Do you limit your own potential?

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“Excuses are lies about your failures to prepare.”

We are all really good at justifying why we did, or didn’t do something. We can validate our own reasons really easily.  Especially for those things in our heart of hearts we really want and know we should do or have done…but didn’t or shouldn’t have.

Making excuses is one of the worst things you can do to your potential and the version of yourself that deserves YOUR BEST.

You’re certainly bringing yourself down but you’re really bringing your potential success down.

Success is built on the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and years of consistent behaviors.

When you make excuses, you’re letting yourself off the hook. Even if you’re telling someone else why you weren’t on time, didn’t get the assignment done, didn’t act the way you should have, you’re really just trying to prove to yourself that it wasn’t your fault so that you don’t feel bad about not doing the thing you should have.

You’re lying to yourself.

Your story may be true. There may have been traffic, maybe your neighbors were throwing a huge party and you couldn’t sleep, maybe your dog really did eat your homework…but the reasons you have excuses is because you didn’t prepare or take action.

Traffic? You should have left earlier.
A loud party, ask them to be quiet. Go stay at a friends. Get noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs.
Dog problems? Put your homework on a high shelf, in your backpack or under your pillow.

Look at your excuses through a different lens and you’ll see the reason you need the excuse is because of you and something that you could have done differently.

Instead of making the excuse and using it to defend yourself, acknowledge what actually happened, allow yourself to be vulnerable, take responsibility and let the experience and feeling of guilt, shame or anger teach the valuable lesson.

Stop limiting your potential.

Take responsibility, accept the growth opportunities and learn from experience.

If there’s something you want to improve and stop making excuses for, set a goal setting session with us to set a plan and start tacking action.

Click above to send as an email and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

The Real Way to Get Results You Want

Align your habits with your desired outcome. 

One underlying (well, not so underlying
because I said it *a lot*) was this…

F&%K PERFECTION

It’s exhausting, it puts us in a state of
zero power in our life because we are
constantly chasing an ideal and it’s just
flat out never going to happen

Think about it logically- what IS perfect?

What does it mean to do something perfectly?
No one even knows…

Look at a baseball player- if they hit well
30% of the time they are considered elite

Far from perfect, wouldn’t you say?

So what does the whole F-perfection thing
mean to you, in your life? It means a few
things:

-focus on being 80-90% compliant, every day

-this is much easier than going 100% and then
10% because you are exhausted -set rules for
your day to help you build upon the habits
you want
-an example of my rules are, I eat a
vegetable with every meal

Now does it happen every day, all the time?
Nope, but it’s set in my daily routine so I
can strive to be compliant every day

Instead of just going “oh, I should eat more
vegetables”

Now I have a tangible thing that I can do
every day and look back to ask myself…did I
do this, yes or no?

No stories, because stories are what distract
us from our situation and our results (more
on this tomorrow)

So where in your life can you say
F-Perfection?

Now remember, I’m not saying you should just
go all crazy and face first into the Ben &
Jerry’s

I’m saying do the small things each day that
lead you to a simple outcome

It takes time, it’s not a black and white
answer and yes, it’s tough

That’s why I ALWAYS recommend having a coach
(even I have one)

Here’s your opportunity to get one too

A little Truth Goes A Long Way

A little Truth Goes A Long Way

I’ve always valued people that spoke directly to me. Told me the way it was. Didn’t dance around important subjects and got to the point.

We both know that it’s not usually the fun, nice and positive things that people are indirect about. “Great job on that project, your presentation was amazing!” But if it didn’t go so great “It was pretty good (awkward smile), I really liked the part with the graph.”

If someone knows how to give proper feedback they will layer in the needed info to make whatever it is, better while also pointing out what went right.

But most often, no one wants to tell someone they are doing poorly. It sucks to be told that you’re not doing so good. But sometimes, it’s the best thing and what’s needed at the time. An eye opener.

Eye openers, turning points, landmark events, whatever you want to call them, can be life changing and show up in many different forms. But there’s usually a lot of the same stories.

“I was really overweight, had trouble sleeping, my doctor said I could die early and when they said that I knew I had to change my life.”
“I wasn’t staying on track with my nutrition and when my significant other told me that they weren’t happy about it, I knew I had to do something about it.”

A little truth can go a long way. 

What truth do you know, that you’re not paying attention to? What truth do you need to hear? What’s going to give you that turning point?

Are you following through on your promises to others? To yourself?
Are you giving your best effort at work?
Are you eating healthy? Working out? Taking care of your body the way you want and know you should?
Are you making the financial decisions that will help your future?
Are you setting yourself up for success in life?

Hearing that truth may provide you with the spark you need. But it’s not where the change ends. Now you need accountability. Someone to be there will you helping you steer the ship and keep it pointed forward.

That’s where we come in. We’ve been there before. We’ve had life changing moments. We’ve faced our truths and know that there are many bumpy seas to navigate. You don’t have to go at it alone.
A strong mindset and team around you can make the difference between a sinking ship and a successful journey.
If there are some truths you’re ready to face and overcome, email us below and tell us. We’ll get back to you ASAP.

The Punishment Diet

The Punishment Diet

Getting lean and burning fat is hard.

You’ll have to suffer to get it.

It won’t be fun.

You’ll only be able to eat a few foods.

Go out to eat? Don’t even think about it.

Didn’t I tell you that you were going to have to suffer?

You will be hungry.

