Life Change Can Happen…

This is our members Ann and John Juniker. Boy have they completely changed their lives. In November of 2016 Ann joined our beginner CrossFit Kickstarter 6-week program. The picture to the left was a month before she started with us. (Oct 2016) After seeing results in the 6-week program, Ann joined the SOPO family and has never looked back. She has always been driven to reach her goals. A few months into regular classes Ann started working with me to help dial in her nutrition. She started cooking for John and herself and soon John started seeing positive changes too. John started with us in the 6-week program in July of 2017.   John is now in our regular classes and has continued to see results in his workouts and mobility! In recent months, their son John Jr. has also joined the Sopo Family! The picture to the right is from October 2017. (Ann’s year anniversary and John’s 3 month anniversary of CrossFit Sopo!) Thank you guys for being such an inspiration for all of us! There is no magic secret… it is consistency and hard work. A LOT can change in a year if you really really want it to. CHEERS to the JUNIKERS! #sopostrong

MY DIET STORY- Ultimately finding out what works…

So I will begin this blog post stating that I am no way a physician. What I am going to do is tell you my diet story and how my experiences with nutrition and dieting led to me how I am eating today.

You know how everything happens for a reason right? Here is my diet story.

Let’s start from the beginning. I came from a totally non-Paleo lifestyle of consuming cereal, pizza, bread, and sugar like the average American. I first was introduced to the Paleo diet shortly after beginning CrossFit which was almost 9 years ago. The Paleo diet was the best way to start for me and I believe it’s the best way for everyone to start a healthy lifestyle. For me the paleo diet introduced a new palate on my tongue, one that is not addicted to sugar. It took me a few years of discipline to get all the processed food to a minimum. I really started to love veggies and cooking for the first time in my life and leftovers didn’t go to the fridge to die anymore. I ate all types of meat, all types of veggies, and all the good fats I could. I was feeling pretty good.

The next diet I “heard about” was the keto-diet with bulletproof coffee. This is still very popular today. Although, I may have not actually reached ketosis (when your body is using fat as its primary fuel) I learned how quality fats kept me satiated and full almost all day. After all, at that time I ate little to no carbs and only 2 meals a day. I started to lean out a little so I thought it was working but then things changed. I noticed within 2-3 weeks my performance in the gym was terrible. I started to feel very tired, like I had no drive in my legs to squat- I didn’t have brain fog- just leg fog. 🙂

So after my performance in the gym continued to decline I decided to ditch the bulletproof coffee.  As a CrossFitter I cared about how much I squatted and wanted to get my Olympic lifts stronger and ultimately I wanted energy when I worked out. I wanted to feel good training! Next I turned to carb cycling, with little to no research I dove head first into it like I did with my version of the keto-diet. I was eating probably 500-600 grams of white rice after my workout. Picture half of your plate covered in rice! Goodness gracious, I believe that is probably close to 500-600 grams of carbs and close to 45-55g of protein. I had no idea!!!!! This diet I attribute to my fluff stage. 🙂 But I learned something… I learned that carbohydrates help with performance, especially with CrossFit and gaining strength. My energy was significantly better than before so I was excited!

After life changed a bit and got busier I wasn’t able to train as much as I used to so I settled back into the paleo groove and was not consuming white rice like I was living in a foreign country.

About 6-8 months later I discovered flexible dieting. During the early stages of this for me I was in a constant state of shock because I learned what and how much I ate affected my performance and body composition. The ratio of carbohydrates, fats, and protein was considerably WAYYY off when I first began. So within time, flexible dieting had opened my eyes to portion control. I initially lost over 15 pounds in about 3 months and have now maintained that and more for over 2 years yet the best part was even though I lost weight I was getting stronger. So for me, flexible dieting is a no-brainer because it works and will continue to work for everyone that sticks with it.

I am so thankful I went through all those stages of dieting to finally come to one that makes sense and works.

