YOUR CHEAT SHEET TO WINNING THE OPEN

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YOUR CHEAT SHEET TO WINNING THE OPEN

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TRY !!

Whether it’s scaled or rx’d, a strength of yours or a weakness, try really hard to do the best you can possibly do in the moment.  And if you’re faced with something you’ve never done before, it is better to have tried and missed the mark than never to have tried at all. It is actually the effort that counts, and the effort that brings results.   

 

Stay Consistent With Your Habits

There is a tendency for athletes to try new things to gain an edge in competition.  This has more potential to backfire than anything else.  Take your good habits from training and stick with them.  Now is not the time for new tricks, unless you like being a mad scientist and going for broke….. then have at it.  And if the wheels fall off, you'll know why.    

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Focus On Things That Really Move The Needle

If you must try something new, let it be a focus on recovery.  More than anything else, feeling good and being well recovered going into a workout will allow you to outperform your wildest expectations.

How: get that extra hour of sleep you always miss, kick yourself out of that calorie deficit for a couple days leading into the wod, replace one wod per week with a full out recovery session; foam rolling, self-massage, muscle rubs, sauna, hot tub, epsom soaks, sensory deprivation floats, technique work with tiny weights…. etc. etc.  

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Put On A Happy Face

You’ll perform better, and you’ll make other people happy, and then they’ll perform better.  And even if you don’t perform “better,” everyone’s happy anyway so it’s a win/win.  SMILE !!!!

 

CHEER

Energy is contagious, we all need it… and we all have it to give.  Ever wonder why people can do things they never thought they could with a group of people supporting them???? Send good vibes to others and feed off of them when you need it most.  Lift each other up by being a good Wingman :)

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Have FUN

Ever go to the beach while you were mad??  It’s no fun, and it’s just not the same experience.  Get out of your head, let loose a little bit, toss a quick shimmy of the hips into your resting moment during the wod, crack a few jokes and open a bottle of wine when you’re done.  Isn’t that what we’re here for? Fun, Fitness, and Health….. in that order.  

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Learn Something

The OPEN will have you doing things you never wanted to do, never thought you could do, and never want to do again… until tomorrow.  And if you listen to your body when you’re going through all of that it can tell you an awful lot about yourself.  You might find out you had strength in places you never knew existed.  Or that you have opportunities to grow in places you hadn’t thought of.  Take the time to learn something productive about yourself and you can automatically count this as a win.  

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When all is said and done - If you learn something new about yourself while having fun, supporting others, and you laid it out there during the work after spending more of your week feeling refreshed and recovered... it's a giant WIN !! 

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Holiday Eating: I Don't Want To Fall Off The Wagon Edition

HOLIDAY EATING : I DON’T WANT TO FALL OFF THE WAGON EDITION

 

THERE IS NO ROOM FOR REGRET.  Make decisions that support your health and happiness.   And when you make mistakes, learn from it and use it to help make better choices next time.  

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If you’re the type of person that eats whatever you want and feels great about it… then this post will only serve to assist in your compassion for what someone else might be doing… or going through in order to get through the Holidays.  Enjoy your holiday and help support those who might be heckled for trying to make better choices for themselves at the party.  

 

If you have a nutrition plan and you’re working toward achieving specific goals, then the most important thing you can do is separate the goal of the party from the food at the party.  For example: Thanksgiving is always full of many delicious foods and desserts but the main goal of Thanksgiving in today’s world is to get together with family and/or friends and be thankful for all that you have.  In this situation you would focus on enjoying the spirit of the event and make the foods fit your nutrition plan. Before you get to the party, have a plan for the food you know and enjoy.  It also helps to have a few quippy responses for the family members who always act surprised that someone at the party would dare to eat for a purpose.  

 

If you’re happy, healthy, and loosely following a nutrition plan or general rhythm with your nutrition, then the ballgame is a lot more fun.  You have enormous room for error and a lot of room for choice.  Do you want to go off the rails for a party or two… or three??? Or do you want to play it close to the vest cause you’re not really feeling the holiday binge?  Good news, it’s entirely up to you !!!   If you decide to binge… here’s a very simple way to deal with the aftermath if you wake up bloated and holding on to a few extra pounds that you aren’t happy about - eat super clean and a little lighter than normal for a couple days after the binge.  No, it’s not a punishment.  It’s simply accounting for all of the extra food at the party and allowing your body to burn up some of the stored energy.  

 

It’s understandable that there can be a lot of anxiety around holiday parties and eating.  It’s also very common to accept the one-off comments by others about the way we eat at parties as attacks or insults.  Always remember that you have complete control over that reaction.  If someone ever has something snide to say about the way you choose to eat at a party, it’s not about you.  It’s an opportunity to make a connection, and potentially even educate if they’re listening.  

