Monday, November 5, 2012

We've Moved!

One of the reasons I haven't been posting (besides a busy season at work) is that I've been moving content over to a new space. It has the same content as this blog, but has a nicer interface, separate section for photography, and better viewing on cell phones. I am shutting this site down, so go and bookmark the new one. Also, if you signed up for email subscriptions here, you'll have to re-do it on the new site! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Yoga for CrossFit

Check out this Lululemon blog article about Yoga for CrossFit. I found it searching for Luon tanks and sports bras randomly and I agree with Holmberg's quote of needing to keep your hip, ankle, and shoulder flexibility in check. Having had a taste for the yogi world, I can tell you it's not easy, so I give kudos to all of you gumby girls and boys out there. Check out my "Power Yoga for CrossFit" post for more moves you can use to keep your CrossFit body limber. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My First CrossFit Workout

I recently went back and looked at the first workout I ever did that was CrossFit related. It was the mainsite workout on January 31, 2008 and I scaled every single movement using CrossFit Brand X Forum. The Rx'd workout is in black, my scaled version is in red:

Three rounds for time of:
225 Deadlift, 15 reps (95lb. deadlift, 10 reps)
15 Handstand push-ups (10 hspu's on 3ft. box)
15 Pull-ups (10 strict pull ups)
95 pound Thruster, 15 reps (65lb. thruster, 10 reps)

My time? 12:42

I had decent bodyweight strength to do pull ups, but anything with weight was awful. My notes after the workout were:
"First time ever doing CrossFit, trying to get in a good workout routine. Never liked doing big lifting but after feeling my lower back during dead lifts, can see the value in them."

People see me now and think I've always been decent at CrossFit. This clearly shows that I had a lot of work to do, but putting in the time and effort has paid off. Don't get discouraged if you're just starting off with CrossFit or if you've plateaued. Focus on building strength through linear progression and you'll see good things.

Do you remember your first workout? What was it? Did you scale?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Outside Magazine - Superman Push Ups

 If you happen to pick up or subscribe to Outside Magazine (October issue), you'll find me on the last page in their "Parting Shot." Outside is one of the two magazines I subscribe to (Backpacker being the other), so I was pretty stoked when the editors wanted the picture in their 35th anniversary edition.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store and bought a few extra copies to have on hand. The cashier looked at me and said "You know you're buying three of the same thing?" I said, "Yep."

caption: "CrossFit coaches Tim Pappas (left) and Chris Plentus doing jumping push-ups at New Jersey's Wildwood Beach."

Here's the video of me learning how to superman push up from fellow CrossFitter Mike years ago:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Get Your Caffeine Fix - Coffee to Go (La Colombe and Chameleon Cold-Brew)

Just like there are republicans and democrats, there are coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers. I'm a coffee drinker. (you can guess the political careful, as I didn't mention libertarian!) To give you an idea of the type of tolerance to caffeine I have, I usually get a Starbucks venti black eye. This means 20oz. of drip coffee with two shots of espresso, black. I don't get this everyday, but if I had the funds, I would. We did invest in a legit espresso machine, so I'll make two shots to drink on my way to work. Curiously, I don't feel withdrawal or incredibly tired if I don't have coffee (recently for Labor Day, I decided to not drink coffee for 5 straight days and I was fine). Anyway, while I've seen flavored and sugary to-go drinks like Starbucks' bottled frappuccino, and instant coffee like Starbucks Via packets (incredible invention, especially while backpacking), I haven't seen much in the way of portable, ready-made black coffee. Until now. 

My good friend and health coach, Laura Pappas, gave me a bottle of La Colombe Pure black coffee. Here's a description of it from their website: 
Steeped for 16 hours in stainless steel wine tanks, free from oxygen, pressed and filtered twice, PURE BLACK is a bottled celebration of the culinary flavors of coffee - cocoa tones and sweet goodness. We recommend pouring PURE BLACK over ice.

La Colombe review: I drank it cold from the refrigerator and man, that's good coffee! I like my coffee dark and robust; this certainly was. I'm not sure what the caffeine content was, but after taking a few sips, I decided to add some fat to it which should help transport that caffeine a bit quicker to the system. I put some Nanak Pure Desi ghee and Now Foods MCT (medium chain triglyeride) oil in it and then used our handy Cuisinart Immersion blender to mix it all in. Since the coffee was cold, the ghee took a few passes through to get totally mixed in. (Note: all of those links lead to the products in my Amazon store. The cost is the same to you, but I get a few pennies if you buy something from there). 

coffee + ghee + MCT oil = buttery smooth coffee with a kick

The La Colombe bottled coffee was good enough that I would get it again. Laura picked it up from Whole Foods, but then later found it could also be bought from their website in packs of 2 or 12 bottles for $6 or $24 each, respectively. Shipping is $8.86 for UPS Ground (to Philadelphia area at least). 

