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An Incredible Time….

By Michael Crespo

We live in an incredible time. Last week Andy wrote a blog about the ReCODE study and CrossFit Novato’s involvement. The ReCODE protocol is used to slow and reverse Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative disease most often marked my rapid cognitive decline and that was previously thought to have been a genetic fate which nothing could be done about. 

 

The ReCODE Protocol was developed by Dr. Dale Bredensen,internationally recognized expert in Neurogenerative Diseases.  Dr. Bredensen was also the founding CEO and President of Novato’s Buck Institute in 1998. Dr. Bredensen earned his Doctorate in Medicine from Duke University Medical Center and served as Chief Resident in Neurology at the University of California. It is safe to say Dr. Bredensen knows the brain having studied cognitive decline extensively. 

 

There are around 44 million people living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of Dementia. Alzheimer’s alone is purported to possibly bankrupt medicare. According to the center on longevity, “Every 66 seconds this year, an American will develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association annual report. By the year 2050, that number is expected to double to one every 33 seconds.” Which is to say this is a massive problem for all of us. 

 

Dr. Bredensen has dedicated his life to researching the prevention and reversal of cognitive decline. I’ve had the honor of hearing Dr.Bredensen speak once at a Ted Talk in San Rafael, CA and have also heard his interviews on a few recent podcasts. It is worth noting that Dr. Bredesen’s wife is a Functional Medicine Doctor who mentioned back at the beginning of his research that whatever cure he found would be rooted in a systems approach. This is the really exciting part!

 

A systems approach to our health utilizes different lifestyle interventions whose sum work, treats illness. It is for this reason that the goal of the ReCode study is to prove that multiple components work to treat and reverse Alzheimer’s together and one is not more important than the others. Participants in the ReCODE treatment:

  1. Are put on a low carbohydrate nutrient-dense Keto-Flex diet
  2. Are asked to do 2-3 days of Strength Training and 5 days of Aerobic Exercise a week (High-Intensity Interval Training when possible)
  3. Have a goal to obtain 8 hours of high-quality optimized sleep a night
  4. Participants also participate in Heart Math training for stress reduction
  5. Participants also take a variety of supplements that help with brain support, immune support, antioxidant support, and digestive support. 

 

You may have read up to here and thought well that’s all good and dandy, but how does that help me? Well, the reason I wrote this blog post was for you to realize no matter your genetic disposition the choices you make every day have a profound effect on your health! 

We live in an amazing time. Functional doctors are prescribing diet, exercise, nutrition, stress reduction, and supplementation. I will leave you with “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” -Thomas Edison. Perhaps the Doctor is in and you simply need to walk through the door

   

Sources:

“Alzheimer’s: The Disease That Could Bankrupt Medicare – CNN.” Longevity.stanford.edu, 17 Mar. 2017, http://longevity.stanford.edu/2017/03/07/alzheimers-the-disease-that-could-bankrupt-medicare-cnn/.

ReCode: The Reversal of Cognitive Decline Study

By Andy Boone

I’m writing to share some exciting news. CrossFit Novato and Novato Health have been invited to participate in a clinical study to help measure treatment impact on typical progression of neurocognitive decline observed in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and patients exhibiting Mild Cognitive Decline (MCI). Our team is quietly working among a group of healthcare practitioners embarking on the first rigorous trial of a very promising protocol designed to halt the progression of cognitive decline. The endeavor is “ReCODE” or the Reversal of Cognitive Decline study. I humbly and respectfully could not be more proud of this opportunity!

 

The ReCODE trial is employing Dr. Dale Bredesen’s ReCODE Functional Medicine approach to reversing mild cognitive impairment and early dementia. You may be familiar with Dr. Bredesen’s book, The End of Alzheimer’s. There are approximately 30 people participating in the study. Up to 10 participants will be under the care of our partner physician, San Rafael-based Dr. Ann Hathaway. 

 

Here is a detailed description of the study published at clinicaltrials.gov

 

A training program for each study patient will depend on individual history, symptoms, and comprehensive labs including digestive function and microbiome, nutrient and hormonal status, cardiovascular assessment, infectious etiologies, mold, and chemical toxins, and advanced genetic analysis. So far, Michael and Andy have the lead on working with clients. Subjects will adopt a specific diet (working with a certified Nutritionist), commit to regular exercise, work to optimize sleep and adopt stress-reducing activities (working with our team!). 

