Sitting in church, my gaze settled on a family I knew from my childhood, over twenty years ago when my parents first attended this church. They filed out of the pew in their various knit sweaters to go down to the altar and take communion together. It struck me that this family has been coming to this church together all this time. Twenty-five years, maybe more, of getting up on Sunday morning, pulling on their sweaters, sitting in these seats, singing these same songs. They’ve seen many congregants and pastors come and go, many iterations of the website, the floors refurbished, the logo changed. Their faithfulness moved me as I watched them gather.
As someone with many interests and diverse abilities, I am often compelled towards new experiences and challenges. It’s true that experiencing something new, whether it’s interesting food, a foreign language, a different culture, a new hobby, or a career change can spur growth and refine us as people. But I think novelty has become a compulsion for many.
Think of the person who regularly reinvents their hobby, their career, their brand, before ever accomplishing what they set out to do. The person who lives to travel, and nothing else. The person espousing strong opinions but not living in a way consistent with those values. These people are pursuing new things, places, or ideas not with a sense of calling or purpose, but out of a deficit of faithfulness. The flitting whims of our world lead us in circles. Faithfulness has a trajectory; it is a long journey with a destination.
I’ve struggled to practice faithfulness in many places in my life, but for whatever reason, CrossFit has stuck with me. I have shown up to the gym, day in and day out, wherever I went all over the country, for the past decade. Through snow and ice and dark Alaskan winters, through the overwhelming bone-tired feeling coming off a 24-hour shift, through deployments, through busy schedules, through heartbreak. So many of you do the same.
The rewards of this faithfulness have been immeasurable. These years have given me friendship, health, and adventure. Mental fortitude and physical strength. An outlet for anger and sadness,and a place to develop resilience that I use in every aspect of my life.
What would happen in my life if I practiced faithfulness like this in my studies, in my relationships, in my hobbies? How much more quickly I would learn to play piano. How much more readily my friends would trust and rely on me.
Time is teaching me that faithfulness is the daily fuel that takes you down the road you’ve chosen. It is what keeps you moving forward when the fog rolls in and obscures your vision for the future.
We are at that lovely time of year where motivation surges, fresh ideas swarm, and our routines are imbued with a renewed sense of hope. Many recommit to exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, learning a new language, spending less, or whatever else has fallen away.
But these feelings fade, and when they do, many slip back into their old habits—skipping the gym, eating carelessly, watching TV, overspending. This phenomena is increasingly mocked and the evidence used to dismiss the practice of making resolutions.
But the truth is, there’s nothing wrong with trying to change.What’s missing is the practice of faithfulness. Waking, living, and laying down knowing we are on a long journey rather than a short stroll. As our new year motivation fades, may we all be encouraged to remain steadfast in our work, relationships, and personal goals. As Jim Elliott, missionary and martyr, prayed, “Lord, give me firmness without hardness, steadfastness without dogmatism, love without weakness.”
“Conscious Coaching” is a book by a Strength and Conditioning coach that I just finished reading. It challenged me to take a look back at my life in order to be a more effective coach going forward. The challenge from author Brett Bartholomew was essentially to find your why. Not the “I want to change lives” why, but truly the root of why you want to change people’s lives. So, I did a little soul searching and found mine.
I want to help athletes reach the next level because I never did.
Growing up, basketball was my sport. I played constantly. I watched basketball, both current and vintage (Hardwood Classics on ESPN). Both my Dad and sister played college basketball, and I had the same goal. I overheard people say I was athletic or talented, but I knew I was short and didn’t have a natural athleticism. I looked up to underrated pro players like Steve Nash, who made up for his lack of raw ability and small size with skill, smarts, leadership, and consistency. When I was playing my best, I brought the ball up the court, called the plays, got teammates into the correct position and made smart passes, just like my hero Nash.
High school rolled around. I went from a private Christian school where I could do no wrong on the court, to a public high school where I had zero “ins” to making the team. Tryouts were a new experience for me. I was confident in my abilities, but nervous about the process and the sixty other players trying out.
The coaches put me on the JV team. To me, that felt like a loss. I had thought I would make varsity, maybe as a reserve, but definitely on the team. Instead, I played a year on JV as a backup, which fell totally short of my expectations. I didn’t take it well. I practiced less and took less pride in basketball.
Around this time, I started CrossFit with the intentions of getting stronger and faster for basketball. A few weeks later, I finally got the call up I wanted—I would be practicing with the varsity squad as a sophomore. In scrimmages, the changes CrossFit wrought in my physical ability were noticeable. Less bruises from hitting the hardwood, less getting burned on the defensive end, more power in jump shots. I was becoming an athlete.
And yet a couple weeks before official tryouts, I quit.
