Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Who Doesn't Love a Paleo T-Shirt?

Sometimes you just need to let people know how well you eat and for that, I decided to dive into the world of merch. Other times you need to get amped up for a party or a PR because, well, it's BOOM TIME. Yes, I know have a t-shirt shop on Spread Shirt. No, I'm not quitting my jobs to live off the few cents I get every time someone gets suckered into buying a shirt, but I thought it would be fun to have. If you have any non-elaborate ideas for shirts, let me know at chris@crossfitkop.com or hit the comments. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Paleo Summit: Who Doesn't Like Free Info?

If you've been interested in learning more about the Paleo/Primal lifestyle, but don't have the means or the money to attend seminars held across the country, here's your chance to hear from the big names in the Paleosphere. The Paleo Summit is a multi-day event held ONLINE hosted by Underground Wellness for FREE. There are keynote speakers such as Mark Sisson, Mat LeLonde, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig of Whole9, and many more, and Youtube videos available each day. Each day features two or three of the biggest names in Paleo research, medicine, and movement. Today was the first day of presenters (Mark Sisson and Diane Sanfilippo) but you can still catch the next seven days of presenters. Get to it! (click the picture below)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thoughts on Reebok CrossFit Games Open WOD #12.1

A year ago, 26,000 people around the world signed up for the CrossFit Games Open. CrossFit opened the doors to the world once again (50,000 people as of Feb. 22, 2012 in fact...) to throw down and see who is the fittest in the world. Folks will have 5 weeks and as many workouts to sort themselves by region. Top 60 men, top 60 women, and top 30 teams move on to each regional competition. From there, 2-3 each of men, women, and teams move on to the CrossFit Games held at the Home Depot Center in California. Last year Rich Froning Jr., "Iceland" Annie Thorisdottir, and CF New England were the respective winners. In the Masters Division, the winners were: Scott DeTore, Susan Habbe (45-49), Gord Mackinnon, Mary Beth Litsheim (50-54), Steve Anderson, Shelley Noyce (55-60), and Greg Walker (60+). 

 Something new this year is that past champions need to compete in the Open. In the past, champions have always had a bye to the Games. This year, if a champion takes a qualifying spot at Regionals, an additional person is invited to the Games (on top of the 2 or 3 already qualifying). Let's take a look at the first workout of the 2012 season. 

Mid burpee. Photo courtesy of Tom Cercedes of CF Del Val
Complete as many reps as possible in 7 minutes of: BURPEES
This workout begins from the standing position. The Athlete will move from flat on the ground to touching an object with both hands that is 6 inches above their max reach. Score is total reps completed.

Keep moving! Some folks will go all out from the start, but may be gassed by minute four. This is totally dependent on how you work and what your stamina is like. If you know you can go the full 7 minutes at high intensity, go for it. If, however, you know 7 minutes is a long time for burpees, keep a pace so that you are just moving the whole time. Also, if you're someone who likes to rest, perhaps try going at full intensity for a set amount of reps and then take 5-10 seconds to rest. Try to have someone nearby to yell at you, encourage you, or do whatever it is that you need to keep moving. It may help to pick a number ahead of time and try to reach that number. Something that may be helpful is to chunk numbers so that you create mini goals. For instance, pick 25 as the first number to get to and then count another 25. Since most people work better with short term goals, this could be helpful mentally. The fact is, you can always do one more. This is a testament to your ability to push your limits and quite simply, how much you're willing to give. It's a matter of WILL.

In terms of the actual burpee movement, there are some things that might help, namely, where you jump your feet. One possible way is to jump your feet OUTSIDE your hands, not in. Doing this creates less emphasis on your knees/quads and more on your posterior chain and hip flexion. If you watch anyone extremely proficient at burpees, they always jump their feet out and keep their hands in a push up width, however, this is usually not to a target. The second consideration is this target. Jumping your feet INSIDE your feet will allow you to stand taller, essentially making your jump shorter. BUT it places more emphasis on the quads which will probably be burning anyway. 

