Diaries of a Coach 013 || The Redemption Workout

 

Some of you may remember my post on Saturday in our Members Only Facebook Group. It was kind, inviting and seemingly well intentioned. It read something like this: “Hey guys, opening up the gym tomorrow from 1-3pm.” All smiles, right? What a nice little coach I am! Well, I have a confession. (Maybe we should rename the blog to, “Confessions of a Coach” this week.) Sunday was a redemption workout. Anyone know what I’m talking about? Workout doesn’t go as planned, maybe the whole day doesn’t go as planned, and you just need a redo. Maybe some of you have been there? Well, that was me.

Last Friday, I walked out on my workout. I have to say, it was a first for me. I’ve cried during a workout (you can fact check with Tim on that one). I’ve gotten angry and frustrated during a workout. I’ve hurt myself in a workout, probably too many times to count. But giving up and walking out? This was a first and honestly, it’s really not like me.

But nothing felt right, in fact, it all felt terribly wrong. Weight felt heavy. I felt slow. Such a bad combination. On top of that, if you’ve talked to me for 2.7 seconds you know I am an extreme perfectionist and my own worst critic. So, as you can imagine, it was the perfect storm for this workout disaster.

Snatches were up first and I swear to you, my pull was just about as slow as me getting under the bar. It was awful. My pride was immediately squashed when I was told to take weight off the bar. I swallowed it as quick as I could and proceeded in all the humility I could muster up. When it was time for my Clean & Jerk build, my upper body just couldn’t deal with putting more than the weight of my hand overhead. (Anyone else feel like last week annihilated your arms? #blameshifting) I was just a few reps in when I threw up a lift and felt a pull in my arm that was my body undeniably telling me to stop. I guess it had tried subtle hinting and my stubbornness had drowned out it’s cries. And that was it. I deloaded the bar, took off my bright pink lifting shoes and I walked right out the door. And when I say I didn’t look back, I mean it literally.

So Sunday was all out mission redemption. And with some encouraging words from a few friends, I was back in business. But not without a few lessons and encouragements to stick in the pocket of my Lulu’s.

You know what, if I’m that mad and frustrated, I stinking care. I really do. I want to get better and stronger and if something stands in my way, I’m going to feel some kind of emotion. That is good. Feeling something is good, it means we are human, we’re invested and our goals are costing us something (like a whole heck of a lot of hard work!).

These days make you stronger, probably more so than days that are smooth sailing. A fellow athlete challenged me a few days later with this very truth. Maybe I should have stayed, because getting through days like that make you who you want to be. Next time I hope I’m not so quick to walk away. But even so, the lessons learned are a crucial part of the journey.

There’s always room for redemption. All was not lost that day. It motivated me to get back in the gym a couple days later and prove to myself and to that dumb bar that I wouldn’t be beat by it. Sometimes it is better to just walk away (rather than risk sloppiness and injury). But don’t let a bad workout have the last word. Take a beat, then get back in there and do the thing!

So maybe you’ve walked out of a workout or maybe not. Maybe your reaction was another extreme. Or maybe you’ve plateaued and workouts aren’t challenging enough to bring out your inner hot head. In that case, maybe it’s time for a push! Wherever you may be today, feel it, let it make you stronger, and in moments where we fail or fall short the first time, always take another shot.

Coach E

Diaries of a Coach || 012 – Be Where You Are

I was going to write a post on accountability with the premise that we have this New Year with new goals and new motivations, but what happens when that motivation runs out? How do we stay in it? How do we confront the busyness and distractions of life head-on and refuse to allow them to keep us from getting where we want to be? Sounds like a great little post, eh? Well sorry, not doing it. Not today anyways.

Instead, a recent conversation sparked some thoughts in me that I’d love to share with you. A little bit different, but it’s all from the heart. Instead of “3 Ways to Stay Motivated” (or whatever it may have been), I don’t want you to DO anything today. I just want you to live and be present where you are. Embrace the beauty in and around you, right now, in this season, whatever it may be for you.

As many of you know, Monday was a big day here at CFA! New lights. Participant meet up for Whole Life Challengers. SFH reppin’. But if you were here, you more than likely saw the Body Analytics trailer posted up out front. Body Analytics conducts hydrostatic body composition testing, the most accurate form of compositional testing to determine lean body mass and body fat mass.

I was talking with one of your fantastic coaches the following day who had this testing done 5 years ago and again on Monday night. Over the course of those few years, from testing to retesting, their body fat increased by 91%. Now, in no way is their current body fat worrisome or even remotely unhealthy. But things have changed circumstantially, and consequently, this test showed it. Here is what got me, instead of being disheartened or discouraged by this, I was so encouraged by the level of acceptance and awareness of this particular coach that it is simply a different season.