After posting some pics to Facespace and Twittagram, my buddy John P. sent a pic of Chameleon Cold-Brew, another bottled coffee. Here is their description from their website:
Chameleon Cold-Brew is handcrafted in Austin, Texas by a small group of dedicated coffeenistas and entrepreneurs.  We brew each batch low and slow for more than 24 hours at a controlled temperature to produce a super smooth, extra caffeinated concentrated coffee with less acid than traditional hot-brewed coffees.  We only use 100% organic, Fair Trade Arabica coffee beans and filtered water. The rest is up to you. Enjoy Chameleon hot or cold, black, undiluted in small amounts or mixed with your favorite flavors, creamers, or other additions — and it’s perfect for drinking at home, at the office or on the go. You can find Chameleon Cold-Brew in the refrigerated section of select grocers in convenient and recyclable 16oz and 32oz glass bottles.
More than 24 hours? Wow! Pricing is $30 for three 32oz. bottles, or $22 for four 16oz. bottles.  John said that he got it at Wegman's, so I'm not sure what their price is. He also said he got the small bottle (I'm assuming he meant the 16oz. bottle) and that "it holds 4 servings. You're supposed to dilute with equal parts water." Which means that with one 16oz. bottle, you actually are getting 32oz. of regular coffee it seems. Or if you're like me, 16oz. of strong-enough coffee. 

In searching for the Chameleon Brew, I came across this caffeine database. It says that a 32oz. bottle of Chameleon Cold-Brew has 2160mg of caffeine in it, or 67mg per fl. oz. To give you some perspective on just how kick-you-in-the-pants strong this is, espresso comes in second with 51mg/oz. Yowzahs! So for $30, you're essentially getting a liter of jacked up espresso.

I have yet to try the Chameleon Cold-Brew, but I look forward to it. I am also waiting to see what other companies pop up selling ready-to-go black coffee. I like that these two companies use organic, fair trade beans and filtered water, plus they were both started with only a couple of guys in Philadelphia and Austin, respectively.

Do you know of other coffee-only products that are great to just grab and go? Post to comments and the world know. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

3 Tips to Help You Set a Deadlift PR

Coaching the deadlift is one of my favorite things to do (behind coaching the clean and jerk). Deadlifting is about speed, power, and mental toughness. Plus, it's just COOL to deadlift. As I've said before, I really like that CrossFit introduces strength training to women (REAL strength training, not 5lb. dumbbell strength training) and deadlifting is really empowering for the chicas.

Last night I coached three classes where the WOD was to find a 1RM on the deadlift (sumo or conventional). Out of 37 people, 24 of them PR'd. I know you might be thinking that they were all new and therefore, any number would have been a PR. Out of those 24 people, 18 of them were experienced CrossFitters with previous numbers to beat and the 6 who were new drastically exceeded expectations. 

Some examples of PR's: 
-110lbs. female member: going from 118lbs to 165lbs deadlift
-new member in her 50's who never lifted weights before: pulled 213lbs
-female member with a goal of 200lbs (already a 10# PR) but then continuing to 225lbs
-a three-year CF veteran setting a 30lb+ PR...and then later his wife set a 35lb PR
-two experienced CrossFitters setting 70lb PR's (380lbs and 475lbs respectively)

Looking back through workouts, the last time a 1RM deadlift came up was three months ago on 5/23/12 in a CrossFit total workout. 

There are some tips that are common for deadlift technique: Flat back, weight in the heels, externally rotate the legs (knees out), take the slack out of the bar, etc. I won't go over those here, but I will talk about three tips that I gave members last night:

Some days you got it and some days you don't. But on deadlift day, you better have it. And if you don't, then fake it. No one PRs on their deadlift in a blah mood. You have to get pumped up and either get excited, angry, or both. Think of something that either made you really happy or something that made you really mad. Yeah, pull an Adam Sandler and go to that happy place. Now go lift the bar. 
For people that have their form down, I'll have them jump up and down like a boxer before a match. Either tuck jumps, little hops, or slapping their thighs, I think this primes their body to explode out of the bottom of the deadlift. Like I said, I only do this with people who have good form b/c I don't need them jumping up and down and then quickly getting on the bar in a hunchback.
Once they are on the bar and ready to go, I kneel down to the side and YELL at (sometimes with) them. Usually it's something like "Let's go!" or "Speed!" (see #2, or "Commit to it!" (see #3) but I generally find yelling helps get that athlete's adrenaline pumping. 99% of the time when I'm coaching, I don't yell, but on 1RM deadlift day, I do. 