You will be tired.

Your workouts will suck.

You deserve to suffer if you want to look good.

Suffering through your diet leads to feeling proud and fulfilled when you get the result.

You’ll only be able to sustain it for a month or two but then you’ll hate your diet so much you’ll give up.

You’ve heard and thought those type of things about diets.
You may even think that some of those are actually true. If that’s you, I’ve got good news; you’ve been lied to.

If you believe that to burn fat, lose weight or maintain what you have, that you have to suffer, whoever was your tour guide along the learning trail for fat burning went the wrong way, they zigged when they should have zagged.

But it’s actually a bit normal to think that you have to suffer to get results. Here’s why:

We have been programmed to value “the grind” and struggle.
We’ve heard that struggles make you stronger.
We’ve heard that suffering for a greater good is noble. That it’s a modest endeavor.
We’ve heard that to get what you want, it won’t come easily and you’re going to have to work hard for it.

You’re hardwired, not by actual science but by other peoples thoughts and feelings, to think that getting the body and abilities you want is going to be really hard.

It can’t be that easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it…right?
Wrong.

Look at this picture.

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To get from left to right, I had to eat MORE food than I ever, and I leaned out.

This happens ALL THE TIME. People are shocked that they get the results they do, but they do!

Other people believe that it’s hard. Other people believe that they’ll have to suffer. They don’t know the SIMPLE secret.

Is it actually hard or are you making it hard? The diets of suffering and punishing yourself with food guilt and huge calorie restriction only end up hurting you more down the road. (Lower metabolism, hormone imbalances, fat gain and muscle loss.)

Workout more isn’t the answer. Cutting calories isn’t the answer.

Consistency and compliance to the right system is. And I’m telling you, this system is awesome.

You don’t have to punish yourself. If you’re following the right plan and changes are happening, just keep following it!

I'm just like you. I've followed plans and done tons of "diets" but when I was serious about changing my body and after the first week, when I didn’t see the results I ultimately wanted, I thought that it had to be a problem with the diet. That it didn’t work for me. But I continued none the less. If you’re on the right system, you’ve got to be consistent and patient
Stay the course and follow the plan.

You don’t have to suffer.
It doesn’t have to be hard.
Stop following the wrong guide in the world of burning fat.
If you want to learn how, email us.

Tell us you’re ready for a change and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

Why Is It So Hard to Change Our Habits?

Photo credit: Brett Friel

Photo credit: Brett Friel

Changing any habit is challenging.

Working out more times per week. Quitting biting our nails, snacking at night, or smoking. Going to bed earlier. Looking at social media less. Planning our food ahead of time. Saying yes too much. Avoiding procrastination.

Why is it so hard to simply make good decisions for ourselves each day? These are things that we want to do, right?!

Step One

First, we have to understand why we developed those habits in the first place:

Every habit we have served a purpose for us at some point in time. Most "bad" habits are developed as stress relief, and at some point in time, they worked. Now, for whatever reason, they don't work for us anymore, or we're experiencing negative consequences (gaining weight, losing quality sleep or self-care time, comparing our lives to everyone else's, adding too much to our plates), and this is when we decide enough is enough. 

So, ask yourself, how did the habit you want to change serve you before? What need was it filling?

I guarantee you that without understanding WHY this habit persists, you will fail to break it. 

And this has to do with our next step, which is understanding the way that learning works.

Step Two

Each time we do something, our brain creates a neurological connection. When we repeat a habit or a movement, our brain coats that connection with a substance called myelin. Every coating of myelin allows the signals from the brain to fire faster and faster, until things like walking, driving, and typing feel second nature compared to when we first learned them. 

Habits are learned behaviors, just like walking and driving, and the neurological connections that reinforce habits are just as quick to fire as those that allow you to walk without stumbling. Have you ever found yourself hitting the snooze button without thinking about it when you intended to get up early, or with a cookie in your mouth when you've been cutting out sugar, and then realizing that you did the thing you were trying to avoid doing? That's myelination in action. It turns our conscious actions into subconscious ones. 

Now that we understand our habits are filling a subconscious need, we can get to a fantastic metaphor from my mindset coach, Tom Foxley: a meadow. 

The Meadow

Imagine that you live in a house that sits on the edge of a meadow, and you must visit a well and bring water back to your home. You've trod the path through the meadow now for months, and while the meadow is thriving with tall grasses, brambles, flowers, and wildlife, the path you've walked from your home to the well and back again is clear. 

This path is a habit you've formed, and the well you're drawing from is the need it's filling.

All good stories contain conflict, so here it is: you've discovered that the well you've been drawing from has gone dry. There's no water left in it, but you need water, and so, you must now forge a new path from your home to a different well. Here's the problem: the meadow is so thick and lush that it feels nearly impossible to wade through it to get to another water source. Where before you had a clear walk, you're now fighting through thorns, weeds, and roots to get to this new well. 

Inevitably, the trek is so taxing that temptation arises: what if there's more water in that old well again? Maybe I should walk down there and check it, just to see. The path is clear, it won't take long. 

And before you know it, you're biting your nails, snacking at night, smoking a cigarette, checking Instagram, or procrastinating again. 

You can't fill your buckets at the old well. It's dry. You have to find a new well, and remind yourself over and over again that the first well is dry. 

Step Three

This is the final step: we must find a new source of water for our home--we have to replace the old habit with a new one.