 

I’m very proud of our CrossFit roots and our ability to deliver really smart fitness. This January marks our 10th year operating as a proud CrossFit Affiliate. Five of our coaches are now also ADAPT Certified Functional Health Coaches (A-CFHC).  Supporting physicians and their patients more directly – including now stepping into clinical research – is an exciting next chapter for this community. 

 

2019 Best Life Possible

By Andy Boone

What if 2019 is the year that you finally decide to prioritize you? Let that question hang there a bit. I am talking about seriously prioritizing your life, along with growing curious about your health. To take it one step further. What if you decided that beginning in 2019 you were going to commit to living the best life possible? What might the best life possible even look like!? Where would you start?

CrossFit Inc. makes a strong case that points to health parameters that sit well ordered on a continuum of values ranging from “Sick” to “Well” to “Fit”. For example;

  • High-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol or what we think of as  good cholesterol). Less than 35 mg/dL of HDL cholesterol and you may have a problem, 50 mg/ dL is  nice, and 75 mg/dL is a whole lot better.
  • Blood pressure: 195/115 mm/Hg you have a problem, 120/70 mm/Hg is considered healthy, and 105/50 mm/Hg looks more like an athlete’s blood pressure
  • Triglycerides, bone density, muscle mass, body fat, hemoglobin A1c all can be plotted relative to the above values.

The significance is that these are the predictors, cause, and  manifestation of chronic disease. Chronic diseases include obesity, coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, many cancers, Alzheimer’s, peripheral artery disease, and advanced biological aging, among others (above examples from CrossFit Inc. L1 Training Guide and talks by Coach Greg Glassman).

Perhaps you’ve already made your commitment to your health. You have a physician you trust, you test important markers and the above values and metrics sit very nicely within “Well” and “Fit” ranges. Maybe you turned to our CrossFit program or another fitness program you love, you’ve dialed in a nutrition plan and you sleep soundly among other healthy behaviors. You manage stress well and don’t feel a struggle with rumination or overly anxious worry. You are living what feels like your best life and you even have data to support it. Keep rockin!

Or maybe that’s not quite it. Perhaps it still feels, you feel, like something might be missing? Maybe you know something is missing, but just not sure what.

I pen this in the spirit of a new year, but it’s more than that. Your health, your life, and the opportunity for you to live the best life possible is what motivates me. It’s my personal Why. It’s why I spend so much time thinking about this place. It’s why I try to empower and create opportunities for coaches. It’s why I’m committed to this level of transparency! I am determined to create a space, program and a team of coaches that can support you in evoking a massive life change. Consider this your invitation to get curious about what’s possible!

I’ll reach a bit and attempt to connect said invitation to the Buddhist concept of Impermanence. According to the teachings of The Buddha, life is comparable to a river. It is a progressive moment, a series of different moments joining together to give the impression of one continuous flow. It moves from cause to cause and effect to effect. It moves from one point to another, giving the outward impression that it is one continuous unified movement. In reality, it is not.  As they say, the river of yesterday is not the same as today (adapted from urbandharma.org). Today is a new day. A new opportunity.

So much of our physiology and our health is the result of the lifestyle and behaviors we choose. As I have written about in the past, if we are willing to first examine and then potentially say NO to certain aspects of our life, especially with habits we’ve developed over many years, where then can we finally say YES? If we can develop the strength to let go of the stories we’ve told ourselves for many years, then what? What new doors can we open?

A few years ago I found a physician who helped me begin to get really curious about my health. Perhaps more importantly, he helped me begin to pay attention to the life I was living. How did I want to show-up in this great game? Where was I willing to make changes beyond showing up and consistently taking CrossFit classes?

I am certain that each one of us has the power to stop telling ourselves the same old story. My certainty comes from my own experience. 1/1/19 marked achieving a personal goal of 12 months alcohol-free. I pondered this potential lifestyle change for a couple of years. How would I be able to hang with friends? Enjoy happy hours? Survive at a cocktail party!? Alcohol consumption may not even be on your radar, but perhaps there is an area in your life where you might benefit from evoking a change.

Here’s the point I want to make: if we can stop long enough to hear the stories we’ve been telling ourselves for years, the power to choose otherwise and make big shifts lives in each of us.  This includes perceived fate, no matter our age, condition or current physical shape. Even genetic predispositions passed on from our parents are only part of the story. Humans possess the ability to turn genes off and on via lifestyle and behavior changes. Simply put, you have the opportunity to take charge of your health and wake-up to living a different life.