It was unexpected from most around me, but I had lost interest. I had loved basketball, but that had been drowned out by my singular focus of playing in college. I had failed to set short term goals: be more consistent from the free throw line, develop quicker feet for faster change of direction on defense, etc. Without those shorter goals, it felt like I never made progress, and the love of the game faded away.
Instead, I started working out religiously. Exercise took the place of basketball. Instead of dribbling, I lifted. Instead of shooting, I did pull-ups. Instead of watching Hardwood Classics, I watched CrossFit videos. Guess what happened in the long run: I burned myself out the same way, by looking too far into the future instead of measuring short-term progress, and eventually lost sight of why I did it. I’m finally learning from this pattern and ready to pass that along.
As a coach, I want to help young athletes get more adept at the game they play, but more importantly I want to help them retain passion for what they are doing, and love the person and athlete they are.
Young athletes are more pressured now than they ever. Today’s young athlete is often pigeonholed into one sport at an early age, chained to year-round training schedules, burdened by the pressures of eager parents and early recruiting, and compares themselves to other athletes on social media. Off seasons are shrinking, and this comes at a cost. Recovery and reflection is crucial to the mind and body of an athlete. Many athletes continue playing for the sole purpose of achieving a scholarship. Our current culture is madhouse of constant comparison, and experts are linking social-media fueled comparison to depression and anxiety. All these things take their toll when compounded together, inevitably leading to burnout and disappointment.
Long term goals (or dreams) are important motivators. But focusing on effort, developing mastery of a particular skill, taking pride in your work, trusting the process, cultivating self-awareness, and measuring progress based on how far you’ve come protects athletes from burnout and enables them to enjoy their journey in sports, every step of the way.
Sports are meant to be fun, not a job. Sports should teach invaluable life lessons, not crush souls. I regret forgetting that. I wish I could go back and play basketball again to feel the joy and freedom of competing on a team and being on the court.
These experiences have become part of my motivation to work with young athletes today. I want is to help them get stronger, faster, more resilient. I want to help them be the best they can be by setting achievable goals and doing the work. But above all, I want to help them keep the passion and joy they feel for their sport at the center of all that they do. Because that is the purpose of it all.
Statistics show that the average American does not consume the recommended daily intake of Protein. I’m was guilty of this. Until recently, I just assumed that I was eating enough protein in my food selections-wrong.
Protein is a macro nutrient so important for building and maintaining muscle. Experts recommend .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. When I started paying attention to my macros I realized- there’s only so much meat and eggs I can handle, ergo ‘Brotein’ powder is a must have.
So, what kind of Protein should you buy? With the numerous products on the market, it makes it that much harder to decide. Here are some tips on what to look for:
Ideally, you should be picking a protein powder that has at least 20 grams of protein. Anything below that, is it worth it? Remember the whole point is to supplement.
Carbs are an important macro nutrient too, but again the point is to protein. Some protein powders actually have more carbs than protein. We see this most commonly in certain protein bars.
Pick a protein powder that has less than 10 ingredients. The first ingredient should be, PROTEIN. Powders with over 10 ingredients tend to have fillers like synthetic ingredients, sweeteners, and preservatives.
Most importantly is to choose a protein source, i.e. Whey, Soy, Casein, Pea, Hemp, and Rice. Vegans should avoid Whey and Casein which are both Milk based. Choose a source based off your personal dietary needs.
Whey vs Casein:
While both are milk based, they serve two different purposes. Whey is fast digesting and Casein is slow. To increase muscle, you need to increase protein synthesis and decrease muscle break down. Whey increases protein synthesis while casein decreases muscle breakdown. Essentially, you’re getting the same muscle breakdown effect from whole food protein because they are digesting slowly. The great thing about food protein sources is that you can take it in combination with Whey Protein and get the full benefits. By combining Whey and Casein you would actually be slowing down digestion of the Whey Protein and no longer get that increase in protein synthesis. Trying to “Bulk”? Casein may be for you…
Have you had your ‘Brotein’ Shake today?
-- Coach Morgan
Achieve Your First Pull Up Program
This program is designed to be done along with our regular CrossFit classes. The workouts should take no longer than 15 minutes and can be done following your desired class. This program is designed for someone who does not yet have their first strict dead hang pull up or someone who maybe only have 1 to 3 pull-ups. The program is broken down into three 4 week cycles with this being the 2nd cycle.
If you are just starting out and maybe have a hard time hanging on the pull up bar, you may want to repeat the first 4 week cycle a few times. If you are a little more advanced, you can work your way through the program as written.
See a video of Coach Elliott taking us through Cycle 2, and print out the PDF below to have on hand.
