The Magic Pill

by Michael Plank

There’s a whole lot in this day and age that we can get immediately, or dang-close to it. Things are becoming more convenient by the day. Grocery pick-up! Same-day delivery! It is a magical time to be alive. But when so much of what we want is available at our fingertips, it can be frustrating when health and wellness don’t come quite as easily… or maybe that’s not quite right.

Maybe it’s not that building health and wellness is difficult, it’s that it can be slow. Because the truth is that there actually is a magic pill of sorts for weight loss, strength gain, and biomarker improvement.

Consistency.

That’s it. That’s the whole secret. You don’t have to workout for 2 hours a day, 6 days a week; you don’t have to completely cut out all carbohydrates and processed foods; you don’t have to engage in monumental, herculean efforts. You just have to keep going. Consistent mediocrity will beat sporadic excellence every time.

And really, that’s a huge part of what we do as coaches: we help our members stay consistent. You probably don’t need to learn about what foods are good for you, you probably don’t need to learn that lifting more weight makes you stronger; what you need is to know that every week, someone is waiting for you, and excited to see you show up to work out like you said you would. Every week, someone is checking in to be sure you’re still good with creative ideas for those 2 servings of vegetables you planned on. Every week, someone is in your corner, helping you to not just do what will help you, but helping you want to do what will help you.

Because then you’ll be consistent. And then you’ll get results. And it’s as simple as that. Magic pill.

Who’s On Your Team?

by Michael Plank

The self-made man? Self-made woman? It’s a myth. Or at least not something aspirational. The best performers in athletics, business, finance, military, you name it… all have teams. Even in individual sports, athletes have mindset coaches, strength coaches, hitting coaches, and fielding coaches.

When people join our gym, our goal – in short – is to make their lives better. We help them do that with fitness (which includes nutrition). But fitness is only one piece of the puzzle. There’s also faith. There’s also family. There are also friendships. There’s also psychology.

We’ve already talked about how valuable coaching is, and complete health involves fitness coaching for sure. But it also probably involves a spiritual advisor, and solid family relationships (biological or not), and friends in whom you can confide, and a therapist, and a doctor, and a financial advisor.

What we encourage people to do (and what we’re encouraging you to do as you’re reading this right now) is to build your team. The different areas of your life have different needs. (As much as I love hearing how meaningful our gym is for people, the truth is that CrossFit is not therapy. Therapy is therapy.) Get your fitness coach, your spouse (or siblings or parents or cousins), your best friend(s), your spiritual advisor, your therapist, your doctor, and your financial advisor. Tell them what you need and then let them help you.

It can seem like an overwhelming project, but the great news is that once you get those people lined up, it means that you don’t have to do it all yourself. You are only as smart as your own brain. And when you can get other brains in the mix, whole new worlds can open up to you. Those people who can help you are out there. And when you get your team in line, magic can happen.

(PS Obviously we’d love to help you with your fitness coaching. And we’ll put in a plug here for a great therapist too).

Goals are Overrated

by Michael Plank

I recently heard a podcast with Simon Sinek where he talked about his book The Infinite Game. He talked about the concept of Finite Games and Infinite Games, and it was a lightbulb moment for me.

Finite Games are games where there are defined players, defined rules, and a defined desired outcome (think of any organized sport). Infinite Games, by contrast, are games where the players change, the rules change, and there’s no definite desired outcome because there’s no defined end; the goal isn’t to win, it’s to keep the game going as long as possible.

Exercise is an Infinite Game. You don’t win at exercise. You don’t finish the discipline we call exercise. Exercise is something you do forever so that you’re healthy and strong. Now, we do set Finite Games within the Infinite Game of exercise. And that’s what goals are. So we might say: “I want to be able to do 30 squats in a minute by August 1st.” There are defined players (you), defined rules (number of squats in a minute), and a defined desired outcome (30 squats in a minute by August 1st). If you achieve that goal, you get a big dopamine hit. You feel good about yourself, if you’re at our gym we put up a picture of you and cheer for you, and it’s great.

If you don’t achieve that goal, you know what happens?

Nothing.

Nothing! You don’t get kicked out of the gym. You don’t fail at exercise. You don’t get weaker. Your parents don’t stop loving you. Your friends don’t abandon you. Nothing happens! Because exercise is an Infinite Game.

Goals are important. We’re doing Goal Review sessions with members all the time. They can be inspiring and motivating and useful in making progress. But, like with everything, there’s a dichotomy. When you achieve your goal, celebrate it; tell your friends, post about it, soak up that great feeling. But when you miss your goal (and if you do this long enough, you will miss goals), don’t worry too much about it. Because the game goes on.

Inching the Needle

by Aimee Wojtowecz

Often in nutrition there seems to be this all or nothing approach. People get easily overwhelmed thinking that to make any progress they have to be 100% perfect all the time or it’s just not worth it at all. Well I’m here to tell you that’s simply not true. Where else in your life do you need to be, or can you be, 100% perfect? Nowhere. The answer you’re looking for is: nowhere. 

