Common Cues and Why They Matter: “Knees Out” and “Tripod Feet”

As a CrossFit coach, there are general lines and shapes we’re looking for in your body when performing a movement and there are two reasons for that: 1) we want you to be safe, and 2) we want you to move as efficiently as possible. Why, do you ask, is Becky always talking about efficiency? Because if you move efficiently, you move faster and/or more weight, which both contribute to increased intensity, and intensity produces results! 

Today, I want to talk about the shape we’re looking for when your posterior chain is activated. If you’ve been to CrossFit anywhere more than one time, you’ve probably heard the cue “knees out.” It’s every coach’s favorite cue, and sometimes overused. However, the reason it is so frequently used is because often times, it gets the desired effect, which is when your knees track out over your toes, and all three points of your feet are screwed into the ground to create some torque in your movement. 

When you do a squat, we want you to push your knees out over your toes. When you do a push press, push your knees out. Even when you deadlift, your knees will most likely ever so slightly track out. When your knees track out, it activates BIG muscles on the back and sides of your legs. If your knees only go straight forward, and your knees are out in front of your toes, you’re relying a lot more on your anterior chain, and in your legs, that means your quads. Don’t get me wrong, your quads are great, and everyone wants to have really jacked quads, but anatomically, you have more to work with on your posterior chain: your hamstrings and glutes. And, when you track those knees out, you’re even lighting up your lateral glutes as well. 

This doesn’t mean we want you to neglect the muscles on the front half of your body. As previously mentioned, another cue you’ll hear in our gym frequently is “Tripod feet! Screw all three points of your feet into the floor: your big toe, pinky toe, and heel.” When this is done correctly, you are giving your body a stable base from which you start any movement so that all muscles are engaging on the front and back half of your body. If this doesn’t make sense, try this little exercise: Hop on a rower and do about 7-10 pulls with only your toes and the balls of your feet on the foot pedals. Then do 7-10 more with your toes up and heels down. Finally, do 7-10 more pulls with your big toe, pinky toe, and heel planted the whole time. It will feel most powerful doing it the third way, because everything is working at the same time. You could even watch your screen and see how many calories per hour or meters per second you can pull with each type of rowing. Done correctly, the third will be the strongest! 

I challenge you to think about your movement next time you go to the gym. Before you start moving really fast in a metcon, ask yourself “where do I feel this?” when you’re warming up. If you have questions, ask a coach! We’re happy to help, and as always, we want you to move well before you move fast.

Neutral Spine and Pelvis by Paul Kevin Smith

What is the neural position of the spine and pelvis, and why should we be concerned about it? When we are in neutral alignment — that is, when there are slight inward curves to the lower lumbar area, cervical area, and slight outward curves of the sacrum and thoracic area –, we achieve optimal posture; whether we are standing, sitting, or are positioned to start an exercise movement. This is critical, because when we are in a neutral position of the spine, we place the least amount of stress on the cartilaginous discs that cushion between our vertebrae.

If we perform exercises or daily movements in positions that deviate from the neutral position, we put pressure on the discs, which could lead to injury, such as bulging or herniation of the disc.

For example, think of performing a heavy deadlift with the spine flexed into a forward-bended position, shoulders rounded. The pressure going into the lumbar discs during the lift could potentially cause herniation, which in turn could press on a nerve exiting the spinal cord, causing pain or weakness along the path of that nerve.

If a person stands with an exaggerated inward curve to the lumbar area, that is called hyperlordosis. If a person stands with an exaggerated outward curve to the thoracic area, that is called hyperkyphosis. If the spine deviates laterally in a “C” or “S” shape, that is called scoliosis (which may be addressed in a future blog post). 

Pelvic alignment in relation to neutral spine

An easy way to check for neural pelvic alignment is to place the hands on the front of the pelvis, feeling for the bony landmarks. When in neutral position, the two front ridges of the”hip bones” (anterior iliac spines) and the front of the pubic bones should all be on the same plane (parallel to the facing wall if standing, or parallel to the floor if lying). In addition, when lying on one’s back on the floor in neutral spine and pelvis, there would typically be room to slide one or two fingers between the low back and the floor, but not the whole hand.

