We have an Independence Day tradition at our gym. We celebrate our Independence by honoring women who have died in service to it. We have done this since I opened the gym 8 years ago, and we continue this year.
Today we start honoring our Nation's Heroines with White.
U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ashley White, 24, of Alliance, OH, assigned to the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard, based in Goldsboro, NC, died on October 22, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when insurgents attacked her unit with an improvised explosive device.
Lt White was a member of an US Army Cultural Support Team. Cultural Support Teams were deployed in small detachments with male infantry units in Iraq and Afghanistan order to collect information from families and communicate with women without breaking cultural taboos. Women Marines and Soldiers received special combat training in order to be detached to infantry units. These women proved themselves admirably in combat situations and were instrumental in collecting intelligence that was unavailable to their male counterparts.
If you would like to know more about the women in combat and specifically Lt. White's story, please read Ashley's War.
She is survived by her husband Captain Jason Stumpf, her parents Robert and Deborah, brother Josh, and sister Brittney.
“White” was the first CrossFit female Hero WOD, first posted on the CrossFit Main Site as the workout of the day for Tuesday November 8, 2011.
CrossFit’s next female hero WOD, “Jenny,” was first posted in 2014 and you will honor her on Tuesday.
Rest in peace, Ma'am. I've got the watch.
6/30 Thursday - Homegrown Paleo
Sheet Mulching - An easy way to prepare and create a new landscape.
One of the first things people notice when they start gardening in Montana is that our soil is, well, challenging. Our soil tends to be very low in organic matter, and is not generally well structured. Fortunately, there’s a simple and economical way to create fabulous soil – sheet mulching. In other parts of the world, sheet mulching is also called sheet composting, layered gardening, and even lasagna gardening!
Sheet mulching is essentially composting on-site, on the area that needs amending. It is a simple layering of slashed vegetation, cardboard or newspapers, and organic material, topped off with a nice layer of mulch. Over time, these layers decompose into rich fertile soil. Sheet mulching mimics the natural way of building soil, which is from the top down.
The alternating layers of cardboard, organic material and mulch provide the appropriate carbon-to-nitrogen ratio that is needed. If you don’t add nitrogen sources when incorporating carbon-rich materials into the soil, such as sawdust, wood shavings and newspaper, the carbon will temporarily deplete the soil of nitrogen, and it will be difficult to successfully grow anything. For successful sheet mulching, you need to provide appropriate amounts of both carbon and nitrogen. Here’s how to get it right.
Slash or closely mow all existing herbaceous (soft-tissued, nonwoody) vegetation, and leave it in place. This will provide a layer of nitrogen-rich material. However, it is best to remove tomato and squash plants from the area to avoid potential disease and pest problems.
Next comes the carbon layer. Flatten a bunch of cardboard boxes, and lay them down, overlapping them by 6 inches. You can also use a one-quarter- to one-half-inch layer of newspapers, torn up phone books, or old pieces of carpet. Soak everything with a hose. Wetting down this layer is important. Water is a catalyst to kick-start the decomposition of the materials. Once everything is thoroughly soaked, try not to walk on it, or you may tear it.
Next, it’s time to spread a layer of manure or compost. If you are doing this now, and plan to plant vegetables or annuals and perennials, you can use fresh manure if it is weed-free. Otherwise, use aged manure or compost. Then, wet the area again. The layer of manure or compost will entice earthworms and other soil organisms up into the sheet mulch and hasten its decomposition. Finally, top it all off with at least a 2-inch layer of mulch. Straw is a good choice because it is inexpensive, about $7 a bale. Just be sure that it is certified weed-free.
The beauty of sheet mulching is its versatility. It can be used to build rich garden soil, or it can be used to convert lawn into a low-water-use landscape. Since sheet mulching provides the ideal carbon to nitrogen ratio, you can plant directly into it! Just pull aside the mulch and organic material, cut an “X” into the bottom layer, dig your hole, and install your plant. Then, put the organic material and mulch back into place.
There you have it – a simple, inexpensive, and nontoxic way to kill your lawn and instantly install a new landscape! Sheet mulching kills weeds and lawns without herbicides, while building the soil without requiring tilling. It is a great way to begin creating a sustainable landscape, and it’s practiced all over the world.
