5 Health Metrics That Are More Important Than Weight

For some strange reason American’s have chosen the scale as their favorite way to track progress around their health. People derive their sense of self worth based on the number facing up at them from between their feet. If you’re someone who draws any sort of emotional reaction, positive or negative, from the scale then you may want to self reflect and consider if there are better options out there. 

The funny part is that weight is such an inconsequential and ambiguous predictor of substance. Just consider this. If you have three avocados-one freshly picked and hard as a rock, one brown soft and ooze, and one firm ripe and tender-which one are you going to slice open to make your guacamole with? It shouldn’t matter if they all weigh 170 grams right…

What you are made of, how you feel, and what you are able to produce are all factors of way greater significance than your weight. 

What you weigh is going to constantly fluctuate. You may lose weight and be less healthy. You may be well hydrated one day and performing well then get totally thrown off because your weight went up a pound or two. This number doesn’t say who you are as a person or how healthy and fit you may be. It’s just an arbitrary number. Stop letting the pounds run your life and change the way you feel about yourself. Instead try one of these alternative ways that measure success off the scale!

Body Fat Percentage

Body fat percentage is an alternative way to track your progress and provides much more actionable information than just your weight in pounds. This takes into account your lean muscle mass. In this way you can actually gain weight in muscle which would consequently reduce your percentage of body fat. This is a clear example of how gaining weight would make you healthier. Plus as you add more muscle to your frame you will burn more calories at rest. The fat will disappear faster and faster on it’s own!

Measurements

Taking specific measurements is a great way to achieve the goals around the way you want to look. Measuring neck, arm, waist, hips, thigh, and calf circumference can help you transform your body without ever worrying about the scale. Losing two inches off your waist will make you look and feel like a whole new person!

Habit Tracking

One of the best replacements for weighing yourself is to instead track daily health habits. If you track metrics like sleep, hydration, servings of veggies, daily walking, and other relevant habits you can focus on the right behaviors to make you look and feel great in the long run. This takes discipline but it is essential to long lasting transformation.

Performance Metrics

Switching your focus to the weight on the bar is a great alternative to the scale. People will often train harder and longer in pursuit of strength and performance goals than solely for aesthetic purposes. If you push yourself more in training the results will speak for themselves!

 

What’s Keeping You From Achieving Your Goals?

If you currently want something in your life that you don’t have then there is a 100% chance that you are human. How you define yourself is by the action you take towards bringing those into your life. Some people make declarations about how they are finally going to make the big change
Generally, if you have a goal you haven’t achieved yet you fall into one of these three camps. 

  • You don’t know what to do and you don’t know how to do it.
  • You don’t think you deserve it.
  • You haven’t put in the work.