Neutral position of the pelvis supports the neutral position of the lumbar spine, and reduces tension at the sacroiliac joints at the back of the pelvis. If the front of the hip bones tilts forward beyond the pubic bones, that is called anterior pelvic tilt, which may be accompanied by a hyperlordotic lumbar spine. If the front of the pubic bones tilts forward beyond the hip bones, that is called a posterior pelvic tilt, which may be accompanied by a flattened low back curve. Beyond just having postural awareness and adjusting the angle of the pelvis when we find it is out of neutral, we can analyze which strengthening and stretching exercises may correct a habitually anteriorly- or posteriorly-tilting pelvis.

Corrective movements and strengthening exercises for misalignment

For an anterior tilt of the pelvis: 

  • Perform strengthening exercises 2-3 times per week, 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps.  Muscles to target would be the abdominals, such as doing ab mat sit-ups, and the gluteals, such as bridges with a posterior pelvic tilt. 
  • Muscles to stretch (3-7 times per week) for anterior tilt would be the hip flexors (as with a low lunge held for 20-60 seconds on each side), and the low back extensors (such as 10 repetitions of cat stretch moving into child’s pose).

For a posterior tilt of the pelvis: 

  • Perform strengthening exercises 2-3 times per week, for 2-3 sets. Target the hip flexors (with exercises like 12-15 reps of lying straight leg lifts, being careful not to arch the low back away from the floor), and the low back extensors (such as with unsupported cobra, holding in position for 30 seconds per set). 

  • Muscles to stretch (3-7 times per week, 20-60 seconds) for posterior tilt are the abdominals (such as relaxing into a supported cobra) and the hamstrings (such as doing a lying hamstring stretch with a band around the foot).

If we practice finding neutral posture when we are sitting and standing throughout the day, we will be more likely to maintain that position during exercises. If you know you tend to have an anterior pelvic tilt with hyperlordosis, or a posterior pelvic tilt with a flattened low back curve, doing the above exercises may help to correct that. Being mindful of neutral position when doing other exercises should help to reduce our risk of injury to the spinal discs.

Member Spotlight: The Weishuhns

Cody and Camille are the type of friends who will hang out with you all night long, and then bring you Pedialyte in the morning. 

Need we say more?

Q: How and why did you start doing CrossFit

Camille: I started Crossfit about 6 years ago after my aunt invited me to join her one day. It was crazy how close we got after working out together everyday!

Cody: I had just started dating Cam, and she invited me to a class (obviously a test), so I had no other choice if I wanted our relationship to prosper. Really though, I love it. It’s just a bunch of like-minded folks trying to get their sweat on and be a better version of themselves. Great community to be a part of, and also super welcoming when we moved here and didn’t know anybody.

Q: What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself since starting CrossFit?

Camille: I figured out that my brain gives up WAY faster than my body does. I have learned how to trust my body more and not listen to my thoughts telling me to give up!

Cody: I have more mental strength than I perceived. The benefits of working out is just as much for the mind as it is the body.

Q: You’re from the great state of Louisiana – please share your favorite Louisiana related memory from living there. 

Camille: My favorite memories are hunting and fishing with my mom and dad. I also loved Mardi Gras when I was little (and now of course). We would go to different people’s houses along the parade route, everyone was dressed so fun, and there was always great food and games.

Cody: It would have to be tailgating for LSU football games, it is madness. Or just Louisiana festivals in general, whether it be a Cochon de Lait fest or French Quarter fest, there is always great music and delicious food to be had! Oh, and of course Mardi Gras.

Q: What does your ideal Saturday look like?

Camille: Drink coffee, workout, go thrifting, drink coffee again, bake something, go eat somewhere fancy and get some cocktails.

Cody: Community WOD (I’m on the spot here) or fishing first thing, go for a hike on a nearby trail, NOT THE GROCERY STORE, pitch the hammock and relax for a while, work on a project, NOT CHORES, fire up the grill, Netflix n chill.

Q: What is your favorite holiday and why?

Camille: HALLOWEEN!! It’s so fun and magical to me.

Cody: Well, July 4th of course. It’s my bday!

Cam and Cody, we’re so happy you chose us as your gym home. We love you and your wacky Louisiana spirit. Let the crawfish boils commence!

How to get your spouse aboard your gain train

I get this all the time: 

“I’m so ready for a change, but how do I get my significant other involved in my health and wellness goals?”

