How's Your Coachability

Let's play a little mental experiment. Imagine ... You are in the middle of a WOD.  You can feel the lactic acid creeping in and your form starts to break down - but you keep plowing through.  Cue your coach - they tell you "reset your back!"  "knees out!" or "head position!"  Now for the important question: how do you react?  Do you listen or do you just keep moving for the sake of finishing with a faster time despite poorer mechanics, performance and safety risks?  Do you take a moment to hear what is being said, or do you get angry and frustrated at the coach for interrupting you?  What ever it is, your reaction is a measure of your coachability.

For those of you who don't make the corrections, you might be thinking: "I want to be faster & I want to win, so just keep moving."  Maybe you are thinking "it hurts so bad, just get through it."  Or perhaps it is as simple as "I can't calm my body/mind down enough to listen,"  But before you commit yourself to these mentalities - let's look at the consequences:

  • Safety:  This is the most obvious.  We coaches are trying to help you achieve your goals in an orthopedically safe manner.  We have your best interest in mind.  If you choose to ignore your coach, you are potentially putting yourself at risk of injury.
  • Bad habits die hard:  Movement is built on repetition.  If you do 5 perfect deadlifts during a warmup but do 30 poor form deadlifts during a WOD - which do you think your body will remember? (Keep in mind your habits will then determine the positions, postures, and movements you adopt outside of CrossFit)
  • Performance:  Our goal as coaches is to teach you perfect form, and then challenge your capacity to maintain it under change - such as load or high intensity.  Performance is your ability to do exactly that.  If you slop your way though to the finish, you are not only missing out on the physical benefits of doing an exercise right, but you are missing the point all together.

All of that sounds pretty bad, right?  Well here's the good news: coachability is a mental and physical skill.  It is another layer of technique.  Once you become aware of it and put in the effort to improve it, you will allow us to more effectively give you the tools you need to become the rockstar athlete you want to be.

Look How Far They've Come

It's a special edition of the Weekly Dose of Awesome, and it goes to the recently engaged Coach Steve and long-time badass/ambassador/white-board-doodler Anita. Steve is truly OG. He joined UB way back in September of 2010, became a pillar in our community and later a member of the coaching staff.  In September of 2013 Anita joined our ranks, became another community staple, and not long after the love connection was made!

We couldn't be happier for this super power couple.  Strong as hell on their own, they're even stronger together.  Join us in celebrating Steve and Anita!

Rather than let them answer our normal Awesome questionnaire, I decided it would be fun to let some of their friends and coaches answer for them.  Excuse this extra-long blog post, but please read on.  It's worth it! 


Nickname / Alter Ego: 
ANITA (by Christopher Comma) - Okay: Anita hails from Maryland and there's a type of music that she is familiar with that is specific to the MD and DC area called GO GO. In this culture, women are called 'Shawty' so that is my alter ego name for her... and, of course, #anitadoodles

STEVE (by Coach Jo) - Swole Steve, Silent Steve, Serious Steve... and, of course, Wongster    

Favorite WOD:  
ANITA (by Tao Tao) - Anything without running or a partner WOD with swolemate Tao Tao who can do all the running

STEVE (by Coach Max) - Karen, but you have to row 2k every 25 wallballs. Just kidding... basically anything involving a barbell and lots of plates.

Least favorite WOD: 
STEVE (by former UB coach, now Pacific Strength Owner James Kusama) - That’s an easy one... "NANCY". Limiting the amount of hypertrophy by holding a light barbell overhead while squatting simply brings a tear to Steve’s eye. We all know that anything besides resting a heavy barbell on your shoulders to squat, pulling it from the ground, or pressing it off your chest is simply criminal. And to top that all off, you want him to perform a gainz-stripping 400m run before each set? Think there's a better chance Tracy Anderson becomes a powerlifter before Steve ever programs a WOD like this for himself or a client.

ANITA (by Dave Huynh) - If i had to guess, it's Fran.  Anita hates pull-ups. Funny enough, it was in the 2014 Open on 14.2 with all the pull-ups that Steve was Anita's judge and he was giving her all his attention and encouragement.  I was like "Steve, can you judge me? He was like 'no'"

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit?
STEVE (by Coach Jenny) - You’d never know it now, but Steve is actually a robot.  He was able to acclimate to human life pretty convincingly, but his mobility gave him away.  While undergoing routine maintenance at PSOAS, his parts manager, Jen Rubenstein, sent him to UB to help him mobilize and blend in.

