Rest 101

by Jessica Schneible
We’ve heard it from our coaches over and over again that rest is as important to muscle recovery as proper nutrition is to training. The issue is that 9/10 times that statement goes in one ear and out the other. Friends, I get it! As someone who was once against rest days and proper nutrition I would know! I’ve been there, so here it is again but this time in writing. Rest is as important to muscle recovery as proper nutrition is to training. Now let’s get you to a point where proper rest feels easy!
First things first, erase everything you have ever learned about “more is better from your brain.” When it comes to training and recovery, that information isn’t actually very helpful. More is not better. At least, not necessarily. If you’re training 4-5 days a week and you have 2-3 rest days you are probably seeing gains even years into your fitness lifestyle.
Resting is probably the easiest thing that you can do and that’s because you literally do not have to do anything, no effort needed! CrossFit.com has a resting module that you can use to start; it is a 3-on-1-off program, which means 3 days of doing the workouts and taking the fourth day to rest. Most athletes training at high intensity need at least 1 day of complete rest in order to allow muscle tissues to repair themselves and grow larger. (One whole day off a week and I’ll get bigger muscles?? Count me in!) There are many different ways you can spin your days-on-to-days-off, you just have to play around with it to find the right fit for you. I personally like 3 days on, 1 completely off, 2 days on 1 day active rest. That’s what works for me. With that being said active rest is not in anyway a CrossFit workout, a 5k run or 10 miles of biking! Active rest days for me consist of walking my dogs, throwing a ball or a light yoga flow. Active rest days are meant to have a little bit of solid movement but not hit the intensity like you would on a normal training day.
Now let’s hit 2 reasons why rest days are so important. (Listen, I know you love the gym and the community and the feeling in your body after you hit a hard workout and you’re laying on the floor with lactic acid hitting your muscles and that heavy lung burn that you only experience during FRAN. I GET IT.)
#1 Injury is top of the list here. While good movement patterns will aid in fighting injury, you cannot prevent injury when your cells are always breaking down and trying to rebuild without sufficient rest.
#2 Cortisol. Cortisol is our fight-or-flight hormone. Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism, creating a surge of energy in the body. This process is essential for survival situations. Cortisol with adequate rest will usually stay within a healthy range. When we have extreme exposure to cortisol it can wreak havoc on our bodies, as the body will never know when to turn cortisol off if we are always in “survival mode” (aka intense training on a daily basis). Too much cortisol also tends to elevate visceral fat (excess fat around the midsection). If you are working hard daily and your progress has stalled or is heading in the opposite direction it may be time to look at your cortisol levels.
If you’ve made it this far, then you want to know about healthy resting! Here are some helpful tips to maximize your resting and training potential: First up balanced meals. It is very important after a hard intense training session to get some balanced meals consisting of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. Carbs, proteins, and healthy fats help aid in cells restoring themselves fully after a hard workout. Flushing your system after intense training will also aid in recovery. After a hard workout you may think that just leaving the gym with stiff muscles is totally fine, which it is, but if you want to maximize your recovery I would highly recommend some accessory work or light jogging or rowing after a hard workout to flush your system of the metabolic byproducts that have built up. Now let’s talk about tissues: light foam rolling or convincing your partner to give you a soft tissue massage after a hard workout is very effective in aiding recovery. Add in some mobility and stretching to maximize results! Last but not least, take adequate good quality rest and get some sleep. Studies show that taking a quick power nap (45 minutes or so) after a workout helps our muscles repair and grow faster. Add in some meditation or chillout time here and you have a recipe for success!
So now that you have some helpful information about rest and recovery, let’s get to work! This is the easiest work you will do thus far. And remember: choose rest before rest chooses you!

Get to Know Coach Aimee!

by Aimee Wojtowecz

My journey with nutrition has been a long and complicated road; a journey that I am sure so many of you are familiar with. I distinctly remember being on my first diet at age 8. Which as you can imagine set me up for a lifetime of struggling with my weight and eating habits. I tried everything from Weight Watchers, to exercising more, to not eating at all (or very little), low carb, low fat, macros; the point is there isn’t much I didn’t try to lose the extra weight. My weight has fluctuated up and down over the years, losing and regaining 100 pounds at one point. It kept me from jobs, from opportunities and experiences because I was always self-conscious of my weight and my abilities. 

