Getting to know : Hannah Chesley


Hannah Chesley
Caring  |  Honest  |  Driven

Getting to know Hannah Chesley, the newest addition to TheHill team. Highlighting the journey of everyone at TheHill!

“Whatever Hannah is doing she is doing it with her full heart. She has taken on the role of social media manager with so much excitement, and creativity. Her ideas and perspective on how to highlight the wonderful community here, is so refreshing and inspiring. We couldn’t be happier to have her on our team and in our fitfam!” -Brianna

What did you want to be when you grew up?
      A National Park Ranger!

Where did you grow up?
Chicago! Well, the cornfields south of Chicago.

What was your favorite subject/activity in high school?
     I was an adaptive PE Leader in high school. Instead of having a gym class,         my gym class was spent buddied up with a student that had special needs from the school and teaching them how to play sports and be active. Having always been passionate about health and fitness – it was an incredible experience to see a different side of it

Weird part time job you had in the past?
  I guess it’s not weird but I actually worked for CrossFit HQ out in San Diego for a summer in college

Favorite movie? Favorite line from that movie?
Into The Wild: “Happiness is only real when shared” or
Finding Nemo: “Fin. Noggin. Duuuude”

Got any hidden talents
 I dabble with the guitar a little and also I loooove to bake!

What do you like about KC?
Besides the amazing people I have met, I love that Kansas City is a very big small town. On any given day, I can meet someone new but it isn’t a surprise if I bump into someone I know.

What is your role at The Hill?
Social Media Manager

How did you get connected with the The Hill?
I moved here for a job with Red Bull. When I moved here, the people before me in this market did CrossFit as well and told me that The Hill is the best of the best and that I should go there! They weren’t wrong!

What motivates you in your craft?
People! I love people and being able to learn about them, their stories, and what makes our community what it is, is an incredible thing.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about your role here?
I am simply sharing your stories. You are the ones that make them what they are!

Can Intermittent Fasting help with weight loss?


Can intermittent fasting help with weight loss?

Intermittent Fasting (IF) has risen in popularity amongst some of the early adopters of fad diets. We’re asking the question: does it work?

The answer is… you guessed it: it can work. Like many fad diets out there, they can and often times do work. But our goal has always been to treat you like an adult and have a reasonable discussion about why it works. Does it work any better than something less “fad-like?”

Don’t like reading? Check out this video with Sabrena Jo, Director of Science and Research at the American Council on Exercise:

What is intermittent fasting?

IF is a way of eating that restricts all food intake to a specific window of time. Many IF prescriptions call for an 8-hour window of eating followed by a 16-hour fast. For most, the fast will start at 8:00pm and normal eating will resume at noon the next day.

Will intermittent fasting help me lose weight?

IF seems to be working on overweight rats in some studies. But how do these results translate to humans? One of the obvious ways that IF could help you lose weight is that it simply results in less calories consumed. 

Here’s a very simple math problem that helps illustrate this point:

My basal metabolic rate = 2,000kcal (BMR is the amount of calories consumed to maintain my current body composition).

I consume 2,200kcal per day on my normal diet.

I switch to IF and eliminate any calories before noon.

I now consume 1,650kcal per day on IF.

I will lose about one pound of fat for every 3,500kcal restriction. Therefore, I will lose about one pound of body fat every 10 days on IF.

Don’t mistake weight loss for fat loss.

Here’s what most fad diets get wrong — there is no mention of WHAT we’re losing when the scale goes down. If Intermittent Fasting causes you to eat less calories but also less protein, you may also experience some muscle loss.

On the opposite end if the spectrum, IF may have you consuming more water than normal. This may cause you to “gain weight” simply through better hydration.

If you’re in Kansas City and starting a new diet routine Schedule a Complimentary Discovery Session where we can do a body composition scan to show you these numbers.

Does Intermittent Fasting work any better than a non-restrictive diet?

This is the question that we must always come back to: Is IF more effective than a diet of whole foods — mostly plants — lean meats, nuts, seeds, little starch and no sugar in portions large enough to support activity but not excess body fat? 

The answer to this question is likely not. Most fad diets involve restriction. Restrict carbs, restrict fats, restrict time, restrict portions. You get the idea. By nature, restriction = reduction. Reduction in kcal = reduction in body fat. But reduction in kcal can occur by increased consumption of fibrous vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats without any restriction.

Aaaaand here’s the big BUT…

Who is a good candidate for Intermittent Fasting?

There’s some interesting research coming out about the hormonal effects of obesity and weight loss. The main hormone we’re talking about is Leptin. Leptin controls how hungry or full your brain feels.

Please note this is where behavioral science meets biology. There has not been a correlation proven between intermittent fasting and leptin regulation. This is conjecture on my part. 

Researchers are finding that — in obese populations — as someone is losing body fat their leptin levels drop. The drop in leptin causes a “starvation” reaction, causing someone to feel like they’re starving to death while on the way to a healthy weight. This is what is known as a negative feedback loop.

Think of leptin like your toilet. You flush your toilet and all of the water is drained out of the tank, pushing the waste down the drain with gravity. There is a valve in the tank that floats. That valve floats on top of the water line of the filling tank, automatically shutting off when the level reaches the top.

What does this mean for weight loss? No matter your body fat percentage — 5% or 50% — that is your normal. It is your current baseline. Your body will react to a reduction in that baseline with a starvation response. As you go from 50% body fat to 40%, your body only understands the loss of 10%It is unaware that 50% body fat is dangerous territory. It actually feels the opposite — that losing 10% is dangerous territory.

How can intermittent fasting help obese populations?

One thing is certain and backed by a ton of research: learning to tolerate hunger is a must for people with obesity to achieve optimum health. AND IT’S REALLY, REALLY, REALLY FREAKING HARD TO DO. 