What’s your secret talent?
ANITA (by Tao Tao) - Not sure if this is really a secret or not but Anita is very accepting and can be very gullable at times, thus making it SUPER easy to pull off great surprises (i.e. the engagement and her 30th birthday)

STEVE (by former UB Coach and roommate Trent Simmons) - Steve Wong has the elite power to sell or find anything on Craig's List. Whether it's turning your old collection of 3-star DVDs into a quick buck, or maybe you're trying to channel your inner Julia Child and master the soft boiled egg by finding you a sous vide pressure cooker. It's a rare and gifted talent and Steve's the man!

What is your favorite shower song?
STEVE (by Coach Jason) - Anita once told me it's Fetty Wap - Trap Queen.  Maybe they sing it together ;)

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
ANITA (by K-Tjen) - Skull-crushing thighs! :)

STEVE (by Coach Nikki) - the ability to clone himself so he can be at UB and SF Iron and school and at his favorite restaurant with Anita, all at the same time.

We Have a Tie!

This was a record year for slogan entries and voting -- thank you!!!  We are also excited to announce we had a tie!   Don't stress -- we have a plan!

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Here's how it's going down.  The two winners:

  • Barbell Zilla (submitted by Dock)
  • Illustration of UB/CrossFit-ized California Flag (submitted by Jesse)

will be developed further and submitted for a tie-breaker vote.  Once posted, you will only get 2 days to vote - so stay tuned!

Thank you again to everyone who submitted an illustration or slogan and to everyone who voted!  We enjoy your creativity and appreciate your participation.  We can't wait to see who wins! 

Food for Thought: The Emotional Eating Struggle Is Real (Part 1)

I stumbled onto this article in Breaking Muscle about emotional eating targeted at women.  It is worth a share, as well as noting that emotional eating is by no means a woman specific issue...  Part 2 will be published next week.

When it comes to choosing between what’s healthy and unhealthy, sometimes it’s enough to “just say no,” like the anti-drug campaign of the Reagan era. But, when it comes to:

  • Eating more chips and queso or popcorn than we intended
  • Ordering the cheesy, fried appetizer over the shrimp ceviche
  • Indulging in some late-night Ben & Jerry’s
  • Eating when we are bored, stressed, anxious or worried
  • Over-analyzing the calories in the apple, sushi, or bite of chocolate you ate
  • Denying yourself food when you’re hungry
  • Feeling guilty or like you need to work off anything that goes in your mouth

...why is it that we can’t “just say no”? Simple. It is because the struggle is real.

It seems like something that shouldn’t exist. Like “adrenal fatigue,” “cell phone addiction,” and “obsession with healthy eating." It makes us ask: Is it really a thing? After all, don’t we all have the power of choice and willpower to decide what we do and don’t eat? How about what we think about and don’t think about?

Again, it is because the struggle is real.

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Why? (The Real Struggle)

“I just get cravings for _____ (popcorn, something sweet, chips).”

“How do you stop the thoughts?”

“I try to change, and may have a good day, but I always fall back into my old ways.”

So have said countless [individuals].

For whatever reason, sugar and cravings, binge eating and “behaviors” such as purging, restricting, and over-exercising, are the Achilles heel for many [people]. In fact, a survey conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that 3 in 4 women struggle with some form of disordered eating or way of thinking when it comes to eating.

That means 3 out of 4 of us, a whopping 75%, reading this article right now:

  • Overthink food
  • Worry and stress about food
  • Count calories or the number of macros we ate in a day in an unhealthy way
  • Occassionally binge or purge
  • Restrict or diet
  • Purge or exercise to “make up” for food
  • Closet eat or binge occasionally
  • Use food to cope with life to some degree
  • Or think about wanting to be free from thinking about food

Sound familiar?

If so, you are not alone. The truth is, you don’t have to have a diagnosed eating disorder to have an unhealthy relationship with food. But you also don’t have to battle food forever—or to the degree you are now.