Monday is sometimes known for being the Monday Blues, needing extra coffee, back to reality, etc. Some people view Monday as a fresh start, clean slate, chance to start something new, etc. The latter is the way to go but what happens after Monday?
Having the idea or even starting the new habit is great but without sticking to it Monday means nothing. Whether it’s surrounding stress management, diet or exercise a game plan is 100% necessary or else it goes out of the window when Tuesday comes. Here are three steps to keep it going every day of the week.
1. PLAN - write down (open notes in your phone) your goal and what you think it will take to achieve it. Be clear about your why and your what. What is your goal? Why is it your goal? And what do you need to do to accomplish that goal? Think through every day and what you will need to make progress during all seven.
2. PREPARE - during your PLAN you’ll see that you need to get new shoes, go to the grocery store or need a coach. While preparing you can buy those shoes or reach out to a coach, therapist or friend that knows about your goal. Have every day setup for success.
3. PLAY - now you play the game, so to speak. You execute your game plan and if you PLANNED and PREPARED then you should have your accountability built in, you should have all the tools in place to continue until you achieve your goal.
Plan on Monday and attack every day until the goal is achieved!
I’m often faced with the question of, “should I eat this sweet treat?” More times than not I opt to eat that piece of chocolate. Recently, I’ve tried different ways to satisfy my chocolate cravings that have proven to be effective. Yet, not completely tasting like a Hersey’s bar, these hacks have helped me tremendously with adhering to a healthy lifestyle.
When the craving strikes, have your water close by-water is a great filler. Often they advise to drink water before a meal to ensure you do not over eat, likewise, drinking water creates that feeling of fullness.
Protein Hot Chocolate
During the winter season I enjoy that warm hot cocoa on a cold Sunday afternoon. Why not instead of using the cocoa mix, use your favorite protein powder. Once you add water, and protein,heat to your likings and enjoy-just two simple ingredients.
Chocolate Yogurt and Strawberries
Select your favorite yogurt brand and add fresh strawberries. Its important to keep in mind that the higher fat percentage in the yogurt may keep you fuller for a longer period of time.
Your favorite Chex-mix with a flare. Just add dark chocolate chips to Chex-mix, and mixed nuts. Simple and easy, yet delicious.
While these simple hacks tempers cravings, I find that enjoying my favorite dark chocolate in moderation is better than over indulging when I deprive myself completely. Next time the sweet cravings strike, I hope you can find these tricks helpful.
That once-a-year, weekly WOD where CrossFit athletes test themselves against the world, themselves, and their local communities. Where they are able to put to use the skills and strengths they have learned day-in and day-out in the gym. It’s one workout per week for five weeks. You will register for The Open and be able to see how you stack up against people all over the world doing the same workout every week. Although the best in the world will go to the CrossFit Games, for the rest of us (me) this is a time for self-evaluation and firsts. And, at CrossFit District 5, is also a bit of a party! So many personal records are set in the competition atmosphere. It will give you usable data on your performance in the gym and allow you to set reachable goals. Where does the party come in? I have left the gym unable to speak from yelling, cheering, and laughing every week during The Open for the past five years. It is so high-energy. It’s a party every Friday night.
The Open is a competition. The reason we CrossFit is health and health alone…until The Open. It’s all about the score. If we can do the rep safely and it meets the movement standards then it is a good, Rx rep. Try and get that rep by any means necessary! So, we approach The Open with a different mindset: if you have 20 minutes to get as many reps as possible of 50 chest-to-bar pull ups, 50 calorie row and 50 air squats and you have never done a chest-to-bar pull up, but you think you can safely get one…TRY! An Rx score of 1 is better than 1,000 scaled reps in The Open. So try Rx if you think you’re safely close, and then do the scaled workout later to sweat that beer out. There are never as many personal bests and personal firsts than under The Open lights. So many people cheering you on and such a positive atmosphere create a breeding ground of potential and confidence.
The Open is from February 21st to March 25th this year, so start working on those skills you need improvement on now. The D5 coaches are here to help! If you want to work on something, Open Gym is the perfect time to get some personal assistance with a movement. See y’all under The Open lights!
The CrossFit Open comes around once a year and it only lasts for five weeks. From the outside it sounds like just five random workouts spread out way too far apart and only 20 people plus national champions will qualify from the open straight to the CrossFit Games. The chances of making it to the CrossFit Games are similar to a young basketball player making it to the NBA. But the Open has dozens of reasons to signup and compete and they aren’t about winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in Madison, Wisconsin. Here are my favorite five reasons to signup!
Competing is for everyone. One of the key beauties of CrossFit is the infinite scaling options. The fittest in the world can and will compete just like the 56 year old that has osteoporosis and hadn’t worked out in 25 years until starting CrossFit a few months before the open started. One of the best things about the open is when people go from saying “no way I can do that. That’s for people like you” to saying “I did that!” Competing is for anyone and every one and every one includes you!