Rudy Nielsen of Outlaw CrossFit once had his members do an experiment. Instead of conventional deadlift programming, he had his members do heavy cleans. Then he tested their deadlift. Almost every single person PR'd. Why? Because they were so used to coming off the floor with the speed necessary for the clean that when it came to deadlifts, they used that same speed to set PR's. 
Last night I told folks to go FAST off the ground, even in light sets. When you watch someone deadlift at or near a PR weight, they move slowly. But you better believe that their EFFORT is fast and furious; it's the tremendous weight that's slowing them down. So many members technically got a "PR" last night, but were moving so fast that I told them to slap on 10's, 15's, etc. They looked at me like I had two heads, but the fact is that they were not anywhere near their TRUE 1RM.
The oh-so-important caveat is that you need to still have proper form coming off the ground. Going fast off the ground only to have your back round or jerk the bar erratically is not going to help your cause. There's a difference between a professional drag racer and a teenage kid looking to impress his girlfriend at a stop sign. Newbies, stick with honing your form for now. 

If newbs should ignore #1, then they should pay attention to #2: Commit to the lift. This means STICK WITH IT and don't give up easily. This happens a lot with coming off the floor in a deadlift. Too many times I see people grab the bar for 0.2 seconds and then give up. They haven't even tried! If you tell yourself to commit to the lift and keep pulling for four or five seconds, you just might surprise yourself. I've had deadlifts that look like their going nowhere, and then just like a long train getting started, the barbell suddenly clears the ground and picks up steam on the way to a PR. 
This might also happen if you stall at thigh-level and are trying to lock out with open hips. As long as your back isn't compromised, stick with it and see where the lift goes. If the going gets tough...well, you better keep going!

I think an underlying theme here is also the mental aspect of deadlifting, especially committing to the lift and getting psyched up. Believing in yourself and going for that PR is no easy task, especially when you just did a heavy single (or set a PR already). But if you can get psyched up, focus on speed from the floor, and commit to the lift, you're on your way to a PR. 

What tips do you have for setting a Deadlift PR? 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

CrossFitting with Friedreich's Ataxia - Kyle Bryant

Kyle Bryant joined CrossFit King of Prussia in early April this year and right away caught my attention. Not because he came in supported by a walker, nor subsequent times when he rolled in on his wheelchair, but because of his good-natured smile and incredible work ethic. As a coach, I always hope that people coming through our doors will be the positive, upbeat personalities that CrossFit typically attracts. Kyle fit this role to a T. Although I was not his coach for the intro workout he did, I remember Kyle introducing himself to me after he was done working out and I was finishing up coaching a class. A strong handshake and quick smile later, I knew Kyle would be a valuable asset to the KoP community. 

Mike Donofrio of CrossFit Generation documented Kyle's journey with Friedreich's Ataxia in the below video. As you'll learn in the video, FA is a fairly rare disease that breaks down muscle mass, including the heart. Kyle is a spokesperson for the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) and has biked across the country to raise awareness. The hope is that this video will also continue to raise awareness of FA and how it affects people. As an example of Kyle's positive nature, after he was finished with the CrossFit for Hope workout, he exclaimed, "That was definitely the gnarliest workout I've ever done!" 
Kyle, post CF for Hope workout - GNARLY!

The video is featured on the CrossFit Journal website, but it can also be found on CrossFit's Youtube channel. I love the fact that OG Miranda Oldroyd (who recently went through a severe car crash) left this comment on the CF Journal:
"I am just sitting here bawling! This is so inspirational! Kyle, thank you SO MUCH for being so fearless and refusing to give up in your own life. This needs to be shown A LOT...there are too many people out there making excuses!" - Miranda O.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kindle Books in Amazon Store

I just got a really nice email from a reader (who had a paleo-related question which I will answer on the blog) and one of the things he mentioned was that I needed to update my Amazon Store and asked if I could include a Kindle version. When I first added books, I thought the Kindle version was automatically linked to the hard copy...not so. 

So now I have Kindle versions of most of the books in there. If you happen to buy something through my Amazon store, it's the same price to you as if you had searched for it on you're own, but I get a small percent of the sale for the referral. I'm not making a living off this by any means, but hey, I'm also not getting paid to write this blog either, ha!

For T-shirts, "BOOM TIME" or "I eat 100% Paleo, 80% of the Time" head to my Spreadshirt Shop

If you have any ideas for T-shirts or things to add to the Amazon store, post to comments

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Shoulder Update

As some of you may know, I hurt my shoulder back in June at the CrossFit ACT Garage Games doing a weighted sit up. See my recap if you want to know more. 

Most people would think a weighted sit up would involve holding a plate across the chest and doing sit ups. Not there. There, we held 45# plates at an arm's length, touching in front of us and then laying back and touching above our head. However, on one of the reps, I felt something *crunch* in my right shoulder as I tried to bring the plate up from the ground. I ended up finishing the workout, but there was clearly something wrong. 

