that would have forced air into my nose and mouth keeping my airway open during sleep.  Some of the doctors will prescribe a second sleep study done with a CPAP in place if they feel it is necessary.  I have heard that the at-home studies are less equipment-heavy, and I’d recommend them if they are offered to you.

The CPAP is a device that fits over the face similar to a fighter pilot’s facemask, although smaller, less obtrusive devices are now coming out, and a hose attaches from it to a machine that forces air into your airway.

Other options to treat sleep apnea are surgically implanting rigid plastic strips into the soft palate to keep the airway from closing during sleep, or a mouthpiece worn at night that modifies the way the jaw sits and keeps the airway open while worn.

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My doctor gave me a choice between the CPAP and the mouthpiece, and I chose the mouthpiece.  Both devices take some dialing in to get the adjustments right.  I’m still getting used to the mouthpiece, but so far, I seem to be sleeping better.  I know people who use the CPAP who have reported drastic improvements in their sleep.

The CPAP can take come getting used to, as it’s not very natural to strap a mask and hoses on your face each night.  Many never get used to it and up to 50 percent of people who try CPAP machines eventually abandon them.  My doctor told me I could try out the mouthpiece and switch to the CPAP machine if I wanted to.  So far, I don’t feel I need to do that.

Note that there are sleep mouthpieces available through the internet.  These are not the same as ones that a dentist fits you for.  Definitely have a dentist fit you properly if that is the remedy you choose to try.  I tried an internet mouthpiece before doing my sleep study and it was junk.  The dentist-fitted one is adjusted gradually and over time you get used to the increasing distance it keeps between your upper and lower jaw. 

The first step to overcoming sleep apnea is recognizing you have a potential sleep disorder and getting in to see a sleep medicine doctor.  Sleep disorders are serious health issues that only get worse over time, causing severe health problems if left untreated.  Do it for yourself and your loved ones.  Get checked out if you are having frequent sleep issues.

Sources:

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleep-apnea.htm

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/symptoms-causes/syc-20377631

https://www.sleepapnea.org/learn/sleep-apnea-information-clinicians/

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Sleep on It, Part I

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by Geoff Rand

 

Sleep.  It’s just as essential to life as food and water.  We might be able to go for longer periods of time without adequate sleep, but eventually it will catch up with us, and there will be a price to pay for it.  We all live busy lives, but it’s important to make time for sufficient hours and quality of sleep.  In this series of articles on sleep, we will look at why the body needs sleep, the dangers of failing to get enough sleep, and ways to diagnose and mitigate sleep disorders.

The body uses sleep to restore energy supplies and perform critical maintenance to keep its systems functioning properly.  During these rest periods, muscle damage and connecting tissue is repaired, and certain hormones are released that assist in recovery and building and repair of muscles.

If you are crushing it in the gym and just don’t seem to see the results you think you should be seeing, take a look at your sleep.  Exercise without adequate recovery time in the form of quality sleep will not produce results.

So what is adequate sleep?  The general guideline for all adults is 7-9 hours of sleep.  Research has shown that those who are engaged in physically demanding work need more sleep than those performing intellectual work.  It is important to stick to a sleep routine as much as possible, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day (even on days off).  This helps the body establish natural recovery and activity patterns.

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The environment you create to sleep in is just as important as the number of hours you devote to sleeping.  Your sleeping area should be quiet and dark.  Studies have shown that even small amounts of light, like those from an alarm clock, can be enough to disrupt sleep.  Put your phone or other electronics in a different room where they won’t disturb you or tempt you to answer or use them.  You want your sleep area to be clear of children and pets if at all possible.  Use thick curtains to block out light if you are forced to sleep during non-standard hours due to things like shift work.

