Member Spotlight: Kristen Machczynski

Meet Kristen Machczynski — but you can call her Mac. Mac is the living, breathing product of if a Lisa Frank sticker sheet and a sunny 70 degree day had a baby. She’s colorful, joyous, and brings a ray of light to the 5:30am. Check out this blog to learn more about one of our newest members! 

Q: What got you into CrossFit? What’s your favorite part about it? 

A: I got into CrossFit because I was looking for a new group of humans with whom I could play and make friends. And I did. And it was awesome. And it continues to be!  My favorite part about CrossFit is when people support other people – just cool to see someone doing extra burpees to help a fellow friend along in a particularly ass-kicking workout. 

Q: How do you have so much energy at 5:30am? Please share your secrets. 

A: 5:30am CrossFit classes are a gift, y’all. Most of you will roll your eyes at that, but when you’re done and heaving and super sweaty before the sun rises, there is a definite “I am awesome” feeling you get. As far as being spunky in the morning, it’s cliche as all get out, but I’m just awake once my feet hit the floor – that’s the trick. Hit the floor and not the snooze button. 

Q: When eating any meal, do you save the best for last, or eat the best thing first? 

A: Ooh, good one. I’m a “can’t wait, must have” kinda gal, so I’d probably eat most of the best part of the meal first, and then save a teeny bit for last to savor it at the end. Yup. That sounds about right. Because I can’t ever just answer a question in a straightforward manner. 

Q: You’ve got a lot of tats. Which one is your favorite and why? 

A: I’ve got 7 tattoos, but always up for more. I think my favorite is the octopus on my ribcage. It’s for my son, Miles. He loves octopus and it was his favorite food when he was not even 3 years old – I kid you not. Instead of his name, I got an octopus. It’s fitting. My second favorite is my “3, 2, 1…” in honor of my favorite hard-as-hell, push yourself to the limit sport. 😉 

Q: From what you’ve shared, it seems like you’ve got a pretty cool son. What’s your favorite thing about being is mom? 

A: My son, Miles, is hilarious. My favorite part of being his mom is seeing how funny he’s becoming, but also when he gives me kisses, tells me he loves me, and then adds, “Love you the most. The end. I win.” Sorry, little dude. I’m the winner there. 

Wait, sorry, there’s dust in our eyes. 

Mack, we’re so glad you’re around. Stay forever?

Refuel Recipe: Amish Oatmeal

A Nutrition Nugget with Lauren Bratcher, Nutrition Coach

Welcome to the first of many Refuel Recipes! Each month, we’re gonna focus on one key ingredient that’s both delicious and nutritious and teach you how to incorporate it into your diet in a realistic, sustainable, tasty way! 

This month: Oats! This versatile little carbohydrate packs a big fiber punch and comes in many shapes and sizes. Before we dive into our first recipe, let’s learn about  why oats are so awesome.

Oats boast an impressive nutritional resume. One unassuming cup of oats provides your morning routine with 6g of protein, 4g of fiber and nearly 70% of your daily recommended manganese (a mineral that aids in bone formation!).

Oats fill you up and keep you that way. Even though one cup of oats only contains 147 calories, the high fiber, low GI qualities of this grain keep your blood sugars low, mean they are digested slowly and ultimately keep you fuller, longer! 

These guys are jacks of all trades. You probably are most familiar with oats from their longstanding lead role in the breakfast classic, oatmeal, but when you think outside the bowl you will soon find that oats are wonderful added to baked goods, thrown into smoothies, rolled up into energy balls, or even used as typical grain replacements for some savory soups! ! 

Our first oat-centric recipe is one of my all-time favorites. You can find this in my oven every Sunday afternoon. This recipe is adapted from Healthy Steps Nutrition

Amish Oatmeal

Serving size: 3/4 cup (or 1 square) | Number of servings: 10 

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories – 140 | Fat – 6g | Carbs – 17g | Protein – 6g

Prep time: 5m | Cook time: 25m 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup instant oats
  • 3 tbsp light nectar agave, honey, or maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup milk of your choice
  • 3 tbsp grass-fed butter
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional toppings to taste:
    • Dried berries
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Nut butter
    • Shredded coconut
    • Literally anything that sounds good

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat 13×9 pan with coconut oil 
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix well
  3. Pour mixed ingredients into pan, spread evenly into one layer edge-to-edge
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until edges are golden brown
  5. Let cool, cut into 8-10 squares and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days

Fear Not the Freezer Meal

I hear this all the time: 

“I wanna eat clean and set myself up for success, but I’m just so tired and hungry when I get home from work so I just grab whatever’s the easiest… which is usually cereal or chips.”