Simply telling someone to ignore a hunger pang is like holding someone under water and telling them to “relax… I’ll let you up before it’s too late.” What?!?!?!?

Intermittent Fasting could potentially help someone “learn hunger.” There are clear rules and time set aside to “practice” being hungry. I recommend incorporating a mindfulness or meditation routine to accompany this “hunger practice” to help you manage the emotional stress of hunger.

But — don’t forget — there is always a more sustainable approach to assist with hunger. Eating a ton of vegetables and lean proteins will not only help you feel amazing, but you’ll also have the added benefit of feeling very full from all the low-calorie fiber.

 

Getting to Know Wes Hamilton of Disabled But Not Really


CONFIDENCE | COMPETENCE | COURAGE

Getting to know The Hill means getting to know Wes Hamilton of the Disabled But Not Really Foundation.

“There’s not much that I can write about Wes that his story doesn’t already tell.  Not only is Wes doing incredible things in the adaptive athlete community but he reminds us every day that our struggle does not need to be our identity.  He also shows us that through adversity we truly can overcome anything. We’re excited to have Wes and his organization in our space here at The Hill.”
-Matt Scanlon

Interview:

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a football player.

I wanted to play sports when I grew up because for me, I thought that was the only thing I COULD do.

Growing up as an African American Male, sports was the only thing we thought would make us successful.

Where did you grow up?

East side Kansas City.

Weird part time job you had in the past?

McDonalds – for someone that’s so healthy now- I worked there for 2 years and ate every double quarter pounder with cheese.

And I worked at a church for Full Employment Council when I was 14 or 15. Jameson memorial temple child mentors running kids programs down on 18th and paseo they used to do teenage programs where 14 you could get a job and they’d place you all over town.

Got any hidden talents?

My hidden talent is writing. I love to write. I wish I could blog everyday, but I try to get to it as much as possible on my personal website. I love writing. I grew up writing. I stopped writing when I grew up because that just wasn’t a thing. It was like a sign of weakness to do something that was intellectual. So now I write as much as possible because I have more self awareness. I’ve actually been writing a book for about 2 years now. So I love to write any chance I get.

What do you like about KC?

I like the community.

I like how people from all different backgrounds come together. Through Love. Through understanding that everyone might have grown up or lived different, but it doesn’t change who you  are as a person.

I love that most Kansas City people judge you off of your character. Not just your skin color or anything like that.

KC feels like home. I could travel all over the world and come back and know that the moment I get in KCI airport it just feels like peace.

The home feel and how you can be appreciated by anyone, are some of the things I love about Kansas City.

I drive around the city all the time. But I make sure that I drive by the east side everyday. There’s something about those neighborhoods that bring me such peace. Even though the way we grew up was rough and hard, it was home for us. I love Kansas City so much because I love a place where many people have never been. My love for KC is complete because I’ve been welcomed and respected and Created success in a place where maybe we didn’t see ourselves going.

In order for you to love KC you have to know everything about it. I know a guy who puts it this way… a lot of brands have the heart KC shirts, he says they should have only half a heart because they only love one side of KC.

For me, my heart is full. Because I love every part. I can accept the good and fall in love with the bad because that’s how I was brought up. And I’ve been welcomed everywhere. 

What is your title at Disabled But Not Really?

I am the Executive Director, CEO & Founder.

How did you get connected to The Hill?

I met the amazing owners of The hill during my year full of competitions. I was looking for a chiropractor who specializes in working with athletes, and after a google search, I found Unbroken Chiropractic. And when I saw a picture of Dr. Heather, I recognized her from working out at Genesis. Over time we got to know each other and in one of our conversations I started to speak about my desire to train other people with disabilities. But I didn’t have a place.

Heather said she might know some people who would be really welcoming to that. And she told me about the BUILD & Legends programs so she introduced me to Josh, and Josh blew my mind with the amount of awareness and acceptance that he was willing to bring to adaptive athletes. And then I met Matt and Matt was the same way and it just became home.

That was in 2017. 2 years of coaching- The Help Me Fit Challenge is into the 4th class- We have had 15 graduates so far. 

What motivates you to coach?

My own personal story. From being paralyzed 7 years ago, being overweight when I was first paralyzed, going through a lot of health complications, 2 years of bedrest. It was just tragic where eventually I got the will to do things that I never thought I could do.

One of those things was to go to school to be a dietitian to learn nutrition. I lost 100 lbs while I was on bedrest in less than a year. I fell into depression post injury I was depressed because people with the disability that I have always seemed like they were depressed and overweight. I fell into that same mindset. That was reality.

So when I started to change that reality or that perception of what I thought, then my life got better. And when my life got better and I felt good, I started to think about how I could help other people.

I came up with the idea of Disabled But Not Really while I was still in a hospital bed while I was recovering from my last surgery. At that point I didn’t care about me actually recovering. What I cared about was the fact that I had lost 100 pounds while being paralyzed.

What motivates me? I changed my life after a traumatic injury. Because of that, I believe that anyone can do the same. I saw change, I had never seen change before like that. My life got better, I became an entrepreneur, a motivational speaker, everything.

It’s all about mindset. When I changed my mindset and started to look at my reality and started to accept myself, I believed that I could help other people accept themselves. That’s what fuels me everyday. Our athletes might not be at a certain place today, but they can be better tomorrow. I believe that with anybody. So that’s what motivates me everyday.

What do you love about your job?

The networking. What I really love about being the Director at Disabled But Not Really, is that I’m changing people’s mindsets. I’m putting myself in a position that makes being disabled look like the norm. And I think that’s the best part. I gained such a level of confidence during my transformation that if I could go out with the confidence that I have and change people’s mindsets of how they look at someone, how they see themselves, how they see their children.  If someone who is not be disabled sees strength and confidence in me, and says. “I can get that for myself- I have more ability than this guy..” that’s what motivates me. 