Lots of people skip the previous steps and jump right to replacing the habit. I said before that changing habits requires understanding what need the habit filled, and this is why: if we built the habit to maintain our social life, if we built it to avoid confrontation, or if we built it to relieve stress, the replacement must serve that need as well. If it doesn't, the habit will not stick. Walking to that well and checking for water is preferable to our brains than staying at home with no water.

It is challenging to change our habits: our neurology is set up to make as much as possible subconscious so that we can devote our conscious mind to staying alive. In order to change a habit, we must understand what need that habit fills for us. We must recognize that habits are subsciously filling that need and we must replace the old habit with a new one that still fills the need. 

Think about a habit of yours that you'd like to change. Why does it exist and what can you replace it with that will meet that need? 

Courage to Confidence

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When I dislocated my shoulder in 2012, my first thought was to get surgery as quick as possible and get back to snatching and doing muscle ups. 
Some may call that crazy, but it was just my desire. I wanted it. I was confident I could get back to doing the things that brought me happiness. 

But that confidence and being able to do those things didn't come naturally or easily. At first I couldn't do them and wasn't confident with them. But confidence doesn't come first, courage does. 

Gaining confidence in movements like the snatch, clean and jerk, kipping pull-up or any other complex movement first comes from you being courageous enough to try it. 

You did that when you first walked through the door, and when you first joined. When movements were completely new and foreign to you. When it took baby steps to just learn how to jump, kip swing, or partially squat. You had enough courage to come through the doors and learn. 

That was the first step to confidence.

The second step is repetition. Be courageous over and over and over again. Over time it will take less courage to do the same thing - confidence can build and take over. 

This is where you feel comfortable, capable and successful. 

However, even with repetition, you may not gain complete confidence. 
How do the people that make it look easy, that do the most challenging movements, and that are constantly improving, do it? 

They want it and own it. 
They own their decision to be courageous and try, and try and try. 
And it's through that trying that confidence builds and improvements happen. 
But if you never own it,  if you never step into confidence, you'll never be confident.

The opportunities that test your courage are the same that will build confidence. They are constantly coming at you. Opportunities to take a chance, attempt something you haven't before and do something you never have (of course that are safe for you to try.) 
Your decision to try is what will build your confidence and abilities to new heights, or leave you having to try and just be courageous. 

No one can be courageous or confident for you. They can encourage, provide opportunity, even provoke, but ultimately it's on you. You have to decide if you are going to be tenacious in the pursuit of your goals. You aren't in the back seat of your life. You're the driver. Your the one that determines your direction. 

Wherever you know you need to be courageous, be it.
Try. 
Without judgement or complaining, just give your best effort. 
When an opportunity comes to try something new, do a little more, work a little harder, or step up and do the challenging thing, do it with eagerness. 

Courage may be what you need now, and confidence is what you will get. 

Fittest by 40 - Leslie's Challenge

Leslie on top of Mt. Washington

Leslie on top of Mt. Washington

Many of us know that there is a stigma when it comes to aging and physical fitness. 

"It's all downhill from here!"
"I'm too old for ______!"
"It's too late for me."

One of our athletes, Leslie, took on a special challenge when she turned 39. She called it Fittest by 40, and she employed the support of the coaches and the community at CFCL to accomplish a list of goals that would make her the fittest she had ever been. 

Tell us about your Fittest by Forty challenge.

About five years ago, I made the decision to turn my life around and get committed to a healthier lifestyle; cue: my introduction to CrossFit. As I think back to those first days, I recall struggling to even make it through the warm-up. I was extremely out of shape and incredibly insecure, but I had promised myself I wouldn't break my commitment, so I (thankfully) stuck it out.

Over the years I made significant progress, but on my 39th birthday, I realized I had become complacent. I had no doubt I was working hard, but I knew I was capable of more and just wasn't pushing myself as it was out of my comfort zone. I was hungry for a challenge. Knowing the next birthday was a big birthday, I decided I wanted to be the fittest I've ever been before that day rolled around. I also decided "fittest" was too subjective and too vague, so I figured it made the most sense to create a list of goals (17 of them!) to use as a benchmark along the way and to help me keep objective accountability. And then I posted it on Facebook for ultimate accountability - giving myself exactly one year (my 40th birthday) to accomplish the list.  

What inspired you to take on the challenge?

Honestly, the day I turned 39, I felt immediate dread about what was going to happen on the same day 12 months later; 40 was just (really) tough to swallow. Since I had been spending time working on understanding the power and impact of reframing your thoughts, perceptions and attitudes, I wondered, "What if I take complete control of this dread, flip my mindset, and turn this into something positive instead?" And thus the "Fittest by 40" challenge was born. I wanted the obvious benefits that come along with increased fitness, but I also wanted to work hard for something, to feel good about about something, and to stare my fear straight in the eye.

Leslie at a competition. 

Leslie at a competition. 

How did you choose what to do? 

