CrossFit- Commitment to Community and Health
Two weeks ago, a few folks from the Mission Ready team attended the CrossFit Festivus Games in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Each of us was thoroughly impressed with the work ethic and raw talent demonstrated by the athletes. Their supporters and the box owners also provided a unique spark to the energy at the Festivus events.
While I can’t speak for every team member’s complete experience, I’d like to share my observations from the event in a two-part series. This week, part one looks at two takeaways that made me realize the degree of commitment and sense of community amongst these athletes. Next week’s post will focus on Omega fatty acids and how athletes, and most people in general, know little about its importance to overall health.
Here are my first two observations from the CrossFit Festivus Games:
1– CrossFit is intense
I consider myself to be in decent shape for a guy in his mid-forties. I work out. I eat fairly well. I supplement my dietary requirements in areas where I don’t do so well, but I cannot perform many of the exercises the CrossFit athletes perform with ease. When I tried, I slowly completed the workout BUT COULDN’T LIFT MY FREAKIN’ ARMS AFTERWARDS. I guess I didn’t try to lift them higher than my driving position until much later, but after I’d made it home I couldn’t even lift my fork.
With that said, I admire you CrossFit athletes out there for sacrificing your ability to move limbs as a result of your commitment to wellness. Although, I wasn’t at first, I am now completely committed.
In case you’re headed to the gym or do your workouts at home and you want to find out for yourself, here is what I did:
Part 1 of the WOD (workout of the day) was called “Cindy.” It is 20 minutes of AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of 5 pull-ups, 10 pushups, 15 squats. If that wasn’t enough, Part 2 was 10 minutes of Box Jumps and something they call “Burpees.”
You think you can meet the challenge?
2– CrossFit is community
When I first arrived at the Festivus Games in upstate New York, I had no idea what to expect beyond a couple of people with muscle and a few athletes with hustle. I did not expect to see an extended family of athletes, their supporters and box owners building camaraderie around living well, eating clean and doing what’s best for the individual. I heard so many athletes sharing health, nutrition, and exercise tips. Even if they were competing against one another, the majority of the CrossFit athletes wanted to help each other be better.
In the afternoon, a man walked up to my table and picked up a bottle of Sleep Ready and clenched it tightly in his hand. He looked me in the eye and said, “Will this help me get to sleep?”
Of course I could not say yes definitively because I didn’t know why he couldn’t sleep. I simply felt fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with the guy and talk about his sleep, a sore subject for him because he had not slept well in 20 years. Since he had been experiencing sleep problems for so long, he was emotionally exhausted by the search, high and low, for sleep solutions out of desperation. So I wanted to give him sound advice.
After pressing him with the hard questions about his self-reported activities and his symptoms, I think I got a sense of his sleep problems. I shared some sleep tips with him that I think will help everyone. I’ve embedded my favorite seven below as I have posted them on our Sleep Ready website, so that any member of the Mission Ready community can view them whenever she needs reminders on what might help her get some sleep.
*The athlete I spoke with eventually sent me a product review directly and he thanked the Mission Ready team for helping him to get a good night’s rest, not a prescription-drug induced zombie nap, for the first time in a very long time.
Stay tuned for next week’s observations from the CrossFit Festivus Games.
The Benefits of Exercise
by Dr. Kevin Pett
Dr. K here today to talk to you about some of the wonderful benefits of exercise. The human body was designed to perform a host of physical tasks on a daily basis. When we exercise the body regularly, the following major benefits are recognized.
- Mental acuity is improved
- Bone health and density are strengthened
- Cardiovascular function is improved
- Detoxification of the body occurs
- Tendons and ligaments are strengthened
- Stress is released
- Energy levels are increased
- Sleep is improved
Regular exercise is a key to good health and a longer life. The principal goal is to make exercise a part of your daily/weekly activities. Make time for it, and you will enjoy many positive benefits. It is important to rotate or combine activities on alternate days that involve cardio, strength, and stretching for example like:
- Running, cycling, swimming
- Weight training / resistance training
- Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi
This exercise rotation can keep the body functioning optimally. The key here is regular exercise, like for example: 2 to 3 days of Cardio based exercise (running) combined with 2 days of stretching and toning (Yoga). One day a week of something is just not enough. Try for a minimum of combined exercise forms, for 3 to 4 days a week, in order to achieve optimal results.
Enjoy the benefits of exercise! Better health and a longer life!
Be your best you!
Dr. Kevin R. Pett is licensed as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM) in the state of New Mexico. He holds a doctorate in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, the first accredited DAOM Doctoral program in the U.S.