Years ago, being in the heat of competitive CrossFit meant rigid training schedules, a rigid nutrition plan to optimize that training, and countless hours of skill work and mental exertion. Stakes were high, focus was narrow and competition was the motivator. It’s no wonder body fat percentage was at an all time low.

Fast forward to a few years later and life and focus have notably shifted. Movement, nutrition and overall health are still very much a priority, but the next competition is no longer knocking at the door. Goals have shifted and people, this is what I need you to hear, THAT IS OK.

All I want to do today is encourage you to really examine where you are in life. Seasons shift and change and sometimes, the focus can and must be different. Yesterday’s goals may not be today’s, embrace that. Revile in that freedom. Let yourself off the hook. Maybe you have new challenges, new responsibilities, new aspirations, prioritize finding balance and embracing all the wild dreams you have in life, not just the ones related to the scale or the next PR.

Simple as that. Be where you are, then dig deep for the next step. It may be small or it may be a giant leap, either way you’re right where you need to be to take it.

2017 Push Up Man & Push Up Woman of the Year || Tariq Baig & Kristy Marsillo

Every year we’ve chosen a male and female that stood out to us and exemplified the things that we look for in members of our community. That is not limited to physical ability alone, although both of these athletes are quite talented in their individual areas. It also encompasses their ability to connect with their fellow CFA members, their continues drive, and they commitment not only to this community, but to their own longevity, health, and overall being.

“The Push-up Man and Woman of the Year exemplify everything that we love about our athletes, our community, and the human spirit. Not only do these people walk through the doors of CFA day in and day out, and work hard to improve themselves; they go out of their way to lift up everyone around them. They make their friends and families a priority over themselves. They lead and encourage by words, actions, and example. They represent the burning spirit of what makes our little South Austin gym unique and special. We at CrossFit Austin can humbly bestow no greater honor and we give our utmost heartfelt thanks that you both have chosen to make our gym, business, family, and lives a better place!”

We are proud to share the interviews of our 2017 PUM & PUW – Tariq Baig and Kristy Marsillo. Congratulations you two! We’re honored to have you on our team.

Tariq “Mr. T” Baig: 

When did you join the CFA community?
Back in the day, let’s say 2011. I really don’t remember.

What is one of your most memorable moments from your early days at CFA? Any ‘newbie’ stories you’d like to share?
I did my first “WOD” don’t remember what the workout was, but I puked two times, my legs were wobbly, and I was hooked.

What is it about CFA that you love or that is different from other sports/programs you’ve tried?
I love the coaches and people. Also, it’s pretty close to my house.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to when you first started CrossFit?
“QUIT NOW YOU’LL STILL BE FAT IN 7 YEARS!!”

How did you create long term fitness/CrossFit success for yourself?
No matter what get to the gym. I try and go five days a week – CONSISTENCY

What keeps you motivated?
My fit wife and my son!

What makes you come in and train on days when you don’t want to?
That double Whataburger with cheese, bacon, and grilled onions

Recent PRs?
I would say….in all the years in crossfit, I did my first competition. “THE NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS” I was pretty pleased with my crossfit total!

Current training goals?
NONE… maybe getting double-unders for 2018

Tell us about an obstacle you have had to work through in your training. How did you work through it?
Having my first kid in August. Thought I wouldn’t have time to go to the gym, but he likes to go and watch us pump iron!

What is your cheat meal go to?
There’s no such thing as a cheat meal. I eat what I want.

What does the Push Up Man title mean to you?
Coming from 6:30am class, it is frowned upon that you are not AOM or Push-up man/woman of the year. Most all previous winners have come from the “famed” 6:30class. I won it and I really didn’t deserve it. There are way better athletes than me. But now I have bragging rights.

Thoughts upon winning the title?
About damn time!! Where is my parking spot Tim??

How will you use your new found Push Up Man glory?Continue to talk more trash to my minions..

What are you most excited about in the upcoming year? Gym related and/or personally?
Watching by boy grow, getting double-unders and the direction CFA is going!

Leave the fine folks of CFA with some parting wisdom.
If I can win Push-Up Man of the year, you can too! Just keep doing what you are doing and ask for advice when you need it. The coaches are awesome, the people are awesome, CFA is AWESOME!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kristy Marsillo:

When did you join the CFA community?
I joined CFA about 3 years ago.

What is one of your most memorable moments from your early days at CFA? Any ‘newbie’ stories you’d like to share?
During one of my first open workouts, I was still not very confident with the amount of weight I could lift.  The workout had squat cleans that went up in weight each round.  I didn’t think I could make it past the second round because I hadn’t lifted that heavy and my form was not that great.  With encouragement from friends at CFA,  I was able to lift into the 3rd round, 11 of the 13 squat cleans, which at that time was more than my max.  It was so empowering!

