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‘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

The Whole Athlete (Four Part Series) Part Two of Four: Sleep

By Julie Shepherd


Sleep, good-old-fashioned sleep.  Can you remember the last night you had a really good sleep?  Your head hit the pillow and you didn’t wake up until the next morning.  You got out of bed with a smile on your face, full of energy, eager to start the day. Now compare it to a night when you hit the pillow, tossed and turned, eyes wide open, and barely got any sleep.  How did your mood compare? Maybe no smile, maybe grumpy wishing you could go back to sleep.

Today we are going to continue our conversation on building the whole teen athlete (if you missed part one on nutrition you can find it here).  We will explore what happens to your body when you sleep and why sleep is so vitally important.  We will also look at how sleep or lack of sleep can affect your mental and physical game and some strategies on how to get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored.  It is recommended that teen athletes between the ages of 14-17 should sleep between eight to ten hours. During sleep we cycle through four to five phases several times during the night.  The first few phases occur while we are falling asleep, perhaps still aware of our surroundings, but our awareness fades and, our body temperature starts to drop until we are finally asleep.  The next two phases are where the magic happens. This is when we get our deepest and most restorative sleep. During these phases, the body repairs muscles and tissues, releases hormones, such as human growth hormone, and restores energy.  Some research has also found that during this phase your brain prepares for new learning when you wake up. This is the time when your brain transfers short-term memory into long-term storage.

Now that you understand a little more about sleep and what happens while we sleep, let’s dive into why sleep can affect your physical game.  As a teen athlete, your decision making and reaction time must be quick. If you take too long to decide who should get the ball or if you should take a shot, the other team can take advantage which may be the difference between a win and a loss.  Sleep deprivation has been shown to negatively impact your decision-making skills, decrease your reaction time, and inhibit your ability to recover properly. All of these deficits, either alone or together, can increase your risk of injury.

Stanford University Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine has conducted many studies examining the effects of sleep on athletes.  In one particular study, they examined the effects of extended sleep on several different athletic teams. Each group was given a goal of 10 hours of sleep per night during a five to eight week period.  The results showed basketball players achieved a more accurate shot, swimmers improved turn times and kick strokes, and football players improved their 20-yard shuttle. In another study, they found that athletes who slept at least 8 hours a night decreased their risk of injury by 68%.  If you are looking to improve your game at all, this research shows you how important sleep is to performance.

We all know the importance of your mental state on game day.  I’m sure you know how off you can feel if you are having a bad day, didn’t do well on a test, are experiencing relationship issues, or any other plethora of reasons you can feel off.  These life issues are typically something we deal with on a daily basis on some level or another. Now add how you feel when you wake up from a restless night of sleep. A little groggy, spacey, maybe you have some difficulty making decisions and perhaps a little grumpy.  How do you think that affects your play and ability to be a good teammate? Sleep deprivation can make you more irritable and decrease your ability to cope with stressful situations. A teen athlete’s ability to manage a bad call or poor decision by a teammate can be negatively impacted if they are sleep deprived.

Now we know why we need to get a good night’s sleep, but how do we do our best to make it happen?  First and most important, put down your electronics; phone, iPad, Kindle, video game, etc at least two hours before going to bed.  The blue light emitted from these devices can trick your mind into thinking it is daytime. Second, try and be consistent on what time you go to bed and when you wake up.  An irregular pattern can affect your levels of melatonin, a hormone which helps you fall asleep. Finally, relax your mind. Listen to music, read a book, or meditate.

Getting a good night’s sleep has many benefits.  When a teen athlete gets the recommended eight to ten hours of sleep, they are better equipped to recover, restore energy, and help transfer short-term memory to long-term storage.  Mentally they can also handle situations on the field appropriately and ensure their speed, reaction time, and decision making are at it’s best.

Next up, part three – Mindset










Game Ball

By Julie Shepherd


When I was in high school I was a cheerleader and ran track.  Although I absolutely loved my experiences with these two sports, I never played a team sport and as an adult it is definitely something I feel like I missed out on.  The camaraderie of a team is something special. Your teammates cheer you on when you achieve good things and they rally around you when you feel like you made a mistake.  You grab the trophy as a team and walk off the field as a team talking about how you can do better next time. It’s a thing of beauty to watch and more often than not, it brings tears to my eyes when I witness this team mentality.  