To begin, I had a meeting with Coach Mat. We spent about an hour talking about not only WHAT I wanted to accomplish, but he also had me explore the WHY behind each task, which ended up being the more important piece because those reasons became the driving force when the training got really hard or when the doubts crept (or stormed) in. I wanted my list of goals to include some of the obvious gym stuff (i.e. hit personal records on certain lifts, hold a plank for 3 minutes, do full-form push ups, etc.), but I also wanted some of my goals to include experiences. After all, the whole point of CrossFit is to prepare your body for life outside of the gym ("functional fitness"), so it only made sense to put that to the test and include those type of activities (i.e. run a 10K, run the full Harvard stadium steps, climb Mt. Washington(!), etc.) on the goal list. I also included some items, like participate in my first competition, because I knew I had a huge fear of failure and a huge fear of being out of my comfort zone that needed to be addressed. Both Coach Mat and Coach Dan helped me figure out the specifics of all the benchmarks, and we made those decisions by figuring out what would be very challenging to achieve but within the realm of possibility if I spent the whole year training hard. The last factor that went into deciding what to put on the list was that I wanted to have fun (i.e. a Spartan race!).

Finished the 10K. 

Finished the 10K. 

What were the biggest "reaches"? 

Haha - when I sat down to answer this question, this was my thought process: "Oh, it was definitely.... no wait, it was definitely... actually no, it was..." and then I realized I had gone through the majority of my list in this manner, so I guess most of the tasks would be considered big "reaches" when I began this journey; there wasn't one item on there that I wasn't skeptical of achieving. However, I think I would put climbing Mt. Washington as the biggest reach, which it proved to be. That was the big one - I had no idea if I could do it, but I was determined as heck. 

Talk to us about fear. How did fear play a role in this journey, before you started, during, and after. What did you learn about fear? 

Oh, this whole idea was built on fear. I had a fear of turning 40, I had a fear of not being good enough, and I had a fear of failure. But I had two choices: succumb to it or face it head on. Throughout the process, those fears absolutely existed (old habits die hard), and they still exist today, but I now cope with them in new ways. I learned that my fear of turning 40 could be swapped out for gratitude (I'm healthy, I'm happy, and I'm alive!). I learned that my fear of not being good enough was completely self-imposed and that constant comparison to others no longer needs to be my barometer. And finally, I learned that fear of failure (which is so, so deeply rooted) is ok (and common) to have, but now instead of letting it dictate what I do/don't do, I just focus on having an awareness of its existence, and I accept it and challenge myself to push through anyway. 

What were the Top 3 highlights?

1) Reaching the top of Mt. Washington. Going into it I knew it was going be incredibly difficult, but it turned out to be even harder than I ever could have imagined. My brother hit the nail on the head when he said, "Physical fitness will get you to the base of the ravine (4500ft); mental fitness will get you to the summit (6200ft)." To this day, I have never challenged myself both physically and mentally as much as I did when I climbed that beast. When I say it took everything in me to make it, I mean EVERYTHING. Thankfully, my dear friend, Grace, stood (climbed) by my side every step of the way. Taking the final steps to reach the top was indescribable... and the tears just poured out.

2) Hitting my snatch goal... with only two days left to spare before my deadline! That lift became my nemesis. It's so technical, but what proved to be most challenging was getting out of my own darn head. After months and months of working on it,  I knew I had the technique, I knew I had the strength, but as soon as I was aware of the weight on the bar, my crazy head took over and I would "miss" the lift even before I picked up the bar. Eventually we found a workaround and decided I would start doing blind lifts; weight would be put on the bar but I wouldn't know what it was, I would just do the lift without looking ahead of time or doing the math. And sure enough, two days before my birthday, Coach Cassi jumped up and down and ran over to hug me and tell me that I met my goal. Another moment I will never forget.

3) Hands down - the overwhelming support I received. I don't think the CFCL community will ever know how much they contributed to me reaching my goals and how grateful I am to be part of something so awesome. Over the span of a year, there wasn't a day that went by that someone didn't help push me along in this journey. From quick check-ins to see how it was going, to long talks in the locker room when I had self-doubt, to excitedly offering to join in on an activity, to keeping me company during some extra lifting, to sticking around to hold some planks with me, to whatever...  and I almost never had to ask; they just showed up. Additionally, having the support of all of the coaches, especially during the endless hours spent with Coach Dan and Coach Cassi (my "Dream Team") who pushed me when I needed to be pushed, and who believed in me enough until I could believe in myself. To say the CFCL community is amazing is a bold understatement. 

Leslie and Grace P. post-Spartan race. 

Leslie and Grace P. post-Spartan race. 

What do you want to tell people who are turning forty (or any age!), who may feel that their peak physical years are behind them? 

First, that may not be true (see: me). Second, even if it is, it is irrelevant. What matters most is what you do today. You have a lot of life left to live, and every day you put in the work to take care of your mind and your body, you give yourself an advantage. Recently, I was having a conversation with someone who is in his 70s. He was reflecting on his past and telling a story about how he used to sail boats. In the middle of his story, he said, "But then I turned 40 and, well, you're that age so you know, everything goes down hill from there." And I just happily thought to myself, "No, sir - I'm just getting started."

Final thoughts?

I went into this with a goal of improving my fitness, but what I got what was so much more. The hard work and training may have happened at the gym, but the rewards were reaped in all aspects of my life. At the end of my year-long challenge, a good friend of mine who has known me for years, Gretchen, commented on my list of achieved of goals: "The thing this list doesn't show is how confident you've become over the last year. It's noticeable, inspiring, and so impressive." That increased confidence, something I have struggled with my entire life, is a direct result of this experience, and something that has translated far beyond barbell. 

I am happier. I am healthier. And I am forever grateful.

To Eat or Not To Eat: Before Your Workout

With any change in nutrition whether it's taking something out, or putting something into the diet, time is the most important factor. You must give your body enough time to adjust and then determine if it's right for you. 