What is it about CFA that you love or that is different from other sports/programs you’ve tried?
Definitely the community.  I have worked out at many other places.  It is amazing what you can do with the support and encouragement from your peers.  I feel part of a team and I love the strength I gain from others.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to when you first started CrossFit? When you first start you are not going to be able to lift what everyone else can.  Work on your form and your confidence.  Believe in yourself.  When you get these elements together, the weight and speed will come with time.

 

 

How did you create long term fitness/CrossFit success for yourself?
I never tried to be the best.  I tried to be the best for myself.  I pushed hard and practiced longer.  That is where the gains come from.  

What keeps you motivated?
At first it was the weight loss and endurance I achieved from doing CrossFit. Eventually it became each PR.  Each day when I did a little better, it kept me pushing.  Every time I thought I couldn’t, I persevered through and that’s what made me stronger.  Watching others achieve their goals made me want to work harder to get better.

 

 

 

What makes you come in and train on days when you don’t want to?
Working out helps me relieve stress and gets me through tough days.  Sometimes it’s just getting to the gym and talking with people that makes me glad to be there.  I couldn’t do it without the friends I have made.  I love when someone asks, “Will I see you tomorrow?”  That is what keeps me coming.  The sense of camaraderie, gives me purpose.

 

Recent PRs?
I finally hit triple digits on my Push Press and 120 on my Front Squat.  (Thanks Tim!)

Current training goals?
Still trying to string together my double-unders and get a full handstand push up.

 

 

Tell us about an obstacle you have had to work through in your training. How did you work through it?
Double-unders have been my nemesis for quite some time.  I can get 5-6 in a row but can’t put them all together. I just have to keep trying and not over think it.    

What is your cheat meal go to?
French fries for sure…and wine!!

 

 

 

What does the Push Up Woman title mean to you?
It is so humbling.  I was never a huge athlete in high school or college, but I put my heart and soul into the gym. It feels so amazing to know that although I am not the fastest or the strongest, people recognize the work I am doing.  Everyone needs some encouragement.  It has already caused me to push harder and to be stronger.  I think the Push Up Woman title means being “the best version of ourselves.”

Thoughts upon winning the title?
First of all, thank you to everyone who believed in me and pushed me to become better.  I am so touched to be awarded this title.  I promise I will continue to encompass the philosophy of the gym and I hope to encourage others to do the same.

How will you use your new found Push Up Woman glory?
It is a great confidence booster and it will make me push myself harder. Sometimes I am my toughest critic and it will help me to believe in myself and what I am trying to accomplish.  I don’t need to be the best at the gym as long as I continue to be the best version of myself. I also hope to motivate others and give them confidence to push past their barriers.

What are you most excited about in the upcoming year? Gym related and/or personally?
I am so excited for the new management and the courage to work even harder.  I am looking forward to increasing my confidence, both personally and professionally.  I think what we do in the gym translates into our lives. I can’t wait to travel more, eat good food, drink good wine, and continue to enrich my life with the people I surround myself with.

 

 

Leave the fine folks of CFA with some parting wisdom.
Life is short, travel more, work less.  Love the life you are given.  Do the things you love.  Never stop believing in yourself!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  This place has made me into the person I want to be!!

 

 

Diaries of a Coach || 011 – Cold Weather Training

Yeah, so, it’s cold. And consequentely, I’ve missed some of y’all at the gym lately!

Funny how that works, right? Frigid temperatures seem to be the perfect excuse to skip the gym simply to stay inside and stay warm. On top of that, it’s scientifically proven that weather affects mood, right? Because my mood has been annoyed, irritable and non-aggressive anger (had to clarify, I’m not going to hit you if you see me) for the past two or three days. It’s not exactly a mood that wants to be put to work.

But you know what’s annoying, in the midst of temperatures that make you want to stay inside, cozy up, and call an audible on life? There are actually benefits to working out in cold weather. Of course, something that sounds awful is actually good for you.

I know you’re thinking, “I don’t want to hear this, let me stay home and take full advantage of my cold weather excuse to miss workout after workout.” Sorry, I have to stay honest y’all! So here it is, the benefits of working out in temperatures less than your age.

You’ll burn more calories as your body tries to regulate core temperature. Simple as it sounds, your body is working a little harder to keep that temperature up and that effort equals calorie burn. This will vary numerically based on the person and the extremity of the colder temperature, but doesn’t that at the very least increase motivation with a little extra pay off?

You’ll strengthen your heart. Your heart is also working harder, to pump and distribute blood throughout the body. Your heart, a muscle (and a very important one for that matter), can be strengthened by this added work, increasing readiness for those higher capacity cardiovascular workouts in the future.