So what’s really keeping you from achieving your goals? Let’s find out…
1. You don’t know what to do and you don’t know how to do it.
This is generally the first challenge you encounter when you have a new goal. Luckily it is also the easiest barrier to address when it comes to making positive changes in your life. Whether you seek to earn more money, improve your health, or find your soulmate there are websites, coaches, books, podcasts, and more resources than you know what to do with. Success leaves clues and in the information age we live in you have access to the tools and resources you need to get started on the path to your goal.
“When action is our priority, vanity falls away.”  – Ryan Holiday
Let’s say your goal is to lose 10 pounds and keep it off. Like forever keep it off. Many adults find themselves at a weight they don’t feel comfortable and confident at. The problem is that if you have only ever gained weight since you were a kid and never seen the scale go (and stay) in the opposite direction then you are a total novice. Being a professional weight gainer is easy for you, you’ve done it your whole life. If you want to lose weight then you have to start fresh. It’s time to throw out what you think is true about nutrition and exercise because all of the information you have is through the lens of a person who has only ever gained weight. Let go of ego. Let go of pride. If you want to make the change then you have to start with fresh eyes.
2. You don’t think you deserve it.
This could be thought of as self-sabotage. Maybe since you were a child you have been conditioned to think a certain way. Many of the long-standing beliefs humans hold are instilled by parents, environments, or traumatic experiences. Long ago the brain accepted as fact that “this is the way it is”. If you have a long-held belief that is clashing with one of your current goals then your first order of business is to remove that roadblock. No amount of will power or strategy can overcome a fixed mindset. You are an adult and you are responsible for your own life. You have the power to change any condition that you don’t want. 
“How have I been complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” -Jerry Colonna
Executive coach and author Jerry Colonna asks a powerful question to himself and his clients. “How have I been complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” Ask yourself this question in the context of your current goal. If you are struggling to lose weight, what are the things that you have been “okay with” lately? If it’s the food in the fridge that you snack on, skipping your workout, or surrounding yourself with people who have unhealthy habits then that is entirely on YOU to change. That starts by demanding more of yourself. You have to consider yourself worthy of the goal you claim to want. When you are mentally ready to be the person who achieves this goal you will be able to receive it.
3. You haven’t put in the work.
This can be the most frustrating camp to fall into when it comes to not achieving your goals. You may be doing everything right. You hired the coach, you have a strategy, and you’re executing on it every day. So why haven’t you accomplished your goal yet?! 
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” -Vince Lombardi
Whether growing a business or growing your biceps it can be tough when the results haven’t shown up yet. So what should you do?
KEEP GOING! 
Constantly ask yourself: What else could I be doing? Continually revisit camps one and two in this post. Are there any additional resources or tools that could be getting you to your goals faster? Could you work with someone who has proven results in the exact area you are trying to grow? Are there any roadblocks you are creating for yourself? Is there an area where your behavior is inconsistent with the outcome that you seek?
Frustration or anger can itself be a powerful tool. If you are fed up with your lack of progress then you should use that as fuel for your fire. If you have the bandwidth to be upset about your situation then you most likely have the bandwidth to work harder (or smarter 😉 )
If you still don’t know why the results won’t come then you should consider working with a mentor or coach who can help you get there. A great coach will help you set up a framework for success. They will help you develop a SMART goal that aligns with your mission and current state. Understanding the time frame and order of steps necessary to achieve a goal can dramatically improve your mindset and the way you tackle each day. You can break your goal down into manageable chunks and as you check them off you will build momentum towards your big goal. The best coaches will be clear and neutral in their feedback about what it takes to get to you to your goal. 
You want to surround yourself with people who will be supportive and honest your path to success. Avoid the detractors. That includes anyone who tells you they support you, but that you can’t achieve what you want and to “get real”. This life is yours to choose and you can’t waste time with the people that will only hold you back. 

Memorial Day Weekend  Means Murph for CrossFit Gotham

As evidenced by Simone’s daily upload to her Instagram account, Coach Mike is known for programming intense WODs at CrossFit Gotham. There are, however, some workouts that go above and beyond the box’s usual intensity level: “Hero WODs”. A “Hero WOD” is a tribute to a first responder or member of the armed services who died while serving honorably in the line of duty, which makes them somewhat more meaningful than the average daily workout. Among the toughest, meanest, and most notorious of these “Hero WODs” is Murph!

 

But what exactly is Murph? In a nutshell, Murph is a prolonged challenge that combines an athlete’s endurance, strength, and mobility, with a whole lot of time in their own head – a head that is continually telling you to slow down or tap out. The workout is named after Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy who was killed during Operation Red Wing that took place in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005.

 

Lt. Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed force. Since Lt. Murphy’s actions on that fateful day embody the values and spirit of true heroes, and to immortalize his courage, bravery and most of all – self-sacrifice, a “Hero WOD” was named in his honor. 

 

This workout, originally called “Body-Armor”, was created by Lt. Murphy himself and comprises of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air-squats, capped off As the story goes, Lt. Michael Murphy was part of a four-man Navy SEAL team entrenched “deep behind enemy lines” in a remote area of Afghanistan, when local farmers observed the team and reported its position to Taliban fighters. Soon, the four were under attack, each of whom was wounded as they made their way down the side of the mountain. With the situation worsening, the communication officer “sought to place a distress call back to base,” but before he could, he was shot in the hand. Lt. Murphy, wounded at the time, “fought his way into open terrain – knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire”, to aid the communication officer and make the call himself. While attempting to contact base, Lt. Murphy was shot in the back, causing him to drop the transmitter. According to the action summary, however, “Murphy (then), while severely wounded, picked it back up, completed the call, and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in. Severely wounded, Lt. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.” 

