5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Nutrition

No matter how many times we try to convince ourselves of the opposite, you simply can’t out work bad nutrition. Nutrition is the foundation of health and wellness, and ignoring what you eat simply won’t help you get where you want to go with your fitness! At the start of our CrossFit journey, many of us saw a lot of progress in skill, strength, and body composition. CrossFit is a brand new, highly effective program and a novel stimulus to our bodies! After a while, though, our bodies catch up to this new stimulus and our results can often plateau.

Dialing in our nutrition is often the next step to help us achieve that next level: our first pull-up, a new PR, or a faster mile time. Paying close attention to what you eat will help you reap benefits that include increased muscle mass, more energy, decreased body fat, a better night’s sleep, feeling more confident, clear and glowing skin, and more!

When it comes to dialing in your nutrition, there are a ton of opinions out there. Whole30? Paleo? Vegan? Keto? Should I use the microwave? What vegetables should I buy organic? What’s the difference between grass-fed and grass-finished beef? The waters are muddied even further by the sneaky weight loss products that promise you will lose 10 pounds in 10 days if you eat this bar and drink that shake while jumping up and down 20 times and singing “twinkle, twinkle, little star”.

The only way to fully experience the life-long health and wellness that our program at Emerald City CrossFit offers is to eat a balanced diet composed of real food. We not only want you to feel and look great now, but also when you’re 90! We are in this for the long-haul.

Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit sums up good nutrition as follows, “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar.”

Is it really that simple? Yes….and no. Below are 5 ways you can simply get started on cleaning up your nutrition and achieving the Glassman standard of nutrition.

1. Start slow and easy.

When beginning on a health and wellness journey, many people dive right in without thinking about the kind of commitment they are getting into. This is exactly where the term yo-yo dieting comes from—after too much beer and pizza on a Friday night you decide that on Sunday you are starting a Whole30. So on Saturday you throw everything in our pantry and fridge away except for that week old chicken breast, wilting spinach, and some eggs from… well you don’t really know! You wake up on Sunday starving, because you were trying to “work-off” Friday night’s party so you didn’t eat much on Saturday while also going on a 5 mile run. There’s nothing in the fridge, so you decide that you’ll start your Whole30 after breakfast and jump in the car to grab a donut and coffee. Now your body is even more deprived of nutrition, and the cycle just goes on and on, until it’s Friday night again and you give up because doing a Whole30 is just too hard.

Instead of jumping in face first, work on developing good habits over time with careful planning and preparation. Even better, start with the easiest thing to let go of. Instead of having a bowl of ice cream every night, you’re just going to have some on the weekends. That goes well, so the next week you aren’t going to take any of your favorite foods away, but instead challenge yourself to eat a vegetable with every meal. But HOLD ON, you hate chopping veggies. So grab the already chopped bag. More expensive? A little. But easy and therefore easier for you to adhere to. After all, slow and steady always wins the race!

2. Add before you subtract.

Before you throw out all the wine, cheese, and chocolate, think about what you can add into your diet first. Before having your soda on pizza night, add in a glass of water first. Before going back for seconds, add in a small salad and play with the dog, then assess whether you are actually still hungry. Add in a few snacks of lean protein and healthy fat throughout the day (think sliced turkey and some almonds) so you aren’t starving when you get home. Add in more sleep so that you aren’t reaching for coffee and sugar all day long.

When focusing on adding healthy habits you will start to see and feel the benefits. Then it is a lot easier to take away some of the negative habits because you are already seeing and, even better, feeling results.

3. Mary Kondo your entire kitchen, fridge, pantry, and junk food drawer.

Trying to food prep in a cluttered kitchen where it takes you five tries to find the right Tupperware lid, or where you have to dig through the back of your cabinet to find the cutting board is just plain annoying. Making your kitchen organized, clean and easy to access is a great way to start enjoy cooking more and make meal prep quick and easy. Throw out the old Tupperware and buy a new set that is all the same size and has matching lids. Keep a cutting board and knife out all the time so that cutting up fresh veggies is just a little bit easier. Throw out that chocolate your Aunt Mildred gave you for Christmas, and stop buying the Rice Krispie treats for your kids (because you know you just eat most of them). Leave a small (cute) pan out on the stove so it’s easy to sauté some veggies. No, you don’t need five different ice cream scoops.

When your kitchen is clean, clutter free, and easy to access, and your only choice is a healthy choice, you are much more likely to achieve your nutrition goals.

