How CrossFit Saved My Life – By Coach Wayne

On a cool November day in the frozen tundra that is Iowa, my life changed forever. Why, you ask? Because one of my best friends, Devin Hall, brought me to my first…[wait for it] CrossFit class. Hello, Beautiful People! My name is Wayne Glass. I use He / Him / His pronouns and we are here today to chat about gender expression, mental health, and how these are interwoven within my CrossFit journey!

As we move through our time together, additional items to keep in mind are that 1) I identify as a relatively effeminate Queer man, 2) My mental health has ebbed-and-flowed for roughly 15 years, and 3) I struggled with an eating disorder for 10 years.

Now that we have established additional context, I think it is important we name some ‘Ground Rules.’ How ‘Student Affairs’ of me [hah]. Our first ‘Ground Rule’ is… to talk about CrossFit… Our second ‘Ground Rule’ is [you guessed it] to talk about CrossFit. Thus, unlike Fight Club, my ultimate goal is to name CrossFit as many times as I can. Kidding. But it will be used as a centerpiece.

So…you might be thinking to yourself, “What is CrossFit?” Oh my gosh, I thought you would never ask! CrossFit is a high-intensity fitness program incorporating elements from several sports (e.g., Gymnastics and Olympic Lifting) and varying types of exercises (e.g., Burpees, Kettlebell Swings, and Barbell work). Therefore, each workout, besides those that are ‘Benchmarked’ is different and challenging in its own right.

CrossFit-ers come into each class, go through a warm-up, an explanation of movements involved in the workout, and the complete the workout together (AKA, struggle). The key emphasis here is the word ‘together’… in community.

Something that I have come to learn over the years is that my strongest relationships have been established through collective struggle. Togetherness in moments of hardship where we have, quite literally, banded together to make it through. This very much applies to my CrossFit journey and the impact it has had on the way I move and groove through the community as an effeminate, gay man, as well as how much of a staple it has become for my mental health.

Prior to discovering CrossFit, I was in the second-to-last-lap of my Master’s program and was absolutely crumbling. These feelings came out of nowhere. My mental health was deteriorating, I was not finding fulfillment in school or work, and my partner at the time was only able to do so much. Everything, for a lack of better words, sucked and I was giving up.

This was at the same time that CrossFit came into my life. I suppose everything happens for a reason. Do not get me wrong, I also navigated 12 weeks of counseling and met with a Dietician to assist with managing a relapse I was having with an eating disorder.

My commitment to CrossFit is something that I would have NEVER imagined. How can an effeminate gay boy ever workout or connect with a predominantly hyper-masculine group of athletes? I still think about this even after doing CrossFit for 2-½ years.

I have found that I slowly “tested the waters” on how flamboyant or “over-the-top” I could be when I first started doing CrossFit. I initially came into the community more reserved in order to feel things out. Imagine Wayne. Reserved. Hah! However, as I became more comfortable with what I was doing and the people I was interacting with, I found that CrossFit is not, from my lens, a community that needs to subscribe to one “ideal” gender-expression.

Since moving to a Queer-affirming city, I feel as if I can unapologetically be myself; more so than before. I now have coaches and fellow CrossFit-ers that openly identify as Queer. Thus, affirming that Queer-identified CrossFit athletes DO exist.

All of this to be said, I have learned so much myself as a person; my mental capacity when it comes to pushing through tough moments in life (represented in a tough workout).

I have learned about how resilient I have become in moments of trials and tribulations (represented in not being able to do a movement the first or 50th time I try).

I have found a sense of purpose with a group of individuals who share same or similar lived-experiences as myself; particular in aspects of physical interests and navigating issues with body image and mental wellness,

I have learned that my body is a machine capable of doing so many things that are necessary (and…sometimes unnecessary) to navigate daily life. Things that require adequate and appropriate nutrition and calorie consumption. Things empower and support body positivity. Things that have by-and-large silenced my Eating Disorder’s voice.

I have learned that in order for me to be an effective an effective son, brother, friend; an effective student affairs professional; an effective athlete; an effective human being in society, I need to spend less mental energy focusing on what society ‘THINKs’ I should be and more mental energy focusing on what I ‘THINK’ I should be.

