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The Female Athlete

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In a world where women are striving for equality in all aspects, it is important to make note of what makes us different.  These differences are not always a negative and in some cases give our sex an advantage.  In this blog we will explore how our bodies react differently and are built differently than men and what that means in terms of working out, injury and nutrition.

Due to higher estrogen levels, women have more body fat than men. The leanest female athletes, such as top marathon runners, have body fat of approximately 8 percent, compared with 4 percent for their male counterparts. In addition, women's bodies are less muscular, but their joints are more flexible, which gives them greater range of motion -- an advantage in sports such as gymnastics. The wider female pelvis also affects the alignment and movement of the extremities. Men have higher levels of testosterone, which gives them a performance advantage in other ways. 

Estrogen is not a negative however.  Your muscles have estrogen receptors, and, in fact, there’s good reason to believe that estrogen plays a major role in the beneficial adaptations that occur with aerobic training.  When compared to sedentary men, endurance-trained men have 3-5x as many estrogen receptors in the muscles (suggesting they become more sensitive to the effects of estrogen), and it’s been found that, at least in mice, estrogen receptors on mitochondria increase the rate of glucose uptake into the muscle when activated.

Testosterone enables men to develop larger skeletal muscles as well as larger hearts. Men also have a larger proportion of Type 2 muscle fibers, which generate power, strength and speed. Testosterone also increases the production of red blood cells, which absorb oxygen, giving men an even greater aerobic advantage, reports "New York Times" writer Gina Kolata, in an interview with Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, an exercise researcher at McMaster University in Ontario.

Women tend to have a greater proportion of Type 1 fibers (roughly 27-35% greater Type 1 fiber area relative to total fiber area) and greater capillary density.  Those are two major factors.  More Type 1 fibers and greater capillary density mean better tissue perfusion (ability to get more blood to the muscle to provide oxygen and clear metabolites) and greater capacity for glucose and fatty acid oxidation (because Type 1 fibers are the ones with more mitochondria and aerobic enzymes).  Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are negatively correlated with Type 1 fiber percentage and capillary density in both lean and obese people.

Conversely, men have a higher glycolytic capacity than women.  That means that they can burn through more glucose in the absence of oxygen, which lends itself to better performance for short-intense bursts of effort, but which also means more lactate accumulation and longer recovery times after all-out efforts.  This is related to both the higher percentage of Type II fibers, and also higher levels of glycolytic enzymes.

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Though women tend to have more fat, there are differences in where that fat is stored, and also the characteristics of that fat.  For starters, men tend to have more visceral fat (fat stored around the organs in the abdominal cavity), and women tend to have more peripheral subcutaneous fat (fat stored between the muscles and the skin).  This gives rise to the “apple” and “pear” shaped, or android and gynoid fat distribution patterns.

Due to some of the skeletal formation differences mentioned earlier, women are more prone to injuring joints such as the shoulders and knees. Weaker shoulder muscles and looser supporting tissues mean the joint is less stable than in men, reports writer Michael Lasalandra, in an interview with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center sports medicine physician Bridget Quinn. Also, the injury rate to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, a major knee ligament, is significantly higher in female than in male athletes. By proper training and strengthening of supporting muscles, women can prevent such injuries.

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Women have increased incidence of patellofamoral disorders, stress fractures and ACL injuries.  In fact the risk of injury is 2-10 times greater than males especially with pivoting sports.  ACL injury is more common due to land ion biomechanics and neuromuscular control differences.  Females land with their knees in more extension and vaigus due to hip internal rotation.  This picture gives a good idea of the pressure placed on the female’s lower extremities and the suceptiblility to injury.  Conditioning and strength play a big role, but females in general have smaller ACL size and smaller notches.  Another factor is a women’s cyclical hormone levels, placing them at a greater risk for injury during the first half of the menstrual cycle.  

