In 2006, Sir Atkin claimed carbs were the root of all evil. Then, in 2016, carbs grew a hashtag and went viral on Instagram.
As with most trendy diets, we’ve no doubt seen our fair share of no-carb, low-carb, pro-carb fads. But why does this one measly macro get such a bad (whole wheat) wrap? Misinformation and manipulative memes, mostly. But with the right information and proper coaching and counsel, you too can finally break free from the carbohydrate handcuffs and start under thinking your diet for a change.
Here’s everything you need to know about carbs in 4 quick bit(e)s:
Eating carbs don’t make you fat
Carbs are a necessary macronutrient for a healthy, balanced diet. Carbs alone don’t cause fat gain. Fat gain is a result of eating more calories than you expend, repeatedly. Eat the burger bun, you will not die.
Avoiding carbs won’t make you fit
On the flip side, suer low-carb diets don’t work for everyone, and abiding by one isn’t the magical solution to achieving your nutrition goals. Again, carbohydrates are a necessary component of a well-rounded diet comprised of balanced proteins, fats, and carbs.
There are two types of carbs in this world
On the one hand, you’ve got simple carbohydrates. These are the fast-burning buddies that are great pre (or mid!) workout, but may leave you hungry not too long after you nosh. Then you have complex carbs; ones that are a bit tougher to break down, so they take longer to burn. These are often higher in fiber and keep your blood sugar from spiking.
Not all carbs come from “white foods”
And today in shocking news: sugar, pasta, rice, breads, and white potatoes aren’t the only sources from which you can eat carbs. Fruits, starchy vegetables, and sweet potatoes are not only colorful, but excellent sources of complex carbohydrates.
If you read this and you’re still not convinced, let’s talk about it! My inbox is always open — [email protected].
Lauren Bratcher is NASM Certified and a long time nutrition-enthusiast. As CrossFit Renew’s Nutrition Coach, she believes that something as fundamental as nutrition shouldn’t have to be complicated and is passionate about helping people take control of their personal nutrition journeys.
What do Rich Froning, Tia Toomey, Mat Fraser, Katrin Davidsdottir, and Justin Hroch all have in common? In Justin’s dreams, it’s that they’re all CrossFit Games champions. But for the sake of my prompt:
They’re all built the same!
In case you haven’t noticed, most people who are competitive at the sport of CrossFit aren’t tall, skinny, big or small — they’re typically shorter than average, crazy strong, and have an ungodly motor. They are compact and powerful — like a pocket microwave.
Early on in my CrossFit hobby (let’s be honest… it ain’t a career), I asked myself the question, “Where is my place?”… in both the CrossFit world and in my home gym.
I quickly learned that I’ll never be able to sprint the fastest or jump the highest or burpee the best. But I also learned that while I probably won’t be Games-level elite — I can get faster, jump higher, or get better at burpees.
As a tall dude (6’5”) who weighs more than 250lbs and has old baseball shoulder injuries… CrossFit tends to ALWAYS humble me. The only days I feel any kind of competitive edge are the days when the movements are tailored to my size. Movements like rowing, the assault bike, wall balls, box jumps, deadlifts, or fast barbell cycling from a hang position are just some of the movements that make tall people feel like Mat Fraser — even for a second.
So if you peep the workout the night before and see it’s a long grinder full of running, handstand pushups, and ring dips and you think to yourself, “mmm today sounds like a great rest day for me.” You’re not alone, BUT here’s my encouragement to you (and to myself): show up, do what’s hard, and keep at it.
CrossFit is less about your Wodify score, and more about whether you’re fit to pee on your own in your 70s. It’s about wanting to take care of yourself because you have people in your life who depend on you (family, friends, furry family friends) to be there with/for them.
Now, that’s not to say there aren’t some things we, as Sadie would call us, Tree People, can be working on to make us more CrossFit friendly — but you’ll have to stay tuned for Part 2.
Until then: meet me at the gym on a day that looks like a real solid rest day, and we’ll get after it together.