Typically, people will adjust their diet and after a few days, if they feel worse, they bail out on the change. Example, removing caffeine. Many people have headaches and low energy for a few days. The body was so dependent on it, when it was removed it freaked out. But clarity and energy will come. It takes a little time to adjust. For many, after a week or so that starts to change and they feel great.

This applies to what to eat and when, around your workouts. Whatever you choose to do or not do, give it time, at least 3 weeks before adjusting. 

With this in mind, here are some considerations for what before your workout. 
 
IF YOU WORKOUT BEFORE YOUR FIRST MEAL OF THE DAY
Many people don't like the feeling of food in their stomach as they workout. If that's you and there's not more than 30 minutes between eating and the workout, try not eating. 
If you feel lightheaded or no low energy, this may be part of the initial change of not eating before a workout. You may need to reduce intensity for a period while adjusting. If it persists, go back to eating something. 

If you want to eat here are a few suggestions

  • Hard Boiled Egg
  • Small bit of banana and almond butter
  • Small handful of nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts) 
  • Small handful of berries 
  • Small bite of protein (chicken, turkey slices, steak)

Try different foods until you find one that sits well in your stomach and you feel energy from. Play with combining a little of each, some protein and a little fruit. It may give you what you need. 

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IF YOU WORKOUT AFTER YOUR FIRST MEAL
If your workout is after your first or multiple meals, try leaving 1-1.5 hours between a meal or snack and workout. If you still feel full, leave 1.5-2 hours. 
Leaving longer than 3 hours may lead to loss of energy and be less than ideal. 

"Should I have a meal or snack before my workout?"
The more time there is between the eat and workout, the more of a regular sized meal you should have. 
"What should I have?"
Longer between eat and workout, have protein, carbs and fat. A normal sized balanced meal.

What are protein carbs and fat? Click here to download a great infographic!

If you have less time, a smaller amount of carbs can provide a little needed energy. 

"What about pre workout?"
Pre workout is a supplement that usually has some caffeine to provide energy. This can be a fine supplement if you are looking for an energy boost. There are hundreds of different pre workouts sold and the only one we recommend is made by Ascent. It's a clean product meaning it doesn't have a huge ingredient list of things that are chemicals and dye colorings to give it a specific color or taste. We trust this brand over every other pre workout brand.
It is available for purchase here at CrossFit City Line. 

What you eat before your workout should give you energy and fuel to feel like you can get after the days workout without being bogged down. 

You are your best test subject and should treat eating or not eating like a lab project. Try something, give it time and see how your body reacts not on day 1 or day 5, but after 3 weeks to allow your body to adjust and show you whether to continue it or not. 

 

CrossFit Your Life

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-by Andrea Volpe

One of the reasons I love CrossFit is that I love physical challenges. Once a midfielder, always a midfielder--I love long, endurance workouts that remind me of the challenge and camaraderie of soccer practice. Give me a 40-minute time cap, and I’m happy.

But it’s not just about what happens during the WOD. It’s about the entire framework that CrossFit offers: the minute I walk into the gym, I know what is expected of me, and I’m able to focus on what is being asked of me for the next 60 minutes: single-minded attention to the task at hand, determination, and follow-through.

Coaches and programming do a lot of the work for us by defining the task and helping us accomplish it, but as we develop, what we can do for ourselves changes. We know from our log books what weight we should be lifting, we post our goals and PRs, and our progress is measurable.

CrossFit has made me physically stronger and more fit. It's also made me more generous, with myself and others. The strength I need to handle life outside of the gym comes from a better place—the resilience I can call up in stressful moments is more optimistic. I've surprised myself with what I can accomplish.

Once I started to notice what CrossFit was doing for my physical and emotional resilience, I started to think about how the CrossFit framework could be applied outside of the gym to help me progress in other parts of my life.  I call this CrossFitting my life.  Here’s how it works:

·      Set a goal. This goal should slightly or really scare you.
·      Then tell someone.
·      Create work habits that will allow you to accomplish your goal. It’s so boring, I know. But it’s all about the habit.  Research says it takes 3 weeks to set up a new habit, so schedule the new habit like you do going to the gym to help it stick. You have a set time for working out, whether it's 6:30am or 7:00 pm. Do the same for your non-gym habit.
·      Identify the skills you need to reach the goal, and then acquire them. If you want to do something you can’t do, whether it’s a pull-up or writing a novel, then you have to get the skills you need to do it. Take a class. Get a coach. Google it and teach yourself.
·      Scale your skill work. Ask yourself, what is the 3 x10 Bulgarian split squat-equivalent for what I want to accomplish? Do that. On the same schedule you go to the gym.  
·      Then show up for yourself. I don’t think twice about what it takes for me to get the gym 5x a week. I make this happen without doubting anything about it. If I have that kind of discipline for CrossFit, then what else can I summon with it?
·      Find (or create) a community.  Surround yourself with good people who share your interests.  Work on your goal with them. Find a colleague to go to that professional development conference with you.  Meet at a coffee shop with a friend to revise your LinkedIn profile. Find a class on EdX.
·      Don’t leave anything in the tank. Once you’ve broken your goal into incremental pieces, and you’ve identified the habits you need to reach it, do your best work. Whatever those tasks are, like a WOD, it’s time limited, so give it everything when you are in it.
·      Log your work. Seriously. We know PRs come from incremental work over time. The rest of our lives and goals aren’t that different.
·      Give yourself credit. At CFCL, we track goals, PRs, and WODs every month. Do the same for your out-of-the-box goal. Track your non-CrossFit PRs on a real or metaphorical White Board of your own.
·      Notice your mindset. Be honest with yourself about what is holding you back. Because there will be something.  The fix is not glamorous: go back to habits and set them up to support the goal.  It’s also probably about taking the time for the self-talk to confront what you’re afraid of might happen if you actually do reach for what you want.