 In true egalitarian fashion, CrossFit has posted a workout that is accessible to everyone around the world. Simple in nature, yet devastating by the end of 7 minutes, burpees haunt CrossFitters in their sleep (and while awake). The fact that no equipment is necessary makes this one of, if not the most accessible workout to date. EVERYONE from eight year veterans to day one CrossFitters should be able to get a score and could theoretically do it two or three times to best themselves. However, the standard of jumping 6 inches will be quite different for those who usually speed through with half open hips and hair-thin jumps. Generally your lighter, more agile athletes will fare better at this single modality workout. Heavier athletes are probably cursing this workout, (if you were anywhere near social media when the workout came out, you probably saw things like this actual paragraph posted by my friend, Prime (as in Optimus Prime): 

"Way to knock it out of the park Crossfit HQ. Reduce the open from 6 weeks to 5 and why dont we have week one be a 7 min AMRAP of burpees? Way to go. Next week will be a 6 min AMRAP of hugs and cartwheels.....but the RX will come in a FULL bear hug, ass out hugs are scaling."

Needless to say, Prime is much larger (and stronger) than me and his reaction is hilarious. Either way, this is just the first of five workouts. I guarantee strength and size will play a bigger role (pun intended) overall for the CrossFit Open and true Transformers will reign supreme. At the end of these five weeks, everyone will have forgotten the simple burpee workout and will be talking about that crazy C+J/OHS/Snatch/deadlift/etc. workout. 

Speal at CF KoP for a cert
Christy Phillips winning 2010 CF Central East Region

This one is going to go to my favorite CrossFitter, Chris Spealler. Although I have Mikko coming in a very close second (he once did 1000 burpees for time and did 30 burpees every minute with REST for the first 15 minutes), Spealler simply has a shorter way to go on the hip opening and jump. Although Speal has gained weight for the Games season, I still think he's got the engine he's always had. For the women, it's a little tougher to predict, but I'm going to go with Christy Phillips from CrossFit MPH in DC. I was able to see Christy's performance in the 2010 Central East Regionals and she is a force. Her determination to win is what's going to get her 1st in this workout. 

How many burpees are you going for? 
What's your strategy? 
What are your predictions??

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Paleo Humor

Well, it's floating around the interwebs, so you may have seen it, but here's a funny take on Paleo. Apologies for not posting, I have some lengthier posts in mind and was away last weekend. More on that later. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fermented Cod Liver Oil: More Than Just EPA/DHA

By now you should know about the benefits of fish oil. Since that blog post I have switched from fish oil capsules to a liquid form of fermented cod liver oil (FCLO) from Green Pasture.  Why? Here are some things about FCLO that you should know. 

Why cod liver oil?
The fish oil industry has focused largely upon the omega-3s and benefits of EPA and DHA. While this is good especially for cardiovascular health, there are many more nutrients present in cod liver oil that may not be in regular fish oils. If you read my post on Liver: The Paleo Superfood You Should be Eating,  (yes I have been on a liver kick lately), then you know that liver is nutrient powerhouse and has a crazy benefit to endurance efforts. Most fish oils have nowhere near the vitamins and nutrients that FCLO has because they only focus on the o-3s. Think of FCLO more as a food than a supplement. The concentration of vitamins A and D alone make it a good idea to supplement with FCLO, especially in the winter when vitamin D from the sun is scarce.

What's Up with the Fermentation?
Very few companies produce fermented cod liver oil (one of them being Green Pasture). Most others use a heating process, but as you know, fish oil should not be exposed to heat due to possible omega-3 fatty acid oxidation (this is why we store fish oils in a refrigerator or freezer). Fermentation allows the fish oil to be extracted in a cold process that can take 6 months up to a year!

Does it taste like fish? 
As you can see in the pictures, I have the peppermint and the ginger flavors. As much as you'd like to think that it's like eating candy, it's not. There is definitely a taste of fish with a strong sharp taste of peppermint or ginger, so if you can't stand it, then I suggest getting the capsules of FCLO. I haven't tried unflavored FCLO, but I imagine only the baddest of bad can handle the taste.

What about doses?
I take about a teaspoon a day. Most experts recommend a maintenance dose of 5-10ml, which is 1-2 tsp/day. Chris Kresser recommends women looking to get pregnant to take 10ml/day.

Cheeseslave "Why Fermented Cod Liver Oil?"