Perhaps one of the most important conditions that differentiate male and female athletes s susceptibility to the Female Athlete Triad, or “the triad.” The triad consists of three main symptoms including low energy availability, menstrual dysfunction and decreased bone mineral density. This was more common when skinny was in and women were afraid to put on muscle, afraid they would look to masculine or get “thick”.  Strong is beautiful and in some ways our culture is starting to recognize this more and more.  By regulating your caloric intake and making sure your hormones are still in healthy balance, even athletes that push to the point of no longer having a regular period can avoid the triad.

Just to reiterate, gender differences related to acute performance aren’t that huge, and are less a function of gender per se, and more a function of body composition.   Of the differences that do exist, the largest contributing factors are fiber type differences and sex hormone differences.  In essence, they set women up to be more metabolically suited to just about everything.  

They clear VLDL and triglycerides better, have better insulin sensitivity, have a more favorable fat distribution, and burn a greater proportion of fat at any given exercise intensity, making them less fatigueable.  The only place where men have the edge is in glycolytic capacity and explosive (but not maximal strength) performance (both related to Type II fiber proportion).

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So what do we do with all that?

For starters, ladies, do not be afraid of carbs.  Not only are they delicious and awesome, but you have better insulin sensitivity, and the more of them you eat, the more of them you burn.

Second, you do not have a harder time losing weight because you’re a woman.  Yes, you’ll probably have to eat fewer calories than a man who weighs the same amount you do, but the primary factors in determining your calorie needs are body size, body composition, and activity level, with gender playing little to no role.  If you’re more jacked and/or more active than a guy who weighs the same as you, then you can eat more than him.  If not, you can’t.

Finally, as far as training goes, odds are pretty good that you can do more work and benefit from more work than a guy can.  Your muscles are inherently more glycogen-sparing and fatigue-resistant.  You can probably do more reps with a given percentage of your 1rm before fatigue sets in, and do more total work (relative to 1rm) before you hit a wall due to higher proportion of Type 1 muscle fibers, greater proportion of fat being burned instead of glycogen, and lower glycolytic capacity.

Rock on ladies!  




Sources:

https://www.orthobullets.com/sports/3125/the-female-athlete

https://www.sportsrec.com/6580144/how-do-men-and-women-differ-athletically

https://thejetstreamjournal.com/3372/uncategorized/psycological-differences-between-male-and-female-athletes/

http://www.learn2trainsafely.com/DifferencesBetweenTeenFemaleandMaleAthletes.html

https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/combatting-the-female-athlete-triad/

https://www.strongerbyscience.com/gender-differences-in-training-and-diet/

https://quizlet.com/94986867/chapter-2-personality-and-sport-flash-cards/

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Don't Weight to Get a Dog

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Anyone who comes to CrossFit Frederick more than once has met Zeus.  There is no question that Zeus has a pretty sweet life and enjoys coming to the box to get attention, but I think it is just as enjoyable for many of us at the box when he is there.  While he is not our dog, he holds a special place in many of our hearts.  Zeus provides comedy, distraction and comfort while we work out.  When stretching at the end of the WOD and Zeus picks you to paw at and get attention over others begging for him to come to them, you feel special.  The benefits of dog ownership have been studied countlessly, but in regards to our health both physically and mentally the evidence is overwhelmingly positive. 

A Harvard Health Publication reported a one year study that found walking an overweight dog helped both the animals and their owners lose weight.  Researchers found that the dogs provided support in ways similar to a human exercise buddy, but with greater consistency and less negative influence.  Public housing residents who walk therapy dogs for up to 20 minutes five days a week lost an average of 14.4 pounds in a year, with no changes to their diets.  Another study found that people walked 30 minutes more per week than they did before they had a dog.  

Recently with rucking, my dog Skunk gets so excited when we do anything with the gear, get out our boots or even say the word, that we find ourselves taking him out even when we had no intention of rucking that day.  HIs enjoyment and excitement while walking pushes us to go further, dig deeper and enjoy the rucks that much more.  

