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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 03-04-2005, 10:09 PM   #1
Steven Meurrens
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My name is Steven, and I have been doing Crossfit for about four months, completing on average 4-5 workouts out of every 6 posted. During this time, I have made tremendous strength gains, and my cardio has definetly improved. I'm most impressed with how my Olympic lifting has gone up.

I feel that I have overcome steps towards reaching my ideal fitness level, and have a couple questions that I would really appreciate being answered so that I can take it to the next level.

Just for information sake, I am 20. I am 5'10 and weight 165''. My weight hasn't changed at all since starting crossfit, but that doesn't really concern me.

1) What is the difference between the Zone and Paleo diets? About three weeks ago, I skeptically started loosely following the Zone diet. This consisted of ensuring that every meal had about an equal amount of carbs and protein, and that my meals were divided into 5 stages throughout the day. Is the Paleo diet similar to what I am doing? Is there anything else essential to the Zone diet that I am not doing?

2) When it comes to sleep, I always try and make sure that I get eight hours. Too much? Too little? If I am unable to fall asleep instantly and lie there awake is that a sign that I am getting too much sleep? Is it better to try and force yourself to go to bed early and wake up early, or sleep in..

3) This may sound silly, but it's something I've wondered. How does [normal healthy hormone-driven activity] effect both energy/fitness levels throughout the day, or that hormonal balance stuff Dr. Sears talks about in the Zone?

4) This is a delimma I often find myself in. In your opinion, is it worth doing the WOD at night if it means that I will lose an hour or more of sleep. Sometimes I don't have time during the day to do the workout, and wonder if it is worth losing sleep for?

5) Personally I don't enjoy doing the "how much can you do in 20 minutes" routines, and have taken up swimming instead. Why is there no swimming in any of the WODs?

6) My pullup numbers have dropped tremendously since I started crossfit. Before, I could do about 15 pullups. Now, after 8-9 my shoulders and upper back are really sore and I have to break. Has this happened to anyone else?

6) Finally, can anyone recommend or point me in the direction of some articles that mention how to develop mental toughness, in particular drills that can be done to develop this?

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Old 03-04-2005, 11:09 PM   #2
Seth Drown
Member Seth Drown is offline
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Jackson  TN
Posts: 53
Welcome to the forums, Steven! I'll give your questions a shot.

1) Paleo vs Zone: The Paleo Diet is simply about trying to eat as closely to our paleolithic ancestors as possible. It emphasizes the types and quality of food eaten (wild game and grass-fed meat, fresh produce, nuts, etc). The Zone also emphasizes healthy foods, but is more strict about macronutrient ratios (proteins, carbs, and fats)and total calories. Technically speaking, one could follow Zone protocols using some non-paleo foods. I think the consensus here is that using paleo food choices optimizes the Zone.

2) Sleep: 8 hours a night sounds great! One good test is this: do you need an alarm to wake yourself up in the morning? If so, you might need more sleep. If you've been up for 16 hours and you don't feel sleepy, you may be getting too much visual stimulation (watching tv, reading the crossfit forums, etc) at night. Try to turn that stuff off at least an hour before you hit the sack. Sleeplessness can also be caused by stress. Luckily, exercise both relieves stress and makes it easier to get to sleep.

3) Sex, etc: I don't think you have to worry about it. I don't know about Zone, but sex is definitely Paleo. :wink:

4) Missing sleep to complete WOD It depends on your goals. If your main goal is to complete the WOD every day, then I would miss an hour of sleep to complete it. As long as you are getting 7-9 hours most nights, I wouldn't worry about the occasional miss.

5) Swimming and the WOD: I don't enjoy the "how much can you do in 20 minutes" routines either . . . that's why I do them! Unfortunately, the more enjoyable "drink a beer in the shade" routine just wasn't getting me in shape. Seriously, why not just incorporate some swimming in the WOD (for example, in place of runnning) or do the swimming in addition to the WOD? It sounds like you just don't like the fact that the WODs are hard.

6) Pullups: We do quite a few pullups in the WOD, so it's strange that yours would have dropped. Were you a pullup "specialist" prior to crossfit? If so, you may be more of a "generalist" now (i.e, all-around fit) at the expense of some pullup numbers. Or you may have some kind of injury.

7) Mental Toughness: Here's a great suggestion: complete the WOD as prescribed every day!

Whew! I'm up past my bedtime. Good night!

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Old 03-05-2005, 02:34 AM   #3
Beth Moscov
Member Beth Moscov is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Boulder Creek  CA
Posts: 1,269
Seth answered most of those just fine but I wanted to add that I remembered Coach or Lauren once getting the swimming question and answering that they don't put swimming in very often cause so many of us don't have access to swimming pools. I know they think swimming is great though. But I agree with Seth - do it in addition to the wod. Especially if you hate a type of wod - do that one, or that exercise, no matter what cause it is showing a weakness.
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Old 03-05-2005, 07:34 AM   #4
Larry Lindenman
Affiliate Larry Lindenman is offline
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Chicago  Illinois
Posts: 2,769
I think the answer to #7 and the first three words in #5: "I don't enjoy" are linked. Mental toughness comes from doing what you don't want or like to do. Pull-up numbers going down and mental toughness may be linked to: "skeptically started loosely following the Zone diet." If you do not supply your body with proper nutrition performance suffers. So get on the Zone 40-30-30. Then attempt to bring the parameters into paleo. Make a commitment to do all of the WODs, regradless if you like them or not. You may sub swimming for running or rowing...but why? I'd sub swimming for long efforts (5-10K). By the way Seth great post, and Steven: of course, listen to anything Beth has to say.
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Old 03-05-2005, 10:11 AM   #5
Steve Lewis
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Mental Toughness, great subject.

It comes down to commitment.

What are your goals & what actions do you need to take to get there? Then, whether you feel like it or not you take daily action to get there.

When you are in the middle of those actions and you feel like quitting, giving a minimal effort, etc. you must re-commit and finish it as strong as you can...whether you feel like it or not. It is a mindset of mental toughness, which over time you can develop as a habit. There are no excuses...Do or Do Not

A couple of resources would be Jim Loehr. He has written books on mental toughness and has some tapes on the subject. There is an article on T-Nation right now (, 'The Secret Weapon' that talks about a bit about that. The guy interviewed 'Dr. Jack Singer' has a web site which is linked in the article and it looks interesting.
Also, I must recommend Anthony Robbins book 'Awaken the Giant Within'. It is a great book with lots of stuff to get you moving in the right direction of mental toughness.

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Old 03-05-2005, 12:58 PM   #6
John Daniel
Member John Daniel is offline
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: St. Louis  MO
Posts: 70
I think coaches qoutes from last month are very applicable here. There is great wisdom in these words:

"We are practicing not weightlifting but commitment. Commitment spawns success. Only by redoubling our efforts do we best succeed. Expecting success to motivate our efforts is the loser’s gambit."

- Glassman

"If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way."

- Mark Twain
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