Ask the Coaches: How do you Increase Endurance?

Question: How does one increase endurance? I feel like I start AMRAP’s (or even warm-ups) with a good amount of energy but then I get tired shortly thereafter. – Richard N

Coach Dave:

This is a subject that we could spend HOURS talking about and there are countless ideas, concepts, and methodologies used to help with. In fact, a few months ago, Coach Cody and I went to an Aerobic Capacity Certification that was 8 hours on a Saturday and the content felt crammed even in that amount of time.

But, to keep my answer short enough to keep people’s interest I’m going to give three pieces to think about. Read More…

Coach Justin:

Pacing, as Dave said, is key. Here’s a mental-game tip I was given that helps with the mental side of pacing.

There are always three “starts” to a workout. There’s when the clock starts. Read More…

Coach Preston:

Specificity is key to improving on any fitness goal. For metcons, it becomes difficult because CrossFit is very unspecific, but probably the one thing you can work on specifically for this goal is time domain. Endurance is still a general term. Endurance in a 20 min workout is different than endurance in a 60 min workout. If you want to get better in the 12-20 min amraps, you need to spend more time in that time domain and learn how to pace for that time domain. If you approach the beginning of a 20 min workout the same as a 7 min workout, you will burn out. I think any endurance work in the 12-20 min zone will benefit your endurance in that time domain, but the cost to your body will be different. Read More…

Coach Nick:

How to increase endurance is a question that has puzzled scientists since Galileo tried to run to the moon. Every year, new evidence emerges which suggests that running is harder and more boring than previously imagined. Then a tourist will write a book about a tribe of American Indians who ran to work in shitty sandals and running will be cool again. Then people will get infected with a thing called “finger toe shoes” and all of a sudden 1 in 4 Americans have their feet amputated (from diabetes… it’s totally unrelated). This has been the cycle of contradictory silliness that has made coaching people who want to run faster and farther more of an exercise in hypocrisy than an exercise in exercise.

I’m mostly kidding. The point is that endurance as a science has been evolving since 490 BC when a Greek soldier accidentally ran the first marathon and died. His lifeless body had barely settled on the steps of the Acropolis before smug guy in Oregon said, “Yeah, that was a PR but I’d like to see his splits” and took a sip of his nitro latte. Or the early 1900s when a Nobel Prize winner found that lactic acid is the fuel of muscles’ nightmares. Either way, just as scientists get closer to identifying the one thing that regulates all of the others in our bodies (with respect to our capacity to have and increase endurance) another element reveals itself as an equal or more important factor. I’ve been trying to keep up with the developments because I actually do like to run and I’ve found that increased aerobic capacity is positively correlated with (if not the cause of) increased happiness in my life.

If you want to stop reading here, these are the four takeaways: Read More…

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Allie U. Is The February Member Of The Month

Allie, aka Albert, has been a steadfast member of our community for a few years now, but has somehow flown under the radar and eluded recognition as our member of the month. I don’t really know how that is possible with how often we see her at the gym and community events, how great of an athlete she is, and how friendly and welcoming she is to new members. But, as the saying goes, better late than never.

It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know Allie as an athlete and a friend over the last few years and Cróga would not be the same without Sparky Bear. If you ask anyone that comes to afternoon classes, they all know who she is and enjoy having her in class. She brings the laughs during the first half of class and the intensity during the WODs, but don’t you dare tell her to run a lap and expect a smile, haha. Enjoy her answers below, I promise they’ll make you giggle.

When did you join Cróga?
I unofficially joined Cróga during The Open in 2015 when Kristi invited me to Friday Night Lights. What she told me about it was probably a better sell than what I heard, which was ” Cróga does The Open on Friday nights, and everyone works out then drinks beer and hangs out afterward”, so of course I was in. After my first FNL, I knew I had to change gyms immediately because what I figured out was that Cróga definitely had the most fun and most welcoming members and coaches of any gym I had been to and that the drinking beer part was actually just a bonus of being a part of it.

What were you doing before for fitness?
Before Crossfit, I was doing my signature college routine of running 2-3 miles a day. If you know me at all, it is probably shocking to hear that I actually used to willingly go on a run…but going to the campus gym was sometimes even worse because it would normally result in me doing nothing other than talking to my friends and not actually really working out.

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
I used to be every day 5:30-er. Now that there is Ignite, I tend to switch back and forth between that and 5:30. I would not be caught dead at a 5 or 6 am class, and if I do go to a morning class it’s my once-a-month appearance at Saturday class because I’ve decided that I didn’t work out enough that week.

What’s your favorite WOD?
Anything that is shorter than about 8 minutes and has movements in it that might actually give me a chance at beating Megan or Kristi.

What’s your least favorite WOD?
Anything that is long, has wall balls in it or involves running. And as everyone knows, completing a warm-up as written is definitely not my strong suit.