More than weight loss and increased exercise, dogs offer benefits in other areas of your health that may surprise you.  Service dogs are trained to respond to their owners needs and alert them before seizures, diabetic emergencies, and more.  However, even dogs that are not specially trained have been known to sense things about their human companions and also provide medical benefit to being around.  If you’re over 65 and own a pet, odds are you seek medical help about 30 percent less often than people who don’t have a pet. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology established that animal-owning seniors on Medicare “reported fewer doctor contacts over the 1-year period than respondents who did not own pets.” And while cats, birds, and other animals were helpful, “Owners of dogs, in particular, were buffered from the impact of stressful life events on physician utilization.”  Alzheimer’s patients are soothed by dogs, whose companionship also seems to mitigate emotional flare-ups and aggression. 

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Dogs are not only beneficial for the adults in the family.  Besides the sheer joy a dog can offer a child, there are other benefits for the little people in the family as well.  Not only do children who grow up with pets have less risk of allergies and asthma, many also learn responsibility, compassion, and empathy from having a dog or cat.  Unlike parents or teachers, pets are never critical and don’t give orders. They are always loving and their mere presence at home can help provide a sense of security in children. Having an ever-present pet can help ease separation anxiety in children when mom and dad aren’t around. Having the love and companionship of a pet can make a child feel important and help them develop a positive self-image.  Kids who are emotionally attached to their pets are better able to build relationships with other people.  Studies have also shown that pets can help calm hyperactive or overly aggressive kids. Of course, both the animal and the child need to be trained to behave appropriately with each other.

Children and adults alike can benefit from playing with pets, which can provide a source of calmness and relaxation, as well as a source of stimulation for the brain and body. Playing with a pet can even be a doorway to learning for a child. It can stimulate a child’s imagination and curiosity. The rewards of training a dog to perform a new trick, for example, can teach kids the importance of perseverance.  Spending just a few minutes with a pet can lower anxiety and blood pressure, and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, two neurochemicals that play big roles in calm and wellbeing. People performing stressful tasks do better when there’s a dog around, too, and studies show dogs ease tension both at the office and between married couples.  There are actually universities that bring in dogs for students to interact with between exams to lower stress and improve performance.

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Another benefit of adding a pup into your life is your sense of safety or well being.   Dogs can be an effective home security system. Studies show that barking dogs deter burglars. Just knowing that you’ve got a dog who can use its keen sense of hearing to detect anyone prowling around can help increase your sense of security, which is good for both your mental and physical health.  If you want to go for a late night walk/run having a dog by your side may deter unwanted attention or possibly prevent a crime.  Even the smallest dogs can bark, bite and have a good sense of other people’s intentions or demeanors.  

Not in a place where you can own a dog yourself? No problem.  Many shelters are looking for volunteers to take the dogs currently looking for homes out on walks. This socializes the dog, and prevents anxiety and/or other destructive behaviors.  This may be a good option if you seek some canine companionship, but are not in a situation that allows you to have your own.  



Rachel



Sources:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-10-health-benefits-of-dogs-and-one-health-risk_n_57dad1b8e4b04a1497b2f5a0

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-surprising-benefits-having-dog-you-didnt-know-about.html

https://dogtime.com/dog-health/general/5996-dogs-for-pets-improve-health

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/mood-boosting-power-of-dogs.htm

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Schedule Change - June 24th

CrossFit Frederick is excited to announce the restructuring of our EARLY morning classes beginning Monday, June 24th, 2019.

We are replacing our 6AM CrossFit Class with our NEW PowerClass, a high intensity, 30-minute class geared towards our experienced Members. The gym will close at 7AM and reopen at 9AM for our late morning classes. The evening and weekend schedule remains unchanged. Following are the adjustments to be made:

  • 5AM to 6:30AM: Open Gym

  • 5AM to 6AM: CrossFit Class

  • 6AM to 6:30AM: Power CrossFit**- for experienced members only. Doors will be locked at 7AM: The gym closes, and doors will be locked.

  • 9AM to 12:30PM: Open Gym

  • 9AM: CrossFit Class

  • 10AM: Strength Training

  • 11:30AM: CrossFit Class

PowerClass

  • Begins at 6AM sharp. Please arrive early.

  • 30-minute class

  • WODs will always be TBA (to be announced)

  • No warm-up – Members are welcome to arrive early to warm-up on their own time.