But,… there is always a but. What I have learned most recently just macro counting/flexible dieting is not perfect. Ha, you probably think I’m crazy now but let me tell you why. Macronutrients consist of protein, carbs, and fat. When I got consumed with hitting my numbers I lost track of something that is also very important, MICRONUTRIENTS! Simply put, when I know I need x amount of carbs and one sweet potato would do the trick- I make it easy for myself and just eat it. Yes, it works but what I did… is I got lazy. I got lazy in the sense of cooking. I stopped using a variety of veggies and recipes like I did when I ate paleo. If I am being honest on a normal day, I’d only have ONE serving of veggies. If I had a salad for lunch that day- that would make TWO servings of veggies. WOW, I completely stopped eating veggies like I was doing before when I ate paleo. When you neglect veggies it allows for more wiggle room for sugar to creep back into your diet.  And sugar is ultimately the enemy here!

I cared so much about my macronutrients affecting my performance that I forgot the value of micronutrients. What are micronutrients? They are vitamins and minerals that come from fruits and vegetables that are ESSENTIAL FOR US TO EAT. Micronutrients are not a direct source of energy like macronutrients. Instead, they facilitate energy production, they transport oxygen and CO2, they regulate fluid balance, and protect against oxidative damage and stress. WOW, if I don’t have much micronutrients coming in… it greatly can affect my ability to make energy from protein, carbs, and fats I am eating.  I had totally lost track and overlooked micronutrients.

So what do I do now? Well the average athlete, aka CrossFitter, you need 7-12 servings of vegetables/fruit per day. Do you realize how much that is? Goodness, I would be so veggie stuffed (fiber stuffed) that I wouldn’t have room in my belly to fill up my daily amount of my carbs. So that would limit me eating my favorite carby stuff like quinoa, sweet potatoes, and brown rice. Knowing that I do not and most likely won’t get enough micronutrients I now take 3 capsules two times daily to fill in the gap. I started taking Juice Plus 2 months ago. Juice Plus is the most researched encapsulated product in the world and it is distributed right here in TN. What is it? It is whole food based nutrition in powdered form. There are over 30 different types of fruits and veggies in these capsules. People ask me, can you tell a difference?

Well now that my macronutrients are on point and my micronutrients are too I am recovering from workouts like a champ. One neat thing that I have also noticed is my bruising has decreased significantly, and if you know me I bruise like a peach. After all, it should be my nickname. Now my bruising is minimal but if I do bruise it heals significantly faster than before. Also, my teeth and gums appear in a better condition too. This doesn’t mean that I have thrown in the towel and just use this product and still do not eat veggies; instead, it has inspired me to eat way more. I crave way more veggies now after taking Juice Plus!

My nutrition story was a big personal experiment to find out what works for me. Currently, I am counting my macros and taking my Juice Plus as well as being mindful of how much micronutrients I am consuming.  I hope by reading this you can see that no diet is perfect but what is perfect is simple, eat wholesome ingredients and see food as a fuel something to help your body (your engine) run as best as it possibly can.

Secrets of success:

  1. Read nutrition labels.
  2. Cut out sugar and processed foods
  3. Eat nuts and seeds, fruits and veggies
  4. Eat quality fats; coconut oil, grassfed beef, grassfed eggs, wild caught fish, avocados, kerrygold butter.
  5. Eat lean meats often; chicken/fish
  6. Get your micronutrients!
  7. Drink 3 liters- 5 liters of water daily
  8. Sleep 7 hours
  9. Be mindful- get off your phone for a little while
  10. Train. Workout. Have “ME TIME”

Questions on my experience? Questions on how to get started with Juice Plus? Questions on how to get started with Flexible dieting? I’d love to hear from you. Please forgive me of run-on sentences and improper use of commas. 🙂

Email: [email protected]

He Gave Us More Than His Life

Just some hindsight from last Monday’s workout for all of us to consider.  Perhaps there is more that we can do to honor our fallen heroes on Memorial Day?  You may agree that there is, especially if you take a real close look at Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy’s favorite workout.  The one he called “Body Armor”.  The one we call “Murph”.

There is nothing better in life than opportunity and Murph gives us the opportunity to do more than participate in the workout that bares his name.  It gives us a myriad of added benefits as well.

For one, we come to the realization of how simple life should be in every aspect, like fitness and how we go about achieving it.  By getting back to the basics.  Benefit No. 2 gives us the opportunity to attain some totally achievable goals that we can set for ourselves.  Finally, No. 3, the opportunity to do workouts without having to go to the gym, whether it be for a lack of time or being on the road such as a business trip or vacation.