“The Allie/Albert” WOD! What would it be?
It would probably be something like an 8-minute AMRAP and would definitely include overhead squats and pull-ups since those are my favorite movements. The Open workout from a few years ago that was a ladder of these two movements was I think my favorite workout they have ever and will ever put in The Open – that would probably be the perfect Albert WOD. Power cleans would be good too. NO RUNNING.

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
If you ask Mason, he would probably say “lingering”. 🙂 I don’t actually do anything after a workout (even though I know I should) besides hang around and talk to everyone.

What do you love about CrossFit?
The community aspect of CrossFit is by far the best. People being so happy for other people when they do well in a workout, hit a PR, or even beat you is something that I really don’t think can’t be replicated anywhere else. I also love that every workout is different and that you’re never really doing one movement for very long in a given workout. I get bored way too easily, so it’s great that as soon as I’m tired of doing one of the movements I get to move on to the next. One of my other favorite things, of course, is that it’s basically like you get to hang out with your friends while working out.

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet?
Of all the CrossFit gyms I have been to and belonged to over the years, there is nowhere that even comes close to Cróga. I have never been to a gym that has such welcoming, helpful, and genuine people. The community that we have at the gym is one-of-a-kind, and the only thing I regret about joining Cróga is that I didn’t change gyms sooner. I am so grateful for the environment and the family that Cróga has created, and that I get to be a part of it. There are so many ways I could say why Cróga is so great and why I love it so much, but the only true way to understand why it is the best is to come and see for yourself. Oh, and GO FIGHTING IRISH!!! (See that, Jose Cong? 😉 )

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Ask the Coaches: How to Deal with Injuries

Question: How do you train around/with Injuries? What are some tips for rehabbing Injuries? — Julia L and Joel S

Rob Noakes PT, DPT, OCS:

How to Train Through Injuries You Ask? Can everyone handle the truth? You sure?

The simple, extremely accurate, most frustrating answer that everyone will hate and no one wants to hear including myself is… DO NOT train through SERIOUS injuries! It just doesn’t work.

*The more fun and complex answer. It depends on the injury and severity*

If it is a moderate to severe injury I want you to ask yourself:
A. Are you Steph Curry and need to play Game 7 of the NBA finals with a bad ankle?
B. Are you about to sign a $30 million a year deal for the Niners and need to complete a workout to sign the deal?
C. Are you Luke Skywalker about to fight Darth Vader for rule of the galaxy?
D. Is a bear about to eat you?
E. Are you trying to beat Jose Cong in something at Croga?
Unless you are in any of these categories, you should not try and push through a workout or strenuous activity with a severe injury (except that last one, Jose will just win anyway, so don’t try it.) Read More

Key Question: Where does strength, fixing muscle imbalances, and retraining movement, come into play? Answer: Take it away Mrs. Noakes

Wendy Noakes PT, DPT, SCS:

Definitely agree with everything Rob wrote, especially the Jose Cong thing, don’t even try.

In addition to mobility for a healthy body, we cannot forget about two other key factors- MOVEMENT and STRENGTH. You can’t have just one piece of the puzzle.

Most of Robs suggestions were about mobility which for a majority of us, especially the men, is definitely what we need more of. However, there are also a handful of Croganites who are plenty flexible and cant feel any of the stretches the coaches make us do (I’m looking at you Chloe). Read More

Coach Preston: 

1. Definitely seek out professional advice from an expert in movement. Coaches can help to an extent with obvious faults in movement, but its almost always best to see a PT with background in the sport you’re trying to get back to (weightlifting, running, etc.) Rarely will you get an injury with just overuse while using proper movement, so having an expert to identify the source of the issue is best. Read More

Coach Justin: 

The first step to training with injuries is mental. I’ve found people fall in one of two categories:

1. “Oh, I’m injured. I need to stop doing anything so I don’t hurt myself more.” This is my default for sure.

2. “Oh, it’s nothing. If I ignore it it will go away.” I know a few members like this at Croga.

The true key is a balanced approach. Read More

Coach Nick: 

Disclaimer: I’ve had two surgeries in the last 2 months and have, at various times, spent 3+ months sidelined due to overtraining injuries in my knees, wrists, shoulders, and chest. I’m guilty of everything I’m advising against. I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of injuries lately as I’ve been feeling super sorry for the state of my pathetic, broken body. Some of the things I’m going to write might sound like scolding or demotivation but failing to be transparent and honest about why injuries occur would be to ignore the best rehab tip in the galaxy: don’t get injured in the first place! There are experts here who have written much more valuable post-injury advice than I could attempt to fabricate so I’ve taken a slightly different angle. Read More

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CJ V. Is The January Member Of The Month

It’s not often that we see a list of potential member of the month names to choose from and everyone agrees on one specific person because they have blown everyone else out of the water that month. However, this month, that is exactly what happened. CJ signed up for our Uplift Program in December and since then he has been absolutely KILLING IT on the fitness front. He has been attending class or hitting the gym or track 7 days a week, has done all the WODs he can make it to and then does Uplift homework before or after class. He also did his first CrossFit competition in the middle of all of it. When you talk about someone putting their head down and doing the work to accomplish their goals, CJ is a poster child. He always wants more work, he always wants to get better, and he’ll do the grunt work (Assault Bike Intervals/Sprints) and the boring stuff (30-minutes of mobility a day) to get him there. Congrats on an awesome start to 2018, CJ, we are very excited to see what is ahead for you this year.