Stay-tuned next week as we begin to preview a couple very cool 2019 programs launching soon. This includes the “Take Charge of your Health” program that will include all access seminars, as well as small group health coaching sessions. Our goal is to create opportunities for us all to dive deeper into identifying our own stories, listening to self-talk, understanding behavior change, setting attainable and sustainable goals and truly waking up what’s possible.

Happy 2019 from Portobelo, Panama.  Let us all celebrate the opportunity to finally Take Charge of Our Health!

‘Tis The Season

By Michael Crespo

The holiday season is in full swing. Welcome to mid-December 2018!

With the season comes the opportunity to make lots of memories with loved ones. For the health conscious person or the person just beginning their journey into health and fitness, it can be an intimidating time of year. Living among us are a few ‘Saints ’who would n’t consider touching a drop of alcohol or eating a grain of sugar. More commonly, however, there are mere mortals perhaps like you and me thinking we will hold ourselves to a standard. The problem is, there is often a lot of guilt and self-shaming when we fall short. So, how might we think differently about this holiday season?

I have been on a journey of self-improvement for about 6 years now (about 2 years before I began CrossFit) and I would like to think I know a thing or two that could be of use to you. One of the biggest things to consider and not just this holiday season, but every day is that our health is a continual journey. If you happen to have a rough holiday season where you eat a lot of junk, it does not mean that you are not a healthy person, and or you should give up the pursuit of better health and nutrition altogether! All it means is that you are human. If you are on the way to Tahoe and you take a pit-stop in Vacaville at the steakhouse or make it to Auburn and indulge deeply into In & Out Burger, do you stop driving to Tahoe? Our health is like this! If you take a pit stop during the holidays to enjoy them, don’t stop your journey to better health. The greatest reward with health comes with continued effort. Health is gained best through long-term consistency. So, let’s all take the macro view!

Yes, the small individual choices that we make contributions to our overall successes and results, but when you make a mistake don’t let it throw you completely off course. Life is full of different seasons much like the year. This time of year is dark and cold outside but made warm by the extra time we spend with our loved ones. It is a time for celebrating successes and mourning the death of 2018. January will be a time of renewal. It will be time to continue your upward progress once again. So to make a long story short, do your best! Don’t deprive yourself of what you feel you need to do for you. Enjoy the moment and realize ’tis the season. Take notice of how your bodies feel, and see if what you consume serves you. If it does not then you can take note for the next time.

Stress and Guilt weigh us down. They keep us from showing up and being our best self! This reality perhaps is worse than consumption of too much sugar and alcohol! I like to enjoy sweets during the holiday (ice cream most other times of the year). I have learned that for me the second and third pieces of cake often do not taste as good as the first piece. Knowing this I still sometimes slip up. I also know that overall I set a pretty good foundation with my nutrition about 80% of the time, so if I go a bit overboard on the holidays it is not the end of the world. Find what works for you. If you “mess up” take notice. Health is a mix of several factors, along with exercise and nutrition, social interaction, fun, and self-compassion are amongst three of the most important. During the holiday season, our nutrition and exercise may dwindle, but our social interaction and fun elevate. Enjoy it take your fill, and above all be compassionate to yourself. There is a season for everything and learning to be kind to ourselves just might be the key to a more healthy 2019

Pearls of Wisdom

By Michael Crespo

Last Saturday I had an amazing experience. I attended my first daylong meditation at Spirit Rock Meditation center in Woodacre, CA. Attending a daylong has been on my bucket list for awhile because I believe in meditation/mindfulness as a potent skill to cultivate a deeper knowledge of yourself. I am somewhat of a super spiritual person, but I perceive myself as being very practical/rational at the same time. I say all that to say that what attracted me to this particular day long meditation was the title of the event. “True Nourishment From Mind, Heart, to Cell”. As a practicing health coach looking for tools to better serve my clients, this had my name written all over it. If there was ever a time to attend a daylong, the time was now.

Saturday finally came. Armed with a good pen and notebook, I left my cell phone in my truck and prepared to immerse myself in this new and exciting experience.

Our speakers for the day were three amazing ladies. One speaker was a buddhist monk of the Gelugpa Tradition (The same order as the Dalai Lama). The second speaker was an amazing meditation teacher and mindful eating nutrition coach. I gained something from each speaker but the one that spoke to me the most was the third speaker, Dr. Elissa Epel, PhD. Dr. Epel is a Professor in Psychiatry at The University of California San Francisco and she is one heck of an amazing human being. Dr. Epel leads many research studies on stress and the effects it has on our health and longevity. It was from Dr. Epel that I gained many pearls of wisdom.