What happens if I don’t get adequate sleep?  This is somewhat tough to answer completely because we don’t yet know all the effects sleep deprivation has on the body.  We do know that lack of sleep causes high blood pressure, obesity, and an increased risk of development of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and some cancers.  Lack of sleep can also cause you to be more susceptible to illness and take longer for you to recover from being sick.  You are also more likely to injure yourself and you will take longer to recover from the injury without adequate rest.

 

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Studies have shown that after being awake for just 17 hours your actions and reactions are akin to those of someone with a 0.05 blood alcohol content.  States like New Jersey have enacted laws making it illegal to knowingly drive while tired.  Numerous studies with military personnel showed rapidly decreasing ability to make sound decisions and to be effective on the battlefield as sleep deprivation increases and lack of adequate recovery and sleep time decreases.

Lack of sleep impacts your ability to remember things, can make you feel more negative, and can make you less productive and act less ethically at work.

With all this evidence, you may be convinced that you need to sleep more, but what about those who try to sleep but have physical impairments like sleep apnea that prevent them from getting quality sleep?  In part two of this topic, I will detail my own experiences with sleep apnea and why it is so important to get checked out and treat it if you think you may have it.

But for now, rest up and we’ll tackle that topic next week.

 

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ7L5itxLhY

https://www.nfpt.com/blog/why-sleep-and-recovery-is-important

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK209071/

http://www.ausenco.com/news-items/did-you-know-that-17-hours-awake-is-equivalent-to-a-blood-alcohol-content-of-0-05_2

 

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Holidays Without Regret

Reminder:  CFF Schedule This Week

Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve,
November 22nd - ONLY morning classes

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day,
November 23rd - BOX CLOSED

Friday, Black Friday,
November 24th - ONLY evening classes

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by Geoff Rand (orig. posted Nov. 2016-but it's a timely reminder)

Most Americans view Thanksgiving as the start of the holiday season.  But when it comes to overindulging, the season has already begun.  A Cornell University study actually places Halloween as the start of the string of food-centric holidays, and their research shows that the weight gained between Halloween and Christmas can take over five months to lose.  I’d say the season extends beyond Christmas and into New Year’s and even Super Bowl Sunday.

However you define it, no one wants undo all the hard work they’ve done throughout the year because of some poor choices during a handful of holiday meals and parties.  Now is the time to develop your holiday strategy to make sure you can still enjoy the company and meals with friends and family without regretting your choices in the days and weeks that follow.  Here’s some help.

Don’t starve yourself.  A lot of people skip a meal before a large holiday meal thinking the calorie deficit will offset the large food intake to come.  But in reality, this backfires.  Going into the meal starved tends to make you fill up on chips, cookies, candy, and alcohol while you wait to eat.  A better option would be to eat a normal meal before the party and just enjoy the holiday foods in moderation.

Step Away.  Those platters of fresh cookies, pies, and other sweets are so inviting and draw you in like the Death Star’s tractor beam.  Don’t hover around those trays.  It’s easy to lose track of your intake as you talk and drink with friends.  A cookie or two becomes 4 or 5 or a lot more.  Get a small plate, pick a reasonable number or treats and walk away from the table to socialize.

Keep busy.  Offer to help set up or clean up to keep yourself from over-snacking before or after a meal.  Go for a walk or play with the kids or animals.  Just avoid having that idle time if the allure of going back for seconds or thirds or loading up on desserts is too much for your willpower.

Downsize.  Have that pumpkin pie, but cut down on the portion or share with someone.

Penalize.  If it works for you, assign an indulgence penalty.  100 burpees for every treat should keep your cravings in check.  If you really want a dose of reality, check out this holiday food caloric content chart and corresponding time to walk, jog, swim, or cycle that food off.

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Make substitutions.  Find healthier versions of your holiday favorites.  My family swapped the traditional mashed potatoes for Celery Root Puree (see recipe below) over a decade ago.  It’s a great tasting low carb vegetable alternative to starchy mashed potatoes.

