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Movement Basics for Becoming the Ultimate Human

Movement Basics for Becoming the Ultimate Human

We hear a lot about what it takes to be an athlete, but what about a solid, should we say ultimate, human. Today we dive into the movement basics that you need to be on the road to becoming the ultimate human.  We define ultimate human as someone who can live well into their 90’s.  If you haven’t read the first article in the series “Do These 7 Things First” check it out and come back to this one.

Crawl, Stand, Walk, then Run

As any toddler will tell you, you have to crawl before you can stand, stand before you can walk, and walk before you can run.  That’s true for being an ultimate human as well.  The first step is being able to crawl. If there were a fire in your home, could you crawl under the smoke to get out.  Second on the list is can you stand, and not just to flex in the mirror?  Can you stand on one foot for :30 seconds? Go ahead, give it a try, I’ll wait.  If that was easy, close your eyes.  Same rules apply to touching the floor, can you do it?  Can you do it standing on one leg? You pick things up all day long it’s an important skill to have.

Squat and Stand Up

To keep yourself from assisted living you need to be able to squat, at minimum to 90 degrees.  Don’t think it’s that important, can you get to the toilet, yeah it’s that important.  Lose the ability to perform a basic squat and you’re going to need someone to help you with daily living. Along those same lines, can you get up off the floor?  What if you fall, can you get yourself back up?  If you’re reading this and think this is WAY too basic, can you get off the floor with no hands? These are important skills that involve balance, flexibility and coordination.

Lift Your Arms and Step All The Way Up

The last two on the list of basic human abilities are to lift your arms, fully above your head, without pain and be able to step on a 20” box.  The majority of kitchens are designed with upper cabinets or shelves, if you can’t lift your arms up, getting that jar from the middle shelf is going to become really challenging.  The more pain you’re in the less likely you are to do that motion and the less flexible you become over time.  The 20” box step is the average height of 2 stair steps.  If you can do 2 you can do one, this insures you’re not having to hit up your realtor and only look at ranch style homes.  It also makes navigating the world much easier.

To recap the basics, Stand, Crawl, Walk, Squat, Touch the Floor, Get Up Off the Floor, Reach Up Overhead and Step to a 20” Box.  If any of these things cause you pain, that’s where your journey starts.  Fixing the issue so you can do these things and many more pain free. This will set you up with a great foundation.

Coach Anna’s Year in Review

Coach Anna’s Year in Review

2019 was a big year of change and growth for me.

At the very end of 2018, I was forced to make a career change and fast. I was pretty unhappy with my current situation and knew that I was being unauthentic and just not myself in that role. Coach Shoe and I, as many know, completed our yoga teacher training together in 2016 and had kept in touch throughout the years. We met for lunch one day and everything fell into place. I was mid way through my nutrition training and Icehouse was looking for a new coach. We got to work SUPER fast so I could come on board and start a nutrition program at the gym.

Kicking off the new year I was pulled in different directions.

I was working jobs both at Icehouse and at Family Wellness. It was like night and day, the differences between the two gyms. Icehouse felt like hanging out with friends and was truly the only place I wanted to be dedicating my time to. Enter lots of grinding and hard work to make that happen. Halfway through the year I completed my nutrition training in Tampa, FL and was brought on full time by Coaches Shoe and Mo.

Personally and financially, 2019 brought a lot of growth, too.

I really dug my heels in budget-wise because I wanted to create a side nutrition business, Body in Balance Nutritional Therapy. We also bought a house, so homeowner life throws it’s curve balls (hello basement flooding in the spring). I’m still not where I need to be, but 2020 is going to be a big year in all aspects. Looking back at 2019 is pretty cool. While there was a lot of anxiety, stress, and diving into my own health journey, now that the year is wrapping up I can see the change and knowledge that accompanied all of that.

I feel like I am ready to go into 2020 with clear goals.

And I have a fresh desire to make them happen. Things I want to accomplish in 2020:

  • Acclimate to life in Alabama.
  • Continue to provide content and grow the nutrition program at Icehouse.
  • Start a blog on my website: www.bodyinbalance.live
  • Stick to my personal budget and save $10K (lofty!)
  • Do some pretty serious personal development.

For me I don’t find a fresh start at the beginning of each year. Therefore, I take a new year as an opportunity to reset, regroup, and reevaluate where I want the upcoming year to take me. 2019 was a year of change and figuring out my path. 2020 is going to be the year to build on that.