I spent the next month icing and not using the shoulder. I know, I know, recent important people in CrossFit land have now come public with their aversion to icing. But I digress. Even if I wanted to do pull ups or presses overhead, I couldn't. Range of motion was ok overhead (not so much reaching behind my back), but supporting any load, especially hanging from a pull up bar, was awful. 

I finally broke down and saw a doctor after a month of no progress. I wasn't in denial that I was hurt, but I had hurt my other shoulder two years ago and figured that rest would have been the first thing ordered. Anyway, the doc ordered an X-ray, but it showed nothing, so we went with an MRI. The voicemail he left me said, "when you had that injury, it looks like you tried to dislocate your shoulder, it tried to slide out of your socket. Looks like there is a cartilage defect in there and there's a tiny tear in your sub scapula. Best bet is to see a surgeon and get your shoulder scoped, get an arthroscopy so they can clean up whatever they can in there." 

So that's it. I basically tried to rip my shoulder out of it's socket. That's what's going to happen when you have 45# at the end of a 2ft. lever a.k.a. my arm. The former engineer in me remembers moment arms and torque and how this should not be tested on humans. Instead of that movement testing abdominal strength, it found the weak point of my shoulder socket and tried to rip it out like you would take the leg off a rotisserie chicken. 

If you've ever been injured before, you know that it can take you out of commission not only for that particular area, but even take you out mentally from wanting to work out. This is definitely the case for me, as even back squatting with a regular bar is impossible b/c of the shoulder ROM needed. (Yes, I've used the safety bar and it's worked, it's just not the same) It's amazing how many movements depend on the shoulder. 

So my appointment is middle of September. Unfortunately I don't have any cool X-rays or MRI images to share (at least not yet), but I will update you on how things are going. I've never been to the hospital for myself; no broken bones, no stitches, no major illnesses. (I did get a cortisone shot for my other shoulder for some bursitis) So I guess I'm making up for lost time by most likely needing a minimally invasive surgical procedure done. 

If anyone has any experience with this kind of thing, I'd love to hear from you. One of our members at KoP already sent me a blog that I need to take a closer look at. Either way, you can be pretty sure that I won't be icing the dang thing! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ask Chris: Why Power Cleans?

Chris - there is a video on the main site showing Orlando and Hogan going through the Games clean ladder - neither of them squat cleaned (some partial at the end). I would have expected full squat cleans over power cleans - any thoughts why they would pick one over the other? - Sam

There are three reasons why I will answer this old question from July 12th:
1. I like olympic lifting and talking about it
2. this is a short question with a somewhat short/simple answer
3. I know that Sam is not on social media like facebook, so he hasn't seen me post about this video in the past and can only see my communications via this blog.

When this mainsite demo video went up, I was excited to watch. Unfortunately as you can see, Rob and Katie both power clean towards the end of their respective attempts.

At first, this is a smart decision. Power cleans require more pulling with the hip and less squatting, thus saving the legs. For these two, the first set of bars are so light that not only do they not HAVE to squat clean, but it's smart to power clean to save the legs.

Towards the heavier weights, however, they still are power cleaning. I see this as two possible factors, with the latter being the more likely. First, their CNS (central nervous system) has already been wired to power clean and therefore, their bodies are just going through the same motions of what they have already performed. Perhaps they are even a little fatigued to the point of not wanting to squat. However, the second reason is that they are brute strength strong and are so used to power cleans their entire life. Squat cleaning is hard to do when you've power cleaned for 15+ years of your life as a power athlete (think football) or used it as accessory work (think powerlifter/strongman). When you are big and strong enough to power clean most things, that is going to be your tendency.

When this video went up, I commented on facebook that although it was awesome to watch, their form was awful. I didn't want people to look at their wide feet (3-4ft across) and think this was acceptable in any oly lifting gym. You should land in the same exact place in a power clean as you would a squat clean. Think about that for a minute. You should land in the same exact place in a power clean as you would a squat clean. After all, isn't a power clean just a tall squat clean without going below parallel. Well, it should be, anyway.

It took a long time to actually find a picture of a proper power clean on the interwebs. There are plenty of incorrect ones out there, but I had to go to a trusty source for all things oly lifting: Catalyst Athletics. These guys know their stuff (Greg and Aimee Everett). Here is Aimee in a proper power clean position. Notice how far apart her feet are: NOT VERY! She could very easily squat in this position. Amazing high elbows too.