It might not be that your partner is antagonistic or negative about your wellness journey — instead, maybe they just aren’t interested in making the same changes in their own life. And that might be fine for now, but if you’re serious about making big strides in your fitness and nutrition, this change will likely impact nearly every corner of your life; from the way you eat to your after-work activities to your social life and beyond. According to Eliza Kingsford, licensed psychotherapist and CEO of Empowered Wellness, “if not approached carefully with open lines of communication, a big change like this [health and fitness journeys] can cause a major disconnect for a pair”. 

So what happens when your significant other isn’t quite on board with your new CrossFit kick? Or they can’t completely understand why your fridge is suddenly packed with protein shakes and raw vegetables? What happens when one half of a couple jumps aboard the fitness train but the other half stays on the platform? 

Here are a few tips in navigating these waters; and how to help your spouse meet you where you are for the sake of health and fitness:

Communicate your needs

Yes. You are going to have to talk to each other. Let’s be honest, many of us have tried countless  things to improve our nutrition and/or see body changes. Many of those things are quick fixes that yield short term results and a resurgence of old habits. Share with your significant other that you are taking an honest long term approach and fill them in on your short and long term goals, your why for wanting to improve your health. Let in and let them know that you would love for them to be a part of it. Think of tangible, specific ways (helping cook, going to the gym together, verbally supporting you when you’re out with friends and you choose not to drink) they can support you and communicate those to them. 

Develop a shared list

Your significant other may not be ready for changing their eating habits right away. Acknowledge that this is their choice and that is A-OK. But, with being aware of your goals, you can keep communication lines open and start to come up with a shared grocery list. What are foods they want, what are foods that you want, and a challenge: what are a few healthy foods that you both are willing to try incorporating into meals that week? 

Find one thing

Your significant other may not be ready to dive head first into meal prep or CrossFit, but there are plenty of other ways to work together towards a healthy lifestyle. Find one wellness-promoting activity that you and your spouse can both get excited about! Make weekend hikes a habit. Maybe replace one night of TV a week with cooking a meal together. Heck, buy matching roller blades and hit the streets in your neighborhood! Compromise is key.

Give it time

From personal experience, I know what a disaster it can be when you try to force someone onto a journey they aren’t ready for. It rarely, if ever, goes well. If your S/O isn’t catching your newfound excitement, it’s perfectly fine. Stay consistent with your journey, avoid the temptation to apologize for your new lifestyle and continue to encourage your partner when there is space to do so. 

Make it fun

Planning date nights that incorporate healthy activities might sound lame at first, but it’s a great way to care for yourself and each other. Find a local cooking class with a healthy menu, plan an active date that includes tennis, dancing, create your own walking tour and explore a part of your city you’ve never been to, or, if you’re the hosting type, invite people over for a meal and fun mocktails!  The possibilities are endless — and this is a great way to remind your loved one that a healthy lifestyle is more than barbells and endless tupperware containers. 

Here at CrossFit Renew, we love doing whatever we can to care for the health of the whole person — including your relationship health! These are just a few places to start when trying to navigate how to include your significant other in your journey towards health and fitness — don’t be afraid to do what’s right for you and your relationship. You got this!  

Refuel Recipe: 3-Ingredient Creamy Pesto Pasta

And we’re back with our final yogurt star of this month’s Refuel Recipes. Just to review, each month, we’re focusing on one key ingredient that’s both delicious and nutritious and teach you how to incorporate it into your diet simply and sustainably. This month: Yogurt, obviously, of the Greek or Icelandic family! (Wait, what’s the difference?)

I firmly believe that pasta is best served drenched in a decadent, unapologetically rich cream-based sauce. And if it weren’t for it being a direct threat to my vital organs, I would eat a heavy, creamy pasta for every meal, forever. So, if you’re looking for a creamy pasta recipe suitable for any ol’ weeknight, this might be your winner! 3 basic ingredients, 10 minutes from start to finish and totally customizable.

3 Ingredient Creamy Pesto Pasta

Serving size: ½ cup cooked pasta | Number of servings: 2
Nutrition facts per serving: Calories – 250 | Fat – 13g | Carbs – 21g | Protein – 13g

Prep time: 5m | Cook time: 5m

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Banza Chickpea Pasta (or any pasta of choice)
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup pesto (I use Trader Joe’s vegan pesto, but any kind will work!)
  • Chicken, parmesan cheese, fresh basil, chopped tomatoes or anything else you want to throw on top (not included in macros)

Instructions:

  1. Boil the pasta according to package instructions, making sure to salt the water well. Drain when pasta is al dente (aka when it still has a bite to it)
  2. Fold in the pesto and Greek yogurt, being careful not to smush your noods.
  3. Garnish with toppings of your choice. Voila! Pasta for 2 in under 10 minutes. 