Murph is a very challenging workout.  However, when you look at it realistically, the only thing that makes it such a monster is the volume of movements.  The movements themselves couldn’t be more basic.  Running, pull-ups, pushups, and air squats.

That is what makes Murph so beautiful.  Fitness made simple by getting back to the basics.  How many of you said to yourselves in the middle of Monday’s workout, “Damn, I need to work on my pull-ups?”  Or, “Wow, I really crashed and burned on my pushups.  Maybe I should take some time to get better with them.”  Getting in shape doesn’t have to be complicated.  We can get it all from head to toe with the very basic movements prescribed in Murph!

In order to enjoy the 2nd benefit, you’re going to have to set some goals.  Murph gives us an almost perfect opportunity to set goals that are attainable and not too far fetched.  First, for just a moment, we need to forget about 2 miles of running, 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, and 300 air squats.

Lets take a look at pull-ups as an example.  How many of us can’t do a strict pull-up?  The answer would be, many of us.  Why not make that one of your goals for the upcoming months?  There are so many ways for you to achieve the goal of 1 strict pull-up.  The power of the internet can help you find different progressions such as negatives, or jumping pull-ups with a box, or ring rows.  The point is, with the proper direction and work ethic, you can work your way to conquering the basic pull-up, and Lieutenant Murphy seems like the kind of soul that would be just as proud of the person who worked their ass off to get just one as he would be of the person who trained themselves to knock out 200.

Obviously, the same philosophy can be applied to pushups, squats, and running.  If you can’t run, row, swim, or climb a rope.  But enjoy Murph in how it gives us this opportunity to set simple goals and get better in the process!

As for benefit No. 3, Murph allows us to get in shape, or stay on course with our fitness regimen even if we can’t get to the gym.  If you’re at home and have 45 minutes before dinner, slap on your running shoes and do about 3 laps around the block.  Then go back inside and do 50 or 60 pushups.  You probably don’t have a pull-up bar at home, but you can do burpees!  Oh wait, yuk!  Do sit-ups, yeah that’s the ticket!  Knock out about 100 or so sit-ups, take care of about 100 air squats, run back outside for another 3 laps around the block and you will be smoked!

You just gave yourself a great workout without having to get in your car and drive to a place that has barbells, kettle bells, and wall balls.  So the next time you’re crunched for time or on the road, you can do a version of Murph either out of your house or your hotel room.

The added benefits of Murph will pay huge dividends for every individual who puts those ideas to practice.  Which is, ultimately, the best way to honor Lieutenant Michael Murphy and all the heroes just like him all year ‘round.  Instead of just on Memorial Day.

McD

Where Have You Been?

My wife and I took a trip to Chicago last summer and with the weather warning up, I’m reminded of how great that trip was.  Vacations and time off are great.  It’s fun to let everything go for just a little while, right?  Eat what you want, when you want.  When you’re on vacation there are days when you don’t even wait until happy hour to have a beer or two.  And talk about letting things go.  I had intentions of keeping up with my workouts.  After all, whether you’re in Chicago or Spokane, WA, there’s almost as many CrossFit boxes as Starbucks these days so I knew of at least three places within walking distance of my hotel.  But did I go?  Only once in a 6 day visit.

We always become concerned that when we’re away from the gym for a certain amount of time that maybe, just maybe we’ve lost everything you’ve worked for.  Or, “I’m going to get crushed in this WOD cuz I haven’t been in the gym in over a week and I’m so out of shape.”  That kind of concern sparks a lot of second guessing to a point where, the next thing you know, it’s been two weeks since you’ve been to the gym and you’re not even on vacation.  Well I’m here to tell you that you didn’t lose it all.  NOPE!  Not true.

After returning from my 1-week hiatus, I found out that my first day back was just like any other workout.  I’m not claiming to be an expert in the fitness field, but I believe, based on my own experiences, that the body has amazing muscle memory which includes your cardio vascular system.  I picked up where I left off without having to scale back on load or intensity.  In fact, if it wasn’t for a few of my friends who claimed to miss me (Ah, isn’t that sweet!), no one would have noticed that I’ve been MIA, at least not by my output during the WOD.

As a result, I was looking forward to daily workouts again, and I was in the gym the very next day, and the day after that!