Bring your own.  Enjoy the family favorites of others that might not be the best for your diet, but bring a healthy side dish of your own to share and to supplement the not-so-healthy components of your meal so you have a healthy alternative and the meal is not a total loss.

Eat Restaurant Style.  Instead of sitting down at a table of food, leave the food in the kitchen and take your plate to the food and sit down to eat at an empty dining table.  If food dishes are not within reach and you have to get up for seconds, you’ll be less likely to overindulge.

Pass the Bread.  And keep passing it right by your plate.  Simple carbohydrates like bread might seem innocent enough, but they break down quickly in the body and create a spike in blood sugar, which can leave you feeling hungrier, faster.  Take an extra vegetable serving instead.

Seal it up.  If you’re hosting a party, buy a bunch of disposable Tupperware.  If you’re going to the party, bring your own.  If you’re the host, getting guests to take home food keeps you from turning Thanksgiving or Christmas Day into a week of overeating.  If you are the guest, bringing your own containers allows you to politely refuse second servings, but still take a small portion home.  This avoids upsetting the host and keeps your intake at a reasonable level.

Hydrate.  Drinking water is never a bad idea.  With the extra alcohol you’re probably consuming and all the sugars and carbs you’re gobbling up, water is going to help in several ways.  It offsets the alcohol and helps to keep you feeling full, which cuts down on you munching on sweets.  It also aids in digestion.

Stay active.  The holidays can become very busy, but don’t neglect yourself.  Plan an active family activity for after the holiday meal.  Every little bit helps to offset the increased calorie intake.  Keep working out.  Don’t let a day or two off turn into a week and then a month.  Hit the gym hard right after the holiday and get back to your normal routine as soon as possible.

With a little bit of pre-planning, you can enjoy the holidays without sabotaging all the hard work you’ve done the rest of the year.

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Celery Root Puree (from Suzanne Somers’ Eat Great, Lose Weight)

(I usually double the recipe)

3 celery root (you can get it at Whole Foods)

1/4 cup heavy cream

4 Tbs. butter

Salt and Pepper

Peel the celery root, being careful to remove all the brown.  Cut each root into about 12 pieces, then place them in a steamer over a large pot of boiling water.  Cook for about 20 minutes until tender.  Transfer to a food processor, add cream and butter and puree all until smooth.  (use a mixer if you don't have a food processor)  Add additional cream and/or butter if needed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Sources:

http://greatist.com/health/ways-to-avoid-holiday-weight-gain

http://www.shape.com/blogs/fit-foodies/effortless-tips-avoid-overeating-holiday-parties

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Stand Up For Your Health

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by Geoff Rand

What would you say if I told you that standing for just three hours each day could increase your overall health?  I’m sure some would expect sore feet or backs from such a change, and you might even think there’s no way you’d have time for that.

You may wonder what the harm is in sitting down so much.  Studies have shown that people who sit the majority of their day live on average two years less than someone who is on their feet most of the day.  Other studies have shown that exercise can’t undo the effects of sitting down the entire day.  And, there are the obvious detriments of increased weight gain and obesity for workers in sedentary jobs.

I’ve talked about how sitting can throw off your posture in a previous blog.  Being sedentary also negatively affects how the body converts food into glucose, which, when out of whack, can contribute to the development of diabetes and heart disease.

A British study looked at the sedentary habits of the average office worker.  With workdays ranging from 8-12 hours, mostly seated at a desk, and adding in commute, TV, and sleeping time, it is completely possible to spend up to 19 hours a day being inactive.  The study took a group of office dwellers and asked them to add 3 hours of standing during their day.  The participants wore accelerometers, heart rate monitors, and measured their blood sugar throughout the day.

The results were quite impressive for such a small change in their daily routine.  The study volunteers saw their blood glucose levels return to normal after a meal much more quickly during times where they were standing versus sitting.  One woman in the study saw an improvement in her arthritis symptoms due to the increase in standing.