Chris Taylor is pretty new to the Renew Crew. He hails from Florida, so he just moved from one humid heat swamp to another, but at least we have better brisket. You also won’t catch him without a fun ass sweatband ‘cause he has no time for sweat in or around his eyes. Learn more about this Floridian-turned-Austinite:
Q: Do you feel like your life has improved since joining Renew? If so, how?
A: Sure do. Better stamina, skill work, learned more stretches to improve form and reduce soreness.
Q: If you could eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Meet Evan. After being on the fence about joining for almost an entire a year, he jumped shin-first into a box and joined Renew. And now we can’t get him to leave. Check out this month’s Member Spotlight and learn more about the guy who box jumped his shin off:
Q: Why did you join CrossFit Renew?
A: I joined to be in an environment where I can push myself, push others, and be pushed. I’ve always been drawn towards environments that are intense and very demanding and CrossFit is the perfect mix of those.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Right now I am trying to work on kipping pull-ups, double-unders (because doing double the amount of single-unders on a metcon makes me want to die), and getting under the bar faster on cleans.
Q: What’s your favorite CrossFit Renew memory?
A: Favorite CR memory has to be the morning I either didn’t jump high enough on a box and landed on the corner giving me the infamous shin-hole that is still healing two months later. That or the morning I puked and bled in the same workout.
Q: What’s the most embarrassing memory you have?
A: I was playing dodgeball in 6th grade and got hit in the stomach super hard and pooped my pants. I waddled over to coach and told him and asked if I could go to the restroom.
Q: As a child, what did you dream of growing up to be? Did you fulfill that dream? (AKA tell us what you do)
A: Currently* I am a project engineer for a general contractor. I help build commercial buildings! My job consists of assisting the superintendent and project manager to make sure that the job gets done and the owner is satisfied.
*This is a very new position and we are all so very proud of you for landing it!!
Q: What is one thing you’ve accomplished outside of the gym that you’re really proud of?
A: One thing I am proud of accomplishing outside of the gym is finishing my two year stint as a resident at the Austin Stone – I’m excited for what is next and what the residency has prepared me for!
If you see him around, introduce yourself and ask him how his shins are lately. We all pray they will stay covered with the right amount of skin. Thanks for making Renew more fun, Evan!
I know you’re still recovering from The Open we just had in the Spring, both physically and emotionally, but CoNsTanTLy VaRiEd, am I right? Indeed, another Open season is upon us and with it comes the emotionally paralyzing, life-altering decision everyone must make:
“Should I register for the RX division or the Scaled division?”
This past Spring, we had folks choose which division they’d compete in on a workout-by-workout basis. This October, however, you must make a choice on the first workout, and you must stick with that choice throughout the duration of the Open (5 workouts of varying modalities and intensities over the course of 5 weeks).
To help you choose, we’re stating some cases.
A case for RX
It’s bananas that I’m even having to make a case for this, but sometimes we just need someone to lovingly shove us into pushing ourselves a little bit further than we’d go on our own. That said, you should register for the RX division if you are:
A strong person with general proficiency in all movements who constantly RX’s workouts in class
A decently strong person with general sufficiency in most but not all movements, who sometimes RX’s workouts in class
A person who has more proficiency in gymnastics movements than strength movements, who sometimes RX’s workouts in class
Maybe you can do Isabel or Grace at 135/95, but it’s not the fastest time on the board. Maybe you got bar muscle-ups this year, but don’t quite have ring muscle-ups yet. Maybe you have kipping pull-ups, but you can only squeak out 1 or 2 chest-to-bars. Maybe you’ve got kipping handstand push-ups, but you’re still working on your handstand walks. You get the idea. Or maybe you have most gymnastics movements, but are still working on improving strength in your lifts. If you’re on the cusp of RX-ness, register for the RX division.