  • Members must clean up and exit the gym in a timely fashion.

  • CrossFit Frederick doors will be locked at 7AM.

Attendance Requirements:

  • NO Beginners

  • Member of CrossFit Frederick for 6-months or more.

  • Familiarity of most CrossFit movements.

  • Strong knowledge of personal max weights/reps and abilities.

  • Capable of working out with limited to no coaching.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask Coach Amanda.

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"Record Your Scores" Summer Give-Away

Record Your Scores in the CrossFit Frederick Members Area for “Today’s WOD” or “Today’s Strength Training” and your name will automatically be entered into a random drawing for a FREE case of FitAid.

Rules:

  • Must be a Member of CrossFit Frederick to participate.

  • Member must submit scores in the CrossFit Frederick Members Area.

  • Member must attend “Today’s WOD “ and/or “Today’s Strength Training” at CrossFit Frederick for the entry to be valid.

  • NO limit to how many times your name may be entered.

  • NO offsite workout submissions.

  • CrossFit Frederick is not responsible for any Members score submissions into the Members area.

  • Give-away will be for 2-months.

  • Submissions from July 1st, 2019 to July 31st, 2019, will be entered for the drawing on August 3rd, 2019.

  • Submissions from August 1st, 2019 to August 31st, 2019, will be entered for the drawing on September 7th, 2019.

  • Winning Member will be notified via email.

  • Winning Member will receive 1-case of FitAid recovery beverage from CrossFit Frederick.

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Directions to Access the Members Area of CrossFit Frederick

  • Go to the Members Area.

  • Select “forgot password”.

  • Enter your email address recorded with CrossFit Frederick.

  • Check your inbox for an email from crossfitfrederick@gmail.com with the subject line
    “CFF Member Login Info”.

  • Need to update your email? Send Coach Amanda your new email address at info@crossfitfrederick.com.

The CrossFit Frederick Members Area.

The CrossFit Frederick Members Area.

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PR Board at CFF

The PR Board is our way of testing certain lifts, as well as, specific WOD’s that we favor in the world of WOD’s with CrossFit programming.

Individuals that complete the WOD’s as prescribed (i.e. RX’d) can add their names/scores to the PR board. We have criteria that we follow to ensure validity of loads lifted and scores posted for the WOD’s. Everyone is judged by a peer for proper range of motion, load used, and repetitions counted, so accurate loads/times can be added to the scoreboard and PR Board.

PR Board at CrossFit Frederick

PR Board at CrossFit Frederick

Congratulations to ALL that completed this week’s “tests” and especially those that were able to perform the WOD’s – RX’d!!!

Sunday, June 9th, 2019: “Isabel” - 30 Snatches for time at 135lbs for Men and 95lbs for Ladies. Congrats to Kevin McNally, Loc Vu and Dylan Constable for performing the her as prescribed!

Monday, June 10th, 2019: Power Clean for 1-rep maximum load. Congratulations to EVERYONE! We had a few PR’s that day and several individuals that established a baseline for their Power Clean.

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019: “Diane” - 21-15-9 reps for time of Deadlifts at 225lbs for Men and 155lbs for Ladies, plus Handstand Push-ups. We placed a 10-minute time cap on this Girl WOD, as it is meant to be done at a high intensity. Congratulations to Kevin Wu for completed her RX’d and under the time cap! A shout out to EVERYONE that completed “Diane”!!! She is tough even when we scale down the load and the handstand push-up.

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Next week on Monday, June 17th, 2019, we will test “Fran”. “Fran” - 21-15-9 reps for time of Thrusters at 95lbs for the Men and 65lbs for the Ladies, plus Pull-ups. We are closed on Sunday, June 16th, for Father’s Day. We recommend everyone take Sunday as a rest day to be ready to “test” their “Fran” time on Monday!!!

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Carb Loading: You're doing it wrong!