 

Because of his brave and daring actions on the field of battle, by another one-mile run – all while wearing a 20lb vest (Yes Mo, you have to wear a vest). Murph is not easy, it is a high-volume workout and requires the respect it deserves. Because of its intensity, Murph has become a Memorial Day tradition at CrossFit Gotham and many CrossFit boxes around the country as a way to pay tribute to those who put their lives in harm’s way so we don’t have to. Interestingly, COVID-19 has made Murph even more infamous: On Memorial Day 2020, Hunter McIntyre set an unofficial record, allegedly completing Murph in 34 minutes 13 seconds (Jason!!), and Lee Davis of Rhapsody CrossFit in Charleston, South Carolina, did Murph 16 times in under 24 hours. But most astonishingly, Graham Dessert completed Murph every day for 365 days straight, with the last time being on February 20, 2021 (James, this may be a way to lose those twenty pounds – just a thought).

 

So, this Memorial Day weekend, as a way to pay tribute to our first responders and military personnel, join CrossFit Gotham in its annual Murph challenge. Just remember that even though your palms may be ripped and bloody, your chest feels like it’s about to explode, and your legs can barely take two more steps (And no matter how long it takes, Alley), put it aside, stop listening to that voice in your head and keep pushing forward to honor those who fight/fought for us and, most importantly, for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Just remember to bring your 20lb vest.

 

Happy Memorial Day

Robert J. Romano, JD LLM

CrossFit Gotham

NOTE:  CrossFit Gotham’s Murph will be held on Saturday, May 29, 2021 at 9:00am.

 

 

3 Exercises to Fix your Lower Back Pain

The body thrives on balance. Our muscles and joints are happiest when they are getting equal and total range of motion. The spine is no different and since it’s range of motion is smaller than most other joints, imbalances can be felt more intensely.

The spine requires the stability of the supporting muscles that surround it to keep up upright and mobile. When a link in this system is weak, the body will compensate in order to expend the least amount of energy. 

A common issue seen causing that dreaded lower back is due to tight hip flexors, tight spinal erectors, accompanied by weak abs and glutes, also referred to as the lower cross syndrome. The tightness of the body in one area causes another area of the body to become weak. 

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Buddhist Proverb

 

So how do you fix or prevent this? Here are three things you can do today to make sure your glutes are firing, your core is tight, and your hips and back muscles stay strong but supple.

  1. Single leg glute bridges, to strengthen the core & glutes. Aim for 3 sets of 15 on each side. Plant the bottom of your feet and palms firmly on the floor. Stack knees above ankles. Lift one foot off the ground and perform a single glute bridge with the other, pressing firmly into your palms, shoulders, and foot to take any pressure off the neck. Try to get the hips as high as possible, then lower to the ground.
  2. Couch Stretch, loosen the tight hip flexors Aim for 2 minutes on each side. Using a couch or a bench, get into a low lunge in front of your object of choice, and the goal of this stretch is to use the front leg to support your weight as you put your back foot on a couch or bench and get your knee as close to the couch or bench as possible to stretch the hip of the back leg.  
  3. Supine single-leg twists to loosen the tight muscles in the lower back.

Lay on your back, hands out to a T, and legs together, bring your right knee up to your chest and let it fall to the left side of your body. Try to keep the spine stacked in a straight line. Repeat on the left leg, bringing left knee to chest then letting it fall to your right, knee resting on the ground or a block. Spend at least a minute on each side.

Incorporate these exercises and stretches into your routine to help ease and prevent lower back pain. As always if anything causes pain, don’t do it and always consult your doctor before trying new things.

Work, Play, Compete, or Live Forever

If you are thinking about trying out a new training routine it’s important for you to consider your goals versus the goals of the program.

Most folks who participate in CrossFit and other HIIT styles of training may not know or understand the different styles of training available and who they might be best for. Some gyms offer a wide variety of classes to address the different needs of their members while others pride themselves on a particular specialty.