Notes: 

  • Experiment with other alternative pastas like red lentil, black bean or whole wheat!
  • This recipe is super easy to scale for bigger groups or easy to throw together for your family on a busy night.

Refuel Recipe: Homemade Tzatziki

Welcome to another week of Refuel Recipes! Just to review, 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: Yogurt! Of the Greek or Icelandic family! (Wait, what’s the difference?)

ICYMI, This versatile gut biome-boosting food is packed with protein and probiotics — and boasts more nutritional value and less fat and sugar content than its traditional American cousin. While it is often the replacement for higher fat foods in many recipes, today it’s front and center in this homemade tzatziki dip! Tzatziki is a traditional greek yogurt and cucumber sauce that can be used as a dip, dressing or spread. Crazy name and crazy versatile! 

This recipe is as simple as it gets. Minimal ingredients, minimal work and big flavor make it the perfect appetizer or party snack next time you need to please a big group. Or, just make a big batch at the beginning of the week and put it on literally everything.

Homemade Tzatziki

Serving size: ¼ cup | Number of servings: 6
Nutrition facts per serving: Calories – 120 | Fat – 7g | Carbs – 6g | Protein – 9g

Prep time: 15m | Cook time: 0m

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups grated cucumber (from about 1 medium 10-ounce cucumber, no need to peel or seed the cucumber first, grate on the large holes of your box grater)
  • 1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint and/or dill
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Working with one big handful at a time (or in a cheese cloth altogether), lightly squeeze the grated cucumber between your palms over the sink to remove excess moisture. Transfer the squeezed cucumber to a serving bowl, and repeat with the remaining cucumber.
  2. Add the yogurt, olive oil, herbs, lemon juice, garlic, and salt to the bowl, and stir to blend. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and add additional chopped fresh herbs, lemon juice, and/or salt, if necessary (I thought this batch was just right as-is).
  3. Serve tzatziki immediately or chill for later. Leftover tzatziki keeps well, chilled, for about 4 days.

Notes: 

  • Serve as a dip with pita chips, crackers or crisp raw veggies
  • Serve as a dressing or spread on things like salads, falafel sandwiches or pitas! 
  • MAKE IT DAIRY FREE/VEGAN: Substitute an equal amount of cashew sour cream for the yogurt, and thin the tzatziki with a small splash of water if necessary.

Refuel Recipe: Greek Yogurt, Oat & Chocolate Chip Muffins

Welcome to S2:E2 of Refuel Recipes! Just to review, 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: Yogurt! Of the Greek or Icelandic family! (Wait, what’s the difference?) ICYMI, This versatile gut biome-boosting food is packed with protein and probiotics — and boasts more nutritional value and less fat and sugar content than its traditional American cousin. It’s a great substitute for higher fat foods such as buttermilk, sour cream or oil. 

ICYMI, This versatile gut biome-boosting food is packed with protein and probiotics — and boasts more nutritional value and less fat and sugar content than its traditional American cousin. It’s a great substitute for higher fat foods such as buttermilk, sour cream or oil. 

Since we’ve only ~skimmed the surface~ (yogurt joooookes), take a look back at our first greek yogurt recipe for a deeper dive into the health benefits of this super substitution. This recipe features a guest appearance from last month’s star ingredient, oats, packs a pre-workout punch and is sure to please adults and littles alike!

Greek Yogurt, Oat and Chocolate Chip Muffins

Serving size: 1 muffin | Number of servings: 12

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories – 130 | Fat – 6g | Carbs – 17g | Protein – 3g

Prep time: 20m | Cook time: 16-18m

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain greek or Icelandic yogurt
  • ¼ cup milk or milk alternative
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2 cups chocolate chips (or blueberries)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin with liners or grease with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, egg, vanilla, honey and melted butter/oil.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the remainder of the ingredients.
  4. Add the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (don’t overmix).
  5. Portion batter evenly into muffin tin.
  6. Bake for 14-17 minutes until the tops spring back to touch.
  7. Remove from the oven, let cool and enjoy! Store in an airtight container on the counter for a few days or freeze for later.
    1. Tip: Layering paper towels in between muffins in your airtight container will help absorb excess moisture and will help thwart sogginess.