You’ll hydrate. Because sweat will evaporate quicker with colder temps and dryer air, hydration is key in order to replace fluids when it seems like the body is losing less. Drinking water before, during and after your workout will help you stay warm, protect you from injury and maintain performance levels.

You’ll reap the benefits of a crucial warm up and cool down. It’s not easy to forget your warm up when you’re freezing. A sufficient warm up will effectively prevent injury and cooling down will prevent unnecessary tightness brought about by the cold weather. In fact, exposure to cold air or water post workout actually increases recovery time and decreases inflammation, leading to faster recovery and increased performance (think, ice baths).

And here is the kicker for me. YOU’LL FEEL HAPPY AND MORE ENERGIZED. (Ok, ok, I give up. It’s worth a shot to kick my crabbiness, right?) The body actually produces more endorphins as it works to stay warm and with less humidity, the air around you will literally feel lighter and your body stimulated by the chill. Happy and light… that’s a good day in the making right there!

So there you have it. Just a few reasons why you should come see me, come workout and come reap a few added benefits of cold weather wods. See you soon!

Hydrostatic weighing – What it is and why you should do it!

Happy Friday folks! The last Friday of 2017 in fact! We’re all scrambling to tie up the loose ends of this year and prepping ourselves for the New Year. Goals, intentions, wishes for the future and all that…. We’re getting ready for the Whole Life Challenge, the Open, and everything else that’s coming up. If you’re overwhelmed by all of that and don’t really know where to start, I’m here to help. 😉

 

As for goals, I wrote an article last year about New Year’s resolutions and how to actually make your goals happen & there is also a link to Coach E’s article from this year. Basically it boils down to 5 simple things:

  1. Ditch the mindset of a New Year’s Resolution – yup, you heard me. Goals can and should be set and started at ANY time.
  2. Establish your why – Why do you even care about that goal? What’s your motivation?
  3. Set realistic goals and have a plan to reach them – Sorry, but you aren’t going to lose 30 pounds in 2 weeks… not in a healthy way at least.
  4. Prioritize your goals and avoid road blocks – You have to work your goals into your life just like you work Netflix and Starbucks breaks in. There will be things to trips you up so make sure you know how you will handle them.
  5. Don’t take yourself too seriously – If you are so stressed about reaching your goal that you don’t enjoy the journey then why is that even a goal? (see above steps and try again)

The actual article is more in depth and better written so you can read that here 🙂

HYDROSTATIC WEIGHING

On to the actual topic of this article. I promise one has to do with the other. If you have a goal that is at all related to the composition of your body (lose weight, gain muscle, get shredded, etc. etc. etc.) then you need to actually understand the composition of your body…. Like REALLY understand it.

This year as part of the Whole Life Challenge (remember early bird registration ends on 1/3) we wanted people to have the opportunity to do pre & post testing so that they could make realistic goals based on their individual composition and track their progress to the end. Even if you aren’t doing the challenge (but you should) and you want to do the testing that’s fine too. Reserve your spot.

I’ve heard a TON of questions, comments, and concerns over the last few weeks about the testing so let’s get down to business.

“Hydrostatic what?” 

Hydrostatic Testing (Underwater Weighing) has become universally regarded by industry experts as the “Gold Standard” in body fat testing.

Body Analytics hydrostatic method uses a three component model which separates the body into 3 areas:

  1. Bone, muscle and organs, along with connective tissue, collectively known as lean mass, sinks (is more dense than water)
  2. Body fat floats (is less dense than water)
  3. Total body water which is neutrally bouyant, but must be removed from your actual weight

By obtaining your dry weight and water weight, based on buoyancy, our specialized computer program can scientifically calculate your body fat as a percentage of your total weight. The ordinary scale cannot tell you if weight loss is muscle or fat while testing with Body Analytics will tell you exactly what took place with your body during your weight loss regimen.

-straight from Body Analytics USA

“I don’t want to know how fat I am, I just want to lose weight.” 

First of all, ditch that lack of confidence. Managing body composition is a journey and it’s not about “how fat/skinny/ripped/flabby” or whatever else you think you are. It’s about understanding what your body is comprised of so you can make smart choices to reach the goals you have. I promise that this will be a positive experience if you get out of your head a bit. This is a tool and MUCH more accurate than just eating a ton of salad in January and hoping for the best.

“Cool. I’ll be there.” 

Awesome, you’re on board, but slow down there! There are a few things you need to know and a few rules you have to follow. First, you MUST reserve a spot. This isn’t a show up and walk in kind of thing. There’s a timed schedule with limited space. Reserve your time slot HERE.

Here is a list of FAQs and answers from the Body Analytics folks. Please read through to make sure you’re prepared and will get the most accurate read.