Now, how about if you’ve been gone for a month or even two months?  Should you scale back, ease your way into it?  Again, going off personal experience, I say no.  Your body will do that for you.  All you have to do is give it your best and don’t cheat yourself.  You may not to be as fast or as strong as you were when you were hitting the gym more consistently, and that’s just your body adjusting to the time off.

For example, I remember having to take 8 weeks to rehab after a hernia operation, and while I was concerned that I would injure myself again, I found that getting right back to everything, volume, load, intensity, was the way to go.  I was assured by my doctor that the operation was sound, that it was close to impossible that I would aggravate the repaired hernia.  In fact, the doc suggested that I, “Just get after it.”  The payoff was tremendous!  Great workouts always are.

I mention this because I notice that many of us are not attending to our fitness on a regular basis, and I’m pretty sure that it’s not just vacation time.  I assure you that I’m not trying to lay the guilt trip on you or rat you out to the CrossFit police for poor attendance.

Life is a bitch, I know.  Some schedules are pretty demanding, leaving little or no time to workout.  If you haven’t been to the gym in over a week, or even a month or more, don’t let the concerns or fears that I mentioned above talk you out of your awesome comeback.

You know you love CrossFit and that you’ll have to get back sooner or later.  Hopefully this will serve as a reminder that after a long layoff, your first workout is just another workout.  No different from the ones you encountered when you were working out 2-3 days in a row on a consistent basis.  In fact, I’m counting on you being able to find a way to work us back into your routine no matter how busy you are.  You’ll know after your first day that you made the right decision.  Besides, we miss you!

So it’s time for your grand return!  We look forward to seeing you, and let me be the first to razz you for being away for so long with something witty, comical and creative such as, “Hi, you must be new.  My name is Mike.  Who the hell are you?”  Hilarious!

McD

What the Hell Are You Guys Playin’ Now? My Story About Music and WODs

I’ve been sneaking into the gym on Sunday mornings here and there to get caught up with a few of my personal goals.  Not with just weightlifting or mobility, but trying to settle the score with myself in areas where I feel like I failed with certain workouts.  For example, a while back, for nostalgia’s sake, we did a repeat of 14.1 (10 min AMRAP of 30 Double Unders and 15 Power Snatches at 75#).  It crushed me.

So on a recent Sunday I came in to make amends for my failure.  I had high aspirations on how I was going to improve my score.  How about me crushing this WOD instead of it crushing me?  Let’s get this monkey off my back!

First, I’m sure you know as well as I that working out on your own is kind of daring.  I’m not trying to say that it’s dangerous, but it’s daring to come in on your own with no coach to push you, none of your workout buddies egging you on, and the whole time you’re there to conquer something that’s been eating away at your for weeks!

How many times have you gone in on your own with high expectations of what you’re going to accomplish only to find yourself justifying how doing some light stretching and maybe a couple of air squats is, ‘enough for one day’.  Of course mustering the discipline to actually put yourself through a tough workout when you’re all by yourself is the subject of another post coming to your Facebook page in the weeks to come.  (Unfriend me now.  While you have the chance!!)

Let’s talk about the music.

You know the music at the gym.  Especially a CrossFit gym.  It’s very loud, and to some of us, very unfamiliar. Even though I don’t know the title of most of the songs or who the bands are, I understand the scheme.  Head banger stuff for the intense WODs, such as a metcon.  While we’re stretching and warming up they seem to keep it medium with some Pop, or at least I think its Pop.

We love music while we’re working out.  It sets the tone, it motivates you, it rocks you, relaxes you, helps you stretch, gets you psyched up, but I’m 58 and I’m almost always the oldest person in the gym.  Therefore, they’re never playin’ the stuff I like and I constantly find myself saying, “What in God’s name is this?”

Which brings me to a funny story about how this one Sunday, I was in the gym all by myself.  That meant that I got to play DJ!!  I was in control of the music!!   So I ran the music from one of my playlists that I have on my Spotify app installed on my phone.  I realize that a 20-something-year-old would walk in to the gym with my Ramones or Guns ’n Roses blasting and would say the same thing I end up saying almost every day of the week, such as, “What is this?”  But here’s how “My” music foiled my plans.