Nutrition is not all or nothing, food is not good or bad (our food doesn’t have morals, folks!), eating an ice cream cone in the summer doesn’t mean you are a bad person or a failure, it means you’re living your life. We only get 3 months of good weather here everybody, I would be disappointed for you if you spent all summer longing for Rookies and denied yourself for the sake of perfection!

What healthy nutrition is, is balance. It’s a series of habits and choices that sets us up for long-term success, it’s preventative health care, it’s community, it’s family, it’s celebration and sorrow. What it never is, is punishment. Healthy nutrition is about nourishing your body, mind and soul with foods that make you feel good AND help you reach your goals. This is done through incremental changes and adding healthy habits that over time will crowd out some of those unhealthier habits that are no longer serving your health or your goals. 

For example, maybe cheeseburgers are your favorite meal in the world and you eat them 4 times a week. I would never tell you that the only way to get healthy is to give up cheeseburgers forever. That’s miserable and unsustainable. What I might ask you is what steps are you willing to take to make that cheeseburger 1% healthier this week? Could you add lettuce and tomato? Could you use a whole-grain bun or make it open faced? Could you eventually sub in ground turkey (maybe even a 50/50 blend?)? Could you leave off the cheese 1-2 times this week? This might not sound like much when you think about all these little tweaks but what you don’t realize is how all these tiny little changes can really add up over time. Think about it like compounding interest in your retirement fund. You add a little, and a little, and a little bit more, but the interest compounds over time giving you a greater return down the line. Your health and nutrition are the same. These tiny little changes can lead to HUGE results and benefits over time that you didn’t even realize were happening because the changes didn’t seem life altering at the time. 

So I challenge you this week to look for one way that you can inch that needle just 1% closer to your goals. For me it’s adding one more glass of water each day. I would love to hear what your 1% is!

 

Get to Know Coach Kik!

by Kik Suprenant

A quick google definition search of the word confidence will lead you to the following:

  • the state of feeling certain about the truth of something.

This first definition takes me back to the beginning of my journey with Underwood Park CrossFit. I had just run in a 5k at a local event hosted by the gym. Having had my first daughter 18 months prior, I had gained significant weight during my pregnancy (which was not going away on its own) and struggled with postpartum depression. It felt like a huge win to get back into being active after such a dark time. Some members of the gym who were also running introduced themselves. They spoke so highly of this gym community and I was intrigued to find out more. It was a few months later that I felt that first sense of confidence. My truth was knowing I needed to start taking care of me. I joined the UPCF boot camp program. Having been an athlete throughout my high school career, it was comforting to be in a space that accepted my current abilities, rather than where I had been in the past. There was no pressure to fulfill outlandish goals that weren’t realistic. Instead it was an ease that allowed me to build back into working towards consistent and realistic progress in my fitness journey.

The next definition of confidence lists:

  • the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.

After completing my boot camp I decided that this progress I had made needed to continue. I was all in and determined to stay on track. I began my CrossFit membership and have been training for over four years. It is the second bulleted definition of confidence I now felt. I knew I had a place and people I could rely on. This gym has become more than just “getting fit” for me. It is here that I feel a strong sense of community and have found people that truly care about my well being. This gym and the coaches here continue to seek out ways to improve and develop what they are doing for their members. Level Method and UPCF, Version COVID-19 are two prime examples of that, but there are dozens more. They strive to provide the best possible outcomes for their athletes. I have firm trust that our coaches go above and beyond to help all members achieve success.

  • a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

Now the last definition of confidence…for me and I’m sure many others is the hardest. Confidence in YOU. It’s easy to say that I have confidence in my decision to join Underwood Park CrossFit, and confidence in my gym and coaches. But to say I have it in me is a challenge I have, and one I continuously struggle with. Those that know me at the gym know I have a persona of being funny, loud, outgoing, and sometimes (or maybe lots of times) over the top. These are mechanisms I’ve picked up to mask and hide the deeper issues of depression and anxiety that I have struggled with beginning as an adolescent. While my outside appearance might seem confident, internally it’s a challenge I battle regularly. Taking on this new role of coaching is helping to build that confidence within me, but like all other journeys it’s an ongoing process. There are days I feel on top of the world (Murph 2021 was a good day). But there are also days I wish I was a hermit crab that could hide in my shell forever. Saying these things are hard to admit. It makes me feel exposed and vulnerable. By saying them though, others will relate and see that we are all fighting our own battles everyday. Sometimes just showing up for yourself and each other can make all the difference. And I am confident that if you continue to put in the work you will come out better than you started.

No Regrets

by Michael Plank

I got together with a friend today to do jiu-jitsu. It was tough. It’s humid and hot. Grappling is exhausting. It hurts. It pushes you to your limits. It’s just like CrossFit in that way. When we finished up, he said, “You know, I really didn’t want to do this today. I’m glad I did.”

And I can’t even count the times that’s been true for me with workouts. There are so many times when I’m just not feeling it. I’m tired. It’s hard. I’m sore. I’m busy. And don’t get my wrong, there are absolutely times when your workout should take a back seat to other things in life.

But, though I have sometimes skipped workouts and not regretted it, I’ve never regretted doing a workout.