How To Become A Fat Burning Woman

From an evolutionary standpoint, women were built for childbearing. Unlike men, women have survival techniques that are unique to their bodies in order to prepare them for growing another human. While this is a beautiful and miraculous trait, it comes with some conditions that specifically come into play when we are talking performance and body composition.

The human body is quite unique and knows how to maintain homeostasis. It knows what it needs. A woman’s body must have enough vital nutrients and the right structure to have a smooth pregnancy. Bigger hips and a tendency for fat storage are a few of these obvious traits. 

Once at the age of childbearing, a woman’s body will begin to make sure it has enough fat to feed a baby. DHA, a brain developing nutrient, is usually found in these fat stores, a technique the body uses to save enough of this nutrient for breastfeeding a newborn. This is extremely important for any baby, but can result in unwanted fat retention for women currently not trying to have kids.

Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it’s optimal for everyone or everything at all times. Depending on your goals, the female metabolism “naturally” seems counterproductive to many of our goals and ideals when it comes to body composition. But there is a way to use this knowledge to your advantage and get your metabolism to work for you! You can achieve the goals you want in a healthy way, regardless of your hormonal and genetic predisposition.

Let’s circle back to DHA and fat storage. We talked about how crucial this is in a woman’s body during pregnancy. You get DHA from consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids. This is commonly found in foods like salmon, flax seeds, and chia. Since the body is already hardwired to store fat, this is a very important time to focus on the quality of fats in the diet. Omega-3’s are not only key for brain and eye development-they also play a key role in the body’s inflammatory response.

If you consume a diet high in inflammatory fats you this will results in more fat storage. Get the right amount of fats by increasing Omega 3 consumption so your body knows it has enough to meet its needs. 

Next, balance your hormones. Eat a clean and nutritious diet, manage your stress levels with yoga, meditation etc, and talk with your doctor about any hormonal imbalances you may have. Having too much estrogen circulating in your body is just as bad as not enough, so get some tests done and work with your doctor to find a solution. A lot of the time, hormonal imbalances stem from nutritional issues and chronic conditions like chronic inflammation and stress. 

Lastly, don’t be afraid of the heavy weights. Muscle development will help you shape up and lose fat. The more muscle you have, the more fuel your body will need to burn each day. This will let your body handle carbs better, using them to fuel your muscles, rather than store them as fat. A body with more muscle is like a car with a bigger engine: it will burn more fuel! As you start lifting weights, you’ll notice changes in body measurements as you swap out fat for muscle.

These tips not only shape your body into a fat burning machine, but they’re going to help with your performance level. Having the right body composition, muscle mass and good nutrition will improve your performance in the gym or in training. Have fun designing the body of your dreams!

The Top 3 Reasons To Train With Kettlebells

If you could only buy one piece of equipment to accomplish all of your training, what would you buy? Treadmills and cycles are great for cardio but definitely won’t get you stronger. A barbell is great but where do you have room to keep it and let alone use it? Total gym style machines always feel so awkward, the cables never work and they seem to be built for someone else’s body. So what exactly can use to transform your body, build strength, burn fat, and improve your cardio?

Enter the kettlebell.

Kettlebells are a great and diverse tool you should implement into your training. Kettlebell swings train the total body and can be a low impact way to build muscle.They can be used to improve performance, as well as make you look and feel strong and capable. Of course, a tool is only useful as long as you know how to use it. Consider learning the basics with a certified coach who can show you the ropes. 

Today let’s dive into the top 3 reasons to train with kettlebells so you can see if they are a good fit for your fitness regimen. 

1. Carry Over to Sport and Life

Kettlebell swings have tremendous carry over to your sport and lifestyle activities. They teach you how to hinge at the hip, one of the most important movement patterns for health and optimal function. A strong and healthy lower back, as well as a tight core, will be developed rapidly when you train kettlebell swings with good form. You will also develop an iron grip. Grip is one of the best indicators of a healthy human and Harvard has found strong correlation between grip strength and cardiovascular health. 

Swings will also improve your performance with the Olympic lifts and power lifts and any other hip dominant movement like jumping. Kettlebell swings teach the dynamic hip extension that is the foundation of a powerful lifter and athlete. When you become strong and proficient with swings you can continue adding load, becoming stronger and more explosive in the process.