As afore mentioned, I was at the gym to take on a very challenging WOD that we did at SOPO back in January.  14.1.  10 minutes of brutality unleashed in the form of Double under and Power Snatches.  I start the timer and 3-2-1, I’m off.  “Bitch” by The Rolling Stones is blaring over the speakers and it’s got me pumped!  I’m singing the song to myself, “My heart is pumping louder than a big bass drum, alright!”

Well I’m flying through the first round and the whole time I’m thinking to myself, “Wow, if only I had the chance to play “My” music everyday, I’d be a beast!”  It was just then that “Bitch” started to fade and the next song was “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straights.  Wait!  What?  Hold on!  Oh crap!!  In case you’re unaware, “Sultans of Swing” was a Top-10 song back in the 70’s.  A great record, but not something you would put in the ‘intense WOD’ category.  I mean talk about a buzz kill.

So now, the only reason that my “Heart was pumping louder than a big bass drum” was because the workout was starting to kick my ass and I just lost all my musical inspiration.  I would have been better off with “Pleasant Valley Sunday” by the Monkees.  (Google them if you’re unfamiliar with the Monkees.)

To be fair to Mark Knopfler and company, 14.1 is a pretty tough workout, but on top of having the bottom drop out of my music intensity, I couldn’t stop laughing at myself for being such a goob by not checking my playlist to make sure that I had at least 10 minutes of stuff in the “Kick Ass” category as opposed to, well, “Sultans of Swing.”  You try stringing together 30 DU’s unbroken while you’re smoked and laughing all at the same time.

Needless to say, my attempt to make good with 14.1 ended dismally, again!  However, and as always with failure, I learned a lesson or two that lonely Sunday.  I learned that working out everyday to VolBeat, or Cage the Elephant, or Cradle of Filth (Who are these guys????) isn’t really so bad.

So you guys listen to whoever or whatever you want, and be glad that the workouts drain me to a point where I don’t have the energy to scream at the top of my hyperventilating lungs, “Turn that crap down!”  Also, on the days that I teach, keep in mind that I take requests.  Don’t be shy.  I’ll try to find it even if I have no idea who or what they are.  Except for Adelle.  Don’t try to slip that one past me.  I know who she is and that’s where I draw the line.

McD

Are You Living Like There’s No Tomorrow?

I remember reading a commencement speech that Steve Jobs delivered to the class of 2005 at Stanford University.  To paraphrase, he said that he would look into the mirror and ask himself, “If this was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

Now let’s be honest, Mr. Jobs was encouraging the class of 2005 to make wise choices for a career or occupation, but here’s a twist on the concept of your last day on Earth:  If you woke up and realized that today was going to be the last day of your life, would you go to the gym?  I imagine that the most popular answer to that question would be along the lines of, “Oh hell no!”

I don’t dispute the answer, but I do think that it’s that type of thinking that has the general population in the poor state of health that it’s currently in.

What I mean when I say ‘that type of thinking’ is, basically people want to enjoy life.  After all, what sounds better, going to lunch with your friends for a burger and fries or going to the gym? Going home after work for a glass of wine and ordering pizza, or going to the gym?  Waking up Saturday morning and cooking waffles for the family, or going to the gym?

If we take the path of least resistance, which most of us do, we go for the pizza, the wine, and the waffles.  After all, it’s all about enjoying life, right?  Especially if your other choice is going to the gym.  (This is where you gaze up to the ceiling, raise your arms in the air and say out loud, “What a revelation”!  Hah!  I do have my moments.)

However, are you really enjoying life?  Do we realize that it’s hard to enjoy life when you have a lot of back pain, achy joints, shortness of breath, lack of mobility, headaches,  and being tired all the time?

Your self esteem could be a little wonky as well.  Are you happy with what you see when you look into a mirror?  How about when you’re trying to wiggle into a pair of jeans you bought just 6 months ago?

Now I’ll be honest, if today was my last day on earth, I wouldn’t go to the gym either.  However, this isn’t a commencement speech, this is life.  The general plan doesn’t include dying today, or anytime soon.  Which means you can’t always be thinking about, “You only live once” when you’re trying to make a sound decision about whether you should go to the gym or go to happy hour.  Or should you?  How long do you think you’ll be around if you keep taking the path of least resistance?  Again, lets remind ourselves, we only live once.