So the real question becomes: How do I move past it? Specifically, how do I end my emotional eating, obsessive thinking with food, closet eating, constant sugar craving, and so on? If 75% of us suffer like this, how do I become one of the 25% who doesn’t struggle with food? Regardless of your current situation, it’s important to first identify the roots of “the struggle” in order to then work through your particular hang-ups, thoughts, and habits with food.

Understand Why We Struggle

From the time we are young, we receive unhealthy, conflicting messages about food:

  • We are rewarded for straight A’s with an after-school ice cream treat.
  • We earn dessert if we eat all the veggies on our plates.
  • We receive a candy treat for “good behavior” in the classroom.
  • We learn to label foods as “good” or “bad” based on the opinions and concepts of our parents, our peers, commercials, advertising, etc.

In certain sports or activities, like dance and cheer, we may have had to “weigh in” or “watch what we eat” for the love of the game. We are taught that certain foods are “off limits” in our house. So then at a friend’s house, it was a free for all whenever we could get our hands on that “forbidden” food. We witnessed, and then took on as our own, the personal relationships and beliefs that our parents and role models had with food. Commercials demanded our attention, advertising “heart healthy and kid approved Cinnamon Toast Crunch” or cool Lunchables that every kid must try.

Step 1: Identify Your Emotional Food Story

When is the first time in your life that you first thought emotionally about food? I mean, more than just crying for food when you were hungry as a baby, or reluctantly eating your peas and carrots at dinner. Think back to your childhood, middle school, high school or young adult years—when did the thoughts and beliefs about food really begin?

When did you first use food as a reward, punishment, means to “lose weight”, or to look good?

  • Perhaps it was a diet your mom went on that increased your awareness about food’s role in weight.
  • Sneaking your Halloween candy into a shoebox in your closet so you could have chocolate before dinner when you wanted.
  • Being told by a teacher that pizza would make you fat.
  • Sitting next to a girl at lunch who drank Diet Coke and told you it was good because it didn’t have calories.
  • Working hard in school to make an A on your spelling test or score the winning goal, so you could celebrate with frozen yogurt or a milkshake afterwards.

Simply identify where your first meeting with food began, and then begin to reflect upon how did this relationship story play out in the months and years to come.

Step 2: Identify Where the Relationship Went Wrong

As you reflect, answer these next questions: Where did my relationship with food go awry anyhow? When did food become something more than a substance and source of energy, vitality, and fuel for living your life to the fullest? And, how about your food philosophies, your positive and negative beliefs about foods and about what you “should” and “shouldn’t" eat?

Chances are, your habits and beliefs have shifted and evolved over the years.

For instance, as a kid, I never thought much about food, except whether it tasted good. I had a huge sweet tooth and often ate all of my dinner in order to “earn” my right to dessert. I also am a kid of the processed-food generation, so a steady diet of Capn’ Crunch, Pop-Tarts, and Doritos was my “norm” until about the third grade.

My First Meeting with Food (& Thoughts About Food): Sitting next to my best friend at lunch one day, she told me she was going on a diet to lose 5 lbs. I had never heard of such thing before, but was intrigued by her denial of Oreos and that her lunches that consisted of Baked Lays and Diet Cokes. Nothing more really became of this instance, other than beginning to understand something new about food: calories, diets, and what is “good” and “bad.”

My Food Relationship Gone Wrong: Fast forward, one year later to fourth grade when I was talking with the popular girls at recess and the topic of weight came up. The queen bee spoke up: “Guys, I am soooo fat. I need to lose 5 lbs.” To which we all eagerly responded to the little beauty, “No, no, no! You are soooo pretty!” But the event really got me thinking, “If she thinks she is fat…then I must be a heifer!” I distinctly remember going home that day after school, standing in the pantry counting the number of fat grams on every cereal, cracker, cookie, bread, and canned food in there. Food makes people fat, I thought in my little 10-year-old mind, and from there a new, unhealthy relationship with food began.

Step 3: Assess Your Current Relationship Status

Now that you have an idea of where your food beliefs and thoughts stem from, let’s take a look at your current relationship status. A few more questions for you:

  • How much of your day is spent thinking about food?
  • How do your struggles and your thoughts about food hold you back in your life?
  • Now, the big one: How is your current relationship with food?