2. Add Variety to Your Training

You can train kettlebell swings more often than many other strength movements. Performing swings 2-3 times per week can really improve your strength and endurance and shake up your typical workout routine. By adjusting the weights , the number of sets, repetitions, and how long you rest, you can get totally different responses from your kettlebell workout. 

A typical Monday workout could focus on strength and power. You would use fewer reps and a heavy weight taking 2-3 minutes between sets to fully recover. 

Wednesday workouts could be focused on building cardio. Use a light kettlebell and swing it for a long time. Pick a number like 20, 50, or even 100 reps and see how quickly you can get there. Or, set a timer for 5:00 and see how many swings you can get in that amount of time. 

On Friday you could train kettlebell swings in a high intensity interval workout. Use light to moderate weights and focus on explosive efforts followed by bouts of recovery.

3. Quick and Effective Way to Train

Learning swings comes easier for some and harder for others. They are also easier to learn than the Olympic lifts and are far less technical. Swings are a great alternative for individuals who are focused on fitness for their health and young athletes. They also require less time to prepare the body for in terms of warming up the joints, muscles, and nervous system. They can be a fast and fun way to fit in a workout if you don’t have much time.

The kettlebell swing is such an effective tool because it trains both the eccentric (lengthening of the muscle) and concentric (shortening of the muscle) in a dynamic fashion. The snatch and clean both require a focus on a strong concentric contraction as the weight is lifted, Swings offer a different stimulus that may better suit athletes in sports like basketball or soccer, or folks whose goal is not to lift maximum weight overhead. 

Kettlebell swings are a fun and effective way to train. Just like most exercises, it’s best to learn from a certified coach so you know you are performing them properly. If you are interested in getting in shape and training in a fun new environment, come in for a free consult and we can show you how training can be fun and get you results!

Three Alternatives to Juice Cleansing

Heading into a new year, beach season, or any time you have had “enough” with the way you look and feel about your body there are some popular options you may have turned to. 

One of the most popular options is buying a multi-day juice cleanse from a local cafe or whole foods market that is supposed to replace all your meals. You are so excited as you pick up your bundle of beverages. A confidence and optimism that this time you mean business. That fat is going down!

But wait…is it really the best option for you to improve your health or lose weight?

Today, let’s explore three alternatives to juice cleansing that truly support a healthy diet and lifestyle. These options will actually help your body perform better and get the results you want rather than juicing fruits and vegetables.

1.Consume Whole Fruits and Vegetables

Whole fruits and vegetables are the basis for a healthy carb intake. Juicing eliminates the skin, pulp, and fiber that make these foods so healthy in the first place. Many of the flavonoids responsible for reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke are found in the pulp and skins of many fruits and veggies. Removing the fiber also increases the glycemic index. For instance, eating an orange has a totally different effect on your body than drinking a glass of orange juice. In fact, drinking OJ is more comparable to soda in the way it effects your body!

“If life gives you lemons, make some kind of fruity juice.” -Conan O’Brien

2. Eat/Drink Balanced Meals 

Did you ever sneak spoonfuls of sugar as a kid? I know I did. But as we get older and wiser, we know that blatant disregard for our health won’t fly anymore. We try to limit our sweets to the foods that are really worth it. 

 But did you know that when you juice you are basically drinking sugar? Especially if the juice contains fruit juices in the mix.

Try consuming balanced meals instead. Eat high quality protein, healthy fats, and whole fruits and veggies. Your body knows what to do with these real foods and will respond better to a diet focused on protein and fat than a carb dominant intake – especially if fat loss is your goal. If you are looking to maintain a healthy body weight, then you need meals that keep your metabolism stimulated and promote fat burning.

High quality protein will help keep you satiated and repair muscle tissues. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats will improve inflammation response and help your body burn stubborn belly fat. Whole fruits and veggies will provide the key nutrients needed for energy production and eliminating toxins from the body.

3. Fast Instead of Juicing

Intermittent fasting may be a much better approach to fat loss than juicing. By choosing to fast rather than consume a juice, you allow your body to continue burning fat as a fuel source. When you drink juice it spikes your blood sugar and insulin, promoting fat storage rather than burning. Intermittent fasting can easily be achieved by setting up a 12-to-16 hour window of time during which you eat. If you consume your last bite of food at 6 p.m., then you don’t eat again until at least 6 a.m. the next morning. This is a great strategy to help you achieve the results you work hard for. Make sure you plan your eating window accordingly and you’re good to go!

