Friday, January 14, 2011

Workouts, skiing and a challenge

After a not-so-happy workout on Tuesday, I took a rest day on Wednesday. Even if we hadn't had a big snowstorm, I probably would have taken the day off. I was tired and sore. To be honest, I was still sore last night, but I was determined to work out again. Because I'd worked from home, I went to the local college gym. I had forgotten it was January - the month of the Resolutionaries. These are the people that show up right after the first of the year every year. Some last only one workout, some make it a week, some make it a month, and perhaps a couple will stick it out longer.

But yesterday, at 4:15, every cardio machine was in use. Even the weightlifting area was crowded. I was planning to start with squats, and immediately noticed someone doing barbell biceps curls in the only squat rack. I politely asked him if I could use the rack for squats, and I was pleasantly surprised when he quickly agreed. My plan was 5x5's last night, but with a conservative weight.

Recently, I've been doing 5x5 squats at 225-255, but I stayed at 185 last night. I then did trap bar deadlifts at 225 rather than 275 or so that I've been using recently. I finished with bench presses at 125 rather than 135. In less than 40 minutes, I was done and out of the crowded gym.

After the workout, I headed for the supermarket, needing to stock the house for a Paleo challenge (more below) that I'll be starting on Monday.

Tonight, I'll do CrossFit (I'll take it easy) and then teach skiing all weekend. With our recent snow, we are expecting huge, potentially record, crowds at the mountain this weekend, so teaching will be a challenge, mostly due to safety considerations. There are just too many people who ski and ride out of control at times. Holidays and periods just after big snowstorms are the most dangerous times, when people who don't ski or ride very often come to the mountain. Regulars on the mountain understand the skier and rider code of responsibility and tend to act responsibly. People who visit rarely seem to be much more likely to be reckless on the mountain, so with recent snow and a holiday weekend, it could be dangerous.

And then, on Monday, we start a Paleo challenge at the CrossFit gym. This will be a very challenging 45 days. Giving up dairy is going to be the toughest thing for me. Rather than explaining it, I'm just going to copy the rules of the challenge from our gym's site:

45 Day Paleo Health and Wellness Challenge


Monday, January 17th to Wednesday, March 2nd

It is important that you are at the gym on the first and last day of the challenge.

Entry Fee:

$20. Sign up at the gym


This is not a weight loss competition, while weight loss will be a portion of your final result, this challenge is a way to better health, performance, and a longer happier life.


All participants will be required to take before and after photos. For men this is will be with a shirt off, for women some sort of sports bra or something where the abdominal area can be seen. These photos will be stored away on our computer and will only be viewed at the end of the challenge to help assess the winner. The only photos that will be displayed are those that finish top 3 in the challenge. At the end of the challenge everyone’s photos will be assessed and you will be ranked by most improved on physical appearance.

Photos – Back and Front Double Bicep Pose


All participants will be weighed before and after the challenge. You will be ranked by percentage change in bodyweight. To keep this as accurate as possible we suggest you come in during the same class time on the first day of the event and last day of the event, and wear the same articles of clothing.

Weight change will be based off of starting weight.

Starting weight: 200lbs
Ending weight: 185lbs
Net Change: 7.5%


On the first and last day of the challenge we will be doing 3 benchmark tests. Each benchmark will be weighted equally, and an average percentage change will be used to rank each individual on the benchmark performance. It is important that if you scale any of the benchmarks you use the same scaling when we retest at the end of the challenge even if you no longer need that level of scaling.

Benchmark # 1: 1 Rep Max Front Squat
Benchmark # 2: Max pull-ups
Benchmark # 3: As Quick As Possible – 20 Burpees, 30 Power Cleans 135/95, 40 Wall Balls 20/14, 500m Row

All benchmark changes will be based on percentage change with the first test being the base.

Benchmark # 1: 250lbs to 275lbs = 10% change
Benchmark # 2: 10 pull-ups to 13 pull-ups = 30% change
Benchmark # 3: 360 seconds to 342 seconds = 5% change
Final Result: 15% net change


The final component of the rankings will be nutrition and what you put in your body. While all 4 components of the challenge will be weighted equally, the nutrition component will be the most important as it will play the largest role in positive change in the 3 other categories. There will be a large white board in the front lobby of the gym where you will be able to track your daily points. Ranking for the nutrition component will be based on points, whoever has the most points at the end of the 45 days will be ranked in 1st for the nutrition component. Again this is a paleo challenge, this means meat, veggies, fruit, nuts, and seeds. No dairy, legumes, refined sugar, or grains. You will be allowed 2 cups of coffe a day, a cup being 6oz. If you need clarification on where something fits, please ask.

I know we have at least 1 vegetarian in the gym and we would like all of you who follow this lifestyle to jump in on this. For those of you who are vegetarian you will follow the paleo diet and add dairy to the diet, but not all dairy. If you are taking this road you will be allowed hard cheeses (low in lactose), milk (preferably raw), greek yogurt (none of that sugar filled fruity crap that lines the grocery store), and cottage cheese. Of course as a vegetarian you should make sure to get a good supplement of eggs, 4 or more a day. The reason for adding the dairy to paleo for vegetarians is so that you can get complete proteins from more than just eggs, most of you don’t want to eat a dozen or more eggs a day so you can supplement your protein intake with dairy based products. The rest of the paleo diet applies, no grains, legumes, refined sugar, etc.