I know that modern medicine has a way of keeping some people alive into their 80’s or 90’s, despite a number of maladies, but when I’m 85, I don’t want to be in a nursing home with 2 or 3 people holding me up by the arms, walking me to the bathroom just so I can take a crap.  (That’s what my buddies at the gym are for. OHHHHH!  [sorry].)

20 years from now I want to enjoy life just as I am now, with very few aches and pains, looking good, decent mobility, and quality sleep.  That means the ‘ol line of, “I’m just trying to enjoy life” is just a lie and a lousy excuse for not putting in the work you need to in order to truly enjoy life.  (Oh, oh!  That’s two revelations in one post.  Your head is about to explode!!!)

I’m guessing that it all comes down to a decision that you have to make for yourself on how you want to live.  What quality of life do you want to maintain, because you’re going to have to provide the maintenance.

Do you want to live truly enjoying life, or do you want to be in a state where you’re driving yourself around in one of those motorized shopping carts just to get your groceries?  If you chose the former instead of the latter, than you’re just going to have to make wiser choices about getting your booty into the gym.  Allow yourself maybe one slip-up a week.  That’s it.

Also, you’re gonna have to stop eating like there’s no tomorrow.  That’s because there are alot of tomorrows ahead of you and you want to live well.  Actually you want to live fit.

At least until we have undisputed evidence that the apocalypse is upon us.  See ya tomorrow.

McD

So Many Movements, So Little Time

Now that the Open is over I have a few ‘thought provoking’ observations about our members at SOPO and CrossFitters in general.  The Open can be many things.  Intimidating, fun, challenging, brutal, up lifting, or even depressing.  However, it sure has a way of pointing out your weakness year after year, doesn’t it?

Just yesterday a few of us were hangin’ out after a noon WOD, socializing and shootin’ the breeze.  Someone said, “Man, I used to be so good at running.”  Or, “I used to be so good at pull-ups, I don’t know what happened.”  Our coach and manager, Amanda Evans shared some SOPO knowledge and wisdom when she basically said that what we’re doing is defying age.  We work on a few things everyday where, over time, you become efficient at all the moves, maybe not great, but efficient.  The main thing is, we’re getting in better shape.

That’s hitting the nail right on the head isn’t it?   When it comes to CrossFit, thats what it’s all about.  “Functional movements,” and becoming fit enough to take on whatever life throws at you.

Still, what do we do about conquering our weaknesses?  What it comes down to is, in my humble and non-wizardly opinion is, what kind of athlete do you want to be based on the lifestyle you choose to live?  I’ll put it another way.  Do you want to train like a professional athlete, or can you budget only an hour a day, 3 to 4 days a week?  After all, you have family, activities outside the gym, a job.

A funny thing happens to me every time I focus on one or two movements, trying to perfect them.  I end up becoming inefficient at something else.  Something that wasn’t even a weakness a couple of months ago, suddenly I suck at it!  (By the way, I’m spilling the truth in the hopes that you can relate to this.  I’m kind of hoping that you and I have this in common.)

I can give a perfect example.  I worked on my double under every single day before my regular class and after.  I actually got pretty good at them.  Then one day I found out that I couldn’t do a handstand push up to save my life!  So, instead of working on double unders, I started working on handstand pushups, everyday before and after my regular class.  Suddenly a WOD came along calling for double unders and guess what?  I couldn’t string more than 2 or 3 of them together for the entire workout.  I walked out of the gym that day extremely disappointed because DU’s used to be my specialty.

It suddenly dawned on me that if I want to get really good at everything, I mean everything, I’m gonna have to spend more time in the gym.  I tried 2-a-days for a while, but it’s really, really hard.  For one, it’s a HUGE commitment, and two, just about every day a funny thing called “Life” would come around and I had to adjust my plans.  Translation:  I’m not going to the gym for that second workout because someone needs a ride, or there’s no food in the house, or something came up at work.

The lifestyle you would have to lead in order to become the athlete that has no weaknesses is either beyond what you’re willing to put in to it, or beyond what you are already committed to.  Plain and simple.

So weaknesses, yeah, you’ll discover that you have a few…   But the cool thing about CrossFit is, that while it’s designed to “Forge Fitness” for even the most serious athletes, it’s also designed to make you fitter than you’ve ever been.  All in about 1 hour a day, 3 to 5 days a week!

