NorCal Margarita – Happy National Margarita Day, Paleodorks!

Photo courtesy of Eat Write, Run Write.

Today, Feb. 22, is “National Margarita Day” and I would hate for Paleo people to be left out, so I’m sharing a recipe I found for the NorCal Margarita. These are technically “paleo” because they don’t have any sugar, but I think we’d all agree that empty calories from alcohol doesn’t necessarily do a tremendous amount for your weight loss program or exercise stamina. That said, who doesn’t like a drink once in a while?!

You can substitute rum for this recipe, too. Both are gluten-free. These have about 64 calories per drink, which isn’t bad. The link to the recipe here has a nice analysis/justification about why this isn’t a terribly bad drink for you, and as always, drink responsibly!

We’re going to have a couple tonight because we’re a little stir-crazy from being snowed in for the past two days, and then I’m going to be more than ready to swing the heavy bells in my Kettlebell Extreme class at CrossFit I-35 tomorrow!

Home Workouts In A Pinch

I live in Kansas City and we got hit with a big snowstorm yesterday. A good foot of snow on the ground and all but the last couple inches of it happened in about a 6 hour period of time. The box closed all day yesterday, canceled our usual 5:45AM class this morning and may even stay closed today depending on the plowing situation (VERY steep parking area to get in and out of the box, so that makes matters a lot worse). That’s at least one missed workout this week (and our Kettlebells Extreme class, to boot, which is my favorite!) and maybe a second one today if I can’t get in the noon class (if they even have it). I hope they do hold the class today because it’s stuff I can actually do for once! LOL

Our house is singularly unsuited for a home gym (it’s a 1950’s ranch with low ceilings in the basement and a one-car garage that is a storage room for my wife’s side biz and garage stuff) and we don’t have much equipment at home (having a $3,000 home gym sort of defeats the purpose of paying for a box membership…), but one cool thing I’ve learned from CrossFit is that it doesn’t take much to get a GREAT workout at home. Heck, kettlebells have trained me to understand all you need it about a 10 foot ceiling, enough floor space to swing a bell and do a get-up, and 3-4 different weight bells. But, all we have is a 15 pounder at home. LOL Pushups, burpees, situps and other bodyweight exercises are an awesome workout, too, so you really don’t need anything other than a smooth (carpet is no good) floor and enough space to lay out.

I did have a friend make me a 20″/24″/30″ box for box jumps, though, so yesterday I did a light warmup (not even enough space to jump rope anywhere) and then a tabata of burpees and 20″ box jumps (that had me completely gassed… I was congested from a very mild upper respiratory cold, too). I rested for a minute to get my breath and then did a second tabata of air squats with the 15 pound kettlebell and finished with some mobility work.

8 minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and I was dripping sweat and felt pretty good about my little home workout. Tabatas are great because they are short and high intensity. I get no money from these guys, but the Tabata Timer Pro for your iPhone or iPad is great and it’s only $3.

To Know Evil, You Must Know Your Goat

In CrossFit, you’ll hear a lot about “goats.” No, CrossFitters aren’t weirdly pre-occupied with furry four-legged farm animals. Rather a goat is a movement you suck at, hate to do, or both. Goats can be anything… handstand pushups, burpees, double unders, pullups, or in my case, all of the above!

There are two ways to handle goats. The first is to avoid them at all costs. That requires you to know the WOD the day before and call in sick or come up with excuses every time a goat is on board. If you’re like me and you suck at/hate half the stuff we do in CrossFit, then you wouldn’t be getting your money’s worth out of your box membership, would you?

The other way is to attack your goats head on and turn them into delicious goat curry (the only goat dish I can think of right off hand). You may want to picture your goats like the little fella in a sweater above, or you may choose to think of Baphomet, the goat devil, and defeat evil every time you attack a goat head on. Whatever works for you. LOL

The point is, if you avoid your goats you’ll never get the satisfaction of turning them into curry. Hell, along the way you may even decide you LIKE your goats!

The only reasonable alternative is to embrace your goats and learn to attack them step by step. The problem with most goats is that you either lack the ability to do the movement or you don’t have the power to actually do them. If it’s a power thing, then keep up your hard work in the WOD’s and continue to push yourself and the strength will come. Be patient.