4. Find a replacement.

Love a glass of wine with some chips & guacamole after a long day at work? Same. But instead of those chips, swap it out for some carrots. Crave a bowl of ice cream while you’re watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones? Try a piece (or two) of Sea Salt Dark Chocolate instead. Always reach for a second beer after dinner? Brush your teeth and enjoy a good book in bed instead. When we replace something with a slightly better option, we can help alleviate the growing pains.

5.  80/20

Unless you are a CrossFit Games athlete or gunning for a six-pack this summer, there is room to enjoy life. We often get stuck in the “all or nothing” mentality, that leads us to yo-yoing and never achieving our goals. If you are going out with friends on Saturday night and planning to have a drink and dessert, lead up to that like you would any other day and then enjoy the treat! Food is not a transaction—you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) starve yourself all day so you can eat whatever you want that night. Have good nutrition throughout the day, enjoy the night, and then get back to it on Sunday. Sticking with your nutrition goals 80% of the time and enjoying life the other 20% helps keep us on track for the long haul.

I’ll say it now and I will say it again, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to nutrition! Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake (or mistakes!).  Healthy eating is a long-term investment. Nourish your body with fuel to help you live a long, energized, and vibrant life. Eat well to fuel your workouts and enjoy the things in life that you love the most!

If you have questions, be sure to ask a Coach or join us for our next Thrive Challenge coming this fall!


-Coach Kendra

April Member of the Month

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Tell us about yourself! 

Je m’appelle Bethany Henriques.  ..je parle français, si tu ne savais pas.  I am very happily married to the love of my life, Ashley (she’s the bomb ass PT affiliated with ECCF) and we just are each other’s soulmates.  Gross, I know. ️

My first and foremost occupation, with skills to pay the bills, is as a Nurse Manager of PACU at Virginia Mason. My second occupation, for the pure love of it, is as a Cycling Instructor at CycleBar South Lake Union here in Seattle. I’ve been teaching indoor cycling for almost 10 yrs, and I have such a passion for motivating others to find their spark on a bike.

A little about me: I’m originally from Ohio. O-H!! But I have lived alllll over including LA for almost 8 hrs and even in St Croix in the Caribbean for my job. With all that traveling, it’s brought a huge variety into my life so I really have an adventurous spirit and am down for challenges and some would say I am very extroverted, though I do like my quiet time. 

I love ALL music, except for country (I mean, I can still dig a little Shania...’let’s go girls ’), food-down to try anything. Annnnd I am a wine LOVER. Have tried a lot of it, have tasted everywhere, alllllll over California and Oregon and would love to go to the south of France and taste the best of them!! It would be my dream!!

What inspired you to start CrossFit? 

Well, with all my years of cycling, I’ve always loved lifting and have done ‘okay’ lifting on my own. The past couple of years though, with increased cycling, it became way too difficult to keep myself as motivated in my lifting regimen and I really needed a challenging reset. I had heard so many good things about CrossFit and I keep shirking it off for years so I decided to buckle down, throw caution to the wind and ‘get after it’ almost a year ago at Emerald City!

What are your fitness goals?

Gosh, I have so many, but, right now, I truly wanna get better at anything gymnastic on the bars: pull ups, toes 2 bar, chest 2 bar, handstand push ups, etc. I’m getting there slowly and have made some strides buuuut man, what I would give for those to be easy movements for me, but they aren’t. So pumped for Gymnastics Club coming up at ECCF for that sole reason!

What do you enjoy most about Emerald City CrossFit?

The PEOPLE, the coaches, the community of it all. Of course the workout are kick ass, but truly it’s the people. I feel like we really celebrate each other’s ‘wins’ at ECCF and we build each other up. I love that type of stuff. 

What advice do you have for new members?

DON’T EVER GIVE UP!! Chip away and work hard at those movements that challenge you and always remember that change is supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it oh so good. ️

What message do you have for your gym family?

I’m so flattered to be ‘member of the month’, honestly it touched my heart. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but when my wife and I first moved to Seattle, we were very lonely for our friend gang from Columbus, and joining the gym, gaining the community and the friendships at the gym changed our whole world here. We just love you all so much!!

Thanks Joe, Kendra, and all of the Coaches who push me every day. You guys all have a little piece of my heart and motivation. ️️

Bethany H-Out 

Weightlifting Shoes: Should I buy a pair?