Put some thought into which camp you fall into when selecting a training program and you’ll be most likely to maximize your results and achieve your goals. Most folks fall into one of 4 camps.

1.Work
2.Play
3.Compete
4.Live Forever

Work
Let’s start with folks who train for work. They may have physically demanding jobs that require their bodies to perform for the execution of the job or to keep them safe. Law enforcement, firefighters and rescue personnel, and members of the armed forces all need to be in shape to keep them safe and performing at a high level. Other folks may have physically demanding jobs that require them to have strength and endurance for. Maintaining a high level of fitness let’s construction workers, landscapers, loggers, and other active professionals do better at work.

If you fall into this category it is important you find a training routine that supports your job performance. Workouts should be varied and keep you balanced. It’s also important that the workouts address the demands you will face on the job to help prevent injuries. Beware training programs that overwork you and leave sore or unable to perform your daily duties.

Play
If you fall into this category you know the importance of getting daily exercise, but you want it to be as fun as possible. Training should be engaging and allow you to connect with others who have the same goals as you do. You may lose interest doing the same routine over and over again so it’s important that you find a training program that mixes things up and keeps you engaged.

Compete
You train to make you better at a particular sport. Whether your sport is running, biking, skiing, soccer, or even CrossFit your training routine should be specific to the activity you are trying to excel in. Workouts need to consistently train the movements patterns you will experience in your sport to improve performance and reduce injury risk.
A great coach will know the volume of training needed to help you improve and how to plan out a training schedule for preseason, in-season, and off-season training cycles. Make sure you are training for the demands of the sport and not just following a powerlifting or bodybuilding program that doesn’t line up with your goals.

Live Forever
You train because you know it’s important for health and wellness. You’re not looking to compete but to enjoy your life and your family. You may not have a physically demanding job so you need a balance of cardiovascular and resistance training to keep you feeling good and moving well. You may also be looking for nutrition advice and other best practices to ensure you have a long and high functioning life.

If you fall into this category make sure you are training with the minimum effective dose in mind. You should leave most training sessions better than you went in.

Want to get started training, but still not sure how? Talk to one of our coaches about which of our programs might be best for you and we can answer all of your questions!

How To Optimize Your Warmup And Cooldown Routines

Warmups and cooldowns are an essential part of training and should be given as much thought and effort as the workout itself. In fact if you’re short on time you are better off going through a proper warmup, mobilization, and stretching session than to try to get a quick workout in while skipping those other components. Let’s take a look at why these components of training and see why each one is so important and how you can optimize it.

  • Warmup
  • Mobilization
  • Cooldown
  • Stretching

Warmup
Your warmup prepares your body and mind for that day’s training. Not every day is the same and your warmup is specific to that. When planning and executing the warmup you need to consider which energy system your body will be utilizing. A max rep back squat requires very different preparation than a conditioning session with double-unders and wall balls. The warmup helps to elevate heart rate, stimulate the nervous system, and optimize the function of the tissues and motor patterns you will be training that day. This will reduce your injury risk and optimize your ability to perform. 
If you are someone who enjoys chatting during the warmup or never quite breaks a sweat then I want to challenge you to dial it up a notch. Give your warmup 100% of your effort next class and see what I mean. If you are giving your best effort in the general and specific warm-up drills you will notice a huge difference in your ability to recruit and activate muscles. This will allow you to move with better form. The efficiency of moving with better form allows to lift more weight and improve your fitness. Isn’t that why we’re all here in the first place… 🙂
Mobilization
Human movement patterns can be broken down into a few broad and overarching groups like squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, rotate and walk. When you mobilize before a workout you are addressing 
Sometimes you will accomplish mobilization through a dynamic warm-up. Taking your joints through an increasing range of motion in order to prepare them for the rigors of the workout. Sometimes you will slow down and target specific tissues through foam rolling, flossing, or distraction techniques with a band. 
Let’s say the day’s workout is to build up to a heavy single deadlift. The first step is to consider what movement patterns will be involved. In this case, the deadlift involves a hinge as the primary movement pattern. You want to make sure that your back, hips, glutes, and hamstrings are well oiled and firing before you start touching a barbell. 
Cooldown
The cooldown can and should involve more than making sweat angels on the floor. The goal is to ensure continuous blood flow to remove the toxins and metabolites that have built up during your training session. By continuing to move after a workout you are actually improving your recovery and setting the tone for your next training session. Hopping on a bike or rower for 10:00 minutes and moving at an easy conversational pace can be a total game-changer in the way you feel the next day. This habit can be hard to do at first. Instead of laying on the floor until you crush your protein shake and head out the door you will develop mental toughness by challenging your body to keep moving. There are huge dividends to this and you will notice improvements in your recovery each day and reduced soreness.
Stretching
After your cooldown incorporating stretching and additional mobilization techniques into your routine is essential to optimize recovery and performance in your next workout. When you perform an exercise your body is in “fight or flight” mode. There is a huge shift that occurs during your stretching and rolling session where your body switches back into a parasympathetic or “rest and digest” state. Stretching muscles has been shown to temporarily improved range of motion and will help you when you go to tie your shoes the next morning. By focusing on breathing and moving your tight and sore muscles you are helping to establish homeostasis and you will feel much better for the rest of the day. This is a great practice to repeat again later in the day before bed, especially if you are someone who has trouble shutting off at night and unwinding.
Today we looked at why it is so important to optimize the warmup, mobilization, cooldown, and stretching. We all love to go hard in the workout, but by focusing on improving in these areas is really how you will start to see results!