Happy holidays, friends!

The Formerly Pregnant Crossfitter: A Reflection

The Formerly Pregnant Crossfitter: A Reflection

CrossFit, at the best of times, has a stigma of being the workout regimen for the insane, balls to the wall, would rather puke than rest individuals. Yes, it can be intense but it’s all a matter of personal choice. But the general population does not see that. Now take a woman who does CrossFit and tell her she’s pregnant.

Pregnancy, back in the day, meant a woman was to stay in bed and do nothing except grow a baby. Slowly through time, women were allowed to walk around and do the bare minimum, but don’t strain yourself, sweetheart. Fast forward through the centuries to today when everyone has a theory, insight, or, best of all, an opinion on how or if a pregnant woman can approach exercise.

What people need to understand, from what I experienced during pregnancy, is that the level of intensity a pregnant woman can work out at is dependent on that woman and her baby. That’s it. One pregnancy is not the same as the next. It never has been and never will be.

I was lucky enough to have an OBGYN who stayed active during her pregnancies and recommended I keep doing what I was doing during mine. Her only advice was to watch my heart rate and listen to my body. She recommended this not only because of her experiences but also because I had been doing CrossFit faithfully for 2 years when I got pregnant. My body was used to the intensity; I had self-awareness built up to know when to go hard or dial it back. The takeaway here is that I could keep doing CrossFit through pregnancy because it was familiar. Pregnancy is NOT a good time to start Crossfit if you’ve not done it before.

The first trimester was a learning experience.

As much as I wanted WODs to be business as usual, it became more apparent that adjustments needed to be made. During the 2019 Open, I did the workouts the best I could but found that my heart rate would get way too high to keep the baby safe. A woman’s heart rate naturally gets higher during pregnancy to accommodate the little alien and all the extra blood in the body. Weights went down slightly on all my lifts. The first three months were all about learning to play the same game but with new rules.

The second trimester is when the belly starts to form. As weird as it sounds, it’s about re-learning how to move through familiar movements. Once my bump started to show up, I had to adjust my position in my squats. All my extra weight was on the front of my body, forcing me to send the rest of my weight further into my heels. Modifications started coming into play. The beauty of CrossFit is that mods can be made without sacrificing intensity. I kept doing box jumps and double unders until they became cumbersome and uncomfortable. Then I did weighted step ups or went on the assault bike instead of using a rope. Running was almost completely replaced with rowing or biking. I always watched my heart rate and made movement choices based on what was best for me and my little girl.

Things got frustrating in the third trimester.

Burpees were long gone, most barbell movements were replaced by dumbbells, and my beloved wall balls were downsized from the Rx 14 pounds to 10. Pregnancy is psychological as well as physical, so through all the adjustments that I almost felt insulted by, I reminded myself that this was for a greater good.

My last CrossFit workout was 3 days before I went into labor.

I’m proud to say that I was able to attend Crossfit WODs at least 12 times per month each month of my third trimester. That was possible because we did it the smart way. My coach knows my mindset and knew how to communicate with me when I wanted to crush a WOD but he knew I shouldn’t. He made each workout approachable for a pregnant person without it being too simple, keeping my fragile ego intact. Looking at you, Baby Traps.

Another helpful factor was having an OB that understood my lifestyle and goals.

This, obviously, isn’t something a gym can provide as they are not doctors, but it is important to have a doctor who supports you. If my OB had said no working out during pregnancy, I would have gone insane. Working out during pregnancy is mental as much as physical. It gives you a sense of normalcy when everything else is going upside down.

The last important ingredient is to have a great support system.

Surround yourself with people who know your pregnancy and postpartum fitness goals.  My pregnancy goals were to keep from gaining a ton of preggo weight, (which I ultimately had no control over), and to stay sane through the mind-numbing, endorphins-producing “cult” of CrossFit. My postpartum goals, which will be attacked as soon as my doctor says it’s cool, are to go as hard as my body will let me and allow myself time to get back to where I was as far as performance.

It’s important to note that this is a reflection of only one pregnancy, mine. I had an incredibly easy pregnancy that allowed me to keep moving at the speed I was used to. That’s not the situation for everybody.  Some women are high-risk pregnancies and need to scale earlier or more drastically. And CrossFit allows for that. There are women who become so flexible during pregnancy that lifting the loads they are used to is dangerous. They can maintain the intensity by modifying the movement and CrossFit allows for that.

