The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the greatest obstacles of our lifetime. Collectively, we are experiencing grief, anxiety, boredom, anger, sadness, and uncertainty. Never before in our lives have ALL OF US gone through this together. Individually we may have overcome more challenging times. Together, we are experiencing a vast array of emotions.
Now, more than ever, we need to be open and honest about our mental health. While we are still supposed to be physically distance from each other; please, let's be sure we are not socially distant. Reach out to your friends, family, gym buddies and make sure they know you care. If you feel lonely, reach out to me.
One of the things I absolutely know to be true is that working out improves my mental health. While I have personally been through more difficult times than the Covid-19 pandemic, (pretty sure nothing will ever top being in a war), I have had many down days during the past 8 months. Worry about the future of True Spirit CrossFit, uncertainty about what I would do if we had to close, and anxiety about how we will make it through the year.
These feelings and emotions feel like the weight of the world on my shoulders. Every time that I feel like I won't be able to surface out of the dark hole of despair I start moving my body. I literally start with an inchworm. Then I do another inchworm. After about 4 inchworms I feel my body start to respond to movement. Then I know I can do the WOD.
Doing the workout of the day always, and I mean ALWAYS, brings me up. I have never, ever regretted doing a workout. I have only regretted when I don't.
I hope you feel the same as I do. Working out, attending classes, being around like-minded people are things I rely upon to keep me happy and mentally healthy during these uncertain times.
Zinc, Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin D are three micronutrients that are the most commonly inadequate in our diet.
Last Wednesday I explored Vitamin D supplementation, this week I'm exploring Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for eye and brain health, have important anti-inflammatory properties, and improve cholesterol ratios. Back when we hunted, foraged and fished for our meals our primary sources of Omega 3 fatty acids were (and still are if you hunt, fish and forage for your food) salmon, trout, sardines, oysters, seaweed, nuts and seeds, and some leafy greens. There is some evidence that meat and fat from game and grass-fed animals have appreciable amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids.
There are three types of Omega 3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA which come from animals and ALA which comes from plants. DHA and EPA specifically have a large and robust body of scientific research exploring their role in our bodies. The research on ALA is just as robust, however the findings show it not to be as beneficial as DHA and EPA. So the type of Omega 3 matters.
If you're not eating salmon, trout, sardines, oysters or other delicious fish twice a week, you might consider fish oil supplementation.
Recommended supplementation amounts vary based on the reason for supplementation. For example, if your goal is general health then 250mg is adequate. However, if you're at risk for heart disease, the American Heart Association recommends 1g for high risk individuals. Pregnant woman are encouraged to take only 200mg per day. The dose matters (and it makes the poison) and more is not necessarily better.
Omega 3 fatty acids supplements are often bundled with Vitamin D. This is a win-win for you because Vitamin D is fat soluble so the Omega 3 it's bundled with will increase absorption. Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids are 2 of the 3 most commonly inadequate micronutrients in the average American. The other micronutrient is zinc and I will explore that next Wednesday. Is there a supplement about which you have a question? First, search for it on Examine.com, and then ask me to do some digging. I'll find out the latest science and extend what I find to you.
Enjoy the Sun!!
I am not a big promoter of supplements and magic pills. This has cost me some business, and I'm totally good with that. I strongly believe in the power of our food, if we focus on eating meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar, to provide us with all of the micronutrients we need. However, there is one micronutrient that is difficult for us to obtain through our diet, not because we don't have access to eating the right foods, but rather that we don't get enough time in the sun. That micronutrient is Vitamin D.
Despite the importance of vitamin D, it’s estimated that anywhere from 30% to 80% of the U.S. population is vitamin D insufficient. For us Montanans, we make make absolutely ZERO vitamin D from the sunlight between November and March. Yep - that means unless you're taking supplements in the winter, you're most likely very low on vitamin D. Since we're turning back our clocks this weekend, we will have less exposure to the sun. It's time to start our seasonal Vitamin D supplementation.
