“If It Fits Your Macros, Bro!”

 
“Counting Macros” is a growingly popular approach to dieting that involves hitting predetermined daily calorie numbers via specific macronutrient ratios (carbohydrate, protein, fat). This growth in popularity has been aided and accelerated by the proliferation of apps such as MyFitnessPal and other quantified-self technologies that allow people to easily track their food intake, activity, sleep levels, etc. This method is largely a quantitative approach to nutrition and diet, wherein the individual is exclusively concerned with their calories and specific macro goals (carb, fat, protein). One figures out a few baseline parameters – activity level, current weight, goals (lose body-fat, gain weight, maintain, etc.), and then utilizes a calculator that analyzes these variables and spits out your daily macro “prescription” of X calories, carbs, protein, and fat. From there, one would need to determine how to spread out the daily macro intake across various meals and snacks.
 
First, let’s establish that there are many effective ways to tackle the questions of how, what, and when should I eat to optimize my health, body composition, and performance. Many people find success with the counting macros approach and thrive off the inherent structure it requires. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the pro’s and con’s of adopting this approach.
 
Advantages:
• Structure – you’ve got a specific macro prescription to hit and it’s up to you to do that in the most effective manner possible
 
• Everything Counts – every snack and meal counts and must be accounted for. You are now accountable to the app and your daily goals, and must adjust your intake based on your choices throughout the day
 
• Better Understanding of Portion Sizes – presuming you are largely tackling this approach via meal prepping your own food, you should gain a much better appreciation for carb / protein / fat portion sizes and how they differ from your old or normal consumption patterns
 
• More Mindful Eating – How much of your current eating rituals are deliberate, conscious acts and how many of them are just mindless habits? Eating a quality breakfast before work is a deliberate act. Eating a muffin or donut at the office because they are there is mindless eating, simply done out of habit or impulse. When everything counts, you tend to be a little more selective about when and where you use your finite calories.
 
Pitfalls:
• Lack of emphasis on quality – despite what you may have heard to the contrary, all calories are not created equal. Hitting your macro targets with wild caught seafood, fresh produce, and avocado versus fast food and energy drinks will not yield the same results in the short or long term. Highly processed, low nutrient density foods are unhealthy regardless of the ratio you consume them in.
 
As a general rule, focus on eating as much high quality food as often as possible before trying higher order nutrition strategies such as counting macros. You aren’t going to track for the rest of your life; make sure you know how to eat correctly and adequately without the use of a smartphone app
 
• Tendency to Binge Eat – extremely commonplace with folks that track their macros is a self-imposed cheat meal / cheat day / cheat weekend to provide relief from the rigidity of their regular eating. The basic premise is follow a super strict approach during the week, then go completely off the rails at some point over the weekend and consume everything you’ve been avoiding. Eating tasty, unhealthy food from time to time is normal; going on food benders is a clear sign of a disordered eating behavior with long-term pitfalls if left unaddressed
 
• Prescription Accuracy – who is determining your caloric needs? What about your macro ratios? Are your ratios regularly being reviewed and adjusted to reflect both the relevant variables in your life and your progress or lack thereof on your current ratios?
 
• Inherent inflexibility – Your macros are fixed and unfazed by your appetite, social calendar, daily workout volume, travel plans, etc. Regardless of whatever complicating variables at play, you still have to hit your numbers
 
• Impractical – weighing, measuring, and meal prepping work great when your schedule and life are routine and largely unchanging. However, if you travel regularly or have a highly unpredictable job, you will likely struggle with such a regimented approach to eating
 
• Smart Phone Dependence – Macro tracking only practically works via smartphone applications, allowing us to see updated numbers in real time as well as a database of common foods, preparation methods, and portion sizes. Most people are already overly reliant on their smart phones as it is, and this will absolutely add another significant time reliance to the docket. Every meal will need to be tracked, and typically in real time, to maintain accuracy and up to date numbers. This means more screen time, which none of us needs.
 
Ultimately, the best diet is the one you can successfully adhere to. It has to be a way of life that resonates with you, which is built to last. Macro tracking can be an effective tool in the long-term pursuit of better health, performance, and graceful ageing. However, it is important to understand both the benefits and the shortcomings before going all in on an approach that may or may not be ideal for you and your goals.
 