Moral of this long story:

If you know of a pregnant woman doing CrossFit, support her. She has talked with her doctors and coaches and is doing what she needs to do. She will scale as she needs to, rest as she needs to, and perform her best. Outside opinions are not necessary. In fact, applause to all the pregnant women, past, present, and future, who endured the CrossFit stigma as well as the endless opinions about safe fitness during pregnancy. You were strong before but, damn, you’re titans now.

As for myself, I can’t wait to get back and annihilate some girl WODs. Specifically Karen, Kelly, Cindy, Barbara, Helen, Annie, and Fran. Because after labor, nothing can hurt me now.

 

Squats on squats on squats

Squats on squats on squats

The Squat

In the dynamic, multi-joint movements that are practiced in every Flux class there is a foundational movement that must be mastered before any more complex movement should be attempted. These foundational movements build strength, stability, and ensure that our range of motion is safely being utilized. What’s funny peculiar, not funny haha, is that these movements are so foundational that some of the best examples are kids.

No joke. Ask a toddler to pick something up off the floor. They don’t bend forward and strain their lower backs and over-extend their hamstrings like we adults do. They squat. With nigh-perfect form! Their knees are wide, their chests are up, and they go diaper to dirt with their heels down. As adults stuck at desks or in cars for most of our lives, we have lost a lot of the flexibility in our hips and ankles, and strength in our backs to perform a healthy, strong squat. It takes those of us who have forgotten how to move a long time before we get that back.


Squats are used in almost everything. Imagine Bubba Gump and his shrimp; that’s how many movements use a squat. Air squats, front squats, overhead squats, back squats, squat cleans, squat snatches, box jumps, med-ball cleans, wall-balls, thrusters, and so on. And that’s just in the gym! Squats are fundamental in everyday life, the most obvious and basic being using the bathroom.

A strong healthy squat has several key points of performance. Starting from the ground up, the heels must remain on the floor. If a person has tight Achilles’ tendons or stiff hips, knees, or ankles, the squat might not reach depth which means the hips might not descend below the knees. And that’s ok! The more the ankles are working, the more flexibility will be built in the Achilles so that the squat can sit lower.

The knees must follow the path of the toes. The toes are pointed slightly out instead of straight forward. In order to save undue strain on the knees, they must follow the path of the toes. This means the knees are wide at the same time finding an even distribution of weight through the foot. For a depth squat, the hip crease gets below the knee crease. This activates the big muscle groups of the thighs, your quads and adductors, as well as the glutes.

As you work on flexibility in the lower half of the body, you will also be working on strengthening the core and back. The chest is meant to be as upright as possible in the squat. This means bracing the abdominals to support the torso, and in order to balance the body the erectors of the spine are activated. There’s a lot going on, but once the air squat is mastered the body is ready for any variation of the squat.

Squats are great not only for making one’s butt look good, they also build strength, stamina, cardio endurance, flexibility, and a host of other skills that make a person a better athlete. Can’t make it to the gym one day? Crunched for time? Want a leg day but don’t have weights around? Rock out 100 squats. Your heart rate rise, you’ll sweat, and you will certainly feel it in your legs.

#diamondbutts

Clean Eating

Clean Eating

In any fitness regiment, the most important, and often least considered, element is the diet.  And by diet, I don’t mean a fad diet saying you can’t eat any carbs ever, or you can only eat cucumbers for the next 30 days, or shakes for every meal for the foreseeable future.

None of these are sustainable over a long period of time and oftentimes they don’t even address the actual root of a bad diet.  A wise woman once said to me, “You can’t outrun a bad diet,” meaning that no matter how dedicated you are to working out, a bad diet will thwart your results every time.  So what can we eat to supplement and enhance an active lifestyle while at the same time being fulfilling and full of freedom?  Short answer: clean eating.

What is clean eating?

Clean eating is the basic idea of eating food as close to its natural, raw form as possible.  This does not include boxed, bagged, or packaged foods.  It also excludes processed foods as they contain a TON of unnecessary sugar, salt, saturated fats, all the unhelpful stuff.

Imagine your grocery store.  Now picture the perimeter of the store.  All the produce is there, (fresh fruits and vegetables galore), raw, fresh cuts of meat, the eggs, the spices; the stuff that you could eat from nature without having to add preservatives.  The purpose of eating clean is to eat for nourishment and fuel.