The Best Exercise You’re probably Not Doing for Your Elbow Health

Still have that nagging elbow pain that won’t go away? It can prevent you from even picking up your coffee cup if it is really aggravated and will keep you out of the gym for days at a time.

This type of pain often occurs as inflammation due to overuse of the forearm muscles. THe symptoms of “tennis elbow” or “lateral epicondylitis” can be mitigated with ice or NSAIDs, but your goal should not be to deal with the symptoms.

Prevention is always the best measure and there are exercises you can do that will act as a rehab and prehab. Here is the best exercises you’re probably not doing for your elbow health. Adding this exercise in to finish your workout is a great way to combat elbow pain and prevent it from coming back! Enter the Zottman curl.

The Zottman Curl:

The Zottman curl is one of the best and most efficient exercises that you should be doing if you care about performance in grip heavy workouts with rope climbs, kettlebell swings, and deadlifts. This is also a great movement to prevent elbow pain from occurring.

You won’t need much weight to start ( especially if you’re rehabbing an injury). These curls are extremely hubbling and are very challenging on the biceps and extensor muscles in your forearms if performed correctly.

Start with a pair of dumbbells and a supinated grip. Perform a bicep curl and pause in the top position or :01-:02 with your biceps fully contracted. Slowly rotate your hands into a pronated (palms down) position before lowering the weight. In the bottom position rotate your palms back to a supinated position before performing your next rep.

Pro tip:
Performing these from a tall kneeling position on both knees will help you activate your core and glutes simultaneously and prevent you from cheating on the curl.

Perform 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps of this exercise with a light to moderate load. You should be able to perform these curls at the beginning or end of your workout 2-3 days each week. Give the Zottman Curl a try and bulletproof those elbows today!

Where does alcohol fit into your training?

Since about 7000 B.C., alcohol has been a staple for gatherings in many cultures. You may have heard that wine can actually be a healthy beverage for your heart, or that a hot toddy when you’re sick makes you get better quickly. Are these claims true? Like most answers: yes and no. It depends on a myriad of things like your genetics and the way your body processes alcohol, additives and the quality of the booze you’re consuming.

So where does this fit into your life? If you’ve ever wondered if you should avoid it all together, or can have a glass or two of your favorite red or microbrew, this article is for you.

Let’s talk about the science of alcohol. What’s in it that gives us that fuzzy feeling? The answer: ethanol. This substance absorbs into our bloodstream and causes a “depressing effect” on the systems in our bodies.Our reaction times slows, stress and anxiety are reduced, and the body altogether slows down.