Notes: 

  • If you want to minimize the blueberries or chocolate chips sinking to the bottom while baking, instead of adding them to the batter, you can try dropping a few on top of each muffin after the batter has been portioned into the liners/muffin tin.
  • Plain or unflavored Greek yogurt is ideal — flavored yogurts are often higher in sugar, and will result in a much sweeter muffin. Think: cupcakes.
  • Plant-based yogurts work well, too! Just pay attention to the ingredients. Lookin’ for whole foods here, people. 

Introducing Colin Baillargeon with Move First Chiropractic

*If taking five to read this intro-to-Colin blog makes you want to step on LEGOs, scroll to the bottom for my booking link and mark your calendars for the Move First Workshop!

— 

It’s not uncommon for me to refer to myself as both doctor and dumb jock.

I grew up in a small town in Michigan, which meant our high school didn’t have tryouts for any of our athletics. I wasn’t necessarily blessed with size or coordination in my younger years, but I had a whole lot of try-hard and went out for every team I could join.Throughout grade school, I played and competed in nearly everything you could think of: football, basketball, track and field, golf, and yes, even cheerleading.

Surprisingly enough, cheerleading won out, and I was given the opportunity to continue cheering at the collegiate level. Which in turn gave me ample opportunity to be injured by the sport I loved. How rude. I spent my first three years of college at Grand Valley State University building an injury inventory, which included  a few concussions, a few broken noses, shoulder injuries, and lumbar disc herniations. Needless to say, cheerleading is no joke.

At the National Competition for cheerleading (yes, in Daytona),  I saw Oklahoma State’s cheer team perform and instantly knew that’s where I wanted to be. I was fortunate enough to make the Co-Ed Cheer Team at OSU the very next year. A bigger and better team meant my training volume increased, and as a result, so did my injuries. Back injuries would come and go through my two years at OSU, but my most memorable mishap was a fall resulting in substantial ligament and muscle injury to my elbow. The initial projection was a 13 month recovery, but with a great surgeon and rehab team I was back to basket tosses in a mere 4 months.

At OSU, we were fortunate enough to have a strength staff, an athletic training staff, team doctors, and coaches that were all working to keep the athletes moving throughout the season. Through all of my work with these teams I never stopped asking questions, and I truly believe the focus on understanding my injuries drastically chopped my recovery time. Immediately after receiving my BS in Nutrition, I moved to Dallas to start chiropractic school. Turns out, all my time spent learning about the body through my own injuries after years of athletic abuse served as the catalyst to my career.

Finishing chiropractic school and dealing with personal injuries lit a kinesiological fire under my ass. I dove into studying more biomechanics, lifting technique, soft tissue techniques, and the neurology behind movement. I became certified in Applied Kinesiology, Active Release Technique, Functional Range Conditioning, and attended numerous post-graduate neurology courses. 

After years of rehab, I was able to get back into training the way I truly enjoyed. I was building a practice, coaching CrossFit, training olympic lifting during the week, and hitting strong man workouts on the weekend.  My goal was to explore movement, learn more about how we can recover from injury, and train to mitigate injury all in the same place: the gym. 

After a few years working in Dallas I decided I’d had enough of the big city life and moved to Austin to continue exploring, to plant roots, to lift weights, and to ride bikes. After 10 years of being surgery free, 5 of which were completely injury free, I found myself in the operating room. Again. As my wife puts it, “I fell off my bicycle,” but at least I was in Utah on a mountain and not just cruising to Taco Deli. That fall resulted in a broken wrist, with substantial ligament damage, and a broken clavicle. A handful of screws and a metal plate later, I was mostly put back together, and so began another healing journey.  

The experience of being in rehab again has brought on much reflection about not only the type of patient I want to see, but also the type of doctor I strive to be. If I’ve learned anything in my career as both a competitive athlete and a doctor, it’s that movement is medicine. Our instinct when we are injured is to wait it out; be horizontal, watch some Netflix, RICE, and then resume our old activities when the pain almost goes away. In most cases this is the exact wrong approach. This is where finding a good doctor, trainer, or movement specialist is paramount. 

My goal when working with people is to dive into why someone moves the way they do. Is there a lack of range of motion or strength that is creating compensation? Have we learned sub-optimal movement patterns? Or are we moving around an old injury out of laziness? The aspect of the human body that amazes me most is that all of these changes in movement patterns happen subconsciously; born out of protection. Building a strong awareness of how you move and a general understanding of best movement practices is a key step in resolving injuries and pain.