Everyday that I roll out of my house, I become an inspiration to others because I’m doing so much more than anyone believed that I could do. Including myself. 

What’s something that you wish everyone knew about people with disabilities?

That we are no different. That’s the biggest thing. People with disabilities are no different than you. Our inability to do things creates the ability to do them in a different way when people stop looking at you as incapable.

At the end of the day we are all able. So if someone needs to know something about someone with a physical disability… just know that it’s Not Really.. It’s always a mindset. Disabled starts in the mind. It’s not actually a person. It’s not actually a thing, it’s your thought process.

I just want everyone to know that you can be disabled mentally before you ever become disabled physically. Understand that just because we might have limitations doesn’t mean that we are mentally limited.

I tell people that when I grew up I was disabled mentally before I ever became disabled physically. Because when I look at the things I’ve created in the last seven years of my life being disabled, I pushed past every mental limit and every boundary that I had set for myself. I would never have been who I am today if I had never been shot.

Anything you’d like to share with The Hill?

I truly appreciate The Hill for bringing DBNR in here. And accepting us as family. Treating us the same. Treating every adaptive athlete that comes in as family. And being able to see our vision and join us to impact so many lives. I enjoy the uplifting vibe here and the overall love that the whole community provides is just amazing.

I want to say thank you to Matt and Josh and all the coaches, everyone, because not one person who comes through those doors, even myself, feels any different than anyone else.

I think that’s the best part. And for that I just want to say thank you.

 

Getting to Know Coach Jay Alexander


Caring | Honest | Driven

These are the values we hold as a team.

Jay exemplifies “Caring, Honest & Driven” with authenticity and grace.
Jay started coaching at The Hill in May and he couldn’t be a better fit for our team. He opens the doors for our 6am crew and makes sure to have them ready to take on the day. Jay loves yoga, a good dance party and his rambunctious puppy. We are so lucky to have Jay coaching at The Hill!

Let’s get to know Coach Jay a little better…

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  Olympic speed skater, but I probably should have learned how to skate to make that one happen.

Where did you grow up? Overland Park, KS

Favorite class or activity in high school? Broadcasting.

Voted in high school most likely to..? Most likely to change the world (high expectations, I know…).

Most interesting part time job? I worked as a camp counselor in northern Wisconsin one summer in college.

Got any hidden talents? I took a hip hop dance class in college, so I’ve got a few moves I can pull out if the right song comes on. And  I can rap all the words to Baby Got Back and HeadBands, and probably most other 2000’s hip hop.

What do you like about KC? BBQ, Boulevard, and the people that call it home!

Coaching: Your Job Title at The Hill. 6am Group Coach

How & when did you get connected to The Hill? When I moved back to KC after college in May of 2018 I knew I wanted to keep coaching and I instantly felt at home with the community at The Hill so here we are!

How long have you been coaching? Since May of 2017.

Why Coach? – what motivates you personally? CrossFit was the first thing that made me think I’m strong, and the physical and mental benefits of that realization have changed my life.

What do you love about your job? First and foremost, the people that I get to work for and with. Seeing people wake up early to work hard in the gym inspires me to be the best coach I can be for them that day. Also, I get to dance and listen to music during work, so that’s pretty awesome too.

What certifications do you hold and which are you most proud of? BS in Kinesiology, CF – L1 and RYT 200. Probably should say I’m proudest of the degree since it cost by far the most!

What continuing ed are you planning or currently doing? Currently completing my Doctorate of Physical Therapy at KU Med, and aiming to get my CrossFit Level-2 by the end of 2019.

How would you describe your coaching style? Laid-back, personal, and encouraging.

What’s something you wish everyone knew about health and fitness? I wish everyone knew that you don’t have to be the fastest or the strongest to fit in at the gym. No one is judging you because we’re all just trying to become the best versions of ourselves, and even just showing up proves that you’re already a badass.

What is something you are working on improving as an athlete personally? Focusing on weightlifting currently, and having a positive mindset going into every workout and lift.

Anything else you would like to share with The Hill family? I’m a new dog dad to a black lab, so if you have any tips on how to get him to stop chewing on everything please let me know.

 

 

5 Tips for Easier Meal Prep


macros

There are a few universal truths when it comes to either losing weight or gaining muscle. Truth Number 1: Nutrition is #1. Truth Number 2: If you do not meal prep you will fail at #1. Meal prep doesn’t need to be nearly as daunting as you think. Follow these simple tips and practice, practice, practice!

1. Plan to Fail

You want to lose that last 2o pounds. Or maybe you want to get a bit stronger. Whatever your goal is, you should just assume right off the bat that you’re going to find a way to not follow through. You’ll say you’re too busy. You’ll say family obligations got in the way. You’ll say that you just don’t know what to do.

But none of these are true. The truth is deeply rooted in behavioral science. Decision fatigue is a phenomenon that occurs when you’re forced to make decision after decision throughout the day. Your cognitive ability goes down and your ability to make decisions becomes worse and worse. By knowing exactly what you’ll be eating from each meal in a given day you’ve “pre-made” a decision, eliminating the risk of decision fatigue.

The second factor at play is that you’re starting a new habit. Any new habit you start will be the first one to go at the first sign of difficulty. You’re never “too busy” to brush your teeth are you? What about being “too busy” to shower? What about being “too busy” to chit chat at work? Why are we never “too busy” for these things? Because these are normal parts of our routine and habits; it would feel weird to not do them. The newest habits are always the first to go.

2. Should you change your own oil?

Do you change the oil in your car? Could you do it? Probably. It’s an easy enough task after all. But should you do it? Let’s say that you can go somewhere and have it done for $35. If you were to do it yourself, you’d probably spend half that on oil and a filter. Seems like a great deal, right?