Weightlifting and exercise in general generate metabolic waste for the body to process. The liver is instrumental in clearing these waste byproducts from the body. If you are working hard in your training you may be putting a hefty load of work on your liver. Make sure that if you are exercising and enjoy a few drinks you are getting ample rest and recovery to keep your body in balance.

There is also the additional calories to consider when it comes to alcohol. If you are trying to lose fat then there is most likely no room in your diet for excess calories. You want your primary calories to come from lean protein, fibrous vegetables, and heart healthy fats. Replacing some of those calories with alcohol put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies. Not only that, but after a few drinks you may become tempted to reach for foods that don’t support your body compositional goals.

Consuming alcohol doesn’t make you unhealthy or a bad person. Just like anything else you consume, it should have can have a place if you are responsible and keep it in balance with your health and wellness goals.

Choose an Environment that Supports You

The environment you place yourself in is arguably the most important decision you can make at any given moment. The actions the environment supports will shape your life and the decisions that you make. Sounds like a big statement but let’s think about it for a minute. Compare a few different potential options of environments you could spend your day in.

On one hand, you could spend your day throwing around heavy weights and being bold, focused and confident in an activity like weightlifting or CrossFit. Think about how you feel after lifting a barbell, or doing pull-ups. How do you feel? Maybe strong, determined, more powerful?

Now let’s consider another way your day’s activity could go. You go to a yoga class where you focus on your breath. Stillness and peace is a common feeling people get. You’re stretching, creating space. Think about how different that feels from the weightlifting you would do at the gym. The feelings you experience from doing yoga may be uplifting, and open. The gestures your and stretches you take your body through in a slowed down type of activity like yoga impacts the way your brain perceives your life.

Let’s analyze a third option. You go to an old friend’s house. You end up sitting on the couch having a few drinks and snacking. You watch a mindless TV show while your friends complains about work and how unhappy they are at their job.

Which experience do you think will make you grow? Which environment will contribute to the person you want to be?

Ding. Ding. Ding. It’s an easy choice right?!

“Surround yourself with people who remind you more of your future than your past.”
-Dan Sullivan

Put simply, you become what you do. Your body communicates who you are to your brain. If you spend your time doing hard work and lifting heavy weights, you start to think how strong you are and how you can do hard things. This will translate into your life. You become the type of person who is strong and can do hard things. In a place like yoga, or maybe running outside, you may experience those feelings of freedom, space and peace. You become a person who experiences these things.

It’s incredible how much how body influences how we think. Activity is so important to everyday life. The next time you’re working out, whatever activity it is that you choose, notice the messages your body sends your mind. Feeling weak in your life, like you can’t do anything right? Get under a barbell and do some hard shit. Feeling like you need more space in your life? Try some yoga or running. With your body as a tool you can create the environment you most need in your life.

Stop Doing It For The ‘Gram

More and more often these days we encounter folks living life through the lens of their smartphone. Ever since becoming a social influencer turned into a real career it has become increasingly difficult to know what is real and what is staged. Not only that, but how often are you interrupting your own life in order to capture a moment that is sure to get you attention on social media. Is it really worth it though? Stop and ask yourself…

How many beautiful sunrises get missed?

How many meals are really tasted and enjoyed?

How often do you dance just to let loose and blow off some steam?

Knowing that any, most, or all of what you do is being captured on camera changes the way you act. Every birthday party is a performance. Brunch is a photo shoot. A relaxing hike is #themountainsarecalling.

John Muir is rolling over in his grave.

This is not an article to just hate on people making a living off of instagram. It’s to bring awareness to the fact that what you see on Instagram is NOT real life. What you see most folks doing is playing a character in their own life. Showing a highlight reel that contains the settings, outfits, and activities they want you to see.

Ryan Holiday, author of Ego Is The Enemy says it well.

Almost universally, the kind of performance we give on social media is positive. It’s more “Let me tell you how well things are going. Look how great I am.” It’s rarely the truth: “I’m scared. I’m struggling. I don’t know.

Social media can be great for learning, sharing, and capturing memories. Just know that it is usually the opposite of social and it can often take away from the moment to pull out your phone.

You are worth so much more than likes and comments. Don’t get it twisted.

And if you do, be sure to tag us 😉

@yourgymnamehere