All of my struggles led me to go back to grad school at the age of 39 to obtain my Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition. I had always been interested in nutrition (probably started somewhere around the age of 8 but maybe that’s just a coincidence!) and I knew I needed a different approach to finally “fixing” my weight problem, and I thought “wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to help other people with theirs too, save them from all of the struggles I had been through” (I’m sure you can see where this is going already!). The harsh reality is I still didn’t get it. I was learning all of this science behind healthy nutrition and how to apply it, in theory, to working with real people and how great I was going to make my life and their lives and solve all the world’s problems with good nutrition, but……why wasn’t it working for my body? What was I doing wrong, was my body broken and this was just the best it was ever going to be? 

When I started at UPCF my only focus was losing weight and looking good, but somewhere along the way that all changed and I realized what I really was searching for was strength and good health. Things truly changed for me last year when I started working with coach Jess on my nutrition. I can hear it now, **gasp*** “but Aimee you’re a nutritionist?”. Yes, but even coaches need coaches. We all need help holding ourselves accountable and sometimes other people can see the big picture in ways that we can’t because maybe it’s not your nutrition that’s the problem, maybe it’s your recovery, maybe it’s your sleep or your stress. The UPCF nutrition program is designed to set you up for a lifetime of health and strength by focusing on a holistic approach (meaning a whole-person, client-led approach) using habits one at a time and in such a way that they become your lifestyle and not just another diet. I am completely confident in saying that I will never have a weight problem again because-insert game changer lightbullb aha moment heremy weight was never my problem, my attitude about it was. By taking the focus off my weight and putting the focus on my health this journey became a lot easier to navigate. 

If you need help with your health journey, reach out, we are here to support you in any way we can.

 

Get to Know Coach Jess S!

by Jess Schneible

When I first started at UPCF I had no clue what CrossFit was. All I knew is that I wanted to get into shape and be able to live a long healthy life. I aspire to be as fit as I am now at 80 years old.

I remember being scared to walk into the gym for my first session knowing that what I was about to do was way out of my comfort zone! My intro to CrossFit was just working some basic movements like squats, sit-ups and pushups; a basic test to see where I was physically. I left feeling confident in what I was signing up for. For the first year or so I had not a single clue what I was doing! I couldn’t remember which movements were which and I didn’t feel sure of myself. All I knew was that in some way this is what was going to make me a better human being.

Fast forward to today; I have put in a lot of hard work to be where I am right now, in and out of the gym. What I thought was going to be just a consistent workout regimen turned into way more! From UPCF, I have gained so much more than a healthy lifestyle. I have gained a community of people who all share the same goal: To be the best version of themselves. I know way more now than I did 5 years ago but I still have a long way to go. I fully believe that the learning curve that CrossFit threw at me was, and always will be, the best part of everything I do in the gym, whether it be as a coach or as an athlete. If you’re starting out and you’re scared or unsure, trust the process because you might fall in love with the journey just like I have!

The Cost of Success

by Aimee Wojtowecz

In the world of CrossFit we often measure our success through PR’s; ever heavier lifts, faster workout times, 6-pack abs, but do we ever stop to think about what this might be costing us? When our singular focus becomes how much further we can push our bodies on any given day we lose sight of the bigger picture. 

I’ve only been a coach at UPCF for a short time but it has given me a whole new perspective on CrossFit and our community in particular. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing you all achieve your goals and I have big goals of my own, but it’s not all I’m chasing anymore. 

I started CrossFit several years ago to simply lose weight, to shrink myself into the beauty standards that are so often pushed on women (yes, I do realize men experience this too but I’m a woman writing from my perspective), and somewhere along the way it became about the goals; faster, stronger, fitter. Maybe you started CrossFit for similar reasons, your health, your fitness, simply improving the quality of your life. As we say at UPCF, all goals are equal. 

Yet watching all of you through the lens of a coach has revolutionized my goals. My focus has shifted from chasing my own performance to watching you all grow as athletes and more importantly as humans. I love seeing you all work hard but I love just as much hearing about how that hard work is changing your life, whether it’s being able to keep up with your kids and grandkids, moving heavy furniture, getting the farm chores done without help. It’s not all about the numbers but how those numbers translate to real life. Don’t forget to find the joy in your workouts and the joy in the connection and community that has been built at UPCF. If you find your workouts lacking the joy and love you first felt walking through those doors remember that it’s ok to change your goals whenever you want. Don’t let chasing the PR’s cost you all the other ways to measure success.