Ah, shoes.  Throughout time shoe function has evolved from basic foot protection to highly researched wearable technology.  Companies promise improved performance via thermoplastic polyurethane foam, air cushion pockets, and microengineered flyknit. However, since the time of bellbottom jeans weightlifting shoes have not changed much in design.  When participating in CrossFit, it is common to see a variety of shoes, but what makes one shoe more superior than another? The goal of this blog is to give you some basic history and science concepts of how weightlifting shoes can possibly be of benefit.

We’re going back to the start…

Back in the early to mid 1900’s sneakers and boxing shoes were the rage for weightlifting competitions.  When the clean, jerk, and snatch technique first started to be tested in competitions lifters used the “splitter” technique to better receive the bar.  Thank goodness we do not lift like this besides a split jerk or else I would be really tempted to yell out SUPERSTAR when catching the bar!

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It was not until Pete and Jim George popularized the squatting technique that changed weightlifting as we know it.  The squat proved to be more efficient for moving and catching heavy weight, however the demands of this position were much different than the “splitter” technique.  To meet the new demands of the squat position, participants started experimenting with different types of footwear, which lead to the eventual birth of the weightlifting shoe.

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Differences of the weightlifting shoe – claims vs. research

The weightlifting shoe has several characteristics that make it stand out from the crowd, including a very firm and rigid sole, a raised heel, and extra support straps.  They are typically used for cleans, snatches, squats, and jerks. The major theories behind weightlifting shoes include:

1. Firm sole helps to improve force transfer between feet and the floor, thus less energy lost if you were to wear soft-soled running shoes.

2. Straps to help improve mid foot stability and control, meaning less foot sliding.

3. Heel lift helps improve squat depth and helps the athlete achieve upright posture.

What is not to love , right!?!?

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Research says hold on one second, Oprah.  

Research has been completed on a number of topics including force production, kinematics, muscle recruitment, weight distribution, back injury prevention, and like most topics the results are pretty mixed.  Research on this topic usually compares weight lifting shoes to barefoot or running shoes, and only slight improvements in upright torso, squat depth, and quad recruitment have been demonstrated.  Now, there are always limitations in research, especially with design constraints, we cannot hang our hat on research alone but I think it is safe to say buying weightlifting shoes will not automatically make you a better lifter.


If you really want to nerd out I would suggest watching this video which demonstrates the relationship between the torso, femur length, tibia length and how these lengths can influence how hard the hip vs. knee has to work against gravity.  At minute 4:40 the video explains very clearly how wearing a heel lift can set off a chain reaction to increase the demand at the knee vs. the hip.

Since weightlifting shoes will hypothetically increase the demand at the knee, if you have a history of meniscus issues, it is likely not the shoe for you.

So… how do I know it is right for me?

There are several factors to consider before taking the plunge to buy weightlifting shoes.  The reality is the decision to use weightlifting shoes is highly individualized due to mobility, stability, bony anatomy and personal preference.

1. Poor ankle mobility

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In the deepest part of the squat, the ankle needs to have a large amount of dorsiflexion (top of foot coming towards the front of the shin).  A quick and easy test to check yourself is to kneel facing a wall, place your fist against the wall, your toe against the other side of your fist, and see if you can easily touch your knee to the wall without your heel lifting up.  If you do have poor ankle mobility issues, lifters can help, but you better be working on improving that ankle motion anyway!!

2. You have difficulty keeping the torso upright and the barbell over the middle of the foot throughout the lift.

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If the ankles and hips have been ruled out for mobility concerns, excessive bending forward is usually caused by lack of control of the core / hip complex.  Depending on your bony anatomy, long femurs (the thigh bones) can also cause excessive bending forward. If you have a history of back issues, do not feel comfortable in a deep squat, have pinching in the front of the hips, it could be a good idea to wear lifters to keep a more upright trunk.

3. If you feel stronger, more confident in weightlifting shoes.  

Maybe your ankles, core, femurs are all just fine, but you are still curious.  Ask to try on a pair of shoes at the gym, or throw some 5# plates under your heels.   Do you feel more efficient with a squat? Do you feel more upright? Are you willing to spent $100-200 on an extra pair of shoes? Depending on your goals and how heavy you are aiming to lift, a pair of lifters can help you feel more confident with strength days.