Wrong.

By the time you run to the store to buy your oil and filter, you’re about 40 minutes into the project. Then, you change your oil. Now you have a bunch of old oil in containers in your garage. You’re a good citizen, so you won’t just dump that stuff in the road. Now, you have to find somewhere to dispose of the old stuff. You probably have a solid 2 hours invested in this project. That 35 bucks doesn’t seem so bad now does it?

Get real with yourself. If you’ve tried to meal prep time and time again but can’t seem to do it on your own, budget to have someone else do it for you. This “expense” is an investment in your long-term health and wellness. I promise that money spent to have healthy food on hand is money better spent than your dumb car payment, clothes, drinks at the bar, or any other non-investment that will be obsolete in a matter of months.

3. Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress

Will your first week of meal prep be perfect? Of course not! You’re a beginner. Think about healthy food decisions in the same way you think about your development in any area of your life. The first time I picked up a guitar, I wasn’t shredding Stairway to Heaven. I wasn’t doing algebra in 2nd grade either.

Start small. Maybe you only prep breakfast for a month. Hell, that’s a win! Let’s even dial it back a bit to just snacks. Instead of heading to the candy machine at 2:00 this afternoon, pack some beef jerky, an apple, and a dozen almonds. You don’t even need to cook that!

4. See meals as formulas, not recipes

Imagine a plate divided into 8 equal parts. Here’s the breakdown of how each plate should look:

  • 4 parts colorful vegetables
  • 2 parts lean protein
  • 1 part starch
  • 1 part healthy fat

No talk of “macros” or anything complicated. This is just a plate of broccoli, skirt steak, a couple small potatoes, and a thumb-sized piece of avocado. A little salt & pepper and you got yourself a delicious meal!

Grocery shop with the same formula

Meal prep will get expensive if you go to the store to buy ingredients for recipes. If you shop according to a formula, it won’t be as expensive nor daunting. As an example, let’s look at how I would buy protein for myself for a week.

I shoot to eat between 150-175 grams of lean protein in a given day, broken into 3 meals. I’ll get Postmates or go out for 2 meals in a given week. So, in a 7-day week, I need to prep for 19 meals each containing roughly 40 grams of protein. Here’s what that’d look like:

  • 10 medium chicken breasts
  • 5 medium sized sirloin steaks
  • 18 large eggs, 1/2 whites

Pretty basic, right? You just need to sit down and write down what are your daily needs then you’ll eventually be able to eye-ball it when you go to the store.

5. Get inspired

There is some emerging research suggesting that one’s ability to eat the same thing repeatedly may be linked to lower rates of obesity. I’ve often dubbed this one’s ability to “eat like a grown-up.” Yeah, I don’t love vegetables either. Kettle Chips are better than chicken breasts. And Sour Patch Kids trump everything. But I also don’t enjoy feeling like garbage and spending another year complaining about not reaching my body composition goals. As you’re learning to live a healthier life, you’ll need to tolerate some level of discomfort.

But that doesn’t mean that you’re stuck in this rut of dry chicken breast and raw broccoli. Food should be pleasurable! If you’re having a hard time getting inspiration for new meal prep ideas, I recommend you try what Maggie and I do every summer: Meal delivery.

Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and a whole host of other companies have come on the scene to offer ready-to-cook meals delivered to your doorstep. What a time we’re living in! Here’s what to do:

  • Sign up for one of the 3-week specials that these companies offer (don’t forget to cancel!).
  • Repeat the above for one or two other first-time specials.
  • Find 3-4 recipes that you really enjoyed but were also fairly easy to prepare with simple ingredients.
  • Make note of the portions of the 3 elements of your plate – veggies, protein, and starch.
  • Scale up the portions, make a grocery list, and make however many meals you’d like to prep for the week.

Repeat this process 1-2 times throughout the year. As you switch from one provider to the next, they’ll send you more coupons to get you back. Then, you’ll learn some new recipes to keep things fresh throughout the year.

What have you done that has really helped with your meal prep? What’s keeping you from doing it if it’s still a struggle? What actions can you take this week to step it up?

 

Getting to Know Hollie Siegel


Caring Honest Driven
These are the values that we hold as a team at The Hill.

This month we are getting to know Hollie Siegel!
Miss Hollie is a ray of sunshine and encouragement. She is always caring for others in any way she can. Adding her to the team was an easy decision. Front Desk and Maintenance Maven, she does it all. Plus, she got us all lifting pumpkins at our first Boo Bash!

 

Let’s get to know more about Miss Hollie…

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to work in a marketing department of a major movie studio.

Where did you grow up? Lenexa (KS)

Favorite class or activity in high school? Study Hall, hahaha! In all seriousness, I liked English because I enjoy writing.

Most known for growing up? Go my own way, be my own person — being an individual, better to be true to myself.

Most interesting part time job? I did an internship at a market research company and the owner (Gerry Cain) was a visionary, a genius, and a very good person. Great training for my future.

Share a movie or show you can quote… Movie: “Star Wars” (that’s an easy one!}; TV: “Seinfeld” and “Miami Vice”.

Got any hidden talents?  I am an expert party/event planner, master Lego video game player, voracious reader, and I can spend hours diving off a diving board and spending time in the deep end of a pool. And I know more about movie music/soundtracks than you can shake a stick at. Truth!

What do you like about KC? Really like the variety of people, parts of town and cultures. Love that it’s so easy to get around town, there’s lots to do, some special restaurants, and let’s be real . . . the barbecue!

Coaching: Your Job Title at The Hill? Head of Facilities & Special Projects Coordinator. Front Desk Smiles. 