They also showed an increased heart rate while standing, which translates to more calories burned.  On average, they burned about 50 calories an hour while standing.  So, for three hours a day standing over a five-day workweek, that translates to 750 calories burned.  Over a year, it’s 30,000 extra calories, or the equivalent of 8 lbs. of fat burned, all for just standing up for a short time during the day instead of sitting.

It turns out the study wasn’t the first of its kind.  A similar study in the 1950s on bus conductors (who stood), compared to bus drivers (who sat), showed the bus conductors had around half the risk of developing heart disease as the sedentary bus drivers.  Standing isn’t a new concept, either.  Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemmingway, and Ben Franklin all worked at standing desks.

Other studies in workplace standing have seen participants who experienced reduced back and neck pain when standing, and increased productivity, decreased stress and better moods from standing.

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You might find that standing while working makes you more likely to walk over to a colleague’s desk rather than sending an email, which helps burn even more calories.  It might even translate to better office operations, as a face-to-face conversation is hard to beat in terms of quality of communication when compared to an email.

If your boss won’t spring for the larger full standing desks, smaller desktop versions exist that convert your standard desk into a standing workspace.

So try it out.  See how standing at work just a few hours over the course of your day can improve your health.

 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24532996

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-benefits-of-a-standing-desk#section1

 

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The Mark

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by Geoff Rand

Few injuries are as CrossFit-specific as The Mark.  Some call it Butt Berry, Monkey Butt, or simply, the Ass Crack Rash.  This painful skin chafing affects both newcomers and seasoned CrossFitters.

If you haven’t gotten The Mark, you either have not yet done a high rep situp WOD on the Abmat, or you have spectacular ability to engage your abdominals throughout the workout.  The Mark is sneaky.  You don’t even know you have it at first.  But once you take that first post-WOD shower, look out.  That tender area just above your butt crack that got rubbed raw during the workout usually reveals itself once contacted with water.  It continues to remind you of its presence as your clothing touches it as you move around or sit or stand.

The Mark is caused by the friction created by the rubbing of your tailbone area against the floor as you do situps.  While most of us will start out with good situp form, as we get into the really high rep situp workouts like Annie or Angie, we start to fatigue and when we get sloppy on form, that’s when we are prone to chafing.

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To prevent The Mark from forming keep your butt on the floor and keep your abs engaged during the entire movement of the situp.  We all have a tendency to let our butt come off the floor, especially as our shoulder blades are down as we reach the lowered position of the situp.  Often as we throw ourselves downward in an effort to crank out the reps, this force causes our butt to come up.  All that movement over hundreds of reps adds up to a lot of friction.

Along with keeping your butt on the floor, you need to engage and use your abdominal muscles to raise and lower yourself during the movement.  While using momentum created by throwing your arms forward is allowed and will assist in the upward movement, you really should be initiating the upward movement with your lower abs.  Doing this will also force your butt to stay in contact with the floor and Abmat.

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Some athletes find that placing a section of yoga mat partially under the Abmat as a cushion for your tailbone assists with preventing The Mark from forming.  CrossFit Games competitor Christy Adkins also advocates the use of tape on the skin to prevent rash.  “You take a small amount of athletic tape and form an X, then place that on the tender, boney process right at the top of the sacrum, I found that if I layered enough pieces to form the X, it alleviated the butt raspberry syndrome,” she stated.  Others have formed a V with tape and had similar results.

One last thing to consider is avoiding the wearing of any of those pants or shorts with the little zippered pocket on the back near the tailbone during situp-heavy WODs.  Rubbing against this zipper is sure to cause a wicked rash.

While tape and cushioning may help, the real prevention of The Mark forming will come from maintaining proper form during the entire movement.

If all fails and you do get The Mark, treatment is really no different than a skin rash.  Keep it clean and dry, and apply a topical ointment.  Diaper rash treatments like Desitin work well as does Aquaphor.  Even with treatment, The Mark will take a few days to go away.  It literally is a pain in the ass.