A case for Scaled
On the flippity flop, the scaled division is most folks’ opportunity to jump into friendly competition without feeling completely defeated week over week. It’s a division with attainable modifications that are still challenging — no matter if you’re general Scaled, Masters, or pregnant with FOMO. For those of us considering the option, you should register for the Scaled division if you are:
As always, we care about your fitness — not your ego. So we want you to select the division in which you’ll not only have fun — but get a good workout, too. If you’re new around here, have never done this before, or are ready to push the scaled workouts like you’ve never pushed before — get in on that Scaled division life! If, however, you’ve registered for the scaled division year over year, but have been working on your lifts, your gymnastics, or your aerobic capacity — challenge yourself to the RX division this year! Do it for you, not for the scoreboard.
And as I say my final few words I’d like to point out that 5 months ago I competed in the Spring Open like 7 months pregnant, and in less than 3 weeks I’ll be competing in the Fall Open at 4 months postpartum.
Do with that information what you will, but here’s the link to register. 🌝 Bye!
Sometimes we think that jumping on a nutrition journey bandwagon requires tremendous planning and preparation — but in reality, one of the simplest (simple in this case doesn’t always mean easy) and most crucial things you can do to begin redirecting the trajectory of your nutrition journey is start building your self-knowledge. What do we mean?
There is a certain physical and emotional self-awareness that is crucial for anyone that has a desire to improve their nutrition habits. Recognizing hunger cues, understanding the interplay between emotions and eating habits, recognizing food-behavior patterns in our lives…these are all skills, that like any other, can be practiced and honed.
But, where to start? There are some nice-sounding platitudes that might seem helpful until you actually try to practice them.
“Listen to your body”
“Do what works for you”
Unfortunately, for most of us, years of being immersed in a food culture that is filled with inconsistent (and oftentimes conflicting) messages, fad diets, and dubious marketing techniques have left us feeling lost and powerless. To “listen to our bodies” at this point could feel like trying to navigate a dark road with a broken compass. Self-trust has been severely diluted.
However, there is good news in all of this. There are actual, concrete strategies that can be used to build your “self-knowledge superpowers”. One example is practicing “mindful eating”. To eat mindfully is simply to be aware and present while you are eating. Habits of mindfulness include things like sitting down while you eat, eliminating distractions during meals and savoring each bite of food. Check out the graphic below for a more detailed picture of mindful vs. mindless eating.
Here’s how to start. Commit to practicing mindful eating for the next 5 days and pay close attention to any trends you notice. Do you usually eat while watching TV or scrolling through social media? How long does it usually take you to eat a meal? Are you noticing when you are beginning to get full? You might be surprised what you learn about yourself with such a simple practice.
As you start your nutrition journey with this self-knowledge exploration, make sure you give yourself grace. Like any other skill, knowing yourself takes effort & time. There are no shortcuts. As Benjamin Franklin said, “There are three things that are extremely hard: steel, a diamond and to know one’s self”.
Nah. This blog don’t actually have anything to do with automobiles. We will talk about skills and drills, though, and today we’re talking about ring muscle-ups.
Ring muscle-ups are the ultimate, right? We all want to get one and post it on the ‘gram. I get it. I did it, too. Why do we want to celebrate this particular movement? Because it’s freaking HARD! And anyone who thinks otherwise is misinformed.
Muscle-ups require two major components: strength and technique. A while back, McKenzie talked about bar muscle-ups, and offered a banded drill to assist with mechanics. However, it is recommended for the longevity and health of your own body that you achieve a strict ring muscle-up before you do kipping ring or bar muscle-ups in workouts, which require even MORE strength.
Honestly, after going to The Gymnastics Specialty Course, I learned that what’s preventing me from doing some of the gymnastics movements I want to do is not some crazy formula I haven’t figured out; it’s actually strength. While that’s kind of hard to swallow, because it usually takes more time to develop strength than it does to correct a technique flaw, it’s also somewhat encouraging because the answer, for many of us is so simple: get stronger.
So, here are some drills if you’re still trying to get your first strict muscle-up, so that you can also do lots and lots of kipping muscle-ups. If you’ve got a couple strict pull-ups, but not the strength to pull low enough to make the transition in a ring muscle up, try some of these (in addition to more strict pull-ups):
Banded Strict Chest-to-Bar Pull-ups. Normally we don’t recommend these because the initial pull in the strict pull-up is the hardest, which also happens to be when the band has the most tension and is thus doing the most work. However, if you can do regular strict pull-ups, when you are doing the last part of a pull to complete the strict chest to bar, the band has less tension and is then doing less of the work. Try 5×5.