Step 4: Dig Deep

To do this right, get out a pen and paper and keep a food log, digging into your thoughts and behaviors with food. For three days, you’re going to be an investigator. Log everything you eat for three days, and instead of counting calories or worrying about the fat or carbs in your food, all you’re going to do is track your thoughts and feelings around meals as follows:

  • Note your level of hunger before meals on a scale of 1-10 (1=famished, 5=neutral, 10=stuffed).
  • Note your level of fullness after meals on a scale of 1-10 (1=famished, 5=neutral, 10=stuffed).

Also log any thoughts or feelings that come up before or after meals, including constipated, bloated, bored, energetic, low energy, etc. That’s it. At the end of three days, review.

Any insights learned? Patterns you notice? Times of day you struggle or think about food more? Frequent times of constipation, bloating, sugar cravings or brain fog? Note this, because we’ll talk about it more in Part 2, [next week].

The Bottom Line for Part One

If you are not sure why you struggle with food or why the food thoughts won’t go away, do some soul searching to identify your story.

Mirror Mirror

A phrase commonly adopted by CrossFit boxes is "no mirrors, no machines, no mercy."  Most people understand why "no machines."  But a lot of people don't get why most CrossFit boxes don't have mirrors.  The short answer often given is CrossFit trains for real life, and there are no mirrors in real life.  But UB not having mirrors is a conscious choice with considered reasoning behind it.

Body Mechanics

Your body mechanics are important in any exercise.  We especially talk a lot about your spine's position during movements.  And when we say "spine," we mean your entire spine - from skull to tailbone.  If you are looking to a mirror to check your form, there is a good chance your craning your neck to see it. This probably means your not in an ideal position for the lift, defeating the purpose for looking.

Be Present

How many times have you, while lifting, had at least 3 cues in your head.  Now, imagine there is a mirror in front of you.  This adds another list of elements to your lifting experience, all of which are considered distractions.  For example, in the Olympic lifts, it is important to focus on a single point ahead of you to establish equilibrium.  Finding one spot to focus on is already difficult to do while people are walking in front of your field of vision.  Now place a mirror in front of you.  There are a thousand more distractions, and holding one focus point will be more difficult because of as you move, the objects' reflections change as your angle of vision changes.

The Mirror Lies

Now imagine again focusing on those cues while the mirror is there.  You will naturally default to correcting based on what you see instead of what you feel.  Instead of attempting to feel complete hip extension, you might change mid-lift based on how it looks instead.  This is wrong for a couple reasons.  First, if you watch a lift from the front view, you are often missing a lot of the intricacies of the movement's mechanics.  This is why the coaches usually watch a lifter from a 3/4 angle or side view.  Second, you could be fixing something that looks visually wrong, but is not the source of the problem.  Usually a list of faults in a movement originate from one essential fault.   You need to learn how a movement feels and develop a strong sense body awareness in order to replicate it.  This will not happen if you rely on your reflection.

Learn from Film

If you really need to see what is going on with a movement whether you are learning or experienced, ask a fellow athlete or a coach to film it.  This gives you the opportunity to focus on the feel, and then check to see if what felt right or wrong was in fact right or wrong, and from the correct angles to view the movement from.  Nobody around?  Put your phone on a stand like this one, or this magnetic one, and do it yourself.  Have other filming recommendations?  Post to comments!

Have You Bought Your Tickets?

Hey Guys! Guys? You listening? This is important... and while you're at it, get out your dancing shoes...

Prom is coming!

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Prom is October 8th! 

Here's what you can expect:

  • Raffle tickets to win fabulous gift baskets are included in your ticket price!
  • Crowning prom royalty (aka 2016 Ambasaddors of Awesome)
  • The fabulous company of your gym community
  • 2 free drinks (beer & wine) to ensure excellent prom dancing
  • A DJ that will make your feet move
  • Delicious catered tasty treats
  • PHOTOBOOTH!!!

All proceeds of your 50$ ticket go to Westside Athetes Association, a non-profit organization that brings fitness to kids in the San Francisco school district.

Sound good? Why are you still reading? BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!

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Look How Far You've Come, Baby!