So…How has CrossFit saved my life? That sounds pretty drastic, right? CrossFit has empowered me to GENUINELY love me for me. CrossFit has encouraged me to use my body the way that it was meant to be used: As a strengthened tool to navigate the uncertainties of life.

CrossFit has encouraged me to gain 20 pounds of muscle in order to pick up heavy things (and put them down). A feat I would have NEVER imagined would give me so much personal fulfillment and physical relief.

As an over-the-top, flamboyant Queer man, with a chosen family in the LGBTQ+ Community, CrossFit has given me ANOTHER chosen family when my biological one could not or would not physically, emotionally, or spiritually be there for me.

On a cool November day in the frozen tundra that is Iowa, my CrossFit journey began. A journey met with frustrations, hardships, and moments of celebration. A journey filled with friendships, community, and calluses. A journey with a beginning but no middle or end. A journey that ‘Saved My Life.’

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Wayne Glass, M.Ed.

He / Him / His Pronouns
CrossFit Sabertooth Coach

How Isometrics can Promote Tendon Health and Performance

By Coach Sam Elsner

Let’s start off with what an isometric contraction and tendon is. An isometric contraction is when the tension within the muscle equals the amount of force an external load imposes upon it. In layman’s terms, there is no lengthening or shortening of the muscle. An example of an isometric contraction is clenching your fist as hard as you can and holding it for a certain amount of time. A tendon is a tough band of white fibrous connective tissue that connects a muscle to a bone. This band of connective tissue is made up of collagen, which is also found in ligaments, skin, nails and hair. One thing to note about tendons, there is a compliant end (towards the muscle) and a stiff end (towards the bone). A tendon can be trained to be more compliant of stiffer. The graph below shows how compliant a healthy tendon is and how stiff a tendon is after 5 weeks of being immobilized. 

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Tendon stiffness is important for athletes, having stiff tendons are great for elite performance because a stiffer tendon allows for better force application. If a tendon’s stiffness exceeds the isometric strength of the muscle, the movement must change, or the muscle is forced to undergo potentially lengthening, which can lead to muscle pulls or tears. Tendons act as a shock absorber because a tendon must lengthen so the muscles can contract isometrically. 

Tendons adapt differently to external loads compared to muscles. Tendons adapt best to duration (time) rather than reps and weight. the collagen fibers within the tendon. The sliding of collagen fibers breaks the crosslinks that each fiber has with one another which then decreases the stiffness of the tendon and improves its health. When a tendon is loaded rapidly, then the collagen fibers move together as a sheet which increases the crosslinks between collagen fibers. The more crosslinks, the stiffer the tendon becomes. The ideal range of time that a tendon adapts best is 5-10 minutes. If a tendon is loaded longer than 10 minutes, it will not adapt. For a tendon to be ready to adapt again, 6 hours of rest must happen.

There are two types of isometric contractions that can improve the health and performance of tendons and those types are: yielding and overcoming isometrics. Yielding isometrics are basically holding a position while being loaded or unloaded. These are usually called as Long-Duration Isometrics because this type can be held for longer durations. These are ideal for improving the health of tendons. Overcoming isometrics are the intent to overcome an external force. An example of this is by pushing against an immovable object like a wall or pins on a rack. This type improves the performance of a tendon because an athlete can exert much more force in a quicker period. Both types of isometrics can improve the strength of the muscle at any joint angle, so if you are weak at the bottom of a squat, them do a wall sit for 5-10 minutes everyday or push up against pins at the bottom of the squat. 

Isometrics also can reduce tendon pain in those that are experiencing tendinitis (inflammation of the tendon) or tendinopathy (tendon pain and dysfunction). In a study conducted by Dr. Ebonie Rio and her colleagues, athletes that performed an isometric single-leg decline squat reduced their pain from 7/10 on a pain scale to a 0.17/10 and that reduction of pain was sustained for 45 minutes. 