Rob and Katie went wide because they weren't comfortable squatting, but they had to meet the bar low (the wider your legs, the lower your torso). They probably could have each moved to the next bar, if not two bars higher if they squatted. (Despite my criticism, they both would still kick my ass in power or squat cleans)

So when you're power cleaning, give yourself the squat test: catch it in a power position and see if you can squat down. If you can't, you haven't landed correctly.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

CrossFit Girls: Looks Causing Controversy

Bella Clayton. From
Pamela Monger. From
Whenever a picture like these pops up on, inevitably there is a flurry of comments either criticizing or defending the athlete(s). "Is this really necessary, I don't want my kids to see this stuff" to "If you got it, flaunt it!" are generally the two ends of same stick of comments. During the 2012 CrossFit Games, one of the most controversial commercials was Reebok CrossFit's "Turning 7's into 10's" which is embedded below. (interestingly, it is not on their Youtube channel)

And on 8/3/12, this was the mainsite WOD demo video featuring Andrea Ager, Jackie Perez, Rita Benavidez, and Erin Cianciolo. 

While I'm not here to make judgement either way, I do think it's changing people's definition of beauty/sexy/desireable/insertadjective. 

"Strong is the New Skinny"? Ok. Defined legs and sinewy arms over skinny-fat? Definitely. It's no longer about being skinny.  It's no longer about low bodyweight (which never made sense to me), but now it's about being strong. Now it's become socially acceptable, and dare I say attractive, for girls to have muscle and more importantly, DO STUFF like lifting weights over 5lbs. For many of the girls pictured, they can back their looks up with performance. On this blog, I consistently get people searching for  "Camille Leblanc-Bazinet pictures" but she also came in 6th at the 2012 CrossFit Games, 8th in 2011, and 9th in 2010. CrossFit has received both praise and criticism for showing her more than 2010 CrossFit Games winner Kristan Clever.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet at the 2011 CF Games. From
While perhaps controversial, these images, and videos won't stop. In fact, I fully expect them to increase in frequency as CrossFit continues to grow and Reebok is more and more involved. But I think there is an important distinction between how someone looks and how they perform. Yes, in general form follows function, but there are also going to be girls (and men) who simply LOOK more attractive than others, usually with a pretty face. Us regular folk need to focus more on what we can DO, rather than what genetics may have handed us. No matter how hard I try, I am not going to look like Channing Tatum (and certainly not dance like him), but I CAN keep getting stronger/faster, etc compared to MYSELF. In other words, I am going to take whatever genetics gave me, and make the best of that situation. Essentially, I want you to be your best self. 

Where do you stand on images and videos like these? 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

London 2012 - Weightlifting Highlights (So Far)

Since weightlifting doesn't get nearly the coverage it deserves, here are some highlight videos that I found on the interwebs (which are surprisingly hard to find)

Want to feel bad about your lifting? Check out 58kg (127.6lbs) Li Xueying of China winning gold with a 108kg (237.6lbs) snatch and 138kg (303.6lbs) clean and jerk. Her clean and jerk and her total were both Olympic records. 

Lu Xiaojun (77kg) of China with a 175kg snatch, bettering his own world record by 1kg. Four years ago in Beijing, the only gold medal that the Chinese did NOT win was in the men's 77kg men's category. This year, Xiaojun made sure he was not the weakest link. 

26 year old American Kendrick Farris (has helped coach at many a CrossFit box) with a 200kg  (440lbs) clean and jerk for 10th overall in the 85kg group. He would later fail at 208kg attempt. 

24 year old Ilya Ilin (97kg) of Kazakhstan of lifting a world record 233kg (512.6lbs) clean and jerk and making it look EASY. (He also snatched 185kg or 407lbs) The next best clean and jerk was by Anatoli Ciricu of Moldova at 226kg (497.2lbs)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Attending the CrossFit Football Course

In the span of nine days, I attended the CrossFit Kids Course, visited eleven colleges (for my day job), and attended the CrossFit Football Course. Needless to say, it was an exhausting, yet worthwhile week. 

I started following CFF about two years ago and saw great strength gains. I would follow it in waves because it doesn't include as much gymnastics and full oly lifting since it is designed for power athletes (football, soccer, really any sport). Because I had been following it for awhile, I was excited for creator John Welbourn and crew to come in and preach their ways. For those who don't know, Welbourn was a professional NFL offensive tackle and guard for 10 years with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. He also competed in the 2008 CrossFit Games. Yeah, he knows his stuff. 

Jason Lyons on floor press
The course was very hands on which most people appreciate in these courses. We went over the back squat, deadlift, floor press, power clean, and jerk. During these movements, we would coach each other while the trainers walked around to critique. Luke and Ben led us in a lot of mobility work which was unexpected, but I think left me sore more than the workouts! (we did one each day) One topic that doesn't often come up in CrossFit world is "change of direction." In most sports, athletes are changing direction all the time. We spent some time going over sprint mechanics and change of direction drills which was both interesting and useful. 

Luke teaching the power clean
Although we had sessions on programming and nutrition, I think many attendees had a lot of questions pertaining to both topics. Unlike the CF Kids Course where most attendees were CrossFit coaches, there were a good amount of high school sport coaches here that had not heard of paleo or AMRAPs. Taking some time from the mobility work and moving it to more FAQs during programming and nutrition would have been useful. 