When did you join Cróga?
I joined in June 2017, but had a business trip immediately after I signed up, so my first real class was in July.

What were you doing before for fitness?
I had been training mostly power lifts on my own a few times a week, but was struggling with consistency in 2017. I also played Ice Hockey once a week or so.

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout?
10RFT: 5 Hang Power Cleans and 5 Push Jerks @ 155 lbs. I remember thinking I should be able to Rx and hang with the class. I did the first two rounds Rx and got completely gassed and had to scale back. Only did 7 rounds by the time the clock stopped I think. VERY humbling, but also impressive to see the kind of shape the regulars were in. I’m pretty sure Coach Danny knew that was going to wipe me out quick but he let me learn the hard way.

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
I’m very slightly leaner, but I am trying to eat more to compensate and keep my weight up (admittedly this is a problem I share with not a single other person). I feel so much better for the rest of the day/night after an hour of intense work at Cróga. My performance in WODs is objectively better – Strength is marginally better (I started with a reasonably good strength base), but my aerobic fitness is so much improved, and my movements are smoother (still working on this). I’m MUCH better at the things I had not been doing prior, and I’ve kept or increased my major lifts (my Deadlift has gone up by 60 lbs this year!).

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
I’m a regular at the 7 am class, but I’ve also done 5 am’s (so early!) if I have to be at work early. I typically show up early to Cróga to work on flexibility or skills (Double-Unders FTW!) so the 6 am class knows me pretty well. I also do powerlifting on Wednesdays whenever I can. I come to Cróga just about every day now, sometimes twice a day for PowerLifting, except sometimes I will skip Sunday to run instead. If I didn’t have a demanding job or a wife and dog at home, I would be at Cróga at least two or three times a day.

What’s your favorite WOD?
I tend to like short, heavy, moderate to sprint-pace workouts with two or three movements. “Deads and Dubs” is my current favorite. 😉

What’s your least favorite WOD?
Any of the “chipper” style workouts. Murph, the Christmas WOD, the Caitlyn WOD… all are well outside of my wheelhouse. Anytime when I have to move my own heavy butt (burpees, push-ups, pull-ups, etc) instead of a barbell, I get super tired super fast.

“The CJ” WOD! What would it be?
If I had to program something other than “Deads and Dubs”, it would be something like:
Buy-in of 30 Bench Press @135/95, then 3RFT of 400m run, 75 Double-Unders, 10 Ground to Overhead @ 135/95. The score is total time inc. Bench Press.

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
Drink a FitAid, Protein Shake, and Coffee, drive to work, shower, and start my work day. Not super exciting, but that’s my routine and it works for me. Also, no protein post-workout clearly equals zero gainz after all that work. Definitely must have two-scoops just to be safe.

What do you love about CrossFit?
I love that there is always something to work on, some weakness to improve (Overhead Squats in particular), or some skill to learn. I’ve done really well on some workouts compared to the rest of the class, and I’ve finished dead last in others. My workouts are much more interesting since joining Cróga and starting Crossfit, and I love that our coaches genuinely work to get you better in some way every workout. Crossfit and Fitness are really about what you put in. If you put in the work, if you show up and put in some effort, it pays dividends in a number of ways and that’s what I’m all about.

What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga?
I’ve been eating like 90% clean for a couple years since I started getting serious about health and fitness, so nothing from Cróga is really new to me since joining. Mostly Meat, Veggies, and some Starch (rice or potatoes) but I have been frequenting Bagel Guys after Saturday/Sunday morning WODs for breakfast sandwiches and I must say I have a weakness for them.

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year?
No specific goals for this year I don’t think. I want to increase my Bench, Squat, Deadlift and Overhead Press, as well as my aerobic capacity, but I’m more focused on the process right now than the numbers. Steady improvement is what I’m all about right now. Maybe OHS more than 65lbs?

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
Come for the workout, and stay for the people. There’s really nothing to be intimidated about – everyone scales something, and many people scale or modify all things. People straight up get more fit here, and if you can manage the cost (one of the biggest barriers to joining for myself) it’s totally worth it. ALL of the coaches are great, and everyone is generally very friendly and welcoming, regardless of your fitness level or your goals. Do what you’re comfortable with in the gym and the rest will take care of itself.