By nature the paleo diet is low in carbohydrates, high fat, and high in protein. Now we don’t want you to get to carried away with your exact macronutrient profile, but here are couple of guidelines. Don’t worry about how much fat you are eating, contrary to what our government and most modern medicine says, it’s just 45 days, don’t worry about your fat intake and see what happens…with that said don’t make it a point of living off of chicken wings, prime rib, avocados, and nuts, but don’t worry about making those foods a regular part of your diet. Don’t eat too much fruit, 3 pieces a day, 4 if you’re a large person, while fruit is good and natural it is still loaded with sugar, and no fruit juice, doesn’t matter if it is the purest stuff you can find, a glass will make up most of your carbohydrate intake for the day. Eat lots of veggies, especially leafy greens, they’re the best. Be wary of your root vegetables, sweet potatoes are great but don’t find yourself eating large portions of them every day. Try and stick to leaner cuts of meat, but again don’t worry if you eat fatty ones. Aim for 1 gram of protein per day per pound of bodyweight. Try and keep your carbohydrate intake to around 100 grams, another 50 or so if you are training more than once a day, or have a super hard workout.


You will be required to keep track of your eating in some sort of medium…computer, notebook, journal, phone, etc. From this log, you will give a daily score of 0-10 based on your compliance with the Paleo Diet. A score of TEN would represent a day of eating like a true hunter gatherer; nothing but meat, fish, eggs, veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds.

It is important if you do have something off the diet that you pay attention to a serving. For example most condiments, peanut butter, etc a serving would be comprised of 2 Tablespoons, a beverage would be measured by 8oz for a serving, a slice of bread would be a serving, a grain like rice would come in 2oz to a serving, etc. Again if you are super unsure of something please ask, and if you know the serving size but are unsure of exactly what you ate, lean on the high side as most don’t realize how large the portions of food are that they eat.

1 point off for every serving of: Bacon, sausage, deli meat, beans, hummus, peanuts (yes these are legumes), agave, maple syrup, honey, salt, peas, coffee (each cup in addition to your daily allotted 2 cups) most salad dressings (store bought, get in the habit of making your own, olive oil and vinegar and mustard).
2 points off for every serving of: Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, butter), soy products, quinoa

3 points off for every serving of: Cereal, grains, wheat, oats, corn, tortilla chips, bread, rice, pasta, noodles.

4 points off for every serving of: Soda (diet and full sugar), juice, sports drinks, potato (sweet potatoes are OK), fried food, chicken wings (store bought, homemade, un-breaded ones are fine, baked, grilled, fried in olive oil), most restaurant appetizers, cookies, baked goods, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sweets, pancakes, ketchup, processed marinades, BBQ sauce, sugar added dried fruit, beer, wine and all alcohol drinks, pizza.

Note: If you are going off the reservation, it’s important to know how many servings you are eating…for example, 1 can of soda is 1.5 servings. This means that if you drink an entire can you’d be losing 6 of your 10 points for the day.

Bonus Points:

There is a potential for 5 extra bonus points per day.

1. You get one extra bonus point for everyday you participate in a CrossFit workout. The benefits of Paleo are magnified when combines with a training program that combines constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements. Train Hard. Eat Clean. Live Life.

2. You get one extra bonus point for everyday you consume at least 3 grams of Fish oil (this means 3g or 3000mg of EPA and DHA. You need to pay attention to how much EPA and DHA is in your source. For example I use the cheap Costco fish oil capsules, while each capsule is 1000mg, it only has 300mg of EPA and DHA. So for me to get 3g of fish oil a day I need to take 10 of those capsules). One of our biggest goals with this challenge is to reduce Silent Inflammation. Silent inflammation is far more insidious than classic inflammation because it is at the molecular level and may not be detected until it’s too late! It doesn’t generate the pain associated with classic inflammation and therefore goes untreated for years or even decades. Virtually every type of chronic disease (heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s) has a significant inflammatory component as its underlying cause. Silent Inflammation is the first sign that your body is out of balance and no longer well. You can’t feel it, but it is grinding down your heart, your brain and your immune system. Your weight and health are greatly determined by how well you control the inflammatory process.

3. You get one extra bonus point for everyday that you perform mobility and stretching work for more than 20 minutes (you Yoga goers get an extra point a day for going to Yoga).

4. You get one extra bonus point for every night that you sleep 8 hours or more (must be one session of sleeping).

5. You get one bonus point for brining some sort of post workout nutrition to the gym containing 30-45g of protein and 30-45g of carbohydrates and consuming it immediately upon completion of class.

Post Workout:

Post workout is the one time we will allow a slight deviation from Paleo. If you are unable to stomach solid foods after training a protein drink is a great alternative, if you are able to stomach whole foods by all means bring in a chicken breast and sweet potatoes. For fast and complete recovery we suggest a post workout protein shake and some sweet potatoes. You should mix the protein with water (aim for 20-45 grams), and eat 3-9 ounces of sweet potatoes. If your primary goal is to decrease body fat and get leaner skip the potatoes. If you just finished “Murph”, “Eva”, “Badger” or other 25+ minute intense workouts, go higher on the starches to replace glycogen. Your performance the next day is dependent on it.

The Winner and Rankings:

At the end of the challenge the top 3 participants will be ranked based on the 4 above categories.


We are not taking any money from the entry fees. All money will be distributed back to the top 3 participants. 1st place will receive 60% of the total entry fees, 2nd place 30%, and 3rd place 10% We are hoping that everyone in the gym jumps in on this, if so, that’ll leave $600 or more going to first place.

End of Challenge Scoring:

Each participant will be ranked in each one of the 4 categories. The final rankings will be judged by the net score of all 4 categories, the goal is to have the lowest possible score.


If you finished 5th in Photo Portion, 3rd in Weight Change, 10th in Performance, and 15th in Nutrition, your final score would be 5 + 3 + 10 + 15 for 33 points. Your final ranking would be based on where your 33 points fits in with the rest of the participants. Lower the score the better.

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