Because Vitamin D is one of the most common micronutrient inadequacies it's also one of the most studied. A nutrient inadequacy differs from a deficiency in that a deficiency causes a disease, in the case of Vitamin D a deficiency causes rickets and osteomalacia. Vitamin D inadequacy doesn't cause a disease, but neither does it promote optimal health.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble micronutrient that promotes calcium absorption, it also modulates cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function and reduces inflammation. Can you guess what might cause cell growth and inflammation, and requires neuromuscular function? You guessed it, high-intensity workouts and weight lifting. From March - November, spending more time in the sun, like going for a walk in the middle of your day, will not only give you enough sun exposure to generate Vitamin D, it will also help you recover from CrossFit. However, Winter is Coming.
Vitamin D rich foods include salmon, swordfish, sardines, tuna, eggs, liver or swiss cheese. If none of things things are part of your weekly menu then you might consider supplementation. You can take a Vitamin D supplement or you can take cod liver oil. Remember, Vitamin D is fat-soluble so you need to take it with something fatty like avocado, eggs, cheese, etc.
When considering nutrient supplementation remember, the dose makes the poison. Just because some is good more is not better. Too much of any nutrient is called vitamin toxicity, and Vitamin D toxicity can seriously affect your blood chemistry leading to a whole suite of negative health problems.
For the past few weeks I have been examining nutrition myths and sometimes it's difficult to tease out science from pseudoscience. Who do I trust for science-based facts and research? Examine.com. Here's a Fact Sheet they created about Vitamin D.
Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added being overweight as a factor that increases severity of COVID-19 symptoms. This is a change, as up until now being obese was considered a high risk factor. Now, being overweight will increase your risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms.
The CDC considers an adult overweight if their Body Mass Index (BMI) is over 25 and obese when BMI is over 30. Body Mass Index is the mathematical relationship between your weight and height. You can find your BMI by going to your Weigh Ins page of your BTWB app. It's calculated for you every time we take your weight and measurements during our quarterly check-ins.
The BMI is a controversial statistic and its critics argue that since it does not measure body fat it's not useful. I agree with this criticism. BMI is a diagnostic tool and can be useful for an initial screening, however it doesn't give an accurate measure of someone's physical body composition.
For example, let's look at my body composition. My weight has not changed since I started CrossFit in March 2010. I have decreased my body fat by nearly 15%. My BMI has not changed. According to the CDC I'm still overweight even though my body fat is 20%. My BMI hasn't changed because I'm the same weight and height.
CrossFitters and power athletes tend to weigh a bit more because of our increased muscle mass. Just look at my data, I've gained 26 pounds of lean muscle mass since starting CrossFit. That's why my weight hasn't changed.
The CDC does have a disclaimer on their website that reads:
BMI does not measure body fat directly, but research has shown that BMI is moderately correlated with more direct measures of body fat obtained from skinfold thickness measurements, bioelectrical impedance, underwater weighing, dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and other methods 1,2,3. Furthermore, BMI appears to be strongly correlated with various adverse health outcomes consistent with these more direct measures of body fatness
So what is considered overweight when we look at body fat percentage? After all, that is what we really want to know. It's actually not easy to find credible medical guidelines for body fat percentages.
One reason for this is that measuring body fat percentage is highly variable between methods (skin folds, physical measurements, electronic impedance, BODPOD, etc.) and that variance makes it challenging to nail down hard numbers. You can find several credible guidelines for healthy ranges. Here's one from the American Council on Exercise.
Here's another chart that is commonly referenced in the CrossFit ecosystem. This one breaks down ideal body fat based on age categories. This might prove more useful. Notice this chart shows ideal percentage and average percentage but doesn't identify what is overweight and what is obese. Perhaps we are meant to infer that anything above ideal is, in fact, not ideal and therefore overweight?
At TSCF our goal is to make you healthy, happy and harder to kill. Being lean and strong makes you harder to kill. It's not about being skinny, it's about being physically and mentally able to withstand the shitstorm of life.
If you're ready to lay a solid foundation of healthy habits so you, too, can become harder to kill, then you should sign up for our 4-week Fall Into Healthy Habits Challenge. Together, with a 406 Barbelle coach, we will work on solidifying those habits that make us stronger, happier, and healthier.
Sign up by clicking on the image below. We start this FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23!
Record your WOD on Beyond the Whiteboard.
Do you need CrossFit or yoga gear? Click on the links below to buy through our Just Strong, Reebok, Rogue or Hylete Affiliate share sale programs. These are affiliate links and our gym will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links.
Check out our Flickr page!