 

For those who have a lot of anxiety around the holidays and struggle with eating.  You don't need my permission or that of anyone else to feel this way... but you have it.  It's ok to have anxiety.  To be scared.  Afraid to make the mistakes you believe you have made in the past.  Afraid to be seen by your friends and family and judged on the way you look despite trying so hard.  Afraid you don't yet meet your own expectations or haven't made "enough" progress.  Afraid that you'll be stressed out by just being around these people and you'll resort to food in order to calm those nerves and "escape."  The only real negative to all of these feelings is the way they make us isolate ourselves.  The way they make us double down on our coping mechanisms... often food.  As best you can, resist the urge to isolate... find someone you can lean on.  Someone you know that understands and can appreciate what you're going through.  Someone who you might be able to text from the party when you're staring down the food you know you're eating for the wrong reason.  It's helpful to phone a friend.  It's also helpful to plan for the stress and anxiety when you know that's a thing for you.  Work with it, not against it.  This stuff doesn't just disappear cause you want it to.  It disappears after a few successful bouts of managing it.  I say bouts... cuz you're basically Rocky going into battle.  Prepare, plan, execute.... you got this.  :)

 

It is 100% possible to manage the holiday feasts in a way that supports your happiness and health.    

 

And from all of us at Wingman.... HAPPY HOLIDAYS !!!!! 

 

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The Case For Vitamin D Supplementation In Our Area

Wingman Nutrition

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Vitamin D is an essential vitamin required for health.  It is synthesized by our skin when exposed to the sun and it can be found in some common foods.  While it is one of the most widely researched there is still a large amount of research to be done and lots to learn.  But here's what we know:

Vitamin D contributes significantly to bone health, basic neurological and muscular function, immune health, the reduction of inflammation, and the modulation of cell growth/proliferation/apoptosis (related to cancer).

Vitamin D is also heavily associated with feelings of health, wellness and well-being. There are associations with reduced incidences of cancer, symptoms of depression, and incidence of diabetes.  It is estimated that over a billion people are insufficient and it is widely accepted that most people do not have an ideal level of Vitamin D.  

Here in Connecticut and Massachusetts it's easy to get Vitamin D in the summertime.  We simply spend a few minutes in the sun.  But here's the rub!!!! It's that time of year where the sun is disappearing on us.  Vitamin D production relies on UV rays and we need a UV index of 3 or more to really be effective.  As you can see in the graph below that only happens between the months of April and September.... and even April/September are pushing it.  Labor Day is sort of that last hoorah outside with barbecues and swimming and lots of fun in the sun.  

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Average UV Index by month

How do we solve this conundrum?

Two ways.  The first is by eating foods that are high in Vitamin D.  This might get you to a place where you meet the recommended daily allowances but all the literature say that's not really enough.  The only two foods relatively high in Vitamin D are swordfish and salmon, and you'd have to put down 1.5 pounds of them every day just to meet the recommended daily allowances..... lol.   So the second, and in my opinion the best way to get your Vitamin D from September through April is to supplement it.  Recent studies show 4000IU to be a great place to start and the Vitamin D Council has recommended as high as 5000IU per day.  Hit Amazon and search for vitamin d3, you'll find a bunch of great choices.  

Vitamin D supplementation from September to April is relatively cheap, easily accessible, and it's sure to help your overall health.  

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Race Report - Ironman 70.3 Maine

CAN CROSSFIT BUILD A LEVEL OF FITNESS GOOD ENOUGH TO FINISH AN IRONMAN 70.3?

     It all started 2 months ago while planning for my birthday.  Jenn, my fiancé, asked me what I wanted to do, "I want to go to Ocean City just like last year and lay on the beach for a weekend." I said.  

She responded, "I kind of want to do a half ironman, do you want to do that with me?"

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WTF! No!

I want to lay on the beach.  You can do that whenever you want though.  

"Well, I'm gonna do a half ironman in Maine." She says.  

A: "Ok, if you're going to do it anyway... On a scale of 1-10, how badly do you want me to do it with you?"

J: "Well, it's a 10 for coming with me........ And like a 6 for doing it."  

A: "So I guess I'm doing it too then."

After getting off the phone my head did something like this.  Dammit!  What the hell am I getting myself into.  Well, it's a bucket list item, might as well knock it off now.  How the fuck am I going to prepare for this in less than two months.  I can't freestyle swim more than 50 yards without dying.  I don't want to do what I know I need to do to really prepare for this.  I wonder, if I just learn how to freestyle swim properly and get through that part... can I get through the entire thing without actually training for it ???   How good is this CrossFit base that I've cultivated ??? Well shit... I own a CrossFit gym and it would be pretty sick to finish a half ironman off just the 5 hours a week we put in.  