By Steve Linn, CEO, Mission Ready
I’d like to thank Bullfrog 13 and Gloria for giving me the opportunity to guest blog this week. Some of you may have heard this message, as it was the topic of our Mission Ready Monday podcast last week. But, we believe by sharing a message about everyday heroes to a broader audience, we may inspire more to celebrate their own everyday heroes.
Today’s message is inspired by a trip to the movies and a visit to the Catskill Mountains in New York state. Last weekend, my wife and I went to see Spider-Man. I’m not going to share too much about the movie, in case you haven’t seen it yet. But, while watching the movie, I began thinking about superheroes like Spider-Man, Superman, Batman and others.
In the movies, and in comic books, Superman, Spider-Man and Wonder Woman save the world every day. They excite kids of all ages with their super powers, costumes and one-liners.
Stan Lee, the creator of some of our favorite comic-book heroes, believes, “now more than ever, we need the heroic deeds of real people from the real world.” When asked, most people will list our soldiers, police, and firefighters as heroes. And they most certainly are.
But heroism is not limited to these uniformed forces. We all know of the true acts of heroism performed by everyday people on Sept. 11, 2001. At times, I wonder if I could have done the same. Stan Lee defines a hero as “someone who is concerned about other people’s well being and will go out of his or her way to help them – even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed, without a doubt, a real superhero.”
This is where the Catskills come in. Last Saturday was visiting day at the camp where my son, Ryan, is now a counselor’s assistant after having been a camper for the past 8 years. During our visit, we inquired about our neighbor’s son, who is a first year camper. Ryan shared that our neighbor’s son has been struggling all summer. This young boy may not be as “cool” as some of his bunkmates, and therefore gets picked on. So, Ryan decided to talk to the bunk and asked the kids to cut him some slack. Why is this act heroic? After all, isn’t that the job of a counselor? Well, you see, Ryan is not the counselor of that bunk. No one asked him to help, and there was no chance of reward. It was just the simple act of an ordinary person going out of his way to help another. My son is a hero; my son is MY hero.
There are many definitions of a hero. In your quest to be your best you, we hope that today’s message inspires you to be somebody’s hero.
If you’d like to share any thoughts with us check us out on Twitter @getmissionready, like us on Facebook, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are starting a simple Everyday Hero campaign soon. Stay tuned for more details on our Facebook page.
Thanks for being a part of our growing community. Until next time… Be Your Best You!
Achieving Your Peak, the Navy SEAL Way
If I want peak performance, I think about the Triad of Wellness: nutrition, exercise, and sleep. You can find this at www.getmissionready.com. If you eat the right foods, your brain will function properly and then everything else in your body will work optimally. You should maintain your fitness with exercise, and always have a good night’s rest to wake up refreshed. To me, those are the three main areas of focus.
However, with the way we live our lives in this fast-paced society, you can’t always work at your own pace or follow an exact plan. World events, the weather, and information are constantly changing. For example, in the 1980s when I was a U.S. Navy SEAL in a “training pace,” so-to-speak, and we got called for a mission on 24 hours notice and deployed for many months. That meant we weren’t getting much if any sleep that night and many more to follow. Instead, we were preparing to deploy overseas. And the few hours we did try to sleep, our minds were still racing with thoughts of planning and coordination—considering every contingency we could think of.
A lot of the time, when SEALs go on missions, whether they are training or real, they have been up for a very long period of time. It’s not a football or baseball game with a set number of hours or a marathon or triathlon where you know the distance. All our missions were fraught with danger— we lost men in peacetime training, honing skills for war. Unlike the sports you see on television, our “game” can last for days, and instead of tearing an ACL or bruising muscles or breaking bones (which we do routinely), some of our SEALs are severely wounded or killed in action. In sports, the players get a pre-game night’s rest and a hearty meal. In the SEAL business, you just might go to “the game” with no sleep and eating field rations along the way. At the end of “the game” you don’t get interviewed on radio and television along with a victory celebration, but instead you can get orders for a follow-on mission. It happens.
As a former Commanding Officer of SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team TWO, our team participated in the most mentally and physically challenging and complex missions in special operations. We operated SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDV) using submarines as a host platform. Any time you’re working with submarines, you at the least double the complexity of the mission set, not to mention that the maritime environment is the most difficult to master.
SDV and submarine missions are very long. SDVs are wet submersibles, which mean the SEALs operating them are actually in a dive status breathing SCUBA. Despite wet and dry suits providing thermal protection, it can get really cold. Piloting and navigating the SDV is also a mental exercise because you’re potentially driving for six hours or more. For a pilot flying a plane, he usually has a visible horizon and can look out the windows and see the land or ocean below and at night see the starts. In an SDV, you’re underwater, on dive status, driving a relatively slow moving vehicle with absolutely no horizon, with nothing but instruments in front of you.