Many people have heard of carbohydrate or carb loading, but few know the correct way to go about this.  It is easy to use carb loading as an excuse to indulge before a big event, but what exactly should you be eating and what constitutes an event that actually requires carb loading?  Carb-loading is more than just eating pasta before race day.  There is actually preparation and planning that should go in to your pre race meal plan weeks before it happens.

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What is carb loading?

Carbohydrate loading is a strategy involving changes to training and nutrition that can maximize muscle glycogen (carbohydrate) stores prior to endurance competition.  Use this strategy to prepare for a marathon, triathlon or another endurance event.  Perhaps you’re training for a marathon or triathlon. Or maybe you’re a long-distance swimmer or cyclist. Whatever your sport, if you plan to complete 90 minutes or more of high-intensity exercise, carbo loading may improve your performance.

Carbohydrate loading has the potential to improve performance by 2-3%. For a 2 hour half marathon that is an improvement of roughly 2.4 to 3.6 minutes or nearly 7 minutes for a 4 hour marathon.  More than the improved performance, properly preparing and fueling your body will lower the chances of you hitting a wall.  When you deplete your glycogen levels, your body has to find another source of energy.  Marathoners use gels and sports drinks, supplementing their glycogen levels (usually every 30 minutes) with simple sugars that can be easily transferred to energy, and can prevent hitting the wall and thus allow them to run at their desired pace for a longer duration. This could mean the difference in completing your mission or finishing with a PR.  

Carbohydrates are found in grains, vegetables and legumes (beans and peas). They are also found in sugar and sweets, including fruit and dairy products. Each gram of carbohydrate contains four calories.  During digestion, your body converts carbohydrates into sugar. The sugar enters your bloodstream and is transferred to individual cells to provide energy. Your body may not immediately need all of this sugar, however. So it stores the extra sugar in your liver and muscles. This stored sugar is called glycogen.

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When do you need to carb load?

Carb loading is all about upping the amount of glycogen the body and helps us go longer before hitting “the wall,” or the point when carbohydrate reserves are so depleted that a person can't reach their highest level of performance. Carb loading is only necessary for exercise that lasts 90 minutes or more, since that's when the body starts running low on glycogen. 

While we usually hear about carb loading in reference to endurance events like marathons, going carb-wild can also be useful for other types of prolonged high-intensity exercise, like hiking, swimming, or one of those crazy 90-minute spin classes . Carb-ing up may even be useful before weightlifting sessions: One study found that carb loading before lifting increased the amount athletes were able to lift and gave them more time before they felt exhausted. But for weightlifters and endurance athletes alike, careful planning is key to carb-loading.

How to carb load

 Not all carbs are created equal and yet somehow in the lead up to race week we toss aside our normally good habits for junk food carbs.  You can not just down a bunch of sugary snacks the night before or stuff yourself full of creamy pasta.  There is planning and preparation that go into carb loading. Avoid sugary snacks or desserts, these contain simple sugars that burn off quickly and can lead to a crash.  More than just donuts and cookies, carbs such as white potatoes, un-enriched pasta and white bread are also considered high-glycemic carbs that can result in a spike in blood sugar.  

Several weeks before your event do a trial carb load.  Eat the foods you are planning to eat before one of your longer prep runs or workouts.  Every body is a bit different and you may find that creamy pasta does not feel or taste as good while burping it up while you are exercising.  You may want to avoid carbs that contain a lot of fiber as they may make you run to the bathroom rather than the finish line.

One of the most overlooked or forgotten steps in carb loading is the carb depletion that needs to take place first.  Prior to starting your carb load it is important to drain your stores in order to rebuild them effectively and with the proper nutrition.  This usually takes place about 4 days before the race day or event. Here is the process as described by The Complete Nutrition Guide for Triathletes:

    1. Seven days prior to the event do a long or strenuous workout which will deplete your body of glucose.

    2. For the next 3 days maintain a lower carb diet of 35-50% of total calories

    3. For the final 2 days prior to the race switch to 75% of calories from carbohydrates, while dramatically decreasing overall work volume (the other 25% is largely protein)

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Next is the initial carb loading sequence.  Once your stores are depleted, you will want to build your stores back up.  One large meal of carbohydrates is NOT carb loading and for many people has the opposite effect of what they desire. Carb loading generally starts 2 days before.  Again, this does not give you free rein to go wild with your diet.  Choose wisely and vary the carbs introduced into your body.  They should be included in every meal of the day and make up 85-95% of your calorie intake.  