Clean eating powers the body more efficiently.  The fibers in fruits and vegetables keep the metabolism working longer.  Fresh meat contains protein to help build and replenish muscles.  Healthy fats that run the cells smoothly are found in eggs, nuts, seeds, and more.  Essentially, the more naturally colorful the food is, the better.

From personal experience, after clean eating for two months then dipping my toes back into the processed food world, I felt sluggish, out of focus, and noticed I didn’t perform as well in the gym.

Balance in Important

Of course, life is about balance.  If you discover that you’re drinking a soda or two everyday, replace them with Zevia, Bubly, or La Croix.  If your meals are mostly microwaved from a box, start weaning yourself off your sugar/salt addiction by replacing a meal with chicken tacos, with fresh veggies, or any number of delicious, fresh meals.  Eventually, work your way into the 80/20 realm where 80% or more of your food intake is clean food and 20% or less is your treat food.  This way you can satisfy your cravings but you take in much more quality sustainence.  Meal prepping is invaluable in this.

Clean up your act!  Eat clean!  (Insert cheesy wink here)

Want More Info/Help with Nutrition?

Clean eating is a great place to start, but if you want more information or a more specific plan and some accountability Icehouse does offer Nutrition Coaching.  To learn more with a free Intro call, snag your time here to see if we can help: https://meetme.so/IcehouseNutritionConsult

 

Why Water?

Why Water?

Why Water?

Everyone has heard the advice of “Drink eight glasses of water per day” in order to stay healthy and hydrated. We don’t need to go over that again. What we do need to think about is where water goes, how we acquire more, and why it is so important.

People don’t often think about all the ways that the body gets rid of water. There are the obvious modes of sweating, saliva, and our bathroom bodily functions, (to put it delicately), but we never stop to think about evaporation. Evaporation, seriously? And yes. Our skin being the porous layer that it is allows water to evaporate out of the body just to keep the internal systems at a normal temperature and functioning as they are meant to. The act of breathing even uses up the body’s water supply. So between just existing and eliminating wastes, the human bod eliminates A LOT of water each day. The amount of water it goes through is also effected by the climate, temperature, age, and all sorts of environmental factors that the average person, myself included, never thought about. Crazy…

When you feel thirsty after all that breathing, you could go for the obvious choice: a glass of water, which is good! Water is water and nothing will ever substitute a tall, cool drink of that clean crystal-clear. However, food contains a bunch of water, too.

Just as drinking more water instead of other liquids, such as sodas, energy drinks, juices, etc, all of which have a TON of sugar, eating water-laden foods will help the body lose excess fat by taking in more quality calories. Vegetables and fruits hold more water than the comfort foods of baked goods and sugary, creamy deliciousness. Not that these foods don’t have water, but fruits and vegetables have the added benefit of being lower in calories and fats. Water-rich foods also take longer for the body to digest, which makes a person feel fuller longer. In effect, there’s less snacking on the other stuff. Water is sneaky like that. It hides out in the health food and health-s you up, hard.

Eating water-rich foods and drinking more water greatly compliments and enhances an active lifestyle. Water keeps the body sweating, which cools down all the internal systems, from respiratory to digestive to nervous and everything in between, to keep the body functioning the way it should. Dehydration, the act of taking in less water than the body expels, causes muscle fatigue and can do even more damage to the organs since the body will try to over-allocate the finite resource of internal water. Which is why your coaches always tell you to drink water before, during, and after your workout.

Going a little bit deeper into detail, water keeps your kidneys healthy. And a happy kidney is a productive kidney. Kidneys are the waste removal organs of the body. The wastes that humans eliminate from the body are what the kidneys hunt down and kick out. This process removes the toxic matter from our organs, our blood, all of our tissues. Why did our mothers tell us to drink a lot of water when we were sick? Because water cleanses the system. Water cleans ALL. THE. THINGS. And the healthy kidneys, brought to you by water, evicts all that grime from the stuff you need.

Improved brain function, more youthful looking skin, and regular bodily functions are also benefits of drinking enough water. A decent gauge to go by: drink half your weight in ounces. So if you weigh 160 pounds, drink at least 80 ounces of water each day. Extra credit if you drink more.

Listen to your mother! Eat your fruits and vegetables! Drink your water!
In the name of science!