First, let’s all agree — cereal and chips are delicious. Why wouldn’t you grab them first? But like most things, healthy nutrition isn’t so black and white.

Our lifestyles influence our habits, our habits influence our choices, and our choices — our results. So if you’re a busy person who knows that #mealprepsunday sounds idyllic but just ain’t gonna happen for you, yet know you won’t achieve your goals on chips and cereal alone — what do you do?

Y’all, our freezers aren’t just for ice cream and 1,000 brown bananas that you’ll maybe one day think about making banana bread with. And not all packaged foods are sinister. Check out a few of my favorite freezer foods that are pretty clean and quick to prep:

Any of Wal-Mart’s Whole30 Approved Freezer Meals

These bowls are not only flavorful, but packed with protein and veggies. Throw them in a pan, add a fried egg on top for a little more sustenance and voila — a fast and furiously nutritious meal. 

Costco/Trident Wild Alaskan Salmon Burgers

A super easy protein source for those of you who don’t like dealing with raw fish — here are two ways I like to eat these patties:

  • Pan fry, chop, and throw in a bowl with rice, sesame seeds, seaweed chips, cucumbers, and pre-julienned broccoli slaw with whatever Asian-inspired dressing tickles my fancy.
  • Pan fry, and stack on top of all my favorite burger fixings with a hearty bun and a salad on the side.

Frozen Chicken Nuggets (hear me out) 

Chicken nuggets aren’t just for kids, you know. There are a few brands who do nugs right — and the macros are almost too good to be true. If you’re at Costco, check out Golden Platter’s big bag of nuggets (HEB sells them, too). Otherwise, Applegate and Everyday Value 365 has some tasty options. 

Garden Lites Veggie Cakes

I love these little cakes for breakfast (or breakfast for dinner!). Served with a protein/fat source of your choosing (eggs, bacon, sausage, yum) — you’ve got a super fast and easy balanced plate.

Costco/Coleman Organic Chicken Meatballs

Okay technically not *frozen* but these are another killer Costco find. These balls come in 2lb packages so you can feed your family in one fell swoop. For the fastest possible way to eat these — grab your favorite jar of red sauce, spiralize some zucchini and toss it all in with your favorite noodles for a very easy spaghetti and meatballs. 

Need more freezer meal ideas? I’ve got plenty. Shoot me a note — [email protected]

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.

Is Butter a Carb?

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.

How to CrossFit as a Tall Person: Part 1

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. 

Member Spotlight: Chris Taylor

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?

A: Yellow rice, refried beans, tostones, breaded chicken and unlimited pink sauce*.

*to clarify, this is ketchup and mayo mixed together. 

Q: If we opened your music app right now, what would most likely be playing? 

A: Superposition by Young the Giant

Q: What is the most devious thing you did as a child? 

A: Played ding dong ditch in neighborhood.

Q: What was your favorite thing about living in Florida? 

A: Tie: Busch gardens and the rain 

Q: What is one thing in life that you’re really proud of (outside of CrossFit)?

A: Getting my degree in pharmacy. 

So, basically, if you need to score some OTC meds, he’s your guy. Also if a ghost rings your doorbell this Halloween, he’s probably your guy, too. Super glad to have you around, Chris! 

Member Spotlight: Evan Taylor

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!

Coaches Corner with Sades: RX vs. Scaled – how to do the 2020 Open

Whaddup, jabronies.

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:

  • A person.

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!

Mindful vs. Mindless Eating

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”

“Eat intuitively”

“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”. 

Skills, Drills, and Automobiles with Coach Becky

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):

  • Toenail Spot Chest-to-Bar Pull-ups. Try 5×6.
  • 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.
  • Strict Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups, if you’ve got ‘em. Try 5×3.
  • Ring Pull-ups, pulling as low as you can. Slow negatives after you do the ring pull-ups will also help. Try 4×3.
  • Legless Rope Climbs. Try 6×1.

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.

There you have it! Go get ‘em, tiger.