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There are a few nutritional methods that can improve the health of tendons. Consuming 500 mg of Vitamin C before each training session can increases the synthetization and secretion of procollagen which is a precursor to collagen. Also, ingesting 15 grams of gelatin helps improve the collagen fibers within tendons because gelatin includes the amino acids glycine, lysine, proline, hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline, which are the amino acids collagen is made of. The more collagen that can be synthesized within the tendon, the healthier the tendon will be. The recipe below is made by Dr. Keith Baar, who is a professor at University of California-Davis who specializes in tendon physiology. 

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Recommendations for improving tendon health and performance are:

  • Perform 1-3 sessions that include yielding isometrics that last 5-10 minutes each exercise within the session. Allow 6 hours of rest in-between sessions.  
  • 30-60 minutes before training, consume 15 grams of gelatin and 500 mg of Vitamin C
  • Incorporate overcoming isometrics into training sessions. 3-5 sets of 5-10 second duration reps to improve the performance of tendons. 

 

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Coach Sam Elsner

CrossFit Sabertooth

Resources:

Baar, K. (2017). Minimizing Injury and Maximizing Return to Play: Lessons from Engineered Ligaments. Sports Medicine47(S1), 5–11. doi: 10.1007/s40279-017-0719-x

Rio, E., Kidgell, D., Purdam, C., Gaida, J., Moseley, G. L., Pearce, A. J., & Cook, J. (2015). Isometric exercise induces analgesia and reduces inhibition in patellar tendinopathy. British Journal of Sports Medicine49(19), 1277–1283. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-094386

Close, G. L., Sale, C., Baar, K., & Bermon, S. (2019). Nutrition for the Prevention and Treatment of Injuries in Track and Field Athletes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism29(2), 189–197. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2018-0290

Dietz, C., & Peterson, B. (2012). Triphasic training: a systematic approach to elite speed and explosive strength performance. Hudson, WI: Bye Dietz Sport Enterprise. 

Are you a ticking time bomb?

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As a trainer who has had more than his share of injuries, I empathize a great deal when I see people who are experiencing pain, or moving poorly.

When injuries occur, it is typically a result not performing a movement properly. It is my job as a coach to try to correct the error – And it is the trainee’s job to practice correcting the movement. Even outside of class time. 

If you find yourself frequently slugging through workouts in pain, you are not doing yourself any favors. In fact you are literally a ticking time bomb. It is just a matter of time before it will catch up to you and result in an injury. 

Even seemingly simple movements are often complex. The deadlift is just picking something off the ground. Doing it safely requires a fair amount of hamstring and hip mobility, and the ability to fire your glutes/hamstrings while bracing your core and maintaining a neutral spine.

Here are my suggestions: 

  1. Ask your trainer about how to correct what you are struggling with: Let them set you upon a path to better movement. 

 

  1. Be patient and practice religiously. Mastery takes many repetitions. Low weight, lots of reps at a slow and focused pace can help retrain your brain. 

 

  1. Don’t expect change to happen overnight; but look forward to seeing improvements every step along the way. It can take 3-5 years to correct someone who has a poor squat.

 

  1. Don’t let your ego get in the way. We all have weaknesses. CrossFit is notoriously good at exposing them. Don’t get frustrated if you struggle at some things. 

 

Improving your movement patterns likely means that you will need to dedicate extra time outside of class. Typically the best way to get better at a movement, is simply to practice that movement. Additionally some mobility work will likely compliment it. 

 

Don’t be a ticking time bomb. Mobilize your restrictions. 

Don’t avoid your weaknesses. Run after them.

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Coach Matt Meyer

CrossFit Sabertooth

Annual Fitness Testing This Week

This week July 2nd – 7th we will be doing our annual fitness testing. Don’t worry…it’s not as scary as it sounds. We have done this every year since 2016!

For new people, this is a chance to set a baseline for yourself. Having an idea of some of your max lifts and benchmark workout scores is super helpful when determining what areas you need to spend your time focusing on.

For more experienced members, this is a chance to re-test your max lifts and benchmark workouts, to see your improvements over last year.

We have modified the schedule this year.