What Should I Bring?

Bring a swimsuit and a towel. Change in the privacy of our dressing room located inside the lab.
Please bring swim cap if you wear hair products or hair gel etc.

Can I Eat Prior To Testing?

Don’t eat anything 2 hours prior. Eating a big meal within 2 hours before the test may affect your results by up to 1 1/2%, but no more. Therefore, we advise you not to eat within two hours before the test. Working out and drinking water is okay. A small snack or protein shake is ok, just no large meal.

How Should I Prepare For Testing?

You should try to use the restroom and take a shower if possible. Please bring swim cap and remove as much hair gel or hair products as possible.

What Is The Test Like?

You will submerge your whole body underwater leaving only a small portion of your mouth and nose above the water.

The water is heated to between 89° and 94°, depending on the season. The water is also chemically treated for cleanliness to meet all local swimming pool and hot tub requirements of the local health department. We also replace the water daily. We have a private dressing room on board and for your comfort the lab is air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter.

A trained technician will be with you every second of the test. You will have privacy and confidentiality during the entire test, which takes approximately 10 minutes.

What do I do with the info?

After the test, you will receive an email or hard copy printout of your results, showing you where you are, where you should be, and what it will take to get there. You will then have a realistic baseline to establish your fitness goals. Get with your Coach For Life (if you don’t have one email Tim or Gen and we’ll make sure you’re set up) to help get you on track.

Final Details

Body Analytics will be at CrossFit Austin on Monday, January 8th from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm. We’ll set up a retest day for after the challenge so you can test your pre and post composition numbers.

Single test – $49
Pre & Post-test – $89 (save $10)

 

OK! Let’s see what you’re made of! Literally…

010 || Diaries of a Coach – New Year’s Resolutions…

 

What were the last three New Year’s Resolutions you made? Do you remember?

 

Did you make one last year? Did you follow through?

 

Think about it for just a second.

 

What made you succeed? What made you fail?

 

If you didn’t make one, what was your reason for not?

 

I’ll admit, historically, I just don’t do it. For a long time I think it was the fear of failing that kept me from committing to a resolution. More recently, I’ve disagreed on principle with the whole premise of only setting goals and putting forth effort toward their accomplishment once a year. But that has quite possibly been a cover up for the added pressure of a New Year’s Resolution, the still present fear of failing and my lack of motivation. After all, the idea of a resolution tends to be something we need to “give up” which means we want it but shouldn’t have it. So deny ourselves intentionally of what we really want, who wants to do that?

 

Well it’s officially that time again my friends, time to decide on the dreaded New Year’s Resolution. Maybe you’re thinking, “Nooooooo, it’s not time yet!” Ok friends, step one is realizing that it is, in fact, time. Thinking ahead, thinking about it now, will play a part in your success. If we take the time now to put thought into where we REALLY want to be and want we need to do to get there, goals will be more meaningful and we will undoubtedly take more ownership in getting there. Decide now what areas need some slight adjustments in the New Year and an intentional resolution to making them happen. Think through possible plans of action to get there, what resources do you have? What do you need? I promise the New Year is coming, fast!

 

Step two, narrow the scope. As of today, I have been asked to be a part of two New Year “challenges.” Anyone else? Saying no is a lost art for many, including me, but we need to. You can’t do it all and do it well. There are two areas that I’d like to focus on in 2018, because neither of these offers would get me closer to my goals in those areas, a “no” is crucial. Time and energy are limited resources, invest them well. After all, we always seem to be complaining that we lack one or the other. Pick one or two things, not 12, and really commit. And make sure they are actually attainable, given your time, resources and motivation.

 

Third, figure out what success looks like. How will you know when you get there? Is success measurable? Can you track some sort of progress along the way? Think about it in terms of the accomplishment rather than what it might cost to get there. If the end result is your motivation, it is less likely to dwindle as the busyness and stress of life settle in.

 

And lastly, tell everyone. Like, literally, everyone. I’m serious. The more we are encouraged and held accountable, which involves communicating our goals, our progress and eventually our success to others, the more we will stick with it. Quite honestly, I’m motivated by how much it would suck to have to answer questions about my progress with, “Oh, I gave up.” (Using pride to my advantage like a champ! Wait, is that bad? Maybe. But it’s the truth!)

 

A great way to do this is the CFA accountability board. At the start of the New Year, we will feature a board in the gym where you can post your goals and when those goals are met, move them from the “I will…” side to the “I did…” side. This is a great tangible reminder to you and to others in your community who can encourage you along the way!

 

So when it comes to goals this New Year, plan now, narrow your scope, define success and tell the world! We are here to help, so utilize the accountability board, talk about ways to improve and reach your goals with a coach, sign up for the Whole Life Challenge… make your move CFA, we are in it with you!