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet?
I count joining Cróga last year as one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I have been “into Fitness” for a while now, but didn’t pull the trigger on Cróga or Crossfit until last year, and boy am I glad I did. I have met a lot of great people, gotten a whole lot more fit, and just found this whole other “gear” in life that I don’t think I would have if I hadn’t joined this particular gym. I feel better, I have more energy, I am more focused and productive at work, and I genuinely treasure this community of people. I used to live very close to Cróga, and I’ve since moved about 12 miles away, but I’ve managed to still make Cróga part of my everyday routine so that I can continue to be a part of the amazing place that coach Dave has created. I am unbelievably thankful for this place and all of the people (coaches and athletes) that are part of it.

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Cróga Intramural Open and Friday Night Lights 2018

The 2018 Open Season is upon us and with that means the Cróga Intramural Open and Friday Night Lights! We will have three teams competing against each other for gym supremacy – who’s banner will be raised to the rafters this year?

The CrossFit Open starts on February 22nd and goes through March 26th. It is five weeks and five workouts of camaraderie, fun, and challenging workouts! View Coach Dave’s Video if you need reasons to sign-up or continue reading for more details of the fun we will have!

The Cróga Intramural Open is our way of making the CrossFit Games Open Season more fun and bringing our community closer together. We understand that no one likes checking the worldwide standing and seeing they’re in 132,000th and that’s why we’re going to create our own intramural competition. Your scores on the global leaderboard will still matter, but your participation at Cróga will be more important because it’ll help your team score points to work toward an in-house victory. We will be creating three teams at random with the names of the athletes that have registered for The Open and we will award the winning team with a banner that we will hang from the rafters at Cróga.

To compete in the CrossFit Intramural Open, you MUST be signed up for The CrossFit Games Open. It is how we aggregate and validate scores for each team. Sign-up for the CrossFit Open HERE! Click the Sign-Up button on The CrossFit Games page to start the process. The Affiliate name is Cróga CrossFit. You must be signed up by February 16th, to be eligible for the draft. Anyone who signs up after the draft is a free agent and will be picked up by a Team. Essentially, everyone who signs up for the Open will be on a team.

The draft will consist of us throwing the names of all athletes in a hat and picking them out at random. You’ll see below that most of the points we will award each team will be based on attendance and spirit, so the only advantage a “super team” would really have is with good participation, which is why we decided to draft the teams at random. We also like the idea of having teams of people that aren’t currently close friends so we can get people to get outside their comfort zone and meet/cheer for new friends.

This year, we will again have a few options to complete your workout:

The first option is to complete the workout during normal class hours on Fridays during the Open (we will be programming the workout for every class on Friday). If you elect to do this, you will be responsible for arranging for your own judge, our coach will be responsible for coaching class, NOT judging your workout.

The second option is to come in on Saturday at 7 am during Open Gym to complete the workout. If you elect to do this, you will also be responsible for arranging for your own judge, our coach will be responsible for coaching class, NOT judging your workout.

The third and the most fun option is to attend Friday Night Lights!

Friday Night Lights will start every Friday during the Open at 5:30 pm. We will run heats of athletes every 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the length of workout) until everyone has completed the workout and received a score. We will create a Google Doc on Thursday each week and email/facebook distribute it for you to sign up for a heat time the night before or day of, which will allow you to know what time on Friday you’ll be slated to complete the workout.

As in years past, to get the best and loudest crowd possible, friends and family are welcome and encouraged to attend. Members that do not sign up for The Open are also encouraged to attend (however, we hope to have you all participate).

Your team will compete against the other teams and will be awarded points for the following accomplishments:

Scoring is:
+1 Point – Workouts Completed: every member of a team that completes an Open workout at Cróga CrossFit each week earns one point. Maximum one point per athlete per workout. This goes for Rx AND Scaled competitors!
+1 Point – Top 2 male/female: If a member of your team finishes in the top-2 at Cróga CrossFit in the RX or Scaled division your team will get an extra point.
+3 Points (team) – Friday Night Lights Attendance: The team with the most members in attendance during Friday Night Lights will receive 3 bonus points.
+5 Points (team) – Spirit: The team with the most noise, pride, and PRESENCE each week will receive 5 bonus points. Wear your Team T-shirt (more details soon) on Friday and really represent your team pride!
+1 Point – Challenge Point: To spice things up a bit and add some extra intensity to specific heats, you will have the option to challenge a member of a separate team. If that other member accepts, you will compete in the same heat and whoever wins the matchup will earn 1 extra point for their team.

Important Details

Our Open workouts will take place on Friday during all classes building to Friday Night Lights which will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday Night Lights is a fun, community building atmosphere and we want it to be the catalyst for light-hearted competition and camaraderie. We work out and hang out to celebrate how fun/horrible the workout is. Friday Night Lights will be about two-three hours in length depending on the workout for that week.

Who will take home the Cróga CrossFit Intramural Championship? Whose banner will be raised? Will it be your team?

Sign-up for The CrossFit Games Open HERE and be the difference for your team!

Here’s to another great Open season!!

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Food For Thought: CrossFit Nutrition Poster

To continue the Poster Series I started last week with the CrossFit Theoretical Hierarchy of Development, this week we’re going to chat about the base of the pyramid, Nutrition, in even more depth.

