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Restorative Services

Three levels of CrossFit, Endurance Training, CrossFit Kids, Strength Training, AND Restorative Services!?

 

CrossFit Novato continues to be inspired by the work of our extraordinary people. This week we spotlight three of our specialty clinicians. Say Hello to Josh, Gilly, and Carrie. Below each clinician shares a little about their philosophy and how to get in touch!

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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

References:

https://www.sleep.org/articles/what-happens-during-sleep/

 

http://nyshsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/NYSHSI-SLEEP.pdf

 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201211/sports-secret-weapon-sleep

 

https://www.fatiguescience.com/blog/5-ways-sleep-impacts-peak-athletic-performance/

 

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.

A Broader Light

By Michael Crespo

This month instead of our usual client spotlight piece we wanted to cast a broader light on the many new faces who have recently joined our Community. You might have noticed that class sizes feel a little bigger, and by now there is no doubt that some of these new faces are new gym friends.

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The Whole Athlete (Four Part Series) Part One of Four: Nutrition

By Julie Shepherd

We talk a lot about the importance of building strength in our athletes.  The benefits are vast and include increasing speed, power, endurance, explosiveness, and reducing the risk of injuries.  But there are many aspects to building a strong athlete outside of just strength they do not get enough attention. Today we are going to start a four part series on building the whole athlete.  Our topics will include, nutrition, sleep, mindset, and strength. We will dive a little deeper into each of these topics and discuss the importance they all hold and how if one is “off” it can affect all.  Our focus today will be on the topic of nutrition.

 

As coaches, we know what an important role nutrition plays in how our athletes perform in training and games.  Not only do we need to think about what the athletes eat and drink before and after games, but also leading up to competition and training days. In today’s article we will tackle the topic of what to eat and when.  First, let’s go over the macronutrients and what role they play in athletic performance.

 

Proteins:  Responsible for building, maintenance, and recovery of the muscles.  

 

Carbohydrates: Provide energy for the body.

 

Fats:  Energy source for longer duration activity, assists in keeping hormones in balance, and helps regulate the level of inflammation in the body.

 

Eating a well balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins,and fats is important for overall performance.  Eating whole foods and limiting the amount of processed and high sugar foods is always the best option.  Your athletes should try and eat a variety of foods to help ensure you get all your essential vitamins and minerals.  If you have an athlete that is a vegetarian they can get protein by eating beans, lentils, and nut butters, to name a few.  

 

Nutrition Before Trainings:

 

Athletes are busy with school and activities and I know it can be hard to get a snack in before training, but it is important.  If they go into practice hungry their risk of injury increases. Their muscles may not be supplied with enough energy and they can be distracted by their hunger.  There are many small snacks they can choose from such as a small sandwich with chicken or lunch meat, a piece of fruit with cheese, or a low sugar energy bar.

 

It is important that athletes allow enough time for digestion as 60-80% of your blood supply goes to the muscles in use during physical activity.  This decreases the available blood supply to your stomach that is needed for digestion. Without enough time alloted to digestion the athlete can feel uncomfortable during training experiencing cramps, or gassy feelings, which can distract  

Them. In addition to these uncomfortable feelings the athlete will not be able to access this fuel during physical activity.  Eating 30-60 minutes before training may allow enough time for proper digestion.

 

Game Day Nutrition:

 

What your athlete eats on game day will depend on the time of their first game.  If they have a mid-morning or early afternoon game, they can eat a full meal for breakfast and a small snack for lunch.  Some good options include:

-eggs, toast/bagel, with fresh fruit,

-yogurt and granola

-fruit smoothie

-sandwich with protein such as chicken or lunchmeat,

-pasta with protein and a salad.  

Steer them clear of high fat/greasy foods as these take longer to digest and can make them feel sluggish.  

 

Following a game, it is important for them to eat something within two hours.  Encourage your athletes to eat carbohydrates to refuel the muscles and protein for repair and growth.  If they will have a second game, make sure they eat a light meal no more than 60 minutes before the game.  

 

As coaches, we want to make sure athletes are properly fueled to be able to perform to their best ability, play to the final whistle, and reduce the risk of injury.  It is important for us to be a good example and practice what we preach. If we are snacking on sugary, heavy/greasy food, it will be hard for them to listen to our suggestion.  Show them how fueling your body with the highest quality whole foods will allow them to put their best foot forward when they step onto the court, field, etc.

 

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
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