Traditionally our schedule has look like this:

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However, this year will look a little different because we have recently tested many of these in other classes and have no need to revisit them so quickly.

This Week our schedule will look like this:

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We encourage all of our members to come as much as you can this week! Sunday will be an open makeup day so you can hit some that you missed. You can also make these up over the next two weeks, if you aren’t able to make them all this week.

Also — please make sure you record your results in Wodify, including any scaling options you used, weights you chose, etc.

This is a fun week! We hope to see lots of new PRs!!

Next week we will start a new cycle and you can expect to see an email about it over the weekend!

Pulling Out of a Rut

We all get there at some point. After a competition, vacation, illness, or just got lazy and mentally drained. Everyone, including myself, goes through phases where we don’t feel motivated to work on our fitness. Here are a few tips you can do to turn yourself around get back on track.

 

That One Thing You Love Doing! ❤❤❤

Think of the one movement in the gym that you love more than anything else. Set a goal specifically pertaining to it.

What’s your favorite thing? Olympic lifting? Rowing? Pullups? Deadlifting? These are the things that will bring you joy and make you excited. Why not set a specific and realistic goal pertaining to that movement?

Imagine coming to the gym only to work on things that bring you joy! It might mean you will spend more time in open gym and perhaps taking less classes to start off. If this helps you get back into working out. . .great!

Ask a coach for guidance on how to achieve your goal. 

 

Take a serious look at your diet. 🍔🥗🍕🥩

Often times when I find myself in a training rut, I also find myself in a nutrition rut. It’s easy to see how one breeds the other. When we are not eating well, our bodies will respond with lethargy and lack of motivation.

It’s important to take a few minutes and evaluate your current diet. Are you eating out more? fast food? microwave dinners? lot’s of processed foods? If you have fallen off the wagon a bit, just being aware of the situation is a big step toward nipping it in the butt. Make a commitment to start fresh. Go to the grocery store and load up on things that are good for you.

Need help? We have nutrition coaches that can guide you.

 

Ask a gym buddy. 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♂️

Having a little accountability can go a long way.

Who are you always happy to see at the gym? Ask them if they want to buddy up. You don’t need a complicated plan, but it should be specific enough to hold each other accountable. Something like “We are going to go every Mon, Wed, and Fri at 530pm for the next 6 weeks.”

It’s perfectly natural to go through periods where you don’t feel motivated to workout, but let’s keep them brief. Find a way to regain the excitement. What’s the reason that CrossFit is important to you?

Don’t forget, we are here to help. Reach out to a coach if you’d like to chat.

Coach Matt, CrossFit Sabertooth

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New to CrossFit Sabertooth?  Interested in trying it out? Book a Free Intro HERE!

Your Fitness Base for Everything

 

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Imagine how great it would be able to go out and pick up any sport, game, or recreational activity and immediately be proficient. How about improving at any of these sports or activities twice as quickly as anyone else? You’d be some sort of superhero or genetically gifted athlete right? Or maybe it’s just that you have been working on your functional fitness.

CrossFit is designed to be a general strength and conditioning program using functional movements (movements will real-life applications.) This doesn’t sound exciting, but let’s take a deeper look.

If you spend most of your time training for a specific sport, you will probably get really good at one thing, and just as bad a many others. Distance runners can run forever, but ask many of them to squat, jump, throw, lift, bend, climb and the results won’t likely be stellar. Powerlifters move heavy weights, ask them to run a mile and they might not make a block. You body adapts to what you are giving it.

CrossFit focuses on developing multiple areas of fitness all at once: Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy. You get better at everything so you can go do anything.

Why should you care? Because if you are not “generally fit” you are missing out on a lot of enjoyment life has to offer. If you have ever said “no” to participating in an activity because you know it would be too physically demanding, you can benefit from CrossFit.

Pick up game of Ultimate Frisbee? Paddleboarding? Wrestle with the Kids, Rock Climbing, Hike the Superior Trail, Trampoline? Tough Mudder? Log Rolling?

Why not treat yourself to the ability to say yes with confidence when opportunities like this come up? 