This week I would like to talk about someone who oldie but goodie. No, I am not referring to his age.... this athlete just happens to have been with UB through it all. When he first started, he wanted to balance out his soccer game, but found the barbell rendered his hamstrings worn out on the field.  But did he quit?  No way.  Instead he sought out advice on some homework and nutrition, set some goals and got to work.  Steadily he adapted and was able to have it all.  In the meantime, he has become quite the WOD-beast!

In addition to his growth as an athlete, Brian has become to be a vital member of the UB community.  Brian is first to shake your hand and first to register for the next UB competition. His daughter, Emery, is a fixture at UB during mornings while she patiently waits for her turn to escape the stroller and start lifting weights herself. Along with his wife, Amy, they are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.  Thanks for making UB your home, Brian.  Our mornings are all the more awesome for it!

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Name: Brian Raimundo

Nickname / Alter Ego: BP ..."we don't have to talk about it...."

Hometown: Rochester Minnesota

Occupation: Director of Medicinal Chemistry

When did you first start CrossFitting?: January 2011

When did you first start CrossFitting at UB?: January 2011

Favorite WOD: Anything with abs and running (love those marathon WODs)

Least favorite WOD: Well, I won't be doing Karen this Sunday......

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? I was referred by Jen Rubenstein of PSOAS Body Massage to UB for strength training... the rest is history.

What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? I didn't expect to become so connected to a community and create a family of friends.  I have also turned into a morning person.... who would have thought it would be the highlight of my day.

What’s your secret talent? I am a pickler and I can sing .... but I don't like to sing in public because it's a phobia.... unwrap that one! Also, I'm a good go cart racer!

Please Vote!

It's Tee shirt slogan voting time!!   First, thank you for your many shirt slogan submissions!  We had an abundance of entries this year, and you have all proved to be quite the creative bunch! 

Here's how it's going to work.  You have from today through next Wednesday to vote for your top 2 slogans.  The winning slogan will get an illustration to match the concept, or if the submission had an attached illustration it will be printed with that illustration.

Each person only gets one vote and every vote counts!  Help us make our 2016 shirt awesome!

Food for Thought: Finding Your Mojo Again

The following is from Words with Lisbeth

Ever feel like you’ve lost your mojo?

  • Nothing is working right.
  • No way you’re ever going to PR again on anything.
  • No way you’re getting those pull-ups.
  • No way you’re ever going to lose your gut or get into skinny jeans.
  • And your clean and jerk sucks.

Everyone hits that point sometime. So, when you do, you really have two choices: Train more or train less.

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Would doing more workouts help? Maybe you’re only going two or three times a week?

Or maybe you’re doing too many workouts: 6 days in a row, 8 days in a row, 10 days. Overtraining.

Sometimes you want it straight up, sometimes you need to mix it with water or some ginger beer, sometimes you just need to stay away from it.

Be responsible for and with yourself. (And remember: Friends don’t let friends train and drive. Wait a few minutes until your hands stop shaking and you can walk without falling down.)

You’ll find your mojo again. Hang in there. Take a moment and consider what’s going on with you. Look at everything in your life: physical, mental, emotional, and social factors. Then, think about your training, and decide to dial it up or dial it down. Figure things out. 

Need help?  Ask your coach!

An Ultimate Success

Another successful Ultimate Lift Off in the books!  Way to go everyone!  #UBstrong

Another successful Ultimate Lift Off in the books!  Way to go everyone!  #UBstrong

For all of you who participated in Saturday's Ultimate Lift-Off -- thank you for making the day a lot of fun and a tremendous success!  A special thank you to our staff and volunteers for helping make the day run smoothly (and be well documented): Coach Jon - MC extraordinaire, Chloe/Manu/"TPJ" - master photographers, and Chad/Jason L./Max/Olivia/Shannon/Sean F./Sunli/"TerBear", "TPJ" - our solid judging team! 

For those of you who missed it, you missed out! The day was a great demonstration of mental fortitude from every individual athlete, while also being a great show of community.  Everyone was in high spirits, and the energy in the room was electric.  Best of all, look at all those PRs (highlighed in yellow)!  How could you ask for a better day?!  You came and gave it your all -- that is all we could ever ask of you.

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Congrats to our top placers (highlighted above) on a exceptional day! (Please don't forget to email me with your desired sizing on both knee sleeves and hip circle)

More photos will be posted later this week on the UB Athlete Facebook Page.