This is a reprint of an article I wrote when I was the commercial horticulture program coordinator for the western area of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.
6/29 Whoop! Wednesday
Today, for Whoop Wednesday, I'm sharing a podcast with Whoop VP of Performance Kristen Holmes and Director of Analytics Emily Capodilupo who are joined by nutritionist Kassandra Hobart to take a deep dive into the science of calorie tracking. Kristen, Emily and Kassandra explore exactly what calories are and how your body uses them, as well as the difficulties that arise with trying to count them–both coming in and going out.
They also discuss a recent update to the WHOOP app to improve the way we track your caloric burn, as well as some general tips for how to be smarter and healthier with the calories you’re putting in your body.
4:01 – What Exactly are Calories? “Calories are unit of energy,” Kassandra says. “They’re our fuel.”
4:26 – Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). “Your BMR is your very basic energy need for living. Anything like breathing, digestion, etc. You need a certain level of calories to function. … Your BMR is really the best baseline so that we can calculate things on top of it.”
5:39 – Factors that Affect BMR. “Your height, your weight, your age, where you’re living, you’re environment, your epigenetics,” and more.
6:07 – How Does WHOOP Calculate BMR? “We currently calculate BMR as a function of age, your reported gender, your height and your weight,” Emily says. We’re excited to improve on this with PNOE integration and using cardio-metabolic analysis.
7:56 – 3 Ways We Burn Calories. BMR, the thermic effect of food (“It’s a lot of work to eat!”) and active burn, “the calories that you expend to do anything above the bare minimum.”
9:04 – Recent Update to Improve Calorie Tracking. “Most of the literature out there has actually only been developed by data collected on much higher heart rates,” Emily explains. We updated our algorithm to better reflect caloric burn when you’re less active. “We have this really big data set that we can look at and find these discrepancies that the studies miss.”
11:09 – Food Label Inaccuracies. “The error bar on the other side of the equation is way higher,” Emily points out, “the FDA requires that all food labels are within 20% of the actual amount of calories that they claim, and they don’t even enforce or police this requirement at all.” Plus, human error plays a big part. For example, two chefs at a restaurant may make the same salad very differently. “The more ingredients you have, the more likely that it’s going to be more imprecise with the calories, even if it is whole-food based,” Kassandra adds. “It also matters how it was cooked.”
14:50 – Does Weighing Food Work? “Counting calories is fraught with issues,” Kristen concludes. “Weighing does get you maybe a tiny bit closer to understanding what’s in your food, but as far as calories are concerned, you’d have to weigh each individual ingredient, and you’re still taking an average,” Kassandra says. “Also, what you’re eating is going to be different than what you absorb.”
16:09 – Overcoming Challenges of Calorie Counting. “I think that we need to get away from this quantity approach, and more look at quality,” Kassandra states. “One thing that is good about weighing and measuring food is that it gives you a better understanding of how nutrient-dense your food is.”
17:28 – Nutrient Dense Foods. “Even at a cellular level, it’s more important to have nutrient-dense food than it is to worry about being in a calorie deficit or surplus,” Kassandra says. “Let’s worry less about being precise on your calories in and calories out, and being more in-tune with your body.”
18:16 – Eating Slowly Matters a Lot. “Getting into this parasympathetic state is really important,” Kristen explains. “That’s one thing I love about WHOOP,” Kassandra adds, “you guys really do a good job of explaining and understanding how important that parasympathetic system is. … If we want to absorb more of our food, than we need to be calm when we’re eating it.”
19:27 – Rest & Digest. “You need to be chewing each bit like 10-15 times. … You’re going to feel better because you’re a little bit more balanced as far as what happens during digestion and absorption, especially of carbohydrates.”
21:14 – Microbiome. “When we’re eating more whole foods and eating them slowly, those good gut bugs are able to grow and help us absorb more nutrients.”
22:19 – Liquid Sugars. “When we drink liquids it’s a very different process than when we’re actually eating sugars,” Kristen says. Recent studies, A and B.