I know many people who don’t believe that meditation works for them. The cool thing about meditation is that there are about a million different practices. Also for the purposes of this article I will use the terms mindfulness and meditation interchangeably. Mindfulness equates to being fully in the present moment. Practices can range from sitting alone in silence for extended periods of time, to going for a walk in nature, or even playing sports (entering the zone). People practice mindfulness in many different forms sometimes without realization.

What was amazing about Dr. Epel is she was very thorough in explaining the science behind mindfulness. The how and the why. By definition the mind is the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences moment to moment, which includes their environment, their bodies, and thoughts. It is everything that we feel from the temperature outside to the self criticism inside.

I often discuss with my colleagues the connection between the mind and the body. Much like the chicken and the egg one of the questions I wrestle with is what comes first, the feelings of the body or the emotions of the mind? According to Dr. Epel the feelings of the body shape the mind. The mind is also something that is not easily measured. We can measure pieces such as blood flow, attention, and even compassion but these are all parts of the sum. My intent going into going into the daylong was to walk away with something to share, the following bullets are key takeaways I learned from Dr. Epel;

    • “Context shapes cognition” we are easily influenced by our environment (people, places, and things) this perhaps explains why the community aspect of CrossFit is so integral
    • Our natural state of being (default mode network) exists in the midline prefrontal cortex of our brain. With regular mindfulness practice (about 7 months) our thinking shifts to being more aware of actual reality you can see all of this via brain signatures (neuroscans)
    • “Selfing” one of Dr. Epel’s terms creates the illusion that we are separate and leads to feelings of depression and ruminant thoughts (a wandering mind) in the mind which leads to loneliness which she stated is a “sickness of the mind and body”
    • Stress in the body = unconscious stress. We can trick our minds into thinking everything is okay but our bodies hold onto that stress and elicit a stress response
    • When we sleep at night our stress response is supposed to “dip” but if our bodies still feel stressed and do not dip. This has been associated with more occurence of chronic disease.
    • Positive stress (exercise), breathing, and meditation, are ways that you can activate your parasympathetic nervous system to to control your physiology in a better way and lower the stress response.
    • Situations that we know have an end and that we are in control of are positive stressors that add to our lifespan (Hour long CrossFit class anyone?)
    • You can remind yourself you are safe by giving yourself safety cues, it is as simple as being in an environment that you feel safe in and actually telling yourself you are safe and trying to feel it in the body
    • We need more self-compassion in the west. Unique to our western culture is our vulnerability of social stress and our inner critic. Social stress is our common condition
    • Overcoming social stress is about finding emotional independence and not being attached to conditions
  • Loneliness is as dangerous as smoking and causes inflammatory responses in the body

Dr. Epel has a book “The Telomere Effect” which I purchased and am currently reading. In it she discusses her work on telomeres which are parts of our cell whose lengthening and shortening are associated with aging. Behaviors that are detrimental to our health = shorter telomeres and in effect, shorter healthspan and quicker entry into chronic disease. On the other hand behaviors that are beneficial to our health can stall the shortening of our telomeres and in some cases even lengthen them. Now more than ever the reasons for living a healthy life are backed by science. So why don’t we do it?

The truth is it is not as simple as it seems.Turn on the television and within half an hour you’ll see 5-6 different fast food ads. Exercise can be a very vulnerable activity. Without support, a person that comes from a family that suffers from chronic disease may not be able to make the necessary changes to live a longer more quality life. Why should they? Their family and friends likely struggle with making healthy choices themselves and thus the cycle continues.

Health Coaching is one of the newest and fastest growing professional fields. One in two americans has a chronic disease, one in four have multiple chronic diseases. The need for a collaborative health model that is client centered is needed now more than ever. What do I mean by client centered? I mean that the client needs to take charge of their own health. Intrinsic motivation (or self motivation) is the key to reversing this most vexing problem that we face in the US. Were everyone to have enough will power to make the changes necessary to lead healthy lives there would be no need for the health coach. This however is not the case, and as it turns out willpower is a finite resource.

After Saturday the fire in my heart grew tenfold and a lot of pieces came together. The journey to better health is not easy but it is possible. “Many hands make light work”  this is where the health coach comes in. The client holds the keys within. It is our job to help evoke the person that our clients truly are and wish to be for themselves, and their loved ones. Their best self. Through, accountability, support, and compassion. I believe we are in the middle of a health revolution and not only is the future fit, but the future is one that is full of health, self-love, and compassion.

Are You Ready to be Woman Strong?

Are You Ready to be Woman Strong?