Now that you have some alternatives to juice cleansing, try these out and see which option is best for your success.

If you have questions about a healthy diet that lines up with your lifestyle then connect with one of our coaches for more great advice.

Member Spotlight: Scott Vermillion

Each month, we will profile a Grand Trunk CrossFit member who has seen incredible results since joining our “box”.

It is our hope, that by showing you what can be accomplished through regular workouts and a commitment to fitness, you will be encouraged to take the leap and come in for a workout.

This month’s spotlight is on Scott Vermillion, a member since 2016.

When did you join Grand Trunk, and why?

Scott: Linda (my wife) and I joined about three years ago. My knees and hips couldn’t handle running anymore and Anytime Fitness was boring the hell out of me!

What do you enjoy most about GTCF and CrossFit?

I enjoy that almost every workout takes me out of my comfort zone and helps me work harder than I would if I was doing this on my own.

What is your favorite movement?

Strict press, push press push jerk…anything to do with shoulders.

What is a CrossFit goal you have achieved that you are most proud of?

I have found strength head to toe that I have not had in over 25 years!

What is a current goal you are working on and hope to accomplish?

My goal is to simply show up three days a week.

What advice would you give a new member or someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?

Be patient. Give yourself a few months before you judge everything. You will see results in strength and confidence that make you feel more youthful.

How has CrossFit impacted your life outside of the gym?

Confidence. Getting old is a bitch. Right before joining GTCF, I was starting to think that I needed to slow down because I was feeling my age. I think differently about life now. I’m a bit more optimistic and I feel like I can handle just about anything that is thrown my way.

What is a fun fact that people might not know about you?

I have run a marathon, two half-marathons, and 10 sprint triathlons. I have also played in the World Series of Power twice.

If you could create your own WOD, what would it be?

Definitely NO burpees. Wall balls, kettlebell swings, push jerks and Assault bike.

Fill in the blank: I CrossFIt (because/so I can): I CrossFit to make me feel better about all of those beers I drink!

If you’d like to schedule a free, no-sweat intro, sign up today!

Grand Trunk CrossFit Nurtures Mind, Body and Soul

Grand Trunk CrossFit member Tracy Dimitri’s iPhone screen saver is a picture of herself climbing a fence to retrieve a baseball at a Little League baseball game a few years ago.

In the picture, you can’t see her face.

In fact, you can’t really tell it’s her since it was taken from afar. But Tracy knows it’s her. She knows one hundred percent.

Why, you ask, would a mother and grandmother save a picture on her phone of her scaling a chain-link fence?

“That’s the last time I felt fit,” says Dimitri.

That picture was taken six years ago.

Since that day, her fitness journey has been one of stops and starts, battling injuries and handling different life events that took her attention away from taking care of herself. But after years of waffling when it came to getting in good shape, she made the leap to Grand Trunk CrossFit and hasn’t looked back since.

“If it wasn’t for Brooklyn’s persistence, I never would have gone back,” said Dimitri. “It’s because of him and Diana that I’ve gotten back to working fitness into my schedule.”

Tracy’s introduction to CrossFit, ironically, came at a big-box gym where she worked out with her daughter and her daughter’s husband. She signed up for a class with a coach who was in the midst of CrossFit training, and that coach weaved CrossFit movements into the classes.

“The class was amazing and I felt very empowered after a few weeks of this type of exercise. After working this type of fitness into my routine, I never looked back.”

But then knee surgery cut short her fitness goals, so she had to stop working out while she recovered.

After she healed, Tracy joined a proper CrossFit box and got in the best shape of her life. But other ailments popped up that prohibited her from moving forward,

When she was ready to slowly reintroduce CrossFit into her life two years later, she stumbled across Grand Trunk, thanks to relationships with a few women who were already members at the still-new CrossFit box.

“It was a challenge, at first, to get Tracy in here consistently,” said Brooklyn, the owner of Grand Trunk. “But once we did, I could see her body slowly reacting positively to CrossFit.”

Indeed, it was never a question for Tracy of not being active.

Growing up, she had four brothers who played every sport imaginable. Her presence necessitated being able to hang with her siblings when they needed a fifth person to round out their teams.

Maybe due to athletic prowess, or perhaps just convenience, Tracy was often the first person they chose. So, she got used to a life of activity, which made it even harder when that aspect of her being was taken away.