Think about where you are right now compared to before you walked into our gym here at SOPO.  You know you’re getting the results that you never got before.  You feel better, you’re stronger, more mobile.  Compared to about 95% of your coworkers, you’re a beast!  Compared to the parents you share the stands with at your kid’s soccer games, you’re a beast.  Compared to people who walk on a treadmill 3 to 5 days a week, you’re a beast!  When you’re at the grocery store, you don’t need help out to the car because you’re a beast!

We have the rest of our lives to work on our weaknesses, and you’ll discover that you’ll have more life to do just that because of your age defying workouts.  Also remember this:  Even T-Rex, yes the baddest dinosaur in the forest, had a few flaws.  Like those stubby little arms and that high-pitched screechy scream!  What was up with all that????

McD

You’re Welcome!

The gym was packed and it was loud as he walked in with that very uneasy look on his face.  An unfamiliar space with lots of unfamiliar faces.  I’ve been there and probably so have you.  No matter how much CrossFit experience you may have, it’s always a bit unnerving walking into a strange gym, especially when you’re traveling on business.  You’re alone and even a little bit lonely.

In the CrossFit world, we call them “drop ins” ( I know you dig all the insightful lingo!!).  They’re basically a non member who looked you up specifically because you offer CrossFit.  For a small fee they get to enjoy the facilities.  Most places, like us, even offer a package where they can, for just $5.00 more, get the gym’s T-Shirt as well.  (While I’m on the subject of T-Shirts, ours are stylish, colorful, and competitively priced.  Wink, wink)

I don’t want to give his real name, so let’s just call him Clayton.  Clayton dropped in on us from the East Coast.  He’s an older guy, I’m guessing around 50 -55, in great shape, and he loves CrossFit.

Since he’s traveling all the time, he has a pretty keen insight of how demographics and communities vary from box to box (Ooops, more lingo.  A ‘Box’ is a CrossFit gym.  I’m a CrossFit glossary!).

He told me after the workout that he really appreciates our gym, not just from the instruction he received, but because of the hospitality that was extended to him, and he commented mostly on our members.

He said that he’s been in a couple of places where he was surrounded by young, super strong athletes, who he couldn’t hold a candle too.  He felt intimidated and out of place, despite having close to two years of CrossFit experience under his belt.

To me, it begs the question:  Was it the level of elite athleticism and age difference in some of these gyms that made him so uncomfortable, or was it that he just didn’t feel welcome?

I think that no matter the level of fitness in any particular box, it is the makeup of your ‘community’, the people in your gym and how they behave towards newcomers that makes a person feel welcome or, on the flip side, totally out of place.

Anyone is going to be in awe of someone who can clean and jerk 350# while you can handle only 125#.  It can also be very intimidating.  But that doesn’t mean that the badass of the gym has to be stuck-up and unwilling to talk and interact with a stranger.  After all, we’re after the same thing, right?

So I learned a lot from my conversation with Clayton.  Its important to be nice to other individuals, no matter their level of fitness and strength.  It’s a clear message to all elite athletes (and no, I’m not putting myself in that category).  The message is that it’s pretty cool for a person of inferior physical ability to be in awe of you, but it’s better for them to be comfortable around you.

I’m proud of our members for showing Clayton a good time during his brief stay at SOPO.  I’m also very proud of the two coaches that are here the majority of the time, Amanda and Tim.  I happen to think the community that we have at SOPO is a direct reflection of them because the members of our gym are the very people that our coaches draw in.

So if you’re in the neighborhood and you need to ‘drop in’, we’re here.  Ready to do our job, actually more than our job.  We’ll provide you with a great workout, and a nice space to do it in, but most of all, we’ll make you feel welcome.

Oh, and don’t forget those snazzy T-Shirts!!

#sopostrong#sopocool

McD

It’s Been 7 Months, 1 Week, and 5 Days Since I’ve Had A Diet Coke. My Story

I’m 15 minutes late getting home to meet the plumber.  In fact, as I pull into the garage, I can see him parked in front of my house.  I get inside and my dogs are barking.  They wanna go outside and come to think of it, I gotta go pee too.  The door bell rings, it’s the plumber, and then for added measure, my phone starts to vibrate.