And that is what Navy SEAL trains to do. In our basic training you learn how to mentally push through all forms of adversity. We accepted difficult challenges on a routine basis as the norm and that included lack of sleep. We performed optimally in all our mission sets because we were in great physical shape and our training gave us a mindset and discipline to power through the most difficult of circumstances. Most of us ate really well and a lot too. The disrupter at home was the fact that, even when we were not deployed on a training exercise or in a combat zone, two or three times a week you’re still working nights planning, coordinating, and executing training missions with the discipline and diligence you would in war. You train the way you will fight. So, you go back and forth between working days and nights, and you do this throughout a career. Meanwhile, your body is always trying to catch up on sleep.
When I was first in this business in the early 70s and 80s, we didn’t have a lot of administrative, technical, and combat service support, so we had to do everything. We had less sleep. Now, SEAL teams have a lot of support troops and technicians that help them do things that we used to do on our own. The SEAL operators of today are able to get some more sleep than we did, which is the better for them.
I was trained to do all parts of the “peak performance triad” over the years: be in the best shape you can be—i.e., have good strength and endurance, eat well, and get good quality sleep when I could get it. I would always try to do this to my best ability. There are other components to peak performance like training, discipline, and mental focus. We’ll talk about them in a future blog. But for now, if you focus on the triad, you’ll be able to achieve peak performance, too.
Does Quality Sleep Equal Success?
We all want to do well – on the job, with our families, in our community. Quality sleep is an important part of this, without it we simply can’t do our best. Today I’d like to talk about how sleep impacts our performance, everything from emotional intelligence to mental acuity to physical ability. Let’s walk through a typical work day, and see how sleep impacts your success.
You arrive to your job, and immediately see your manager. With that first glance you each get information about the other that’s going to shape your day. If you are sleep deprived, you are less able to read the emotions in your manager’s face. Without accurately reading his emotions you may say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Your manager is also getting information. If you are sleep deprived, he is going to assess you as less healthy, more tired, and less attractive than when you are well rested.
Now it’s time to sit at your computer and get a little work done before going out into the field. With a good night’s rest you are able to concentrate on the project, and notice a detail that’s not right. Since you are well rested you are able to think outside of the box, and do some creative problem solving that you wouldn’t be able to do without adequate rest. A good night sleep improves our ability to concentrate, pay attention, and do complex problem solving.
With the computer work done, it’s time to head out to the project site. Driving down the road, you remember the last trip when you were so sleepy that you swerved off the road, almost having an accident. About 37% of drivers say they have fallen asleep at the wheel in the last year. Just 2 hours of sleep deprivation has the same negative effect on driving as 2-3 beers. Many people have to drive as part of their job, so sleep deprivation can be a major safety risk for them. Poor sleep impairs our coordination, reaction time, and agility.
For me, this is a good example of the age-old “quality vs. quantity” dilemma. Would you like to have more hours awake when you can’t concentrate, feel mentally slow, and are in danger of drowsy driving? Or would you rather be awake fewer hours when you are mentally sharp, energetic, and at the top of your game?
I’m solidly in the camp of quality days, rather than more hours awake. If you’re on the fence, and still not convinced of the impact getting healthy sleep will have on your day, do a little experiment. Remember a time when you were really well-rested and doing your best on the job. How much sleep were you getting then? Now, for the next 10 days, get all the healthy sleep you need. The last three days, really pay attention to how you’re doing on the job and with family. You’ll find that optimal sleep really does make for optimal performance.
Reaching High Performance Through Nutrition
By Lori Tubbs
The best way I can describe nutritional high performance is the ability to perform specific physical skill sets optimally without chronic fatigue and/or lower performance measures. An example would be a runner adding miles to a weekly training schedule. Eating the right nutrients and calories in a timely manner to recover efficiently indicates a level of performance that can be challenged with intensity and/or duration increases without overall fatigue.
Consuming the proper nutrients in a variety of foods is an important aspect of high performance eating. There are six nutrients we need everyday. Fluids, and particularly water, are vital to optimal health performance and considered the most important. Hydration is a huge factor in maintaining high performance. Active muscles that are dry instead of wet are a sure sign of potential poor performance. Think about a sponge. When we buy dry sponges and add water to them notice how they expand significantly. Hydrated muscles are those wet sponges that indicate healthy cells able to functionally work optimally.