John Welbourn - LARGE
Overall, I think the biggest benefit of CFF is actually DOING it. Admittedly, a lot of the cert information can be found on CFF and John's blog Talk To Me Johnnie (TTMJ). But if you're looking to get specific questions answered or get warmup/mobility drill ideas, then the course would be useful for you. 

CFF attendees and trainers

Thanks to John, Ben, Luke, and interns Chris and Cali for sharing their expertise and inspiring us to get strong!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Attending the CrossFit Kids Course

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a CrossFit Kids course held "home" at CrossFit King of Prussia. CF Kids is exactly what it sounds like: a fitness methodology to use with kids, ages 3 to 18. Since we hold multiple kids classes, plus Steve's Club at KoP, this was a very useful course for me to attend. 

the instructors, demo kids, and attendees
The four highly-qualified instructors included Todd Widman, John and Kelly Brown, and Aimee Lyons who took care of the 40 or so attendees. (Sidebar: I "grew up" watching old school CrossFit videos with Todd in them, so I was super stoked for him to be leading the course. A true OG.) For the weekend, we sat in lecture for about half the time and spent the other half working in small groups coaching each other on the movements and progressions for pre-school through teen age kids. (It's not easy talking in "little kid" voice to adults, but we did it!) The counselor in me liked learning more about the neuroscience and psychological side of CrossFit Kids while the CrossFit coach in me appreciated the time to practice instructing and learning new cues for movement. 

kid-sized pull up conraption
You'll have to attend a cert if you want to get all the dirty details, but I do want to share the main theme of the weekend: Pairing fitness with fun. And not just any fun, but BIG FUN. Kids don't want to "workout"...they want to PLAY! And the more we can blur those lines of "workout" vs. "game" vs. "skill work," the better. I think this can be applied to adults as well! Our adults like CrossFit because to them, it's play time! After "Fran," they may wonder why they even showed up in the first place, but they keep coming back because it's fun. (even if it's in a masochistic, self-loathing, I'm-paying-to-hurt-really-really-bad way) If we can establish a fun, healthy way of working out for kids, there's no way they're going to the land of LA Fitness when they grow up. 

One of KoP's awesome kids demo'ing the movements
Thank you to Todd, John, Kelly, and Aimee for providing great instruction and supervision, and thank you to group 4 for giving great feedback to hone our coaching skills!

(Next weekend, I'll be attending the CrossFit Football course, also at KoP, so I'll let you know how that goes!)

me, Megs, and JZ with the instructors + Chloe

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What Old Ladies at the Pool and Leonardo DiCaprio Have to Do with CrossFit and Paleo

When I was a teenager, I was a lifeguard at a swim club. I would notice that when the older ladies would slowly go down the steps, waving their hands right at the surface of the water as if to warm it up. They took their time getting in while little kids would jump right in, giving no thought to whether the pool was hot or cold that day. Go ahead and keep that in mind, we'll come back to that scenario later.

photo from: 
Recently, I got this message from someone I knew in college. I was an RA and he was one of my residents who ended up transferring so I literally haven't seen him in years, but of course social media has kept us connected. Here's the message: 
"Yo- thanks for the posts about paleo. I had been reading about it on your FB and was inspired to try it myself. I've lost 35 pounds since march. Keep spreading the good word." 
As someone who doesn't get paid for blogging, I never know who is reading this stuff and more so, who is actually implementing it in their life. My hope in starting this blog was to put information out there for people to pick up if they wanted.  I've learned enough to not throw this stuff down people's throats (although admittedly if someone gets me talking about CrossFit or Paleo and I've had a couple glasses of wine, well, all bets are off). So instead of an evangelical approach, I take a more passive by blogging and then waiting for people to get more information. ("spreading the good word" perhaps?)


I need them to have buy in. Whether it's for CrossFit or Paleo or both, the only thing that will motivate a person is SELF-motivation. Of COURSE I want everyone in the world to be healthy and stop drinking soda and cut the crap out of their diets. But what good would it do if we tyrannically yelled at people for doing such things? It would only make them feel worse instead of educating them on why they might want to do such things. And at the end of the day, you can only hold hands for so long. Self-motivation allows individuals to make decisions for themselves and keeps them accountable for their own reasons, not mine. You know, the whole "teach them to fish, not give them a fish" thing.

Is this Inception? You bet. Inception (2010) was all about planting ideas in people's minds, but making them own those ideas.  

Cobb: What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right in there somewhere.

Saito: If you can steal an idea, why can't you plant one there instead? 
Arthur: Okay, this is me, planting an idea in your mind. I say: don't think about elephants. What are you thinking about? 
Saito: Elephants? 
Arthur: Right, but it's not your idea. The dreamer can always remember the genesis of the idea. True inspiration is impossible to fake. 