 

Oh, and if I don’t see you before Christmas, have a Merry one! See you on the flip side!

Coach E

Holiday Schedule

Image result for merry christmas

 

From our family to yours, for whatever holiday you celebrate, we wish you a Merry Christmas and the best holiday season!

Holiday Schedule:

Friday 12/22 – No Youth or Oly
Saturday 12/23 – No Yoga

Monday 12/25 – Closed
Tuesday 12/26- Closed

Friday 12/29 – No Youth or Oly 

Monday 1/1 – Closed – Happy New Year!

Balancing & Addressing your {Whole} life with the Whole Life Challenge

You’ve {hopefully} seen me post about The Whole Life Challenge pretty regularly over the last few weeks as we are getting ready for the New Year’s 2018 Challenge. We are very excited about this year’s game! With this being our 3rd year to run it, we’ve worked out all the kinks and have added some exciting new opportunities to the game. You can check out all of those details HERE.

But, today I just wanted to share with you an example of the value that is included with being a part of the challenge. The Whole Life Challenge encompasses just that. Your. Whole. Life. That includes the 7 habits that are a part of the game and the accountability of playing with the team, but they offer so much more through their blog and podcasts. This post is an example of just ONE of the things they touch on in the articles that are available and I thought it was perfectly appropriate since we are all about to go spend {quality} time with our families 🙂

Read and enjoy and hopefully we’ll see you on our team starting in January! Remember, this challenge is for everyone. They don’t have to be a member to participate. It’s actually more helpful to have your whole household taking part so encourage your friends and family to join you and let’s make 2018 ours!

-Coach Gen

 

HOW TO STOP HOLIDAY STRESS AND STILL LOVE YOUR FAMILY || MICHELLE MANSKIE || WHOLE LIFE CHALLENGE

How to Stop Holiday Stress (and Still Love Your Family)The holiday season is traditionally portrayed as a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness, where we give thanks for the past and look forward to the future.

In reality, it’s usually a time when we try to squeeze more things — parties, shopping, social activities, food, drinks, gifts — into our already full lives. We often do these things out of a sense of obligation, in the belief they’ll make our loved ones happier and bring us closer together.

Given the extra physical, mental, and emotional load the holiday season brings, it’s not surprising this time of year signifies stress, frustration, and resentment for many people. Much of that holiday stress comes from dealing with loved ones and extended family members in emotionally-charged situations, which seem to repeat year-in, year-out.

  • Perhaps it’s your uncle Vinny retelling that embarrassing story from your childhood every time he sees you.
  • Or your aunt Barbara’s passive-aggressive comments over the dryness of the turkey and the lumpiness of the gravy.
  • Or that simmering conflict with your cousin Jim, which always turns into a heated argument after a couple of beers.
  • Or your father-in-law’s comments about the kids’ behavior and how “things were different in his day.”
  • Or your grandmother commenting about your appearance during dessert.

If the above examples sound familiar to you, rest assured we all have dramas with loved ones at some point in our lives. The nature of relationships means disagreement and conflict is normal, and it can be a healthy opportunity to adjust unhelpful behaviors.

During the holidays, though, the close confines of social gatherings — combined with a tendency to drink more alcohol and eat more sugar — leads to a diminished ability to regulate our emotional impulses. Cue the conflict, outbursts, and feeling like an angst-ridden teenager all over again.

Download the WLC Cheat Sheet

Clearly this can impact our emotional well-being in the form of increased stress, anxiety, frustration, and overwhelm. It can also impact our physical well-being, particularly if we engage in compensatory and avoidance behaviors such as emotional eating, excess alcohol consumption, working longer hours, or over-exercising.

Rather than approaching this year’s gatherings as obligations to be tolerated — and steeling yourself for conflict and drama — there are ways to bring a little harmony into your holidays. Here are five tools for putting a stop to the holiday stress, and maybe even enjoying your family.

1. Be Proactive

If a particular relative or loved one causes friction, try approaching that person beforehand and attempt to resolve the situation away from the emotionally-charged environment of family gatherings.

While it may not be possible to fully resolve the conflict, the process of airing each other’s grievances and being heard can go a long way toward reaching common ground. If nothing else, you can agree in advance not to let your disagreement detract from the upcoming gathering.

How to Stop Holiday Stress (and Still Love Your Family)

2. Schedule Your Breaks

For every social engagement added to your calendar over the holiday period, schedule a corresponding time-out.

The physical, mental, and emotional load is higher during the holidays as we spend our time running from event to event trying to remain upbeat, engaged, and energetic. To truly be at your best during this time, recognize that you may need additional restorative time in the form of extra sleep, walks in nature, reading, journaling, listening to music, yoga, meditating, being creative, etc.