Did you know that a lot of people think that they’re hungry, when in fact they’re really thirsty and it is water that they need? In 2004, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies set general recommendations for water intake. Adequate fluid intake levels indicate that approximately 2.7 liters (91 oz) for women and 3.7 liters (125 oz) for men is recommended for healthy adults. These numbers represent total water from all beverages and foods. Those physically active and who live in hot and humid climates may need more water. About 80% of people’s total water comes from drinking beverages and the other 20% is food derived. Before eating the next large meal because of hunger, assess how much fluid in beverages and foods (fruits and vegetables) have been consumed in the hours beforehand. There may be the that drinking a glass of water will curb that appetite.
The other nutrients include vitamins and minerals, which are the catalysts to the other three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
When you combine all six of these nutrients in the proper amounts, you have an optimal daily meal plan. Meal planning should always include all three macronutrients. Including a little protein, carbohydrate and fat satisfies hunger while providing vitamins and minerals. Keeping calories under control by emphasizing nutrient dense foods in the meal plan will ensure control of unnecessary body weight and body fat. Nutrient-dense eating is a way to consume food for the purpose of optimal health. The more highly nutrient-dense a food is, the more nutrients it provides per calorie. Vegetables and fruits have the highest nutrient scores followed by grains, dairy and protein. Examples of low nutrient density foods include candy, cookies and chips, usually high in saturated fats and sugars. If you are focused on eating nutrient dense foods, you’re likely getting the vitamins and minerals that you need.
A good general reference to help guide you in developing good dietary habits and meal plans is the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If dietary supplements are in question for better performance, it is recommended to see a Registered Dietitian (RD) first. RD’s can assess your nutritional needs and daily expenditures. They can help you get your diet in check with the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fat. We can usually fix the problem when it comes to an optimal diet. The first course of action is always looking at the meal plan and then supplementation.
With the right effort, you will find both mental and physical rewards in performance. When you add in proper sleep and restoration, you can achieve the high performance you’re looking for daily or any athletic event planned for. In a perfect world, proper eating, physical training and getting the right amount of sleep leads to performing optimally every day.
My next post will be focused on promoting good health and reducing the risk for major chronic diseases through nutrition and physical activity. Until then, here are a few great resources, if you’re thinking about supplementation as a part of your nutrition program:
USP.org – The United States Pharmacopeia is a third party non-profit organization, which uses a validation process for basic testing of vitamins to prevent contamination and to make sure products are developed purely and labels are correct.
NSF.org – The NSF is a public health and safety company that protects consumers by certifying products and for writing standards for food, water and consumer goods. Their health commitment is to encourage consumers to live safer.
The importance of sleep and rest
by Dr. Kevin Pett
Hi, Dr. K here, talking about how your health is largely a product of your environment. By environment I am referring to factors such as diet / nutrition, relationships, exercise, seasonal effects, stress, and sleep / rest, to name a few of the critical factors that determine your overall health. As the saying goes “you are what you eat” couldn’t be a more accurate description of the cause and effect relationship of quality or poor quality food consumption and the resultant effect on your body’s health.
Another key factor in determining one’s health is the importance of quality sleep and rest. Our sleep-awake cycle is governed by the rising and setting of the sun. This process has been going on for about 4.5 billion years and it has directed the development of life on the earth and sleep / rest cycles for many life forms. The rising and setting of the sun has a major impact on human beings. In Chinese Medicine, matching sleep / awake cycles with the sun’s apparent sleep / awake cycles is paramount in achieving good health and balance, and this relationship also helped found some of the basic principles of Yin (night) and Yang (day).
For example, if you continually stay up very late on a nightly basis, it is only a matter time before this will begin to affect your health (i.e., your energetics) and it won’t be long before your body will start to manifest undesirable health symptoms. Of course, there are many who work the night shift; so sleeping the typical night-into-morning isn’t exactly possible.
Regardless, it is important to get to bed at a good hour and allow your body to replenish itself with quality sleep and rest. If not, you deplete your body’s energies by not allowing it to “recharge” itself. It is like driving a car without filling up the gas tank, or leaving the car’s lights on without recharging the battery, eventually you will run out power. At the same time, it’s essential to eat right, exercise and rest when you can.
If you want to give your body every chance to stay healthy and fit, then pay attention to the seasonal time changes and the “rising and setting” of the sun. And if you want to give your body the best chance for health and performance, follow the sun, and get a good night’s sleep. You will awake early and refreshed the next day allowing you to “be your best you.”
So long for now!