22:56 – Where Should Your Calories Come From? “A good rule of thumb is 30% of your calories from protein, 30% from fat, and 40% from carbs,” Kassandra suggests. “That’s before we look at any of the other factors or your goals, but that’s a good baseline to start.”
25:06 – Daily Goals. “Glycogen storages take up to 36 hours to replenish,” Kassandra points out. “If I have an athlete who’s running on Thursday, I want them to be increasing carbs and even some protein on Wednesday, even Tuesday.”
26:25 – Performance vs. Longevity. “What is your goal, and how important is it? … If it’s a lot of volume short term, I’m even less worried about the quality because I just need you to be so fueled and calorically ready for that particular event.” But, you have to understand the consequences of what might happen long term, Kassandra says. Emily gives the example of how runners’ “goo” makes sense in the moment, but not under regular circumstances. Conversely, it also doesn’t make sense to eat a salad while you’re running.
29:12 – Food Timing. “I’m going to eat foods that enable me to optimize whatever that behavior is that I’m doing,” Kristen says.
30:33 – Keto and Cognitive Health? “Right now we only know the short term of it,” Kassandra notes. “We don’t know the long-term effect of someone doing such a high-fat diet in the endurance world.”
32:18 – Sleep and Nutrition/Calories. “We have our athletes start a ‘power-down’ routine” before they go to sleep. “We don’t want have a lot of fat before bed,” that’s going to be hard to digest. Kassandra recommends cool food as opposed to hot food prior to bed as well. “If we don’t sleep enough, our body will start to look for that energy in other forms. In particular, it’ll crave junk food.”
34:53 – Leptin and Ghrelin (Hunger Hormones). “If you’re not sleeping well, if you’re not getting recovered at night that next day most likely your metabolism is going to be a lot lower too,” Kassandra explains. “You’re now going to crave things that you normally wouldn’t need or wouldn’t want. … Your REM and your deep sleep are so important for this.”
36:23 – If You Wake Up Hungry at Night? “That lets me know that we have to increase your calories, and carbs in particular. … A lot of times if you’re waking up in the middle of the night it’s because your muscles are trying to recover and they just can’t.”
38:55 – Big Takeaways. “The way that we’re counting calories at WHOOP is internally consistent … the trends are very reliable,” Emily says. “On both sides of the equation calorie counting much noisier than people appreciate.” Kassandra adds “Quality is just so important. Calories are a unit of fuel, we do need them. At the end of the day, we all need macronutrients.” And from Kristen, “Really try to get in that parasympathetic state when you are eating.”
If you are interested in joining the dozen TSCF members on our on a Whoop journey, use my link to get your first month free. If you're already a Whoop user, join our True Spirit Whoop Group with the team code: COMM-AD6416.
6/27 Take-Charge Tuesday
As is often the case at our gym, I recently coached a class that was all women. After the workout, we hung our for a bit discussing the importance of fitness for women. We all agreed, fitness is a feminist issue.
We explored what it means to be fit, to be female and to be feminine. All too often women are portrayed as weaker, softer, "less than." We agreed that CrossFit has changed our perspective of fitness. ALL. OF. US at one point in our lives wanted to be smaller. WHY? Smaller thighs can't carry a backpack uphill, smaller arms can't carry the groceries, smaller butts can't help us balance on slippery river rocks. Yet, all of us wanted to be smaller before we started CrossFit. Now, we all just want to be able to run, jump, climb, throw, push and pull hard and fast.
The fitness we get from CrossFit makes us more capable. We can rely on our body to do whatever we ask of it. Load the kayak, canoe or skis on top of the car? No problem, shoulder presses and jerks make us able to do that. Carry a backpack with a rope, climbing gear, food and water uphill for several miles? No problem, squats and sled drags have trained us for that. Carry our kids at the county fair? No worries, sandbag carries enable us to do that.
CrossFit makes us capable. Being capable makes us useful. Being useful makes us relevant.
My mission is to help people find their power. I am especially passionate about this for girls and women. When we find our physical power we find our voice. When we find our voice, we can change the world. Who knew a fitness program would have such an impact on womens' lives? How has CrossFit impacted your life? Please share in the comments.
March 26 - May 3 OCR Training with Coach James
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