Anyone who is doing higher volume of muscle-ups, so any time they’re programmed in a WOD, will tell you it is more efficient to rely on your pulling muscles than your pushing ones. So pull as low down to your ribs as you can (vs. high at your armpits) so that when you make the transition, you catch yourself in the most shallow dip possible. Your lats are anatomically bigger muscles and thus can handle more volume than your triceps and pecs, which are the main muscles working in the dip. However, if your pulling muscles are strong but your dips need work, try these:
Dip negatives. Start with box dips if you need to, and then move to negatives on actual rings. I would recommend doing 5×3, aiming for 8-10 second negatives each rep. If you can’t do that, start shorter and work up to 8-10 seconds.
If you’re reading this, chances are you either A) are currently a member of a CrossFit gym or B) want to be a member of a CrossFit gym or C) know someone who is a member of a CrossFit gym and they shared this post and you got kind of curious so now you’re here and you’re in too deep so let’s keep going.
Regardless of whether you identify with A, B or C — you’ve likely heard of CrossFit before. And you’ve likely already developed an opinion about it. Social media is always swirling with conflicting articles covering CrossFit — on the one hand, it’s the greatest thing since sliced organic farm-to-mouth bread. On the other, it’s a scary cult and it’s totally unsafe and no one in their right mind should partake. You see posts from your friends who’ve never worked out a day in their life join the gym and rave about it. And on the contrary, you see posts from those same friends sharing stories of athletes in peak physical condition doing an ungodly amount of burpees for time.
There’s definitely a sentiment tug-of-war when it comes to CrossFit, but one thing remains: it’s for anyone and everyone.
When you start at a CrossFit gym, your fitness level is irrelevant. In any case, you will be challenged — both physically and mentally. Coaches and classmates alike are right there with you, pushing you to your limits and encouraging you to bear it until the bitter end. And for some reason, you do. And you do it again and again, day after day. We looked into that “some reason” and came up with three. Check it:
1) It’s “constantly varied”. Meaning, there’s something new every day.
Arguably, the most important aspect to CrossFit is the programming. Their methodology is “constantly varied functional fitness performed at a high intensity”. Meaning, simple movements you perform in your everyday life, put together in fun new ways for you to do to your best ability. The perpetually changing workouts of the day (WODs) are meant to help you stay motivated, continue honing new skills, and see immediate results.
2) Smaller classes mean more personal training.
Unlike your group classes at globo-gyms, all CrossFit affiliates have well-trained coaches responsible for leading small group classes (15 athletes or less). This bite-sized bunching allows you, the athlete, to have one-on-one interaction with and access to the coach for the entire duration of the class — getting immediate feedback on form, support and encouragement when you need it most, and answering your burning fitness questions until your heart’s content.
3) In CrossFit, there’s a modification for that.
CrossFit prides itself on its ability to scale and modify any workout to meet the needs and goals of any individual, regardless of fitness or skill level.The intensity, volume, complexity, and weights used in a workout can all be adjusted to suit the capabilities of the individual so that they can achieve their goals — regardless of whether you’re a professional athlete or a newly minted grandparent getting back in the fitness game.
So now we’re here, at the bottom of the article. If you got here by Googling “how to lose body fat and gain muscle” — great! We can help you with that. Or if you got here because of that friend’s pesky post still showing up in your newsfeed day after day — we’re glad you found us and even gladder (yes, gladder) you stayed.
If you’re on the fence about the whole CrossFit gig, but have been battling with getting back into the swing of gym things, book a No Sweat Intro with one of our coaches. We want to help you get you where you want to be.
Haley’s been a member at Renew for just a short while now, and has already put a ton of work in at the gym. A friend of a friend of many friends of Renew, it was only a matter of time before we lured her in. Read a bit more about Haley and if you see her around the gym, be super impressed by her because she’s been working her ass off.