Are you interested in improving your fitness base? CLICK HERE to find out how!

-Coach Matt Meyer,  CrossFit Sabertooth,  Minneapolis MN

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The Open, Part 6: It’s Over, What to do Now – By Coach Fedde

 

Five weeks of grueling workouts are complete, scores are submitted, and the final placements on the leaderboard are settling in.

In this year’s Open we saw…

19.1: wall-ball shots, rowing
19.2: toes-to-bars/knee raises, double/single-unders, squat cleans (similar to 16.2)
19.3: dumbbell overhead-walking lunges, dumbbell box step-ups, strict handstand push-ups, handstand walk/bear crawls
19.4: snatches, bar-facing burpees, muscle-ups/pull-ups
19.5: thrusters, chest-to-bar pull-ups/jumping pull-ups

Now what?

Analysis: What did you do? How did you do? How did you feel? How do you feel about the outcome and how did the outcome compare to your expectations?

Goals: What and why are you planning to focus on?

Action: What daily actions are you going to take to achieve your goals?

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Analysis

Depending on what your goals were for the Open, there are going to be different things you want to consider. Performance in CrossFit is both mental and physical and this is a great time to take stock of both. Here’s a place to start. Grab a pen and paper, and get ready to start journaling.

Feelings and Self Reflection
How did you feel going into the Open? How do you feel coming out? What did you feel between and during workouts? Were you excited, happy, frustrated, sad, etc.?

Take time to think back to what workouts and movements you got hung up on as a result of skill, strength, mentality, or capacity.

Typically we want to brush away less positive thoughts and feelings during a workout, because they can affect how we perform. But, as part of an analysis, it can be useful to figure out where you thrive and have opportunity to build. Both can be useful as fuel.

Stats and Rankings
The Open Leaderboard and Beyond the Whiteboard analyses are great tools to help you add context to your performance.

The good folks from Beyond the Whiteboard take back-end data from the leaderboard and present it in graphs and charts, with light discussion. You can explore how many athletes RXed and Scaled workouts, where athletes got stuck, and what percentile you fall into based on division and performance.

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Find your way to the leaderboard and start sorting, slicing, and dicing. Knowing you’re ranked XXX,XXXth in the world is neat, but it’s a large pool of people and might not useful. Likewise, your standing at Sabertooth is a tiny pool and may not be helpful. Make the pool you’re competing in a meaningful size by setting up a custom leaderboard. You might compare yourself to all men/women in the US, Minnesota, or your age bracket, as examples.

There’s no ‘Name Search’ on custom leaderboards, so to find myself in a custom leaderboard I sort by an individual workout (say, 19.1) scroll until I find my score for that workout, find my rank, and then resort based on rank. There has to be a better way to do it… but this is the best I’m coming up with.

If you’ve done the Open before, compare your previous overall standings to this year and compare workouts you completed that have similar movements to this year.

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Goals

With a good sense of how you did and where you can build, you can start making decisions about where you want to focus your energy.

  1. Write out a list of all the things you want to work on.
  2. Re-write your list in order of importance.. Figure out what’s going to give you the biggest payout, what tangible, quantifiable items are on the top of the list; not just things you think you should work on.
  3. Take the top two things and make them your focus. Save the other items for later.

Write out SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) goals for these two items.

If your goal is to ‘be more efficient at pull-ups,’ make it more specific. Maybe make it, ‘perform one strict pull-up before Memorial Day.’ Alternatively, perhaps you can consistently perform one or two pullups. Maybe make your goal, ‘perform five unassisted, strict pull-ups by the end of April, so I can start working on kipping pull-ups and string together five for Murph on Memorial Day weekend.’

Whatever your goals are, make them realistically achievable, in a set amount of time, and frame them in a way that you’ll know exactly when you achieve them.

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Action

SMART goals are only helpful if you do something about them. You need to build a consistent system or process that will help establish a routine and, ultimately, aid in achieving your goals.