Nutrition is of paramount importance because it changes us on a molecular level and without proper fuel, the body can only accomplish so much.

The original nutritional prescription laid out by CrossFit Founder, Greg Glassman, in his “Fitness in 100 Words” (seen below) is one that is quite simple, but very hard for many to follow.
It falls in line with what a lot of people would consider a Paleo diet, but I’d say it’s less restrictive and most likely just as effective.
Starting from the top and working your way down we go from the most important pieces to make sure you include at each meal and what should make up the biggest chunk of most meals (Meat & Veggies), to worst for you and what should absolutely be excluded (all processed sugar).
By being focused on eating real, quality foods and not allowing the urge to have too many processed carbs/sweets, most people can get pretty damn close to lean, strong and healthy, which is what will make you live longer.
So, in the interest of one of my favorite acronyms KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).
We always encourage our members to eat REAL foods.
Meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and NO sugar.
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Food For Thought: CrossFit Theoretical Hierarchy of Development

If you’ve been in to Cróga in the last week or so, you may have noticed a handful of new posters by the front desk and around the corner by the plates.

With those posters in mind, I’ve decided to do a weekly “poster series” where I chat about the different posters around the gym and their significance to our methodology and instruction.

So, first stop, the CrossFit Theoretical Hierarchy of Development.

When you look at this pyramid, you need to think about how each level depends on the support of the level below it.

So, level one of being happy, healthy and more fit is to eat right.

Nutrition is the foundation for all athletic development.

Poor nutrition will sabotage any amount of training and you will never reach full potential without your diet locked in and consistent.

This does not mean you have to be the guy/gal eating chicken and broccoli at Thanksgiving while everyone else is enjoying Turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie, but you do need to keep those bad meals and alcohol consumption to a minimum to make any serious impact on your health.

Level two on the pyramid is metabolic conditioning aka “cardio”.

To keep it simple here, you need to be able to breath well and circulate blood to your muscles well to be able to perform any of the movements above this step of the pyramid in any significant quantity.

You might be able to hit a 1 rep max back squat or do a couple pull-ups without being able to breath well, but if we start asking you to work for more than 30 seconds, you better believe having a aerobic engine will be important.

Level three is gymnastics and this is the one that I think most people don’t pay enough attention to.

Gymnastics movements are ones that involve you moving your own bodyweight or parts and pieces through space.

The better you are at knowing where you are in space, creating tension throughout your body and moving accurately, the better you will be at all other skills.

So, spend the extra time to work on your movement and fine tune the way you move so that you move more efficiently, which will help you last longer in workouts and move yourself and external objects with ease.

Level four is weightlifting & throwing aka moving external objects.

This could be cleans, snatches, wall balls, KB swings, deadlifts, weighted squats, etc. you get the idea.

It should go without saying that moving a barbell is a lot easier if you’re bodily aware and can move efficiently, which is why gymnastics falls below weightlifting and can help so much.

I once heard Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit, on a podcast talk about how working on a freestanding handstand will help you snatch more weight at a significantly faster rate than all the barbell accessory work (snatch pulls, drop snatches, hang snatches, etc.) we come up with because it’s more fun.

Level five is sport.

“Sport is the application of fitness in a fantastic atmosphere of competition and mastery.”

It is the pinnacle of the pyramid because sports are your opportunity to express your fitness and excel at a specific task that requires excellence in all the levels of the pyramid below it.

Finally, when you think of the five levels of the pyramid together, you start to get a full picture of what we mean when we say “A Theoretical Hierarchy of Development”.

“This hierarchy largely reflects foundational dependence, skill, and to some degree, time ordering of development.

The logical flow is from molecular foundations, cardiovascular sufficiency, body control, external object control, and ultimately mastery and application.

This model has greatest utility in analyzing athletes’ shortcomings or difficulties.

We don’t deliberately order these components but nature will. If you have a deficiency at any level of “the pyramid” the components above will suffer.”

I copied that last piece from the What is Fitness? article on the CrossFit Journal because the words are so eloquent and succinct that there is no way I could summarize them and do them justice.

So, with all of that said, I know we joke sometimes about “trust the process” at Cróga, but we’re very serious about that process.

We do breathing work daily, we teach gymnastics progressions or scale gymnastics pieces more than half the week, we move barbells more than half the week, and we encourage all our members to get out there and use their fitness by participating in sports or other athletic endeavors.

So, next time you’re worried about your progress in one of these levels, take a look at yourself and evaluate yourself on the levels below it.

Chances are, you need more work on your nutrition or breathing or gymnastics, not just to move more barbells…

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Ask the Coaches: Best Diet?