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Skinny-Fat, Cortisol, and Why Cardio Doesn't Work

Don't look now, but I see skinny-fat

Skinny-fat. Have you heard of it? Do you know what it means? Besides sounding like the oxymoronic phrase that it is, I bet you know a bunch of skinny fat people. Maybe it's even...you! Either way, let's see what skinny-fat looks like and also why the typical cardio routine rarely works. 

"I want to lose weight, so I'm going to do more cardio." 

How common is this phrase? Very.
How often does it work? Very little.  Here's why.

First, let's clarify and change this statement to what most folks usually imply:

"I want to get rid of excess body fat, so I'm going to run/bike/swim for 45-90 minutes in order to burn calories." 

Ok, at first this may seem logical. Excess fat is viewed as extra calories stored as fat. In order to get rid of it, I need to burn it off by moving my body for long periods of time.

But this logic is flawed.

Guys can be skinny-fat too

When we put our bodies through a long and consistent stressor (e.g. jogging, elliptical, biking, swimming), our body responds by releasing adrenaline. In response to this, your adrenal glands release a number of hormones, one of which is cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is good in small doses, but not large and consistent ones. Our body goes through a "fight or flight" response and tries to "save" itself by storing body fat. Your physiology doesn't realize it wants to be running for over an hour. It thinks you're running away from something and needs to go into survival mode. Yes, by doing cardio, you are telling your body to store fat. Even if we already knew that stress contributes to weight gain, you now need to think of chronic cardio as stress.

Which one would you want to be?

This is why you see skinny-fat people. They might be low in body mass, but average or even high in body fat. 

So what to do about skinny-fat syndrome? Strength train and eat clean. I want you to think bodybuilder. Lifting heavy weights and eating real food (sans the drugs) will get rid of your skinny-fatness.

Pat Barber - The antithesis of skinny-fat
By strength train, I mean deadlift, back squat, front squat, press (overhead, bench), and work with dumbbells. Girls, no 5# or 10# dumbbells. 25# at minimum. Everyone, full range of motion on all movements. Guys, no quarter squats and no Smith machines. Free weights and barbells. If you are going to do "cardio," make it high intensity workouts no longer than 10-15 minutes. Even better is to do sprints. I am all about CrossFit, but you can do plenty of things not CF related. If you are doing CrossFit, (and I know most of you do) you shouldn't be doing 30 minute metcons everyday. (that too will send that long term cortisol release) Get someone who knows what they're doing to coach you, even if you can only afford to learn the basics. Form is essential when working with heavy weights.

Why do I say strength training? Because building muscle will not only "tone" you (I hate that word, but you know what I mean), it will make you "burn" more calories throughout the day instead of just that hour of exercising. Remember that adage of muscle burning more fat? Girls, don't think strength training will make you bulky. Just look at some of the pictures and realize that these girls do more strength training than cardio.

ATTENTION: Ladies, strength training does not equal bulky

By this, I mean taking out inflammatory foods and adding in anti-inflammatory. In a nutshell, inflammatory foods include grains (yes, even though it's "whole grain" pasta, it's not good for you), dairy, and sugar. This includes DIET SODA and sugar substitutes. Do not eat anything packaged as "low-calorie." In fact, do not eat anything packaged!

On the flip side, eat plenty of greens, animal protein, and fat. Yes, eat fat, it will NOT make you fat. Eating fat will act like fuel, giving you more energy and it will replace the sugar and carbohydrates that you have naturally taken out by eating less inflammatory foods. Fat includes animal fat, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados and other fats you can find on paleo-approved lists.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but the general takeaway is that traditional cardio might work in the short term, but certainly not the long term. The best way to get a hard body and look the way you want is to strength train and eat plenty of fat. No skinny-fat for you!

 Skinny-fat college days to CrossFit + clean eating. Both around 150#

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Register for the 2012 CrossFit Games Open

It's Feb. 1st and you know what that means. Make your mom proud and register for the CrossFit Games Open. Last year over 26,000 athletes competed around the world over several weeks by completing the workouts on their own or at a registered CrossFit affiliate and submitted their scores. I'm pumped to see the turnout this year after Reebok's huge endorsement and support and ESPN2's coverage of the 2011 CrossFit Games. Registration is only $20 for US residents.

Who's registering?? Any new CrossFitters?
How many people do you think will register?

click on the picture to register

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