“It got so bad at one point that I had to go down the stairs one at a time because I was dealing with so much pain due to arthritis and another bad knee,” adds Dimitri. “I couldn’t run at all and even jumping rope was a struggle. Going back made me realize my physical limitations.”

It became almost unbearable for Tracy that she couldn’t do what she wanted to do with her body. Movements like hand-stand push-ups, which Tracy was once able to do without thinking twice, became roadblocks in her journey back to being fit. But she remained determined to overcome her limitations. If anything, it made her even more determined to get back to her former fitness level.

And, if she couldn’t do it for herself, she would do it for her grandkids, who were becoming old enough to run and play with grandma. If she couldn’t hang with them, they would notice.

“My grandkids are my life and I needed to be active with them,” she explains. “I didn’t want them to wonder why grandma couldn’t hold them or run around in the backyard with them. That would be devastating.”

So Tracy, after a year of being away from fitness, reached back out to Brooklyn to inquire about joining. Knowing a few folks at the box helped. Hearing they fostered an amazing community was the clincher. But it wasn’t without its challenges.

“Going back after five years was hell,” Dimitri says. “I can honestly say it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done because I didn’t have much mobility. But I can also honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Today, Tracy and her daughter are both members at Grand Trunk, and her grandkids look on while they WOD together. The pull of Grand Trunk’s community was so strong that Tracy’s daughter, Alicia, has joined, even though she lives more then 30 minutes away. Their daily workouts have become bonding time. It allows Tracy to show off her dedication to her grandkids.

“It would be easier to join a CrossFit box closer to home but I wouldn’t get the same time with my mom if I did,” said Alicia Ciha, Tracy’s daughter. “Watching her get back into shape has inspired me to get more fit, and Grand Trunk is the perfect place for us to meet our goals.”

But back to that picture on her iPhone.

The woman Tracy sees every day is a woman who is never coming back. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If anything, CrossFit has allowed Tracy to become more aware of who she is as a person now, and reminds her to take necessary steps to stay within herself, whether it’s working out or watching what she eats.

“If CrossFit doesn’t affect your whole being, something’s wrong,” she adds. “It’s transforming in a lot of ways, not just physically. It helps me apply discipline in other areas of my life, as well. CrossFit is mind, body and soul. I reap benefits even when I’m not at the box, which is a definite bonus.”

Five Common Mistakes in Low Carb Diets

High fat or low carb diets are a popular choice when it comes to styles of eating. Electing to eat more fat and minimize carbohydrate intake can be a great choice if you are trying to promote lean body mass, increase insulin sensitivity, and easily maintain health. 

It is important, however, that you consult with your doctor before beginning any new approach to your nutrition. Eating a diet higher in fat, with moderate protein, and lower in carbohydrate is beneficial for most people but may not be right choice for you under certain conditions. Healthy individuals, however, should consider the benefits of this eating approach. By avoiding these five common mistakes in your low carb diet, you will set yourself up for success.

  1. Eating the same foods over and over. 

Lack of diversity is one of the most common mistakes that occur in many diets. With low carb diets, this usually is a result of a limited range of choices for fats and a relatively small amount of carbohydrate consumption that limits the amount of foods you eat in that macronutrient. 

For fats, it is important that you include fats from a wide range of products including nuts, seeds, plants, meat, and fish. You should especially focus on including high quality polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that will give your body a healthy dose of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

For carbohydrates, focus on getting most of your intake from vegetables, low glycemic fruits and starches, and unrefined whole grain foods. This will help you meet nutrient requirements and the fiber will help prevent spikes in blood sugar that can lead to cravings and fat storage. 

  1. Insufficient Carbohydrate Intake.

Another common mistake in low carb diets is going too low carb. Consuming healthy amounts of vegetables and low glycemic fruits will provide you the energy needed to get through your day. Unless you are trying to enter ketosis, your body is running on glucose to fuel the brain. Unless you are practiced at fasting or burning fat as a fuel source, you may experience swings in mood and energy levels by simply chopping carbs out of your diet. Most low carb diets still recommend 10 to 20 percent of intake from carbs. That means 200-400 calories throughout the day and leaves room for healthy foods like broccoli, carrots, and blueberries!