3. Accept It

Much of the pressure around holidays stems from the expectation that things should be perfect — from the presentation of the food, to buying the ultimate gift for your partner, to the behavior of your family.

In reality, life and people are unpredictable, and trying to achieve the picture-perfect holiday season is unrealistic. Our loved ones are human — as beautifully flawed and imperfect as we are. Accepting them that way, and accepting that things will not go to plan, will greatly reduce feelings of angst and disappointment over how things “should” be.

How to Stop Holiday Stress (and Still Love Your Family)

4. Know Thyself

If you know that spending an entire day with your loved ones will leave you feeling depleted and resentful, how much time can you spend with them? Is it half a day? Three hours? Sixty minutes? How much time will give you the connection and enjoyment of the occasion, without leading to conflict or disappointment?

Once you have this level of self-awareness, you can begin to plan your social interactions accordingly. Then, communicate those time-frames to your loved ones, so they know in advance how much time they have with you.

5. Take a Breath

If you do nothing else differently these holidays, do this — take a breath.

Before leaving the house, changing lanes while driving, knocking on your parent’s door, or responding to an obnoxious family member — take a breath. Not only could this pause save you from additional drama and conflict, it can soothe your stress levels and allow a little perspective and clarity.

Bonus Tip: Plan Your Circuit Breakers

If a situation becomes heated, emotionally-charged, or you feel yourself tensing up, it’s okay to have a quick break. This could be a trip to the bathroom, a walk outdoors, a stretch, or calling a friend.

How to Stop Holiday Stress (and Still Love Your Family)

Holiday Stress Is About How We Respond

The postcard image of a bright, happy, loving family sharing a perfectly cooked holiday meal in perfectly presented house with perfectly clean children is not real. And that’s okay.

Life can get messy because we’re human. The key point is to recognize that, while you cannot control other’s behavior, you can control how you react to it. As adults, we have a choice in how we respond. We can choose whether to react in a helpful or harmful way.

Take responsibility for your own holiday experience, and perhaps others in your family will follow your lead next year.

The Whole Life Challenge is about looking at your health with the whole picture in mind — not just exercise and not just nutrition. Participating in the Challenge will improve your mind, your body, and your daily habits, leaving you happier, healthier, and in control of your lifestyle. If you’re ready for a change, this is your opportunity. Click below to learn more:

 

 

009 || Diaries of a Coach – 5 Tips for Surviving Holiday Travel

Considering we live in a city of transplants and unicorns, I’m assuming most of you, like me, have some degree of traveling to do this holiday season. When I think about the two trips I have planned, whatever routine, whatever consistency I’ve developed in regard to my workouts, seems highly threatened. Anyone else?

Well here I come in my red cape to save the day! Tips for surviving holiday travel without losing precious ground toward your fitness goals.

*I feel like it’s also worth mentioning here, it’s going to be ok. If you drop the ball on these things for a week, all. is. not. lost. Promise. Alright boo, here we go.

1) Get creative.

I recently moved to an old ranch house in the middle of no where. Seriously, it’s the epitome of country living. Like, we have coyotes. Need I say more? Anyways, one of my roommates introduced me to what she calls “driveway sprints”. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Sprint out, walk back. Sprint out, walk back. DOESN’T THAT SOUND FUN?!?! Ok, no, but all you need is a driveway, a road, a stretch of sidewalk or even some stairs. This is essentially interval training, in it’s simplest form, alternating between work intervals where your heart rate is between 70-90% of you max heart rate (which is 220 – your age), and rest intervals where the heart rate comes down to 60-65% of your max heart rate. HIIT training is a great way to burn fat, build endurance, and leave you feeling accomplished after any degree of sedentary traveling. Win!

My point is this, get creative with what you have. Maybe there’s a nearby park, AMRAP your little heart out with pull ups, push ups, squats and sprints. If you have to goblet squat a kid, do it. Your fitness goals are on the line! I’m kidding, please don’t harm a child.

2) Hydrate.

Did you know traveling can dehydrate you? Particularly if you are flying, the lack of humidity in the air on a plane can easily cause dehydration, fatigue and increased risk for airborne sickness. So sip on some water folks. Not only will this help decrease the risks involved with travel but it will help your body with digestion and nutrient absorption, body temperature and blood circulation, and joint and muscle movement, all important for muscle growth and recovery. Hydrating will also cleanse the body and rehydrate if (or maybe when) food and alcohol consumption are slightly elevated. (That was a nice way to put it, right? Read: When you eat like shit and are drunk off your ass.)

3) Plan good nutritional choices.

Traveling usually lends itself to the most inconsistent of diets. Eating out, eating late, eating too much or too little. When I’m traveling I usually try to abide by my “make more good choices than bad” rule. This allows me the room to enjoy life but to feel good at the end of the day, mentally and physically, about my nutrition.