According to Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D., founder of Nutrition a la Natalie, you should shoot for about 4 grams of carbs for every pound of body weight. Here’s a menu example for the average 150-pound runner:

Breakfast: 1/2 cup dry oats made with 1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk and 1/2 cup water. Top with 1/2 cup mixed berries and 1 tablespoon of nut butter, 1 banana, and pair with 8 ounces of orange juice (125 grams).

Mid-morning snack: 2 Oat and Honey bars and 4 dates (90 grams).

Lunch: Sandwich with 2 slices of white bread, 3 ounces of deli turkey, 1 ounce of swiss cheese, and tomato slices; 1/2 cup of roasted chickpeas; 1 cup of grapes; and pair with 8 ounces of chocolate milk (150 grams).

Mid-afternoon snack: Medium sweet potato (microwaved), topped with cinnamon; 1 ounce of dark chocolate; and pair with 8 ounces of coconut water (80 grams).

Dinner: 1 1/2 cups of cooked white rice; 1 1/2 cups of cooked butternut squash; 4 ounces of grilled chicken; side salad (about 1 to 2 cups of lettuce and veggies combined); and pair with 16 ounces of a sports drink (155 grams).


Carb Total:
600 grams

Another big mistake made by athletes is missing the last carb loading meal…. breakfast the day of the event.  Nerves result in stomach issues for a lot of athletes, so they try to skip out or skimp on race morning fuel. You must give your muscles this last boost of glucose to help you prevent energy lulls, mood swings and obviously fatigue. When you eat a meal high in sugar it releases insulin, which tells the body to start storing glucose for later because it has sugar available for energy at that moment. So your 2 days of carbo-loading is now being stored in your muscles instead of freely available when you start the race.  Aim for 1-3 grams (depending on how far in advance you eat) of high quality carbs, low fat and low fiber – oatmeal with banana or yogurt w/ fruit if you can stomach it.

While I don’t plan on signing up for any marathons or even half marathons anytime soon, I was intrigued by this subject and may incorporate it for my GORUCK events and longer hikes.  Hope this was helpful!



Rachel





Sources:

https://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/a20826888/the-right-way-to-carbo-load-before-a-race/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrate-loading/art-20048518

https://greatist.com/fitness/does-carb-loading-really-work

https://www.runtothefinish.com/7-carbo-loading-mistakes/

https://www.fitnesstipsforlife.com/carbo-loading.html

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Congratulations Armando, Nina, Logan and Cassie!

Our #EatREALFoodNutritionChallenge2019 wrapped up at the beginning of May. This was a 10-week nutrition challenge. The challenge presented our competitors with the ability to eat real food. They were asked to keep to the grocery list, attend classes at least 3-times per week, maintain food journals, attend weekly "support" meetings, share food posts on social media and have measurements completed during specific dates. The end goal for the challenge was to teach our clients "how to" eat real food and keep things simple. A lesson that we have proven to be successful after the formal nutrition challenge has ended.

We measured each competitors body-weight, body-fat percentage and inches. We are old school, and know that body composition must change to yield the greatest results. Our clients that competed did amazing work with life-changes and their results are a representation of their efforts and success. A few clients really stood out and have won the challenge.

Please help us in CONGRATULATING Armando Tellez, Nina Catron, Logan Nelson and Cassie Larsen in their success. The images are in order of clients from left to right.

BODY-FAT PERCENTAGE REDUCED

Armando reduced his body-fat percentage by 8.4%.
Nina reduced her body-fat percentage by 6%.

TOTAL INCHES REDUCED

Logan lost a total of 9.75”.
Cassie lost a total of 9.25”.

Disclaimer: Amanda and Dave May of CrossFit Frederick are not licensed dietitians.

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