Thanks for reading!  If you have mobility concerns or issues with technique, talk to your coaches or myself for drills that can help you improve.  If you have pain during or after lifts, consider making an appointment for a physical therapy evaluation to dive into why this may be occurring, and to learn how to modify lifts to keep you participating safely!

-Ashley Henriques

ashleyh@thinkvida.com

February Member of the Month

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Tell us about yourself! (family, occupation, hobbies, favorite foods, etc.)

I'm Sarah, I'm 27, and I'm a User Experience Researcher. I'm originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, but I've also lived in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and San Francisco. I'll hit my two-year mark in Seattle in May. I live with my 4-year-old greyhound, Ruby, in Capitol Hill. Outside of work and working out, my interests include fashion, podcasts, music, and reading. My favorite food of all time is a food from my childhood: Skyline chili.

What inspired you to start CrossFit?

I've always considered myself an athlete – I played soccer growing up and did some long-distance running in college and afterwards – but when I moved to Seattle in 2017, I didn't really make fitness or my health a priority. A friend of mine had been doing CrossFit in San Francisco for several years, and it had really transformed him, so last year I thought I would finally give it a try! And now I'm in love.

What are your fitness goals?

My goals are really just to get in the gym 4 times a week and don't get injured. I know if I show up and do the work, PRs and improvements will happen. Last year I had to take a few months off to heal some injuries, so improving my mobility and recovery has been really my biggest priority lately.

What do you enjoy most about Emerald City CrossFit?

The people! I'm sure everyone says that... but it's true. Everyone I've met since the day I joined has been kind, welcoming, and helpful.

What advice do you have for new members?

Don't be afraid to ask questions or get help if something is unclear.

What message do you have for your gym family?

Thanks for being so friendly and supportive! If y'all weren't so great, I might not have stuck with it.

March Member of the Month

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Tell us about yourself!

Hi! I was born and raised in the Seattle area, and wandered around the country and world until returning home for good in 2012.  My husband, Patric was born in Redmond and grew up on Maui before returning to Washington for college. Our son, Will, will turn 5 on July 4 and starts kindergarten this fall! Our family is completed by our goofy golden retriever, Monkey. My favorite foods are local summer berries, salmon, avocado, and I can't function without my morning coffee. I was basketball player until my early 20s, until a shoulder injury ended that abruptly. I turned to running, and in my 20s and 30s ran the Portland marathon four times. I love hiking or walking in the woods, live music, and camping all over our beautiful region.

What inspired you to start with the Women's Strength Program?

Like so many new mothers, my body changed dramatically during pregnancy and I wasn't prepared for any of it!  After a tough birth and C-Section, I was inactive for the first few years of my son's life. Weight gain made my knees angry we had done so much running in our previous life, and I had two meniscus repairs in three years, the last one in 2016. I was so afraid of pain and getting hurt again I stopped exercising altogether, but I knew I had to start gaining strength. And then I saw an ad for the first Women's Strength class at ECCF and I just knew I had to do it, as hard as it was to make those first few classes.  That was 13 months ago and it's one of the best decisions I have ever made.

What are your fitness goals?

I just want to be healthy and to feel my best, and of course to live a long life for me and my kiddo, etc.  I want to hike the Cascades again and go backpacking with my son. And I want to continue to develop my strength training practice so it's something I do for the rest of my life.

What do you enjoy most about Emerald City CrossFit?

First, of course, Coach Stephanie, who greeted me with open arms when I first started (my caterpillar phase).  Then the women with whom I have the pleasure to share that space three hours a week, and the true friendships that have blossomed have been a lovely surprise. The other coaches I have met seem great, and it's just a really positive and supportive atmosphere, while still kicking my butt!

What advice do you have for new members?

Go. Show up. Especially when you don't want to. The one truth that I believe we all agree on is that we always feel better after class than before. And we laugh. We have fun. We are doing something for ourselves, three hours a week just to better ourselves. I can't believe I've been coming regularly for over a year, and I would have never thought it possible.  So, just come with an open and judgment-free mind and let the magic happen.  There is NOBODY who can't do this!  

What message do you have for your gym family?

