Saturday, December 12, 2009

CrossFit into the New Year

I LOVE CrossFit! I recently discovered CrossFit and attended my first CrossFit class through (As a side note, if you haven't yet discovered, I HIGHLY encourage you to check it out and browse for a meetup that interests you - raw food, gardening, outdoor activites, etc. It is a fantastic way to find new friends and make new discoveries right in your own neighborhood. Okay... it pretty much changed my life).

CrossFit was invented by Greg Glassman. The official website is According to Gregg, the CrossFit prescription is “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.” These high intensity workouts not only take minimal time, they build muscle, help you lean up and tone up, keep your bones strong and joints limber, and make you happy :) Just trust me.

At my first CrossFit meetup, the group of us competed against each other by doing the following exercises as fast as we could while maintaining good form:

  • 5 pushups
  • 10 situps
  • 15 squats

We performed this set of exercises as many times as we possibly could squeeze into a 10 minute window. It was tiring and exhilarating, leaving me full of energy to take on the rest of my day. Having some great, healthy competition was certainly a motivating factor.

My normal morning routine already consists of basically a CrossFit workout. For example, today I jogged to the park and completed the following:

  • 10 Pullups
  • 50 Lunges
  • 5 Uphill sprints
  • 10 Burpees/Squat Thrusts
  • Sprint home
  • 2 Sun Salutations to cool down

The great thing about CrossFit is that it requires minimal equipment. You use your own bodyweight most of the time. It is the perfect way for both beginners and long-time athletes to be challenged physically. A new workout every day is posted on For example, today's fantastic workout is the following:

  • Back Squat

  • Shoulder Press

  • Deadlift

The instructions are to perform each exercise until you can't do it anymore. Write down your totals. I, personally, would perform these the similar to the way I did in class, 10 reps each for 10 minutes.

Don't tell me you don't have time for 10 minutes per day. AND bodyweight exercising is free too! Good. You no longer have an excuse. Get to it! By the time 2010 hits, you'll be well on your way to achieving your new year's fitness goal.

Here is a video I made to demonstrate a quick pre-exercise warm up:


Friday, December 11, 2009

Proper Food Combining: Fruit First!

As a kid, I thought it would be a great idea to eat dessert first. But Mom was certainly correct to argue that it would spoil my dinner. However, you may be surprised to find out that dessert first is actually not such a bad idea after all. That is, if you would prefer to avoid post-meal intestinal discomfort.

For optimal digestion and assimilation of nutrients, certain types of foods should not be combined with others. Follow these rules when preparing meals in order to achieve comfortable and optimal digestion:

  1. Fruit First: Fruit should only be eaten on an empty stomach and never after consumption of starches or proteins. A piece of fresh fruit contains all the elements it needs to digest itself; it needs almost no help from the body. Fruit passes through the digestive system in under an hour and will rot or ferment if the passage of the fruit is hindered by starch or protein. Often, desserts are made of fruit. That is why I say dessert first may not be such a bad idea. When you slam fruit on top of a tofu burger, the fruit will begin to rot since it takes the digestive system 3-4 hours to digest that protein. When you slam fruit on top of mashed potatoes, the fruit will ferment. In each case, the result is gas, bloating, indigestion, or heartburn. No fun for you, your neighbors, or your digestive system.

    My strategy is always to eat fruit first thing in the morning. I know my stomach is completely empty and no problems will result. Additionally, fruit for breakfast is a great idea because it is cleansing and the perfect way to stimulate bowel elimination.

  2. Separate Starch From Protein: Starches and proteins require different digestive environments. The protein requires an acid environment while the starch needs a more alkaline one. If the two are combined, no ideal environment is achieved which results in undigested starches and proteins moving through the digestive system. This means you are not only suffering the discomfort but you are also not absorbing the nutrients from your food. Some foods, such as a garbanzo bean, are naturally composed of some combination of protein and starch. In this case, it is okay to eat the food because it is naturally composed. The body can coordinate digestion. Don't make it difficult on your body by combining all kinds of proteins and starches yourself.

  3. High Water Content Vegetables & Natural Fats Are Neutral: Vegetables and natural fats such as avocados and olive oil are neutral and may be combined with either starch or protein. It is a great idea to eat a big, green salad with any meal. Fats and oils can really add flavor and substance.

A sample day's worth of meals might look like this:

Fruit or Green Smoothie

Vegetable salad

Green Salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Now that you know the basic rules to proper food combining, apply them and become aware of how your current habits can be altered for improved digestion.

Smile, 'cause dessert is being served first from now on!