OK, let's make some rules:

1. Training more than normal is not allowed.

2. Transition training from swimming to biking and from biking to running is not allowed.

3. Find a coach and learn how to swim, get in the water at least twice per week to develop the skill.  

Disclaimer: As a coach, I would never ask anyone to just go do a 70.3 without training more appropriately.  This was me deciding to be "that guy" that says "I think it's possible so I'm going to test my fitness and do it."  

Doing a 70.3 was a fairly scary endeavor for me.  I believed I could get it done, but I had no idea what it would feel like or if this CrossFit base would actually carry me through.  EEK!

I ruminated on the idea of it all weekend and got myself a swim coach before the following Monday.  We met once a week on 5 occasions prior to the race plus one open water swim together.  She helped me address a number of basic errors and got me to swimming about 800m freestyle before feeling like I was going to die.  Of course that left about 1100m up for grabs.  Good thing I have a strong side stroke to fall back on.  

And that's exactly what I did on race day.  It was beautiful when we got in the 60 degree water just after sunrise.  Picturesque for sure.  But also freezing !!!!   The air was 50, even colder than the water.  So we splashed around in the water at the suggestion of literally everyone prior to getting into the chute to start.  That did help a lot with being prepared for jumping into the water for the actual swim.  Nothing..... and I mean nothing could have prepared me for being in the water with 2300 other people outside of actually doing it.  I moved to the outside, about 20-25 yards off of the buoys and tried to stay away from the field.  I made it about 3 or 400 yards before I switched to side stroke and just tried to cruise.  I had been warned about the swim by a lot of experienced triathletes but warnings and visualizations are nothing like the real thing.  That was INTENSE! I don't think I ever really settled into the water, but I did finish the swim in 50 minutes.  My feet were numb, my arms were numb ( no sleeves), and I was happy to be getting on the bike.  But not before running 600m on the road in bare feet.  Goodness gracious, that stunk.  

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So there I was in transition, super stoked I got through the swim and watching what other people around me are doing.  Lots of really smart little details, like bringing a squirt bottle of water to get the sand off your feet - as I'm unsuccessfully scrubbing it off my feet with a towel. grrrrrr.   Finished grabbing my gear and studying other people, and I was off.  

The 50 minute swim already exceeds my normal activity threshold.  Outside of warming up I'm typically done with working out in under 45 minutes.  So the rest of this ballgame is up for grabs. Let's see how it goes.  I don't actually have an endurance background at all.  In my lifetime I've only completed 6 runs that exceed 6 miles, only 4 rides that have exceeded 30 miles and somehow today I'm meant to swim 1.2, bike 56, and then run 13.1 .... this is funny stuff for sure... but fuck it, let's go.  

So I'm on my new bike ..... Broke another race day rule.  ::giggles at self::  Jenn decided to buy me my first road bike for my birthday.  We picked it up on our way up to Maine for the race.  

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My new baby, is this how I hold it? 

So I'm on my new bike ... and I'm cruising.  The course was delightful, scenic, and had its fair share of rolling hills but nothing too serious.  Let's see... it's race day, I feel great, I've got a little adrenaline, I'm on a new bike and it just feels so comfortable - more comfortable than anything I've ever been on.  So I pushed my speed a little bit and tried to maintain 20 mph... ultimately coming in just under that.  But this was also a little dumb. I've never transitioned from biking to running and I had no idea what was going to happen.  

I got off the bike, transitioned and headed out for the run.  Oddly enough I felt great at the start of the run.  There was a very small level of fatigue - it felt as though I were a 6 speed standard car and someone just removed the 6th gear... but all of the other gears were ready to rock.  And then I felt it .... a quick flutter of the left quad and adductor.  I was only at the 2.5 mile mark so I reached back for my salt.... missing.  Oh shit... it had fallen out of my shirt.  After a full hour of running both quads had locked up and both adductors were whining.  They hadn't seized completely though, they were useable, just locked up and painful every time I struck the ground.  I started putting down cliff blocks from the aid stations after having realized my salt was gone and I ran into a spearmint block.  One bite of that sent my stomach over the edge.  There I was at the side of the trail trying not to lose everything in my stomach.  Having to deal with the cramps and the GI issues so early in the run definitely took away from the experience but I really enjoyed running on the trail... it was gorgeous out there and I couldn't have asked for better weather.  My goal for the day was simply to finish, so I decided to put my pride aside and do what I had to do to finish the race without allowing the cramps to take over.  I maintained a nice slow run and walked for a while through every aid station.  I made sure to get some liquid and some blocks at each station and take a few moments for self massage.  After we got off the trail and started hitting some hills again my quads started to feel better.  I'm sick like that, I like hills.  And then it happened.  I bit into another cliff block and lost my shit on the side of the road.  A short break to puke, regain my composure and continue on to the finish.  I wished that had happened much earlier in the run.  I felt so much better afterward and picked it up to finish the last couple miles fairly strong.  It was also great to have the other athletes cheering me on as I'm letting it rip on the side of the road.  "You're almost there" "Get it together, you've got plenty of time"  And that's exactly what I did.  

