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.
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.
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!
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.
Sleep and Peak Performance
Sleep is an essential part of being healthy and achieving what I call “peak performance.” But, in order to feel like you can tackle anything in a day (and I’ve had some tough days as a Navy SEAL), you need to have good sleep habits. An important part of the process is getting into a good sleep routine.
It’s tough when you’re very busy, and you’re also trying to do a bunch of things at once. You just don’t want stop everything at a certain time every night. It’s hard for me to end my night at 9 o’clock and prepare for bed. This means I can’t watch any TV. I find old habits are really hard to break. I love watching the news, and I consider myself a news junkie. However, TV is actually the last thing you should do before you go to bed, and especially watching the news, because too many images are flashed at you. When you go to sleep, one of the things your body and your brain does is to reorder the day. If you’ve been watching a lot of TV, right before bedtime, you probably will have about 2,000 images or more flashed at you; that’s very disruptive.
Here are a few things I’ve learned to do to help me prepare for peak performance the next day. I turn off the TV, and read a little bit before bed. I find that drinking Chamomile tea, which is a calmative, helps me to relax. Chamomile is known to relieve restlessness, tension and feelings of anxiety. I also try to cut back on my daily coffee intake. In his book, the “Caffeine Blues” Stephen Cherniske discusses caffeine’s half-life and its cumulative effect; if you drink a 12-ounce coffee in the morning that’s 260 mg of caffeine. 6 to 12 hours later you will still have 130 mg of caffeine in your system. If you drink two big mugs a day and perhaps an afternoon pick-me-up, you have added another 520 mg of caffeine in your system, all working at different half-lives. Research shows that the cumulative effect of caffeine throughout the day is detrimental to sleep. I love the taste of a rich bold cup of coffee, but I try to watch my caffeine intake every day and so should you. Lastly, I take the Mission Ready formula, Sleep Ready, to help my body rest.
You’ll hear a lot more about sleep and better health, as we have a new expert joining the Bullfrog 13 & Friends team. We’re excited to announce our newest member to the community, Catherine Darley, ND, who specializes exclusively in helping people of all ages sleep well. Dr. Darley’s philosophy is how optimal sleep can make your life better in every way. Stay tuned for Dr. Darley’s first blog post later this week.
The past 40 years have taught me a great deal about how to achieve peak performance. As a U.S. Navy SEAL, I had to be at my best day or night – the SEAL teams I served with depended on it. However, each one of us, in our own way, military or civilian citizen, is an everyday warrior, with a busy life and challenges in the road ahead. The first step to conquering your day is to wake up with a clear mind and a sound body, and the attitude that you can accomplish anything! It all begins with sleep and the routine you put in place. You’re an every day warrior, what do you do to help you sleep and to reach peak performance?