This is where my passion comes in. I know first hand how frustrating it is to have an injury keeping you from the activities you enjoy. I’ve dealt with the nagging aches and pains that make basic movements like sitting, walking, squatting, even standing — much less enjoyable. I want to empower people; to help cultivate an understanding of movement that will allow them to continue moving well, deep into their lives.

I will be opening the door to Move First – Performance Chiropractic (inside of Crossfit Renew) in early February. “Move First” because proper movement mechanics is our biggest tool in resolving injury and pain, yes, but also thwarting it. How and why you move the way you do will be our first step toward the road to health.

If you’ve made it this far and my impeccable writing skills have bewitched you into finally taking the first step toward a more mobile life, book your initial assessment here. We’ll do a detailed movement assessment and exam, administer treatment of current pain points, go over key exercises from which you can immediately benefit, and you’ll walk out with some take-home exercises to do in between appointments. 

Stay tuned for more blogs coming soon over at movefirstchiro.com, and follow me on Instagram (@DrGingerBeard), where I’ll be sharing content about prehab/rehab techniques, lifting technique, biomechanics, and more.

5 small but S.M.A.R.T. changes to make for a better you in 2020

*If you’re only here to get to the good stuff, scroll on down to the end. If you want some higher level stuff to simmer on and you have 2 extra minutes to burn, let’s do this: 

In the midst of this season characterized by goal-setting and resolution-making, I think it’s absolutely imperative you first address your mental state. The fact of the matter is, most people will, in some form or fashion, set some goals for themselves in 2020. 

Eat more vegetables.

Drink more water.

Cultivate a discipline of gratitude.

Run a marathon.

Worry less.

Spend more time with my family.

Put away your laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer. 

All of these statements have one common denominator: they’re all describing a “better” version of the person stating them; revolving around one’s identity. It’s not that I simply want to “get in shape” or “read more”, it’s that I want to be a person who is healthy and BE a person who reads voraciously. My resolutions, and yours, are a window into the type of people we want to become

James Clear puts it this way: “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. This is one reason why meaningful change does not require radical change. Small habits can make a meaningful difference by providing evidence of a new identity. And if a change is meaningful, it is actually big. That’s the paradox of making small improvements”.

So, before you put pen to paper and solidify your goals for 2020, consider this: What type of person do you wish to become? How do you plan to get there? Once you have an identity-centric goal, it’s time to figure out what your Identity Building Units or “IBUs” are going to be. In other words — what actions/habits/tactics do you need to establish in order to transform yourself into the future you you hope to become? 

Actions, habits, tactics: be S.M.A.R.T

So let’s get to what all of you have been patiently waiting for: the what and how. Because I am the Nutrition Coach at a CrossFit gym, let’s use a fitness/wellness goal as the example here:

“In 2020, I want to be/become the type of person that is intentional about their fitness and wellness.” 

So, what are the habits of this type of person? We know they probably stick to a certain exercise regimen, fuel their body with whole foods, get plenty of sleep, and drink a good amount of water. But for the sake of getting tactical and practical — we know the actions and tactics in order to become this type of person need to be S.M.A.R.T.; specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. So here are 5 small but S.M.A.R.T daily changes you can make to become a person that is intentional about their fitness and wellness:

  1. Buy a reusable bottle with a straw: Drinking 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water daily is a simple but impactful way to improve both your performance in the gym and your overall health (think: improved digestion, sleep, nails, skin, hair — the list goes on). If you struggle with this, give yourself time goals in order to achieve your daily intake goal. For example, a 160 pound woman needs to consume 80oz of water a day — I recommend breaking it up into 20oz chunks to make it more attainable. 20oz by 10am, 40oz by 12pm, 60 oz by 2pm, 80oz by 4pm — and the rest is bonus points. 
  2. Prioritize your workouts: Just as you would prioritize a meeting with your boss, happy hour with your friends, or soccer on Saturdays — your workouts must become a calendar commitment. Every Sunday, examine your week ahead and plan out your workouts. Put them on your calendar and stick to them. General statements like “I’ll go a few times this week” afford too much wiggle room and won’t set you up for success. Be specific and stick with it.
  3. Habit stack: “Habit stacking” is the concept that when you pair a habit you want to have with a habit you already have, you are much more likely to successfully implement the new, wanted habit. It’s an extremely attainable way to introduce new habits into your daily routine. And what’s one thing you (hopefully) do every morning? Brush your teeth. So, pick one new habit pertaining to your goal to stack on top of brushing your teeth — and do it. Maybe you struggle to make healthy choices during work lunch hours — if so, take this time to pack a lunch. Set it by your keys so it’s at the ready and go about getting ready for the day. 
  4. Eat the rainbow: Whether you’re a veggie fan or foe — we can all work on incorporating more color into our diets. But “eat more vegetables” isn’t measurable or specific, so every week (perhaps as you plan your workouts) map your meals and measure your veggies. Pick 1 new “color” to eat per week, and prep 1c per meal of whatever you choose. 
  5. Get someone in your corner: Whether a gym friend or a coworker who wants to make similar changes — keep your goals relevant and top of mind with someone who can help keep you accountable. 