How & when did you get connected to The Hill? My husband and I met Brian “Z.” in May 2015 and then I met with Coach Joshy in October 2015 for my first “no sweat” session. I joined The Hill the first week of November 2015.

CrossFit goals? Completed my internship at The Hill in December 2017 and plan to take the CrossFit Level 1 exam by April 2019. After that, I am so excited to eventually join the coaching staff.

Why Coach? – what motivates you personally? I love helping people, I really do. It can be explaining a movement, but I really like to connect personally — I want to know what makes people happy and excited, I want to know about them. I am motivated to help people love their time at The Hill (keeping them safe, making sure they have fun and support, and that it’s the best hour of their day). If I can make one person smile, I’ve accomplished something special.

What do you love about your job? Everything! Seriously and really! I’ve found my tribe and there are so many opportunities to engage with both the great people that work at The Hill and all the fantastic members. I also love, love, love that I am being given opportunities to take on new projects that play to my strengths (marketing, writing, etc.).

Education: Masters of Degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas.

What continuing ed are you planning or currently doing?  I am studying for the CrossFit Level 1 Exam, which I will take in the first quarter of 2019. Best possible outcome is that I am coaching by end of 2019. So exciting!

How would you describe your coaching style? Enthusiastic, driven, positive — I want the best out of each athlete and the best for each athlete. I have their best interests at heart.

What’s something you wish everyone knew about health and fitness? It’s all about nutrition — that’s the key to everything. You can exercise all day, but it’s the fuel that matters. You can go run a mile and then eat a snickers or two cookies and you’ve negated the good work you did. It’s all about nutritious intake now, tomorrow, next week, next year, next ten years, etc. Consistency is crucial.

What is something you are working on improving as an athlete personally? I’m working on a few things — I am not a good runner (I would rather walk, lol!), so everyday I run/walk a mile, and then walk a second mile to improve my cardio endurance. I want to be able to run an entire mile with no breaks in 6 months, hopefully sooner.

Also want to get back to being able to dead lift 200 pounds, which is doable, and surpass my current back squat PR of 190 pounds. In 2019, I will take on learning double-unders, rope climb progression, and improving my burpee technique to get faster (and breathe at the same time!).

What are you looking forward to? So many positive, happy things — becoming a stronger runner, bringing more intensity to the daily WODs, continuing to learn French (through Duolingo), going on vacation with my husband (John), and finding ways to add meaning and value to everything I do at The Hill.

Anything else you would like to share with The Hill family? From the moment I joined The Hill almost three years ago, I knew this is where I wanted to spend the rest of my career. I found my tribe of people, a family where I fit in and am accepted for who I am. And The Hill is the place where I can maximize my skill tool set and continuously learn. The people are the difference maker — so many great, amazing and wonderful people that are a joy to be around. I love what I do. I love my husband. I love The Hill. And I love life.

How to break through a CrossFit plateau


One of the most effective aspects of CrossFit training is its variety. Not only does the daily variety of stimuli help keep athletes interested in training, but it also serves the important function of staving off a plateau well into your training life.

When does a plateau occur?

Let’s set some parameters for this discussion and assume that you are training consistently for at least three hours per week. If you’re struggling to get in the minimum effective training time, your plateau is more behavioral than physiological.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For most consistent trainees, the plateau in this graph usually represents the 18-24 month mark in their training. You’ll see that improvement happens very rapidly at first but then slows as time goes on.

Why does this occur? 

This plateau can be summed up simply: The thing that resulted in you initial fitness won’t be the thing that improves your next phase of fitness. There are two distinct types of plateaus that are caused by basic physiology. As I’ve talked about before, continued improvements in fitness require that you not violate the SAID principle: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. In short, you can’t run the same speed and distance or lift the same weight at the same speed and expect to improve. In CrossFit, we measure the improvement of fitness with power.

Power = Work / Time

Let’s turn back time 20 years and look at our old formula to understand the new formula. Back in the days of leotards and body-building, we didn’t have a tight definition of improved fitness. That’s because how your body looks was superior to how your body performs.

In bodybuilding, the formula looks like this: cause as much muscle fiber damage as possible during training, then eat enough calories to put on muscle but not excess body fat. 

Still a pretty simple formula, but very few people with full time jobs and families have the time to effectively train this way for years without a plateau. That’s why most of your “globo-gyms” are set up to encourage this type of training. They know that you’ll never show up after six weeks, so they over-sell their memberships by a factor of 10. Imagine an airline sells 10 times the seats on each flight, knowing that only 10% of the people who have paid them will board the plane.

So we changed the formula of fitness. Power encompasses performance, not just looks. But — turns out — power also has favorable benefits to physique. Win-win.

Plateau type 1: You’re not doing enough.

In our power equation, “work” can be reflective of the size of a dumb bell, a wall ball, the distance you run, or the calories you row. “Time” is simply how long that work took you to do; either the total time it took to perform the workout or the nanoseconds it took for your elbows to turn around on a clean.

The first type of plateau occurs when you settle into the same “work” each time. Type 1’s were usually very intimidated at the thought of CrossFit and barbells and relative intensity. You probably spent upwards of 12 months considering even stepping foot into an introductory class.

BUT YOU DID IT!

Nice work!!! But still in the back of your mind there is this nagging fear of failure. That you don’t want to try too hard and fall flat on your face.

I’m not advocating for unsafe movements or loads whatsoever. 

I’m saying that you’ll need to eventually swap out your 10# wall ball for a 14# wall ball. You’ll need to get knocked down the mountain just a tad in order to push through this plateau. It will feel as uncomfortable as day 1, but it’s absolutely necessary.

Is this me?

  • Track your workout times for a week and make note of where you fall in relation to the intent and the rest of class. If you’re 10% or more under that number, choose something each day that is just a tad more difficult than you normally would.
  • Make a mental note of your fellow athletes’ post-workout response. Are they writhing on the floor in a heap of sweat after one of Coach Josh’s “Impossible WODs?” If you had the energy to notice someone else’s response or performance, you probably weren’t doing enough. 