There is one final CrossFit truth to speak: all or some of this will be uncomfortable. But it’s finding out where you’re uncomfortable that will unlock results. When I’m in the midst of a difficult WOD (those short met-cons are my nemesis), I say to myself, “I can do anything for a minute.” And if I can do bar-over-burpees for a minute, then really, sitting at my desk to write what I want to write should not be that hard. Even though right now it is.

Here’s my goal: by August, I want to have created a writing practice where I am writing for an hour each morning 5x a week. The first step actually has nothing to do with writing. It's about having the focus, and caring enough about the work, to be prepared to do it. For that, I have set a new bed time so I can i wake up early and show up for myself.

What about you?

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A little more about Andrea: My athletic journey starts in 7th grade, when my English teacher (who happened to be a phenomenal racquetball coach), suggested I get out of my head and onto a court or field (I was reading too much Emily Dickinson). Since then books and sports have been my thing. In the '80s I played Div. III soccer on a team that was created as the result of a Title IX lawsuit to establish equity in athletics. Later, I earned a PhD in history, which requires the mindset of solitary distance training while thinking and writing. These days I split my time between writing, running my own strategic communications/writing coaching practice and running the postdoctoral program Harvard’s humanities center. I love museums, photography, travel and teaching myself how to do new things. 

How to Build Intensity Tolerance

-by Coach Rachel Binette

In classes on Friday, we performed “White Lightning," a workout with a target of sub 10:00. Very low skill, this workout tested our ability to push hard through the 50 burpees at the end.

This is a workout that tests what is called Intensity Tolerance. This month, your opportunities for improving this benchmark WOD are: improving your DU/rowing/burpee efficiency and building your Intensity Tolerance. 

Intensity Tolerance is the ability to keep pushing through a workout when we have reached extreme discomfort--this is not a physical skill, but a mental skill, and like all skills, it can be practiced. 

Step 1

The first step to building Intensity Tolerance is to familiarize ourselves with it. This is a simple workout that can be performed at any time, and will definitely familiarize you with intensity.

AMRAP 5 Sled Push Sprints with 75% bodyweight

The beauty of this workout is that you will not miss a sled push. You will be able to run--it will just be very uncomfortable--exactly what we are looking for. 

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Step 2

Once we’ve experienced intensity, we can begin to unravel the thought processes that are triggered by experiencing discomfort. The next step in building Intensity Tolerance is to recognize what our particular thought patterns and behaviors are when intensity occurs.

Note what movements/WOD types (AMRAP or For Time/lots of rounds/high reps/low reps) trigger what thoughts. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a sample of the most common ones I hear from mindset clients.

Comparisons

Thoughts: Everyone is faster/better/stronger. I’m slow/weak.
Possible emotions: Shame, embarrassment, despair.

Uncontrollables

Thoughts: If I had more space…, If the weather were cooler/warmer…, If we hadn’t squatted yesterday...
Possible emotions: Frustration, anger, resentment, resignation.

Physical Hypersensitivity

Thoughts: “My legs/arms hurt/burn," “I can’t breathe,” “I have to stop.”
Possible emotions: Fear

Not Meeting Self-Imposed Expectations

Thoughts: “I should be faster than him/her,” “I should be able to do this weight”
Possible emotions: Frustration, anger, despair.

Behaviors in relation to intensity tolerance:

-Making excuses--”well, I didn’t sleep well last night, so it’s Ok that I go easy”
-Cutting reps.
-Overpacing, slowing down.
-Overmodifying--always finishing among the first in the class.
-Cherry picking workouts.
-Making up for perceived shortcomings by training more frequently or by taking a “punishment” attitude towards training.
-Imposter syndrome.

For Step 2, take one week of workouts and write down what words/phrases/thoughts, images, emotions, and behaviors occurred.

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Step 3

The last step in building intensity tolerance is not what you may think it is.

Many of us know that thinking about uncontrollables or fearing being last in the class are ineffective thoughts. We’ve been taught to self-correct: to speak back to ourselves, to “toughen up" or "shut it down." 

If that worked, then you wouldn’t have read this far.

In reality, telling ourselves to “toughen up” is the equivalent of emotional suppression. It is brushing very real thoughts and emotions under the rug and hoping that they don’t come back--and we all know that they do come back.

Step 3 is not so simple as telling yourself the opposite of what you’re thinking. Positivity is not magical fairy dust, although it, too, is a skill worth building.

Step 3 is to understand why you are thinking that way.

An exercise to begin unteasing this is one that I call AMWAP--as many words as possible in 2:00. Begin with the thoughts or emotions that occurred during a workout, set a clock for 2:00 and don’t stop writing until the timer goes off. This is unadulterated, unfiltered inner monologue time--avoid the temptation to self-correct.

In really listening to what is going on in your subconscious, aka your mindset, you’ll be able to reveal where your behaviors stem from, and it is then and only then that you'll have the power to change the story.