Keep Training from Being a Pain in the Back!

 
Are you frustrated with nagging low back pain that is limiting your training and constantly forcing you to modify your workout?
 
YOU have the capability of training fully without pain and limitations. Low back pain has no place in your training and may be limiting your performance.
 
Dr. Alex Immermann and Dr. Zachary Cohen are Performance Physical Therapists at Cohen Health and Performance. They have treated many of the world’s greatest athletes and would like to teach you about the root causes of your pain and most importantly what you can do about it. This FREE workshop is essential to address your current pain, prevent it from re-occurring, and improve your performance so that you can keep setting new PR’s.
 
Register Here
 
In this FREE workshop you will learn:
-The source of your lower back pain
-The underlying cause why this pain is occuring
-Activities that you can do to address it and prevent it from reoccuring in the future
 
Furthermore, Dr. Immermann and Dr. Cohen will be offering FREE physical therapy consultations to all attendees of this workshop. Come take advantage of this incredible opportunity to discover what is causing your pain, how it is negatively impacting your training and learn what you can do about it!

CFSS Holiday Party & Potluck!

 
Mark your calendars! The annual CFSS Holiday Potluck / Party goes down next Saturday, 8 December from 5-8PM at the gym. Afterwards, we’ll be headed over to the Barking Dog in Bethesda to keep the festivities going. For the gym potluck, please bring a dish or adult beverage to share with the group. If the past is any indication, there will be no shortage of amazing homemade baked goods, delicious paleo dishes, and an abundance of alcohol of all varieties. Dress to impress, feel free to bring your friends and significant others, and please leave the kids at home! Party sign up sheet will be on the whiteboard. If you have any questions, talk to Katie or Dana at the gym as they are planning the party. Trust us, you’re not going to want to miss out!
 

2018 Thanksgiving Schedule

 
With Thankgsiving fast approaching, here’s the schedule for classes next week so you can plan your workouts accordingly. We’ll be performing a special benchmark lifting workout on Saturday (11/24), The CrossFit Silver Spring Total, for those of you who will be in town for the holiday. The CFSS Total is comprised of 3 attempts to hit a daily max Front Squat, Push Press, and Deadlift and hopefully set some new records in the process! In the meantime, be sure to go for new turkey, mashed potato, & pumpkin pie consumption PR’s, as well as ample naps to prepare yourself for success!
 
Thanksgiving Week Schedule:

Wednesday 11/21: No 630PM WOD

Thursday 11/22: Closed

Friday 11/23: Closed

Saturday 11/24: No 8AM WOD | 9-11AM “CrossFit Silver Spring Total” | No Barbell Club!

 

CFSS Fall Coat Drive!

 
The leaves are changing and temperatures are dropping. It’s only a matter of time until you walk out your front door and see your breath. You regret those mornings when you forget your jacket.
 
Now imagine if you didn’t have a jacket to forget.
 
CrossFit Silver Spring has decided it’s time we do our part to help keep our community warm by collecting coats/jackets during a coat drive! Collection starts today and will run through Thanksgiving.
 
We both know there are some extra coats in your closet you haven’t worn in months or years. What good are they doing anybody in there? Save yourself the space; put them to good use and donate them to someone in need!
 
All coats will go to a local shelter/charitable organization. We’re still finalizing which organization we’ll be donate the coats to, so if you have any suggestions please let us know! In the meantime, just bring your unused coats in and CFSS will do the rest. Our goal is to fill the back office with coats and we’re counting on you guys to make that a reality.
 
Now let’s see how many we can collect. Clean out your closet, go a good deed, and leave your coats with us! Thanks in advance for your support.
 

Kettlebell Kitchen

CFSS is excited to announce a new partnership with performance food brand Kettlebell Kitchen!
 
Kettlebell Kitchen is an easy & convenient way to clean up your nutrition, recover faster, work harder, and have fresh meals delivered right to the gym. Fuel the hardest working machine you know- your body!
 