Competing causes intensity. Any competition brings another level out of an individual. You hear professionals say it all the time. There’s something about the bright lights that bring the best out of them. I have done the open every year it has been around (2011). Every year I am pushed in a way that is unimaginable and greater than the previous year, or I have short term memory issues. Knowing not only am I going through this uncomfortable workout but so is everybody at D5 and people throughout the world. That push from everybody around me helps me to be the best possible athlete I can be in that moment. The bright lights and people around cause my intensity to rise and my mental and physical fitness to increase!
Competing brings unity. Group fitness has the incredible ability to bring groups of people closer together. It’s why businesses, teams and the likes will go do ropes courses together or do trust falls. Doing/accomplishing difficult tasks alongside somebody else creates a bond with who you just “suffered” next to. Not many things physically challenge you like the open does and nobody in the world will try as hard at a workout as CrossFitters. Being an affiliate owner/coach I have seen friendships formed and other groups get closer together when going through the open. It’s beautiful. Competing with people makes you friends with those very same people!
Competing leads to motivation. After the open is over there is an unquestionable motivation to get better and to beat yourself next year. Athletes of all levels after a tough loss or a glorious win want to be better. They want to never feel that loss again or feel that win forever. Competition will always open your eyes to what you need to work on. Then the motivation lasts longer than most motivation streaks where they come for a couple days and leave. This one comes and stays for months. The Open is a great opportunity to find motivation to work on new skills, get stronger or just increase your fitness as a whole throughout an entire year. Compete to get motivated!
Competing is fun. At D5 we host an event called Friday Night Lights every Friday during the open. We have a theme of the week, something like cowboy night or superhero. Sometimes we it’s bigger than that and we dedicate it to a friend in the gym going through something. These nights are flat out fun. We do the workout, cheer each other on, blast music and often times go out after. As adults we forget the fun and silly sometimes and these nights give us the opportunity to put underwear on outside our pants or pulling out our nerdy Harry Potter costume. Competing with the friendships you’ve formed in the gym is just flat out fun!
We learn to squat before we do a clean, strict press before push press and pull up before kipping pull ups. Why? Because when you perform the common, uncommonly well, you build a strong foundation and avoid injury. If you can string together 5 kipping pull ups but struggle getting a single strict pull up, then your foundation is crumbling, warning signs are blaring red, and your body is not thanking you. A designated strength program can fix that.
CrossFit Hellbox developed a great pull up program for those struggling with this movement, and here at D5, we are using it for our athletes too! This program focuses on the dead hang, the ring row, the segmented & eccentric pull up, and the barbell assisted pull up, along with some important accessory work. It is vital that you test yourself initially so that you can track your progress at the end of the 12 week cycle. To create objective results, testing requires the athlete to record/ video their attempt at a strict pull up and a max time chin up grip hang (supinated grip and holding chin over the bar). As with all motion, stay focused on maintaining great technique and a controlled pace. 2019 is the year for YOU to get YOUR first strict pull up!
When is the last time you felt the ground beneath your feet? Fact is, a lot of us probably can’t recall when we went without socks or shoes other than inside our homes. What if I told you that your health could benefit from going barefoot outside? Let’s discuss some of the health benefits of ditching the footwear and exposing those toes!
Our bodies are about 60% water, which is very beneficial when it comes to conducting electricity. The earth's surface has a negative ionic charge and is constantly generating electrons, so when our feet make direct contact to earth's surface it can become a natural antioxidant and help to neutralize bad free radicals. When we neutralize positively charged free radicals, we can reduce general inflammation, detoxify the blood, and sync our internal clocks, hormonal cycles and psychological rhythms.
There are also significant strength benefits you gain from walking around barefoot. When you don’t have shoes on to protect your feet, your feet have to work harder. Hard working feet help strengthen, stabilize and stretch the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your lower body. Strong, bare feet that are exposed to the natural elements generate increased proprioceptive feedback to the brain, creating a strong base of support, core and hips, and effectively leading to a more upright posture. Who doesn’t need that??
Another great benefit of going barefoot is increased mindfulness. When you walk around without shoes on, you are more aware of your surroundings. This awareness helps you focus more on the here and now. If you are not ready to jump fully into the barefoot life, we really love Vibrams, as a great shoe alternative!
Get back to being outside with no shoes on. Literally get outside and connect to mother nature. Feel the sun above you and the ground below you. Just 30 minutes of going barefoot outside in grass, sand, mud, gravel, shrubbery (you get the point) can change your body’s chemistry and will help build a healthier mind, body and soul. Keep it simple and BE MORE HUMAN!