Taking Care of Your Hands

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Alternate title: Stop the Carnage!

Calluses are necessary to our hand health. The repeated friction of holding a barbell or hanging from the pull-up rig causes dead skin cells to build up at the contact points, protecting the living skin of our hands. Remember when you first started to CrossFit and your hands hurt just from holding the pull-up bar for a few seconds? Now that you have calluses, your hands are protected.

But, calluses that become too large are at risk of ripping off as we work out. Ouch! This impacts workouts for days after, sometimes longer.

Hand Tear Prevention

1) Trim your calluses. Yes, right along with your regular grooming habits, this is something you do now. Using a safety razor, a pumice stone, or nail clippers, shave or scrub calluses so that they are nearly flat with the rest of the surface of your hand. This is painless–a callus is dead skin, so there are no nerve endings that will feel pain.

2) Use moisturizer. Frequently. The more dry your hand skin becomes, the more prone to tears you will be, especially if you are a real chalk monster: chalk dries hands out a lot. Use moisturizer after washing your hands and after shaving your calluses.

3) Tearing in the middle of your hands? Practice squeezing the rig, kettlebells, and weights with only as much force as you need to control where you or the weight are moving. Over-gripping is what causes mid-hand tears.

4) Find a great pair of grips. Grips are what gymnasts use to prevent hand tears and to improve their grip on whatever apparatus they are performing on. Victory and Bear Komplex are two popular brands.

Did you tear? It’s Ok. Here’s how to heal it up as quickly as possible.

1) Recognize that a tear is an injury. Plan to modify workouts to let it heal. Competition coming up? That’s a time to try as best you can to prevent tears–they will impact your performance.

2) Rinse the tear. I’m not going to lie to you, this is pretty painful. (I find it helps to start screaming before the water touches the open wound.) Washing the wound prevents infections and facilitates faster healing.

3) Cut off skin flaps. Leaving the flap risks accidentally tearing more of the callus off–no fun. Use a pair of nail scissors or your teeth–the skin being cut is dead, so this is painless. A super gym friend or a coach will be happy to help you.

4) Treat the wound. There are many products out there that are specifically made to treat hand tears. Choose something that you’d be comfortable with ending up in your bloodstream. I like WOD Repair Lotion. These products can be applied in open wounds and help them to heal quickly.

5) Protect the wound. There is some debate around how to protect hand tears. To bandage or not to bandage?

Here’s my opinion, based on my own experience with hand tears. When tears are bandaged, they stay wet and take a long time to scab and heal. They also stay clean. So, I bandage when I know I’m going to be holding weight in my hands (or high-fiving athletes), and I leave the bandage off otherwise to let the wound dry out as much as possible.

Now you know how to take care of your mitts and keep them in tiptop shape for working out!

Fitness ROI

How to Maximize your Fitness ROI 

-by Coach Mat

ROI is Return On Investment. We want a high return for any investment we make. We don't put money into the stock market to watch it lose value or stay the same. We should get a return, an improvement. The same goes for our fitness. We wake up early and move things around in our schedule to get to the gym, say no thanks to happy hour and fried food and we work our butts off at every workout. We should see a positive, long-term return in our fitness.

Simply by doing CrossFit, we're already maximizing our return on time spent in the gym. CrossFit is the most efficient and effective fitness program. We’ll achieve maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort, time or expense. That's a great start to maximizing our ROI on our time. 

But how often do we need CrossFit to see results?
What if we do other workouts and mix CrossFit in?
When we “do CrossFit” doesn't that mean we should see results?

In this article series we’ll show you how to maximize your fitness ROI by adjusting the most important factors next to what workout you're doing, workout frequency and nutrition. 
We'll look at the typical initial and long term results vs. training frequency vs. nutrition and the impact they have on our ROI. 

Let’s first define “results”.
Burn fat, build lean muscle, look better, do better in (and out of) the gym and have better biomarkers like blood pressure, resting heart rate etc. These are the results we're talking about and they are called...fitness. We're not talking just about a better looking body. We can have a good looking body but unhealthy biomarkers or poor performance. Health and fitness are intertwined, not mutually exclusive. By improving fitness, body composition will also improve. 

"Results" also include getting better at specific things like pull-ups, toes to bar and handstand push ups. Improving form and technique for cleans and snatches (which will allow us to improve rapidly!) and feeling more comfortable with the program will allow us to go faster, heavier, do new exercises and, get better results.

Below is Table 1. We’re assuming an individual has been doing CrossFit for longer than 4 months. Why? For most athletes who start CrossFit, results come more quickly based off of the training being new. Imagine waking up 2 hours earlier than you do now. It’d be a shock for a little while, but then your body would get used to it. This is the same principle; it's called accommodation. Many people find that when they start CrossFit, their body is shocked and produces results quickly. Over time their body becomes used to it and accommodates. (This phenomenon is also called "newbie gains.") It's our goal to maximize your ROI for the long haul. 

If you are just getting started, you can improve your ROR (rate of return, how fast you see results) by following the same guidance. You’ll get better results, faster!

Table 1
Assumptions and Notes for Table 1
Assumption/Note 1: Athlete has 4+ months of CrossFit Experience.
Assumption/Note 2: Each individual is different. Favorable and unfavorable results are not rules, guaranteed or promised. Some may have constant improvement with fewer training days. Many will not.