We’re starting up a new monthly segment where you’ll get to pick the brains of the Cróga Coaches. If you have a question you’d like the coaches to answer, please email it to

Question: Out of all the crazy diets out there, which one did you like the most? And why? (Submitted by Kassi)

And now the Coaches Answers, in alphabetical order…

Coach Cody:
Truthfully, I haven’t tried too many diets. I have tried a Paleo Diet and just a basic Zone Diet. I have to try really hard to gain weight and keep it on. I am someone that has trouble eating enough food to fuel my everyday exercise demand. I know that when I tried the Paleo diet I didn’t do it correctly. I was always hungry and just stuff almonds and dried fruit in my mouth all day. For me, the Zone Diet worked well. Just making sure my Macros were on point and making sure I ate all of my Blocks recommended per day. In the very beginning I found out I don’t eat nearly enough food and that when I made sure that I was eating good foods (Meats and Vegetable) my body was loving it. I would eat until I felt like a couldn’t eat one more bite but then I would be ready again to eat in 3 or so hours. I had much more energy throughout the day and felt much better during my workouts. I don’t follow it strictly like I did in the beginning but I can now eyeball my portions pretty well. I feel like Measuring your food and just focusing on not eating anything that comes out of a box is a good way to get you on a good diet and give you the skills to sustain good eating habits.

Truthfully, different Diets work for just about everyone. The right thing to do is experiment a little bit with some foods and see how your body reacts to them. I had to give up drinking a lot of milk every day because it would make me feel groggy and I could feel it inflaming my body. I think people should try to be aware of how they feel after eating different foods. In terms of eating “bad foods”, if I know that I will be eating something not as good for me or drinking alcohol, I just try to make sure that the first thing I put in my stomach is healthy and then I’ll binge a little bit. Seems to work alright for me plus it fills me up so I can’t even eat as much of the “bad stuff” as I could have.

Overall, I think measuring your food is the best way to go, making sure that you hit a certain amount of Blocks (1 Macro of Protein, Fat, Carb) per day which will depend on what your goal is.

Coach Dave:
First of all, before I get started, there are 2 things I want everyone to keep in mind.

1. The most effective diet for any given person is most often the one they like and will be most diligent about maintaining. Consistency is the most important piece to achieving your goals.

2. There are different diets that have their strengths in different situations or goals. So, just because we all have our “favorite”, being versed in multiple and being open to experimentation is better than being close-minded and not willing to try something you haven’t before.\

I have tried a bunch of different diets over the years, not necessarily because I needed to lose a ton of weight, but mostly because I wanted to learn and give them a try to see how I liked them and how they went. I’ve done ZoneIIFYMRP StrengthPaleoWhole30, and the most epic of them all, The Viking Diet.

My favorite diet of all time was definitely the Viking Diet. As many of you know, this was just a diet that I made up that consisted of me eating anything and everything I could find or that was put in front of me each night in an effort to gain as much weight as possible to get as strong as possible. This “diet” was more like a full blown attack on my pancreas, as I was consuming 400-500 grams of Carbs, about 250 grams of Protein and about 100 grams of Fat each day. I often ate two to three servings at dinner and then a full pint of ice cream or maybe 8-10 cookies for dessert. I would NOT recommend this diet to anyone looking to get in shape, but it will definitely make you bigger and stronger.

My favorite diet that is actually healthy and could be used for a lifetime would probably be IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). This basically means you can eat anything you’d like as long as you eat the exact prescribed quantities of protein, carbohydrates, and fat at the end of the day. While finding the right numbers to target can be a little tricky, there are a bunch of books, apps and websites that can help you come up with a starting point based on your height, weight, activity level and goals (lose or gain weight). My trick for this diet is to restrict my carb and fat intake during my breakfast, mid-morning snack and lunch so that I have a lot of room for flexibility during dinner and dessert time. I don’t like to have a lot of food in my stomach throughout the day anyway because it makes me feel like crap when I workout, so this works well for me.

Coach Justin:
Ketogenic Diet. I loved using this to lose some weight and even out my energy during the day. It is tough, and it does take a few weeks to kick in, but once you’re on board, you feel great and the weight comes off pretty easy. A big caveat though: since your carb intake will be so low, your performance in the WOD is likely to drop. Try to save your carb intake to be 1 hour before your workout and directly after.

Coach Marcus:
I haven’t really tried many diets due to the fact I am trying to either maintain or gain weight. But I do believe in clean eating (go to Lean Feast), and everything in moderation (talking about sweets and candies). This year I want to focus more on my nutrition and figure out what foods work well in my system and what foods don’t. I believe if you eat cleanly and everything in moderation you will perform better and will be a happier and healthier person.