  1. Missing Out on Key Vitamins and Minerals

When carbs are restricted it can be difficult to consume adequate levels of certain nutrients. One study looked at the Atkins diet — a popular low carb diet — and found it delivered 100 percent of the RDI for only 15 out of 27 essential micronutrients. Incorporating a wide range of healthy carb choices will ensure you eat a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial phytonutrients. Low carbohydrate intake may not be the best long term plan without proper supervision and supplementation of certain micronutrients.

  1. You aren’t able to hydrate properly. 

Each gram of carbohydrate in the body can hold 2-3 grams of water. When we stop consuming carbohydrates it can be difficult for the body to maintain adequate hydration levels. Consuming salt, potassium, and other trace minerals becomes even more important when you choose low carb. Focus on high quality sea salt that will help replenish stores after sweating.

  1. You don’t fuel before or replenish after a workout.

The final pitfall of a low carb/high fat diet is improper fueling before and after exercise. During bouts of intense activity the body demands more fuel to sustain intensity and output. Many folks who don’t consume carbs before a workout tend to feel weaker and sluggish during exercise. They then try to fuel their performance with caffeine and stimulants which further deplete them and place additional strain on the central nervous system. Consuming carbs before a workout will help boost performance and allow the body to train longer and harder. 

After exercise the body needs to refuel glycogen stores. Any carbs consumed after a workout are going to be shuttled into muscle cells and stored as glycogen for energy later. By refueling your body during this time you set the tone for your next workout. 

Have you made one or more of these mistakes in your nutrition? No worries. Information is key and working with a coach who has the right information is the best way to get the results you want!

Contact us today to start a discussion.

Five Superfoods To Boost Your Training

As an athlete, businessman or super mom, you are always looking for a competitive edge. When it comes to your diet, you should employ the same strategy. Superfoods are foods that have more benefit than the energy they provide from carbs, fat, and protein. Superfoods contain vitamins, minerals, and other key phytonutrients that support your training, making these foods even more worth your while to eat. By incorporating these foods in your diet, you are giving yourself an advantage in your training and recovery. 

1.Reduce Soreness and Improve Healing with Tart Cherry

Tart Cherry extracts, powders, and juices have proven to be beneficial for athletes. Studies have found numerous benefits including reduced muscle soreness after training, 

Tart cherries are also naturally rich in melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle in our body. Consuming tart cherry extract in the evening after a training session should promote sleep and recovery. 

Studies have shown benefit with doses of 16oz (480mL). Use that as a starting point and see if you can enjoy the benefits of tart cherry!

2. Metabolize Estrogen with Broccoli

High estrogen levels is not ideal whether you are a male or female athlete. Estrogen promotes the gain of fat mass. Broccoli contains a substance called 3,3′-Diindolylmethane (DIM) that is capable of metabolizing free estrogen. Consume broccoli at any of your main meals. Just make sure to cook it properly to optimize digestion and absorption.

3. Recover Post Workout with Kiwi and Pineapple

Kiwi and pineapple are two great choices for a post-workout carbohydrate. These fruits are high glycemic and will quickly replenish muscle glycogen and hydrate the body after training. They also contain high levels of antioxidants that help eliminate the waste generated from exercise. Pineapples contain enzymes that can aid digestion and compounds that benefit eye health. Both of these benefits are very important to consider if you are training hard. Shoot for 1-2 cups of these superfood fruits immediately after exercise.

4. Control Cravings and Boost Your Health with Cinnamon

Cinnamon contains a powerful compound called cinnamaldehyde which follows into a class of antioxidants called polyphenols. Cinnamaldehyde has been shown to effect ghrelin secretion and gastric emptying of the stomach making it a great tool to support healthy weight maintenance. Cinnamon may improve insulin sensitivity, helping the body store more carbohydrates as glycogen, and preventing a sharp rise in blood sugar. It is also a powerful antioxidant that may help eradicate bacteria, viruses, and possibly even cancerous cells in the body. Cinnamon goes great on so many foods and is an easy way to incorporate its valuable benefits into your diet.

5. Gain Lean Muscle with Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are a superfood and can truly be a meal in themselves. They contain healthy fats, essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and are a complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids. Brazil nuts are high in the antioxidant and mineral selenium. Selenium has been found to improve levels of luteinizing hormone, which is required for testosterone production. Consume 2-3 of these nuts daily to get the required dose of selenium and all the other benefits of this super nut.

There you have it, five amazing superfoods for athletes. If you want to learn more about eating to improve your health and performance we would be more than happy to help!