Two ideas (one I’m pretty good at, the other, not so much):

Pack healthy snack options for travel days and you’ll save time and money trying to find them in an airport or on the road. I will admit, I’m a sucker for travel snacks. It’s part of the experience, right?!? But here’s my promise to you CFA, I’m going to pack my snacks this year! Hold me to it.

This one I actually enjoy and do pretty well. When eating out, look at menus ahead of time. Find a healthy option and decide what you’re going to order, that way, the decision is made when you get there and you don’t even have to look! Enjoy your time and the people you’re with instead!

4) Find a gym.

Not sure where you may be headed but for me, going home always reminds me how fortunate I am to live in a city so centered around activity with such easy access to multitudes of fitness outlets. A lot of cities just don’t have many options, so this is a huge struggle for me. Luckily, after multiple trips and attempts, I did find a great CrossFit gym near my sister’s. So keep looking, do some research ahead of time and make sure you are aware of drop-in protocol. Post in our members group and see if anyone has been to your destination and found an exceptional gym or ask a coach about an affiliate gym in our business network.

If you’re staying in a hotel, use the gym or fitness center there! Don’t be a CrossFit snob, get your butt in there and get some resistance training/accessory work or cardio knocked out. Find a coach and get some suggestions that will help you make specific progress where you need it.

5) Take some gear. 

This one may or may not be possible depending on your travel mode and destination. Bring some equipment that will not only make workouts possible, but remind you to do it! Bring a foam roller or lacrosse ball, do some mobility and soft tissue work. Bring a jump rope to get in some cardio or skill work on those dreaded double unders. Resistance bands, kettlebells, medicine balls, all very transportable if you’re location is within driving distance.

Ultimately, move. Planned and unplanned, programmed and unprogrammed, structured and unstructured. Enjoy life and the capability you have to be active. Explore new places, try new activities, have FUN and MOVE with friends and family this holiday season! Good luck out there!

-Coach E

Travel WOD:

Pyramid Workout

Complete 10 rounds, decreasing reps each round (10-9-8-7…etc.)
Each round will end with a timed sprint or sprint for distance (30 sec. or about 100m)

Squats (weighted if possible)
Glute Bridge (weighted if possible) or Kettlebell Swing
Burpees
Sprint out/walk back (return trip is your rest/recovery)

The Open Season || Coach Tim Garland

 

Howdy CFA! As I write this, the weather is changing….and so is our ‘season’ in the gym. Having some general ‘themes’ or ‘seasons’ throughout the year helps keep things interesting while preserving the primary stimulus of building better humans. The past several months have been focused on building a solid foundation with lots of barbell work. While we won’t be putting up the barbells, those of you who are consistent with 3-5 days a week training might notice a subtle shift in focus. The shifts in the programming will be hard to notice for the average member. They are ‘shades of grey’ instead of ‘black and white’. We still want to preserve the main goal of getting people generally fit for life, but we don’t want people to be forced into a regimen that isn’t aligned with their goals.

 

So…stepping out of our ‘Barbell’ season and into our ‘Open’ season, what can we expect? Here are some highlights of our ‘Open’ season:

-Focus on barbell lifts that will likely play an important role in the Open

-Increase in skill work for movements that are common the the Open

-Metcons will include more volume, as well as develop volume in higher skill movements

-More frequent posts of previous Open workouts

 

During this season, you’ll also have a few opportunities to work on some of these skills in a setting devoted only to certain movements. The first of which is this Friday from 6:30-8p, where Coach David Henderson will be working with us on a few of these high skill movements. (REGISTER HERE) We will sprinkle in a few extra ‘skills’ classes here and there on Saturday afternoons and Tuesday or Thursday evenings…so be on the lookout for those dates and what movements will be covered during each class!

 

I’d like to make a few reminders as we progress our way into this season. An increase in volume also needs to be matched and accompanied by a few things outside of class. A focus on recovery should always be present, but if you increase workload….make sure you’re getting all the goodies that will help you achieve your goals. Having an appropriate intake of nutrients is preached, understood and practiced by many. If you are unsure of the best route on the nutrition path for you, talk with a coach. Also, starting in January, Coach Ben will put his Nutrition degree into practice and will be doing nutritional consults to help you step your game up! You can set-up a consult with him via email at ben@crossfitaustin.com  Another component you’ll need to stay on top of is your SLEEP! People are beginning to catch on, but in this fast-paced, I need to accomplish everything today world that we live in…many are foregoing this wonderful aid in recovery.

In our New Year Whole Life Challenge, we’ll be addressing and setting goals for these things as well. You can join our team HERE!

-Coach Tim

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