Coach Nick:
The craziest and my favorite and the one I found most effective for losing weight was Intermittent Fasting. There are a few variations but my rules were: I can only eat during one five-hour window each day but during that window, I can eat almost whatever I want but should prioritize vegetables and protein. I liked it because it taught me a lot about how to manage energy levels and that when I think “I’m totally starving,” I’m really just food-porning for a burrito. This helped me adapt from thinking that food is a reward to understanding that food is simply fuel and, therefore, less desirable to the part of the brain that thinks pizza is more important than my dreams. While it was effective and not as torturous as I expected, it was super inconvenient and hard to sustain with a family and with varying training times. Also, the world we live in isn’t designed to support it unless you are a meal prep champion and/or are prepared to wheel around a Yeti cooler all day. It was fun though! I lost 25 pounds in 50 days. (I had been gaining a lot of sympathy weight as a new dad but just kept telling myself I was on my way to becoming a powerlifter.) I’ll still use it once or twice a year for a month if I need to recalibrate things or drop a couple pounds quickly prior to training for a race.

Keto was easily the worst. But I made the mistake of starting it as I began training for a triathlon and I couldn’t get through the adaptation phase and it all came to a catastrophic and glorious end at Blue Line Pizza.

My day-to-day diet is, for 6 days a week, eat meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and drink water or coffee. Don’t eat carbs (bread, spuds, rice) or sugar. Then, 1 day per week: cheat like a mother******! Beer and ice cream for breakfast. I’ve found I can’t eat clean over the long term without cheating. I’ve also found the longer I stick to this diet, the less I’ll “cheat” on my cheat days, and the more cheating will hurt me. But the mechanism for release is still there.

I’ve spent 12 years experimenting with everything (paleo, keto, zone, zoned paleo, Whole30, Michael Phelps calories, only peaches for a month, the Tom Brady Method, and the Beauty Detox Solution) and at different times during training cycles so if you have questions about pairing a diet with a specific fitness goal, let me know because I’ve tried it all!

Coach Preston:
I’ve tried several different diets, but Flexible Dieting has been far in away the most effective for me. I measured and weighed pretty much all of my food when I first started, which was helpful in learning to estimate. I’ve done paleo, Keto, and intermittent fasting, all would lead to binge/purge cycles. One of the most common mistakes people make is eating too little when they start a diet, making the diet unsustainable longer term and a greater proportion of the weight loss to be muscle. Flexible dieting allowed me to actually have a number to hit. I know every day how much to eat to achieve my weight loss goals, a good estimate of how long it will take (setting realistic expectations is huge), and I eat enough without having the feeling of starving, which would lead to further binging.

When I’m not dieting, I do my best to practice portion control when eating out and still eat 70-80% of the same things I do when I’m dieting. I always know, to an extent, my consumption for a day while not measuring, which also helps me not to just eat uncontrollably. One of the best parts of flexible dieting is I don’t feel super deprived of anything specific because if I want it, I’ll fit it in. The misconception is that flexible dieting means all you’re eating is protein and junk food. While you could try this and still see really good results, you will find quick, this is also unsustainable as junk food is much less satiating than whole foods. I would say on a typical day for me 0-300 cals would come from “junk food” and the rest from whole foods. I do still incorporate intermittent fasting, especially on weekends, as I just find I’m not as hungry in the morning.

I don’t think flexible dieting is the end all be all. I think most people would find a lot of benefit from measuring their food consumption in some way for at least a short period of time to really know how much they should be eating and the caloric and macronutrient loads of foods they choose to eat. I think that there is no one best diet and you should find what works for you. I do think that for the majority, depriving yourself from one macronutrient (like the Keto diet) or from many of the foods you love (yes I still get my oreos in while dieting, but maybe only 1 to 2 at a time) is unsustainable. There are some that do find longer-term success with more restrictive diets such as Keto (like Jose), but for many people, it doesn’t fit their lifestyle. My best advice when starting a diet is to choose a diet where the mechanism of how you’re losing weight is sustainable for your lifestyle and preferences, during and after the diet. Also, incorporate new habits that you plan on keeping after the diet. If you start a diet and see success, but just get rid of the habits that helped you lose the weight (eating low carb, calorie control, portion control, meal prepping, eating protein at every meal, limiting alcohol consumption to 1-2 times a week, etc.) you are more likely than not to regain the weight. Feel free to contact me with any questions!

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Food for Thought: My Why for 2018

Every year when January rolls around we all feel the need to create New Year’s resolutions and to set goals for the year ahead.

Inevitably, some goals we reach and others we do not, but the people that are often most successful throughout the year are those that have a deeper motivation than just hitting a 30 lb PR on their back squat. They have something that makes them enjoy the process and the journey, not just the end goal.

When I talk about a deeper motivation, I’m talking about something that really speaks to you.

Something that pulls at your heartstrings or something that you can be true to deep in your soul.

And this is where I think many people’s yearly goals end up failing them. They pick things that don’t really matter to them and try to accomplish them, only to fail to achieve whatever benchmark they arbitrarily chose because they don’t really care that much.

So, for 2018 I want to propose that we do things a little different.

If you already set tangible “goals” for the year, that’s great, don’t change them.

However, I want you to think about WHY you chose those goals.

What is your deeper motivation?

When you don’t really feel like going to the gym or your squat number isn’t increasing quite as quickly as you had hoped, what motivates you to get to the gym and try to improve yourself that day?