Doorbell ringing, dogs barking, someone calling, and I gotta piss, but all that doesn’t matter.  I don’t let the dogs out, I don’t let the plumber in, I don’t answer my phone, and I don’t go pee.  I go straight to the refrigerator and grab a 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke, twist the cap and take about a 12 ounce swig and swallow in relief.

It’s not my intention to be overly dramatic, but I just didn’t take a taste of soda, I attacked it!  I didn’t even pour it in a glass and wait for the foam to fizz down.  As if I had just walked across the desert for two days without water.  Just like an alcoholic takes that first desperate gulp of whiskey for the day.  My Diet Coke habit had become frenzied.  I just didn’t realize it until then.

I looked at myself and asked, “What are you?”  Call it a moment of clarity, again the alcoholic comparison, but I saw myself for who I truly was.  This is not an exaggeration, but I was drinking a two liter bottle of Diet Coke every day.  Sometimes even more.

The picture of myself behaving so desperately didn’t sit well with me.  So I quit!  At the time of this writing it’s been 7 months, 1 week, and 5 days since I’ve had a Diet Coke.  Now, since we all have our own cravings and addictions, the question is, how did I do it?

Before I explain, I want you to know that this is truly an addiction for me and getting over it was, and still is, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with on both a physical and mental level.  I see a Diet Coke in the refrigerator or at the grocery store and my mouth starts to water.  My stomach growls and my mind starts talking to me in a real bad way.  Picture the Diet Coke Devil popping up on my shoulder saying, “Go ahead!  Buy it, drink it, guzzle it, love it!!!”  It’s insane.

I also want you to know that I didn’t resort to some unconventional method that made it easy, although I did consider hypnosis, or lightning candles and incense all around me to ward off bad spirits.  (Kidding!)  I did, however, play some mind tricks with myself that might help you when it comes to dealing with your own demons in your quest to eating clean.

The next day when I got home from the gym, instead of partaking in my daily ritual of mass consumptions of Diet Coke, I told myself to ignore my cravings for just 1 hour.  It was dreadful, but I made it.  Then, I rewarded myself with a Diet Coke.  The next day I went 2 hours, then 3 hours.  It got to a point where I went an entire 24-hour period without a Diet Coke.

So this is where the truth comes out about dieting or exercising will-power:  Your gonna fail every now and then.  For me, I would be able to go a day without a Diet Coke, but I was never able to get much further.  It happened about a gazillion times until I finally decided to try and learn something from my failures.

It was then that I realized that I didn’t want to face life without Diet Coke.  I just couldn’t imagine life being fun or enjoyable without it.  So here’s where I started to play my little mind trick.   I just told myself that I wasn’t quitting all together, and, once again, I challenged myself to go one day without a Diet Coke.  I kept reminding myself that there was no way that I was quitting all together.  Uh, uhhhh!  The next day came and again I told myself, “You’re not quitting, you’re just going to go another day.”

Finally, after several tries, I actually went 48 hours without a Diet Coke!  So I went for a third day, all the while assuring myself that I’m not quitting, “This is only temporary.  You’ve got the rest of your life to quit.”

Next thing you know, 3 days became 4, 4 became 5, and so on.  When I made it a whole week, that’s when I told myself, “Ok, this is it.  I’m done.”  And I never looked back.  At least not for 7 months, 1 week, and 5 days.  Bottom line was, I had to convince both my brain and my body  that I can make it without Diet Coke.

So what is your one thing that you would like to get rid of that will turn your life around?  It could be bread, chips, or chocolate.  Come to think of it, most of us are hooked on all three!  But whatever your cravings, weaknesses, or addictions are, don’t look at it as a challenge (another mind trick).  Look at it as an opportunity to do something really, really hard and conquer it.

Just like one of our super, soul crushing WODs that we do all the time in the gym.  How good do you feel when you finish?  You feel great because you took on something that intimidated you, made you doubt yourself, yet you crushed it!  That’s what makes CrossFit so great.  The fact that it’s not for everyone because it’s hard.  If it was easy, everyone would do it.  Keep reminding yourself that you’re part of a very small group of people who are elite when it comes to training.

Now go do the same thing with your food addictions!