I know it's trite, but I just feel so much gratitude. So, thank you. Thank you for helping me feel like an athlete again. Thank you for the laughter, encouragement, and friendship. I feel so lucky 

Why We Wait

Remember the first time you walked into a CrossFit gym? If you come from an athletic background walking into a CrossFit gym for the first time may not have been a unique experience for you, but if you don’t it can be utterly terrifying staring at equipment you have no idea how to use, looking at the whiteboard that’s written in a different language, or staring at the incredibly fit individuals picking up a barbell that weighs more than they do. Not too long ago, I (Coach Kendra) used to break out in hives because I was so nervous about going to the gym. I would sometimes drive all the way there just to turn around and go back home because just seeing everyone WODing through the windows would cause me so much anxiety. While the gym can be an incredible place that fosters fitness, community, and fun, for some the gym represents a place of failure, insecurity, mental barriers, or feeling out of place, at least at the beginning.

That’s why we want to thank our ECCF community for valuing every single athlete’s workout and waiting for everyone to finish their WOD before putting gear away. While it may be a small change to you, it means the world to athletes who are already having a bad day or are just starting out on their fitness journey. No one likes finishing last, but absolutely no one likes finishing last when everyone else has put their gear away and is leaving the gym or standing around and talking. At ECCF we want to honor everyone’s fitness journey and give them space and time to accomplish their WOD.

One of the most incredible aspects of CrossFit is the community and it’s the reason why for many of us, the gym is our second home. Waiting for everyone to finish their WOD is just one way we can foster that community and show that we value everyone’s unique personal goals.

When you walk through the door you are not only at ECCF for your personal fitness, but you are there for your fellow athletes. They may need your encouragement, smile, or hi-five more than you know. Teamwork makes the dream work, and those around us make us better, stronger, and faster.

So when you finish your WOD, grab a roller, sit down and drink that protein shake, hop on the bike for a cool-down ride or grab a band for some extra mobility while you cheer on your fellow athletes! You just might be the reason they come back again and again, accomplishing their goals one day at a time.

-Coach Kendra


January Member of the Month

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Tell us about yourself!
I'm from NYC so still getting used to the rain and all the politeness. My wife and I have an amazing 2-year-old son and an adorable yellow lab named Whitney Houston. In addition to CrossFit, my hobbies mostly include sleeping and working. But I love to cook, read, bike, and play video games, and look forward to doing those things when Will goes to college...

What inspired you to start CrossFit?
I was looking for an early morning workout that had a very positive competitive aspect. CrossFit has given me an awesome combination of positivity and encouragement, with pushes to do better and improve alongside the folks I work out with.

What are your fitness goals?
I want to be strong and healthy for a long time, so I'm excited to build an awesome foundation of conditioning, strength, and flexibility. More specifically I still need to master double-unders, I want to do a muscle-up, and my deadlifts need work!

What do you enjoy most about Emerald City CrossFit?
I love how hard it is! :) I love how after my early morning, the rest of my day feels easy. The coaches are incredibly positive, knowledgeable, and supportive. And maybe most of all I love the community - I think without the folks I work out with every morning, I would have lost steam a while ago!

What advice do you have for new members?
I wish I had started off more slowly with weight/intensity, but more quickly gotten to a consistent 4-5 times/week. A lot of my aches and pains went away, and I started making much quicker progress, when I stopped pushing myself on weight but started coming almost every morning.

What message do you have for your gym family?
Thank you for being so positive and encouraging every morning, even though it's early!

December Member of the Month

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Tell us about yourself! 

My name is Kayla. I have worked in allied healthcare for a couple of years, but currently I am going to back to school for Nursing. Less than a year to go! I love anything outdoors (hiking and skiing are my favorites). But sometimes I just like to chill at home with my hedgehog. Favorite foods include anything and everything peanut butter. 

What inspired you to start CrossFit?

In college, I was a long distance runner doing full and half marathons. After years of running, I realized that my endurance was great but I could barely lift 10 pound dumbbells and my knees were already starting to hurt. I started doing your typical globo gym work out, but that was SO BORING and I missed the competitive aspect. I had heard of crossfit. So Fall of 2015 I did my first WOD and loved it!

What are your fitness goals?

Currently, I am still working on my strength in all things. But my main goal is to do pull-ups without the band. 

What do you enjoy most about Emerald City CrossFit?

I love how encouraging and friendly all of the members and staff are. It doesn't matter if you are an RX+ athlete or just beginning. Everyone is welcomed, encouraged, and supported. Its a great atmosphere!

What advice do you have for new members?

My advice would be consistency. You don't have to be at the gym 7 days a week, but come consistently because you will start to see improvement and that is true motivation! 

What message do you have for your gym family?

Y'all are awesome! I always leave the gym sweating and with a smile!