Kettlebell Kitchen has an extensive menu and offers both a la carte meal ordering as well as bulk ordering if you’re looking to simply stock up on a particular staple. Additionally, they offer customized Meal Plans that are tailored to help you achieve your body composition and/or performance goals, while still conforming to any restrictions or preferences you may have.
 
All meals are crafted by classically trained chefs. Check out this article in Forbes featuring some of KBK’s nutrition experts dishing advice on improving your eating habits now that fall is upon us.
 
This coming Monday, 10/22, KBK will be doing a meal tasting during the evening classes to give everyone a chance to try some of their most popular offerings (ATTN: FREE FOOD!).
 
When it comes to ordering, the promotional code “CFSS” will give you $25 off your first two orders (minimum of $50 order each time). This code is valid for first time customers only.
 
Meals are delivered to the gym twice weekly. The order cutoffs each week are as follows:
Midnight Wednesday for Monday delivery
Midnight Saturday for Thursday delivery
 
Ordering instructions and FAQs can be found here.
 

 

Gym Etiquette

 
How you behave in the weight room speaks volumes about your character as a person and experience level as a lifter. As is the case in many other settings, gym etiquette amounts to accepted customs and practices, dos and don’ts, and general guidelines one would be wise to follow in order to engender themselves to their fellow athletes and coaches. Here’s a list to get you acquainted with the ways of the weight room.
 
1) Always re-rack your weights and clean up after yourself. The same thing you were probably taught in kindergarten equally applies in the gym. If you take it out, put it back. If you cover something in chalk, sweat, or DNA, wipe it down and get it back to the state you found it. This also applies to mini whiteboards used to count your rounds.
 
2) Show up on time (if not early). Lateness disrupts the class, is rude to the coach, and negatively affects the quality of your workout. “Stuff” happens, just don’t make it a habit.
 
3) Respect the equipment. Most of it is extremely durable, but everything has an intended use, and will breakdown quickly if used incorrectly. Bumper plates are intended to be dropped, dumbbells are not. Boxes are designed to be jumped on, not dragged or kicked across the floor. Treat the gear as if you had to pay to replace it yourself if it broke.
 
4) Be mindful where you walk and stand. Just like in golf, it’s poor form to walk in someone’s line. In the gym, this means don’t walk directly in front of someone in the middle of a focused lift as this is an unwanted distraction that can impede their focus. Same goes for standing directly in front of your lifting partner; don’t do it. Instead, stand on the side or somewhere out of the way.
 
5) Load your barbell correctly. Don’t keep adding small bumpers or change plates when there is a larger plate available. Small plates are flimsy, make it harder to calculate the weight being used, and limit the supply for everyone else. Don’t be that guy/gal with 4 10’s on each side when you could simply throw on some 45’s instead.
 
6) Don’t attempt to spot someone who didn’t ask for assistance / doesn’t know you are trying to spot them. Conversely, don’t spot someone on a lift if you don’t know how to spot them correctly. If you are spotting someone, you better pay close attention and not be a spectator.
 
7) Don’t ever drop an empty barbell on the ground. Just don’t.
 
8) Don’t make everyone else wait for you in order to start the WOD. You didn’t just suddenly have the need to go to the bathroom. You’ve also known what shoes you should be wearing and what gear you need since the start of class. Plan accordingly. Asking “wait, what are we doing?” when the coach is about to start the timer also applies here.
 
9) Don’t even think about leaving until everyone else finishes the workout. Show some support and cheer your classmates on!
 
10) Don’t use equipment you didn’t get out yourself. Don’t ask “is someone using this rower?” It obviously didn’t pull itself down, so go get your own.
 
11) Chalk: in the bucket, on your hands, on the bar (from your hands). In reasonable quantities. Clean it up when you finish.
 
12) Always strive to keep your lifting:talking ratio properly balanced (less talky, more lifty). Respect that many people come to the gym for a reprieve from work, home, etc. and simply want a chance to blow off some steam in peace. Don’t’ be a distraction to everyone else!
 