We were fortunate to be a part of this team mentality over the last nine weeks while working with four teams (10u, 11u, 12u and 13u) from the BStings Baseball Club.   Each team had a unique personality, but they all exhibited that special team camaraderie.

What was great about our time with the BStings was that I believe we learned just as much from them as they did from us.  


Today, I want to share with you three things I learned from the BStings over the last nine weeks:

1.Be Flexible.  We go into each and every class with a plan on what we will teach.  It is a progression from the previous training session to build on the skills we want them to “master” by the end of their nine week program.  Admittedly, I like things to go as planned, but we quickly learned some days we had to change things on the fly. Some days we needed structure and others needed to be a little more free flowing.  I think it is important to take cues from your athletes on what they need on any particular day, and when we did this the classes were successful.

2.Have Fun.  We only have 45 minutes with each team, which is not a lot of time.  We wanted to make sure they left each class learning something new. On occasion, we might have gotten a little too serious trying to get it all done.  There were a few boys on the team that always seemed to remind us in a subtle way that having fun is part of the learning process. From the dancing, to the infamous yell one of the boys would do about every 5 minutes, it always put a smile on my face and kept me in check.

3.Confidence breeds Engagement.  The first few weeks most of the work we did was new to everyone.  We needed more time to explain the movements and this sometimes turned into less engagement and attentiveness from the teams.  I believe the cause of this was because they were not confident with what they were doing, and thus they reverted to making jokes or not paying attention.  As the weeks went on and they gained confidence with the program, there paid more attention to what they were doing. Adding a little weight to a movement or more reps of push ups (they loved doing the push ups) kept them engaged.  By the final week I was proud there was less instruction and more doing.


I hope in the future we can work with them again.  I could not be more proud of them and the effort they gave during the nine weeks with us.  I will conclude with an anecdote on my final day with the 13U team. We had a great session and as I was about to start cleaning up, one of the boys called me over to the team.  He handed me a ball they had all signed and said, “thank you” from the whole team. On that day, at that moment, I felt like I was part of a team. I will cherish that “game ball” forever!


Thank you BStings!



The Fittest Athletes in the West

Big CrossFit happenings in Del Mar, CA this fine Memorial Day weekend. The CrossFit Games West Regional qualifier brought together the fittest CrossFit athletes and teams representing the Western US and Canada. It also brought together key members from Team CFN. Pictured above CFN’s Coach Cory, Coach Nicole, Coach Gilly, Coach Michael, Coach Kelly, Coach Britt, Coach Mikkel and the other guy.

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Announcing our very first seminar focused on Women’s Health and Fitness

This Friday we will be holding the very first seminar on Women’s Health and Fitness: The Pelvic Floor and The Female Athlete.

This seminar is for females looking to learn about the pelvic floor and how it functions. The group will discuss common dysfunctions, symptoms and some strategies to help better understand and correct challenges.

The seminar will be especially useful for female athletes suffering from exercise incontinence. For example, do you pee yourself when you lift, jump, or run? Other symptoms may include painful sex, chronic pelvic or back pain, or a “heaviness” or “uncomfortable” physical symptoms. You don’t need to live with these symptoms! Coach Gilly is here to help you find some answers.

This seminar is open to any woman, whether a member of CrossFit Novato or not, so please share with other gym members and your friends. Attendance is capped at 20 women in order to keep it intimate and to give you an opportunity to get some hands-on coaching. Make sure that you sign-up today!

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Preventing Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Cancer and Alzheimer’s

Monday, March 5, 2018

I’m in the boat with Dr. Tim Noakes and a growing list of courageous physicians and researchers who believe obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and alzheimer’s may in fact all be symptoms of the same underlying condition – Insulin Resistance. If true, that means the current model of medical service is wrong. So is the traditional model of training physicians. So is the current model of most fitness programs.

This morning I connected with one of our talented coaches. He and I kicked around a variety of topics including fitness and family and we spent a lot of time talking about our personal health. Both of us are becoming more aware of our own mortality AND given a choice, neither one of us is ready to die!

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CrossFit Novato - Downtown

Address: 7427 Redwood Blvd
Novato, CA 94945

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

CrossFit Novato - Pacheco Valley

Address: 5420 Nave Dr
Novato, CA 94949

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

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