Plateau type 2: You’re doing too much.

This one is a little more difficult to diagnose because your judgement is clouded. You were plateau type 1 at some point and then you took my advice and did more. And it worked!

You started to do “Rx” weights and you maybe even started seeing yourself at the top of a few leaderboards. So you did more of what worked the first time. But then your equation got a little top heavy.

A top-heavy power equation results in injury, fatigue, weight gain, and — hopefully this is the one you recognize first — a decrease in performance. 

A top heavy power equation inevitably leads to a lower “time” in the bottom half of the power equation. By nature, an empty-barbell thruster will travel at a greater speed than a bodyweight thruster. But there’s a balance in there that must be met. Here’s an example workout to illustrate this point:

5 Rounds for time of: 

5 Power Cleans, 225 / 155
10 Handstand Push Ups
15 Wall Balls, 30 / 20

Intent: sub-12:00

Pretty nasty workout, right? But, what makes it “nasty”? The sub-12:00 intent. This intent exists to create balance in your power output equation; it assumes ~2:00 rounds. 2:00 rounds means that your power cleans will need to be quick singles with less than 5 seconds rest in between, your handstand push-ups unbroken, and your heavy wall balls unbroken.

But “time” in the power equation isn’t just your WOD time. It’s also the speed at which you lock out a push-up or the micro-second turnaround time on your dumb bell snatch.

The question you ask yourself becomes not “can I do that” but rather “can I do that with the power output required to meet the intent.”

If the intent were sub-22:00, we’re shooting for a low power-output stimulus. You can do those heavy power cleans every :45, you can break up your handstand push-ups into slow, slogging sets, and you can do three sets of five wall-balls. Same workout, entirely different stimulus. Both versions of this workout have a place in your training — you’ll need to start to recognize the difference.

I’d personally opt for a 175# power clean, stick with the HSPU as written (they’re a strength of mine), and do 2 rounds of 30# WB & 3 rounds @ 20#. Could I power clean 225? Yes. But it’d be sluggish, outside the intent, and result in me having a worse overall power clean than when I started.

Are you type 2?

  • You’ve been time-capped more than twice a year for reasons of load or gymnastics complexity (time caps are typically set 15-20% outside intent; i.e. shouldn’t happen).
  • You’ve thought “yeah Bill got a faster time than me, but I did the ‘rx’ weight”
  • There is a big discrepancy between your efficiency in one area vs. another; this is typically endurance/strength or strength/gymnastics.

What everyone can do about it.

  1. Don’t use a WOD to get better at gymnastics or stronger on a barbell. This will result in poor power output, making your plateau even worse.
  2. Take a video of yourself. Set up your phone against a chalk bucket and look at your lifts compared to someone you’d consider “fast” or “snappy” in their lifts (i.e. Coach Mindy). Use weights that have you looking like her in a conditioning workout.
  3. EMOMs are the best thing, ever. You’re likely here 5-10 minutes before or after class starts. Use that time to work on something. Here are some of my favorite ways to get better:
    1. 10:00 EMOM of 2x Snatch: start with an empty bar, adding 10-20 pounds each minute. Make note of the weight at which your reps slow down.
    2. 5:00 EMOM: 3x PERFECT handstand push-ups
    3. 5:00 EMOM: 5x butterfly pull-ups, adding 1 rep each minute
  4. Only good reps count; bad reps subtract. There’s a lot of debate on the “10,000 hour” rule. But, let’s use it for the sake of argument. Performing 10,000 power cleans will not make you world class. Performing 10,000 excellent power cleans just may. BUT each sluggish power clean performed while fatigued will count against your 10,000.

Be patient when pushing past a plateau. Just like climbing mountains, there are times when you’ll need to backtrack in order to find a path of less resistance. You got this!

 

 

The 3 Things Your Fittest Friends Have in Common


I’ve heard a TON of really inspirational transformation stories. My response has usually been some version of “nice work… you should be so proud of yourself!” Two years ago, I changed my approach to ask “what was the thing that finally made it stick?”

After diving deep into the psychology of behavior change, I learned that most adults will go through four to five attempts to lose weight or “get fit” before they settle into the thing that works.

Personally, I’m incredibly grateful for my weight loss occurring at a fairly young age — I got serious about it at 13 years old. I was pretty overweight, got made fun of a lot (low hanging fruit when your first name rhymes with “fat”), and I had no concept of what a healthy meal looked like. I’ll never forget the day a teacher mentioned that he was giving up soda to lose weight. I never had another Coca Cola after that day.

Life was easier then. Aside from showing up to school, doing my chores, and practicing music my responsibilities were pretty much nonexistent. Combine that with a new interest in girls and constant jabbing from my peers and you have a pretty simple recipe for behavior change. All the motivation was there even though much it was negative. Compared to most of my peers, I was given the gift of learning to say “no” to treats and “yes” to exercise two decades ahead of time.

Behavior change as an adult is a much harder endeavor. We’re talking about re-wiring decades of stimulus-response mechanisms with all the responsibilities and stressors of adulthood compounded with a media barrage telling us there’s a “secret” that we just don’t know about yet. Here’s the real secret: there is none.

Here are the three characteristics I’ve discovered by asking folks just like you “what was the thing that made it stick?”

1. They take the long view

Warren Buffett famously said about investing “be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” To use a recent example, the time to buy bitcoin was when everyone was afraid to buy bitcoin. Or, the time to pull your money out of real estate investment was when people were saying “this is going to increase in value forever!!!”

What does this have to do with weight loss?