If it’s a movement issue, then you have to break the movement down and learn it piece by piece. Recall this incredibly awesome video on handstand pushup scaling and progressions as an example at the bottom of the post. There are TONS of articles and videos breaking down virtually everything in CrossFit that are readily available online, so get your Google muscles ready to flex and start working on things.



Eat Like a Caveman

Captain Caaaaaavemaaaaaan!!!

For the past couple months we’ve been doing a diet from the book The 4-Hour Body. It’s a reasonably easy diet to do and it has been working out OK for us, although we have NOT had the experience of losing tons of weight like many people have on this diet. A guy I know lost something like 50+ pounds doing ZERO exercise and following the diet to a T. Certainly wasn’t my experience or my wife’s, but we may not have been doing it as precisely as my friend.

Anyway, my wife decided she wanted to go Paleo. I hesitate to stop doing something that has been easy for us to do and working out fine, but she was insistent and so we’ve decided to do a month of Paleo while keeping the cheat day and see how we do.

I will say we’ve both gotten pretty sick of pigging out on cheat day and then feeling like crap for a day or two after, so our cheat day has gotten increasingly healthier (fruit, yogurt) while trimming down on tons and tons of sugar, wheat and junk food. We still take full advantage of cheat day, don’t get me wrong, but not like we did the first few weeks of the 4HB plan.

Paleo is BIG in the CrossFit community and for good reason. It’s a high-protein, high veg approach to eating that relies on good quality foods and nothing processed. That’s the basis of ALL good diets that work and are sustainable for the long haul. Like all diets with that base it has a secondary effect of balancing your blood sugar and keeping you from having sugar lows (cravings) and highs (insulin resistance leading ultimately to diabetes). It feels SO good to have your blood sugar flat most of the day that you’ll really wonder why you didn’t eat like this forever.

We both think we’re a little gluten-sensitive, so Paleo is also gluten/grain free, which is harder to maintain for my wife than it is me. She is a real bread addict! That being said, I think I’m more sensitive to gluten, by a lot, than she is, so maybe that’s why it’s easier for me to stay away from bread.

Paleo is a little tougher to do than the 4HB, but the food variety is a little better and we can have a little fruit (high in sugar, so you have to watch it if you’re trying to lose weight and keep blood sugar levels regulated) and occasional sweet potatoes and things like that which we both enjoy.

We’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

I’ve more or less given up on my weigh-ins, although I’ll probably do one this week for shits and giggles. We did have photos taken by a photographer friend of ours of our dogs this weekend and I tried on two shirts I have never been comfortable in before and they both fit nicely, so that’s way better motivation than a scale and BMI machine.

Taking Care of Your Hands

Go me a favor and Google “hands calluses” or “crossfit hands” and look at the gross images you’ll see. To many in the CrossFit community, ripped up, bleeding hands is cool. A badge of honor. To that, I say “whatever.”

As a chiropractor my hands are really important to me. I use them for very fine work all day. When I ripped two calluses to shreds in my first real kettlebell class (try snatching a kettlebell 150+ times in an hour and you’ll see) I at first thought I was pretty cool. Then the pain and reality set in. Two weeks later they’re still on the mend.

Even if you don’t use your hands a lot, you should take care of them just like you take care of all your body parts. The people who think bleeding shins are cool when Oly lifting and broken, bleeding, painful hands are neat-o are sociopaths, plain and simple.

In some circles it’s “uncool” to wear gloves when working out. Gee, did I join a box to “be cool” or to work out? Come on, people. It ain’t a fashion show. The same people who think you’re uncool for wearing gloves are wearing goofy knee-high socks. LOL

Here are my tips for caring for your hands:

1) Buy weightlifting gloves or hand pads for kettlebells. I bought inexpensive weightlifting gloves (Harbinger 143) and I use them for kettlebells, any pullups/toes-to-bars, etc. I do not actually use them for Olympic lifting because that isn’t that hard on my hands. The gloves aren’t perfect and there are some interesting-looking solutions for kettlebell training out there like ProGrips. There is still some friction with the gloves, but overall much improved over skin-to-bar.

2) Use a pumice stone. You can buy any number of these overpriced on Amazon. Hit the local Walgreen’s and pick one up for $3 in the beauty section. They were 2x this price on Amazon. LOL I’ve used mine once a day for a couple days and my hands feel great. Keep those calluses knocked down with the pumice.