“Diet Starts Monday”

 
How many times have you uttered the following phrase, “diet starts Monday!”, or “[insert new workout routine/lifestyle change] starts tomorrow!”? If you’re like most people, you’ve probably uttered some variation of those phrases countless times, typically after a day / weekend / month(s) of less than ideal lifestyle choices. One of the hardest things people struggle with is getting back on the wagon after they’ve strayed from the clean, healthy living path for an extended period of time. The thought of heading back into the gym after taking a few weeks or months off can be daunting. The same can be said for getting back onto a structured nutrition plan after indulging in cheap calories and junk food over an extended weekend getaway.
 
Our lifestyle habits, for better or worse, tend to be largely influenced by momentum. When you are in a positive feedback loop of working out regularly, eating healthy, and going to bed at a reasonable time, it seems to require very little effort to keep the good times rolling. This concept also applies to when we are in a negative feedback loop of eating crappy food, staying up late watching Netflix, and skipping the gym due to lack of energy and motivation. Breaking out of our well established pattern requires a massive shift in momentum akin to stopping a freight train barreling down the tracks. So, the question remains: how do we get back into the positive feedback loop after say a weekend bender of junk food, sleep deprivation, and ample amounts of “12 oz. curls”?
 
Getting back on track is as simple as returning to your normal routine as quickly as possible. Presuming you were on a quality routine prior to your most recent departure from the norm, simply pick back up with the things that made you feel great in the first place. When Monday morning rolls around, force yourself to get up at your usual time, eat your normal meals, go to the gym at your normal time / frequency, and try to get in bed at your usual time at night. Regardless of whether or not you are still feeling the ill effects of the weekend, restore normalcy as soon as possible. By all means, feel free to back off the intensity in the gym, drink more water, and attempt to get a little extra sleep if possible. However, in order to get back on the wagon, you don’t need to do a “cleanse” or a “detox”, a crazy diet, 2 a day workouts, or any other ill-conceived ideas to somehow mitigate your choices the past few days. Don’t beat yourself up about eating pizza or having that extra glass off wine; shake it off and focus on doing your best in the present, as this is the only thing you can actually control. As an aside, depending on how you deviated from the norm the most (lack of sleep, too much sugar, etc.), you can make a targeted effort to get back to baseline quicker by prioritizing that area. So, if you were on team no sleep all weekend, get to bed 30 minutes early for the rest of the week and see how you feel. Personally, I like to kick off the week with a day or two of low carb eating if I was a bit too indulgent the previous weekend, focusing on high protein, high fat, some leafy veggies, minimal starch (if any) and no sugar. This, coupled with getting back into the gym, seems to bring me back to baseline the fastest.
 
What’s the strategy if we are hoping to get back onto a healthy routine but haven’t had one in months or longer? We want to follow a similar approach to the tips outlined above, with a few differences. For this individual, I would start with re-integrating exercise first as the initial catalyst for other lifestyle changes. Start walking daily, and try to make it to the gym or a group exercise class 2x per week. Start here, and keep this up for a month or more before tweaking volume or intensity at all. Once exercise becomes routine, start making dietary tweaks, eliminating the low hanging fruit – sugar, processed foods, grains, alcohol, etc. and see how your body responds. Around this time, I’d also be looking at sleep, and making every effort to optimize quality and keep 7 hours as the daily minimum. In time, exercise frequency can increase, dietary parameters can tighten, and sleep needs can be tinkered with as well. Don’t try to do this all at once, as this can be too much for most people to sustain. Take a very reasonable approach, and focus on consistency and slowly building positive habit change. As is the case with everyone, progress isn’t linear – there will always be setbacks, vacations, injuries, illnesses, etc. When these things invariably happen, don’t stress. Why? Because your diet starts Monday!
 

“Hughes” Hero WOD Fundraiser

Hero WOD Hughes
 
Brian Hughes was a Captain of the Arrowhead Interagency Hotshots Firefighters and tragically died on July 29, 2018, while battling the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National park in California. Brian was 33 years old on his last day of duty and is survived by his parents, sister and fiancé Paige, who is 4 months pregnant with their first child.
 