With that info, I want you to come to Cróga and write it on our goals board.

Put it out there.

Let everyone know.

On those days where you get to the gym and you’re feeling a little sluggish, look at your why and recalibrate.

And on those days that you have a little tougher workout or it doesn’t go quite the way you planned, take a peek at your why on the way out the door and remind yourself of the bigger picture.

Finally, if you’re not a member of Cróga, we’d love to hear from you about what your why is.

Shoot me an email,, and let me know what is driving you to be a better version of yourself this year.

And let me know if you can use our help, we’d be happy to work with you in person or remotely with coaching, programming or just friendly email motivation.

P.S. My why for 2018 is: To stay happy and healthy so I can be a good dad, husband, business owner and coach.


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Julianna Is The Cróga Member Of The Year!

The list of reasons why Julianna is our choice for 2017 Cróga Member of the Year is long and we couldn’t be more proud to celebrate such an awesome person and athlete.

Not only did she attend an astounding 292 classes this year, which is an unbelievable accomplishment in and of itself, but she also did all of the below:

Attacked her weaknesses weekly at Open Gym on Saturday

Was a team captain during The Open

Made sure the new athletes that came to 6 am felt welcome each time she saw a new face

Volunteered her time during our holiday volunteer day

Helped organize our Cróga baby shower

And, even watched Cróga Murph one weekend when we went out of town

Her hard work and dedication to becoming the best version of herself possible is inspiring and are the exact qualities we strive to instill in all our members.

Congratulations Julianna!

There was no question who deserved this award this year and we couldn’t be more proud of all that you accomplished!

What are some new things that you have learned about yourself since starting CrossFit?
Since I started CrossFit a few years ago, I’ve learned that I actually love to move and sweat. Growing up, I never participated in any organized sports and PE was torture except for during the Presidential Fitness Test (when I could do the bent arm hang forever) and rope climb days. I’ve never been particularly coordinated or athletic, but when I joined Croga to address some health issues, I discovered that there is a kind of gracefulness that comes along with developing strength, particularly in barbell movements. I am proud of the fact that I was able to make such a drastic lifestyle change at this point in my life.

What’s the best part of working out with the 6 am crew?
Except for Saturdays, I rarely stray from 6 am, so maybe they’re all like this, . . . but 6 am is a great mix of personalities, no big egos and no whiners. We love to laugh, but we get down to business. There’s lots of encouragement, and the only shaming is good-natured. There are athletes of all ages and levels of experience, but it’s a very inclusive group. And you know it’s got to be great when my 15-year-old, Ethan, is willing to wake up at 5:30 to work out with this group.

You attended nearly 300 classes this year, what was your driving force for spending so much time here?
I’m a creature of habit, so once I decided that I wanted to go 5-6 times a week in 2017, I just put it on my calendar and showed up. But what inspired me to do it was the idea that I never wanted to tell myself, “I really should get to the gym more.” I wanted to see what would happen if I was relieved of any of that guilt and what my body would feel like if I was truly getting as much exercise as I could. Now, with that experiment over, I’m telling myself, “I really should go to the gym less!”

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this upcoming year?
I have several, but the overarching goal is to recalibrate. This year, at 48, I discovered that it takes a little while for me to recover and I wasn’t very good about listening to my body when it was screaming it needed rest. I’m starting the year off with a little break, then I’m going to build in more rest. I also am going back to basics–sometimes I got caught up in trying to go as heavy as I could and my form would suffer and recovery would be harder. Now I’m going to try pretending like I’m new to CrossFit and really pay attention to my form and how I’m moving and be more deliberate. Going a little lighter, hopefully, will allow me to go a little faster, too.

What is one thing about you that people may not know?
I want to compete on the Amazing Race. My oldest son, Jim, and I want to do it together so I have to wait a few more years until he turns 21, but I’ll only be in better shape for it then, right?

If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
After sizable contributions to numerous philanthropic causes, of course, I’d then spend half the year traveling the world and the other half on my private island somewhere cold, maybe off the coast of Scotland. My husband, Steve, is only down for this island plan if we have an excellent internet connection, so a chunk of money will have to go to laying undersea cables.

If you could have one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
I’m a big fan of chopped salads. I like a little bit of everything. I could also eat a great crusty loaf of Italian bread with butter every day. And then I’d have to finish the meal off with See’s peanut brittle or bridge mix. Or Peeps.

If you could have a conversation with anyone that ever existed, dead or alive, who would it be?
I’m a big history nerd, so there are so many questions I have for so many historical figures that it would be impossible to pick one, so I have to say my dad. He died almost 21 years ago, before I had kids, so I’d love to catch up with him and talk to him about what my boys are up to.

Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks to all of the coaches for helping me be my best and to the 6 am crew for making Cróga such a fun place to go. And a big thank you to Dave and Kelly for creating, growing, and sustaining this cool neighborhood gym. It’s clearly a big part of my life and I’m always happy to be there.

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