For a lot of us, our systems will be built around getting more experience by doing the ‘things’ we’re working on. Want to lift heavy? You need to have proficient form and lift heavy. Want to do something upside down, like handstands? You’ll have to spend time upside down and on your hands. Whatever the movement or skill: slow down, practice performing it correctly, and strive for quality over quantity.

Figure out what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, when you’re going to do it, how often you’ll do it, and how long you’re going to do it each time.

If you’re working on building strength to get a single strict pull-up, an action plan might be, ‘after class on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, do six reps of maximum effort static holds with chin over the bar and 30 seconds rest between reps.’

Not sure where to start or have some missing puzzle pieces? Leverage your coaches.

  • Book a Goal Review Session (15 mins/$0) and talk through goals and action-plans.
  • Book a Skill Session (30 mins/$35). If you have a specific skill you want to learn, and it’s nuanced or not in the current programming cycle, a half hour one-on-one with a coach can go a long way to level up your skills.

Parting Words

Whether you’ve gained something from the workouts, the amped atmosphere, or dressing up in costumes, I hope you found something valuable in the Open. Take what you’ve learned and apply it.

The next Open is only six months away. Start getting excited now!

— Coach Fedde

The Open, Part 5: Preparation: How to Fulfill Your Athletic Potential – By Coach Fedde

As coaches, we’ve had our share of workouts where we’ve bombed and workouts where we’ve felt unstoppable. In the Open, we want you to feel unstoppable. So, here are some tips on how you might prepare for Open workouts each week.

Food, drink, and sleep

The Open can be a place where you push yourself a little harder than usual. To be sure you have plenty of fuel in the tank before workouts and a quick recovery after – you’ll want to pay attention to nutrition, hydration, and sleep throughout the open.

🍉🍳 Eat balanced meals with real, whole food (food that you make – or could make if forced to) throughout the week. Aim to have a little something in your stomach before the workout. Have a little something to eat after the workout (with a main focus on carbs and protein for quick digestion).

Listen to your body, eat in your own way, and use foods you know, trust, and enjoy.

💦 Drink plenty of water. If you aren’t hydrated, it will effect your performance and your recovery. Hydration is different for everyone, but a rough goal might be about 80 oz of water per day.

❌🍺 Alcohol will dehydrate you. Skip the alcohol and stick with water (or sparkling water if you’re feeling fancy).

😴 Get plenty of sleep and rest. Aim for 8 hours of sleep – especially Wednesday and Thursday nights.

🧘 Taper your workouts leading up to Open workouts. If you workout on Wednesday and Thursday, be intentional about moderating your intensity those days. At home or as a cool down, get some quality time in with a lacrosse ball and your favorite mobility exercises.

Assess

Each Thursday night at 7 p.m., CrossFit will release an Open workout with an explanation. You can watch the announcements with friends at Sabertooth or at your convenience online at Games.CrossFit.com.

While slightly different compared to last year, the workout announcements will be performed live and you’ll be able to watch athletes perform the workouts. We will keep an ear to the ground on who comes out with good post-workout commentary and strategy – stay tuned.

Once you feel you have a good understanding of the workout, start thinking about what you’re realistically capable of. Think about the movement, weight, equipment, and time-frames involved – how does it relate to other workouts you’ve done? How are you feeling? Are you sore or tired from other workouts? Are you feeling fresh and ready to go?

From that, figure out if it’s a workout that you want to do Scaled or Rx.

Once you know which version you’ll do, start to set some rough expectations for how the workout might feel for you. What sort of pace will you set for yourself? Is there built-in rest, or will you have to find it?

Once you have a good mental picture of how you think the workout is going to go down, test parts of it out in your warmup.

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Warm up

A good warm-up is important for performing your best. We will provide a suggested warm-up but you may choose to do alternate or additional movements that suit you best.

It’s a great time to try out a strategically shortened version of the workout or certain movements involved before it’s go-time. This will not only get your joints and muscles moving so you can perform the movements at your highest level, but will also give you an idea of what to expect.

You might focus on practicing a movement you’re less comfortable with. You might focus on a couple of key transitions between different movements or pieces of equipment.