In my example of losing weight at 13 years old, I had very important (to a 13 year-old boy) consequences staring me in the face every day — I wanted a girlfriend and to not be made fun of for being overweight.

As an adult, these consequences may not be as immediate or in-your-face from external sources. You probably have health insurance from your company. You probably have a car and a bed and a cell phone. You actually don’t need to be fit

Until you do.

The consequences of ignoring your health and well-being won’t be felt for 10, 20, or 30 years. If you’re experiencing a medical consequence due to poor nutrition and lack of movement, the preceding actions occurred decades ago.

2. They never say “I’m too busy.”

“I don’t have the time…” is an interesting thought. It’s one of the only objective measures that has vastly different feelings associated with it. I really started to notice this phenomenon at the gym. From students to surgeons, attorneys to bartenders — everyone is busy. But, objectively, are they all? That can’t be the case, can it? If one person starts their day at 4:30am and works until 6pm, they’re definitely busier than someone who works 8am-5pm aren’t they?

But the feelings are the same.

People who are successful at anything — not just weight loss — have a different feeling about time. They prioritize things that are important long-term despite how their schedule may feel. They know that they’ll never find time, so they prioritize time.

In the case of weight loss and fitness, prioritizing that time actually has a scientifically-proven benefit to your work and productivity. So you’re killing two birds with the same stone; by investing time you’re actually creating more of it.

3. They settle into discomfort

I’m not talking about SEAL training “Hell Week” discomfort here. It’s more of a low-grade doing the right thing when it doesn’t feel great discomfort. Things like:

  • Packing a lunch the night before
  • Getting a gym bag ready the night before
  • Working out early in the morning if your afternoon gets busy at work
  • Pushing yourself just a touch harder in your workouts

It’s nothing crazy, but it does require a crazy level of consistency. The average time it took all those people who lost over fifty pounds was nine months! These folks weren’t living in a monastery eating celery and drinking water. But they did all the small things to set themselves up for success.

It won’t feel pleasurable but it will feel good

The folks who make big transformations have — either consciously or subconsciously — settled into the idea that something doesn’t have to feel good in order for it to be rewarding. They’ve learned to separate pleasure from happiness. They don’t deprive themselves of pleasure because this is an amazing part of being human. They enjoy cupcakes because cupcakes are delicious and pleasurable, not because cupcakes are a way to feel happy. Lasting happiness comes from accomplishment. Think about all of your greatest accomplishments — they probably had more moments of discomfort than pleasure.

 

 

How to do a partner WOD


What feelings stir up when you hear “Partner Up”?

My guess is a reaction somewhere between woo hoo! sounds fun and oh-my-god this is 7th grade gym class all over again. Both are totally understandable reactions. There are a bunch of reasons to do partner workouts — most of which are simply a practicality.

Adequate rest period

On a strength day, your coaches prefer you to partner up simply to ensure you take proper rest between sets. Novice trainees especially like to do their 5 sets of 5 reps at a light load, very quickly. This will inevitably result in stalled improvement and less reps being performed under the caring eye of a coach.

Relative intensity

High-intensity interval training is — as far as we know with current evidence — the most time-efficient way to add lean muscle mass, reduce body fat, improve cardiovascular function, and reduce injury. It’s really effective stuff… IF you can get to your individual relative intensity. NOT match your neighbor’s but work to your own “redline.” Partnering up is a great way for someone to push their working intervals just a touch higher than they normally would knowing that their partner will pick up the work on the next working set.

Equipment and time

Frankly, this is the main reason the partner WOD exists. There are times throughout the week when most of you prefer to work out. Sure, we could do 8am, 9am, and 10am classes on Saturday morning but you and your coaches all have a weekend of well-earned rest to get to. So, instead of three 12-person classes like you’d see throughout the week, we’ll do a big group class in partners so you can get on with your weekend and your coach can safely keep eyes on half the room working at any given time.

Why the weirdness around partner WODs?

It’s OK to not like interacting with people. It’s OK to be an introvert. It’s OK to hate small talk. It’s OK to not want to interact with other people during your hour. These are all completely acceptable reasons to avoid the partner WOD and I applaud you for knowing yourself so well.

BUT IT IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE FOR YOUR NON-PARTICIPATION TO BE A RESULT OF YOUR FEELINGS OF INADEQUACY. 

Dig deep and ask yourself what your real hesitation is here. I’m only calling it out because I hear these things about 842 times a day.

“You’re gonna lift a ton more than me.”

“I’m going to hold you up.”

“You’ll gonna breeze right through this.”

“I’m going to need to scale/modify the rope climbs.”

Now, I’ve fielded a lot of complaints and “suggestion box” comments over the last six years — ranging from “huh, that’s a great point; never thought of it” (tampons, hair ties, and full-length mirror in the ladies’ restroom) to the absolutely absurd. In fact, I don’t believe that any suggestion or comment could surprise me at this point.

But, there is one comment I have never, ever received in the LAST SIX YEARS, 9,000 ATHLETES COACHED, AND OVER 5,000 PROGRAMMED WORKOUTS… wait for it… 

So-and-so lifted way less than me in the partner WOD. So-and-so held me up in the partner WOD. So-and-so had to modify muscle ups. NEVER. Not once. Not even a hint of a whisper of a thought in anyone’s head, ever about how their workout was somehow tainted by a partner with different abilities.

So why do you think you’ll be the first?

This probably gets to a psycho-social discussion that I’d prefer to not dig into now. But, really ponder the question — why do you think that you will be the first one someone is “held up by” or is looked down upon for not using the exact weight as someone else?

If you were really honest with yourself, you know the answer. You know that there’s a group of people that has a 100% track record of not judging someone based upon their current abilities. You know that your coaches modify workouts on an hourly basis for people with physical limitations that blow yours completely out of the water.