Debunking 3 Big Stretching Myths

Stretching is one of the most misunderstood practices in the realm of fitness and sports performance. A long standing staple in many training sessions, it is commonly performed incorrectly, performed at the wrong time, or avoided for the wrong reason. 

By the end of this article, you should be able to see the benefits of stretching and how to place it into your routine. Let’s take a closer look at what stretching is, when to do it, and debunk 3 of the most common myths about stretching. 

Myth #1: Stretching makes you weak.

Stretching is sometimes avoided entirely. Especially by athletes who are concerned with losing strength or experiencing a decrease in performance. Holding long static stretches before executing a high intensity lift or movement may have an impact on the stretch shortening cycle of the muscle. 

Most folks, however, are not going to hold a long passive hamstring stretch and immediately pop up into a heavy set of back squats or deadlifts. Proper stretching of the muscle requires breathing, relaxation, and a parasympathetic state to be performed correctly.

Odds are that what most folks consider stretching is more like jamming their connective tissues, ligaments, and joints into aggressive end range of motion and uncomfortably holding them there until the pain is overwhelming. The positions are wrong. The intensity is too high. The body doesn’t relax. Stretching is not achieved. 

Performing proper stretching has actually been shown to improve strength as the muscle is able to contract properly and generate force through a greater range of motion. But when and how should it be done? Let’s move on to myth #2.

Myth #2: Stretching should not be performed before exercise or sport.

Stretching before exercise or sport can actually increase performance. The key is knowing how long to stretch. A meta-analyses of studies around stretching and the ability to generate strength or power in subsequent effort found some pretty clear data. 

Holding stretches for less than 30 seconds had no negative effect on the ability to jump, sprint, or produce force in resistance training movements.

Holding stretches for 30 seconds or longer lead to decreases in the ability to produce force with longer stretch times leading to more significant decrease.

Key Takeaway: Perform dynamic stretching and short duration static stretching before exercise or sport. Take the muscles through a progressively increasing range of motion to improve circulation and prepare the body for performance.

Myth #3: Stretching increases risk of injury.

Based on the first two myths being debunked, you probably know where this one is heading… The idea that stretching increases risk of injury is tied in with the lack of knowledge around proper timing and execution of stretching protocols.

We’ve already established a dynamic stretching and short duration (< :30 seconds) static stretching routine can help prepare the body for performance, but there is a huge benefit to longer duration static stretching post workout and during active recovery sessions. By addressing some commonly tight muscles like the pectoralis or psoas, we are able to correct our bodies posture and alignment. Stretching these two muscles helps provide stability to the hip and shoulder joints and can significantly decrease injury risk. 

So now that we’ve debunked some of the common myths around stretching, you should feel confident about incorporating stretching into your training. If you need help with stretching, mobility, or any other training needs, consider connecting with one of our trainers to find a plan that works for you!

Member Spotlight: Adrienne Trentacosti

Each month, we will profile a Grand Trunk CrossFit member who has seen incredible results since joining our “box”.

It is our hope, that by showing you what can be accomplished through regular workouts and a commitment to fitness, you will be encouraged to take the leap and come in for a workout.

This month’s spotlight is on Adrienne, a member since November of 2016.

When did you join Grand Trunk, and why?

Adrienne: I started at Grand Trunk in November of 2016. I wanted to run a Tough Mudder in the summer of 2017 and knew that if I was going to run ten miles and do a bunch of obstacles I needed to change something drastic in my life. I called Brooklyn one day to find out what was “CrossFit”? He told me to come over and try a class that day. I am so glad I did because the rest is history.

What do you enjoy most about GTCF and CrossFit?

I know that everyone keeps saying this, but it is the people! I love my Grand Trunk family. I love that Tony (my husband) and I have made amazing friends.

What is your favorite movement?

Handstand push-ups.

What is a CrossFit goal you have achieved that you are most proud of?

I was able to Rx all the WODs in the Open this year! I had to scale some of the workouts last year so I was excited when I didn’t have to scale them this year.

What is a current goal you are working on and hope to accomplish?

Bar muscle-ups and getting more comfortable with the barbell. I would love to finally figure out the snatch.

What advice would you give a new member or someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?

Come try it out because you will love it. I love having the WODs programmed for me so I don’t have to figure out what to work on. The coaches are wonderful and always ready with guidance and encouragement.