I finished in 6 hrs 20 min with a 50 minute swim, a 2:54 split on the bike, a 2:19 run and two very long transitions.  And I actually enjoyed the experience very much.  

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Jenn & I at the finish.

More than anything else I learned a lot from this event.  I learned that the fitness base provided by good CrossFit training is absolutely ridiculous in its adaptability.  That I can basically run an entire half marathon without quads.  LOL.  And I learned a lot about the triathlon world specifically. Tips/tricks, craziness and the value of a good chafe cream.

RECOVERY: I was really really curious at how my body was going to recover.  For sure I was sore the day after, but two days after I was back in the gym and killing it.  Certainly not fully recovered but well enough to perform and put some work in.  Mostly it feels great to get out there, do such a coveted event and then return to my normal routine so quickly.  

  This is only one of many big fitness goals I've knocked off the board trusting in good CrossFit training.  Maybe I'll do another 70.3... it was just the right combination of challenge, fun, and crazy.

Next up: Qualifying for Masters Nationals in Olympic Weightlifting

 

 

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What is Health?

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What is Health?

"The Greatest Wealth Is Health" - Virgil

"When Health Is Absent, Wisdom Cannot Reveal Itself, Art Cannot Manifest, Strength Cannot Fight, Wealth Becomes Useless, And Intelligence Cannot Be Applied" - Herophilus

Before we dive into this topic, I'd like to ask you a question. Please take a moment to think on it before continuing. 

Has anyone ever told you how healthy you were?  Or was the focus always on whether or not you were sick, and how sick you were or weren't?

I understand this concept as it refers to medicine because they are so focused on treating disease.  But what if we took 200 people  who are definitely not sick and put them in a room.  The doctors would see each and every one of them, examine the ladies and fondle the men while they cough.... thick thumbs need not apply.  And the doctors would give each of them a clean bill of health.  Would you say that they are all of equal health?  HELL NO!  Of course not.  That would be ludicrous. But since they are free from disease, that's what we do now.  We know intuitively that not all 200 people are equally healthy.  But what separates one person from another when it comes to health? And how do we build it? 

Health is a high functioning body through daily activity that is also resistant to illness.  

What the hell does that even mean?  

Let's start with "high functioning body." For this we'll look at what puts most people in the nursery home, mobility - the ability to move freely and easily through space.  In order to stay mobile you need good bones, some muscle, and healthy joints.  And this all starts with how we treat our body, the exercise program we choose to perform, the quality of movement we perform on a regular basis, and the way we take care of our bodies through massage, stretching, and soft tissue care.  To maximize our mobility we need a combination of resistance training for good bone health and muscle strength, activity of varying duration for a body that keeps going, and a good deal of "self-care" work for flexibility and joint health.

Now let's take a look at what it means to be "resistant to illness."  Let's say that you are at your peak health and you catch the flu.  Maybe you're also an amazing athlete in a given sport - like Josh Bridges at the CrossFit Games in 2017.  He is a former Navy Seal and certified CrossFit badass, but he didn't look like he was performing to his potential.  It was reported that he was sick and couldn't keep food down for 2 days prior to the Games.  While his performance was not competitive with the best in the world on day 1 or even day 2, he managed to walk away with an event win on day 3.  And what's crazy is that his performance on day 1 and 2 was still amazing.  He hadn't been able to keep food down and the man was competing to become the "Fittest On Earth."  This is what it means to be resistant.  There are upwards of 500,000 deaths per year from the flu and millions are hospitalized with severe illness, but here's a man competing in his given sport at the highest level with an illness, that he overcame while competing and then actually won an event!  WILD!!! And that's what resistance to illness is.  A subdued experience of the illness itself and an innate ability to fight it off while remaining functional.  (We'll not be talking about the man-flu when we choose to be babies about it). There are a lot of things that go into this: for instance, mental health - the ability to manage stress in a positive and productive way, social networks - the experience of love and belonging and the way those communities help to mold you, immune function - the body's ability to fight the illness directly, hormone balance - supporting good energy production and bodily function.  When these all come together it creates one incredibly resilient person.

Ok.... so that's what "healthy" is..... but where do I start building it in a meaningful way?

Dial in these five things:

1. sleep sleep sleep

2. feed yourself well

3. exercise and care for your body

4. practice mental fortitude & stress management

5. be a part of communities that inspire you

If you're even the slightest bit confused about how to do these things and do them well, the easiest way is to find a coach or mentor that can guide you through the process. It's no secret that the program, community, and coaches here at Wingman are good for your health. :)

-AZ 

 

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CrossFit Journal: The Performance-Based Lifestyle Resource