*The Standard Western Diet is roughly 50% carbohydrates, 35% fat, 15% protein.    **Doing ”other workouts” will improve your ability in that specific area. If you run, your running in CrossFit workouts may feel better. If you do yoga, you may feel more flexible. If you do a double-under workout every week, you’ll get better at double-unders. Specific training will lead to that specific area improvement.  ***The likelihood of plateauing is much higher if there are no nutritional changes being made.

*The Standard Western Diet is roughly 50% carbohydrates, 35% fat, 15% protein.  

**Doing ”other workouts” will improve your ability in that specific area. If you run, your running in CrossFit workouts may feel better. If you do yoga, you may feel more flexible. If you do a double-under workout every week, you’ll get better at double-unders. Specific training will lead to that specific area improvement.

***The likelihood of plateauing is much higher if there are no nutritional changes being made.

What does this mean?

  1. By simply doing CrossFit or challenging ourselves progressively during our workouts, we may see an initial positive result, but long term, it may not stick.
  2. It is a steep uphill battle to get the results we want without a nutrition plan, even if we train really hard.  
  3. For many people, doing 3 workouts/week won’t make big improvements. It will maintain their current state.
  4. For many people, 4-5 CrossFit workouts/week, without any nutrition improvements, could lead to initial improvements, but not the major improvements that would come with an improved nutrition plan. 
  5. If you feel that you train frequently and "should" see results, review your actual attendance per week and nutritional choices.
  6. There is such a thing as "too much". When we train too frequently at high intensity, our bodies may not get enough time to recover. Recovery is essential for results. Recovery includes sleep, hydration, mental restoration, stretching and soft tissue work, and proper nutrition. 

Check back for Part 2, where we'll show you what the results table looks like when nutrition comes into play and how you can maximize your ROI on all of your fitness efforts. 

Fitness ROI Part 2

How to Maximize Your Fitness ROI - Part 2

There are three important factors that go into maximizing the return on investment that we make into our health and fitness: efficiency of the program, number of training sessions per week, and most importantly, our nutritional plan. 

In Part One of this series, we looked at what the return on investment would be from doing 1-7 workouts per week and eating a standard nutrition plan. We also assumed that all workouts were CrossFit, the most efficient fitness program.

The end results: when eating a standard nutrition plan, even if we train really hard and work out a lot, lasting favorable results are not seen often. Initially, we may see some favorable results, but do not continue to see ongoing improvements.  In fact, regression often follows the initial improvements. More simply, improvements can be made quickly, but they don't stick around long. 

So what do we need to do to maximize improvements and earn results that stick? 

Check out the table below.

Table 2
Assumptions and Notes for Table 2
Assumption/Note 1: Athlete has 4+ months of CrossFit Experience.
Assumption/Note 2: Each individual is different. Favorable and unfavorable results are not rules, guaranteed or promised. Some may have constant improvement with fewer training days. Many will not.

*Whole Foods, Macros nutrition plans are roughly 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat

*Whole Foods, Macros nutrition plans are roughly 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat

What does this mean?
Following a whole foods and/or macros nutrition plan will yield a far better short- and long-term return and will be amplified with consistent exercise. 

  1. Simply by doing CrossFit, challenging ourselves and eating well, we can have small improvements that last. This may be getting a little better at running and push-ups, lifting around the same weights and our clothes fitting just a little better. Minimal results are better than no results. But I know that's not what you're looking for. 
  2. For many people, doing 4-5 workouts per week will maximize ROI; get results and keep them for the long haul. (Keep in mind assumption #2.) This may be improved endurance, strength and flexibility (to name a few), the ability to do skills that once seemed extremely difficult or impossible are now ones that you're able to do. Clothes fit better and keep fitting better. Friends, coworkers and family start taking notice. Health and fitness has definitely improved. 
  3. For many people, doing 3 workouts/week consistently is a good place to start. There may be short term improvements and maintenance of those improvements, however it may not yield long-term consistent improvement. Moderate improvements would be breathing easier during workouts, lifting a little bit heavier and a little bit of weight loss and clothes fitting a little better. It's progress, which feels good, but it may feel like it's happening very slowly, and at some point it may not feel like it's happening anymore.

Many long time CrossFitters who have had varying schedules, some months with 3 workouts/week, others with 4-5 workouts/week have said that 3x/week CrossFitting is maintenance and 4-5x/week is when results and improvement happen.

Summary

To maximize Return On Investment, do three things: 

  • Eat foods that will get favorable results fastest, 
  • Perform the most efficient fitness program (CrossFit), and
  • Train consistently (3-5 days/week)

Success and Responsibility

Successful people, in any arena of life, but especially health, fitness and nutrition, are the ones who take responsibility.

Responsibility is the understanding that you are the reason for your current position (and your past AND future too). Your successes and failures. Wins and losses.

You are the source of what you are, have and do.

Responsibility is you accepting the phrase “if it’s going to be it’s up to me .”

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It’s not burden, fault, blame, complaining, guilt or even credit. Those would include judgement. Responsibility is ownership not judgment.

Taking responsibility is pure freedom. Instead of what’s happening to you, it’s just what’s happening, you ultimately have the choice on any matter your in.

Accepting this is only to your benefit. The realization and acceptance that you always have a choice and no one makes choices for you except you provides a strong foundation based on principle not feeling or judgement.

It’s you, owning your life; and there’s nothing more powerful than that.