(quotes from

How I look when people tell me they eat "healthy"
The caveat is that this buy in, this self-motivation, needs to take top priority over anything else. You can't just "kinda" want to get strong. You can't just "sorta" want to get in shape. You have to want it more than chocolate chip cookies, more than "oh I'll just do half reps", more than "just one slice" of pizza. You have to truly look inside yourself and figure out what exactly it is that you want and give it your all to get to that goal. Anything less will mean failure, or at best, mediocre results. And I'm not saying that coaching is unnecessary. A lot of people need guidance and information. But that first step towards health and wellness needs to be a commitment from within. Once that's established, effective coaching can take place. Or, for those more self-reliant and independent, they can take it on their own. 

In the case of my former resident, he decided for himself that he was going to give this thing a shot. I don't know why, but clearly there was enough self-motivation to make big changes in his life and he was able to lose 35lbs. 

If you are reading this blog, chances are you already drank the CrossFit or Paleo Kool-Aid...great! Keep talking it up and giving real life examples since we all know the best form of advertising is word of mouth. But also realize that people will get into this stuff when they feel ready. Just like the old ladies at the pool, some people need to wade into this plethora of information while others can just dive in. It doesn't make either party better or worse, it just means they're doing what's right for them. 

What kind of person are you? Do you wade or dive? 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Garlic Butter

One of the recipes Ditty and I made last week involved making our own garlic butter by heating guessed it: garlic and butter. It's an easy way to change things up and I really like on a microwaved sweet potato, although there are probably a thousand other ways to use it. Be sure to use pastured butter like Kerry Gold (we get it at Trader Joe's)

about 2 tbsp of butter and 1 tsp of garlic (I don't measure, but I bet you were wondering)

microwaved for about 20-30 seconds

added a new kick to the sweet potato

Friday, July 6, 2012

Green Socks

Picture of the day on CrossFit Football's website...The outfit was for our Festivus celebration at KoP back in December, hence the green socks. 

I'm amped for this cert later in July, plus it's being held at KoP! If you're interested in the cert, here's the info. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reader Testimony: Bob W.

Check out Bob W., a client at CrossFit King of Prussia and a different man from 8 months ago! Below is his story and details of his workouts and nutrition. I've edited some things for format and emphasis, but the content is all from Bob. 

Bob W. Pre-Paleo and Pre-CrossFit
Name: Bob W. 
Age: 31
Height: 5'10"
Weight before: 250 (10/22/2011)
Current weight: 195

 Hey Chris,

Here are some details about what I have been doing/eating/lifting over the past 8 months.  For a solid timeline, I joined my "globo gym" for my 31st birthday, October 22nd 2011.
I started "Paleo-ish" once around Christmas 2011, gave up on it fairly quickly, then started back on it pretty strictly around February of this year. The last 3 months or so I have been pretty much 95% paleo.

When I first joined the gym my workouts were pretty traditional.  I did some TRX with a trainer, jogged on an elliptical as much as I could, and lifted weights at a low weight/high rep interval.  At that point I was just trying to get active again and start to even be READY to get back into shape!  My knees hurt, I couldnt do much, it was pretty bad.

My diet before was the big issue obviously.  My portion size was giant and I ate crap.  Not fast food so much, but just a ton of pasta and hoagies and heavy sauces. I was a carb-a-holic. Typical breakfast was sometimes a breakfast sandwich or similar,  lunch was usually cheesesteaks or hoagies, dinner was pasta and meatballs etc.  Obviously I didnt eat this stuff everyday, but it was a majority of the time and in far too big proportions.  In addition, a few years ago, I stopped drinking alchohol pretty much cold turkey.  You might think that I would lose weight from that, but I think my body was so used to elevated blood sugar levels that a major sweet tooth developed when there hadn't been one before.  I ate a lot of ice cream and cakes and cookies. I also ate whatever my kids were eating, which tended to be processed chicken fingers, mac and cheese, etc.  I bet I put on 10lbs a year for the fours years after my oldest son was born.

My diet now is pretty on point.  I eat an omlette with two omega-3 eggs and some eggwhites plus some kind of vegetable almost every morning.  When its not that its cold fish/chicken/steak from the night before with a veggie or handful of berries.  Snacks are jerky, some nuts, maybe and organic plain greek yogurt (I know, I know) on workout days.  Lunch is typically a big piece of meat/fish grilled up with vegetables.  I've found a number of paleo-adherent condiments to keep it interesting.  Dinners are again a big protein with a big salad (lemon juice and avocado oil dressing is the bomb) and MAYBE a sweet potato. I always add good fats like avaocado etc.  If I need something sweet later, its usually a small spoonful of organic "no sugar added" peanut butter with some berries.  A couple weeks ago Sara grilled me some bananas and drizzled a little high quality melted 90% cacao chocolate on them, it was awesome.  We eat a TON of shellfish and seafood. I go grass-fed and natural when I can, although its not 100% feasible with the quantities of food a family of five eats.  We already drop $400/wk at the grocery store so I take what I can get!  There are enough websites and cookbooks for paleo eaters right now that its pretty easy. Luckily my family has been super supportive of this and they actually eat much better now too.  They often have a bread/rice/pasta dish which I just pass on, no big deal.  I take a multivitamin, probiotic, and BCAA'a and I work outside so I get a lot of excercise during the days and lots of sunshine.  I'm working on sleeping more, thats my biggest failure.