Q: How did you hear about CrossFit Renew?
A: I heard about CrossFit Renew by word of mouth from current Renew members: Jessica Guevara, Kelsi Dawe, and Candace Knox.
(If you didn’t know, CrossFit Renew is the unofficial informal gym of all the nurses everywhere in Austin.)
Q: Do you feel like your life has improved since joining? If so, how?
A: Yes, of course. CrossFit is a completely new experience and challenge for me physically and mentally. I was searching for an outlet to push my limits in both of those areas, and CrossFit Renew has definitely delivered! I have learned to quiet the negative self-talk and let go of my self-consciousness by showing up to WODs knowing that I may not know how to perform some of the skills – but therein lies my opportunities to grow and transform. That if I stay committed to this investment in myself, I will leave the gym more “renewed” and improved and the growth I’ve accomplished inside the gym will positively impact other areas of my life outside of the gym.
Q: What’s been your favorite moment at Renew? And, why?
A: It would be easy to say my favorite moment at Renew has been when someone made me laugh or when a coach and/or member encouraged me to finish a WOD before the time cap. A more accurate and a more important, meaningful response would be to say my favorite moments at Renew have been teaching moments, hands down. For example: It was a weightlifting back squat day (5/1/19) with a cap time of 25:00, and Justin was coaching. I must have finished my first three sets of 10 too quickly (time remaining 18:45, whoops!) because when Justin comes over to my side of the rig to check in, he kindly asks “What set are you on?”…to which I reply, “I just finished set 3.” I notice his eyes widen, and I immediately feel embarrassed in realizing I’ve moved through this workout incorrectly. Teaching moment: Justin takes the time to reiterate the instructions and goals of the workout (i.e. how heavy the weight should feel, how much time you should take in between sets in order to properly recover, what is 80% of my max weight on back squat, and if I don’t know my max weight I should come to open gym and find out!). Justin provides me with constructive criticism and at least 1-2 minutes of his undivided attention in order for me to make adjustments for my subsequent sets. Although I was clearly embarrassed in my mistake, I was humbled and genuinely appreciative of his feedback. All in all, teaching moments = opportunities for improvement. They are humbling experiences that occur not merely to point out your mistakes, but to illuminate your mistakes in order for you to improve upon them, to do it better the next time! Making improvements in any part of my life, however small or big, is a confidence booster and immensely rejuvenating.
All of the Renew coaches have provided me similar, crucial teaching moments in my short 2.5 months at Renew, and I am incredibly grateful. You all want me to succeed and I believe it. Those small moments of your time (even if it’s 30 seconds to correct my form!) have helped me to make small improvements, and over time those small improvements can only lead to further progress so long as I stay committed. In fact, I’ve already noticed progress from when I first started! So, I’ll continue to show up and with the trusted guidance of the Renew Crew, I will continue to reinvent myself with each new WOD. And, although slow-going at times, I’m excited about my continual transformation.
Q: So, how has CrossFit helped your professional life?
A: I’ll take the support I’ve so graciously been given at Renew and pay it forward. I hold a leadership role within my NICU unit at the hospital, and I mentor/train/support graduate RNs (the newbies). At times, they need my help and ask for my professional opinion, especially amidst hectic situations. Even if it’s crazy busy during a shift and I have 7 million other things I need to do (and that’s for real!), I’ll try to remember that offering my staff RNs 1-2 minutes of my undivided attention could make all the difference in their world. That maybe my guidance and support will leave them feeling more confident in their skills and abilities, like Renew has done for me in my CrossFit journey!
Q: If you could be ANY animal, what would it be and why?
A: I would, hands down, be a gibbon. Gibbons are lesser apes that live in tropical and subtropical rainforests within parts of Asia. So, living among the trees in a beautiful location would be cool! Gibbons typically form long-term or lifelong bonds with mates, which I think correlates with the longstanding friendships I’ve made in my lifetime and my desire for eventual monogamy. Their primary mode of locomotion is called brachiation (if you haven’t seen a YouTube video of a gibbon doing its brachiating thang in some trees, you need to!) Brachiation involves swinging from branch to branch for distances up to 50 feet and at speeds as high as 35 mph, AND they make leaps up to 26 ft while in the air! I’m thinking, if I become a gibbon with that much upper body strength, I would likely be able to master a strict pull-up or kipping pull-up, finally! All in all, they are the fastest and most agile of all tree-dwelling, non-flying mammals. I find them absolutely fascinating!