The worst part about The Mark is you don’t have a cool injury story you can tell your non-CrossFit friends, and you definitely won’t have a wound you’ll want to show them.  You can drop a bar on your head or rip your hands up and have a good war story, but I doubt many of you will drop trou at the water cooler to brag about your butt rash.

 

Sources:

http://www.crossfittt.com/how-to-avoid-situp-induced-rug-burn/

http://www.fitbomb.com/2010/11/infamous-abmat-ass-crack-rash.html

https://www.crossfitinvictus.com/blog/two-simple-steps-to-avoid-butt-berry/

https://journal.crossfit.com/article/chafing-saline-2

http://www.tabatatimes.com/monkey-butt-crossfit-crack-pain-ass/2/

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What is the Best Time of Day to Work Out?

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By Geoff Rand

Does the time of day you choose to work out have any effect on the results you are likely to see, or is one time of day better than another?  Several studies have already examined this.

To understand the research, it helps to relate the factors impacting our workouts into biological, psychological, and environmental categories.

Morning Workouts

One biological factor in morning workouts is potential for increased stress placed upon the vertebrae of your spine due to fluid retention during sleep.  When we sleep, the discs of our spine are not under the effects of gravity and they take on fluid.  When we stand or sit throughout the day, this fluid is drained out of the spine as gravity compresses it.  If you were to do a heavy lift such as a deadlift right out of bed, the fluid saturated discs would create greater pressure in your spine and you would be at increased risk of injury.  For the morning workout people, a thorough warm-up is essential to good spine health and safety.

Another biological factor in morning workouts is the functioning of your central nervous system.  Even though you may have just had a great night’s sleep, studies have shown that reaction time and alertness are not at their peak in the morning, as these systems are just coming online.  This goes doubly for you coffee drinkers that haven’t yet had your caffeine jumpstart for the day.

Psychologically, getting to the gym early can be quite beneficial.  It starts your day and some studies have shown that people who workout in the morning see increased physical activity, productivity and even higher metabolism throughout the day.

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Afternoon/Evening Workouts

Biologically, our bodies are functioning better in the afternoon/early evening than in the morning.  Our body temperature is at its highest between 2 and 6 PM.  This means that the systems of the body are warmed up and firing on all cylinders and the nervous system, muscle functioning, and enzyme production are at their highest, and blood pressure and heart rate are at their lowest, making this time period the most effective time to work out.

Interestingly, the belief that working out too close to bedtime having a negative effect on your sleep appears to be a myth.  Studies have shown no correlation between working out late and quality of sleep. 

Environmental factors may make afternoon workouts impossible, however.  Evening commutes, school schedules, family, pets, food preparation, and countless other factors fight to occupy that time slot and conspire to derail your afternoon/evening plans.  You are probably more likely to miss your afternoon workout than a morning one due to life events popping up unexpectedly.

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The Bottom Line

The studies and evidence seem to contradict one another and at the very least, there are several pluses and minuses to each time slot.  But researchers have determined these time ranges as the “target times” that will maximize your performance and give you a higher likelihood of experiencing better results from your time investment into working out.  They have identified 4-5 hours after waking and 11-12 hours after waking as the “best” times to work out.

I like that it is expressed like this as it is relatable to all types of people, including those of us who work shift work where our “morning” may not be the same time as the rest of the world’s.

Even with all this research and these studies telling us when the best time is, in reality, many of us choose our given work out time simply because that is the best time that works for us and that fits our lives.  In the end, it is much better to have a consistent routine at a time that is imperfect in relation to peak body functioning, than to miss working out because life got in the way.

Sources:

https://greatist.com/fitness/whats-best-time-work-out

https://www.t-nation.com/training/the-best-worst-times-of-day-to-work-out?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=article6002

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/can-exercising-at-night-hurt-your-sleep#1

 

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