Do…

  • stuff that will get your heart rate up and make you a little sweaty. If you’re still comfortable wearing your hoodie and your sweatpants, you’re probably not warm.
  • movements that are in the workout (or are similar to movements in the workout)
  • your favorite warm-up movements.
  • dynamic stretches (opposed to static ones that you hold for extended periods of time).

If space on the gym floor is tight for warm-ups and cool-downs, we can spread out into the upstairs studio.

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Solidify your game plan

You have a good idea of what the workout is like on paper and in real life. Coaches will give thorough briefings on the workouts as well as tips and suggestions for how to approach the workout.

The last step is to solidify your game plan in your mind. Talk it through out-loud, or quietly in your head a few times so that when you hear “GO” you’re already gone.

This also a good time to prep for any mental battles. That is, prepare for the moment in the workout when a sliver of negativity sneaks into your thoughts. Aim to keep those slivers small and squelch them early by challenging them.

Have mantra ready, go back to an intention that you set. It can be as simple as “BREATHE” or “YOU ARE STRONG.” One of my favorites is from The Help, “you is kind, you is smart, you is important.” It really has nothing to do with wallballs and bear crawls, but it can crowd out my negative thoughts in an instant.

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3…2…1…GO!

This is it – you’ve prepped for this moment. You may have some butterflies in your stomach… you might not. You have a solid plan, you’re warm, you know what you need to do. Go for it!

A near storybook ending to a grueling DragonBoat Sunday.

This Sunday we fell just short of first place to our arch rivals Monkey Bay Paddling Club (MBPC)

The scene couldn’t have been set better: After our first of two rounds of racing we were 2.5 seconds behind MBPC in total time.

During the break, Tricia and Courtney collaborated with the group to revise our race strategy. They decided to simplify the strategy. The current one was more complex and intense. Our paddlers were burning out before the end of the race.

In the second round, we would be racing head to head against MBPC in the final two heats. We needed to make up 2.5 seconds for the win.

At the start of the first round, you could feel the tension in the air. Adrenaline was surging. My rowing partner Brad mentioned “nerves.” Thanks to Karl and Maddie, we had run of dirty jokes to ease the atmosphere.

The gun went off, paddlers dug deep, the boat lifted off the water and we picked up speed quickly. Our drummer Sonya, yelled “eyes up” when she sensed the paddler’s gaze straying from the front of the boat. Our lead paddlers Caroline and Allie locked in sync. Last 50 meters. It was push time. Sonya gave the cue – “REACH!!” That meant we dug deep to the finish and gave it everything we had. Flag Catcher Ryan, sitting patiently at the front of the boat, pops up and extends his body and arms out of the front of the boat in the last moment to pull the flag out of the water. A perfect Grab!

The strategy worked! We made up the 2.5 seconds needed to pull ahead of MBPC!
One last heat to go. We only needed to tie to hold the win.

The 2nd heat went much the same of the first with one exception: Our start was a little slower. But once the boat was up to speed it was smooth sailing. I could hear the entire boat counting, grunting, and yelling. It sounded like FaceMelt Friday Classes. I knew then we were putting every bit of effort we could into each stroke. As Ryan pulled to flag out of the water, we saw we lost by what seemed like inches.

Final result:
MBPC : 4:34:54
Sabertooth: 4:35:78

I couldn’t be more proud of our racing team this year. The positive attitudes, the willingness to give 100% on a scorching hot day, and the feeling camaraderie was easily noticed. Everyone stayed after to break down camp and clean up.

This was a GREAT DAY!

Thank you Team,

-Coach Matt

#ACTION — Getting yourself unstuck

When we first took Baby J into our home last year, Lianna didn’t get any maternity leave or bonding time. She was fairly new at her job, and for foster care most companies don’t have any policies in place for family leave. From day 1, Lianna felt like she was missing out on time with J. I was at home learning the ins and outs of our new 6 month old, and Lianna was stuck at work.

The guilt and feeling of missing out kept nagging. Rather than taking time to work out and take care of herself on the weekends, Lianna felt that she needed every spare ounce of time and energy to spend on our little guy. I felt super guilty that I had more time with J during the day. Working out became less and less consistent, our diets slipped a lot, and now the guilt was mixed with low energy and just not feeling good.