No Failure, Only Feedback

by Michael Plank

Imagine that it’s 40,000 years ago. You and your friends grab your spears and journey out of your caves to hunt and gather and feed your small band of humans. Along the way, you stop to pick some berries. You set down your spear and step a little deeper into the bushes, picking ripe, juicy berries as you go. All of a sudden you hear a growl and look up to lock eyes with a saber-toothed cat. It starts to walk menacingly toward you and you pick up a rock and shout and throw the rock and hit the cat square between the eyes… but it keeps coming.

Now… do you hang your head in shame? Do you kick the dust and start thinking about what a dumb idea it was to use a rock? About what an unworthy idiot you are who can’t do anything right? Do you think that you might as well just give up since you failed so miserably to scare away the predator?

OR…

Do you say to yourself, “F! That didn’t work!” and then look around for your spear, or your friends, or some cover, or anything else?

If you imagined yourself making it out of that situation, I’m guessing you went with Option 2.

But so often, that’s not what we do when we’re in regular, every day situations. When we try something and it doesn’t work, instead of saying “Huh. That didn’t work. Let me try something else.” We apply deep judgment to the fact that a thing didn’t work, and then we tell ourselves stories about what that means about who we are as people.

But there’s no failure. Not in the judgment-laden, shame-inducing way we think about it. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that that kind of failure exists, but only in our minds.

There’s no failure. There’s only feedback. So if what you tried didn’t work, acknowledge it, dust yourself off, and try something else.

3 Ways to Make Your 2021 Resolution Stick

by Michael Plank

It’s that time of year!

“New Year, New You.”

“It’s YOUR year.”

“THIS year will be different.”

We’ve been in this game for awhile now and have worked with literally hundreds of people on goals and resolutions over the last six years. Here’s the bad news right up front: roughly 80% of New Year’s Resolutions don’t last more than 6 weeks. But the good news is that it’s not that hard to be in the 20% that make it beyond that! Here’s how to do it:

1) Pick A Resolution

One. Not two. Not five. Not nine. Pick one resolution. I’ve been in the lots-of-resolutions camp and started many January 1sts with 15 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of mobility, 4 meals that were all prepped and pre-packed, 5 minutes of journaling, a strenuous workout, prayer, scripture reading, more journaling before bed, and 8 hours of sleep. Guess how long that lasts? (I’ll give you a hint – you’ve got an 80% chance of being right). If the goal of a resolution is to make your life better, set yourself up for success by making it easy to focus. Pick one thing and it’ll be way easier to stay on track and not get overwhelmed by your new 14-step, 2-hour routine. One thing.

2) Pick the Best Doable Option

Avoid the Best Theoretical Option. Here’s what I mean: If you want to get more control over your in 2021, the Best Theoretical Option might be to work out 5 days a week, do 1-on-1 nutrition coaching, hire a house cleaner, hire an organizer, and start reading about personal finance and productivity. Great. But that’s a lot. You know what’s not a lot? Making your bed. But will coming home to a made bed at the end of the day move you one step closer to feeling like your life is under control? Yes. And would you actually be willing to spend 30 seconds in the morning do it? You probably would. Don’t pick the best thing that you could do (the Best Theoretical Option). Pick the best thing that you actually would do (the Best Doable Option). Remember that the goal is to move the needle, not to wake up on January 1st to a perfect life.

3) Get Help

Get a friend who has a similar approach to progress (not necessarily a similar goal). Get an accountability buddy. Find social media groups for people doing what you’re doing. Best of all, hire a professional (If you want help with physical health, we do group coaching, personal training, and nutrition coaching – which often includes a ton of work with habit coaching – I’m obviously biased, but I’m confident that if you click that big “Book Free Consultation” button at the top of this page, that we can help!).

Remember that perfection is a myth. The route to real, lasting change is slow, maybe, but it’s steady. Ending 2021 a single step beyond where you are right now is progress that counts and is worth making. Progress is the magic.

Here’s to a 2021 that’s chock full of it!