My workouts now are dynamic, fun, and a work in progress.  I do CF KoP 2-3x per week in additon to recently adding a couple strength days (Wendler 5-3-1, body weight accessory work).   When the weather is right and I want to run I'll do CFE (CrossFit Endurance), main site WOD's, or just tabata/HIIT sprints for 12 minutes max.  I am able to do all this either at 6AM or after the kids (ages 5, 4, 1.5) go to bed so I don't take away from our time together.  In addition I work 50-55hr weeks and my wife works weekend nights.  Beyond that I'm in Grad School!!!   If I can do this literally anyone can. For my birthday this year I am getting myself one of those Rogue garage gym packages with bumper plates for my garage so I can lift heavy whenever I get time.  Oly lifts have become my favorite, I love how technical they are. I hung a pullup bar in a doorway off my living room and I dont walk under it EVER without doing 5 chinups.   I call it "muscle-toe"!

Basking in his leaned out (sunburned) glory?
The main resources I have used to make these changes are, not to be too cocky, but my own dedication and determination.  That coupled with equal parts love and support from my wife and kids.  This whole thing has been as much for them as me.  I'm am a better dad and husband now, happier and more vibrant.  Physically my body has NEVER been more well rounded.  I'm stronger, faster, leaner, more flexible.  I could not do a pullup 8 months ago now I can do 12 strict dead hang in a row. I'm SOOOOO close to a muscle up.  This allows my body do do basically whatever my mind tells it to, which is HUGE with young kids and an active lifestyle.  Mentally I'm happier, clearer, sharper, more focused.  I'm confident I can do whatever I put my mind to.  I don't want to totally discount the whole "long duration cardio and light weight/high rep" scheme becasue it got me started on this path.  In addition I was eating a more traditional low-fat whole grain heavy diet, with which I did in fact lose weight.  I'm pretty sure that at that point anything I did to sweat and eat less would have been an inprovement, but still I don't want to slam the methods that got me going.  What the CF/paleo transition did for me was switch me physically and mentally into the next gear, and make my changes less of a "diet" and more of a lifestyle.  I'll never gain that weight back (may never lose anymore either, don't care, I want to get stronger and faster and leaner and more powerful!!)  becasue I am more mindful and aware of my body everyday now.  I am aware of how incredible I feel when I give my body lots of what it was designed to take in and nothing it wasn't.  I am aware of how great it feels to work my body the way a hunter/gatherer worked, in short burst of explosive effort followed with plenty of rest and recovery.  My family is actually eating and living better becasue of it.  It really has made a huge positive impact on my life!!

There it is, the brief version!  If you need anymore details or pictures I have tons of both, don't hesitate.  Also remember that you did my "on ramp" and KoP and, while I was avoiding sugar etc before, your blog really got me going and interested in Paleo its overall benefits and effects.  I have you to thank in a big way for all this!! 

Bob and his motivation
Bob's story is all too familiar, at least in the beginning. Family man whose high carb, high sugar diet caught up to him, even with working outdoors and having a workout routine at the globo gym. His story aligns with the idea that how you look is 20% physical activity and 80% what you put in your mouth.  (some would even say 10/90 or 0/100!) So no, being on a treadmill for an hour or even doing high intensity exercise won't matter if you don't change your nutrition. The fact is, when people cut out pasta and bread and sugar, not only do they lose weight, but that "puffiness" in their faces goes away too. That's the inflammation going away, and yes, I had it too (see "You've Got a Fat Face")

 A chief complaint from people is that they can't afford a CrossFit membership. Bob shows that you can get a great workout in by just doing some sprints, modified workouts at a globo gym, and when you can afford it, get to a CF gym for solid coaching. I love that Bob is now into Oly lifting and his clever re-naming of mistletoe for his pull up bar. And I agree with him on not getting down on the cardio/typical gym routine, because frankly it's better than nothing! Bob shows that despite a busy work schedule AND going to grad school AND having 3 kids, it IS possible to hone in on your workouts and nutrition. But the motivation has to come from within and it always helps to have the support of loved ones. He does this for himself, but more importantly he does it for his wife and kids. No doubt he is and will be an amazing role model for his kids to brag about to their friends. 

If you have a testimony to share or if you'd like a nutrition or fitness consultation, email me at 

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