By Gloria Altherr
The best excuse for staring into that treasure trove of goodies, aka the vending machine, is ” I don’t have time to eat right because I work crazy hours.” For a perpetual snacker like me, it sounds darn reasonable any time of the day, but especially when it gets late. I’ve also been trying to lose that last 15 pounds of baby weight (the baby turned ten) forever. Time to get serious!
I decided that I needed to get fuel from better sources than those small bags of delicious, crunchy, chocolatey, calorie-filled goodness. It’s time for small bags of delicious, crunchy, sometimes chocolatey, good food. And while I was at it, I’d get the whole family involved because it seemed to make sense.
I added quantities of seasonal vegetables and occasional fruits to my shopping lists twice a week. This means four pounds of green beans when in season. I steam them lightly (you don’t want to kill the crunch) and place them in a large bowl in the fridge. I remove a large container for myself every morning, and smaller ones for the children’s lunch boxes. Insta-snacks! Carrot sticks, celery sticks, pomegranate seeds, even the occasional chocolate drizzled rice cake, make for crunchy treats that make snacking healthier and low calorie, not to mention less expensive than machine fare. There’s a wonderful root vegetable called jicama, which I peel, cut into French fry-like sticks and douse in lemon juice. It’s very refreshing and will have coworkers asking, “what’s that?” every time.
Now, our fridge is full of bowls of one vegetable or another. The children have their favorites and I make certain we have variety from local farmers’ markets. We’ve had our duds (there aren’t too many calls for baked parsnip curls). Creativity can sometimes backfire. But, lunches and after school snacks always include a sampling of some veggie or another.
Cookies are not banned, just not the first option. We always have rice cakes, almonds raisins, and low fat cheese sticks available, too, to round things out. My husband has even jumped on the veggie bandwagon to a degree.
I usually bring most of my food to work. Cooking is a weekend pleasure so I’ll steam pots of brown rice and throw it into little bowls during the week. A piece of fish or a bit of stir fry from dinner, some veggie containers and I’m set. Keeping sugar, salt and white flour at bay has given me more energy and strangely, stress seems less pronounced.
It’s a bit of work, but worth it. I still manage to consume my body weight in food every day (or so it seems). But, the pants feel better and I’ve saved a nice bit from not buying calorie-laden snacks and food from local places. Yes, a candy bar calls once in a while, and I answer… once in a while.
Introducing Dr. Catherine Darley
Hello, glad to meet you. I am Dr. Catherine Darley, naturopathic sleep specialist. I have a deep passion for helping people sleep well using natural medicine.
Every aspect of our daytime quality of life and performance is impacted by how well we sleep. In many ways, our sleep health lays the foundation for a good life, along with diet and exercise.
A little about naturopathic medicine:
In naturopathic medicine we are guided by several principles, the first one being Vix Medicatrix Naturae. This is our inherent natural ability to heal, which we can support and restore using natural medicine. My favorite principle is Docere which means teach. Over the next months I’m looking forward to teaching some ways to shape your actions to support healthy sleep. Another principle is to Treat the Whole Person. Wellness comes when each aspect of health is attended to – physical, emotional, dietary, genetic, environmental, lifestyle and other factors. You’ll see that we address all of these aspects over time.
In my work I use what is called the Therapeutic Order. This is a system of using the therapies that will be effective with the least amount of side effects. For instance, for someone with insomnia, we’d first use behavioral changes to improve sleep, and then use natural supplements if necessary. Not until these methods had been exhausted would we use other medications. What’s great about this approach is that it empowers patients with the know-how and skills to care for themselves, and minimizes medications that can cause unwanted side effects.
As a young college student I was fascinated by sleep. Looking at the many ways I could be in the sleep field, becoming the first naturopathic sleep specialist just made sense. Sleep is so basic to our health and well-being that it makes the most sense to approach it in a natural way.
Now I work in my clinic to help people of all age sleep well using naturopathic medicine. Getting the word out about sleep is important to me. So, I regularly speak to corporate and school groups about the role sleep has in our performance and success. It is clearly established that there is a high cost of sleep disorders for both employees and corporations. It’s a pleasure to work with corporations to improve the sleep of employees, which improves their health, their productivity, and the corporate bottom line.
Sleep health is a quality of life issue.
I hope by reading this blog that you are inspired to take your sleep seriously, and do what needs to be done to get the sleep you need to succeed. When we sleep well, every aspect of our life benefits – our physical health, our mental health, motivation, and relationships. Over the coming months, I’m excited to share with you the ways healthy sleep improves our performance, how sleep impacts common health conditions, essential sleep skills, and other topics.
Remember, sleep health is a quality of life issue, and accept nothing but a good night’s rest.