Brian belonged to Gnardog CrossFit located in Reedley, CA , which is owned by a fellow Hotshot colleague, Adrian Encinia. The Arrowhead Hotshots crew are a tight knit group, and many of the teammates belong to Gnardog Crossfit. In order to honor Brian, Gnardog created the Hero WOD, “Hughes”:
33 Minutes:
1.5 Mile Med-ball Run
then, AMRAP
7 Kettlebell Swings
29 Double Unders
18 Burpee Box Jump
 
In the CrossFit community, Hero Workouts are named after fallen first responders and service members to honor their sacrifice. The reps, rounds, and duration of the various elements of the workout are often symbolic of the circumstances when the individual passed away. In the case of “Hughes”, Brian was 33 years old, had served 15 years as a firefighter, and passed away on the date 7/29/18. Gnardog and other CrossFit affiliates in California’s Central Valley are performing this workout in solidarity and more importantly collecting donations to send to Brian’s pregnant fiancé as a show of support and love.
 
CFSS will be performing this workout tomorrow, September 21st as our workout of the day. Let’s pack the gym out all day tomorrow and get after it remembrance of “Hughes”. We are asking everyone who participates for a suggested, voluntary donation of $10 / person or $20 / team to support Brian’s fiancé, Paige. Hope to see you all tomorrow!
 

You Don’t Need A Harder Workout

 

“You don’t need harder workouts. You need to go harder in your workouts.” – Tommy Hackenbruck

 
As coaches, a common refrain we hear from clients goes something like this, “I feel like I’m not getting pushed enough in class / I’m not improving as fast as I’d like to / I feel like I need a harder workout.” These are of course valid concerns, as seeing progress is one of the most appealing aspects of doing CrossFit. With so many different movements and workout types, it’s not to continually see improvement by simple virtue of showing up. However, there inevitably comes a time when all those newbie gains grind to a halt, and PR’s are harder to come by. When this happens, how do we continue to improve?
 
All things being equal, intensity is the independent variable that determines your rate of progress in the gym. With that in mind, in order to continue to progress towards your fitness goals, you should aim to gradually ratchet up how hard you are pushing yourself in a given workout or workouts in general. Another, seemingly contradictory, fitness truism is the concept that long-term consistency will always trump short intensity. While this is accurate, it’s worth noting that this concept only works when applied to appropriate training methods done with quality technique and effort. If you are consistently doing pointless exercises with mediocre effort, your results will reflect that. Ultimately, we are looking for a combination of these two principles to see long-term improvement. Yes, you need to regularly push yourself hard, especially on days you are feeling good. You also need to take a wider view and recognize that minimum exercise volumes and loads must be met in order to maintain and build your fitness.
 
Broadly speaking, folks fall short in one of the following two areas: either they aren’t training hard enough when they come to the gym, or they aren’t training frequently enough to take their fitness up a notch. With that in mind, your lack of intensity has nothing to do with whether or not you are doing the L1 or L2 workout that day. In general, L1 features less technical movements than L2, and is geared more towards challenging your work capacity than your ability to execute higher order movements when fatigued. An L1 “AMRAP”, for example, places no upper limits on your ability to get out of your comfort zone and exhaust yourself. The movements may be “simple”, but the workout certainly isn’t “easy”. In fact, it’s extremely common to see people who have marginal ability on an L2 movement, say pull-ups, perform the L2 workout and perform poorly as a result. They wanted to do the “harder” workout, despite the fact that L1 would have been a much more appropriate and challenging workout given their abilities. The distinction between L1 & L2 becomes much easier to comprehend if you view them on a continuum from less to more technical instead of easier and harder. Instead of attempting to simply survive the L2 workout, strive to dominate the L1 on a consistent basis. Remember, the difficultly of a workout is almost entirely a factor of the effort you put into it.
 
How do we consistently push ourselves harder? First, keep a training log. If we deadlift every week, and you don’t know what you did last time we deadlifted, how can we possibly improve upon our past performances? Top performers know their numbers and keep training logs. Strive to increase the weights you are lifting in WODs, reduce the amount of rest you allow yourself between movements in a circuit, and raise your level of expectations regarding your performance of a particular workout. If you think a workout is too easy, the more likely culprit is your weight selection, pacing, and effort. Before you come complaining to us coaches, make sure you’ve taken care of those variables first.