I’ve said it a million times – it’s your hour. If that means you don’t want to interact with other humans — totally cool. I can relate with that on a very deep level.

But your “I’ll hold someone up” rationale is BS. You know it is. It’s much easier to externalize onto someone else our own feelings of inadequacy. But, it’s in that vulnerability that we learn some pretty amazing things about ourselves. And it’s in that vulnerability that we grow.

Will lifting weights before a metcon make you stronger?


Ah, the age-old debate. And one that — with a basic understanding of physiology — is beginning to look like the recent Flat Earth movement.

The answer to this question is NO. Definitively no. To even entertain this statement as true demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of strength training. 

(But in all fairness, lifting weights doesn’t make you stronger either)

Ask a better question.

More often than not, this debate descends into “but Rich Froning…” or “When I was doing ____ I was the strongest I’ve ever been.”

But these anecdotes don’t really answer the actual question. So let’s start with a better question:

“How do I get stronger?”

Answer: Recover from resistance training.

This isn’t a “recovery is more important than training” post. My goal is to help you understand the fundamentals of how your biology actually works.

When you run, jump, lift, do push ups, or ride your bike, you’re causing a bunch of tiny little tears in your muscle fibers, bones, and connective tissue. After you do this activity, you consume energy (food), breath oxygen, and rest. Through a web of interconnected organs and hormones, your body magically repairs those tears with a stronger bond than previously existed. Your body becomes stronger during the repair — or supercompensation — period of recovery. 

The bubble athlete

If I had unlimited resources to get someone as strong as possible, I would do a series of blood tests immediately prior to a training session to calculate the exact minimum effective doseNotice I said minimum… not maximum. Remember, the goal from training is recovery which means WE ACTUALLY WANT TO MINIMIZE TRAINING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

Immediately after the training session, I would feed my bubble athlete a perfect combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Adequate carbs so bubble athlete has insulin in their bloodstream and adequate lean protein so the insulin can do it’s job of delivering amino acids to bubble athlete’s muscles to repair the damaged we just caused.

Bubble athlete would go back into the hyperbaric bubble to sleep, get massages, practice mindfulness, and get ready for our next minimum effective dose.

So where did the Lift then Sweat come from?

Lifting and then doing some type of sprint or plyometric exercise has been a mainstay in strength and conditioning for years. Then, CrossFit came onto the scene. It wasn’t too long before CrossFit became a full blown sport. And, just like strength and conditioning, what the pro’s are doing has trickled down to high school athletes (that’s us in this analogy).

In a day-long test of fitness, competitive CrossFit needed to measure strength, endurance, power, and speed in the same setting. CrossFit has never been interested in absolute strength, but relative strength. In essence: “Cool. You have a 500 pound deadlift. But can you run a sub-20 minute 5k?”

So athletes needed to train to be able to hit ~90-95% of their 1 rep max deadlift in the same day they do Fran. So, that’s how they started to train.

But they always knew that doing so meant that both their deadlift 1 rep max AND their Fran time would suffer as a result. The question of competitive CrossFit has never been “how do I get stronger?” It has been “how can I perform good enough on game day?” 

So competitive CrossFit coaches started getting their athletes ready for game day accordingly. And the programmatic effects have trickled down to those of us trying to be the fittest person in the cubicle bank.

So what’s the answer?!

The answer is simple: if you want to get stronger, you need to begin the process of recovery as soon after the lifting session as possible. Some of you may have experienced my weird, hippy breathing drills after hard workouts. This is an intentional signal to your body to begin to super-compensate – or recover.

But, yes, there are days where we’ll program a lift with a Metcon. Here’s another peak behind the curtain: we don’t do it because it is effective, we do it because it is efficient. Seriously… we have a discussion along the lines of “yeah… this isn’t ideal, but there’s a short WOD today and we want our athletes to leave feeling like they ‘got a good workout.'”

So… the answer: Lifting before a Metcon gets you better at lifting before Metcons. It does NOT make you stronger. 

This has a place, however. If you’re doing an exercise competition where there is a strength piece BEFORE a metcon, you should begin to train accordingly ~6 weeks out from competition. If the workout is Metcon – Strength – Metcon, you should also train that way.

The novice effect

The reason the “Lift, then WOD” has had a lot of us (including myself) getting stronger is due — almost exclusively — to the novice effect. This means that any stimulus — no matter how ineffective — will have favorable results. This has been the dirty little secret of the fitness industry forever. It doesn’t matter what you do for a reeeeeallllllllllly long time. And most gyms know that folks won’t stick around for long enough to move beyond the novice phase to where we actually need to start having the discussion of minimum effective dosing and recovery.

In the world of the barbell, the novice is generally someone with less than 10 years of consistent training. Consistency means uninterrupted, intentional practice. Those weird starfish power cleans with wrist wraps you did in high school don’t count toward intentional practice.

Do I need to WANT to get stronger?

This is the beauty of the entire thing – NO!!! We have a major rule amongst the coaching staff: we will never project our own goals onto you.

Does lifting before a WOD make you feel strong, powerful, and capable? Then freaking lift before your WOD! I will be your number 1 supporter. Just do so knowing that it is not the best way to get strong.

As I’m sitting here writing this, each of your coaches PR’d their deadlift today. We’ve each been under a barbell for a really loooong time. If you told me I could add more than 5 pounds a year, I’d be the happiest guy in the gym. Today, I PR’d my deadlift by 15 pounds! How? I lifted waaaay less (~24 reps per week) than I ever have and put all my focus into recovery.

If you’re still crushing PR’s left and right – don’t change a thing! If you love hitting the WOD each day and high-fiving your squad after – don’t change a thing! But if you feel like something is missing; that your “gainz” are stalling — holler at me! I’d love to take a look at what you’re doing and provide any guidance I can.