Thanks for sticking with me, friends! When you sit down to make your New Year’s goals (or maybe rework them a little) and resolutions, remember to ask yourself: “what type of person do I want to become” and then start building S.M.A.R.T.

Here’s to an amazing 2020. Happy habitting. 

Lauren Bratcher

Nutrition Coach

Lauren has been an athlete at Renew since 2018, and has been spearheading Refuel, Renew’s Nutrition Program, since 2019. When she’s not testing biometrics, meal prepping or sending enthusiastic, emoji-packed text messages to her nutrition clients — you can find her at a coffee shop sipping on an oat milk latte or running around Town Lake with her Australian Shepherd. As a former die-hard bootcamper, Lauren’s sweet spots in the gym include any bodyweight-centric movements: box jumps, running, double-unders — which explains why her all-time favorite benchmark workout is Angie. 

Refuel Recipe: Blueberry Lemon Bar Greek (or Icelandic) Yogurt Parfait

Welcome to the second round of Refuel Recipes! Just to review, 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: Yogurt! Of the Greek or Icelandic family! (Wait, what’s the difference?) This versatile gut biome-boosting food is packed with protein and probiotics — and boasts more nutritional value and less fat and sugar content than its traditional American cousin. Before we jump in to the first recipe, here’s a thing or three about why we love Greek or Icelandic yogurt:

Greek and Icelandic yogurts are good for the gut.

Both yogurts, due to their straining processes, are rich in probiotics – good bacteria that can help restore a healthy bacterial balance within the gut biome. A healthy gut can have far reaching positive effects on overall health, yes, even mental health! A 2016 study found that people who ate 100 grams of probiotic yogurt a day or took a daily probiotic capsule experienced less stress, depression, and anxiety than those who did not. This effect is likely due to the relationship between the gut and brain, and the ability of the gut to make neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine.

Greek and Icelandic yogurts fill you up and keep you that way.

Both yogurts contains ~twice the protein content of regular yogurts. Long story short, meals or snacks that are higher in protein keep you feeling fuller, longer! With the right ratio of protein to carbohydrates, yogurt, particularly high-protein Greek or Icelandic yogurt, also makes an excellent post-workout snack.

A great substitute.

Both Greek and Icelandic yogurts have a particular texture profile that make it a wonderful substitute for higher fat foods: it’s cool, it’s thick, it’s creamy! This means it does a pretty decent job of filling in for less nutritionally dense foods such as buttermilk, margarine, and traditional sour creams.

Our first yogurty recipe is simple but mighty. It comes together quickly, makes a great breakfast or snack and, if we do say so, is pretty dang pretty. 

Blueberry Lemon Bar Greek Yogurt Parfait

Serving size: 1 parfait | Number of servings: 1 

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories – 274 | Fat – 7g | Carbs – 33g | Protein – 21g

Prep time: 5m | Cook time: None!

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp slivered almonds

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl combine greek yogurt, honey and lemon juice
  2. In serving bowl or small mason jar, layer ½ the yogurt, ½ the blueberries and ½ the almonds
  3. Repeat step 2 and enjoy your protein-packed breakfast!

Notes: 

  • Plain or unflavored Greek yogurt is ideal — flavored yogurts often contain a high sugar content. 
  • Plant-based yogurts work well, too! Just be sure to note macros (if that’s for you) and sugar content.
  • This recipe is an excellent make-ahead option for meal prepping! Toppings and all. Simply store in an air-tight container, and be sure to eat within 3-5 days.