Q: What is something you’re proud of accomplishing outside of the gym?
A: I am involved in an Outreach Committee within my NICU unit, and we volunteer our time at local businesses, non-profits, animal sanctuaries, etc. on a monthly basis. Just this afternoon actually, we volunteered at the Central Texas Food Bank for the second time this year. We sorted 3,450 pounds of food for families in need. The Central Texas Food Bank services 21 counties in Texas, and it was a wonderful experience to devote some of my time to aid in their efforts to end hunger! So, I’m proud to volunteer my time to give back to my ATX community with some of my amazing coworkers 🙂
Q:What’s one goal outside of Renew that you’re working towards?
A: I am working on my hand-lettering skills, brushing up on my Spanish, and taking an online course this Fall semester in the hopes of obtaining a certification in event planning!
So, basically, if ever you want to look to someone in the gym for a little extra motivation — look for Haley. We’re so glad to have you around, girl! Keep up the kickass work.
Paul is the kind of guy who will never let you go un-said-hello-to. He’s the first to greet a new face, and quick to take a coaches cue. He’s kind, tall, bendy as hell, and remember Dino? Paul’s the aforementioned counterpart! A dynamic duo if ever there was one.
We love Paul, and we know you will too. Enjoy his Member’s Spotlight!
Q: Why did you decide to join CrossFit Renew?
A: As someone who works in the fitness industry (certified Yoga instructor), I had always heard mixed things about CrossFit. I had heard that the workouts are way too hard and always produce rhabdomyolysis and potential muscle damage, and that the coaches are poorly trained. But since my cousin in Minneapolis had been attending CrossFit enthusiastically, I was curious to see what it was like. Dino and I live nearby, and saw the sign for CrossFit Renew when driving by. I saw on the website that they were having a new member special, so we decided to give it a try.
I was pleasantly surprised that the coaches didn’t put pressure on us to move so quickly through the exercises that we couldn’t work on good form. All the coaches seem very knowledgeable about how to perform the exercises, many of which require complex coordination that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me. I have also found the team spirit of the regular 8:00am class participants to be a motivation to show up each week.
(Shout out to the wild and unruly 8am bunch!)
Q: What were some of your goals coming into CrossFit?
A: My main goal in joining was increasing my strength. I am good about exercising several times per week, but not good about pushing myself to work hard and gain muscle. CrossFit encourages me to work much harder than I would otherwise. What I have found from doing the CrossFit workouts over time is that my primary goal has changed to increasing my cardio endurance, with strength increases as a secondary goal. I also want to stay as healthy as I can, and I believe that CrossFit is helping with that.
Q: What are some in-gym milestones you’re most proud of?
A: I am proud of a number of in-gym milestones! I’ve accomplished doing some rope climbs, running a 7K, getting somewhat comfortable with single-unders, and gradually being able to increase my weights on the Olympic lifting movements (even though I’m still using light weights compared to most). I also feel much stronger, and feel that I look stronger, compared to before I joined Renew.
Q: What are some new things you’re working towards?
A: I would like to eventually be able to do double-unders, handstand push-ups, muscle-ups, and ring dips. I also would like to continue increasing my strength to where I can always do the Level 2 options with regard to how much weight I am lifting. After that I’ll make a goal to often do the Level 1 options, then I’ll make a goal to occasionally be able to do the Rx options. If I stick with it I think I’ll keep gradually getting stronger. I hope to change my work schedule in September or January so I could come three times a week to make a difference in my progress
Paul, we are so grateful you are around and love how hard you work to make your goals a reality. If you don’t know Paul already, show up to an 8am and introduce yourself (or don’t, because he will).