How has CrossFit impacted your life outside of the gym?

CrossFit has become a family thing in our home.

Our kids get to see that exercise and challenging yourself is important and fun! I have been able to use strength and skills I have gained at GTCF to complete not just a Tough Mudder but over seven Spartan races (two Trifectas and a Stadium).

This year, Tony and I will participate in a Spartan Trifecta weekend in Hawaii! The kids will do their own Spartan races in Hawaii, too!

What is a fun fact that people might not know about you?

I think many people know that I love to swim, but I’m not sure how many know that I swam for the Big Ten at Indiana University. I swam with and against many Olympians. Most recently, I have found my way back to the pool and it feels great!

If you could create your own WOD, what would it be?

It would definitely include running, sandbag over the shoulder cleans, handstand push-ups, pull-ups or T2Bs.

Fill in the blank: I CrossFIt (because/so I can):…continue to create new adventures and memories with my family.

To see past members we’ve spotlighted, click here!

Photo courtesy of Lex Artis.

How Your Mindset Affects Performance

There is a lot going on when you step on to that lifting platform or competition floor. Some days you feel strong and focused. Other days you can’t quite seem able to connect the dots. You feel slow and foggy, or the weight feels heavy.

The mind and body are in constant flux. Our thoughts can instantly change our physiology. Just think of a time when your were mad or scared. Your muscles tensed, heart rate quickened, and pupils dilated, ready to react.

And the converse is just as true. Our body influences our mental state and thoughts. Think about how chill and carefree you feel after a long walk in nature or how amped you get when exercising or dancing to your favorite song.

Controlling the stressors and other stimuli in your environment is essential when it comes to controlling your mind and body for performance. Stress can have significant impact on performance and can seriously get in the way of your competitive goals if you don’t have a strategy to manage it.

Let’s take a look at why stress is so damaging to performance and some key strategies to combat it…

The Cortisol/Testosterone Relationship

A study of 109 male Olympic weightlifters was set up to determine the effects of cortisol as a moderator of the relationship between testosterone and performance in Olympic lifting. The study measured pre- and post levels of serum cortisol and testosterone to see if there was any affect on performance. It turns out that pre-competition levels of cortisol or testosterone had a significant effect on Olympic weightlifting performance. The inverse relationship between testosterone and cortisol shows that the level of stress an athlete experiences before training or competition can significantly impact their testosterone levels and subsequent performance.

Whoop-dee-doo. But what does it all mean Basil?!

Getting stressed before a competition or intense training session is a surefire way to negatively impact performance. There are several techniques you can utilize to prepare your mind, making it an asset rather than a liability. Top athletes all develop their mental game through practices involving goal setting, visualization, and routines.

“The Ultimate Measure Of A Man Is Not Where He Stands In Moments Of Comfort And Convenience, But Where He Stands At Times Of Challenge And Controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is essential to achieving any specific outcome you want in life. When you focus on a specific outcome your mind will constantly be searching for ways to bring the object of focus into being. That can be for the good or the bad. Say you are a weightlifter competing in your first meet. You should set a goal involving the successful completion of a lift at a weight you feel optimistic you can hit. When you set this metric for success you will be determined to achieve the outcome and take confident action towards achieving it. Odds are you will outperform your goal and be able to raise the bar for your next meet.


Visualization is the formation of a mental image. As an athlete you want to visualize a successful outcome you desire. Picture yourself achieving your goals with as much detail as possible. From the clothes you are wearing to the sound of the crowd. The way you move, powerful and strong. The sweat on your brow and the heartbeat in your chest. When you get to game day it will feel like you’ve been there before. Visualization of success also lends itself to positive self talk that will reinforce your mindset and confidence when it comes to competition.


Routines are extremely useful when it comes to athletes and performance. They help reduce decision fatigue and provide fewer distractions and less to think about on game day. Decide ahead of time your warmup, clothing, equipment, music, and anything else you would use in competition. Practice with it and make it comfortable and familiar. One important consideration with routines is to not get too superstitious or hung up on these items being responsible for your success. You and only you are responsible for your success. Not your lucky sneakers…

If you want to accomplish your goals, working with a professional coach is one of the best ways to develop a strategy and system for results. If you want to work with someone to help you create a game plan for your fitness goals get in touch with one of our qualified coaches for a free consult and discussion on how we can help you!