By Gilly Boyd

We live in a time where people are becoming increasingly aware of the relationship between fitness and nutrition with overall health and wellness. However, in our pursuit of fitness and health, many are forgetting one of the most fundamental pieces of being human. That is Human Connection.

I am aware of a rising number of studies exploring the concept of loneliness and how the closely related lack of human connection may in fact be contributing to the rising rate of chronic disease conditions. This includes obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression! As the rate of chronic disease is on the rise, and as more and more people feel alone or lack human connection, we see the potential for a person’s health to decline even further. This decline in turn may cause antisocial behavior, thus creating the potential for a vicious cycle of declining health and increasing isolation.

In ancient ancestral times, individuals were supported by the entire tribe. A woman who gave birth had an army of sisters, aunts, mothers, and grandmothers to help care for her and her child, to teach and to guide her on her path through motherhood. Modern tribes and cultures that have these practices in place today report experiencing fewer instances of postpartum depression and chronic disease.

“Amazing things happen when women help other women.” – Kasia Gospos

At CrossFit Novato, we are on a quest to create spaces where women can visit and participate in health focused activities including thoughtful workouts, with the support of other women free from all judgements and fears. These are spaces , indoors and outdoors, where women can talk freely about their struggles, their triumphs, their defeats, their fears,  and their ever changing emotions. This one time “gym” community has evolved into a sacred place where people explore the concept of health, nutrition, and fitness without pressure or shame. A community where the core value is human connection; a place where people gather safely and are given the encouragement, support, tools, and a freedom to begin building relationships with themselves, their families, and others.

Phase I

Phase I of our Women’s Health program was our Postpartum Return to Fitness class series. This class was designed to connect new moms with their new bodies, re-connect them to their core and pelvic floor through their breath and to gently explore fitness and strength again.

Participants ranged from 3 months postpartum to 18 months postpartum. We worked with first-time moms to moms of multiples, from women with little-to-no athletic background to women with years of experience in a gym.

The most beautiful aspect of this class had nothing to do with how much weight people lifted or even how hard they worked. Instead, we focused on building confidence and human connection. Several participants initially reported feeling overwhelmed and unsure of themselves. In the end, participants reported a feeling of believing in their own strength and finally having time and a program that was “theirs”.

Frankly, when I started teaching this class, I was completely unsure of myself, unsure of my ability to connect and help other women.  I was lacking confidence in my abilities as a Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism Coach. As the course came to a close, I felt a special bond and a connection to these women (we cried both tears of joy and tears of frustration together) and more confident than ever that I am on my best path.Thank you to these wonderful women who trusted me with their babies, with their fitness and recovery, and, most importantly, taught me more than I ever thought possible!

Phase II

I am excited to announce the launch of our next Women’s Health Program: Woman Strong. Woman Strong is a female-only, female-coached strength and conditioning class open to women of all ages and abilities. The programming includes basic strength movements; you will learn how to squat, press, pick something up off the floor, and pull yourself up on rings or bars. You will be exposed to dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, barbells, sleds, and medballs. The conditioning pieces will be fun and non-competitive. The coach will work with you to make sure the weight and intensity you choose that day is appropriate. There are no prescribed weights, you get to choose how much to lift in a given day. All movements are coached with consideration for female anatomy, and core/pelvic floor health. The strength you will build in this class will give you more confidence and independence in your life outside of the gym.

This class is a great compliment to traditional cardio-based training such as Cycling classes, Zumba or running. It is a great strength-training program for women looking to preserve bone-density and lead an independent life as they age. This class is appropriate for pregnant women or postpartum women looking to return back to fitness.

The most important aspect of this class is the community of women it will build. Babies and toddlers are welcome to come with you to class and we are a breastfeeding-friendly facility. While there is no specific child-care provided, the women in the class and the coach work together to help care for each baby and child so that every mom gets the space and time to get a workout in. This isn’t a class to come in and beat yourself down with a crazy-hard workout. It’s a place to come in and discover your own strength, a place to wake up to your potential. Are you ready to be Woman Strong?

Our Woman Strong class will run on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:45am-11:45am at our Downtown location, starting on Wednesday September 5th. The class is open to all fitness-levels and abilities.

If you are new to our facility, please contact Head Coach Gilly Boyd at gilly@crossfitnovato or (831)234-3506 to come in and try a free class.

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CrossFit Novato - Downtown

Address: 7427 Redwood Blvd
Novato, CA 94945

Phone: (415) 290-2964
Email: andy@crossfitnovato.com

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Address: 5420 Nave Dr
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