3) Use a tough lotion. I wanted to try Corn Husker’s Lotion but my wife picked up Bag Balm and that works great, too.

Working out 4-5 times per week and my hands feel good, soft and protected. Or rip ’em up and put your bloody hands on Google. Pretty easy choice…

About A Month In… Now What?

I’ve really been astonished by the amount of messages I’ve gotten from people asking me how CrossFit is going, if I still like it, what I think, and even that I’ve inspired them to start themselves. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think that I, ME, would “inspire” anyone to any physical activity! LOL This has been great and humbling.

I did another two-week weigh in the other day on the BMI machine at work and it was a lot like the last one. Evidently I “lost a couple pounds” but somehow the BMI machine says I got fatter (again) and lost almost all muscle mass! LOL So much for the analytical side of this journey.

Here’s what I know about 5 weeks into this journey:

  • My clothes fit differently. I taught my first seminar yesterday since Dec. 2 and my suit and dress shirt that I haven’t worn since then fit completely differently in a nice way (although I’m going to need a new suit soon).
  • People are commenting, a lot, on how I look. “You’re going to need a new wardrobe soon” or “Have you been losing weight?” Cool.
  • I feel better, for the most part. I’m definitely more aware of my body in space and I feel more comfortable in my movement. I feel more confident in my movement, too. On the other hand, I had a nagging foot problem I thought I was through with come back shortly after starting CrossFit, and my biceps tendon insertions at my elbow have been pretty sore since about week 2-3 of the WOD’s. So much so that makes me think twice before doing things like pick up my backpack when I was on the plane. That sucks, so I have to get cracking on that and figure out what in my position is breaking to cause that.
  • My understanding of body position and movement has probably tripled in the last month, and I had an excellent understanding of those things already since that’s what I do professionally. That has been a great side effect.
  • The high-intensity stuff is great, but there are multiple pathways your body uses to fuel itself, so if I want to burn more fat off I am still going to need to do lower, slower, longer activities, too. Walks, bike rides, good Lord maybe even jogging. Ugh. Not cool.
  • Patience. I’m guessing I’m nearing the apex of what I’m going to get for short-term results as a 38 year old (in 5 weeks) man, so I’m already preparing myself for the reality that, especially at my age, this is going to be a long, slow journey and I just need to enjoy it one WOD at a time.

Walking the Fine Line

Take a load off

There is a very fine line you need to walk when you exercise, and that line is the border between pushing yourself and pushing yourself too hard. A common misconception held by a lot of people is that you get stronger in the gym, but it’s really what happens to your body when you’re resting that builds strength, endurance and power, all the things you want if you’re trying to get less fluffy.

If you sandbag (give less-than-maximum effort) your WOD’s, you aren’t getting anything out of it and there is something inherently self-destructive about KNOWING that you aren’t pushing yourself as hard as you could. I don’t want to make this sound over-dramatic, but you are fostering weakness in yourself and that’s antithetical to even bothering to do this stuff!

At the same time, if you go too nuts, you’re going to hurt yourself. Case in point, I had my first Kettlebell Extreme class on Thursday morning (graduated myself out of the basics class, which was a darn good workout in and of itself) and it was a killer. It was tons of snatches, and a million other things, working the KB for a solid hour with very little let up. That’s a grip killer, but I also kissed a couple of my hard-earned lifting and pull-up calluses goodbye. My hands were shredded!

Some weirdos in the CrossFit community think that losing skin is cool, and while I certainly felt like a bit of a badass, I felt a loss less like a badass when I got home and screamed like a little girl the second the water hit my raw skin as I went to wash my hands. Way to go, dummy!

So, I will be investing in some weightlifting gloves. As a chiropractor, my hands are my “moneymakers,” as my wife calls them, and she’s right. Even if I didn’t rely on my hands to make a living and help others, who the hell wants to walk around with ripped up hands all the time? LOL

The same principle applies to how often to workout. You DO need to take breaks. Listen to your body. The classic CrossFit regimen is 3 days on, one day off. You may find you’re an every-other-day person. You may like to knock out five in a row and have the weekend off. Etc. But listen to your body.

Remember, you NEED your hands, your spine, your knees and all the other body parts you were born with, so push hard, but not TOO hard.

As a bonus, here is master Jeff Martone coaching the KB snatch. Now imagine doing more than 150 of them in a one-hour workout, along with other things. Not only can you crc