We needed Lianna to work full time. Financially we were stable and finally starting to make headway towards a down payment for a house. Her full time job had wonderful benefits, great coworkers, and rewarding work, but it was holding her back from getting the quality time with J that she craved. Lianna quitting her job or going part time was just not an option.

We talked through our options, can came to our ideal scenario: Would it be possible for Lianna to go down to four day work weeks, to get a weekday at home with the Bub? We knew Lianna’s boss was very supportive, understanding, and flexible, but to Lianna it just seemed like too much to ask, at first.

There was always a reason not to have the conversation.
“I just started this new position.”
“It’s too busy at work now, maybe I’ll wait a couple months.”
“What if they fire me or something?”
“What if they say no?”
“What if my boss gets upset?”

When it comes down to it, as many of us do — we were avoiding a tough conversation, that we weren’t sure would go our way. So we kept the (unhappy) status quo for way too long.

Take a minute to think — what is the tough conversation you’re avoiding right now? We all have them. Maybe it’s a bad work situation. Maybe it’s a sticking point in your relationship with your significant other. Maybe your roommate drives you insane and you want them gone — but they’re your friend, so it might get weird.

Life is short. Too short to sit around hoping the situation will resolve itself.

So it’s time to take action. I learned this great process from one of the Two Brain Business mentors, Jason Williams.

Answer the following questions:
1. What is the uncomfortable situation I need to address?
Spell it out for yourself plainly — why is it making me unhappy, who would I need to talk to, and why am I afraid to go through with it? Example: Lianna wanted more time at home with J. Quality time with him was highly important to her but working full time, it was crushing her.

2. What is the realistic worst case scenario, if I initiate this conversation?
I’m sure you can think of some awful things that could happen. What would be the hardest outcome? What is the root of the fear holding us back from pushing for what we need? In Lianna’s example, the worst case scenario was getting terminated from her job.

3. How likely is that worst case scenario to happen?
When you think about it — you’ll probably realize that the probability of the worst case scenario happening is pretty low. Would Lianna’s boss really fire her for asking for a different schedule? Would she think less of her for wanting more time with family? Highly doubtful.

4. How would I recover if it happened?
This is planning for the worst, hoping for the best. If Lianna got fired, we’d find her a new part time job with a schedule that allowed her the time she needs. Would there be a tough period during the interim? Of course. But we would figure it out! You can also think through some of the other more likely outcomes, and how you would manage if those happened. Being prepared takes a lot of the fear and unknown out of the equation.

5. What is it costing me NOT to have this conversation?
This is a big one. Most people discount the cost of the status quo. They don’t take into account their current level of frustration, guilt, anxiety that they are experiencing, often every single day, all because they are avoiding a difficult conversation that may shake things up, or make things worse in the short run. It might be more than just feelings too — is it costing you time, money, or other resources?

#ACTION

Eventually Lianna had that tough conversation with her boss. Now she works a little longer Monday-Thursday, but she has Fridays off, and works for a couple hours from home during J’s afternoon nap. Friday mornings are just for mama & Bub now. This has lead to so much less guilt and FOMO, which has lead to Lianna staying strong with nutrition, and getting a third weekly CrossFit workout in on the weekends. The one uncomfortable conversation lead to a big life improvement. As I write this I’m getting Snapchats from Lianna of her and J at the park on a beautiful Friday morning, and my heart is full.

Here is my challenge to you: Go through this exercise for an uncomfortable situation in your life. I highly recommend talking through these steps with a friend or significant other who can help you see the various outcomes.

THEN…DO IT. Have that conversation. Start moving that “mountain” and realize it was really just a molehill.

Life is too short to tiptoe around and feel like a victim to your own life. Sometimes the only thing standing between your current situation, and an awesome situation, is one uncomfortable conversation. Every once in a while we get lucky, and everything falls into place just the way we wanted, without having to push. More often than not, it’s going to be up to you to make it happen.

It’s time for action.

 

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